Thursday, October 18, 2012

masks and ashes

I am reading two books at the same time again and it's amazing how they are both speaking right to me and making me see myself for who I really am, a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. period.
In "not a fan" we are talking about masks and how we hide behind our "I am perfect" outer selves hiding all kinds of judgements, jealouses, doubts, fears, and imperfections.
He listed out several examples and here are a few that hit me:
Fans who won't go to R-rated movies at the theater, but have a number of them saved on the DVR at home. CHECK
Fans who may feed the hungry and help the needy and then they make sure they work it into every conversation for the next two weeks.
Fans who like seeing other people fail because in their minds it makes them look better.
(this is the one that I HATE to admit my guilt on, but I do it)
Fans whose primary concern in raising their children is what other people think.
Fans who are reading this and assuming I'm describing someone else. Fans who have work the mask for so long they have fooled even themselves.
Thank you Kyle Idleman for that reality check. And here is what he said next and it is so good:
"Jesus has harsh words for these fans who were trying to impress others through their religious credentials (Matthew 23). It's interesting to note that as severe as Jesus was with these religious leaders he is just as tender and encouraging to those who have genuinely given him their hearts, even if they don't have it all together on the outside. Please don't miss this: Jesus doesn't expect followers to be perfect, but he does call them to be authentic."
And I download both of Emily P. Freeman's books Graceful (for young women) and Grace for the Good Girl. Since I think I am still 18 sometimes, I started reading Graceful and in my walk let me just say that I am like 2 years old. And here are her words that struck me like a ton of bricks when talking about reputation (Works/what we do):
"The answer for all of us is the same, no matter our reputations. TRUST JESUS. Lean hard into him. Know that even if nobody else knows how bad you've messed up, he knows. Know that your brokenness does not repulse, him, it attracts him. Know that the best we can come up with on our own is merely a heap of ashes. (and now the 'WOW' moment for me) WHETHER YOUR ASHES ARE A PILE OF GOOD WORKS OR OF BAD DECISIONS, IT'S ALL ASH. And He came to make it beautiful."
There aren't word to describe what this means to me and how I see myself, and really from both perspectives. On almost every page there are great points for me, and especially for young women who are still out there "finding" themselves. My prayer is that they will turn to El Roi, The One who sees, to guide them, not to the things of this world, because let's be clear, I tried that and it didn't work (Hello college). But like Emily said, during that time my bad decisions helped me to see my need for Him. Rob and I were having this conversation about college and He made a very good point: "I learned what mercy, grace, and true forgiveness really were." And at this point in my life, I want/try to do good, but really they are ashes too, when my works aren't being done for the right reason, which is to further God's kingdom.
"WOW" moments. A few weekends ago at Emmaus, Bill Beavers asked us to look for "Wow" God moments, where you see the hand of God at work. We saw them everywhere because we were fully aware of His presence around us. It's a little bit harder out here in the real world, but I am trying harder to see them! And just like my "wow" moment I had when reading Emily's book, these moments can be inward within myself or outward seeing or helping others see God in this world.

Lord, help me to be "awe-ware" of you today and see the "wow" moments all around me!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

From pumpkins to eternity

Yesterday I taught the 1st and 2nd grade girls for their Wednesday afternoon church activities and it was such a blessing. We carved pumpkins and talked about how being a Christian was like being a pumpkin. As an afterthought several months ago, I had saved a little piece of paper off of the floor that was once a paper plate that one of the boys had made into a pumpkin at school then, once home, tore into a million little pieces, save this piece of paper on how being a Christian was like being a pumpkin. When Laura asked me to do the lesson for her I thought that would be so much fun and a wonderful message for these girls. And this was it:
Being a Christian is
like being a pumpkin
God lifts you up, takes you in, and washes all the dirt off of you.
He opens you up, touches you deep inside and scoops out ALL the yucky stuff including the seeds of doubt, hate, & greed.
THEN, HE carves you a new smiling face and puts HIS lifght inside you to SHINE for all the world to see!
They were totally grossed out by all the "yucky stuff" inside those pumpkins, and I told them that is what it feels like for God when we sin, yucky!!! fter our class these girls prayed the sweetest prayers for others, for each other, and for people to see their lights shining! I was so touched by them -- such sweet, beautiful spirits!
Well, of course when we got home the boys and Mary Flynn wanted to carve one too, so we did. Normally I would have said no, but I am so glad I said yes! I am going to start saying "yes" a lot more! So, I got out the little knives and asked them if they knew how being a Christian was like being a pumpkin. And the next conversation is one I will never forget:
Reed: What is a Christian?
Me: Someone who loves God very much, and Jesus lives in their heart and forgive them for their sins.
Reed: I want Jesus to live in my heart.
Luke: I want God AND Jesus to live in my heart...(someone is always trying to outdo the other one)
Me: Well, you have to pray to him and tell him...why don't we say a prayer right now?
Reed: Nope, I am going to wait until I go to bed.
And later when we got into bed, Reed said, "I want to say my prayer first!!" Ususally this is a point of contention because neither Reed or Luke EVER wants to go first. So Reed said, "Dear God thank you for this day. Please come into my heart and help me to be good. Please come into my heart. Help me to have a good day tomorrow. Amen!"
Who knew that simple pumpkin would bring this precious child the key to eternity. Thank you God for this gift that you have given us. Please help Reed to always remember this day and cherish what you have given him and all of us. Grace, forgiveness, mercy, and love.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

mini "Worship" moments

Back to to running this month and I am enjoying listening to praise and worship as I run. I have given up rap...hard to admit that I love/loved rap music (I guess it's the public school girl in me), and even though I love the way it sounds, the words made me a little uncomfortable. Anyway, I am sure I will sneak in some of the milder oldies but goodies, but for the most part I am parting ways with rap. But I still love music and cry all the time when a song that touches me comes on the radio. I cry all the time in general, I mean not tears of sadness, but of joy. Brother Mike has been preaching the last few Sunday's on worship and I feel like I am having a little "worship moment" when I am moved to tears by the Holy Spirit...that He is grabbing my attention saying, "Here that? I did that for you!" or "This is how much I love you!" Right now on my running playlist there are several songs, where at any given time I may be bawling my eyes out! One is a song remade by the group HighRoadIII (who came to FUMC several months ago), called How Deep the Father's Love for US. Cry.Every.Time. And this is where it gets me every single time:

It was my sin that held Him there (this breaks my heart, and the tears start falling)
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life (HE has brought ME life)
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything (and how hard is that)
No gifts, no power, no wisdom (super super hard)
But I will boast in Jesus Christ (YES LORD!!!)
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward? (I shouldn't)
I cannot give an answer (????)
But this I know with all my heart (and believe it)
His wounds have paid my ransom (WOW!!! Thank you for loving a big ole sinner like me!)

So, I cry, as my little "worship moments," thoughout the day. Praising Him for what He did for me, a sinner. I can't wrap my mind around it, but thankfully I don't have to. I just accept His grace and mercy and LOVE Him!