Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Words that Hit the Mark From Romans 12

In this season of what ifs and waiting, the following verses were just what I needed from Romans 12 in the Message.

"So here's what you do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life-and place it before God as an offering.  Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him."
"So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't."
"Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame.  Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant.  Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder.  Help needy Christians;be inventive in hospitality."
"Don't be stuck up."
I love how God's scripture speaks to each season we are in.  I think for the next few days this will be a chapter I will keep going back to.

Blessings, TJ

PS: What is a scripture passage that has spoken to where you are at right now?  I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Is It Worth It?

Is it worth it?  This question is often asked when times are hard, and we are discouraged and confused.   It is asked by mothers struggling with a handful of little ones, pastors whose flocks are apathetic, and teachers with unruly, failing students.  In fact, this question was the topic of a dinner conversation a week ago.  Is what we are doing here in Central Asia worth it?  Are we making a difference?  It is not like we expect miraculous results but a little more gratitude and maybe a little progress might be nice.   Maybe you can relate?  You are a mom, a teacher, a social worker, a minister, or in any position where you feel like you serve and serve but is it worth it?

I have been thinking about this question,"Is it worth it?".  It would be nice to have an answer to this question.  Yes, it is worth it because of this, this, and this.  No, it is not worth it so it is time to leave.  I don't have a good answer partly because I think it is the wrong question.   As an American,  I like to see results.  As a Christian, I want to be a good steward of the resources God has given me.  As a teacher, I want to see my students learn and go on to make their own difference.  As a worker in this foreign land, I want to see things change for the better not get worse which brings us back to the question, "Is it worth it?"  Is that really the question we should be asking?   What if instead we asked, "God, am I daily doing what you want me to do?"  "Am I being faithful to my calling?"

I don't think we can fairly ask the question, "Is it worth it?" because we are unable to see the whole picture.   Only God knows what is going on in the hearts of the people we work with daily.   Only God knows what the final results will be.  Only God knows the purpose of my role here in this place. What if my role is to be obedient, to be the best wife, mom, and teacher, I can be even when times are hard?   What if it is me that needs to be changed?  When I am focusing on results, my eyes are on me and what I am doing.  When I am focusing on God, my eyes are on God and what he is doing in me and through me.   With my eyes on God, I can walk in obedience leaving the results up to Him.   Of course that is easier said than done.   I am reminded of Jeremiah who was the weeping prophet who never saw results in his time.  Then there is Abraham who was to be the father of many but did not see the results in his lifetime.  Or what about faithful few during the years between Malachi and the NT waiting for the Messiah to come.  What results were they seeing?

So for me,  I am asking God what He has for me today?  In what areas of my life, am I to be more obedient?  It also comes back to my word for this year WORSHIP.   It is when I spend time in worship that I know better who God is and what He requires of me.  It is in worship that the questions like "Is it worth it?" are answered.

Dear God, Thank you that you are sovereign and over all things.  Nothing escapes you.  You know us in our weakness and still love us.  You are patient when our focus is off of you.  You give grace to our failings.  Forgive me for taking my eyes off of you.  Forgive me for trying to do things in my own strength.  Give me guidance for this day.   Help me to be faithful in the big and little things.  May I seek you each day and clearly hear your voice.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

What Will Win The Battle

I just finished reading the Blood of Kings fantasy series by Jill Williamson.  In the last book, the characters were fighting a battle against darkness.  One of the main characters was going against the evil master who had brought darkness to the land.  He was not an experienced fighter, but he was chosen by Arman (who represented God in the analogy).  As he fought, he found himself getting weaker and weaker.  He called out to Arman but nothing seemed to happen.   His commander then reminded him that it is in the Praise of Arman that there is strength.   He realized that he alone could not defeat this enemy.   It would take the strength of all the people calling out and praising Arman.  Using some special abilities he had, he called on all the people to acknowledge Arman and to give him praise.  Together they sang a song of praise of who Arman was.  Slowly light crept back over the land, and evil was conquered.   Evil was conquered by the praises of Arman's (God's) people.

In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat and his army are promised victory.  They were not to fight but stand still and see what God would do.  The day of the battle, they marched out to meet the enemy singing praises to God.  Before they reached the enemy, God had already won the victory leaving them all the spoils of war.  In Acts, Paul and Silas were in the middle of a midnight singing when God caused an earthquake to free them leading to the jailer and his whole family being saved.

Why when praise is what my soul needs most, do I not do it more?  Why do I not praise when it is what will bring victory?  I too often find myself like Peter wanting to walk confidently on the water but instead find myself crying out for God to save me.  Why are so many of my prayers about me and needing to be saved?  Just like Peter, when our eyes are on Jesus, we can do what Jesus has asked us to do.   Last night I had trouble getting to sleep.  We received a phone call telling us that our school will be restarting later than planned.  Both my husband and I started thinking though what if's and thinking of plan B's for our children's schooling.  We were especially concerned for W who is a senior this year.  The waves seemed to be getting higher and higher, and I was sinking.  It is in times like these that what I truly believed is shown.  Will I trust?  Will I praise in the midst of unknowns?

For the past few years, I have chosen a word to describe what my goal or resolution is for the year.  This year I really thought it would be community.  I need community.  I crave community.  I even had some great posts crafted in my head about community.  Then I thought it would be surrender especially in the face of our unknown circumstances, but it didn't seem right either.  This week after finishing the fantasy book, I started thinking about worship.    What I really need is worship. I need to take my eyes off of me and fix them on God.   In worship, I find community with God.  In worship, I surrender to a God who is sovereign and who loves me more than I will ever know.  So today I am choosing to worship- to take some time away from formulating Plan B's and focus on the One who created me.   I am hoping to do a better job in my daily time with God and throughout my day to take time to worship.  It might be thinking about the names and character of God.  Or it could be singing songs of worship as I wash dishes or fix supper.   It might even be memorizing scripture that focuses on who God is so that when times get hard, God's word is embedded inside of me and will be there to guide me.

Dear God of all Things, Creator of the universe, Today I praise you for who you are and for all you have done.  I feel the battle raging around me.  I see the waves wanting to engulf me.  May I fix my eyes on you.  May I remember the truths of who you are.  May I remember each day to give you the praise that you are worthy of.  May I never forget that you alone deserve all of my worship.  Amen