Tag Archives: Spirit life

Don’t You Get It?

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Every year in my English class I make my students do an assignment with the verb “To Get”.  Rather than me explaining the thousands of uses of the verb, I make them research it on their own and report back to the class what they find.  (Look it up in the dictionary sometime and you’ll be shocked at all the ways we use the verb Get.)  One of my favorite uses is the phrase, “I don’t get it.”

Have you ever found yourself wandering aimlessly through life and thought, “Is this all there is?  Am I missing something here?”  I want to be sure that I “get it”.  I want to get it RIGHT and I want to get it ALL.  I want to squeeze every last drop out of life.  I want the Good Life- every ounce of it.

I have no doubt that someday I’ll be in heaven (so I know I got that part right).  But I don’t want God to say to me, “You didn’t get it.  You had all those years on Earth and you didn’t get it.  I was always with you.  I surrounded you with immeasurable beauty every single day.  I was calling to you every day.  I was trying to get your attention.  I wanted you to see me and admire my beauty.  I wanted to fill you up with my beauty, which would have made you so happy.  But you were too busy.  You were too focused on the pointless details.  You were too frustrated to look up.  I wanted to give you the Good Life, but your hands were already full.  I was trying to show you, but you didn’t get it.”

How many sunsets have I missed?  How many loving gazes have passed unnoticed?  How many times have I been looking down when I should have been looking up?  How many days have I spent scratching around in the dirt when I should have been soaring through the clouds?  How many times have I felt sheer joy rise up inside of me, threatening to swell and burst my heart, but I’ve pushed it back down again because I’m a grown up now?  Children never do that.

When a child is bursting with happiness she sings and dances with abandon, she squeals with giddiness, she claps her hands happily.  Her eyes shine with joy and her smile stretches from ear to ear.  Then what happens?  She runs into her Daddy’s arms and hugs him tight around the neck… she is thankful.  She “Gets It”.   She gets that the Good Life is a life full of thankfulness.

Thankfulness both causes and results from Joy.  It’s a beautiful chicken-and-the-egg cycle.  Noticing beauty makes me happy.  Happiness makes me thankful.  Expressing thankfulness makes me even happier- Joyful even.  And with that Joy I find even more beauty in the world, which makes me overflow with thankfulness.  I worship.  I wrap my arms around my Father’s neck and squeeze- extracting every last drop of Joy from life.  I get it.

EARTH without ART is just EH

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I had lunch with a missionary friend of mine the other day.  She talked about her deep desire to just be a normal woman, a mom and wife with few responsibilities outside her home.  She said she envied her sister who is not a missionary and does not have to write newsletters to supporters.  She day dreamed about taking art classes and expanding her new veggie garden.  She longed for her childhood days on the family farm where they worked just to survive without a thought as to how their lives appeared to others.

She said, “I just want to care for my family and to fill the world with beauty.  Is that enough?”

I smiled.  I’m pretty sure that’s one of the main purposes why God made women to love beauty.  God is the Creator of all things beautiful.  He’s the Artist.  I too am an artist.  Speaking as an artist, I like it when people are inspired and moved by what I make.  I think God likes that too.  He likes it when we are inspired and moved by what he makes.  God made Woman and she was exceedingly beautiful.  Man was moved by her beauty.  Woman looked around her and saw the exceeding beauty of Nature.  Woman was inspired by Nature’s beauty to create more beauty through her Art.  It’s a layering effect of appreciating beauty which brings glory and pleasure to the Great Artist.  It’s a reflecting of the very nature of God within us.

As an artist, there is something in my soul that comes alive only when I am creating.  I feel like it’s an extravagant element in my personality.  Creating art doesn’t actually DO anything in the grand scheme of life.  It’s not particularly productive or practical (that’s the other side of my nature at war with my artistic side).  But Art reveals something about us spiritually and enhances our relation to God.  I relate to God on a deeper level when art is part of the equation, because my Creator made me this way.  I think he wanted there to be some people who can appreciate the beauty he creates.  These people are just extravagant touches to his Grand Masterpiece.  When I appreciate beauty, it brings glory to God and that pleases him.

So is it enough to just want to fill the world with beauty?  Maybe, because it brings Glory to God and mirrors his character in us as we long to create beauty as well.  Maybe for now, that is enough, my friend.

http://www.deshow.net/cartoon/fantasy-art-painting-566.html

here’s the website to this artist’s page. Josephine Wall. http://www.deshow.net/cartoon/fantasy-art-painting-566.html

I give my kids Tylenol. Can I call myself a doctor?

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I hope nobody takes this blog post wrongly.  I am not trying to brag about myself or to put anyone down.  I’m not trying to be negative, I’m just expressing a frustration that most of my co-workers in the foreign mission field also feel.  These are my true feelings and thoughts.  I’m being honest.

It’s a really popular thing in churches now days to throw around the word “missionary” and to apply it to many different contexts.  For example, some people say “my office is my mission field” or “I am a missionary in my school.”  This kind of rubs me the wrong way.  I don’t deny that these places are full of people who need to hear about Jesus.  And I don’t deny that Jesus gave the Great Commission to all Christians (Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”).  And I don’t deny that it can be hard to be a light in the darkness.  But these uses of the word “missionary” kind of bother me because, you see, I AM a missionary.  A real missionary.  I have taken the “go” in that verse to literally mean “go to the nations.”  It’s more than my occupation, it’s my entire life.

As a real missionary I have made decisions for my own life that have ripped through my family.  I chose to go, so my kids have come with me.  And that decision tore the heart out of my parents who had to say good-bye to their grand kids.  That decision impacted the aunties and uncles and cousins and sisters and brothers that we left behind too.  You see, I’ve made the hard choices that a missionary makes when she loves God more than she loves her family.

As a real missionary, I have spent YEARS learning the language.  I have put in the hours of hard study.  I have laid down my own desires and submitted myself to another culture, another way of thinking, and another way of communicating.  I have been stripped bare of my own identity.  The “missionary” who just walks across the street to be a witness to his neighbor will never be required to make the same kind of investment.  I have done the hard work to become a missionary.

As a real missionary, I have sold all my possessions (except a few boxes of treasures and memories) and made an international move MORE THAN ONCE.  I sold the rocking chair that I rocked my babies in.  I watched my dishes walk out the door.  I put my electronics in the hands of a garage sale shopper on a Saturday morning.  I spread all my possessions across my lawn for my neighbors to pick through.  I looked at the pitiful wad of dollar bills and quarters that I accumulated in exchange for all my worldly possessions and I knew, despairingly, that this pittance would not cover the cost to repurchase these things overseas.  It was going to cost me something more to reestablish a home in a foreign country.

As a real missionary, I have swallowed my pride over and over again to ask churches for money.  We need support to do what we do.  To an American, this feels like begging.  I didn’t like it.  It can be humiliating, but this is the way our organization is run.  So week after week we would “shlep” our presentation table around the state like a traveling salesman.  We have done the leg work to earn our support as missionaries.

We have made the sacrifices to earn the title “missionary”, so to hear others appropriate the title for themselves when they haven’t made those same hard sacrifices kind of bothers me.  It’s like me giving my kids Tylenol and then calling myself a Doctor.  I didn’t work for that title.  I didn’t pay for that title.  I didn’t invest my life in becoming a doctor, so when I rob the Doctor of his title I also rob him of his earned respect.  I am not a Doctor.  I am a mother with an eye dropper full of over-the-counter pain-killer.

In the same way that I am not a Doctor, I’m also not a super hero.  I don’t expect great honor.  I don’t want to be put on a pedestal.  I don’t want to hear the praise of men.  I’m not fishing for compliments or pats on the back.  The only thing I am dying to hear from my heavenly Father is, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Here’s your eternal home… and you never have to move again.”

Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Hey, you want some Fruit?

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“My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day.  Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

“It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness;  trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits;  the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way.

“Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good – crucified.  Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.  That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.  Live creatively, Friends.”

Epistle to the Galatians 5:16-26 The Message:  The Fruit of the Spirit in everyday language.

I die daily

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I have this mental picture of Heaven.  For the first time that we all gather to worship the Lord we are divided into sections in a vast auditorium.  We are divided by language groups, and though when we speak to each other we use a common heavenly language, when we worship we sing in the language of our hearts.  In my mind, every missionary who has ever struggled to learn a language will be honored on that day with a seat in the section of their adopted language.  It makes me cry when I let this image rise up in my mind.  For the honor of worshipping side by side with the people I have given my life to, I die daily to my mother tongue.

It is a daily death, this struggle to learn another language.  I die to my personality which is best expressed in English.  I die to years of education and speak Spanish like a child.  I die to what I want to do and who I want to be.  I die to my image of myself.  I die to my independence.  I die to my pride… over and over again.

If it were not for love, I could not do this.  Yes, I love the Costa Ricans in all their contradictions and “Pura Vida”.  But more than my love for others, I mean I die for the love of God for me.  If it were not for God’s love towards me, I would not try this.  I would not give like this.  I would not hurt like this.  I would not humble myself like this.  If I was not 100% sure of my Father’s love for me, I would’ve stayed home in Minnesota.

But I am compelled.  In the light of His love for me, I am compelled to go, to lay it all down, to die daily to all that was, to share this compelling love with others, to pick up my cross.  I am compelled to love by dying.  I know no other way anymore.  The old life looks dull and flat.  It does not entice me any more.  My all and all hangs on the cross.  The way to my one and only love lies through a valley of death.  I give it all away in order to gain more than I could ever imagine.  “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and then loses his soul?”  When I die, I gain.

I can’t express it any more clearly how painful this death is to me.  It is not a metaphor.  It is real.  And every time I open my mouth to speak Spanish I lay my will down for Jesus.  Not my will, but yours be done.  What I wouldn’t do for this love?  It consumes me.

To live is Christ, to die is gain.

God’s Pet Peeve

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We’ve all heard that God sees all sin as equal.  Well that’s not exactly true.  Yes it’s all bad, but he calls some sins an abomination and there were only 10 Commandments- not every sin is mentioned in that list.  And there are some things that we accept as normal, part of our every day lives, but God doesn’t like them.

Does God have a pet peeve?  I think so.  Wanna know what I think it is?  Complaining.

Without throwing a bunch of scriptures at you, let me give you a few examples.  The Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years… and complained the whole stinking time.  Some of it was stuff that we would consider every-day, “normal” complaining.  The weather was hot.  There was sand in everything.  They were living in tents.  They ate the same foods every day with no variety.  The scenery was getting boring.  There was no water.  They were just complaining about the nitty gritty hardships of living and traveling in the desert.  Most of us would think of these as “normal”.  We would have posted these complaints on our facebook status and never considered them to be a sin, but we see that they angered God so much that he sent fire from Heaven to consume some of them!  Clearly even this kind of “normal” complaining makes God seriously angry.  He got sick of those guys!

We don’t think complaining is such a big deal because we are surrounded by it all the time.  Unless it’s directed at us, we hardly notice it.  But God is not indifferent to our complaining.  He takes it really seriously.  In Phil. 2:14 we are commanded “Do all things without complaining and contention.” And 1 Cor. 10:10 commands us not to “grumble as some of them (The Israelites) did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.”

When we complain, there is a deeper root of sin that is present.  Complaining is like the runners that spread the sin around.  Think about it this way.  We believe that God is sovereign.  We know that the Lord always has good reasons for sending hardships our way.  When we become discontent with how God is managing things, we show that we do not trust God.  We show that we don’t believe that He is in control or, even worse, we don’t believe that he is a Good God.  In our pride, we think that we know what is best for us, we can conceive of a better way of doing things, and we degrade God into a pitiful, weakling who doesn’t care about us as much as we care about ourselves.  “God knows that complaining is an expression of our pride, and not only pride in general, but more specifically, arrogance against God Himself.”  ALL OF THAT IS CALLED BLASPHEMY.  And that is why complaining is a sin- because it has its roots in blasphemy.

In the Old Testament, God sent fire to consume the complaining Israelites.  Under the New Covenant of Grace, God doesn’t burn us up with fire but He sends dryness into our souls.  Our spirits become a dry and barren, scorched land.  Ever tried to use a dry sponge to soak up a spill.  A dry sponge just pushes the mess along, only  a damped sponge can soak up the liquid.  Our spirits can get dry and unable to soak up God’s goodness, his Word, or his blessings.  We just don’t take it in.  Our complaining has dried out our spirit.

So how do you stop complaining?

First, Speak God’s words.  Start memorizing scriptures that confirm God’s goodness to you.  Repeat these good words rather than spewing your spirit sucking complaints.  Second, Be thankful in ALL circumstances.  Good and bad, God has sent these circumstances to you for a reason.  Thank God for everything.  Third, Do something good for someone less fortunate than you.  When you see the circumstances of homeless people or poor people or people living in a third world country you will realize all that you have.  You really are blessed!  Counting your blessings is the quickest way to saturate your spirit with the goodness that God shows to you every day.  Soak it up!!  The goodness is everywhere, every day.  Quench your thirsty soul with thankfulness.

I will waste my life

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I Will Waste My Life

By Misty Edwards

I will waste my life

I’ll be tested and tried

With no regrets inside of me

Just to find I’m at your feet.

I’ll leave my father’s house

And I’ll leave my mother

I’ll leave all I have know

And I’ll have no other.

I am in love with you

And there is no cost.

I am in love with you

And there is no loss.

I am in love with you

I wanna cling to you, Jesus

Just let me cling to you Jesus.

I’ll say goodbye to my father, my mother

I’ll turn my back on every other love and

I’ll press on, yes, I’ll press on

‘Cause I am in love with you, Jesus!