Monthly Archives: September 2011

You Are Not God’s Hobby

Sometimes I get wrapped up in my worries.

My problems seem to grow and grow until they’re all I can see. You know: That job that didn’t work out. The relationship that seemed so promising, now broken. That trouble threatening the kids. Those bills that should have been paid last week. And great, now I’m running late again …

You have those times too, right?

When the troubles come, do you ever feel far from God? Maybe there just hasn’t been time to pray. The Bible’s getting a little dusty on its shelf. Your thought life has become about as tidy as the inside of your car … which actually was tidy about a month or two ago.

That’s when we tend to give up. We shy away from God. Strange, isn’t it? When we need Him the most, we turn away from God. We think He has better things to do than worry about us. We think we aren’t worthy–as though somehow we sometimes are.

But you want to know the truth?

You are not God’s hobby!

You’re the one He loves. You’re one for whom Jesus was sent. He came to earth; He taught, He prayed, He healed, He performed miracles. He gave His life for you, the Sacrifice to pave your way to relationship with God. And He was resurrected!

Would Jesus have done all of that if He wasn’t serious about what He was doing? Certainly not!

You’re not a side job for God, not an incidental to His scheme. You’re not what He thinks about when He has nothing better to do.

He loves you. He’s waiting for you.

You are not God’s hobby.

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Thursday Intermission

Welcome to Thursday Intermission: Time for a quick break in the midst of your busy week.

Thursday is class night for us. Roger and I leave at 4:00, which gives us time to pick up dinner along the way and get to class a few minutes early (barring any unforeseen problems with traffic, flooding, south-central Pennsylvania’s current bug invasion/plague, etc.).

So where will we be grabbing dinner this evening? I’m glad you asked …

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Cry of Two Voices

Long ago, two voices cried out:

“You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel!”

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”

Two men. Two occasions. Two sets of circumstances.

But One Jesus.

His response? Twofold.

To one, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

Can you hear the love and the joy in Jesus’ tone? Peter has seen!

To the other? “Because I said that I saw you under the fig tree, you believe in Me? You will see greater things than these.”

Can you hear the slight chuckle? “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, Nathanael.”

The difference? Relationship.

Nathanael, who blurted out his assessment the first time he met Jesus, did not yet know anything about Him—he had come on a brief recommendation from Phillip. Nathanael had not yet walked the dusty paths with Jesus; he hadn’t yet seen Him captivate the crowds with His teachings. Not yet had he served the Lord, bringing Him food or water, helping with the mobs who would come. He had not yet stared in disbelief as blind eyes were opened, or watched in incredulous fascination as lepers’ flesh was made whole.

He thought he knew; but in reality, he didn’t. Not yet.

But Peter?

Peter made his declaration after all of these things. He had walked with the Lord; he had spoken with Him into the night. He had spent much time absorbing His teachings (or trying to). He had seen how Jesus lived, heard Him proclaim His Kingdom and His Father. Peter had spent time with Jesus.

Peter got it; Peter knew.

Relationship makes all the difference.

[You can read about these proclamations here and here.]

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Supersize the Lord with Me!

“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”

— Psalm 34:3

“Magnify the Lord.”

It’s such a biblical-sounding term, isn’t it? We don’t often talk about magnifying things. Instead, we maximize, or enlarge, or expand or … supersize.

Somehow, “Supersize the Lord with me” just doesn’t sound as spiritual, does it?

But that’s what this verse is talking about. We need to somehow make the Lord bigger. Not in reality, of course, since He isn’t changing in size; but we need to enlarge our perception of Him. We need to see Him as the great and mighty God.

He’s bigger than those physical problems.

Greater than the mortgage.

Mightier than that job search.

Larger than that argument.

More powerful than those problems with the kids, or your spouse, or your parents.

Bigger, higher, greater than all of those seemingly insurmountable troubles.

We know He’s bigger … we just don’t always act that way. You know why?

It’s because we’re looking in the wrong places. Our eyes are so focused on the problems that we neither see nor recognize the God who is bigger than all of them. We’re so involved in looking at our concerns, at those walls thrown onto the path directly in front of us, that we neglect to look above and beyond those obstacles to the God who is more than able to help us through them.

And when we do that–when we focus on the immediate rather than the eternal–the things we’re looking at expand to take up our whole field of vision. We can’t see around them because they have become so huge to us.

So what can we do about that?

We can magnify the Lord. We can make Him bigger by allowing Him to be what we focus on. Like the second part of the verse says, we can exalt His name–praise Him, talk about the awesome things He does.

As we put our focus on the Lord, we begin to see Him more nearly as He is. We can praise Him for who He is in our lives.

Creator … Savior … Healer … Listener.

The One who helps me when problems come.

The God who is bigger than all my troubles.

And as you focus on Him, it grows easier to come to Him and hand over the things that are worrying you. Not only did He make you, He loves you. Not only does He know you better than anyone else, He cares for you more than you can imagine.

Come on! Supersize the Lord with me!

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Thursday Intermission

Welcome to Thursday Intermission: Time for a quick break in the midst of your week.

I love this guy’s approach to celebrating his birthday.

And this “making of” videos is also fun. I especially love the little guy at 0:12.

“God loves a cheerful giver”  (2 Corinthians 9:7b).

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Adventures in Continuing Education

My husband Roger and I are setting out on a new adventure. We’ve been married long enough to have faced many challenges together: We’ve raised two sons, we’ve become in-laws, we’ve gone through job changes and starting businesses, we’ve bought homes and even survived the remodeling.

But now we face a different challenge: We’re taking a course together. And not just any course, either—a course on holiness.

Let’s let the implications of that sink in for a moment.

First, of course, are the potential pitfalls for our marriage. “Honey, I believe the right, just and holy thing for you to do right now would be to share that brownie.” “Dear, do you really think John Wesley would put off taking out the trash?” It could be a nightmare!

Fortunately, I’m married to an actual saint, so those things aren’t really a problem. But looking further …

The course is called “Exploring Christian Holiness.” It’s an exploration of Christian holiness that traces the growth of this doctrine and focuses on holiness in personal experience, interpersonal relationships, and doctrinal preaching.

This brings with it, as you can imagine, some tremors of soul. Obviously, there’s quite a bit of pressure involved. Specifically, what if I don’t do well in class? It does no good to reflect on any previous academic success at college; this time there’s more at stake.

What happens if I flunk a class on holiness?

Am I automatically placed on small group probation? Are my worship team privileges revoked? Does someone start to screen the snacks I bring for the preschoolers? Do I get kicked out of church altogether, forced to spend Sunday mornings sleeping in?

And what about the 12-week class term? Are there dire repercussions if I’m caught doing anything deemed “non-holy” during that time? I’m hoping there’s an established system of demerits so I know where I stand. For instance, I enjoy music from the 30s through the 50s. Can I still listen to Louis Armstrong? And would that be worth more or fewer demerits than listening to, say, the Rat Pack? What if I were caught watching something scandalously secular, like (gasp!) “Singin’ in the Rain”?

Hopefully, none of that will come into play. We sometimes look at the concept of holiness as being somehow separate from the rest of our lives. But really, when we’re walking with God, holiness is part of us, infused into our spirits. It’s part of who we are, not just what we do. Holiness is a work of grace in the life of the believer that changes how we view life, how we respond to people around us, how we react to the temptations that will inevitably come our way. It’s a quality both of purity and of love.

According to John Wesley, true holiness is about love:  “ ‘The heaven of heavens is love.’ There is nothing higher in religion; there is, in effect, nothing else; if you look for anything but more love, you are looking wide of the mark, you are getting out of the royal way.”

So I think we’re good. In fact, we’ve both found that the course is challenging us to dig deeper in our walk with the Lord.

But for now, if you need me, I’ll be working on my scriptural defense of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”

“The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, 
The world, and those who dwell in it.”

– Psalm 24:1

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Just Wondering …

What would your church look like if everyone there prayed like you do?

What if everyone served like you?

Worshiped with as much abandon of self as you?

What if everyone at your church gave as generously as you?

What would your church look like? What kind of difference would it make?

None of us is called to sit back, relax and get comfortable. We’re all called to minister, to serve, to give. And the truth is that we can each make a difference.

But there’s one thing even more important than the rest of the doing of the Christian life, one thing that encompasses all the rest. If we excel at this one thing, everything else will follow as we pursue Christ. What is that one thing? Well …

What if everyone in your church loved like you do?

What would the world look like?

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