Thursday, February 21, 2013

Head to Heart

Hey, I'm the guest blogger at 18 Short Years again! How do we get our kids' knowledge of God to transfer from their head to their heart?  Check out my Tween Time post here.

 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  

Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Community (by Luke)

Since life at the ranch has been a little hectic, I decided to let Luke be my guest blogger this week.  Knowing that words love me, my first-born often gives me stories that he has written about his life.  Here is one of my recent presents from him.  (As an explanation, Luke is living at home this semester, working at an internship in a nearby city.  He is loving his new "professional world" but missing his friends and "family" at the University of Iowa.  This is one story about that.)

I didn’t know how much I actually wanted it. People that is. I'm the type of person where, if I have a choice, I’ll read a book by myself in my room. So I didn’t realize how much purpose I found in hanging out with people.

I started out the year living in a house. It was much different than living in the dorms, namely there was a lot less people. And I had to make my own food.  It was kind of weird, because my house didn’t have living rooms. It doesn’t seem like  this would be that would be a big deal, but this along with most of roommates being introverted like myself, means I spent a lot of my time alone, even being very close physically to other people. I didn’t ever feel like I was missing something per se, but I felt like God had done a lot more in the past and I wanted him to do more.

True community is a structure where Christ is preeminent even in the most mundane elements. The Salt Company fall retreat was specifically focused on the community of the church. And afterward everyone came home greatly motivated to “have more community” but having a vague idea of to do so. I decided to give this community thing my best shot. Slowly, I began to invite people over to my house. I started by having people over every Monday for lunch. I just invited any of my friends that would come; with no regard for if they were in the same friend group or if they even knew the rest of the group. It wasn’t fancy, when I first started out, I didn’t even own plates and I still only have two spoons, but there was always spirited conversation and it was fun. My friend, Bri described Monday lunches as “the most eclectic group of people she had ever met.”

As the semester progressed, I started having people over for lunch other days of the week. And supper.  And breakfast. Since I was close to campus, I also had people over to do homework. We always worked on my kitchen table. Sometimes, people would stay over until 1:30 am when I have class at 8 am the next day. It was exhausting. But then, I started again to see God at work in the people around me. Selfishness and laziness began to lose their grip on my heart as I spent more and more time with people. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed and I didn’t know if I could handle it, but I miss that community.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Jack Be Stupid

Our next-door neighbors have a dog named Jack.  Jack is a really tiny dog with a huge ego.  In fact, Jack thinks so highly of himself that he will come in MY driveway and bark at MY giant dog (who just looks at him, befuddled) and ME while I am merely minding my own business.  For some odd reason, Jack feels the need to express his imagined powerfulness to all those around. 

I find this both hilarious and amazing.  First of all,  a seven pound pooch that would berate a dog nearly 20 times its size is just plain stupid.  And secondly, this dog has absolutely no power and could be taken out quickly by one errant slip of the steering wheel.  I would never do this of course.  And thirdly, he’s on my turf, barking at my stuff, when, in actuality, he has no authority over it, at all.

Sometimes, I think this is what we look like to God. We pompously march around, acting like we are in charge here. With our tiny voices and our finite minds, we demand that God do our bidding.  We unashamedly tell the Creator of the Universe that we don’t like our situations and we think He should change them. 

Guess what?  God doesn’t have to listen to us.  He doesn’t even have to tolerate us (it would only take one errant lightning bolt), yet He does.  He puts up with our stupid, selfish, arrogant behavior because we are his children and He loves us.

Let’s choose to treat Him like the Father that He is.  Let’s choose to respect the world that He made.  Let’s choose to let Him be in charge.  And let’s quit doing all our foolish barking.

But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
Romans 9:20-21

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Are You Willing?

I read this excerpt in My Utmost for His Highest yesterday, and thought it entirely appropriate as a bookend to my last post.  Convicting.  Check it out:

Are you willing to sacrifice yourself for the work of another believer—to pour out your life sacrificially for the ministry and faith of others? Or do you say, “I am not willing to be poured out right now, and I don’t want God to tell me how to serve Him. I want to choose the place of my own sacrifice. And I want to have certain people watching me and saying, ’Well done.’ ”

It is one thing to follow God’s way of service if you are regarded as a hero, but quite another thing if the road marked out for you by God requires becoming a “doormat” under other people’s feet. God’s purpose may be to teach you to say, “I know how to be abased . . .” (Philippians 4:12). Are you ready to be sacrificed like that? Are you ready to be less than a mere drop in the bucket—to be so totally insignificant that no one remembers you even if they think of those you served? Are you willing to give and be poured out until you are used up and exhausted—not seeking to be ministered to, but to minister?

Wow.  Am I willing?  Sometimes the High Road is hard.

Lord, help me die to myself.

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 

Psalm 90:12

Friday, February 1, 2013

An Audience of ONE

So, can I tell y’all what I have been wrestling with lately?


There I said it.  And you know why I have been wrestling with insecurity?  My mind and spirit have been unsettled because I have been caring way too much what others think of me.  I have been feeling nervous and lacking confidence about my ability to do my new job. I didn’t know why I was feeling so down and dreary and overwhelmed—unable to enjoy my many blessings—until I sat at the feet of Jesus and let Him call me out.  First, He got my attention with this in the book “7” by Jen Hatmaker:

“I thought about Jesus, who never angled for credit, ever.  In fact, He had the most perplexing habit of telling people not to talk about His awesomeness, how He healed and saved.  Jesus always deferred glory, redirecting people to one another and toward His Father and Spirit, who was to come.  What Jesus didn’t do was complain the other rabbis got more temple time or had better synergy. 

I am commissioned to be a light, but I can’t illuminate this world while competing with the lights of others.  I mean, really? It isn’t possible to miss the point any worse. Together we are a city on a hill.  When one of us shines, it is a community victory.  If we all lived radiantly, we simply couldn’t be hidden any longer.  This is not about individual wattage; our power is communal, or it is meaningless.”

And then, He brought this to mind:

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

and this:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)

And then it became clear to me what my problem was;  I was trying to please the world and all its people when all I really had to do was please God.  It seemed so silly and so simple all at the same time. 

We spend so much time worrying about, evaluating, conjecturing, and imagining what others think of us that it wears us down and makes us into a shell of the person God created us to be, when really all we have to do is make the next right choice. 

We don’t have to please all the people all the time…cause we can’t; We can long for their approval, their “Atta-girls”, but they might not give them.  We can, however, focus on obeying God with all that we have.  We can study His Truth so that we know what pleases Him.  And then, we can take all that energy that we were using to live up to other people’s expectations and sink it into adoring Him.  We can choose to serve Him alone as our Master.  And we can, as my friend Lynn says, quit trying to manage other people’s impressions of us. 

That’s God’s job.

And He thinks we are “very good”. 

Rest in that assurance today…and revel in your audience of ONE.


I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.

Psalm 119:32