Sunday, December 8, 2013

Why I Went to Church Today (hashtag Icepocalypse2013)

First of all, let me state from the outset, this blog is about me. It's not about you. I know in me writing that you're going to think that it really is about you but, I promise, it's not.

Second of all, you should know I'm a homebody and the most chicken person you'll ever meet. I'm afraid of everything. Johnny and I went to some friends' house Friday night and my blood pressure was certainly up by the time we arrived. Icepocalypse has me wanting to stay put, that's for sure. My man, on the other hand, is not afraid of anything and driving on ice is no problem for him.

My reason for going to church today has nothing to do with being married to the pastor but it has everything to do with loving the church. I've mostly always loved church. Of course, there were some times when I was younger when my parents forced me to go when I didn't want to. I also stopped going to church by my own choice for a while when I was in college. I'm not sure about the exact moment but, after a time away, I started going back. Then I went as a leader with my home church to Centrifuge after I graduated from college. God got a hold of me there and, since that time, there's been no turning back.

I know the church is the body of Christ and is made up of people and not buildings. I also know that we can meet with God anywhere but there's something sacred and holy about a weekly gathering in the building we call church. I had such a sense of expectation today. I was there to meet with God and I was not disappointed.

My reason for going to church today had to do with a book I just finished reading for the second time. It has affected me so much I literally can't stop thinking about it. The book is The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken. Part of the book is about Mr. Ripken's journey to areas where the church of Jesus is persecuted and his conversations with those folks. In one European country, a believer who had been imprisoned said the Ripken, "Don't ever give up in freedom what we would never have given up in persecution! That is our witness to the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

Don't ever give up in freedom what we would never have given up in persecution.

I know sometimes I take for granted how easy it is to decide to go or not to go to church. I forget how much some people around the world are willing to risk to gather to worship, to own a Bible, to share the name of Jesus with someone else.

One of the songs we sang this morning at church was "How Great is Our God." Every time, every single time we sing that song I think about my first trip to the East Asian continent. I think it was 2007. Those folks know about persecution. They live it. On that trip one of our stops was at a women's center. I was traveling with a group of American women and we had an opportunity to share briefly with the women at the center. The center was for teaching trades, the Bible, and also teaching English. As we concluded our time there, we wrote the words to the chorus of that song on the board. It's not too many words and they are fairly simple. Every time, every single time I hear or sing that song, I see those precious women's faces at the women's center singing that song.  Definitely one of those times of worship that time or distance cannot erase.

Mostly, I went to church today because I love God. Really, I'm not insinuating that if you didn't go that you don't. In fact, those guys who were up there before church started to shovel off the parking lot so we'd be safe probably love God more than I do. I'm just in a place right now where I'm desperate to hear from Him. Did you ever have a time when you were going through a valley and God was so evident that you didn't have to wonder what He was up to? Even in a hard circumstance you felt His presence so personally and vividly? Today Johnny preached about Immanuel, God with us. One of his points was "God with us does not always change the circumstance but it always impacts the results." I'm not in a valley but I so want to hear from God like I did when I was in one a few years ago. Unlike Ahaz in the Scripture text today, I did ask for signs and God used some and it blew me away. Right now, I want the voice without the valley. Part of that is me knowing that I need to slow down and focus on Him. Not on doing things but just Him - worshipping Him, adoring Him, learning more about Him to know Him more. So, going to church today was to do just that.

Finally, I'm really glad I went to church today because McKenzie sang "O Holy Night." That was heavenly!

Be safe out there, people! Us Texans just don't do ice!

Serving the King,


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Struggle Between What I Want and What I Want

I'm selfish and I know it. Isn't that the fallen nature of mankind - to be selfish and self-centered and to always want what we want? My problem is my struggle between what I want in the flesh and what I want as a follower of Jesus. And, truly, I want to be a follower of Jesus and I want that to be the thing I want most. But it's not near enough of the time.

The thing that's most pronounced in my life right now is this house I'm dreaming of in the country. I'm all about Pinterest and pinning my hopes and dream rooms all on my board I've titled "For Our House in the Country." My spare moments are spent looking at floor plans and the website my sister-in-law, Ginger,  turned me onto,

But I want to be thinking about Jesus and how to live like Him. I want to be thinking about how to advance His Kingdom, build His Kingdom not about building a house in the country.

I want a big house with wood trim around every door and window and plenty of room for my future grandchildren to come and play. I want marble countertops, wood floors, and every new gadget that lets you lock your doors & adjust your thermostats from your iPad.

But I really want to feed hungry people, to have more money to give so that someone will hear the gospel message and be saved. I want to have room in my budget so I can go on mission and share Life and Light with others. I want to support my relatives and friends who are living on the mission field and have given so much more than I have.

I want life to be easy and comfortable and on my timetable. I want my current house to sell for my asking price. I want my kids and my husband to be healthy and happy and healing for that thing that I've asked about so many times.

But I want to know what it's like to live dependent on the one who holds time in His hands and, really, to whom time doesn't matter. I want to know what's like to rejoice and be thankful in everything. I want to know with every fiber of my being that whatever I'm going through now is being worked for good. That not one struggle or moment is ever wasted. I want to live with eternity in mind and not just the things that are going on around me right now.

I really want to live like I believe heaven is real and it's the dessert, the icing on the cake. I want that thought to be the first when I wake up and when I lay my head down at night. I want to remember that people are suffering and are being persecuted for the things I take for granted. And, as a result of remembering, live to make a difference. Not focusing so much on my current abode and that future place in the country but that future place where I'll live forever.

This struggle, this desire to have what I want and what I want is daily. Really, I want it all. I want both. I want to have what I want and I want to have what God wants for me. So, I'll keep praying about that until what I want becomes what He wants, until my heartbeat is for His. Until the things that I want in the flesh don't matter near as much as the things that matter to Him. Until easy and comfortable doesn't matter near as much as obedience. Until bringing God glory is the thing I want most of all.

Serving the King,