Archive for December, 2006

Finally, a balanced approach

I fall somewhere between being emotional and being rational. I often feel at war between those two parts of my brain, my body, myself. And it seems that everyone either says to “ignore your emotions” because they’re irrational and fluid or to “listen to your emotions” because they reflect how you really feel and it cannot be denied. Both paths have led me to more pain (emotionally) and confusion (rationally).

So in the book I’m going through by Nancy Leigh DeMoss she takes a more balanced (and, may I be so bold to say, more biblical) approach. Some excerpts:

“When we wrestle with out-of-control emotions, it is easy to conclude that emotions are inherently sinful or wrong and should be suppressed. We need to remember that being created in the image of God means we have the capacity to experience and express a variety of emotions. God exhibits a spectrum of pure emotions, including joy, delight, anger, jealousy and sorrow. And He has designed us to be able to feel and express many different emotions in a way that reflects His heart and brings glory to Him”

“The problem is not that we have emotions – they are a gift from God. The problem is that our emotions (unlike God’s) are tainted by the Fall…”

“While it may be true to some degree that we can’t help the way we feel, the Truth is that we don’t have to let our feelings RUN our lives” (emphasis mine)

“Certainly what happens in our bodies does affect us emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. We cannot isolate these various dimensions of who we are – they are inseparably intertwined. But we fall into the trap of the Enemy when we JUSTIFY fleshly, sinful attitudes and responses based on our physical condition or hormonal changes.” (emphasis mine)

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At Christmas we often talk about how much we spend – on gifts and parties and food and travel and all that. In fact, our pastor preached a 4-week series on “The cost of Christmas.” He focused on Mary&Joseph, on the Magi, on God and lastly, on us.

The reason we celebrate Christmas is because we are celebrating the birth of Christ. God in the flesh. Immanuel. And we give gifts because we are reflecting in our small way the great gift that God gave to the world that first ‘Christmas.’ His Son. A Savior. As Paul notes, “for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the GIFT of God” (emphasis mine). Salvation is God’s gift to us, given freely with no strings attached. He bore the cost on the cross.

Yet while the Pastor was going on about the free gift God offers at no cost to us, I was thinking about another theologian who wrote on cost. For while it is true that we cannot “earn” or “work for” or ever “repay” God for His gift, we often cheapen it by emphasizing only the free grace and never the life-changing whole-heart relationship that God wants from us. Having this relationship with God can cost us our sinful habits, our unholy desires and even friends, family, jobs and promotions at times. Grace is by no means cheap. God freely gave His all and in return (but not ‘to earn’) we freely give ourselves back to God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says that true grace is costly:

“…Grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son; ‘ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”

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Ever wonder what it would cost to send your true love the gifts described in The 12 Days of Christmas? Apparently, someone does! For the past 22 years PNC had calculated this “Christmas Price Index.”

Click on the title and then on the “presentation” button at the banner across the top for all the information!

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I Thrived.

I didn’t just survive my first day back at work today.

I thrived.

It was a good day. I look forward to more.

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What it comes down to…

Another quote from Nancy DeMoss:

“I have discovered that the fundamental issue in relation to submission really comes down to my willingness to trust God and to place myself under His authority. When I am willing to obey Him, I find it is not nearly so difficult or threatening to submit to the human authorities He has placed in my life.”

I remember when I was interning in college that we talked about submission. The point came up that if we’re not submitting to and obeying speed limits (which is simple), how are we really submitting to and obeying God? If we have such disrespect for human authority, what does that say of our respect for God who establishes human authority? (Note Romans 13.1) Sometimes it is in the small things rather than the big that our character shows truest.

Nancy’s quote struck me as a profound truth. If I am being obedient to God, why fear anything or anyone else?

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Mistake of my Life

I am stupified, in shock, overwhelmed and perhaps a bit numb.

I went into Staples for envelopes for my Christmas cards. I walked out with a red shirt and work schedule for tomorrow and Thursday.

What happened?

Didn’t I have a million and one reasons to quit? Why did I let the manager talk me back into it? Because they need help and I already “know the ropes” (I wonder how much I really remember…)? Because I am beyond broke and have bills stacking up that I can’t pay (but does it have to be only about the money…)? Because I am tired of people thinking I am lazy and unmotivated, tired of them looking at me like a lazy coward or wimp when I say that I can’t physically handle retail. Did I say yes to appease others and “look good” rather than waiting for what was best or asking God what to do??

So after feeling bull-dozed and worried I am beginning to calm down. (It’s been like 2 hours since I started this and life has happened in between.) I may have made a rash decision. I may have made the wrong decision. But it may be a God thing as well…

So I’ll go in tomorrow with a smile and good attitude and do my best. And I’ll tell him that my days and hours have to be limited to start with because I can’t send the fibro into a tailspin. And the world won’t end.

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Do you hear what I hear? Holiday tunes on the radio. Buzzers announcing the cookies are done. Carolers outside the door. Salvation Army bells. Complaints of long lines. Rambled lists of what’’s left to do. Seasons greetings. Jingle bells. Birthing pains. Labored breathing. A baby’s cry. The sound of hope.

Do you see what I see? Colored lights adorning rooftops. Snowmen decorating houses. Santa Claus at the mall. Reindeer out in the yard. Ornamented trees. Colorful packages. Massive feasts. Burning candles. Red. Green. Gold. Silver. Glitter. Dust. Dirt. Damp. Stable. Manger. Baby. God in the flesh.

Do you know what I know? We have this tendency to get so caught up in the symbols and activities of the season that we overlook that which they represent and celebrate. The songs of angels, shepherds, others praising God. The light of the Star of Bethlehem which paled in comparison to the Light which was born into the world. The gift of salvation given to the world wrapped in swaddling cloths. Without Christ there would be no Christmas. Without Christ there would be no salvation and we would all still be lost in the darkness of our sins.

Listen to what I say! Don’’t miss the forest for the trees. See hope in the lights and colors of the season. Feel joy in the music and songs of the season. Remember the baby in the manger. Reflect on the love of a God who sent His own Son to save us. Thank Him. Praise Him. Live your life for Him. Don’’t miss Christ for Christmas.

(This was another old Christmas Card opener – this time from 2003…)

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Tonight was the second night that we did a musical at church. Well, perhaps it is better described as a dramatized cantata. The focus was the music, with added narration, silent Bible characters, dance and sign.

The dance and sign was mine. The book suggested it and I was around so they asked me to do it. One was a celebratory song that a little scarf movement and Israeli folk dance fit perfectly to. The other was more subdued and so I signed when the choir sang and did some slow mime-ish movements when the soloists sang. I was a bit nervous because our church is not used to such things. If the book hadn’t suggested it, I doubt it would have even crossed anyone’s mind. But it did and they asked and so I did. I had a group of 3 youth join me on the celebratory song.

And as I worked with the youth teaching them the piece, hanging out with them, leading them in a short devo on David dancing before the Lord, putting the choreography together and doing all of it (I also was a narrator), I felt at home. For the first time in months. In many ways I feel like I don’t fully belong here. And I haven’t found a job yet and many days I feel as though I’m not even sure what I’m doing at all.

Not today. Not doing this. I was in my element. I was doing what I was created to do.

It was confirmed in my heart. It was confirmed in the God-given strength to do the pieces in spite of my body. It was confirmed by people not merely telling me I did a good job, but by telling me that they had been blessed through it – that God had used my offering to touch their hearts and minister to them.

I was made for this.

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New Fangled

So our old microwave went out and Mom and Dad went out to buy a new one.

It has a metal shelf in it.

A METAL shelf.

I didn’t think you were supposed to put metal things in microwaves.

How’d they do that?

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