Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Update of friend's Thai adoption!

A few months ago I asked you all to pray for my friend that has been waiting to pick her little girl up from Thailand for 2 and a half years! Well, I am thrilled to say that she and her husband left today with their other 3 children in tow (all under the age of 11)!!!! They will be bringing their daughter home!!!! So thrilled for this loving and amazing family. While there they will be visiting 3 orphanages, the one their daughter is from, the one they picked their son up from where he spent 5 years of his life and another. We were able to get some funds together with some generous friends and they will be able to get the Thai children some necessities and a few treats! I am so excited to see what God does through this family. How cool will it be for their son to be back in his orphanage and be able to give to the children there?! Please pray for safe travels, for good health and for a smooth transition for this family that said YES to God's call.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I love a good talk with a friend.

3 days in a row! My blogging self is crawling out of her hole!

I was chatting with my best friend today about how exciting it is to be hungry for God's word. (This same friend and I used to sit and talk about boys and what bar to hit that night and who did what to who. I love friendships that grow with you!) We were talking about how easy it is to read what you should believe, to listen to what you should believe....to have someone else tell you. We were talking about how dangerous that can be too. You can't have a relationship with God through someone elses. You have to have your own. Our children won't be saved because we know God....it is our responsibility to help them gain their own relationship with HIM. It's in the relationship that things change.

After we chatted, this thought came to mind. I thought I'd share:)

I liken it to a friend of a friend. You know how you have different circles of friends. For example I have a core group of women in my life that I have known since I was 15. I have another group of women I love and have grown with unbelievably in the past few years. The two groups don't know each other. They have met on one occassion I think. I don't keep them from one another, we all live in different cities and it just has never happened. I often think of how much I love both these groups and wish they knew each other. I like to have all the people I love, love each other:) Unity makes me happy! But I digress....

I have told each group of ladies about the other. They know their names and what they mean to me. They may know about their families or experiences we've shared in the past. They may even FEEL like the know each other because of that. You know what I'm talking about, right?! You've met someone and think, gosh I feel like I know you! The fact is though that if these two women were in the same room together we'd discover they don't really know one another. They would have things in common, they would get along well, they would have similar values but they probably would not confide in one another. They would not implicitly trust one another. They would not feel that unconditional love I feel for these amazing women of my life. They in fact, may not even feel that much of a connection to them at all. These women are amazing so I think their might be an element of friendly love/concern for one another just because I love them all....They would enjoy their time but they would not know each other at first. NO matter what I had told them about one another. One group would not spill their darkest secrets to the others (and trust me, with these girls there are some secrets;) ) just because I say they can trust them. That level of comfort and intimacy would not be there. It shouldn't be there.

There is one thing I have learned with any relationship....particularly these friendships...
being a good friend takes work. You have to check in and listen and talk and take time to invest in your relationship even when life gets in the way....even when it's inconvenient or time consuming or circumstances change. All that work is why these relationships are so strong, such a blessing to me. We all work at it. We value our time and know it makes us better. In these groups we look at the world differently, have different priorities, different lifestyles....but we understand one another and KNOW that is who we are.

I say all of this to make the point that our relationship with God is no different. I won't get into heaven or know what God wants for my life because my parents know HIM and taught me about HIM. Listening to others opinions and reading commentary and amazing Christian books won't either. Surrounding myself with Godly people who can give Godly advice....doesn't make my relationship with God mine. Tuning into KLOVE isn't enough to make me truly know Jesus. The sermon on Sunday, no matter how powerful and eloquently spoken won't change my heart for God if I don't seek HIM in my own time too. Will these things help grow my faith? ABSOLUTELY! Are they important pieces of our walk with God. SURE. Did God design these wonderful things to help encourage us and so we can do life together like the early church. YOU BET! But HE wants us to know HIM on our own. HE wants us to see who we are in HIS eyes. HE knows us. That part is done. HE knows your heart and thoughts, dreams, struggles, sins, mistakes, failures, triumphs and deepest part of your soul. But HE is waiting for us. Like the friend you call over and over never to get a call back. Like the friend that never has time for lunch or a phone call or to remember days that are special to you. Like the friend that thinks what is happening in their own life is more important than what is happening in yours. That doesn't create intimacy. That doesn't create trust or truly KNOWING one another. Real relationship is not one sided. It works both way.

We have to seek HIS face in prayer in solitude. We have to seek HIS word. It is how we get to know HIM. We have a living God. Who else can say that?! HE is waiting on us to get to know HIM. To know HIS heart. HIS dreams for HIS people He is waiting for us to see the world through HIS eyes. HE is waiting for us to understand why HE did what HE did....how much he must love us....to understand HIS sacrifice and the cost of HIS choice...To KNOW HIM. HE is waiting for us to call HIM friend.

It takes work. Just like any relationship...friendships, marriage, children....You ask the questions, you listen to their words, you watch them to see their likes and dislikes and what makes them tick....you pursue them, you spend time with them, you confide and are trusted and you work at KNOWING. God is waiting for us. It is our responsibility to search HIM on our own. Others can't do it for us. What God wants for my life, is not what He wants for yours. If we both read the same verse of the Bible right now, it would speak to us differently. God's words are living. They are designed to give us, individually, what we need at this given time in our life. How cool is our God to give us that gift?! HE wants a relationship with us. HE knows us. I pray a renewed sense of desire in your heart to want to KNOW HIM. I pray that you feel that relationship and how real it is to the split ends on your head and the toes that need a Spring Polish!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

chapter 2

I had to miss last night's class due to sick kids and a change of family schedule. I heard it was thought provoking and intense and I hated to miss everyone's valuable insights.

This chapter reminded me that to be able to follow God's will for our lives, to be able to do the work He asks of us, we must desire to get to know Him. We must crave His Word. If we don't understand the way of our God, then how can we serve Him? As Christians we cannot do the will of our Lord God unless we know the ways of the Lord our God.

Chapter 2 also points glaringly to the problems of this world, including a watered down Christianity where we meet society's expectations of what good is instead of God's. The option we are given is not if we serve or if we choose God but in the how. There are some things that God just simply commands of us. He demands us all to be radical. For example, he commands us all to take care of the orphan and widows (James 1:27)......For some, that looks like the young lady I follow on a blog that is single and in her 20's and has adopted 14 girls and operates a massive feeding program in Uganda. For me that looks like adopting two children. For me that looks like sponsoring a child in Kenya so she can go to school and get immunizations and eat while learning about Jesus. For you that may look like fostering or visiting a nursing home or clearing the snow from your older neighbor's driveway. It may mean cooking a meal for a family that is fostering or watching their children so they can have a break or maybe it means lovingly caring for a parent or grandparent......these are all radical. None of them big or small. The radical piece, for me, comes in being completely obedient to Christ.

The orphan and widow is just an example. He also calls us each to tell others about Jesus. Is that in being a missionary? Talking to a friend? Teaching in the children's class at church on Sunday? What is He calling you to? What is He asking of you? Requiring of you? When I think of it, we could all be doing more.....there is always more to do....Jesus died for us!!! What could we possibly do to make it seem like we are doing enough for HIM? The only answer I have for that is to give him your, Yes! Whatever you ask of me, I will do. That looks different for all of us. I believe you have to come to peace with the fact that you are being obedient to His calling for your life. If you constantly are asking of yourself am I doing enough, then maybe you aren't. But if you know you are following those nudges, answering His promptings on your life, then I believe we are living radically for Christ.

With all that being said, none of this can be done with out Christ.....His Holy Spirit residing in us. When we commit our hearts to God, we gain a power I think few really tap into. We are given the power of Christ to do what He calls us to do. I could not do what I do without God's living Spirit in my life. I would not have adopted, would not be the mom I am or the wife I am or the friend I work hard to be. I would not reach out in encouragement to others or probably even realize they needed encouragement in the first place. I think it is so important to see that is why it is important for chapter 2 to seek His face, to read His word, to desire to know Him intimately and and it is then.....when we crave His will, when we are radically dependent on Him to provide, guide, comfort and teach us.....it is then that we can live RADICALLY for Him, IN HIM!!! How exciting is that?!!! I am hoping this book talks about how powerful and essential His Holy Spirit is to living a Radical life because for me, it is the only way it can be done.

My talents, my strengths, weaknesses, the fruits of my life's work through Christ will look differently than yours. That is where the road is wide. The only way to heaven is through Christ....that is how it is narrow. He gives us that salvation, that invitation to an eternal life with Him freely. That "gift of God's Grace involves the gift of a new heart. New desires. New longings." (Radical p. 39) It is our responsibility to accept it and spend the rest of our life getting to know Him more and answer with a resounding Yes. Use me God, I am yours. It seems the current church in general fails Chrisitans in this way. If you are just saying Yes, I believe, you are missing out on the power of His Spirit residing in you. Yes, you gain that gift instantly but you must get to know Him to truly tap into that power. That power is what brings about change in behavior, in life, in choices, etc.


The focus should not be on feeling guilty or scared into doing good deeds to gain access to heaven; but the focus, I believe should be in our intimacy with our Heavenly Father...gaining an insatiable desire to get to know Him more, to learn about Him, study His word, see the world through His eyes, have broken hearts over what breaks His heart. When we are getting to know our God and calling on Him to help us do what He asks of us, then the works, the fruits of the Spirit, the deeds and actions come freely. It is His will we seek. His will in our lives becomes a natural progression of Christ residing in us. As we get to know Him and become closer to Him, our hearts begin to resemble His.....our life's work begin to reflect that. When we truly begin to understand His love and His sacrifice for us, is when we can begin to comprehend that He deserves nothing less than our complete and total surrender, our obedience to Him.

So don't be discouraged or afraid of your salvation. Pray for a desire to know Him, a desire to be in His word, of HIS world. It is then that the growing happens. It is then that the beauty comes from ashes. It is then that the fuit of Christ residing in you shines and those around you will come to see HIM. The sheer blessing it is to know and experience Him is not one to be missed. Now that, my friends, is radical!

Radical!

I am studying the book Radical by David Platt with a group of amazing women at my church. We are lead by a brave woman that answered her yes to God by leading a study that provokes emotions and struggles and makes people question all kinds of things in their lives. I cannot imagine leading a study like this. Especially when I don't have all the answers and God calls us all to such different places in life. I am thankful she said yes though. I am thankful that I am in a study with women that will question and struggle and seek answers to grow their faith in God.

David Platt starts out his book Radical by thoughtfully provoking the reader to answer some questions based upon the idea that Chritianity today has met our society's standards in catering to ourselves when the message of the Gospel of Christ is to abandon oneself. It leads you asking the question what do I need to abandon to be radically obedient to God. This could be something concrete like the material posessions of this world or maybe it something more abstract like the image or status your position at work gives you or maybe it is letting go of the past, of failures, of hurts, of anger. All of those things get in our way of truly being obedient to Christ's calling on our lives. With all that clutter, we cannot pursue Him or a life that points to His glory.

The first chapter leaves us asking the questions:
Do we truly believe Jesus? His promises? His power?

If we belive Him, do we trust Him? Obey Him? Enough to do the crazy when He asks? The radical?

Does our life reflect Christ residing in us? Is our life pointing to God's glory?

Wow, huh? Real light stuff for a Tuesday night study:) A couple of things I can see in this book. It is going to cause people to question, to squirm, to seek answers for themselves, to take inventory, to be introspective. Although many of those things are scary at first glance, they all bring about growth and for that, I am excited!!! Bring it.