Thursday, February 26, 2009

Beyond frustrated and beyond.

This post isn't what 9/10ths of it will look like. So read the whole thing or you might just get depressed.

I was beyond frustrated when I got to church tonight. It seems like I've been sick for the last three weeks. It's not true of course but frustration doesn't usually have to have a basis in reality. Two weeks ago strep throat began, but antibiotics quickly made short work of it... right up until a stomach virus knocked me out for two days during which time I stopped taking the medicine. By that point I figured that after two days out of the medicine there was no point in restarting.

Monday night I got irritated as I went to bed wondering why I suddenly had a fever again.

Strep throat came back with a vengeance at 3am Tuesday morning and I haven't had a fever free moment since then. I got to church tonight with the simple idea of one more thing to get out of the way before I could go home, finish those "one more things" and go to bed.

I was beyond frustrated when God went beyond my frustration.

I think it was about the third song we were on when, as I was playing the piano, I really looked at the words I was playing. I don't know spanish, I just play the piano for spanish church, and I read the words "agua viva" which I knew meant "Living water".

It just made me think beyond the frustration for a minute, to a God a living water.
Then we sang about "When the spirit of the Lord moves in my heart I'll dance/pray/sing like David danced/prayed/sang."
By the time we got to "Enamorame de ti Senor" there was a difference in the whole room.
Then, by the grace of the God of the beyond, a man, someone who hadn't been to spanish church for quite awhile, walked in already wiping his eyes.

It's easy to get distracted by stupid stuff. But whether you feel good or not, the important thing is still the important thing. God's still God, no matter how you feel, no matter how circumstances look, no matter how frustrated or aggravated or angry you are.

It's all too easy to lose sight of that.

So don't.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What do you do when you're not strong enough?

I was watching tv this evening, and after a particularly draining effort, the difficult scene ended.

The next scene - In a sober, quiet moment she simply stated:
"I'm not strong enough."

All you can do is understand.

Then she said "What do you do when you're not strong enough?"

The answer she receives?
"You act as if you are."

What if - Opposite day.

Curiosity not criticism... and maybe this is more commonplace for some of you, we had a request that fell along these lines in church tonight and that's what made me think about it. But it's really rare for me to hear requests like the ones I'm about to mention.

But, what if instead of prayer requests for sickness, if people called out prayer requests for growth?

"Sister so-n-so would like to show more grace this week, let's pray for her."
"Brother so-n-so is praying to receive the Holy Spirit let's make sure and keep him in prayer"
"Sister so-n-so is struggling against Gods will for her life - let's pray she submits to His perfect will."
"Brother so-n-so has an opportunity to practice longsuffering this week, let's keep him in prayer."
"Sister so-n-so is seeking the gift of prophecy let's stand with her in prayer."
"Brother so-n-so is seeking wisdom, he's got some situations coming up and we need to be vigilant in praying for him."
"One of our youth is having a hard time remembering to seek God during the week, let's keep him in prayer that God would fill him with a fresh hunger for time with God this week."

Question - do we spend more time praying against bad nonspiritual things, than for good spiritual things?

What if, someone got a cold, and we all got earnest about praying they would receive a greater anointing of the Holy Spirit during this time, rather than relief from their physical symptoms?

What if, when someone has financial problems, we'd pray God would give them opportunities to display extraordinary faith by sending in opportunities for them to help others?"

What if, someone was having problems with a co-worker and so collectively we gave God praise and thanks that one of us was counted worthy to be hated for His names sake?

I'm just thinking out loud. Hope you had a good Sunday.

P.S. I could certainly rattle on and on about how it's obviously not a bad thing to pray for the sick. But I'm just assuming it's understood.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Here we go again.

I thought the process would be longer, but it wasn't. So I suppose it's officially time to put it in writing.

A couple of weeks ago I contacted Arrow, my former foster agency, and said I was ready to get back on this crazy ride. They gave me a list, a surprisingly short list, of what I needed to do to get my home back open for placements again.

I got to work on it, and now I only have one more class that will be completed this week and then I have to find a place to get my CPR/ First Aid updated. If any of you local folks know where I can get that done, please drop me a line.

I've spent the last several months just grieving. Welcoming and then packing up and letting go of 5 kids within a 15 month span is a lot to process. A fellow foster parent and I ultimately described it as joy through disembowelment. I think I've used that term here before, but even months later... it's still just the same. You can close your eyes and see cherubic smiles and feel the little arms around your neck. You can just as easily close your eyes and see them crying as you strap them into a caseworkers car and put on a fake smile and wave goodbye.

Joy through disembowelment.

And yet worth it. I honestly don't know how I'll do it again. But it's the most worthwhile thing I've ever done with my life. I'm honored that the state of Texas allows me this privilege.

Someone once described the differences between the parents and the children is that kids don't have a choice in the pain - we, on the other hand, make the choice to open our hearts. And kids, don't have the coping skills to deal with the pain they've experienced. Whereas, hopefully as an adult you have learned them.

If there is any way possible for you to open your home, do it. These kids need a home, love, support. We all talk about being Christian. And maybe kids aren't your thing - but there is something you can do, to do Christian. Don't just BE. DO.

Whatever it is - I guarantee you God will show you what you can do if you ask him. Always.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Serving and service

Just a quick post from the folks at "Our daily bread" found it at "A Disciples Thoughts". This is just a piece, though admittedly a large piece, of Terry's post.

"Don Tack wanted to know what life was like for homeless people. So he concealed his identity and went to live on the streets of his city. He found out that food and shelter were offered by many organizations. At one shelter he could spend the night if he listened to a sermon beforehand. He appreciated the guest speaker's message and wanted to talk with him afterward. But as Don reached out to shake the man's hand and asked if he could talk with him, the speaker walked right past him as if he didn't exist."

Don learned that what was missing most in ministry to the homeless in his area were people who were willing to build relationships. So he began an organization called Servants Center to offer help through friendship.

"What Don encountered at the shelter was the opposite of what the people who heard the apostle Paul experienced. When he shared the gospel, he gave himself too. He testified in his letter to the Thessalonians, 'We were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us' (1 Thessalonians 2:8, New King James Version). He said, 'We were gentle among you,' like a mother (v. 7).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A few posts.

Just a few posts I've found that were terrific. I'd recommend the complete articles, hopefully what I'm able to showcase might whet your appetite.

Bob, over at "In the Clearing" wrote a post called "On not forgiving ones self".
The post itself was great, I enjoyed it. But one thing that caught my attention was something Bob wrote in the comments. He stated that "Preachers are calling people to God because he is great and can help them (God as an extremely versatile personal valet), rather than because they are sinful and in need of redemption." And while he calls out preachers, I believe it's something we all sometimes display to everyone. You're sick? Marital troubles? Money troubles? Work troubles? Well, call the Christians of the church and we will pray God to give you what you want.

I'm not saying we all do it absolutely, without any true gospel message, I'm just saying it's a lot easier to say "I'll pray for your problems, than I'll pray for your sinful state."

I actually kept this thing active in my google reader for nearly 2 weeks because I didn't have time to read it I thought. It was an actual "read". One of those that, I confess, I have to read slowly or the depth of the language he uses might skim, rather than actually sink in. But finally, I went and read this post and it was worth every second it took to read it.
Glen over at "Christ The Truth" linked to this post over at Inhabitatio Dei
Just a snippet: " gets things backwards. It assumes that since God’s being is “exceedingly abundantly beyond all the we could ask or think” that therefore our attempts to understand it are vain and potentially idolatrous. What an awareness of God’s excessiveness and plenitude should do however, is not discourage us from attempting to know God, but rather drive us to that task"
"It is not that God is so ineffable that we cannot speak of God, rather God is so utterly excessive in his self-giving that we cannot ever finish saying enough about God."

And last but not least, Mike over at "On Coffee" wrote out some "Questions":
Wrong question: How do we do church better?
Tough question: How do we deconvert from Churchianity to Christianity?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Just a few words.

It's funny how so much goes through your mind that it seems that nothing productive comes out of it. Not much productive has been able to merge from my fingertips onto this blog lately as a result. I've been imagining a virtual post of one rabbit trail after another until we've all ended up in Wonderland chatting it up with the Mad Hatter. In this particular instance, I certainly say it best by saying nothing at all. :)

But it's been a long weekend and I've had a lot of things to think about.

I thought about gratitude.
If you're not grateful for what you have, you won't be grateful for what you receive. And I realized how disappointing and frustrating that is for the giver.

I thought about fear.
You can put yourself in a fearful situation and scream your heart out, or walk the plank and jump off in faith. Both make memories.

I thought about pain.
Nothing is more painful than watching someone you love scream their heart out in fear. Nothing.

I thought about asking for things.
Sometimes I spend so much time asking God for things, that I start to believe I'm in charge of my spiritual growth. "I need faith next God, no, now more Love, hmm, looks like I'm low on humility God." Kids should never be in charge of their growth.

I thought about temptation.
It's an interesting line between tempting someone and trusting someone.

I'd tell you more, but I'm pretty sure we'd all end up seeing a grin without a cat. And I'm pretty sure none of us want to chase that rabbit.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You mean his plan hasn't changed?

I found this quote over at "Christ is Deeper Still" and I hope I remember it:

"By what means Satan first drew mankind from the obedience of God, the Scripture doth witness: To wit, by pouring into their hearts that poison, that God did not love them."John Knox, Works, V:24.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Just Do One - By Steven Furtick

Steven Furtick had a great post on his blog today called "Just do one"

I'm reposting it here, because I want to make sure you see it. But please, when you have a moment go check out his blog. His posts are usually a fast read and give you something to think about.
So go check out his blog, and make sure you read this.

I got an interesting piece of exercise advice one time-never forgot it.This guy (who was in great shape) said the only exercise commitment he ever made was to do one push-up per day-every single day.Not to run 5 miles a day, complete four 90 minute workouts per week…Just one push-up per day.
When I asked him (skeptically) what the value of one push-up was, he explained:“Well, one push-up isn’t going to do much for you, that’s for sure. But once you get down to do one, you usually end up doing 30, 40, or 50. And then you figure, hey, while I’m down here, may as well do some sit-ups too. Before you know it, you’ve had a pretty good workout. And it all started with one push-up.”
I wonder how you could apply this strategy to some of the things you hate to do, but know you need to do? Just get started, and often the rest will happen from there. Getting started is the hardest part.
Confucius said a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.Something to think about…

Monday, February 02, 2009

Watch this video

This is a terrific clip NBC did featuring the football players at our prison/school. They did these interviews because of an event back in October 08, where another school went out of their way to support OUR team instead of their own. They split the fans, and our guys got to run through what was probably their first spirit line. They had fans, and cheerleaders on their side of the stand.
It's terrific, a great story and best of all it's true.
I warn you, so far, no one at the school has been able to watch it without crying.