Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful?? That's an understatment!

I am so thankful for everything that I have and everyone who cares for me and loves me. It wasn't until this morning that I realized how much I do have. I think I have felt this in the past, you know that guilt of having too much. If you are on Facebook, you have seen my status say things like "I'm cleaning out, and giving everything away!!!" or "I can't stand the clutter, everything has to go!!!". I even started a group on Facebook called the "Recycle Flee Market". I thought that would be a great place for people to post things that they wanted to sell or get rid of, or exchange things, or buy things.... like Craigslist.

So I have been cleaning out and piling up the stuff that we don't need. It's all on my screened in porch, which measures 20' x 10', which is filled with stuff and you can barely walk out there. The sad thing is, the "Recycle Flee Market" hasn't worked like I thought it would, and I've mentioned it to some friends, but the stuff is still sitting there... on my porch.

I woke up this morning and realized that the stuff out there is a sore reminder of all the things I have. It actually sickens me to see the stuff. What a waste! Here I have all this crap that I don't need (nor want), and it sits there... on my porch!

And what's even sadder and more sickening is that I don't know anyone who needs anything! Wow, isn't that crazy???

Yesterday I talked about love. When Jesus was asked which of the commands in God's law was most important, his response was "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”" (Matthew 22:37-40).

I really like how "The Message" says it:

Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."

"Love others as well as you love yourself"

So, how does a girl do that? I want to give things away, I want to give more of what I earn, more of my time to help people in need, but I don't know anyone who needs anything. And I just let things sit there! And believe me when I say, I am struggling with this. I feel paralyzed. I've thought about getting in my car and driving around Powhatan looking for "people in need". I'm sure my church knows "people in need", and other churches in the area know of "people in need". My big question to churches is: Why is everything so secretive? I know that things have to be done in discretion at times, not everyone wants everyone to know they need stuff. Or maybe I should be embarrassed that I have been blind to the needs of my community, and there is all kinds of stuff happening that I am clueless to. Well, please let me know if that's the case, I want to be part of something like that.

But for now, here I sit with my stuff, my money, my time. Asking myself these questions " How am I loving others like I love myself? Is where I live or the things I acquire loving others and in loving others, loving my God? Is what I say and what I do loving others?"

Tough questions, aren't they?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What is love?

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13:1-7

I've come to realize that love is the most important thing. Those of us who know the bible, know that Jesus said to love one another, and that the most important thing, in addition to loving God, is to love each other. I think if we asked most people, they would say "Yes, I do that, I love people like God says to." But what did Jesus really mean when he said that? And why is love so important? It seems like a natural thing... to love.

So , try this....

Put your name where the word "love" is in this passage from 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7. Here's what it looks like for me......

Angie is patient and kind. Angie is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Angie does not demand her own way. Angie is not irritable, and she keeps no record of being wronged. Angie does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Angie never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

That's hard to read. Because it doesn't seem genuine. Because I'm not those things. Because the people in my life that are hard to love irritate me, and I do have a long list of the things they have done to me. And I often give up on them, and lose faith and throw my hands in the air and say "I'm DONE!". But that's not love.

Big light bulb for me. I have wrestled with this verse since I was about 20 years old and heard it read at a wedding. It has become a cliche for many people. "Love is patient and kind, blah, blah, blah." What an insult that is to God! I am sickened by the casual way we use this scripture. I am embarrassed that I have used this verse in careless ways myself.

My challenge is to live this verse out in my life. I challenge you to do the same... starting now.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Luke Warm keeps us from Crazy Love

"Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live? Do you see evidence of God's kingdom in your life? Or are you choking it out slowly by spending too much time, energy, money, and thought on the things of this world?

Lukewarm people:
Don't want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin....

Lukewarm People:
Love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return.......

Lukewarm people:
Will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give.

Lukewarm people:
Think about life on earth much more than eternity in heaven. Daily life is mostly focused on today's to-do list, this week's schedule, and next month's vacation.....

Lukewarm people:
Do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don't have to trust God if something unexpected happens--they have their savings account--their retirement plan in place--they have life figured and mapped out."

Francis Chan, excerpt from "Crazy Love"

I'm currently reading the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. Someone mentioned the book to me a couple of weeks ago, then another person brought it up last week and then during a blog reading internet session, the book was mentioned not just once, but three times!!! So, that's what I call a sign from God saying "Helloooo, Angie, you need to read this!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Are you living in the sweet spot?

When I think of sweet spot , I think of a racket or a bat. You know that place, when you hit the ball and it just feels right. The ball goes exactly where you want it to go. Everything comes together: timing, skill and movement. You typically win the point, and if you don't, it gives you the mental boost you need for the next one. It keeps you going, and when it's over, it doesn't matter if you win or lose. You walk away feeling good, like you played your best, you gave it your all. That's what hitting the sweet spot does. It gives you confidence, it lets you know you did something right.

Could you point out on your bat or racket exactly where this so called "spot" is? I don't think I could. I know it when I feel it, so I keep trying to hit it every time. It's somewhat of a goal or a compulsion.

What's it like to live life in the sweet spot?
Is that a life fully devoted to living out God's purpose in you?

When you let God use you,
not use you in the way you think he should use you,
not in the way your friends,
or your church,
or your Mom,
or your Dad,
thinks he should use you,
but really be open to how God wants to use you....

That's living in the sweet spot!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Letter to a Friend....

So, a person I know has an addiction, many people have addictions. We can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, shopping, food, sex, money, etc., the list goes on and on. This is my letter to my friend...

Dear Friend,
I have some hard things to tell you. This might be painful at times, and seem unloving. I just can't sit here and watch you continue to ruin your life and the life of those around you. I know you have that pit in your stomach, the one that you feel when people bring up your addiction. And I'm sorry you feel that way. Maybe that feeling is a nudge from God. He really wants to help you, but you have to let him. Not on a surface level, not by telling people that you have been healed and then secretly continuing your addiction. You really have to let him help you if you want out.

What makes something an addiction? An inability to stop, an absolute helplessness. An addiction is something that is so much bigger than you, it becomes the number one focus of your life, you can't stop doing it. That is sin. Addiction is living as a slave to Satan, and your sinful flesh. The deception is in the fact that you are helpless to it, you can't free yourself, so you just give in to the addiction and give up. And in giving up, you continue to be a slave to your addiction, you don't want to change, you just don't want to get caught. You believe the lie.

That's exactly what Satan wants. He wants to ruin your life, your marriage, your kids, your health, he wants you in hell with him.

But there is a way out... and it's a hard road. But God is bigger than any horrible thing you can imagine. But you have to turn from your sin and trust in Jesus Christ. God sent him to save you from your sin. It is the only way that you can be released from your addiction. And you know who Jesus is, you claimed to have let him into your heart years ago. But sin and God can not dwell in the same heart. I urge you to ask for forgiveness and rededicate your life to God. Ask Jesus back into your heart so the Holy Spirit can indwell in you. It's the only way out.

Romans 6:6-14 says "We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace."

I'm praying for you, my friend. I'm praying that you will consider these words carefully, and make a decision. I'm praying that God will surround you with loving friends to help you and hold you accountable so you can finally conquer your addiction.

In God's Love and Grace,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Something to Ponder..

"Bedside Blessings" by Charles Swindoll is sitting on my nightstand. I sometimes read the devotion for the day before I go to sleep. So last night I open the book to November 9......

"The simple fact is this: If we sow a lifestyle that is in direct disobedience to God's revealed Word, we ultimately reap disaster.
The consequences of sin may not come immediately... but they will come eventually. And when they do, there will be no excuse, no rationalization, no accommodation. God doesn't compromise with consequences. When the bill comes due, the wages of willful sin must be paid in full.
'Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Romans 6:15'"

Well, that made for a good nights sleep.... NOT!

So does that mean if you make your bed, you have to lie in it? Even if you ask forgiveness? Do you just need to come to a place of peace with your circumstances? This is something that I am really struggling with. Maybe God keeps you in a place of uncomfortableness to help refine your character, not make your life miserable as a form of punishment. Or maybe this is just part of living in a fallen world.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Scars and Tattoos

I'm taking some time right now to really contemplate life and decisions made. As I look back over my life, I realize that for many years, I acted out of a self serving nature, a place of pain. Yes, I knew God then, I had given my life over to him when I was child, and re-dedicated my life to him many, many times. Yes, when I asked Jesus into my heart, I was "born again", made new, "a new creation in Christ". But, I have fallen off the wagon so, so many times.

For me, falling off the wagon is when I let the aching, empty, wounded part of my heart take control.

And yeah, we all have an empty, aching, wounded place in our heart. That's the place where the hurts gather, they start as fresh wounds, and then as they heal, they scar. God doesn't want to erase the hurts from our lives, that's why they stay there as scars. And then are tattoos, these are the good things, the ones that make our hearts happy and well over with joy. Scars and tattoos, they are both reminders of who we are and where we have been.

If I were to open up my heart and show you the scars, wounds, and tattoos, it would look like this.......
The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the various stages of healing......

So many times, I have lived my life out of the hurt. I have forgotten who my Healer is.

See the tattoos of my children? My marriage, my divorce? The sun? The rain? Not all of those things are hurt, some are joy.

See the wound that is stitched up in the center? My Healer did that, he stitched up the large slice in my heart that not having a father left behind, it used to hurt so bad, now it's just a little sore.

See the scar to the left? That's one of the scars that divorce left. That's pretty much healed, it hurts every now and then, mainly when I bump it.

See the black mess to the right? That's the place where I let my current situation get the best of me. I handed that one over this morning, my Healer's taking care of that one too.