Friday, July 29, 2011

Living in the Somewhere

A dear friend recently shared with me her favorite new quote, which she had read on her friend’s refrigerator:

“Not somehow, but triumphantly.”

How often in the day to day realities of life do you walk in triumph? At the end of the day, do you ever look back upon it as victorious and full of joyful success?

As for me, I feel like I live most of my days in the “somehow” instead of the “triumph.” Somehow I will have enough time to….enough energy to…enough patience to….Somehow it will all work out, right?

God’s word in 2 Corinthians 2:14 calls us to escape from this “somehow” living and to be lead forth in triumph. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ…” (2 Corinthians 2:14 NASB) God desires for us to live triumphantly, exulting in the joy of His successes in our lives.

That’s all fine and good, but how do we get there? How do go from life in the somehow to life in triumph? Read 2 Corinthians 2:24 again, “But thanks be to God, who always LEADS us in triumph IN CHRIST…”

A life of triumph is always led by God and is always lived in Christ.

For us to live in triumph, we must be led by God. More often than not, I am led by all kinds of things except God. I am led by my own will, desires, and pride. I am led by what others think of me, might think of me or what society defines as normal. No wonder I look back on my day and feel anything but triumphant. The picture Paul paints of those being led in triumph is that of a military parade returning from victory. If we are on parade, but decide to ignore the parade route and turn down a side street, more than likely we will not end up at the victorious life God intended for us.

Furthermore, for us to live in triumph, we must be living IN Christ. He must be our source of hope, energy, strength and power. If we depend on our own meager supply, we will lose heart and never live as triumphantly as God intended. Instead we will be tired and weary, hoping that somehow we will scrape by this time.

I can’t help but pause for a minute and ask what does that triumphant life look like? Is it like some prosperity preachers would have us believe, a life of abundant riches and minimal problems? I don’t think so. The triumphant life has nothing to do with the stuff you possess and everything to do with the attitude that possesses you. The life of victory in Christ can be found in the midst of the slums of Nairobi, the depths of a cancer diagnosis or in your everyday activities.

Each day, I hope to look back and see that regardless of my circumstances, I was being led by God and living in Christ’s power. Each day I pray that we all live not in the somehow, but in triumph.

~~ Originally written for the Summer Session.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Finish Strong

Want to know a secret?

Sometimes you can read the Word of God and not get anything out of it.

Unfortunately, one of those times might be when you have agreed to write a blog post on what you have read. You might even read the chapters again and again and again…praying that God works through His Word straight into your heart, and still nothing jumps out at you, inspires you or really changes the way your day is going.

If you are like me, you know this very scripture has spoken intense truths to your heart before. You might see some old favorite verses underlined or even starred, but this day, they aren’t calling to your Spirit. You might read a couple of verses with which you nod in agreement, but nothing life changing at this moment.

Maybe I am the only one that has experienced this when reading the Bible, but my guess is as we have gone through this Summer Session reading of the New Testament, maybe you have had days like this too. If you haven’t, that is awesome, keep up the good work! If you have, it is ok. You are not alone.

So what are we left to do when we are reading God’s Word and we just don’t understand it or we just aren’t feeling it? Well, the easy way out would be to quit, to give up and go on without it. Still, that way leaves us missing out on the days when God’s Word is more alive to us than ever before, when its truth radically speaks into our lives, breaking through and changing the way we think, love and live.

The hard way, but the best way, is to push through, endure and keep reading even when all the words and thoughts are muddling together and not making any sense. As we persevere and keep pressing deeper into God’s Word, our minds and bodies will become more disciplined for endurance and those days when we read God’s Word and get nothing out of it will be fewer and farther between.

“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” The Message 1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

~~~~~~~I wrote this for the Summer Session, reading through the New Testament my church is doing. Hope you are still with us and will finish strong!~~~~~~~~~

Friday, July 22, 2011

God is For You.

God is FOR you.

Stop. Read that again.

God is for YOU.

Stop. It is worth reading one more time.

GOD is for you.

The master of the Universe, the Creator of the Stars, the energy that keeps the very atoms of all creation together is on your side, beloved.

God is for you, when you have failed for the millionth time and are racked with guilt and shame,

For there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

God is for you, when your body or thoughts are consumed by some deadly disease or addiction,

For the very Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you. (Romans 8:11)

God is for you, child, when you are alone and unloved and there is no one to turn to,

For you are a child of God and have received a spirit of adoption and can cry out, “Daddy!” (Romans 8:15)

God is for you, dear one, when you hurt to the very core of your existence,

For the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to you. (Romans 8:18)

God is for you, beloved, when you simply have no more words,

For the Spirit Himself intercedes for you with groaning too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)

God is for you when you just don’t get it and don’t understand why and don’t think you can take it anymore,

For God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

God is for even for you when you have no interest in Him, laugh at the idea of believing in Him and really have no idea why you are reading this silly blog anyway,

For God did not even spare His own Son, letting Him die that you might live forever with Him. (Romans 8:32-34)

God is for you in the mundane of the day to day, the most joyous highs and the most desperate lows,

For nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus,

Not death, not life, not angels, not rulers

Not powers, the present, the things to come,

Not tribulation, distress, persecution, famine or the sword.


(Romans 8:38-39)

God is for you. Let it whisper to your heart.

GOD IS FOR YOU! Let it scream from the rooftops.

God is for you. Let it settle in deep, wrap through your brain and hold you in the warmth of its promise.

God is for you.

And if God is for you, friend, who can stand against you? (Romans 8:31)

~~~~Cross posted from today at the Summer Session. Hope you are joining in!~~~~

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Enjoyed My Boys Today

I enjoyed my boys today.

That might seem like a simple statement to many of you, but to me, it is huge. Don't get me wrong, I love me boys intensely, with a love that defies words and sends my heart spinning at the thought of anything going wrong with them.

But lately,
I hate to admit it,
I have not enjoyed them.

Maybe I am the only mom that goes through seasons like this. Maybe daily you are blessed with a desire to be with, play with, engage with and cherish totally your children. Me, not so much. There are have been way too many moments when I wanted to send the boys outside, lock the door and just sit in silence. SIGH.

But today, for the first day in many I enjoyed my boys. I sat with them and did chalk on the sidewalk. I dug holes in the sandbox and decorated birthday cards. Most of all, I just enjoyed being with them. Nothing changed in them. Their behaviors were the normal crazy energetic, whiney, inquisitive, bickering, wrestling fest.

But today,
I enjoyed my boys as
something changed in me.

It helped that I have been praying about this consistently for awhile now. It helped that I read this blog post on John Piper's blog about motherhood as a calling. It helped that I figured out that most of the lack of enjoyment was stemming from My own selfishness and wanting control of getting things done MY way. I was seeing my boys as bothersome instead of blessings. I was seeing them as the world sees children, not as the way God sees them. (Read the Piper blog post if you don't get that statement.)

Through the kindness of His heart, God revealed to me this sin attitude and showed its dire consequences. I am thankful that He is working in me and most of all I am thankful that

I enjoyed my boys today.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lessons from the First Mission Trip Ever

Crossposted from Summer Session...Hope you are joining in and being changed by God's word!

“Mission trip season” is definitely upon us at Rich Fork. One team just back from Honduras, one returning from Ukraine, two different teams leaving for Romania, one team heading to eastern NC to rebuild a roof…woo! I get tired just thinking about it. As I have been praying over these trips and as I was reading through today’s reading in Acts, I couldn’t help but wonder, what can we learn from the very first mission trip ever? (Acts 13-15)

  1. Missions is instigated and inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. “…the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”” (Acts 13:2); “So being sent by the Holy Spirit, they went…” (Acts 13:4)
  1. Missions comes out of work already taking place in the church. “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said…” (Acts 13:2)
  1. It is the job of the church to prepare those who are going. “Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13:3)
  1. Everyone is to be involved in missions, not just those going. “Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13:3)
  1. Spiritual preparation for missions is essential. “Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13:3)
  1. The purpose of missions should be to proclaim the word of God. “When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God…” (Acts 13:5); “And the word of the Lord was being spread though the whole region.” (Acts 13:49)
  1. The ultimate result of missions is joy and being in the presence of the Lord. “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:52)
  1. Missions is powered by our deep dependence upon God. “Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.” (Acts 14:3)
  1. Missionaries and those who go on short-term missions trips are not super-Christians, but simple people who love Jesus. “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God…” (Acts 14:15)
  1. Missions works to strengthen, encourage and teach all those involved. “After they preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith and saying “Through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
  1. Those who have been sent, whether long or short term, have a responsibility to share their experiences with the church. “When they had arrived [at Antioch] and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them…”(Acts 14:27)
  1. The church has a responsibility to listen, to grow and just be with those whom they have sent. “When they had arrived and gathered the church together…they spent a long time with the disciples.” Acts 14:28)

What have you learned about missions from reading Acts or from seeing it lived out through those around you?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kinda Quiet

It has been kind of quiet around here the last few days...on the blog and in real life. I dropped off the boys for a long weekend on Friday and wow, you should hear the difference.

Our house is eerily quiet without their giggles, running feet and incessant questioning.

David and I filled the time away with many good things...a fishing date with dear friends....dress shopping for my niece's niece's wedding...a day trip to a local amusement park...none of which I brought a camera along of course!

I truly enjoyed and treasured the time with just me and David, but I am tired after all our going ons and more than a little behind on housework and other life stuff...and since the boys are back as of lunch time today, I doubt I get any rest or the chance to catch.

But, it was so worth it...for the time of a quiet house and for the joy in the house not being so quiet anymore!

On another note...I forgot to cross-post my last two Summer Session posts...if interested in reading here and here. Hope you grow and enjoy!
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