Monday, April 30, 2007

With all my heart, soul, mind and strength

Compassion and judgement keep coming up in so many conversations. At school, at church in my own focused time with the Lord.

I now believe, that in my life compassion takes more energy and surrender, to the Lordship of Christ, than judgement. I'm not saying this is the case for everyone. But for me it is easier to have judgement without love than to have compassion without love.

God through Jesus Christ has called us to love Him with our whole being. Our minds, our emotions, our wills and our physical strength. Maybe we should be careful about teaching anything that places more emphasis on one part of our lives over another.

Haven't we made the mistake throughout church history of swinging to an emphasis that focuses on one or two over the others. Some churches focus on the engagement of the mind. Some churches focus on the engagement of the emotion. Some churches focus on the engagement of the bodies in service to others. I believe when we get overly focused we ignore the others and even worse we often become very critical of those who place their focus in a different place while being totally blind or feeling totally justified in our own particular emphasis.

If we had a relationship with the Lord that demonstrated that God wants us to love him with our minds, our emotions, our wills and our actions wouldn't we be living in a process of sanctification or transformation? How could we stop God from changing us? God doesn't want parts of us. He wants our whole being.

Wouldn't we have a life that we could share with our neighbors? Wouldn't we have a testimony at church for our fellow believers? Wouldn't we be light in a dark world?

For instance, many of us know quite a bit about the gospel. But over and over again the testimony we hear at church is that we lost an opportunity in our everyday world to share because of fear. I would argue that many believers have not been trained that there emotions need to be submitted to the Lord. They don't know what to do with their emotional life. So when it overcomes their faith they feel hopeless and even ashamed. It doesn't even occur to them that they could become equipped to know what to do with that emotion.

Has the language of reason obliterated our ablility to speak about emotion?

It makes sense to me that communities of believers who have been focused on knowing also tend to be weak on compassion.

I see real hope and real possibilities for a rich life in learning to love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my strength. I am hopeful that the first leads to the second having compassion in words, in my heart and in my deeds for my neighbors.

I know this post barely holds together. It covers a lot of territory. But that makes it an honest reflection of my walk with the Lord right now. So much of my time has been spent in details. Somehow I think so much of the big picture became lost. I want to be able to interact with the big picture. When I am examining or climbing in a tree I want to be able to hold onto the reality of the forest.

Monday, April 23, 2007


I wish I had a more compassionate heart.

I wish I didn't have days when my family received the least compassion of anyone.

I wish I wasn't afraid to extend compassion to strangers.

I wish I wasn't afraid to extend compassion to my neighbors.

I wish I understood how much compassion God has for me and has extended to me.

I hope God keeps working on my lack of compassion.

I hope God develops courage related to compassion.

I hope my son is learning to have a compassionte heart.

I hope I learn to obey the Lord when he asks me to act in compassion towards someone else.

I hope someday my heart will be more prone to compassion than to judgement.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The rubber met the road today.

If you've been reading my blog since it began you know that my family may be moving this summer. Back in November we were 90% sure that we would be moving. Then one thing led to another since mid January we really have no idea what might happen.

We've had a small army of people praying for us on this one. I've been so grateful for every prayer.

God has been using this time in my life to deepen my trust in Him. It has been an opportunity to walk in the knowledge of His goodness towards us and to trust that wherever we end up it will be purposeful.

A few weeks ago on this journey of trust, I had a gigantic lightbulb moment about what Paul was saying when he testified to learning the secret of contentment. Its hard for me to describe but I'm going to try.

Prior to my recent lightbulb moment the Lord has had me focused on what it means to abide. It suddenly became important to look at abiding from a different angle. I have all kinds of experience with not abiding. But what does it mean in my life. What does it look like to not abide?

Not abiding, has meant using all that I know about God and all that I want in life and mixing it up into this place I now call "taking" from God. I was bouncing around between truly seeing what the Lord wanted and obeying and taking life into my own hands and just doing. So if this "taking" approach to God helps me give language to my version of not abiding. Then what is abiding? What I believe God is showing me is His desire for me to learn how to "receive" from Him. A friend of mind describes this same thing as moving from willfullness in my walk with God to willingness. I am here to receive from Him as He wills rather than taking from God. Huge, Huge, Huge lightbulb for me. I was driving people crazy with the joy I was walking in associated with this revelation.

So while going through this process of discovering where we might be living I would experience contentment if I could walk by faith believing and trusting that God in his goodness will act on our behalf to get us to the location He wants us to be. If during that process God called upon me to act then I need to be obedient and act. If God called upon me to wait patiently then I need to be obedient and wait patiently. I could rest and be free.

Today I woke up suffering from lack of strength and patience with God and our cirucmstances. I have been struggling for days with being very tempted to take matters into my own hands and start forcing some issues. I was losing my grip on contentment and choosing to be discontent. Completely aware during every moment that it was coming from a place of rebellion and willfulness.

Why the change? I'm human. I'm physically and emotionally tired. People we love want answers as bad as we do. I'm suffering because I want this part of my journey to be over and I wanted to stop walking by faith and take back control of my life. There it is again an inclination to "take" from God. Choosing to not "take" and instead to offer up my life in obedience to Christ is costing me. It is not painless.

The thing is that the Lord has allowed me enough of "taste and see that the Lord is good" and enough "miry places" created by my own willfullness that taking control wasn't really that attractive either.

I think what God has been saying to me today is that I want you to learn to be able to live with the pain of abiding. And because of all the work God has done on my behalf leading me up to today I was able to say through tears, "okay". The first thing I did was pray for grace and obedience and trust and patience and endurance and hope. By God's grace, I decided I am not going to choose rebellion. By God's grace, I decided I am going to choose contentment in all things. By God's grace, I decided I am going to choose to rejoice always.

So here's what God provided since that prayer this morning:

I picked up a book a friend gave me and the page bookmarked said in big bold letters, "Hope when you are depressed by the greatness of your problems."

My prayer partner and I ususally talk on Fridays. This week it worked out to be today instead. Our conversation and prayer time together was good for my soul.

My husband is on a business trip and we just had the best conversation over the phone about this whole ordeal. Even though God isn't working according to my schedule His hand is at work on our behalf.

I had time to take a long nap this afternoon.

Once again God generously met me with all that He is and all that He provides when I chose to believe Him and to call on Him.

I'm so thankful that God hasn't and never will give up on me. I'm so grateful for his graciousness to me today. I'm so thankful for friends and family who are His hands and feet to us. For those of you who made it to the end of this entry, thanks for listening.

Don't stop praying! I've got to make it through tomorrow and the day after that and ..... :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Signs of Faith

On Sunday I was watching a program where they profiled a guy who has made a book composed entirely of photographs he called "signs of faith". As he traveled the United States, doing his job as a photo journalist, he began to notice these "signs of faith". When he first began to notice them he described himself as a "lasped Methodist". Some were church signs but mostly they were yard signs or side of the road signs.

One comment he made really stuck with me. He said he liked the quality of people taking the message into their own hands. I find that an interesting comment to ponder. Are preachers not doing a good job with their comments? Are preachers making to many comments? What made him appreciate that they might be motitvated to take the message into their own hands?

I would say I was also a little convicted. I don't think I respect enough that God can use more things than I can possibly imagine to turn the attention of people off of themselves and onto Him.

Oh, while I was on the internet this morning I saw a list of "church signs". This one made me smile:

When the restaurant next to the Church put out a big sign that said, "Open Sundays," the church reciprocated with its own message: "We are open on Sundays, too."

Sunday, April 08, 2007


I am grateful.

I am hopeful.

I am speechless.

Singing, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Just One Day

In just one day:

My husband arrived home from a long flight with the flu.

My son thanked me for lightening up on my "i don't like video games" mantra so he could enjoy a day of gaming while on Spring Break.

I spent some time in the Word and praying.

My parents emailed me about a health scare for my Uncle.

An old friend found my email through the "grapevine". We haven't talked to each other in 10+ years. So great to get caught up.

A friend in Germany and I have gotten into a great conversation via email about a really cool subject.

I read 150 amazing pages in two different books for class.

I got the grocery shopping done.

I wrote a couple of notes to put in the mail tomorrow.

I found out my old college has a new President and listened to his installation address.

My life today has been impacted directly by people on three continents and from three different States in just twelve hours.

Isn't that crazy? Who would have believed that could be possible in 1901? That kind of interaction with one another is becoming mundane, totally normal, nothing extraordinary.

What actually makes all those moments so extraordinary is that God wants to be involved in every moment of every one of our days! WOW! God is so amazing!

Sunday, April 01, 2007


My son is on a mission trip this week just across the border in Mexico. Our church has had a relationship with the same ministry in Mexico for more than a decade, almost two decades I think. Our participation as a church has grown from taking down one team, to build one house to 80+ people which is enough to build two homes and have a Vacation Bible School type experience for the kids in the neighborhood.

The house that is built consists of three rooms and a loft. It is built out of 2x4's, plywood and sheet rock. There is no plumbing and in many cases no electricity although electricity is coming to more and more hillsides.

I think the supplies for the house cost in the neighborhood of $6,000. I have no idea what the land costs. In California an 1100 sq ft house can cost you over $600,000. An imaginary line divides these two existences.

I've gone on the trip to Mexico three times now. You hear the teenagers pondering and being surprised by the difference between their home and the homes their building. Or they might contemplate what its like to be a kid growing up in those hills. They notice things like its dusty and dirty. There are no trees. It is basically a hilly desert which appears to have very little natural resources for supporting life. They wonder how people don't die from boredom.

So often when people get back from these experiences they speak about being grateful that we have so much. But as I've been praying about this trip for my son, I've been wondering if gratefulness for what we have is really the point.

Instead I find myself longing, for my son to ask bigger questions? Why do we have so much? What does it mean for me to have a lot when someone else has so little? What does God expect of me when I am born on the side of the line which has so much?

Then there are the questions for me, what if God breaks my son's heart for the poor? What if God calls my son to go drill holes in Africa so villages can have fresh water? Am I going to cheer him on? Or am I going to try to stand in God's way?

I raise this question because I happen to know several young people who right now are serving God against their parents "better" judgement. These young people get questions like: How will you feed your family? How will you ever own a home? You can't be successful doing that? I've sacrificed so you could have a good education? The list goes on...

May my son have the courage to ask really hard questions? May he have ears by God's grace to receive the answers. May his dear ol' Mom and Dad have the courage to help guide him towards the Father's will and not away.