Sunday, July 28, 2013

{One Mission} Part 2: For His Glory






For Your Glory

Who, tell me, who, am I supposed to be?
Why I don't fit in,  
Why I seem all wrong. 
Why am I on the outside, looking in?
How long?
Nowhere do I belong.
Can this be a good thing?
Was I made this way on purpose? 
For a purpose? 
To reflect something unique.
About You.
That none knows, that no one else sees?
That I can tell.
Could it be?
That I was made for Your glory? 
I've been thinking and praying and trying to figure out what my {One Mission} is. 
Just a simple statement that will give me focus and direction in my life (I wrote more about it here).

Something real and applicable that will flow from moment to moment no matter where I am or who I am with.

The answer came from several sources:


A letter from a missionary friend, a message from the pastor, a verse in my children's devotional book.

What joy!  When I can see another piece of the plan that God has for my life.

I just had to share this one. 


I couldn't keep it to myself.


I don't think I'm supposed to, anyway.


This won't take very long, but it is the {One Mission} that I want to spend the rest of my life living:




Together With Jesus

Together With His People

Sharing My Life and My Story

For His Kingdom and For His Glory

That's it.


Simply said, but not so simply done.


And, this I cannot do, without the help and power of Christ working out in my life.


In John 15:5, Jesus declares, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”


The {One Mission} isn't just a personal mission statement.

 
It is an invitation for anyone who wants to live life more abundantly (that means a fruitful life).

The four points are:


1.  Together With Jesus:


Abide in Christ’s love and you'll never be alone.


Ever.

2.  Together With His People:

In sharing your life with others, there is a risk, and you even might get burned, but don't give up!


There are trustworthy people out there. And, you'll need help to find them.


Don't be afraid to pray and ask the Lord for good friends.



3.  Sharing My Life and My Story


Those friends will be a God-send and will come alongside you and help you to know your story.


So you can share it with the people who don't know that God loves them (John 3:16).


4.  For His Kingdom and For His Glory


Jesus is the King of everyone and everything.  Looking around here, it doesn't always seem that way.  But, that's where faith comes in.  And, when others see your steps of faith, it glorifies our King.


You'll have no idea what wonderful things that the Lord will do with your life and your story.


It takes a lot of faith.


But, it's faith in action, which is really what matters in the long run.


It's okay to be different, and your difference in the church, the body of Christ will make all the difference in the world.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35)



Sunday, July 21, 2013

{One Mission} Part 1: The Crucified Life



Women can have mid-life crises, too, you know.

We can look back and wonder...did any of my life really matter? Am I on the right track? Am I making any sort of difference? 


I am a wife, a mother, and a busy homeschooler.  All of these roles are very fulfilling, and of course, I don't want to stop being any of them. 


But, there's something that needs to take precedence over them all.  Something that would bind them all together for a greater purpose.  Something that would help me create priorities within my day for all the activities that need to get done and others that can be left undone:


A mission.


Not just a mission statement that will be thrown into a drawer and forgotten, but something that is so engrained in me that it is a part of who I am and who I was made to be. 


I want my mission to be real.  I want it to be life-changing for me and others.  I want it to matter for now and eternity.


The best example I can think of is that of Christ Jesus.


He lived His entire life knowing His


{One Mission}


given by God Himself.


He knew that {One Mission} was of the


utmost importance,


And, if He didn't complete it,


All mankind would perish.


That {One Mission} was to willingly


Lay down His life and die a sinner's death, even though He never did anything wrong!


Rather than foreiting and giving up on us,


He was willing, even joyful to lay His life down,


Knowing that He would be saving the lives of many,


So many that they would outnumber the stars in the heavens...


Do you think it was worth it?


Do think we were worth it?


Jesus thought so.


This is the gospel.


This is why we live for Him.


Because He died for us.



Marco Palmezzano, Crocifissione Degli, Uffizi, www.wikipedia.com


And, He asks us to follow Him.


To live the crucified life.


What does it mean to live the "crucified life", you may ask.


I'm still figuring that out myself, day by day, moment by moment.


But, it helps to put our lives into the same perspective, to have the same mind as Christ.


He knew He had


{One Mission}


The same is true for us.


Knowing our {One Mission} is the basis for all other acts that truly matter in our life.


When trying to figure out our life decisions, our plans, our itineraries,


Unless it is in-sync with our {One Mission},


We don't need to do it.


And, we don't need to feel guilty about saying no.


I'm preaching this to myself here...


you can say no.


Some people may not like it.


But, that's okay.


Once you know your {One Mission}, then you can live for the joy and delight of the Lord and not worry about what others think of you. 


You can lay down that heavy people-pleasing burden that has been giving you a pain in the neck and trade it in for one that is easy and light (Matthew 11:28).


Living in light of the {One Mission} is excruciatingly hard and painful at times, but


It is the joy and delight of our heavenly Father that gives us the perseverance to finish the race. 


So, how do I find out what is my {One Mission} is, you may ask.


Well, it's different for everyone.


To find out what it is takes searching...


He leaves us lots of clues in His Word, the Bible.


And, in our life story--not the cleaned up, shareable one, but the not so pretty, painful one that we have hidden in our heart.


I'm just now finding this out for myself, and despite the pain, it's true, His joy makes it easier than I thought it would be, His delight makes the burden bearable.



Leonardo di Vinci, Heart and its Blood Vessels, www.wikipedia.com


Finding out our {One Mission} is a work in itself, and some people die never knowing it.


But, God wants us to know.


If we don't know, He says we can ask Him. (James 1:5)


Sharing our real life story in community with other trustworthy people who love Jesus, and asking them if they see a common thread in it all can help us, too.


That common thread, theme, or pattern will lead us to what is the {One Mission} of our lives.


And, you don't want to miss it.


If you find it, then you're on your Way.



"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sitting on my Duff: The Lost Art of Being



It all started when I was awoken in the middle of the night.  Not sure what woke me, but I looked up to find a spider dangling right above my head!

Needless to say, I rolled right out of bed and switched on the light.  To my dismay, the spider had vanished. Thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me, I hopped right back into bed and went to sleep.

The next day, I went about my usual business of busyness cleaning the house, taking care of the children, and checking e-mail. When I finally sat down for the day and that's when I noticed a bruise in the middle of my knee cap. At least that's what I thought it was.

The next day, the bruise had grown and had a white puffy center.  I was beginning to wonder if it wasn't a bruise. 

When I showed Billy, he had an appalled look on his face.  "How did you manage to get that?"

"I don't know.  I don't remember hitting it on anything."

"It looks bad. You need to go to the doctor right away."

Billy seemed to think it looked pretty strange, so I went to a walk-in clinic.

"Looks like a spider bite," said Dr. D.

My eyes grew wide.  The dangling spider...I wasn't seeing things...It bit me!

Then, I shuddered. And, it was still somewhere in my room.

"Draw an outline around it with a marker, take these antibiotics, and try to rest. It could be a brown recluse or even a black widow. Both are highly poisonous. Go straight to the ER if it spreads."

That kind of freaked me out. I drove home in sort of a daze.

As soon as I got home, Billy helped check the bed, but we couldn't find the spider. I tried to put my feet up and take it easy. But, boy was that hard!

There's so many things that needed to be done around the house, but everyone else has a different definition of clean and in general, the children just add to the mess rather than helping to clean it up.

The next morning, the redness had spread across the line of demarcation and a patch of dark purplish blood vessels appeared around the white puffy center.  It didn't look good.

So, I was off to the ER.

A nurse practitioner (not even a doctor) gave me an even higher dose of antibiotics and a big fat bill. Lovely. More antibiotics. My intestines were going to hate me for it. 

After giving Bright Girl a crash course in housekeeping, I was finally able to prop my leg up and relax.

And, this time, I did. I was able to catch up on some really good reading: The Giver by Lois Lowry and Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis.

I could just be still and allow the Lord to "search me and know my heart" (Psalm 139:24).  It was a good time of refreshment for me.

Funny, it takes a spider bite to get me on my duff.

The bite was still looking bad, so Billy decided to do a little research on spider bites:

According to Google and Wikipedia, there is no real good remedy for the bite of a brown recluse. They are usually not aggressive little spiders, the size of a penny, but if you sit on one, or lay down on one, it will bite. And, they are very poisonous. Sometimes the poison can even cause necrosis, or death of the affected tissues, and if it gets infected, gangrene, which means amputation.

Eek! I needed the antibiotic to work or some other treatment. I had been praying the whole time about the bite, but now I was begging, supplicating for healing or wisdom in treating the wound. 

Then, it dawned on me, it's the poison that is causing the problem. What if there was some way to neutralize the poison or draw it out.  I checked some natural websites and double checked with WebMD and sure enough, there was one home remedy that works that I've already been using for ant and mosquito bites: good old baking soda mixed with a little water.

The baking soda absorbs moisture and so it draws out the poison.  

Pretty simple.

And, it worked! I'm still taking the first doctor's treatment of antibiotics, just in case. And, that little time of respite has been good for my soul.

Something stood out to me that C.S. Lewis wrote why he preferred walking to places rather than quickening his pace with modern inventions such as the automobile in his autobiography Surprised by Joy,

"I possessed 'infinite riches' in what would have been to motorists 'a little room.' The truest and most horrible claim made for modern transport is that it 'annihilates space.' It does.  
It annihilates one of the most glorious gifts we have been given...Why not creep into his coffin at once? There's little enough space there."

In this fast-paced, tech-addicted, information age, I think we've lost the art of just being. It's considered wasteful and frivolous to take a break from work, turn off the phone, the computer, the mp3 player (or some three-in-one gadget) and go for a walk and enjoy nature or just rest.

In cases of the under-responsible that may be true, but I have plenty of responsibility and probably more than I can handle.

Sometimes I need to just rest. 

So, when I find myself in a cleaning flurry, it's okay to slow down and sit down.

To take a break every now and then to get my bearings. 

And, when I rise, I will be present and strengthened and able to enjoy the life that the Lord has blessed me with--instead of just rushing through it!

"Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders." (Deuteronomy 33:12)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Higher Than I



There's just something about the mountains.

Growing up in the flat plains of Florida, the closest thing we have to a mountain are the hills of Mt. Dora (a city, not a mountain).Which is why around the wintertime, my family takes our yearly pilgrimage to the North.

To see the mountains.

Here's our trip to Stone Mountain in Georgia.



This lonely mountain overlooks the city of Atlanta.


Standing above a landscape can put things into perspective, can't it?
The city, the trees, the people, all seem small from up high.

It helps to go higher.

It's good for the soul.

Especially, if like me, you struggle with an old frienemy named:

{Worry}


Is it just me or does worry plague us when we first wake up in the morning until we lay our heads down at night. Maybe it's because it's at these times when we are most vulnerable.

It's like we take a problem, any problem, and surmise that if we think about it long enough and hard enough it will go away or get better.

Soon enough, the thoughts begin to take over and become as big as giant sequoias, overshadowing any reason and blocking out the light of hope.

The only way to be free is to go higher.
Above all the drama.
But, in the Kingdom of God, in order to go higher, you must get down low,
At the very feet of Jesus,
Weeping, pouring out your heart, and resting in His faithfulness.
It's all a matter of trust.
And, in due time, He will lift you up.

"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever." (Psalm 125:1)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bold as a Lion

"A Lion" by Sunshine Girl's big sister, Bright Girl


I'm still recovering from helping last week in our church's Vacation Bible School. The kids were great, but still, it's somehow just exhausting leading a group of Kindergartners all week long. 

Sunshine Girl was pretty excited to find out I was going to be her group leader. She kept telling the other children, "that's my mommy," beaming her sunshiny smile.

All week long, we shared with the kids through skits, Bible verse memory, and songs that God loves them and sent His Son to rescue them and bring them into His family.

I don't know what kind of eternal effects serving the children there will be, but I know that seeds were sown and for that I am grateful.

It's Sunshine Girl who once humbly reminded me how much we need God. She was frustrated and had already lost a privilege or two for misbehavior.

"It's so hard to be good, Mommy," she muttered with a sigh.


Being good is not just hard, it's impossible.

We hunger and thirst to be good, to be good enough, to be righteous, but we all fail miserably...

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

So, how do we possibly get this righteousness that we so desire?

By trying harder, being more "mature," being a good citizen?

Behind all that morality, our hearts are still sinful, idol making factories.

The way, the only way to be righteous is to give up all our efforts and to humbly come to Christ.

And, admit that we have failed. We've missed the mark, which is absolute holiness and perfection.

But, the thing is, Christ didn't. He lived a life of utter poverty and suffering and never once sinned. He never entertained one sinful thought and never gave in to any sort of temptation.

He lived the life we should have lived and died the death that we deserved to die for our sins. And, was raised again on the third day.

So, what does this mean for us?

Everything!

It means when we put our trust in Christ's sacrifice for us, we are no longer considered sinners in the sight of God.

We receive the righteousness of Christ, are born again into God's family, and become heirs to the promise given by faith to Abraham.

"It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith." (Romans 4:13)

And when we come to an end of ourselves, we finally understand what it means to "hunger and thirst for righteousness."

It is then that we can come to Jesus for He declares,

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)

In Him is all the fullfillment of the law and in Him is eternal life--life everlasting! 

What must we do to have this eternal life?

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved--you and your household." (Acts 16:31)

Realizing our salvation, sets us free from feeling unworthy, unloved, and without hope.

Through Christ we are holy and dearly loved and  we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us in our weaknesses and temptations.

Then, it isn't hard to be good anymore. Because by grace, we live in a constant state of righteousness.  It's a free gift and Christ is faithful to work out in our lives what He worked in.

The more we seek God and His will, we will change and grow to become more and more like Christ.

Righteousness. It's different than being good. 

We can stand in God's presence and lift up holy hands to Him in praise and prayer without fear and without shame of ever being rejected.

And Christ will give us the power we need to "walk the path of righteousness." (Psalm 23:3) 

"The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion." (Proverbs 28:1)