Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The One Secret I'm NOT Supposed to Keep!

I have a confession. I’m not good at keeping secrets. Hold on there…if you tell me something in confidence that I can do. It is not a problem. But if your husband or wife is planning a surprise birthday party for you, you better hope they don’t invite me until the last possible moment and that I don’t run into you at the grocery store on the way, because just as sure as the sun came up this morning, I will find a way to spill the beans! It’s too hard to pretend that I don’t know when something really good is about to happen to a person. It’s one reason I wait until the last minute to do any type of gift shopping. Because I can’t keep a stinking secret! I don’t mean to tell or ruin the surprise. I try so hard to NOT say anything that the reverse actually ends up happening. How crazy is that?

Well, lately God and I have been pondering (actually I’ve been doing the pondering, He’s been handling the revelation part) several times in scripture where Jesus uses the words, “whoever has been given much, much is expected” (or required). Now let me insert a disclaimer right here and now. I am no bible scholar by any stretch of the imagination. So understand that these are simply my own humble opinions. Please feel free to critique, (nicely, of course) correct, expand upon or in any way, shape or form set me straight if you don’t share said humble opinions. Let’s dialogue!

So, yes, God and I have been going over these words and the times that scripture records Jesus using them. Most often it was in some way connected to a parable. *NOTE – I love that Jesus was a storyteller and that His stories are still so relevant today, don’t you?* At times He is actually explaining the hidden meaning (read secret) in the parable to His disciples. See, Jesus can’t keep good news from people either! And that is exactly my point here.

I know that most times we use these verses to show what scripture teaches about how we should share the material blessings God has given us with others. I totally agree with that interpretation. But as I have been studying, it also appears to apply to knowledge and understanding God has given to us; entrusted to us to put it more accurately. If God opens our minds and hearts and grants us understanding of His great secrets, it comes with a responsibility to share them with others.

Think of it like this. If someone were to discover a cure for cancer and then proceed to seal the information in an envelope and lock it away in a file cabinet or hide it in a safe, we would practically, and I think justifiably, accuse them of murder. Withholding that kind of information from a dying person is nothing short of cruel. But may I suggest to you that we, as believers, are possibly guilty of much worse. We have the greatest secret of all. We know the best news there is to know and it affects everyone. And God has given us permission; no He has given us the responsibility to share it boldly. I know I’m guilty as charged. Why in the world would I choose this secret of all secrets to keep to myself? Now that makes no sense whatsoever.

So here’s today’s challenge: Read through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – I’m not giving specific scripture links on purpose. I think you'll enjoy digging for it yourself) and look for the times Jesus indicates that if we have been given understanding we’re expected to share it; pay close attention to His last charge to His disciples as He leaves their physical presence. That’s where we receive our permission in the form of a commission. It’s our right. It’s our duty. But mostly it’s our privilege. I am so very thankful God allows us to be a part of the work that only He can do.

And if you are still looking for more after you read those four books, here is a link to a post containing a 30-day Plan to read through the whole New Testament. Our pastor shared it with us last year and it is totally do-able! Go for it. What do you have to lose? Ignorance?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shame On Me For Putting That Off!

So I think procrastination is a tool we put in the devil’s hand. I mean sometimes he attacks us and we never see it coming. But sometimes we don't even provide him with a challenge. We just hand him the ammo and hold the bulls eye right in front of our faces. There are things we allow in our lives that give satan a foothold. And these footholds are not always obvious to us and may seem harmless at any rate. I think procrastination is one of those things.

Just last week I saw God show up in pretty amazing ways. It was a very good week in that department. I was sailing right along. But by the time I got to Friday, I was done. My battery was fried. Like stick-a-fork-in-me-I’m-done fried. Kind of like Elijah after his Mt. Carmel experience in 1 Kings 18 & 19. Except I didn’t have a crazy vindictive Queen putting a voodoo curse on my head or anything. I was just drained for no good reason. Or so I thought.

While I was “reflecting” on where my week started its downhill slide, I felt God leading me to some little things I had been putting off dealing with. They weren’t important or life altering. Just little things I have been meaning to do. A phone call, a note, an appointment that needs to be made, a closet that needs to be cleaned out, a spill in the bottom of the refrigerator that needs to be dealt with. That kind of stuff. Just crazy little things that will never in a million years take care of themselves.

God pointed out to me that these little things will drain my battery faster than leaving my car headlights on all night long. It’s an attitude thing. If I let myself ignore the little things, they can become big things in a snap. It’s also a discipline thing. If I can’t take care of unimportant things in a timely manner, what in the world will I do when a real issue comes up? The best time to take care of a situation is the moment you become aware of it. (Ouch! That smarts!!!) How can I expect God to trust me with really big things if I put off dealing with the piddly little things in my life?

Some days I feel like I’m starting over at square one. Ever feel that way? But that’s why I love the way GRACE works! How about you? Here's to starting over, right now, today. And here's to taking care of all those dirt piles under the rugs. Anybody want to borrow my broom and dust pan?

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Hole In Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns

As a member of Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger program I had the privilege to read an amazing book that I feel should be required reading for Christians everywhere.

Richard Stearns asks some pretty tough questions in his book, The Hole in Our Gospel.

What does God expect of us?

Are you willing to be open to God’s will for your life?

What if there are children who will suffer somehow because I failed to obey God?

What if my cowardice costs even one child somewhere in the world his or her life?

And those are all within the first fifty pages! These are questions that were asked of him. He answered them for himself and now he’s asking the church, God’s people, to honestly evaluate how we measure up to God’s standard of genuine and active compassion toward “the least of these.”

Richard relates the story of his journey that started even before he knew he was on a journey with details that would feel right at home in Moses’ autobiography. The fingerprints of God are bold and beautiful as He prepared an ordinary man to be a part of an extraordinary plan.

He speaks with authority and firsthand knowledge of the epidemic of poverty in our world, and it is OUR world, not some impersonal, nameless and faceless problem. Stearns issues the challenge to each of us. What does God expect and what are we going to do? Because in the end it’s where our belief gives way to action that really counts.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Can You Be Afraid & Not Even Know It?

I’ve may have mentioned before about how God frequently chooses to reveal Himself to me. The way He uses repetition - A LOT - because of my hard head.

Well, here is another example from the last couple of weeks. Notice the trend.

I don’t think I’m afraid. But all this talk about fear is freaking me out!

Should I be afraid?

Am I about to be afraid?

Am I already afraid and I don’t even know it?

In my experience, when God puts something right under my nose several times in such close succession, it’s because He wants me to pay close attention to it and He ALWAYS has a perfectly wonderful reason for doing so. This time I feel like He’s turned up the volume on me! I’m hearing it in stereo. And it’s even echoing!

But I still don’t feel “afraid”. At least I don’t think I’m afraid. As a matter of fact there are very few things that bring out fear in me. I’m not afraid of bugs or spiders. Not afraid of storms or the dark. Not afraid of ghosts or the boogey man. I’m not afraid of needles (unlike a husband who shall remain nameless) or pain (which is why I was the one to agree to birth the kids). As a matter of fact, I think someone once said, “That girl is not afraid of the devil himself!” And that is a pretty true statement. I’m not afraid of the devil. He just aggravates the fire out of me (if you are unfamiliar with Southern English, it’s pronounced “far” not “fire”)!

There are a couple of things that I’ll admit do scare me…

  • A phone call at 2:00 a.m.
  • Snakes (they are creepy, they have no legs and even if they don’t hurt me, they will make me hurt myself!).
  • Being totally helpless (that’s my battle with being a control freak).
  • And lastly, fear itself. Yes, I’m afraid of being afraid. Sick, isn’t it?

So maybe what God is trying to show me is that no matter how brave I try to be in my own strength, fear can be lingering in the closet (whether I openly admit it or not). But as long as I trust in Him and in His strength, I have no need to fear anything – even fear itself!

What’s your greatest fear? Whatever it is, just remember that God is big enough, strong enough, wise enough, tough enough and just plain enough to handle it!