Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Mummy

Standard

Unknown-1

A few years ago, an archaeological team discovered a mummy at 22,000 feet above sea level, near the Llullaillaco volcano in Argentina. She is estimated to be 500 years old. Her frozen body is one of the best preserved Incan mummies ever discovered. Her hair is intricately braided. She looks like she is just resting. She was perfectly preserved in a frigid mountainside tomb. According to historians and archaeologists, the Incans considered it a great honor to be offered as a sacrifice to enter the realm of the gods. Young children and adolescents were often chosen as they were considered “pure”. The chosen young people would be lead up the mountain; then given large amounts of alcohol made with corn. They would also chew on coca leaves to ward off exhaustion and pain during the long mountain trek. Finally, upon reaching their destination, the sacrificial people would enter a tomb. They would be dressed in their finest clothes. The warmly dressed priests would stand by waiting for the chosen people to fall asleep; life slowing ebbing from their bodies. Then, the tomb would be sealed. The inhabitants would die slowly, painlessly in their sleep from the freezing temperature and a lack of oxygen.

I found this story fascinating and thought provoking.

What struck me was that the “chosen people” were so complacent. They laid down and died. Peacefully. No struggle. They gave up. They accepted the slow death.

I started to wonder about myself and my sisters in Christ. Are we dying the slow death? Do we look at ourselves and say, “We’ve arrived. No need to go any further.” So every Sunday, we sit in our favorite spot in church and die. It’s all very peaceful. We look like we are alive; singing the songs and listening to the sermon.

Are we so overwhelmed with our lives that we just say, “Eh, it’s good enough.”?

Are we so hurt by the past that we say, “It’s not worth the effort.”?

Are we so complacent in our comfortable lives that we say, “This is all I should expect.”?

Are we so unmotivated that we just say “I’m not going any further. I’m saved. I’m good where I’m at.”?

Are our hearts so calloused that the Spirit cannot move in us?

I’m going to reject that way of thinking. I’m going to challenge myself to breath in deep from the Holy Spirit, to continue to nourish my soul on the Bread of Life, and exercise my faith while continuing to push toward Christ. I am not going to accept mediocrity in my Christian life.

I’m refusing to become a mummified Christian.

Advertisements

A Generous Heart

Standard

article-1093897-02C69EF4000005DC-533_468x480

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

It’s that time of year for our family. We gather and watch A Christmas Carol. Actually, we usually watch three versions: the George C. Scott version, the Patrick Stewart version, and, of course, the Muppet Christmas Carol. I love all three.

Every year, my conscience is pricked and my heart is touched by the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge from a tight fisted, cold hearted skinflint into a tender hearted, open handed man.

Ebenezer’s treasure was wealth. Gold was his passion to the exclusion of all else. He shunned love and family in favor of his idol. He was consumed with getting wealth and KEEPING IT! If a person or investment did not bring a profit or benefit directly to him; then Scrooge considered it a waste of time, energy, thought and money.

Let me clarify: there is nothing wrong with wealth or success. There is something wrong with a monomaniacal pursuit of wealth purely for oneself.

Fred, Scrooge’s nephew, attempts to counter Scrooge’s argument about Christmas being a pointless frivolity with the joy associated with generosity, charity and love.

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited…” Fred Holywell, A Christmas Carol

Fred’s philosophy was to give without thought of profit or personal benefit. Fred is aware of the good that generosity does his heart and soul; the expanding of his heart to include those he doesn’t even know. He doesn’t pause to think “If I give to this person or institution; how will this benefit me? What do I gain? What does it profit me?”

Stingy people never have enough. It’s all for themselves. It’s really a type of narcissism. Me, me, me. It’s all for me and my comfort and my pleasure.

I’m challenged to ask myself: Do I care about someone on the other side of the world or the other side of town; that I will never meet? Do I care enough to give to those who are doing the work that I can’t? Do I care enough to set aside money even if I don’t gain a profit or personally benefit? Am I being obedient when I ignore the desperate need of those on the front lines of missions and keep spending on myself?

So often, I only want to give when it doesn’t actually cost me anything. I think about King David in 2 Samuel 24 where he refuses to accept free livestock to make an offering to the Lord. David says he won’t offer any sacrifice to the Lord that doesn’t cost him anything. “He didn’t look for the cheapest way possible to please God. A true, strong love for Christ will cost you something. Love is the costliest of undertakings.” –David Guzik

I am especially challenged this season to give generously, cheerfully, thoughtfully, and gratefully. I might have to move some items in my budget around but I’m doing it.

“What we believe determines what we value, and what we value demonstrates how we live.”—from the Core Values of the Christian-Missionary Alliance

 

Creativity Killers

Standard

The word Creativity in colorful 3d letters on a background of wh

This morning, I heard an interview with John Sculley, former Apple CEO, on a business news channel. He said something that grabbed my attention. He said that the group of creators, designers and innovators that surrounded Steve Jobs was of an average age of 22. I was stunned until I thought about it.

Of course, they are young. They are energetic, excited and full of ideas. They are fresh faced, newly minted college graduates. They have not been jaded by corporate environments. They have not yet been told “that’s impossible”. They haven’t experienced endless soul-killing meetings. They are hired to DO. To create. To let loose their imaginations. To think about the “could be” and the “what if”.

As usually happens, this got me to thinking about church. Has the church become so institutional that it’s a creativity killer rather than a creativity nurturer? Is it the place where good ideas go to die?

Attitudes that are creative killers:

  • Yeah, but……
  • We’ve never done that before….
  • We tried that 30 years ago….
  • I did that at my last church and it failed….

I don’t want to be a dream-crusher, creativity killer. I’m challenging myself to be open to new ways of thinking about things. I’m going to champion the cause of someone who has a creative idea that I didn’t come up with. I’m not going to dismiss out of hand an idea that seems risky. Aren’t all new ideas and innovations attached to a certain amount of risk? Is there some room for failure if a new idea doesn’t pan out?

We serve a creative God. How else do you explain Australia? God gifted each of us uniquely. We should try to find ways to engage the creative gifts of believers as well as the more “mainstream” gifts.

I’m going to keep thinking about this. I’m being challenged. How does this effect the ministry I lead? How does this effect my parenting? How do I guide my children who are uniquely gifted and creative? Lots to chew on.

I read a blog by Zach Hoag recently. My heart was pierced by this quote.

            Once the creativity is gone, it may be that the Spirit has left the building too.

Cherry Picking

Standard

Cheery Orchard

10678717_10152463174018741_2269202414312120659_n

This picture has been floating around the internet for a while. I find it both humorous and shameful at the same time. Humorous because I have witnessed people doing this. Shameful because I have done this very thing. I’ve taken scripture out of context and used it to prove a point, undermine someone else’s point, or condone my own wrong behavior under the cloak of God’s Word. Yep, shameful.

This is not a new phenomenon. The enemy has been twisting God’s words since the beginning. Using slight, almost imperceptible changes to tempt Eve into sin. Eve then twists the word even more to entice Adam to sin. Satan used God’s word to even tempt Christ. Jesus responds with the full force of God’s truth and Satan has to leave. We like to twist scripture to bludgeon people or to pardon our own actions and attitudes.

The past several months, I have been reading and studying a lot as I co-write a Bible study on hope and prepare for teaching on the book of Romans. This is not new to me. I’ve been studying, writing and teaching for several years. But what struck me afresh is this : words matter. God’s Word matters. Every word matters. Every word has weight and meaning.

If I wanted to (and I don’t), I could rip verses out of context to either condemn that which is good and condone that which is evil. I could justify so many destructive behaviors just by cherry picking “God is love” out of the Bible.

Here is the rub: you and I must take the WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD into our lives, hearts and spirits. All of it. Not just the parts that resonate with us. Not just the parts that condemn the behavior of others and their sins. Not just the parts that talk about love and forgiveness. ALL OF IT.

There are some irksome passages in the Bible. Verses that tell me to love my enemy, forgive those who did wrong to me. Passages that tell me sin brings conviction and consequences. Verses that tell me to leave punishment and vengeance to God. Tough stuff.

There are benefits in our lives when we consider and take in the whole counsel of God. Here are just a few:

  • A productive life. We are called to be productive. I’m not just talking about your job. I’m talking about spiritual productivity. Fruit. Good works. Colossians 1:9b-10 says “…We ask God to fill you with knowledge of His will through all wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” That is the productive Christian life. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We are called to be intentional about our spiritual growth and productivity. Reading and seeking to understand Scripture is how we learn to live lives that bear fruit. We learn what the “good works” are that Christ has laid out for us to accomplish. We cannot know where to go and what to do if we don’t read the directions!

 

  • Wisdom In today’s world, there are a lot of opinions but not a lot of wisdom. Here is a hard truth: our opinions are not always lined up with the truth of God’s Word. If my opinion or thoughts on a topic do not line up with Scripture, then I AM WRONG; not the Bible. By the way, same goes for you too. Proverbs 21:30 says “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.” Our thoughts, our plans, our insights are NOT of greater depth than our Lord’s. Do you want to gain wisdom? Seek the wisdom of the Lord through His Word. James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask god, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Ask with an open heart for the Lord to reveal His wisdom to you.
  • Stability. Godly wisdom dovetails right into a stable life. Do you want a faith that is solidly built on Christ? Do you want to be able to stand in the middle of a storm and know you are on the sure footing of God’s Word? I quoted Ephesians 2:10 earlier, in the following verses 11-13, Paul is telling the people that Christ wants his followers to be equipped for service to build the body of Christ, while working toward unity and maturity. Verse 14 says this “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” That is a stable life of faith. The believer who knows what the Bible says and is not influenced or turned to false doctrines by slick talkers.

 

  • A life of excellence. Please hear me: I am not saying we will be living on Easy Street. There is no such thing. We all have struggles with sin and hardships that we go through. We can live a life of excellence through these times. 2 Timothy 3:16-17All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. The Word of the Lord gives us the framework to live out our faith through doctrine. Scripture shows us our sins and calls us to repentance. The Bible instructs us how to live righteously. That is a life of excellence. The person who listens to correction, adjusts their course, repents and continues on with Jesus lives a blessed life. Proverbs 12:1 puts it so succinctly “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge but whoever hates correction is stupid.” I don’t know about you; but I don’t want to be stupid.

I’m challenging myself to regard the words of the Bible with greater respect and to seek His wisdom in those very words. I want to use the Word to grow, to gain wisdom, to stand firm in faith and to live a life of excellence.

24 Hours

Standard

Hour glass or sand timer with vintage pocket watch, symbols of t

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a time for everything,

    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,

    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

    a time to kill and a time to heal,

    a time to tear down and a time to build,

    a time to weep and a time to laugh,

    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

    a time to search and a time to give up,

    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

    a time to tear and a time to mend,

    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

     a time to love and a time to hate,

    a time for war and a time for peace.

 

Time. There never seems to be enough.

Everyday the Lord gives us 24 hours to do what we need to do; what He has called us to do. Every purpose has a season. Life is constantly in a state of flux. Children are born, learn to walk, go to school, graduate, get married and the cycle begins again.

Seasons of life pass like water down a rushing river. It seems like yesterday, I was holding my firstborn, gazing upon the wonder of this precious, miraculous life. Now we are having discussion about what she might want to study in college.

My parents grew old when I wasn’t looking. All of the sudden, there are health concerns, medical directives, and unspoken contemplations about the “what if…”

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven….

 

A reminder that nothing on this earth lasts forever. Everything has a season. A beginning and an end. Childhood ends. Youth slowly transitions into mid-life. Suddenly, without warning, we have become our parents.

A time to be born and a time to die….

 

In between birth and death, there is life.

I’ve been thinking about “a life well lived” since last week. I attended the funeral of a long time friend. Only 49 years old. He left behind a wife of 23 years, 3 children, and a legacy of love and integrity.

Steve lived life well. He loved the Lord and showed it in all he did. His family, his job as a teacher, his marriage, his church and his friends are all testaments to a life well lived. Person after person gave testimony to the life of this wonderful man. 1200+ people came to honor Steve and his legacy.

So, between my birth and my death, what kind of life do I want to live? Do I want to live a life to the fullest? Do I want to fill the in-between with fulfilling God’s purpose? Do I want to have a life well lived? YES, I DO!

The 24 hours that we are given everyday is enough.

 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them…

Maybe we need to take a few things off of our over-full plates.

Maybe we need to start something that we have been putting off out of fear.

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing…

Maybe we need to mend a rift in a relationship.

Maybe we need to end or release a relationship.

a time to search and a time to give up…

Maybe we need to look for the good in life.

Maybe we need to stop looking for empty happiness.

24 hours is enough to live the life that I have been called to.

You have the same 24 hours. What are you going to do with them?

Skin Deep

Standard

Makeup And Cosmetics Set

1 Peter 3:3-4 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

 The women’s Bible study that I lead on Monday evenings is working through Beth Moore’s Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman. Such a challenging study. Such a needed study for today’s women who are constantly bombarded with the message of “you are not enough”. We are constantly being told that we need to be thinner, blonder, taller, richer, healthier, fashionable, workout more, be more accomplished, and more educated.

One point that Beth Moore brings up that has really stuck with me is this:

It’s tough being a woman in a world where beauty is a treatment.

 In 2012, Americans spent $11 BILLION on cosmetic surgery. Now, I’m not talking about reconstructive surgery due to catastrophic incidents that cause physical injuries or deformities like breast cancer, burn victims or car accidents. I’m talking about elective surgeries. These include 13 million cosmetic procedures like facelifts, 286,000 breast augmentations, and 6.1 MILLION Botox injections. Americans also spend $2.6 BILLION per year on gym memberships. Women in America spend $426 BILLION on cosmetics every year.

Now before you think that I am completely against these types of things; let me set you straight. I am not giving up my make up, facial creams, gym membership, my collection of shoes, my hair coloring appointments or my Spanx. I feel no conviction or guilt about using them nor do I intend to.

But I will declare this: these outward trappings are not who I am.

I don’t place MY worth in them. They don’t define who I am. Christ is my identity. Redeemed daughter of the King is my status. My worth is found in the ultimate price that Christ paid.

Peter wasn’t against those things either. He was basically saying, “Ladies, you are beautiful from the inside out. Being so elaborate in your dress, hairstyles and jewelry is distracting from who you really are. The work that Christ is doing in you through your words, your countenance and your actions is what God values.”

I must admit that this is something that I have to remind myself of often. I have to fight my insecure self. That little nagging voice that says, “You should be thinner. You have some wrinkles. You have cellulite (hence the Spanx). You’re not as together as you should be. Should you be wearing that?” Oh, that voice. It sounds just like me! I know that I am not alone in this struggle.

Our beauty will fade. Our breasts cease to be pert and slide sideways into our armpits when we lay down. (You know exactly what I’m talking about!) Our hair will become less shiny and full. Our eyes will need glasses. Our thighs might look like a relief map. Our hands and feet may have more spots than a leopard.

All these things can happen. And probably will. Maybe they have already started to happen. Let me remind you of Psalm 45: 11 Let the King be enthralled by your beauty.

The Lord is enthralled with your beauty! He loves you body, mind and soul. You are his beloved daughter. You are enough.

If all we have is our outward beauty; then we are beggars indeed.

Proverbs 31:25a, 30. She is clothed with strength and dignity….Charm is deceptive, and beauty if fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Come Unto Me

Standard

Christian Background - Confession

“Come unto me.” Matthew 11:28

It is not humiliating to be told that we must come to Jesus! Think of the things we will not come to Jesus Christ about.  If you want to know how real you are, test yourself by these words–“Come unto Me”. In every degree that you are not real, you will dispute rather than come.  You will quibble rather than come. You will go through sorrow rather than come….As long as you have the tiniest bit of spiritual impertinence, it will always reveal itself in the fact that you are expecting God to tell you to do a big thing and all He is telling you to do is to “come”

–Oswald Chambers