“stuck”

What do you do when you can’t make a decision? 

Uncertainty has to be the most crippling state of mind for me.  I’m not one who is usually indecisive.  However, right now I’m faced with a decision that makes my brain hurt every time I think about it.  I don’t know what to do.

I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do…prayed, searched the Scriptures, sought good counsel, and made a pros & cons list.  Still no answer.  In fact, I’m not any closer to discerning what to do then I was a year ago when I first brought this situation under consideration.

So now what?

I’ve determined there are only two answers

     1) I don’t care enough about this to risk making a decision.

                                                            or

    2) I care so much I’m terrified of making the wrong decision.

Everyone I’ve talked to tells me to wait…be still and wait until God makes the direction clear.  If I’m being honest here, either of the reasons for my not moving forward ooze with fear.  If I’m afraid to move forward, is my ‘waiting’ just a self-righteous posture for hiding?  If so, that’s makes me feel really lame…lame that I don’t trust God more, lame that I’ve let this thing become such a roadblock, lame that I’ve let fear have so much power in my life.

What I’ve decided today is that fear doesn’t just make feel lame, it really does paralyze and keep us from doing what we were created to do…enjoy (trusting) God!   It’s time for this Gideon to get out of the winepress.  One thing I’m learning is that no matter where your ‘hide out’ is–a winepress, a relationship, a job–they will all suffocate the vitality of faith out of us.  We weren’t created to hide–even though it’s a human condition to do so (see Gen. 3)…hiding is cowardly, no matter how nobly you dress it up.   

So today instead of asking God what should I do, I am going to ask Him how He would like me to enjoy trusting the sufficiency of His plans and purposes!  Today, no hiding.  Only seeking!

“a more excellent way”

We know that following Christ requires us to love.  It’s Christianity 101. “Love one another.”   I don’t think we need George Barna to tell us that 8 out of 10 professed believers can’t pass this course.  All I have to do is look in the mirror to know it’s true. 

Today, I’m going to personalize Jesus’ command and choose a more excellent way in my comings and my goings.

…I’m going to call the person who I’ve been ignoring.

…I’m going to pass along a kind word to the person who has had nothing but criticism for me.

…I’m going to serve the demanding one without grumbling.

…I won’t avoid those who I know are hurting even though I know that demonstrating concern will make my day longer.

…I will live today with the urgency of the gospel in my heart…what if today’s the last day I have to demonstrate to someone the love of Jesus is so powerful that it can soften a hard-nosed, self-absorbed person like me? 

Today, I choose a more excellent way.  Love.  Not in word, but in deed.  How about you?  What will you choose today?

“unexplained mysteries”

I’ve accepted that there are things in life I am never going to figure out.  No matter how much sleuthing I do, there are aspects of life that were not intended for me to understand.  “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of the Law” Deuteronomy 29:29.

That’s a tough pill for me to swallow.  I like knowledge and understanding.  “Figuring it” out is soul-satisfying. 

But what I hear this verse saying is that God is pleased with follow- through on the things that are known and understood.  Obedience.

I spend so much time wishing that the Scriptures were more clear about certain things.  Today I’ve been reminded by the gentle correction of the Spirit that I’ve let my focus drift too close to the shore.  There are a good many things that God has made painfully obvious about how I am to live.

How am I doing in those areas?  How about you?  

Uncertainty and doubt paralyze obedience.  A spoonful of faith and worship are the antidote.

“beyond labels”

This last week I have been called “brave,” “liberal,” “feminist,” and a “coward.”  These were all very interesting responses to my announcing I have applied to attend seminary.  I suppose these labels are to be expected for a woman who treasures her calling and is still trying to work out the framework of Biblical femininity within a community of people who are also trying to figure it out.  Honestly, none of the responses or labels surprised me.

However, my response has taken me by surprise.  I’d like to say that the way in which I am labeled by others does not bother me, but I’d be lying.  I enjoy the affirmation of others.  In the absence of affirmation, I camp out in  fear. 

Reading Franis Chan’s “Forgotten God” this morning has made me consider if I enjoy the affirmation of others more than the affirmation of God.  Do I fear other’s disapproval more than I long for the approval of God?   Chan says, “It means refusing to let your fears of what others think, your fears of rejection, keep you from pursuing the truth about the Holy Spirit and whatever else God is teaching you and calling you to do” (p. 46).

So why would a woman go to seminary?  What is it that God is teaching me and calling me to do? I am positive that God is calling me to be all that I can be in the image of God, for His glory (2 Cor. 3:17-18).  For whatever reason, seminary is a part of my becoming.  

Today I am moving beyond the labels to be affirmed by the Counselor and Great Affirmer.   There is truth in His affirmation.  There is confidence in His leading.  I’m refusing to let the labels or fear convince me otherwise.

“forgotten wisdom”

“I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun. This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing. Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” —Ecclesiastes 4:7-12 (NLT)Who do you count on? Who counts on you? Who are the individual parts that make up your whole? Who does your heart break for and beat in unison with? Whose eyes tell you a thousand stories that inspire, encourage, and invite you to do things you would never do alone? Who is in your life for whom you are better for their company? Who?

God created us to answer the “who” question. If you can’t, then it’s probably time to put down the blackberry, laptops and televisions and go be a real person. Facebook and Twitter want to know “what you are doing”–I want to know who are you becoming? Put aside the “what” question. Stop being in such a hurry: pause, listen, and care. Bear His image today in the way you care for others. Be the “who” today!

“when it’s not Swine Flu”

I’ve finally succumbed to the flu.  There isn’t any part of me that doesn’t ache and groan.  It’s been a full on assault by the germy bugs.

The worst part of it all is everyone is trying to convince me I have the dreaded Swine Flu.  Funny thing is that as soon as I tell friends and family it’s not the Swine they act like I am healed.  Is the standard, run-of-the-mill flu not noteworthy anymore?  Apparently, the only way to be “really” sick  is to have H1N1 virus.

Why are we humans like this?  Why does something have to be sensational in order for it to stoke the fires of our hearts?  Has the onslaught of information from media sources created an insatiable thirst for high-stakes drama?  Have we all just become ambulance chasers?

I’m content with the my average sniffing, coughing, aching all over flu.  I’ll leave the headlines and red carpet clear for those who need a more prestigous viral variety.

“taking Jesus to see Pearl Jam”

Last night, the hubs and I took a walk down memory lane to celebrate 18 years of marriage. We attended the Pearl Jam concert in Los Angeles. For those of you who know me in my real life, you can pick up your chins off the floor. I know I hardly seem like the type that would attend a Pearl Jam concert, let alone enjoy it.

I’ll admit, taking Jesus (in me) to a Pearl Jam concert can create quite an internal conflict. Did I love the music? Yes. Did I enjoy the lyrics, language, and general environment? Most definitely, I did not. I knew that Jesus in me was grieved for the prevalence of lostness all around me.

The grief went beyond just the depravity of those who can’t enjoy a concert without drugs, alcohol and other sinfully yucky stuff. My grief was one that had its eyes turned back to the church.

You see, it occurred to me as I watched this band rock out until there was nothing left that their performance would not have changed one iota if there was no one in the audience to watch. They love the ability to make music and they are passionate about communicating the meaning of their songs. Their god is music and they worship “it” like it matters. It wasn’t just a show…and that’s what made me sad.

Sad that the church has become so passionless about her God. Sad that we only worship when the show is on and people are there to watch. Sad that three and half hours of poured out worship were wasted on a god other than the One True God. Sad that most churches would not consider a three and half hour worship time because so few would consider it important enough to attend. Sad thinking that maybe those who attended without Jesus last night (and they were many) are devoted fans to a substitute god because the church has offered such a fake and boring representation of real worship. Sad that I’m convinced the band did not have one pre-concert conversation about being “relevant” and instead just presented themselves unashamedly as they are.

So when you take Jesus to see Pearl Jam, beware–He might show you more than you want to see. He might show you that your life has become passionless because you just live for the next show, rather than live to be the show (“Let your light shine before me in such a way that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:16). He might show you that the unregenerate have a greater passion than you do, though you claim to call upon the name of the Most High ( “Let them know that you, whose name is LORD–that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” Psalm 83:13.) He might show you that you have been asleep and the time has come for you to wake up and make His glory known. (“Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn” Psalm 57:8.)