Sunday, March 31, 2013

Turning from Frustration, because It IS Finished!

This "Easter Sunday" I am doing all I can to not SIT in my frustration. Hopefully writing will help me move from the frustration I'm sitting in right now.  My frustration is with myself, with others, with the brokenness of the world.   Today in particular, I am frustrated with the institutional church as it is today and as it was thousands of years ago.  This "church" refuses to be separate from the world and instead tries to mix and mold its faith into the worldly traditions around them.  We can just look around at "Easter" and see all the *mess* and confusion that occurs when that mixing happens.   Ask any 6 year old christian what Easter is about and the hodgepodge of confusion that comes out and the variance of answers across the spectrum of families is great enough evidence!

With the refusal to be separate, "Christians" continually set themselves up against the world in a fight.  Which (in my opinion) is the last place God would have us be - *especially* over things that we shouldn't even be clinging to!  The particular tradition that says Easter is a "christian holiday" makes it appear that the world is stealing from the church or trying to taint the church by 'celebrating' the pagan celebration of Easter and enjoying baby chicks, bunnies and all things spring.

But the truth is, I'm with the world on this one!!   I hope the world snatches Easter out of the Institutional church's hands and runs so far away that the true Church could never be associated with it again!    I would be SO excited for that - so that we could get back to the business of ENJOYING and worshipping the Lord with our lives! I would love if EVERY Sunday morning when the sun rises, we remember that 1st Sunday when Jesus' followers saw Him in His victory over death - and celebrate how EXCITING that must have been for them!!  That's probably why the early Church started gathering every Sunday morning, no!?  How could they NOT want to be around each other and celebrate & remember!?

We should be *excited* EVERY SUNDAY because He is ALIVE and we have direct access to GOD, the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE!!  and we are going to live FOREVER and don't even have to fear death and the end of our life is just the beginning!! And Jesus is ALIVE in me and in you and there's so much more...and there is hope and healing and redemption and LOVE!!

but there's so many distractions.... and I am guilty as anybody at getting distracted....

Honestly, it seems to me that "Easter" looking more and more similar to the pagan holiday it started as - is a great sign that God is putting everything back where it belongs and is truly calling out His true Church! I pray He continues to use all the people and circumstances around His Church as a fire to refine us and burn away all that is not focused on Him and burn ALL away.

OHHHH I can not WAIT until all that is left is JESUS.

  • I can not wait until I see His face as He is looking at His bride.  The bride that He went through excruciating agony beyond comprehension for.  Can you imagine looking at His eyes so full of pure LOVE for His people!?   
  • I can not wait to see Him basking in His glory & the praises of His people and His face that just exudes, "it was worth it".  I'm so excited for Him! 
  • I can not wait until ALL traditions that are not God-glorifying and Spirit-lead are just GONE and it just all makes perfect yet incomprehensible sense that Christ is all and that is all!  
  • I can not wait until everything in ME that is not God glorifying & Spirit lead is wiped away as quickly as He will wipe away every tear and disappointment & frustration! 
  • I can not wait until I can seriously seriously seriously just praise God in excitement, in humility, in adoration, in joy, in complete surrender and I am no longer getting in my own way or inhibited by anything. 
  • I can't wait until His work in me is complete! 
  • I can not wait until my emotions are perfectly lined up under Christ's Lordship and I can dance for Him and sing to Him and be excited out of pure Christ-focused fullness and not hold back and wonder if I'm leaning too much on my emotions?  and am I under His control?  and how come we can't *always* feel like this and why oftentimes is there no feelings!?  I believe someday there will be feelings of love and joy all the time!!! and it will be pure and true and real and Christ-centered!     
  • OHHH I can't wait for the celebrations we are going to have when everything is no longer broken and everything finds its proper place under Him.  
  • I can't wait for all the strains in all the relationships we have on earth to be completely vanished and we are so captivated by the Lord's glory and consumed with Him that there is nothing but Him and there is nothing in between us.  We can simply hold each other's hands and praise Him together and just talk about Him all the time and enjoy Him together! 

but I have to :)

So on I journey... doing all I can to surrender to Him and allow Him to mold me as I grow closer to Him daily.  I enjoy so much the little glimmers of HIS LIFE in me and the healing and joy and thankfulness and trust and reconciliation and love that we get to experience here....and the hope that the little glimmers give to me are worth not sitting in my frustration.

I can move from my frustration because I know deep in my heart Christ IS all.  He is risen.  My Spirit knows that this realm isn't all there is!  We are healed.  We are in Him.  His Church is built up.  We are raised up with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:6)

We are here on earth for such a short time - but it's for a purpose. We each have our part in this beautiful mystery unfolding in our earth time.  Surrendering to Him so He can live through us IS our part.

While we are here, God is going to work in us and work through us.  His work in us will be complete and the good works He prepared us for will be finished!  We can accept the brokenness in ourselves and others and in the world and continue on because we know He is sovereign and what He is doing is worth all the wait.

And we don't have to be frustrated... because we can choose to believe that even while He is finishing all the unfolding...


For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy
Hebrews 10:14

Friday, March 29, 2013

My Purpose: To be His clay

I'd like to continue writing on what I feel the Lord has been planting in me regarding personalities....and hopefully I will. But now I have to get down some thoughts on my calling & purpose and some notes on what the Lord has planted in my heart.  

Daily surrendering is so painfully hard!   Putting aside my life and the plans I had for myself to be obedient to God's call to devote myself *fully* to being a wife & mom feels like such a great risk some days.  I truly believe in my heart there is no greater calling than being a wife & mom... but I have to convince my "leadership"-trained, impact-driven, results-focused, striving for "the best",  perfectionist - head that truth frequently.   This is not to be a post about working outside the home moms vs. stay at home moms.  I'm simply speaking about what God has asked of *me*. 

I don't fear losing my identity in my husband & children...because I know my identity is in Christ.

I don't fear worshipping my husband or children...because I know that I am doing this for the Lord above all else!  

I don't fear focusing TOO much on my children or husband....because I know the Lord has protected me from that by keeping my focus on Him! 

I *do* battle the fear that I am missing something God has planned for me or that I am wasting something in me.  My heart knows there is no truth in that fear....but for those days that my head doesn't... here are some reminders:

  • (For the perfectionist side of me that lives with the daily failures in parenting & family life)  I will never be perfect.   I do believe God has FREED me from perfectionism – but I have to guard against it daily and one way I do this is to literally VISUALIZE Jesus filling in that space between where I am, where our Church is, where my kids are – and the IDEAL.  When I feel myself (or ourselves) fall short, in my head I literally see the ideal (or where I want to be) and see myself so far below, trying so hard to climb and claw up and just falling so short.... visualizing Jesus in that space has helped me sooo much when I feel the failure of daily life.  I am not perfect.
  • So knowing that, I am learning to embrace brokenness of myself, everybody, life....but that doesn't mean I have to keep my expectations too low.  I won't give up the belief that simply by surrendering to Him and walking close to Him, the Lord can do ANYTHING He desires and that whatever He sets in motion, I won’t thwart in my imperfections. He is sovereign! And the plans He has for me are better than I can imagine!
  • God is so patient & understanding & merciful in how much He reveals to us. He has been so faithful to give me just a TEENY glimpse, glimmer of WHAT COULD BE – because if He gives me any more than a glimpse, He knows I would just run all over the place thinking that just because He showed me something, it means it was supposed to be acted on NOW...It is soo hard to see what could be and yet still accept that NOTHING is to happen right now but the surrender (reminding me of David who was anointed and then went back to life as a shepherd)… I’m thankful He helps me not be tempted too much to rush ahead and strive for things that He hasn't yet prepared me for.... I'm thankful that He just gives me little slivers of what could be.
  • Because the truth is that just like David – the preparation always comes in the *waiting*.... and I SO SO SO want to be prepared for whatever else He has in store for my life.
  • AND I am impulsive so I am pretty convinced that I am supposed to SIT on an idea until it’s just impossible to NOT do…(exactly opposite of what 95% american churches or people would teach me)
  • Because when the Lord opens the door and wants me to move – maybe I am wrong - but instead of feeling very burdensome and weighed down and just lots of *self* needed... it feels light (but not easy!) and brings with it a true understanding it’s HIM doing the work and not me. Those times when the door opens to something that is truly *all* Him have been so fruitful...but the times I have acted when it feels burdensome and heavy and lots of self — so not fruitful. I didn’t wait long enough those times.
  • I am convinced that I’ll never miss God’s call on my life by thinking too low about myself or too little about myself. I have, however, seen myself and many others lose out on riches He has to offer because we think too much of self and not enough thinking on Christ, of Christ, for Christ.
  • My worth is found in relationship with HIM, not in how He uses me.
  • I am the clay!  (Isaiah 64:8) The good works He has prepared for us are truly HIS works.  The piece of clay doesn’t take credit for how the potter made him or how the potter uses him. The clay just takes credit for how moldable he was. The SURRENDER.
  • The good works He has prepared in advance for us to do — will happen!! He doesn’t fail. (Eph 2:10)
  • My job is to walk close with Him.
  • I am thankful for the grieving process the Lord took me through in ‘giving up’ all the glimmers/dreams I had for my life when I gave them all to the Lord.  I really mourned.  I cried over them - which is just sad - because we know that anything we give up, God gives back WAY more.  But I did mourn over them and surrendered them to Him. I have come to a place where I REALLY am content if God decides to “only” ever use me as a wife & mom… I have truly accepted it.  There are moments when I'm weak and start feeling anxious or distracted... but He has been faithful to bring me to new places of surrender.
  • I'm pretty sure the world needs more people who are willing to just be an obscure, no name, no face, no popularity, no recognition – Christ is all - somebody!
  • BUT maybe that is not for everybody!! I know that He called me to surrender and to truly give up all my striving, dream building, desire for greatness, self focus, middle class American-taught striving for 'excellence'… and to just SURRENDER.
  • God does use people in ‘public’ ways…in more recognized ways… in further reaching ways (though many times the furthest reaching in spiritual realms is not the most public or recognized here!!)….but I’m not sure I will ever be used in any way other than my home & street – and I accept that
  • I surrender!..... until tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Personality of The Body!!!

My husband and I have always enjoyed talking about different personalities.  Specifically, we have always enjoyed talking about how amazing (or humorous) God is to bring us together as a couple with perfectly opposite personalities that fit together perfectly.   It's been a common conversation in our home over the years and this month it seems like it's one of the most predominant seeds God is planting in our hearts.  I started to reach out to some of my closest friends and favorite writers for some insight and really had some great conversations....but I think the seed might have just sprouted as I commented on Frank Viola's blog.

I *loved* Frank Viola's Revive Us Again and particularly the chapters involving personalities and spiritual conversation styles.  On this quick blog, Frank Viola writes a quick synopsis:

People are generally wired to lead with one part of their soul. Some are mostly heady/intellectual (mind), others are mostly emotive/feelers (emotions), and others tend toward being mostly volitional/doers (will).
That said, in my Christian experience over the years, I’ve found that . . .
Intellectuals tend to be attracted to Anglicanism, for example.
Emoters tend to be attracted to Pentecostalism/Charismaticism, for example.
Doers tend to be attracted to Baptist churches, for example.

Which got me thinking about how cool God is!   Our Church family that He has brought together has each different personality and denomination represented! There are only 6 of us adults (and 3 kiddos) that meet regularly as a Church – and it’s so cool how God has brought us all from such different “extremes” in theology, doctrine, church experience and personality —- and He IS helping us all move 'center' and away from the outer extremes.

The question I kept asking this week though was, how much of my personality am I going to keep as I surrender to the Lord!? 

WHAT does it look like to "die to self" but still become fully who God designed me to be – including the personality He gifted me with.

And the theory that is sprouting is that I think the diversity of our individual personalities remains in tact!!  Maybe I’m wrong... maybe each individual personality is changed drastically and all of us are shifted to “center" - but I don't think so!!

Jesus, in His perfection,  has the STRENGTHS of EVERY personality and none of the weaknesses of each!! 

(Most personality research shows there are predominantly 4 personalities and everybody has varying combinations of those 4 - usually they have 1 of the 4 as their predominant personality)

So what an amazing personality HE IS – can you even picture a person who knows exactly when to be quiet and when to speak up?  The best listener and best communicator.  Never talking too much.  Never talking too little. On earth He knew when to push forward and when to retreat.  He is perfectly sharp and quick...and...perfectly still and peaceful.

HE IS THE BEST of course and the ONLY one person EVER that will have ALL the STRENGTHS of all the personalities that are recognized and researched now.  One school of thought might be that perhaps as we are built up in Christ through the Church and our relationship with Him — we will all move toward that *same* personality of all strengths and our own personalities will melt away…...

BUT NO NO NO I don’t think that is it!! Maybe I am wrong...but I think that He will keep the diversity of our individual personalities… and our GROWTH, our maturity in Him will mean that the weaknesses of our individual personalities will be less and less!! and the strengths will actually become *more and more* predominant as they are used for Him and are used in His lead and not our own.

YES maybe that is it! MAYBE CORPORATELY we all will operate with HIS personality of all strengths someday!!!! and we ARE HIS Body after all and it's His Spirit living through us - so that makes sense!! 

But individually that can mean that we KEEP the strengths in our own personality — which are balanced out perfectly with the STRENGTHS of others personalities in His Body!!  YES!! I think that’s the answer I’ve been looking for!!! 

So the goal is to allow Him to keep the strengths of our individual personality — but allow Him to show us how to use them for HIS glory and the good of others instead of the self-use we used them for before Him!

And the 2nd part --- He will sharpen away our weaknesses! --- through the FRICTIONING that happens in our Church families that are full of different personalities that rub against each other!!!! :)   As iron sharpens iron.....

The journey:  die to self through a daily surrender to the Lord and through that He will bring out the full strengths of the personality He designed us individually to be.   His Spirit living through each one will bring out the strengths of the personality He gifted each one with!  No ONE will ever be the perfect personality in themselves --- but TOGETHER with His Body - we are being built up into the PERFECT personality. 

I will try to write some follow up posts to this with specific examples of how this has played out in our Church family.