Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stunted Shrub or Thriving Tree

Wisdom from the Lord (via Jeremiah)

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?
But I, the Lord, search all hearts
and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
according to what their actions deserve.”

These words paint a very telling picture of the difference between trusting in God and trusting in the human heart.

It is interesting to consider the difference between these words and words written under the new covenant. I've got some questions related to the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant that I will be pondering once again.

(Jeremiah 17, NLT)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Catching up with Rob.

My husband gave me a Barnes & Nobles card for my birthday. So as we were checking out the shelves, I was looking for a book that I just wanted to read. Of late, I've been reading books that other people would like me to read or because they are helpful in training me for the kinds of ministries I am involved in. As I was looking through the selves I came across a book written by Rob Bell. It's called: Jesus Wants to Save Christians. The title made me smile. Another provacative title by Rob. So, decision made. I walked to the counter and bought the book.

I got home on Friday and read it.

As the title would indicate, the book is thought provoking. One of the themes in it is this: What does God do with civiliazations that take power and use it against their own people? What does God do with civilizations that ignore Him?

I really wish a lot more Christians would read and consider books like this one and think about what he is saying. I am under no illusion that most people would agree with him. I just think it would be good for most Chrisitans to consider whether or not he has something important to say.

Moving in a different direction...

I am writing this entry because on the 1st of August I made mention of a three year Spiritual Direction training program that I am in. And I explained why I was looking forward to starting Year Two in September.

Four days after that entry, I was introduced to new information about the program. After two weeks of prayer and conversation with many people, I have decided not to return in September.

I feel obligated to give an update here since I had asked for prayer in the prior blog entry.

I'm not comfortable sharing the reasons for my decision in this format.

My new prayer request is that if I am to participate in Spiriutal Direction training that the Lord will direct me to a place that is a good fit for me and provide the resources for the both the program and any travel it may involve. I'm in no hurry to make any decisions.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm a mutt.

I am a mutt on so many levels. Pick a northern European country and I am related to somebody there. I'm also protestant mutt. Here is the list of churches I have attended in my life time.

Church of God
Free Methodist
United Methodist
Non denominational
Christian Missionary Alliance
Fellowship Bible
Crossroads Bible
American Baptist
Crossroads Bible

How that has happened is a long story and I couldn't be happier about being a mutt. It's been an adventure. I really resist conversations where there is focus on differences that just don't matter to me.

What does matter to me has come sharply into focus through recent events. These events have nothing to do with my church home. Trying to sort out my reaction took me back to the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed.

In case you've never read either of them or it has been a while, here is one of them:

Nicene Creed

I believe in one God,
the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only begotten Son of God,
begotten of his Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father;
by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our salvation
came down from heaven,
and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost
of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man;
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried;
and the third day he rose again
according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again, with glory,
to judge both the quick and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life,
who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son];
who with the Father and the Son together
is worshipped and glorified;
who spake by the Prophets.
And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church;
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
and I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

Sitting with these words and some scripture passages where Jesus explains in his own words who He is have been incredibly helpful.

I'm praying that I will honor the Lord and the people I'm having these conversations with by expressing myself with both love and truthfulness. I'm praying a lot for wisdom to be known.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

From Summer to Year Two

Every week of summer has been different from the last. I like that about summer. Then I grow a bit weary of it and I'm ready for the predictablity of a weekly schedule.

We have three weeks left of this summer. We've been trying all summer to figure out a time and way for the three of us to get to Southern California. Yesterday we made a final decision. It's not going to happen this summer. I'm not done being bummed about that. But I'm hopeful I'll be able to fly out in the fall. More details coming on that later.

Matt will be focused on Music Camp this week. Then the last two weeks of summer will be a mixture of the things that haven't gotten done yet.

I will be focused on leading another Listen To My Life group. All women this time. And all women who I have never met before. I'm grateful for this surprise open door.

Then the "Fall" will begin. It will be 90 plus degress but we'll still use the word fall.

I've mentioned before that I'm in a Spiritual Direction training program. It will take three years to complete. This September I begin Year Two. Year One consisted of coming together and praying on Thursday nights and then sharing with one another what we experienced, learned or what is unresolved with the Lord. There was a part of me that wanted to skip Year One and go directly to Year Two. Most of the prayer practices listed were ones I had already participated in or were familiar with. But of course I got way more out of the times of praying and then listening to the other members of the group speak about their prayer lives than I ever thought I would gain. I'm sure skipping Year One is never an option. But I discovered that it would have been a mistake to try.

Year Two changes up the pattern. We will be spending a significant amount of time daily praying on our own. The purpose of Thursday evenings will be to share with one another what is happening as result of our time in prayer. Intimidated is a word that describes how I feel about this next year. Expectant is another. I think I will learn more about abiding and experience more abiding than I have to date. I think I will encounter challenges that will be hard to bear at times. But I'm hopeful that a changing mind and heart will be obviously worth the difficulties of the committment.

Year Two also includes to more significant changes. The first is to resign as many leadership roles as possible for one year and to refrain from leading anything new. Second is to read the Word of God and a handful of assigned books. To limit other reading to "only what is necessary". Yikes.

I might be inviting friends to coffee just so they can tell me what they are reading about. :)

Most people think this is extreme. It is extreme in a culture of "doers". The point of this year is to focus on learning about "being". Doing is easier for me.

If I come to mind to pray for in the next year. There is probably a very good reason for that. I'd appreciate your prayers.