Monday, April 30, 2012

A Table Prepared For Me . . .

I awake to the blaring of my alarm and my mind immediately begins to think through my day.  After getting ready, I’ve got to get the kids up and out the door to school.  I only have time to grab a cup of coffee and am out the door and off to my job, where I work through my lunch hour and then I’m in my car by four so I can pick up the kids and drop them off at their various practices.  I rush home to fix a quick dinner and then back to pick up the kids.  I breathe a sigh of relief when all my children are tucked in bed and I finally find a moment of peace.

Why am I so busy?  I didn’t set out to have my life to look like this?  I thought I would take more time to smell the roses, cook a nice dinner and have quality time with my children.  But the tyranny of the urgent marches in like a heavy armored foe and I surrender to its clamoring demands. 

The weekend looks no different than the week.  I’m busy catching up on all the things I’ve neglected at home while I’ve been at work; the yard, the laundry, the cleaning.  I carve out time to attend church but return home to continue my mad rush to get everything caught up before my week starts all over again.

Why do I fall prey to busyness?  Why do I allow myself to get sucked into living like the world lives?  Why does my heart flee from having quiet time to reflect and be refreshed?

“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God.  (Exodus 20:8-10 NLV)

I find it interesting to note that this command is included in a list that also says, “Don’t commit adultery, don’t murder and don’t steal.”  (Exodus 20:13-15)

Why do we abhor the murder, stealing and adultery commandments but fudge on the Sabbath commandment?

I can’t help but wonder what we are missing in our busyness.  What does God have waiting for us if we would only slow down and listen?   But our hurry scurry, rush here, rush there schedule will never allow us to discover what it may be.

What if our heavenly Father has a beautifully decorated table with china, silver place settings, gourmet food, a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and He’s waiting patiently for us to sit down and enjoy a dinner He has specially prepared for us.  But we’re in a hurry, we don’t have time, so we kiss Him on the forehead and rush out the door, so caught up in the things we need to do that we neglect to see the tear making its track down His dear face.

What are we missing in our busyness?  Is it worth it? 


Will you join me in purposefully taking time to rest, relax and enjoy His presence?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Can I Get a Break?

Can I just get a break?  I need a holiday, a vacation, an escape – any of those would do I’m not really picky!  I’d even settle for just being able to put my head in the sand and let the world go by for a few days.

My life is just so crammed with stuff that continually calls my attention.
There are the kids that need help with their homework, driven to soccer practice, picked up from gymnastics, dropped off at friends and taken to the doctor!   There is the job that never seems to be left at work.  It sneaks into my car and forcefully makes its way into my home. 

Then there is the house; the never-ending mounds of laundry, dirty bathrooms, stacks and stacks of dishes, and weeds in the flower beds that threaten to take over even the hardiest plants.  There are friends and relatives that want my attention, neighbors, people in need and on and on the list goes.  Could I just scream, pull out my hair and find the nearest closet to hide in for a while?

And then there is God. . .

He is constantly at work in my life; poking, prodding, re-shaping, and changing my life.  Some of the time I’m content to let Him do His work in me but really after a while it gets a little laborious.  I’m tired of being thrown out of my comfort zone! 

I feel like a cancer patient who is constantly poked with needles, prodded in places that I don’t want to be prodded and examined to the nth degree.  Sometimes, I just want a break for a while, a sabbatical if you will from God.  Could I just stay where I am for a while and not change? 

I think summer would be the perfect time to take a break from God.  

My Bible studies have ended, the kids are out of school and my schedule is thrown out the window.  I will be FREE.  It’s not like it will be forever.  I’ll just do it for the summer and then when school starts up again I’ll be ready for God to begin His work in me again. 

As I am making my selfish plans, I hear Him whisper, “My child, you will never just stay where you are.  You are either moving toward Me or away from Me.”

And He reminds me of a verse in Proverbs that says , "A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?  Then (spiritual)  poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber!" (Proverbs 24:33-34 Message, NLV)

Do I really want that – spiritual poverty? 

I can already see myself bankrupt, sitting in a pool of self-pity and despair .  I’ve been there before and I KNOW I don’t want to experience that again.  What was I thinking? 

Lord, I’m sorry.  I’ve been a fool BUT what grace You have extended to me in spite of everything!  Teach me to love you with all my mind, my heart and my soul and never, never let me take a holiday from You!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Blue Light Specials
Friday nights, when I was growing up, were designated “Family Night”.  I looked forward to them all week long, never quite knowing what we were going to do.  We had a limited income and back then, there was no such thing as movie rentals or dvd players or vcr’s, for that matter.  My parents never let that hinder them from coming up with some very clever family night outings. 

One of my favorite family nights was going to Kmart.  Dad would give us each a dollar to spend and we could buy whatever we wanted.  I remember walking up and down the aisles debating endlessly about how I was going to spend that one dollar.  I usually ended up with a half gallon carton of malted milk balls.  It wasn’t quite a dollar so whatever was leftover I would pool with my sister and we would buy a pack of gum to share. 

Kmart was famous back when I was growing up for their “Blue Light Specials” (unadvertised specials that were announced in the store).   While walking around the store shopping, someone on the loud speaker would say, “Welcome Kmart shoppers we have a blue light special in aisle 4.  We have just marked down tennis racquets from $20.99 to $15.99.  This will only be for the next half hour so hurry and stop on by to get yours.”  Then we would all rush over to aisle 4 even if we didn’t need tennis racquets just to see for ourselves whether it was true or not and just maybe we might be able to get one.

“Blue Light Specials” were designed to get people’s attention and they did just that.  They drew people to them, even when they weren’t really interested in the product.

 Matthew 5:14-15 (NLV) says,  “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

As I read these verses,  I was reminded of Kmart’s long ago, Blue Light Specials.

As followers of Jesus, we are to be Jesus’ “Blue Light Special” to the world.  We should stand out, we should be different!  The light within us should radiate to those around us, to those we come in contact. 

When we love unreservedly, forgive quickly, give without expecting anything in return, extend grace when it isn’t deserved this marks us as different.  It’s as if we’re standing in aisle 4 proclaiming, “We’ve got a deal of a lifetime and you’re not going to want to miss!  This deal transformed my life and it can change yours too!”

So let me ask you, is your light shining? Or have you covered it up and kept it to yourself?  Do you live like you have the deal of a lifetime?

We have a “deal” that surpasses all deals, a deal of a lifetime.  Let’s not keep it to ourselves!


Monday, April 9, 2012

No Going Back . . .

Have you ever told yourself, “I’m done with that sin and I’m never going back to it!”?  I have – about a bazillion times!  I get so disgusted with myself and my sin.  I decide I can’t live with it anymore and that I’m done but that usually lasts only a couple of days before I begin to miss my comfortable sin and wish I had it back.

Why do we go back?   Because the past always seems to be better, because we don’t like the present, because we’re afraid of the future, because we can’t let go, because our sin feels so much more comfortable than the unknown, because, because . . .

And then devil has us right where he wants us – STUCK!  We can’t move forward when we’re turning back.  We settle for ineffectiveness, unproductiveness and fruitlessness.

The story is told a man named Herman Cortes who burned his ships to keep his men from turning away from the mission that he had for them.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah (a prophet in Israel) chooses Elisha to replace him by throwing his cloak over Elisha as he is plowing his field.  Elisha chases after him and asks him if he can tell his parents goodbye.  Elijah replied, ‘Go on back, but think about what I have done to you.’” (1 Kings 19:20b NLV)

The next picture we see is found in verse 21 of 1 Kings 19,   "So Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant."

Do you see what Elijah did?  He used the wood from the plow to make a fire and then cooked up the oxen and shared it with the town.  Why did he do that? 

Elisha, like Herman Cortes, burned his ship.

For Elisha, there was no going back.  He  chose the mission that Elijah called him to which ultimately was GOD’S MISSION for him.  He was clearly showing Elijah that he had surrendered everything; his home, his family, his livelihood and he wasn't looking back! 

Let me ask you, has God put a call on your life and you continue to turn back to your old ways?  Has He said to you, “Come follow me,” but you’ve been resisting, thinking that what lies in your past is so much better than what He might have for you?  What’s holding you back from wholeheartedly following the Lover of Your Soul? 

Following God won’t be easy.  It wasn’t for Elisha.  But think about it, Elisha traded in a lifetime of plowing oxen for service to his KING and through God’s power, he raised a child from the dead, caused an axe head to float, healed a man of leprosy and on and on the list goes.  I doubt that Elisha ever looked back and wished that he had kept plowing that field.    

What do you need to "burn" today?   What is keeping you from fully surrendering and following God?  Whatever it is I challenge you, like Elisha and Herman Cortes, to “burn your ship” and not look back!


Monday, April 2, 2012

Empty Me . . .

I hate feeling empty.  What about you?  Emptiness leaves me feeling hopeless, worn out, used up, exhausted and alone.

In Ruth 1:20-21 Naomi says, “Don’t call me Naomi. . . Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me.  I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty.”   

We are given only a glimpse of the heartache and sorrow that brought Naomi to the point of such emptiness and despair.  What must it have been like for her to travel home to her native land empty?  Did her heart break a little more with each step she took?  What pain she must have experienced as she traveled farther and farther away from the family she buried.  She was empty emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. 

What has left you feeling empty? 

 Without the emptiness how can we be filled? 

If we’re already full, how can God fill us? 

Could emptiness be a good thing?

Could it be part of God’s plan?

When we are empty of our self; our arrogance, our own dreams, our thoughtlessness - than God is able to fill us with Him.

 Our emptiness - the loneliness and pain- creates a space for God to fill.  The emptiness allows us to see God in a way we have never seen Him before.  It brings our hearts to a place of surrender.

This week we Celebrate emptiness!

. . . The Empty Tomb . .  where Christ's sacrifice was victorious!
I encourage you to embrace the emptiness . . .

May our prayer be . . .
I know how I can stray
And how fast my heart could change
Empty me
Of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition
And the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me
So I can be filled with You.
      Chris Sligh, Empty Me