Friday, November 30, 2007 3 comments

No more pits!


Last night was awesome. I went to see Rob Bell speak at the Brown Theater. I wish I had a better picture, but for a last-minute walk-up - I had a fantastic seat...right in the middle 6th row. Rob Bell is one of those guys who pushes your thinking about what's in the Bible. He's done an amazing amount of research into the ancient cultures and he can put Biblical events into cultural context. When he started out it was hard to tell where he was going. He talked about a cavewomen and her discovery of her dependence on this plant - and the plant's dependence on the forces around it (rain, sun, etc.). From there he discusses how ancient cultures made those forces tangible personalities, i.e., sun-god, goddess of love, god of death, etc. Then went into the concept of the altar. To please the 'gods' people would give back to them - and the best place to do that was to lift up the offering on an altar. Gets it closer to the gods since they're all up in the sky doing their own thing. All kinds of things were offered up on the altar - even their own children. And a whole "priestly" organization surrounded each region's "gods." And a note to remember - it took violence (killing the sacrifice) to try to make peace with the gods. Well, with this system you never knew where you stood with the gods - you would either give more from your abundance because the gods were smiling on you, or you gave more from your poverty because the gods were unhappy and you needed to do something to make them happy with you again. You could never sacrifice enough - right up to the point that even cutting yourself or giving your firstborn was still not enough. You still did not know where you stood with the gods.

Then along came Abraham. The Lord God - creator of the universe - audibly spoke to Abraham (when he was still Abram). No other "god" actually spoke to humans. He also told Abraham to leave his father's household. That's not just physically leave the house - but the worldview that his father held. Take that step of faith in the one true God - follow me - I'm changing the world here and you are going to be the Father of Nations! Nothing different ever happened in that culture - this was different! And Abram was 75 years old!

Fast-forward to Abraham and Isaac. When God asks Abraham to take Isaac up on the mountain and sacrifice him there. Why was Abraham not surprised? Because that culture of the gods asking for more was all around him...that's what he was used to seeing...and he needed to be pruned...his thinking and his heart still needed to completely change. We all know that when Abraham gets Isaac up there - raises the knife - God stops him and provides him a ram as the sacrifice. Great, Abraham passed the test. But that's nto all. It also showed Abraham that his God - the one true God, creator of the universe - was not like the other so-called gods that require more and more and more. He's the God of provision, not destruction.

Rob goes on to talk more about the altar itself and Leviticus. How Leviticus explains in detail where we stand with God - there is no question. There are sin offerings, and wave offerings, and others, but there is also a peace offering. The peace offering basically is that you share your offering with God and the the rest to celebrate shalom with your family. Big feast! (No wonder pot-lucks go over so well!) And when you took an issue to the altar either through sacrifice or offering, it was left there. It was left there - issue and all. You could walk away in peace.

Fast-forward again to Jesus. Rob brought up the scene in John where Jesus clears the temple (one of my favorite dramatic Jesus moments) and tells the Saducees that if they destroy this temple, it will be rebuilt in three days. They of course didn't get it. Rob goes on to talk about Jesus' path to the cross - very visible. And all along the way, Jesus did not react with violence. Remember - the old system required violence in the killing of the sacrifice. But Jesus went willingly. Without coming back with violence - even when Peter cuts off someone ear with a sword. (That's when my mind started racing!) (my thoughts) Jesus also made the old sacrificial system of violence irrelevant when He resurrected - the sacrifice (Jesus) just didn't stay dead! (back to Rob) It was at that moment - the "culmination of human events" that God changed context again. The culture needed to "follow him" in faith. He in that moment of Jesus' death made PEACE with the world. (my thought) Peace with you, peace with me, peace with everyone through the blood of Jesus Christ! Peace! Jesus already prepped his disciples for that - John 14:27 - "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." I gotta tell ya - I felt lighter by the nanosecond. Peace. Through Jesus. Was there a couple THOUSAND years ago and God's just been waiting for me to accept it. He's prepared it for us all long ago - we just have to accept it.

Rob went on to talk about today's culture. We still have those "gods" just with different names - achievement, approval, success, riches, possessions, etc. He even related his own story of getting to a burn-out point (familiar!) and a friend sitting him down and just repeatedly telling him that he didn't have to live like this. He didn't have to live like this. He didn't have to live like this. So I let that sink into me as well. I didn't have to have my boss' approval. I didn't have to have a career of any kind - even in music. I didn't have to be a size 2 (not that my body would ever be that size!). I don't have to have a boyfriend, or husband, or kids, or anything. I don't have to have a dad - that's what God is for anyway! I don't have to have the dishes done in a day, I don't have to have the Christmas tree put up in an hour. I don't have to do anything to please anyone else - it is Jesus I want to please. I started listing off everything that I was giving back to God in that moment, and I am continuing to do so. Literally everything - my truck, my eyes to see, my tastebuds that get to eat favorite foods, my money, my time, my thoughts, my not-so-strong bronchial tree, my allergies, my bad knees, my friends, my family, my whole life. My WHOLE life - past, present and future. And friends, until you get gut-wrenching honest with Jesus about everything, and you are willing to leave it all at the altar, and walk away from everything leaving in Jesus' hands (because he has the ability to forget it all), you'll not really be sure of the peace. Don't block the peace...it's all prepare for you...just accept the gift of God. Love you all! (sorry this was another long one!)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 4 comments

Bear One Another

I just want to thank everyone for being around me lately - putting up with me - bearing my burden with me. It's awesome to have such wonderful friends - brothers & sisters in Christ! I have been learning so much in the Word lately and it's awesome! I got this video sent to me and it reminded me of Galatians 6:2: Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. The puppy is really good at sharing the burden!


video
Monday, November 26, 2007 2 comments

Get up!

So yesterday I had another blah day of my own making. One thing set-off another, a domino effect in my brain of negative activity. I took a nap then felt so unmotivated it took all my energy just to lay on the couch and watch a movie. When it got dark at 6:00 p.m., I couldn't take it anymore. I made my cats get off me and I had to do something - anything. When I got bored with trying to figure out what to do and not feeling like doing anything...I got the nagging feeling to just read the Bible.

I talked before about being in the pit...and trying to come out of it. No one else can do that for me. This is all part of my pruning process. So when I cleaned off my desk and sat down to start reading - I started where I left off in my study bible - John 4 with the Samaritan woman at the well. Well...then I remembered what I wanted to study about before - Jesus' attitude. So I started over in John. The first thing that hit me was v 12, 13 - because I believe in Jesus' name - he gives me the RIGHT to become a child of God. It doesn't matter who my father is here on earth - God is my Dad now...by His own choice and He's faithful in that. He's not going to die on me, and He's not going to divorce me, and He's not going to leave me. Pit #1 - gone. It was at this point that I got out of my chair and grabbed my old pageant tiara and put it on. I went back to studying.


I made a LOT of new discoveries. I also noticed how Jesus would respond to people - or start a conversation - and making note of all the "I tell you the truth" phrases. I even pulled out a Strong's Dictionary (has words in Hebrew and Greek) so I can fully know the meaning of a particular word - even got the regular dictionary out. I was REALLY INTO IT last night. I also made a discovery, and if you are even half the drama nut I am, you'll love this. The Word of God truly comes ALIVE when you try and act it out. Stand up - say it out loud - say it like you think Jesus would say it. It becomes a totally different experience. Especially in parts like John's testifying about Christ after the baptizing debate, and what stuck out most to me was thaat God gives the Spirit without limit. Without limit. Without limit. And the subject of grace popped in my head. I was asked recently to extend some grace in a situation. I didn't even know what it meant to do it. I know that Jesus gives grace, God's grace, all that. But to apply it to my own life - not yet. So I studied that too. Grace is basically to give unmerited kindness. Be kind just to be kind. Not because someone did something nice for you - but because you want to do something nice for them. Jesus was full of it. When He went back to Cana in Galilee, a royal offical begged him to heal his son. Jesus extended grace (even after the initial irriating moment). Read it aloud - and remember Jesus was human too, but grace and God's divinity overrode his human nature. Did he sigh and close his eyes before he responded in grace?


So then I get close to my stopping point for last night (after 2 hours). I'm in John 5 at this point. Jesus is in Jerusalem and goes to the healing pool, Bethesda. There a man who was an invalid for 38 years was lying there. Jesus asks him specifically "Do you want to get well?" Well, I gotta tell ya. That question hit me right between the eyes! OF course I did! That's what I've been asking for for months now. So I read on...the invalid guy was a whiner! He wanted to get well, but he was waiting on someone to help him do it - he couldn't get in the pool on his own - someone else always gets there first. Jesus' response? "Get up!" With an exclamation point - read it out-loud..."Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. Now remember, John only writes what he sees...but can you imagine what that invalid mad heard? Jesus hollered at him to get up! When Jesus hollers, do you think it's back up by the host of angels in our heads. I guarantee it. I'm surprised John doesn't write about how the guy wet his pants in the process! Later Jesus found him at the temple....the guy went to worship. That's what I did last night. I got up after Jesus hollered at me and worshiped like I had not worshiped in months! It felt great. And my voice is back. I haven't been able to carry a tune in a bucket lately, and last night I was hitting notes I used to dream about. Talk about a breakthrough - all while wearing my tiara.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007 4 comments

Reinforcements

First of all...thank you to all who have sent an email or phoned to just send their thoughts and prayers my way - you are all my rocks and ledges (I'll explain in a bit).


I have been a part of multiple studies lately about building each other up as part of the body of Christ - encouraging each other, being there in times of trouble and victory, praying for one another - all the "one anothers." And regardless of how many people have been loving me lately (which means a lot to me), it really hasn't been as healing as you might think. I've been in a deeper pit than I thought, or cared to admit. I usually just brush it off - do things to get motivated to just do more work to stay productive and think/analyze less. That's not worked - especially since I've been physically sick for a couple months now. I didn't know how to fix this...when I get to that point, the wisest thing for me to do is retreat away from people - so I'm not affecting someone else negatively. But to do that just has a negative affect on those who are trying to love me through all this. I'm not much help to myself.


Last week I purchased Beth Moore's book, "Get Out of That Pit." I thought to myself, 'it couldn't HURT to check it out.' If you've never read Beth Moore - she's funny and relateable - and her style is not the most professional writing style, but that's what makes it readable for me right now. It's as if she's just across the table with a cup of coffee. In this book, she's shared her "pit" experiences, getting in them and getting out. Basically how to embrace God's grace and live free out of the pit. She uses Psalm 40:1-3 as the main theme. She describes different pits listed throughout the Bible and right off-the-bat describes how you feel in the pit. Isaiah 42:22 describes it as being trapped in a pit. TRAPPED! That's exactly how I've been feeling about some things - totally trapped with no way out. She explains that "to the ancient Hebrew, a pit was a literal or figurative reference to the grave - to its threat - or to an anbyss so deep the dweller within it felt like the living dead...a pit is an early grave that Satan digs for you in hopes he can bury you alive." That's EXACTLY where I've been. I may not have cancer, and my house didn't burn down, and I'm not trying to quit an abusive habit, but my problems are still my problems. And I've felt like the living dead, and looked like it too.

Moore goes on to describe three ways to get into a pit - you get thrown in, you slip in, or you willingly jump in. We've all had our share of those different pits - but the most frustrating can be the first - you get thrown in. Like Joseph did by his brothers (read the story here). You have no control and yet you are affected. How do you deal with that? I've had a lot of those pits this year, and I haven't been dealing well. I have to forgive and forgive and forgive -- those who have no idea nor care that I have issues...those who have died without giving me closure...those who have willingly chose to leave my life in a hurtful way...I HAVE to forgive. Joseph did (read here & here). "Forgive them for they know not what they do," and you know who said that.

The other thing to remember is something else that Moore states in her book, "Christ got down next to us in the grave, stayed the better part of three days, and then got up...so we'd have permission to get up too. And start living life."

That's all well and good; however, there's still a process to go through. In our small group study I learned it's called pruning. And as much as I love the support - my "rocks" who lift me up (the people who support, encourage and love me), can only be ledges in my pit. Only Jesus can be my deliverer. I have to get down-and-dirty with Jesus -- completely open up my grave to him because only He can set me free. But in this process, you are my ledges that hold me that keep me from falling into an even deeper pit - and give me a way to cling to the sides, helps me reach the top.


I've also been reading straight from the Bible - going through John to gain some insight on Jesus' attitude -- not his heart -- but how he reacted, his attitude on things. BECAUSE..."Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). I might have a whole study on this!

The other version I'm reading is my daily chronological Bible. Granted, I'm like in June, but at least I'm there! Last night I read about Asa, a King of Judah (a couple of kings after Solomon in the Old Testament). The section (2 Chronicles 15:1-7) has the statement through the prophet Azariah, "The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you...But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded." Asa was turning the nation around - tearing down false idols and turning the country back to God. This was a message to him to hang in there...there are a LOT of those messages in the Bible.

What's YOUR favorite "hang-in-there" verse?




Monday, November 12, 2007 1 comments

Dance Reminder

Wonder if anyone can dance like this!




EVERYONE INVITED!
November 16, 2007
8:00 p.m. – Midnight
Stone Rest Inn
8757 Rufing Road, Greenville
$20 per couple
$10 per single


Hosted by Steve & Vicki Meredith
Proceeds go toward those going on the Philippine Mission Trip


Thursday, November 8, 2007 0 comments

DANCE


Please help get the word out!




EVERYONE INVITED!
November 16, 2007
8:00 p.m. – Midnight
Stone Rest Inn
8757 Rufing Road, Greenville
$20 per couple
$10 per single




Hosted by Steve & Vicki Meredith
Proceeds go toward those going on the Philippine Mission Trip
Tuesday, November 6, 2007 0 comments

Adversity into advantage - part 2

Ok...so after I babbled on in my 5-minute ago posting...I finally got around to turning over the date in my Billy Graham-a-day calendar:

"What would you do if you met a lion? You'd probably run, and you'd probably grab any weapon you could to fend him off if he attacked. And that is true in our struggles against evil. When evil and temptation stalk us, our first response should be to flee. And when they still attack, we should use every weapon we have to drive them away. The good news is this: God has provided the weapons! His Word, His angels, His Spirit, the encouragement and prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ - these and more are "weapons" God provides. We aren't in this battle alone - so why act like it?"
2 comments

Adversity into advantage

As a few of you know, I've been kinda down lately. I've mentioned before on this blog about spiritual warfare, and I know my struggle is literally all in my head. Dealing with situations, or not handling myself well in certain situations, or not dealing with anything has lead to a seriously no-fun roller coaster effect in my life this year. I have wonderful friends who listen to me when I break, and I am truly blessed (thank you and you know who you are). I've just finished half of David's message from Sunday. I had to stop. I have to let that part about loving your neighbor "as yourself" sink in. He's right, if I don't love myself, I can't do a good job of loving others. And lately, I certainly don't like myself very much. One of my many faults is that I have a hard time turning a failure into a win. I have had a lot of failures (career, music, marriage, no kids, stuck in a rut, etc.) - to the point that I convince myself that I AM a failure. Leads right into my "I'm not good enough" backpack that is glued to me. Seems like this year has been one failure after another for me, and I have not had a real "win." This message has been coming to me from a few directions lately. I got this story from Matt Fuery as part of an email newsletter today:


When I was in high school I remember getting my ass kicked in a wrestling match. I was crushed afterward and cried uncontrollably. I felt I had "worked so hard" and all I got in return was the pain of loss. In the midst of my despair my father took me aside and said, "I've noticed that you always turn adversity into an advantage. You have a knack for taking everything bad that happens to you and making it into something good." This advice immediately lifted my spirits. I accepted it as true - even though I don't know that it was BEFORE my father said this to me. Last week my son had a karate tournament. I have not pushed him at all in this endeavor as I want it to come from within - and when it does - and IF he ever asks for my help - I'm there. But nothing will be forced upon him - other than a few stories about how people succeed and how they fail. Well, Frank got beat. And he felt humiliated. He cried his eyes out, just like I did back in high school. My wife was worried. Not me. I said: "This is a very good sign. Look at the other kids who lose. They walk off with a 'ho hum.' Show me a kid who hates to lose and his energy can be channeled to greatness. It's the kids who don't care who will never become champions.'" When Frank and I walked outside and asked: "Why do you think you lost?' "Because I'm stupid," said Frank. I said: "No. That's not right and you know better. You lost because you didn't practice enough. Success boils down to proper use of your imagination and lots of practice. If you want to be great, practice more than anyone else. And when you practice, imagine being great. Otherwise you have no business crying. It's all for naught. " That night Frank asked me to help set up the bag for him so he.could practice. I told him I would and walked away. He asked a few hours later, I said I would and got busy doing something else. The next morning he asked again. "Ah, so you're serious?" I said. "Yes," said Frank. "Great." I set up the bag and helped him for 15 minutes. He was thrilled. "If you put in more time than anyone else," I said, "you'll be hard to beat. You may not win them all, but you'll win most - and you'll become a better person because you gave it everything you've got." The next day Frank asked if he could practice again. I said yes. "Anyone can sit around and pout," I told him. "The.champion gets back to training - and while he trains he imagines a different result next time." Frank smiled. Put your time in, my friend, and you'll become great at whatever you do. Matt FureyZen Master of Exercise, Health and Fitness™


I want to be able to turn adversity into an advantage. I pray the Holy Spirit will work in me so I can see how God loves me...and not just the Sunday School answer of John 3:16. I hope that I can spend some time on myself learning about the person God knitted me to be. He took the time and care to make me - now why can't I like me? I know Jesus died because I'll never be good enough to get to heaven on my own...but does that "not good enough" feeling have to linger? This is not humility - this feeling immobilizes me.


I do look in the Bible and fictional characters for inspiration to turn my bad attitude around, or at least relate to someone who did. In the Bible - Joseph is my favorite right now. He is the perfect example of turning adversity into an advantage. I will be returning to Genesis to re-read for the umpety-millionth time. I need to re-focus. Figure out what needs to be set right - what do I need to get rid of - what do I hold onto. Another email message was forwarded to me recently - talked about God leading the Israelites the long way to get to the Jordan river -- right into the Wilderness. Unfortunately, their stubborness and disobedience to God KEPT them in the wilderness until a whole generation of people died-off! I don't want to be in the wilderness my whole life.


I want to believe God has something big planned for my life. I know I'm not Wonder Woman (which is also my favorite), but I relate to her - not so much in the fighting mythical gods and aliens or deflecting bullets with bracelets kind of way - but in her storyline right now, she has been going through her own "who am I" state. The writers who create her character have idealized her as a "perfect" woman, but she also knows better than that. She has worked to know her strengths, and she is aware of her weaknesses and through various storylines has worked on those weaknesses. God is my creator - the Holy Spirit inks me (gives me my color) - and Jesus, well, has written my storyline over two thousand years ago. And only He knows the next chapter and the last one. I know I need to be patient - be still and know that He is God...I just hope He lets me know who I am in the process...and helps me to love me as He does, so I can love others as He wants me to. And a little help on direction would be good too.
Friday, November 2, 2007 2 comments

New Glow stick

Ok....who does this for their kids when going out at night? And who had time to figure this out? totally new way to think about Mountain Dew!

video
Thursday, November 1, 2007 0 comments

Support the Troops

Hey all. I found some deployed troops to keep in contact with and have volunteered to be one of their encouragers from back home! I am so excited about this. I've had military members throughout my family and have some friends in the military (and let's not forget our own Private Ryan Larson), and I am a firm supporter of the troops. I think these guys and gals are the real superheroes of the world - along with anyone who works in harms way to keep civilians like me safe (firefighters, police, etc.).

Here's some of the first correspondence - just lets you know who they are are, and I've posted the picture Skip sent me:

> Hi Christy
> Thank you so much for responding. I will definetly pass your info on
> to the other guys in my squad. As you know, I am a squad leader for D
> company, 1/158th Infantry. We are a Army National Guard unit out of
> Az. We are past the half way part of our deployment here in Farah,
> Afghan. The hot months , in whch the temps reached 150 degrees,are
> behind us. Now the cold is starting to creep in, which is a much
> welcomed change. Life here is Ok. The Taliban keeps us busy, but it
> makes the time go by. Thanks again for responding. I look forward to
> keeping in touch.
> Take Care
> SKIP

I asked what they would need in some care packages and I plan to send something in the next week if anyone wants to pitch in. They're looking for entertainment items: dvds, cds, magazines. I told him I'm sending some cartoons -- that's what I have most of! But I think they would appreciate anything we can send.

We talked last night in Joe's small group about encouraging one another - having accountability partners - having each other's back in the midst of spiritual battles. We made a lot of connections to military troops - like brothers/sisters - willing to put their lives on the line for each other and even perfect strangers. By the way, do you think this is the size of the donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem?
 
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