Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lament Psalm

Our pastor has been asking us to write a Psalm. My day yesterday inspired a lament.

I am hard pressed on every side.

I am left to choose between right and easy.

I am broken in spirit.

I am without hope.

I am left with unanswered questions.

Only you can I turn to for strength.

Only you can I turn to for hope.

Only you can give me wisdom and understanding.

So I will seek You, trust You, ask You.

I will be grateful You are there.

A few entries ago I had a day where rejoicing in the day the Lord had made was pretty darn easy. Yesterday, not so easy. Like most of life it turns out substitute teaching has good days, average days and really bad days. Writing this Psalm really did help me get perspective on the whole thing. Coming home to my family did me a whole lot of good as well. Thanks, you two.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Substitute Teaching

You really never know where God is going to lead you.

A speaker this week said she has become convinced that you never really know the will of God until your looking at it in the rear view mirror.

I can relate to that comment. When you look back its so much easier on many things to say, "Now I understand what you were up to God."

My newest adventure is substitute teaching for my local school district. I substitute teach for middle school and high school teachers for potentially all subjects.

In the spring several events and several conversations with Lord led me to think this is what God wants me to do. The reasons that made the most sense to me is my love for English Second Language students. The school systems of American have more of those than they know what to do with. I have had the opportunity to sub in this area several times both for high school and for middle school classes. I loved working with those kids just as much as I have enjoyed working with their parents. The reg flags of this experience are the lack flexibility in leadership one has as a teacher in the current environments. That's a blog entry for a whole separate blogspot.

I have identified in just one month of doing this a couple of unexpected gains. There is no other event in my life that has put me in a more dependent place daily than the choice to substitute teach. I am very outside my comfort zone and leadership skill level. I have seen God provide for me in very specific and wise ways. I am hopeful about the future benefits of learning to discipline myself to be dependent on God daily for my "work life".

The other gain is the chance to develop flexible leadership skills. Some classes get to a place where a heavy hand is the only option. Most classes need someone to facilitate the natural leaders in the class to step up and lead. Leading kids through the confusion of doing things differently has been interesting as well.

I just thought of something else I am learning to do. I have to discern who to trust quickly. Every one enjoys themselves much more if I lead from a place of trust rather than fear. That kind of leading has risks. But it has also had great rewards.

So its going to be very exciting to look in my rear view mirror someday and know more about why God has me doing this now.

And, I look forward to God answering my questions about whether or not God wants me to pursue being certified as a teacher and obtaining a teaching position in the school district.

What new challenge has God presented you? What are you gaining from it in your walk with God?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Paradigm Shift

I am going through a massive paradigm shift. I have avoided talking about it here because as hard as I am going to try to explain what I believe I think there is a pretty good chance some will misunderstand me and dismiss me as becoming "liberal".

One of the ways that evangelicals distinguish themselves is their passion for truth. This turns into a belief that we can know what is "right". Being "right" is highly prized. If its true that for every strength there is a weakness what is the weakness of this viewpoint?

A while back I was thinking these questions. "Is God's highest and best for me that I be "right"?" "Does God communicate to us about himself through scripture that his greatest and most important characteristic is his "rightness"?" Do we learn in the New Testament that we will be most like him if we just learn what is the "right" answer for every question?"

I was also observing that those that prize being "right" also often talk about the dangers of being "wrong". This leads to list of dangerous enemies. While some say we have to love our enemies they never talk about how to do that. Instead they move onto telling you more about why they are "right". How many people who make it a mission to teach what is "right" have as their highest goal, the persuasion of those who are wrong because they love them and are deeply concerned about their well-being verses the motivation of self preservation?

Some people have taken these messages and come to believe that their highest calling from God is to tell people how to think and act rightly. When challenged about what to do with the verses that tell us we are not to judge lest we be judged they don't know how to fit that thought into their belief system. To judge others and tell them that they are wrong is one of their duties.

My paradigm shift - What if we valued God's love and compassion for every one as being equal to God being right. Is telling the world how right God is without sharing with them how loving He is doing more harm than good?

Having a relationship with Jesus, experiencing his love for me has been what has persuaded me to give up what I want, what my flesh craves and take a chance that Jesus is right. Over and over again Jesus has proven himself to be right, always right.

This means I'll be willing to have a friend who is struggling to give up being a prostitute, because she isn't sure she can believe that God will provide for her if she gives up the only security she knows. I will listen to her not judge her. I will pray for her. I will testify to why I am so certain the promise of provision is true. I will find other prostitutes who feared the same thing trusted God and He was faithful.

This means that I will encourage my son to have friendships with people who don't believe that following God is worth the trouble. It means I wont abandon my son if he chooses to lead a double life.

It means that I'll be honest about my own sin nature and my desperate need for the love and correction of God. I will be honest about the damage the self righteousness has done to my own soul.

It means I will risk being misunderstood by those who believe that compassion is the same as giving permission for sin.

God has extended me so much compassion, grace, forgiveness, love, mercy to me. How on earth do I have the right to withhold that from others? I believe it is God's place and responsibility to judge and to convict. My job is to affirm through my own testimony what God has done for me.

It is my job to seek the Lord so He can teach me what He wants me to know. Trusting that what I learn from Him can be confirmed in scripture and in the testimony of other believers.

P.S - I'm willing to listen to any reaction you may have to what I have just written. I don't want to engage in an argument so I may not respond to your comment but I do promise to think about and pray about whatever you might share.

If you have a question please don't hesitate to ask? Please don't hesitate to respond anonymously if that is important to you for some reason.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Today is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Today I

  • have listened to great worship music - Vicky Beeching and David Crowder.
  • enjoyed taking a walk with my dog.
  • had great left over Thai food from a gathering we had at our house last night.
  • enjoyed a wonderful conversation with my husband.
  • found a job for tomorrow as an English Second Language teacher in a school I've been hoping to get into soon.
  • worked something out with God that I was feeling really frustrated and disappointed in myself about.
  • soon I get to leave the house for an all-church celebration regarding our new pastor coming to our church.
Some days its hard to rejoice and be glad in it. Today, not so hard. :)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Praying - What a JOYe!

Recently a friend of mine gave a talk at bible study at the end of her talk she asked us to participate in a prayer practice that was new to me.

The instructions were basically think of a word or image that relates to your walk with God right now. Then somewhere on a blank page write the word and a very simplistic marking to represent that word. Keep repeating the process.

The first word that came to mind was growth. This word was related to the Lord stretching me by asking me to pursue substitute teaching in the middle and high schools in our community. So I drew a tree trunk. That led to my hopes about the fruit that would be born from this activity in my life. So I drew apples and they each represented a different characteristic I either was hoping to see developed in me or expressed to the kids. That led to drawing a path on the right side of the page.

What happened next was so telling. I consciously thought that Jesus should be just a half step a head of me. So I wrote his name down and then mine. I looked at what I had done. I had put my own name a half-step ahead of his. Shoot. So I crossed out my name and rewrote it where it belonged. What I loved about the way I drew the path was that there was no destination in sight. I don't know specifically yet where this is headed. I'm walking by faith.

That thought prompted the words "eyes to see". I desire to have eyes to see what God has planned for me as soon as he wants to let me in on it. So I drew a pair of eyes.

That thought led to the word glory. All of this is to be for his glory so I made "marks of praise" and "marks of glory" at the top of my page. Time was up and I was done with my prayer.

Everyone at our table shared their prayer and expressed how amazed they were at the process and that it did reveal to them where they are at right now. What a gift our leader gave to us.

Dear Lord,

I continue to be amazed at the wonder of the combination of being and doing. When we are honest in our being before you and doing something anything that reflects that the indescribable and something very meaningful happens. Lord so many of us have been so afraid of legalistic doing we have been tricked into passivity. So I ask that you would continue to give me and others who desire this as well doings that match up with our being in you. Help us to see the light you create and give you all the glory for it.


Sunday, October 07, 2007


Why do we have idols? Or more specifically why do I have idols?

I was really struggling to be obedient about something. At first I tried behaviors that have helped put my heart attitude back in a good place. That was having limited success. I've learned that when the old ways of doing things aren't helping something new is up. So after resisting a heart to heart with God about the thing I finally sat my butt down and asked the Lord sincerely what's up!

The answer I got back was indeed something new for me. The Lord pointed out that I was struggling to obey because I was finding more security in disobeying than obeying. Really its the same thing as deciding to trust God. But somehow the word security made it all so clear.

When I feel more secure in rebellion than I do in trusting God I choose rebellion. So I needed to revisit all the reasons why rebellion in this particular choice was not a good idea. And I had to revisit why I could walk by faith knowing I would be secure if I depended on God to make the choice I knew God wanted me to make.

There was so much joy and freedom in the realization and then in the obedience. Seeking God honestly had brought clarity, hope, strength, courage and a willingness to do what I knew God wanted me to do.

Dear Lord,

Thanks for convicting us when we are choosing to walk in ways that you desire to correct in us. Thanks for teaching us to come and ask what's up. Thanks for answering our questions. Thanks for being the source of our ability to obey. Thanks for not making our status as loved children conditional on our behavior. But thanks too for not letting us go on and on in rebellion without talking to us about it. Help us to be brave enough to explore new territory with you.