Sunday, June 14, 2009

Our Jealous God

4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments. " Exodus 20: 4-6
At first read, this scripture is pretty intense. Actually, every time I read this, I think it is pretty intense. Love me or die. That's kind of what is happening here. Well that doesn't seem very nice! What kind of loving God do we serve that would give us an ultimatum like that? And yet this scripture is all about love.
How cute was it when we were little and those little boy crushes we had would get jealous when we talked to another boy. It meant that they liked us enough to get jealous that we were putting someone else's attention before theirs. So let's take that example times a trillion. That's what this scripture is saying. God loves us so much that He wants all of our attention, worship, love, devotion, time, energy- everything He wants. He loves us so much that He wants all of us. And He created us and made this earth for us. Every beautiful thing there is, He made. For us. Check out this beautiful picture of his jealousy for us.
I recently made a friend that has turned away from God. He has all the head knowledge in the world, but the questions he needs answers to, he can't find. Everything I say to him about what a loving God we have, how bad things happen that we can't control, how God is pursuing him even when he is not pursuing God- he's heard all these things. In fact, he's said them to others many, many times. I was struggling with how to minister to him and not be discouraged. It would be easy to turn away. To not get emotionally involved- much, much easier on my heart, that is for sure. And yet, that's not how Jesus calls us to live. How much easier would it have been for him to come down off the cross and say- "you know, they know how to live, they just choose not to, so why should I bother. This cross is way to painful for people that know the truth and just choose not to follow it." Yep, Christ most defintely did not do that.
I was sitting here thinking, what do I do next? God speak to me. And He did.
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
God has a plan. I know that He brings people into my life for a reason. I know that He will continue to bring people into my life that do not know the Lord, that maybe have it all in their head but no where near their heart. Isn't that why I want to go into ministry- for those people? Not to turn away to disciple the "easy" sheep. But to love them, right where they are, no matter the cost. No matter the cost. He loves me enough so that I may love others.
I love David Crowder. Here's some more good stuff.

Until next time- I'm living.............................. by grace.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Famous in a Small Town

I love Saturday mornings. I love sleeping in, making coffee, and enjoying the beauty and peace that comes with mornings. I enjoyed the beautiful weather on my front porch where I picked up the book I have been reading- The Ragamuffin Gospel- and was captivated by Manning's way of reminding me that God's beautiful gift of grace is present in every created thing around us, yet so many times we fail to see it. We get caught up in the business that is life and miss out on things like a child's laughter, a gentle breeze, or the colors of summer harvest. We fail to see the deeper beauty that is all around us that our loving Abba created for us.
Usually Saturday mornings are a pretty quiet time in a small town, but this morning was a little more lively. Today the festivities for the one year celebration continued. I wondered down to the Shamrock park to find the middle school band- Guitarded, playing with my girl Hannah singing lead. How awesome is it to see the grace that God has shown this community this past year. In the way the community pulled together, the help from so many others, the spirit of rebuilding in placed in the hearts of everyone who lives here- that is truly His hand at work. I am so blessed that on this day He reminded me to look at what has happened through those eyes.
The final performance was a song Famous in a Small Town. The song reminded me again of how blessed I am to experience His grace in all that is around me. The simple things can mean the most. Seeing a friend at the gas station. Waving at someone at the post office. Watching new trees grow in an open lot. These things are all His work. Truly He is the Famous One!
Oh- and I totally want to start a Chapman FFA Band. I'm pretty excited about it. Of course that means I should probably practice a little more. I told some excited soon to be freshman girls about it- so hopefully they will be as excited as I am. ;)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Refining like silver

Exactly a year ago today, life changed in this small Kansas town. I was still in sek preparing to be gone for two weeks with BLAST Off trainings across the U.S. I was running around packing, preparing for my trips, when my best friend called me and asked me if I had heard from my parents- that Dickinson County was in a tornado watch and that several had touched down that night. I called them and my dad informed me that they had not blown away- he did not seem concerned. I tried to go to sleep, but between the phone calls from my friend and my parents calling me back, I knew that things were not right.
I woke up the next morning and left early for the airport. I didn't even get out of town before my phone started ringing. People had begun to see the photos, and the news was not good. My dad said they were not letting people into town and word was the schools were destroyed. I tryed my best to remain calm and decide what I had to do. Did I leave? Did I drive home? What was I supposed to do? My parents convinced me that I was no good at home right now, that the best thing I could do was get on the plane and they'd call me when they knew more.
Life has changed in Chapman, Kansas. I have been asked multiple times how my first year back home has been, and my reply everytime is- this isn't what I had planned. Who plans to have the school they are supposed to teach at be destroyed? Who plans to move home and have their home community turned upside down? I think it is yet another example of how we really have to idea what is ahead for us, but we must trust that no matter what happens, God is with us and He was in Chapman the night the tornado hit and I believe Holy Spirit continues to work here today in the lives of those still picking up the pieces.
One of the best comments I heard about the tornado came from our board president at our Back to School Celebration. He said- character isn't developed through adversity, it is revealed. I really believe this to be true. I have had my share of disappointment, again, this year was not what I had planned, but I hope that God has used this event to reveal His never ceasing character through me. I like what David says in Psalm 66: 8-12
"Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance."
Sometimes bad things happen. I don't believe that our loving, merciful God makes them happen, while I do believe He is totally soverign, but I do believe that in the midst of these situations, He is there. He is there loving us past our brokeness, past the heartache, past the what might look to be an impossible situation. He is there calling out to us to reveal His character and to bring others His peace.
How has he refined me like silver through this event? I think He reminded me that sometimes those things that we hold onto so tightly- those things that might bring us comfort and pride- He wants those things too. I am grateful to live in Chapman during this time of rebuilding, but I am even more grateful that hopefully I can be a light for Him during this time and show others that while buildings will crumble and fade away, the glory and peace of Christ will sustain forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Beginning of Summer

I think it's interesting that while my peers the english and math teachers started their summers last week, mine didn't really start until today, and even then, I was at school most of the day. I also managed to get in two SAE visits and schedule a few more! This week should be busy with visits, but this is my chance to see students on their turf, which is always a good thing.
Today I started one thing on my list with my first guitar lesson. It was short, but fun, and I'm excited to learn something new and different. I also committed to drinking only water (okay, and maybe a little coffee) in an effort to be more healthy. I guess Walter will have to make his afternoon soda runs on his own!
I told walter this is the summer that I concentrate on me. What I meant to say is that this is the summer I want to do more things that are truly good for me. Part of that includes tomorrow going to the fitness center and getting signed up. I have to do this for me. For You.
Jesus help me do what I cannot do on my own.