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Obedient in the Small things

My husband and I went camping for the weekend. We sat peacefully by the campfire watching the flames twist and turn. I was mesmerized by the heated coals. My husband played the guitar while I let my mind ponder. I read out some scripture. We talking about what it spoke to us. We spent some time in prayer. I then asked my husband to meditate on how he could be more obedient to Jesus in this season in his life. I meditated on the same thing.

Right now my husband has a lot going on in his life but for the first time in forever my life is pretty clear. I am not working and I have no volcanic irruptions in my life. It made the question of how to be more obedient difficult for there was no big mountain sitting in front of me.

I started to contemplate what it means to be obedient to Jesus in this season where I am acting as a house wife. I came to the conclusion that I could do a better job in serving my husband. My husband has made jokes that I have a servants heart for everyone except him. There is a lot of truth to this statement. I would not call myself a selfish person except when it comes to my husband. He serves me more than I serve him.

I do not find service difficult but I do sometimes find it difficult when the service is to my husband. I pondered to God. Where is this coming from. It did not take me long for me to know exactly where it was coming from. I talked to my husband about this and he guess the cause before I even spoke it out.

I would not say this is a big issue in our marriage but it has been something that has come up on several occasions in several forms. My husband has a tendency to serve well within the family but is selfish outside the family. I am the opposite. But ultimately we should be doing both.

So in the coming weeks I am going to be working on my service to my husband in the small things of our daily life.

Where can you be more obedient to Jesus in your daily life?

Radical Submission

My husband and I have been working on our submission to God. This is something I have practiced off and one throughout my journey with God. It has brought about the question of what does submission to God mean and second why do it?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

To me submission to God means we give him, offer him everything we have. All of it. I give him my finances. I give him my house. I give him my body. I give him my skills. I give him my husband. I give him my family. I give him all that I have now. All that I will have in the future. I give him my hopes, dreams, desires. It is my offering to my Heavenly Father. I do no do this perfectly but God has been faithful in showing me the areas I am struggling to submit something to him.

This is something I have to practice. For it does not come naturally. Rather my natural tendency is to hold on to things. To say to God this is mine. But nothing is truly mine. The things I have are because God gave me them to begin with. Nothin is ever mine. I am just the care taker.

The next question that comes is why practice this? Why submit everything to God. If I go out and work my ass off to make money why do I have to submit it to God? We all think this way. But the thing is, the truth is, I have lived my life not surrendering things to God and it is just empty. I am constantly looking for the next thing to make me fill fulfilled. I am constantly striving. I am constantly hungering. But when I submit everything to God, he never disappoints me. I feel fulfilled. I feel satisfied. I feel alive.

The Will of the Father

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23

I read this short passage in Matthew this morning. It was a stark reminder that there is nothing under the sun I can do to earn my ticket to heaven. As it says in this passage, Jesus must know who I am. How will Jesus know who I am? I need to be doing the will of the father.

When I was younger and even to this day I have struggled with knowing what God’s will is. I loved God and believe in Jesus. I wanted to follow God’s will but what is God’s will? Furthermore when I read this passage in Matthew I pondered to God, isn’t it your will for me to prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name and do mighty works?

I do not think Jesus is saying prophesying, casting out demons or doing mighty works is wrong but I do think he is bringing to light that it is the inner soul, our holiness, our repentant heart, the foundation of our faith that is most important. If you do all the mighty works in Jesus name yet you are not loving. It you cast of demons but then do not cloth someone. If you say to someone Jesus loves you, be healed but then watch them starve to death you are not doing the will of the father. Similarly if I do a mighty work and my heart is corrupted by sin that I have not repented for, my heart is not in the right place.

I like using the analogy of a relationship with Jesus as the analogy for my faith because I understand how relationships work. Furthermore if I want to know Jesus and I want Jesus to know me then thinking of it as a relationship makes sense to my brain. I walk with Jesus. I get to know him, he gets to know me. It is through this interaction that I come to see more of my own sin, learn how to love and learn the will of the father. Furthermore this process will never be complete until I reach him in heaven. It is a process.

How I engage in my relationship with Jesus has changed in different seasons in my life. But no matter the season it has always included these basic elements. Prayer, the Bible, a person acting as the body of Christ. How I have engaged these 3 elements had looked different at different times but they are the building blocks of which I engage in getting to know Jesus and Jesus getting to know me.

Personality

I come from a family with strong personalities. I myself have a strong personality. If there is one thing I hated about myself for most of my life it was first my personality and second my body. It took years of therapy for me to get through my own self hatred. Most of this was directed at my own personality. I am sad to say I have walked through my life with more disgust of myself than love.

How have I learned to deal with this? I first had to come to terms with the fact that God made me this way. I am God’s creation. Whether I liked myself or not God loves me as I was. He accepted me as I was. If God loves and accepted me, how was I not to do the same?

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16

I then dealt with the feeling that God loved me and accepted me but no one else did. I struggled with the fact that God was set apart from me while I was still living. I struggled with the knowledge that I would possibly very well live a long life and God’s love did not feel like a real presence in my daily life. My husband has done a miracle in rectifying this problem. His love is not perfect. His acceptance is not perfect but I have felt the love of God through him.

It has been his continual presence in my life that reminds me that first and foremost God created me, loves me and accepts me. Second my husband choose me, loves me and accepts me.

I still have days I struggle with my old feels of dislike of myself but it is not as strong as it once was. It is becoming a more distant memory as I form new happy memories with my husband and 2 puppies.

So to all those who struggle with loving themselves. For all those who struggle with accepting who and what they are may you find peace that the creator of the universe made you and adores you. May you learn to love yourself as God loves you. May he send a person to love you in a way that you feel God love in a real and tangible way. And to all may we work to love others. Amen

God Does Not Discriminate But People Do

Unfortunately discrimination is still a very real issue in our world. Whether it be due to your skin color, Your ethnicity, your gender, your sexual orientation or a disability. We form thoughts, judgements and expectations for people based on what we have been taught and experienced. We then allow these views to influence how we view others. I am guilty. I have discriminated against people in the past. I still do. I do not like white males. End of story. You are a white male, you are automatically on my bad list until proven otherwise. This is how discrimination works. We see someone in a negative light because of a characteristic until we are proven wrong.

When I was a child I often heard comments from my father referring to people with mental illness in a negative light. He even made comments like never marry someone with bipolar disorder. He referred to people with depression as just lazy asses. This shaped how I viewed people with mental illness. When I was diagnosed myself with Bipolar Disorder I had just become the object of my fathers discrimination. But my fathers view of mental illness quickly changed after it was facing him head on. I do not think he would make these same comments today. His view has changed. He does not discriminate against people with mental illness. I have actually heard stories of him helping students struggling. He is more informed. He is more aware. His view has changed. He has changed.

One of the biggest objects of discrimination within the church today is people who identify as LGBT. Not long ago I heard a statement from a young man who said I want to believe in Christ, I want to accept Christ into my life but I am gay. I can’t be gay and a Christian. My heart sank. For this is absolutely not true. God does not discriminate. Unfortunately the church has been discriminating since it was formed. Furthermore God hates discrimination. We are all his precious creations. We are all equal in his eyes. We are all loved by him no matter who you are. Jesus died for everyone.

Furthermore when Jesus was on this earth he often associated with those who were outcastes in society. It was the people who society discriminated against that he showed the greatest love and affection. It was those with leprosy, disabilities, tax collectors, and prostitutes that he welcome and healed. So if you identify as LGBT, God adores you, accepts you and says you are my precious creation. You have a disability, God calls you his child. You a white male, well I don’t trust you but God loves you to.

So to all, let us stop and ask ourselves who do you discriminate against? For we all have biases. Where is your discrimination coming from? We are all equal in God’s eyes. Every single one of us. May God transform our hearts and give us eyes to see each other the way he sees us. May God forgive us for discriminating against others. For discrimination always hurts and causes suffering. Amen.

Regaining Trust

Release #19 of the Broken Girl Series

The Shepard dog has made a plan for getting through the mountains. The broken girl can see that the wheels are turning in his head but she does not know what he is planing. She does not like secrets, she does not fully trust the Shepard dog for so many have failed her in the past. How does she follow him if she does not trust him? How does he trust that she will support him when he decides to lead? They let these doubts and ideas swim in there heads instead of communicating them with each other. One night while resting next to the camp fire the broken girl asks the Shepard dog, “what are you not telling me?” He looks at her shocked, “how can you tell?” She tells him, “I can tell based on your body language.” He starts to talk. He shares his plans with the broken girl. She listens, she gives critique and feedback. They discuss, contemplate and pray. The broken girl shares her desires and wishes. The Shepard dog takes them into consideration. In the end they have a tentative plan of action. It is not the plan the Shepard dog would have drafted by himself and it is not the plan the broken girl would have drafted by herself. No it is a plan with a little of his and a little of hers. The Shepard dog makes a commitment to communicate better with the broken girl and the broken girl makes a commitment to allow him to lead. They fall asleep by the campfire. Time to rest before the next days climb.

Hopes, Dreams and Desires

I have always been a bit of a dreamer. As a child I had several cool ideas for wild things I wanted to do in life. At one point I was convinced I would grow up and live with the chimpanzees in Africa. As I aged my dreams became a little more realistic, well sort of. But having dreams, expectations and hopes is also hard. For when these desires are not meet. When the dreams do not come to pass then it is incredibly hard to deal with emotionally. After having many of my dreams and desires stomped on and broken I started to wonder if it would be better to just have no dreams. Just live day to day accepting whatever crosses my path. For if you expect nothing than it is easy to be grateful. If you have no dream you are able to be content with your present.

These are 2 extremes. One extreme is having wild dreams that do not come to pass and the other is having no hopes. This has lead me to a place of asking God, how do you see dreams, hopes and desires?

I have meet people that think of all desires and dreams as a gifts from God, thus we are to pursue those desires. In my opinion there is some truth to this but this is also dangerous. Our innate desires, hopes and dreams sometimes are pure and from God but sometimes they get corrupted by sin. Not all desires are from God. Not all dreams are from God. Not all hopes are from God.

Can God give us dreams and desires? Absolutely. But we need to be carful in discerning which of these dreams, desires and wishes are from our Heavenly Father and which have been corrupted by sin.

This is part of what having discernment means. The ability to tell which dreams are from God and which are not. I personally struggle with this issue. It has been my confusion with knowing which desires are from God and which are not that has caused me to struggle in so many ways over the years.

So how can we tell which dreams and desires are from God? God has given us the Bible for this purpose. For it gives us a guideline to know God’s own heart. If our desires are in line with the heart of God then it is from him. If it is not in line with the heart of God we should be concerned that our desires are not from God but our sinful flesh. For we all have a sinful flesh.

Accountability is also important. For it is others in our lives that can help us to discern which desires are from God and which are not. Without this accountability we will make mistakes for we are often blind to our own sinful flesh.

In America we live in a culture that tells us to pursue our dreams. We live in an age where we are taught to work toward our heart’s desire. We often are encouraged to pursue what you need and want in life. The problem with this is our hearts desires, our goals, our dreams, our hopes, our wishes are often not in line with God’s will, plans and purpose. Furthermore many Christians are not even aware of this fact. They are not aware that their hearts desires are not in line with God’s heart.

We all need heart surgery. We need our desires to be transformed so that they aline with God’s. Then we can follow our hearts, follow our dreams.

How does God do heart surgery? It starts with prayer. It requires other In your life that are well versed in God’s word to disciple us and help us discern God’s heart. It takes community. It takes practice.

So to all of those who have a dream, desire and hope may you take time away from your pursuit to ask God to show you his heart. May God aline your dreams and desire with his. May our hearts desires be what God desires for us. Amen