Thursday, November 11, 2010

Safety Measures

I’m not sure if it’s just my normal state or mind, or if it’s the pregnancy, but I have been in a constant state of mental overdrive these last few months. Seriously, it would be impossible to over-analyze things anymore that I am already doing in relation to our growing family. Will our baby be healthy? Will we have enough money? Will my job understand? Am I capable of keeping an infant safe?
These questions, and thousands like them, seem to consume my consciousness until my thought life becomes one of continuous worry. No matter what I do, I just can’t seem to find peace.

John 14:27

“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – NIV

We live in an unsettling world, it is just a fact. There is no such thing as security here. Thieves break in, babies get sick, marriages fall and accidents happen. The locks on our doors, the medicine in our cabinets, and the air bags in our cars – they may help us, but they never guarantee us. No matter how you look at life, we are walking on shaky ground.

And ironically, if you really think about it, some of the world’s strongest faith-filled Christians became so in battlefields, hospitals, cross fires and prisons – the places on this planet where conflict rages and death can come in an instant. I have heard it said that one of the many paradoxes of the gospel is that those who have no security in this world can actually be the most secure of all for they have found their peace elsewhere – in the promises of God.

So no matter what steps I take towards protecting my new baby and our family, and regardless of how many hours I spend worrying about them, does any of it really make a difference?

How often do we find comfort in false securities? We surround ourselves with safety measures, and for what…peace?
The way I see it, peace comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of Christ.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Temporary Attacks

I feel like I haven’t read the Gospel of Matthew in quite a while. This hasn’t been an oversight; in fact, I have skipped over the Gospels entirely out of blatant overconfidence. Somewhere along the line, I convinced myself that there was nothing new for me to gain from them. My head was already so saturated with those “same old stories” that I began to think of them as pass-able. But this morning, one of the many devotionals that get emailed to me had the following translation of Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:25:

"A student doesn't get a better desk than her teacher. A laborer doesn't make more money than his boss. Be content—pleased, even—when you, my students, my harvest hands, get the same treatment I get. If they call me, the Master, 'Dungface,' what can the workers expect?” – The Message

How relatable the Message sometimes is. Don’t we know this feeling well…that much of the Christian life is lived in tension between two impulses: the desire to be liked and respected by the world, and the desire to know God and be like Jesus. In our everyday lives, it becomes so easy to forget that these two impulses cannot thrive together, one must be subdued.

It is quite unfortunate that most of our world has chosen the former option – compromising their faith in the uncompromising Christ. But in this passage, Jesus is urging us to make a better decision. Though hostility and persecution are not enjoyable, they are the last gasps of a dying kingdom – the kingdom of human pride.

Let us not be shaken by temporary attacks on an eternal reign

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Leaning Towers

It is so surreal when someone dies. Last weekend a Notre Dame student was crushed by a falling tower during a routine practice. By all traditional standards, this student was considered a “good kid”, maybe even a Christian. And still, he – and only he - perished at the hand of a natural cause.

There was a tower in Jerusalem that collapsed and crushed 18 people to death. The people of the town found themselves questioning if these people were worse sinners than they, for they were all spared. There must have been SOME reason why they were chosen to perish and others were not, shouldn’t there?

Luke 13:5

“…Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die.” – The Message

The fact is, in this world - as in the world of Christ - towers fall. People die. Survivors mourn. There doesn’t have to be a reason for any of it. And we all can’t help but wonder about the coming day when we will slip away from this world to whatever lies beyond. As Christians, we know what lies beyond. It is the lost that panic at the thought. Even so, we all can’t help ourselves from feeling shocked when this world is rocked.

Jesus responded to the mourners in Jerusalem by reminding them that everyone will die eventually, whether prematurely or in old age. His message is this: Prepare for certain death by repenting now! Jesus points to the real issue – the tragedy that many die without acknowledging their need for a Savior. This eternal tragedy far outweighs anything that this world can dish out, and yet, the number of the spiritually dead far outweighs our “natural disasters”.

We need to view life and death – and our neighbors – with an eternal perspective. We must understand that physical death separates us from those we love for a short time, but death without Christ separates those we love from the presence of God forever.
Our lives are filled with constantly leaning towers, are we braced for a fall?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fall Festival

This past weekend Brian and I volunteered to work a booth at our church’s fall festival. It had the makings of a perfect day. The weather was beautiful, the kids were excited and I was eager to finally get the opportunity to serve along side of my husband. I wish that I could say these feelings lasted.

Unfortunately, this attitude of anticipation and enthusiasm left me almost as soon as I arrived at the church and found that Brian and I had been separated in our areas of responsibility. Not only did they assign us different booths to work, but they couldn’t have been farther away from each other. It was as if they saw one side of the field and sent Brian there, then pointed the complete opposite direction and sent me there.

It goes without saying that I was pretty annoyed. Finally, for once, we were going to work with a ministry together and that all got taken away in less than 30 seconds! Suddenly, I found myself becoming the volunteer that no one wants.

Philippians 2:4

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." – NIV

How hard it is to not look at our own interests, I am so far from accomplishing this that it’s embarrassing. I turned what should have been a joyful service attitude to one of entitlement. “How could they separate us” I thought. “This is going to be so boring for me now.”

We are called to serve one another in love and grace, but how easily that love morphs into prerogative before our very eyes. While nothing else in creation may have this power, thank God that He is big enough to take our eyes off of ourselves for one second.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Big Prayers

Many times in life when we are confronted with a seemingly impossible situation, we tend to ask God to help alleviate the symptoms rather than to intervene in a mighty way. I know that I’m guilty of this for sure. It’s as though we are afraid of asking too much…as if there was such a thing.

In our culture, we just don’t see miracles that often, so we naturally assume that God isn’t interested in doing them. But to the contrary, according to the Bible at least, He is intensely interested in intervening in our situations. The only missing link: a simple, worshipful heart.

Mark 9:23

“If you can…” – NIV

In this passage of Mark, there was a father whose son was possessed by a destructive spirit. (Know any parents like that?) Everyone, including the disciples of Jesus, had tried to help with no avail. Finally, the father appeals to Jesus to do something – “if [He] can”. Jesus found this hint of uncertainty, frankly, ludicrous. Of course He can you fool, He is God incarnate!

This makes me wonder about my prayers…do they also undermine Jesus’ mastery of a situation? Do I also hint that He might not be able to do what I ask? Do I simply forget that His adequacy is never the question?

Jesus really may answer our prayers exactly the way we expect Him to…are we ready for that?