Sunday, April 23, 2006

On Mercy

Tonight my heart is full and my mind is overflowing with thoughts and ideas that are racing in a competition to be heard and understood. Please forgive me if I ramble or babble. I am not a professional writer and these past few days I've seen some magnificent blogs. I almost have blog envy.

Still, in spite of my shortcomings I find myself at my computer typing madly in an effort to regain mastery over my frenzied thoughts and make them come out in an orderly fashion. What is all the excitement about you ask???? God's infinite mercy. His complete and total love for us. I'm tellin' ya it's got me all twitterpated and google-eyed.

I can hear you saying, "Oh, is that all? God's love and mercy? Yawn. Heard it, read about it, starred in the video." Yes, yes I know you've heard a billion sermons on the subject, but have you ever had a revelation about it? Has God's love and mercy ever become real to you? Maybe you're like me. You know that God loves you but you take that love for granted. Or, maybe you believe that God's love and mercy applies to everyone else on the planet except you. Well hold on to your hats people, because you are about to get a refresher on the depth of God's love and mercy.

First of all, let me just say that God's love and mercy applies to everyone. That's right, I said everyone. I don't care if you've slept with every guy/girl on the block, had fifteen abortions and smoke crack, God's love and mercy is available to you. It even applies to all of us "churched" folk who have become disillusioned, bored, and only go to church out of habit instead of love for God. It's there. For free. No strings attached.

How do I know? I've experienced it. But rather than go into the details of my sordid past, (because, let's face it...I could be lying to you. Remember the author of A Million Little Pieces? Uh, huh, moving on now...) I'm going to give you an example from the bible. The past couple of weeks I've been involved in a bible study about King David. Who he is, what he's like, yada yada yada. Anyway, it's a great study conducted by Mike Bickle of Kansas City IHOP (International House of Prayer). He pointed out an amazing verse that just absolutely blew me away.

Acts 13:22 "And after He (God) had removed him (King Saul...David's predecessor), He raised up David to be their (the Jews) king, concerning whom He testified saying, "I have found David, son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will." NASB version, parentheses mine.

Everyone who's read the bible knows this description of David very well. He was a man after God's heart. However, look at the last bit of the verse..."who will do all my will." Those of us who have read the Old Testament know that David screwed things up a lot. I mean, one very famous instance is his relationship with Bath Sheba. She's married, David takes her anyway and has sex with her (an offense punishable by death in those days), gets her pregnant while her husband (Uriah) is away fighting David's battle. David brings him home, tries to get Uriah drunk so he'll sleep with Bath Sheba in order to try to cover up her pregnancy, but when that doesn't work, David has Uriah deliberately sent to the front lines of the battle where he is killed. So now, not only is David an adulterer he's a murderer. This is a man after God's heart, who will do all His will???? Ummm....what???

How did David get a description like that, not from men mind you, but from God...and yet he's a major screw up??? The answer is this: David was completely sorry for what he had done and went to God and repented. Meaning, David acknowledged his sin against God and Uriah and then turned away from it. He stopped behaving like a lunatic. And God forgave him completely. Not only that, but He restored David to a right relationship with Himself. Immediately. No waiting involved. And not only that, but God totally wiped the slate clean. Once David repented, God never again remembered David's sin. To God, it was as though David had never sinned in the first place; he was a man who "will do all My will."

I'm reminded of my kids. When they were little and they did something wrong, they would just come to me and say "Mommy I'm sorry" and I would hug them and forgive them and they would go on their merry way. Not once did they ever come back and say, "Oh, but mommy, you can't just forgive me like that. I'm a bad person. You have to punish me because of what I've done. And if you don't do it, I'll do it myself. Please mommy, please, put me in the corner." Nope, not once did I ever get that from my kids. They just accepted my forgiveness and all was right with the world. Too bad we're not like that with God. We say we're sorry, and then, when God doesn't strike us down with fire and brimstone we punish ourselves. We beat ourselves up with guilt and shame instead of just accepting the gift of forgiveness and moving on. Or worse, we believe that our sin is so bad and so monstrous that Jesus could never forgive us. How sad. We must make God cry an awful lot. II Corinthians 5:21 says, "He (God) made Him who knew no sin (Jesus), to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God through Him." NASB, parentheses mine.

All of our sins have been nailed to the cross. They are gone completely. All we have to do is accept the gift that Jesus offers, and move into a life of obedience through love. Have you sinned? NEWSFLASH: YOU'RE NOT ALONE. You're not weird. Chances are you've been doing what millions of other people have been doing throughout the ages. Accept Jesus' precious gift of forgiveness, and move on. If you are reading this, and you don't know Jesus, then I challenge you to find a bible somewhere and read the Gospel of John. Go to your local library, they should have a copy, or go to biblegateway.com and read it online. I suggest the Message version because the language is modern and easier to understand. Anyhoo, read the Gospel of John and ask God to reveal Himself to you. I promise you, you will come away changed. I know I did.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

On Patience

God has taught me many lessons through my kids. Some lessons were kind of funny and made me laugh at myself, some made me want to cringe and cower in shame. Some just made me think.

A few years ago, I was at the kitchen stove stirring up a storm, trying to get dinner ready in a hurry. I had stuff to do you know??? I'm not that good of a cook, so I don't take a whole lot of pleasure in cooking. (My husband once told me I had a way with meat if that's any indication to you...) Anyway, like I said, I had stuff to do. Like worry some more over bills that we couldn't pay, (as if my worrying was going to change anything) and growl at anyone who tried to make me feel better. In other words, I was not in a good mood.

As I'm cooking, I'm having a conversation with God. It went something like this:

Me: "God, You know we're in a bind. HELP!!!"

God: (silence, crickets chirping in the background)

Me: "Didn't you hear me God???? I need a miracle here. You know, as in biblical type proportions. And I mean I need it ASAP!!!!"

Enter 5 year old son.

Son: "Mom, is dinner ready yet???" Cute smiles and puppy dog eyes.

Me: "No son, dinner is not ready yet. I'll call you first thing as soon as it is." Roll eyes, think jeez, can't the kid see I'm stirring here???

Me: "Ok, where was I God? Oh yeah, ummm, about that miracle. Didn't you see me tithing last week???? I REALLY need to capitalize on that today if possible." sidenote: My ideas about tithing weren't always altruistic back then.

God: (more silence)

Son: "Hi, mom, is dinner ready yet???"

Me: "Son, you are going to have to be more patient. I promise, I will let you know the minute it's finished." Great balls of fire....I know the boy can see me standing here, stirring away....we just had his vision checked. Why on earth is he so worried??? Doesn't he believe me when I say he'll be the first to know??

Me: "Ok, Lord, You know I can't take much more of this. I really need You to let me know what You're going to do right now."

Son: "Hi mommy. Is dinner ready now?"

Me: Sighing and snorting "Son, I promise you I will LET YOU KNOW. Please be a little patient!" Lord, I have never allowed that child to go to bed hungry...what is the problem here???

God: "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

Me: "HELP!"

God: "No, no, that last part, about never allowing your child to go hungry..."

Me: light bulbs going off "Oh...heh heh, yeah. Well, the thing is God, I'm really needy right now and uh..."

God: "I'm still stirring. When I'm done, you'll be the first to know. By the way, you really should try some of that patience stuff you keep preaching to your son."

Well, there you have it folks, Object Lesson On Patience #12,348. Aren't children great? Isn't God awesome? He did take care of that little matter by the way, just like He always has. So, how about you??? Are you worried? Afraid God has forgotten about your needs? Take it from me...He's still stirring.

Monday, April 10, 2006

An A-Ha Moment

It's kind of funny how you can be driving along, minding your own business, and then POW!!! God enters the scene. That's sort of what happened to me today, but in order for you, the reader, to understand what I'm about to say I have to give you some background info. That way you'll chuckle at the appropriate places.

First, I'm a mom. Two kids and a husband. I'm mid thirties (where does the time go?), and I've just entered the teen-age years with my daughter. I know, I know, I need prayer and a couple of boxes of Miss Clairol. Second, and maybe I should have listed this one first, I'm totally into Jesus. You've maybe heard of a book by Rick Warren called The Purpose Driven Life? Well, I have, or am attempting to have, a relational driven life. In attempting to pursue this kind of lifestyle, I have learned two things: 1. God loves me more than I can ever think or imagine.
2. It's not about me. At all. It's all about Jesus.

Now, when I say that I have learned those two things, perhaps I should clarify and say that although I have learned those precepts, I also tend to forget them quite often and need to be reminded. Especially the second one. Which sort of brings me to my topic in a weird and roundabout way.

See, in addition to the titles listed above (refresher: Mom, Jesusfreak) I'm also a singer. I used to believe that my talent was all I needed and that Jesus should just love my singing and overlook my sin. Well, for those of you who don't already know Jesus, lemme just tell ya...it don't work that way. (Pardon my butchering of the english language)

Recently, I began to understand that my pride about my singing was way too big and my attitude was way off. (You know how it is...diva-ism just isn't a good thing to have in church) So, I sat myself down from the church praise team. As soon as I did that, all kinds of doubts began going through my mind...like this one..."Hey, you know you aren't as young as you used to be...are you sure that sitting yourself down is the right thing to do at this juncture?" Or, how about, "Hey, you shouldn't just sit yourself down like that, you should just slug it out and keep on keepin' on for the Lord." Yeah...mmhmmm....whatever.

Well, today, I was kind of thinking about all that when I had what might be described as an "A-Ha Moment." I was reminded once again that God is sovereign. He can do with me and my talent as He likes, and if that means I sing in the congregation, then I sing in the congregation. It's all up to Him which totally takes the pressure of trying to "make things happen" off of me. Whew...what a relief. Now I don't have to kill my worship pastor for not recognizing me as the musical genius that I am. (V, if you're reading this I would never actually kill you...)

So, are you struggling to get ahead? Worrying that your boss, or your pastor, or whoever is just taking you for granted and that you're not getting the recognition that you deserve? Relax, take a breath for crying out loud. Check your motives...why is the need to be in control or be in leadership so powerful? Remember...it's not about YOU!