Monday, June 17, 2013

Big, Bold, Powerful God (1 Kings 19:11-12)

Sometimes I expect my big, bold, powerful God to be just that...Big and Bold and Powerful.

And he is.  All those things.  He is big and he is bold and he is powerful.  But just when I start to expect that of him, he surprises me.  

There have been times in my life when I have been waiting to hear from him and I expected him to answer me in a big and bold and powerful way.  But he didn't.  And I ended up missing what he wanted to say to me. That is when I am reminded of 1 Kings 19: 11-12.

"The Lord said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.' Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper."  

In this passage the Lord is talking to the prophet Elijah.  Elijah is in hiding, fearing for his life.  He has fought a good fight against King Ahab and the prophets of Baal, he has done what the Lord has asked of him and has been zealous in his obedience.  But now Elijah is facing certain death, and he is scared.  God's answer to this fear, his reassurance that he has not forgotten Elijah, that he will continue to protect him does not come in powerful winds, a bold earthquake or big fire.  It comes in a gentle whisper.  A whisper so quiet one might miss it if not paying attention.  THAT is how my big, bold, powerful God often chooses to communicate.

There are plenty of strong winds, earthquakes, and fires in our lives.  It seems most of the things around us (television, music, social media, sports) vie for our attention with forces similar to tornadic winds, earth shattering quakes, and 4-alarm fires. But rarely are any of those things the voice, spirit or presence of God.  

Generally, the things that scream for your attention the loudest, are the things you should stay the farthest away from.  Often the voice you should be listening to is the one that comes in a gentle whisper.  The one that too many of us, too often, miss all together.  That is the voice of God.  The big, bold, powerful God.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

1 Kings 2:2

In the back of my Bible you will find a list.

A list of Bible verses that for whatever reason really grabbed me as I read them.  They are verses I want to go back to, take the time to ponder, and potentially write about.  Today I had a little free time and so I pulled out the list and flipped through my Bible re-reading the verses.  

When I got to 1 Kings 2:2 I knew I had found something I wanted to write about.

It's summer time, and as you may have picked up by now, I am spending a LOT of time with my kids.  Time I treasure.  Time I have enjoyed more this summer than potentially any other summer thus far.  Perhaps it is because they are older and it is easier to do fun things.  Perhaps it is because they have grown into kids I just really like hanging out with (aside from the fact that I am their mother and I have to).  Or perhaps it's because I sense they are getting older and I know this time I have with them is short and I desperately want to store up every moment I have with them. Whatever the reason, the kids and I are having a great summer, and they are very much on my mind.  

So when I re-read  1 Kings 2:2, I knew I wanted to share it with you.  In case you are not familiar with the Old Testament let me give you just a smidge of background.  You probably know who King David was.  He was a man after God's own heart.  He was the youngest son of Jesse and the least likely to become a King, yet that is exactly what he became, the 2nd King of Israel.  You can read all about him in 1 and 2 Samuel.  At the beginning of 1 Kings, David is dying and his son Solomon is about to take his place as King.  I King 2:2 is the charge that King David gives to his son, the future King of Israel.  

"...So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires.  Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements."

This is what I want to tell my children today.  This is what I want them to know.  This is advice that is fit for a King, a businessman, a teacher, a lawyer or whatever my children choose to be.

Whatever you strong.  Be strong in your faith, be strong in your loyalties, be strong for those who can not be strong themselves.  Be strong when life gets hard and when you want to quit.  Be strong and when you have fought as hard as you can fight, fight some more.  Be strong.

Show yourself to a be man (or women).  Take care of others, do what is right.  When you are wrong, say you are wrong and be humble when you are right.  Take responsibility for your actions and own up to mistakes.  Fight for the less fortunate, care for your family, love your wife, (or your husband) and put them first.

Observe what the Lord requires of you.  He has put you on this Earth to do something that no one else can do.  Figure out what that is and do it to the best of your ability, all for the glory of God.  Sometimes what he requires of you will not be easy, but do it any way.  Sometimes what he requires of you will necessitate sacrifice, but do it any way.  Sometimes what he requires of you means you will do things differently than your friends, but do it anyway.  Do what the Lord requires of you, because no one else on this earth can.

Walk in his ways, keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements.  There is only one way to true happiness, true contentment, true fulfillment and that is to walk in the ways of the Lord. He is the way, the truth, and the life.  

This is what I want my kids to know.  This is the charge I give them, just like King David gave to the future King of Israel.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

What Little League is All About

There is no doubt that American families are over-scheduled.  

I am the first one to stand on my soap box and tell the world to slow down.  Say no to some things.  Let your kid be a kid, climb a tree, be bored.

That being said, my middle kiddo Nate has had 8 baseball games in the last 9 days.  We played in tournaments two weekends in a row and had a game mid-week, that's a lot of a baseball.  

Add 4 t-balls games into the mix and a couple days at the barn for riding lessons and we were busy.  Too busy.  But let me tell you what Nate has learned in the past 9 days.

He has learned to be gracious winner, they won a lot of games.

But he has also learned to be just as gracious a loser, because they didn't win them all.

He has learned integrity.  You play the game to the best of your ability and you play it fair.  There will be some good calls and there will be some bad calls but you don't complain.  You play the game, you play it fair.

He has learned perseverance.  Whether it is the whole team fighting back from being behind or a single player fighting back when they were in a slump.  Don't give up, play your best all the time.

He learned that hard work pays off and sometimes you come out on top.  He made the best catch of his "career" last week and drove in the tying run in the same game.  

He also learned that sometimes you don't.  There are times he still strikes out, he still drops the ball.

He has learned to be patient.  Take the walk if they aren't throwing strikes.

But he has also learned to take risk.  'Cause if they are throwing strikes, you better swing.  It's better to strike out swinging then standing there watching the ball go by.

He has learned how to be part of a team.  He learned to be a leader, getting to pitch for the first time in a tournament.  And he learned to be humble, batting at the bottom of the line up.  

He learned that you win as a team and you lose as a team and no one player wins or loses all on their own.  

He has learned what it feels like to be under pressure, to take a deep breath and throw the last strike.  

He learned how to be a teammate and he learned how to be an even better friend. 

He learned how to take coaching, to listen to directions and do what the coach says. 

He learned to work hard, appreciate down time and that in the end it's only a game. 

Will he ever play in the major leagues?  Maybe, maybe not.  But that's not really what little league is all about.   These things my son learned the past 9 days will make him a better man, no matter what he does for a living.  That is what it's all about. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Right Where I Want to Be

I should probably be studying right now, but I just couldn't make myself do it.  

The kids and I cleaned the house today (okay, only one floor, but it was the main floor, and it was really messy).  Then we spent the afternoon bouncing around Cosmic Jump with a whole bunch of friends from my morning for moms bible study, followed up by ice cream.  Tonight we head to the ball field to watch Nate's little league team, one of our favorite summer activities.

And well, frankly, the day has just been too good to ruin it with studying.  So I'm not going to, at least not yet.  

It was a great day with the kids.  I love the time we get to spend together.  I feel more than blessed to get to stay at home with them.  Even though there are times when it is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  Even though there are times I feel hugely under appreciated and taken for granted.  Even though I may occasionally dream of getting to go to work for 8 hours a day and letting someone else train my children in the way they should go.  Those days really are few and far between.  I love being the one who is there to tell them where they left that item they are looking for.  I love being the one they come to when they have a question, need a hug or just want to hang out.  I love staying at home with my kids.  Yes, there are hard days, but today was a great day!  In fact it started last night.

Erik is traveling this week and last night after showers and baths and teeth were brushed my kids started arguing.  I, of course, was instantly annoyed until I found out what they were arguing about.  They were arguing about who got to sleep in mommy's bed that night.  You see when Daddy is gone his side of the bed is fair game.  Some nights  it remains empty but not last night.  Last night, they all wanted that spot.   It warmed my very soul knowing they still treasured me, they still wanted to be with me, that even though they are growing up way too fast, time with momma is still something special.  So we set a schedule and filled the spot until Dad comes home.  My week is full, days and nights, with the 3 kids I love most in this world.  Would I trade this job for anything else in the world?  Not on your life!  I am right where I want to be!

Monday, June 3, 2013

What It's All About

So, yeah, it's been a while since I posted anything.  Sorry about that.  Who knew my summer intensive would be, well, so intense?

It's not that I haven't been writing, I have been.  Just nothing that you would find real interesting.  I have written a 1500 word paper on my definition of "church".  I have written over 1000 words on a video series I am watching for class.  I have written over 12 (200-500 word) reflections on the 2 books I have read.  And I have written a message on the End of Times I gave to the middle schoolers at church last week.  I have been writing.  Quite frankly, my fingers are a little sore.  Turns out intensive classes really are intense!

But I have also been reading my Bible.  And I so desperately needed to hear what was written in my Bible today.  In the side margin, in the middle of the book of Luke I had written, "It's not what Jesus is going to do for you, it's what He has already done."  Oh how I needed to hear that today!

I had just finished praying, asking God for all kinds of things...patience with the kids, discipline to focus on class, strength to persevere, healing for friends and family who need it, and the list went on.  All the things I needed him to do for me.  I am ashamed to say it, but the list of wants was quite a bit longer than the list of thanks.  Today I got it wrong, because my wants is not what it's about.

Being a Christian isn't about having the inside track with the man upstairs so you can get what you want or need (even when those are really good things).  Being a Christian is about what has already been done.  It's recognizing the price Christ paid, the pain he suffered and the sacrifice he made...for YOU!  It's recognizing that without him, you would be lost.  Doomed to death for the mistakes you have made, will make and are making right now.  

Yes, Christ is there for us today, he wants to hear from us, he wants to help us.  Ask boldly for the things you need but remember, when it comes right down to it.  Christ has already given you the one and only thing you really need, forgiveness.  It's not about what Jesus can do for you now, it's about what he has already done.