Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jinxed?

Let me just say, I'm beginning to think maybe I jinxed myself. Obviously I don't really believe this is possible, but in early January I boasted to my team at work that I had successfully made it almost five years with only two real sick days. What happens the next week? I'm struck down. I then returned to work, feeling more humble, but still relatively satisfied. What next? Struck down again last week. I know I said I like my doctor, just not this much.

A guy at work asked me if I enjoyed my five day weekend. I quickly replied it was most definitely not enjoyable considering I was battling the plague (okay, not quite the plague but I'd say a virus, strep throat, and a painful fibroid constitutes plague-like consideration). But seriously, who says that?!?

If anyone has a trick to cure the unending cough, I'd gladly try it. Unless it includes drinking an entire gallon of orange juice in a day...

Anyway, in honor of my newfound germ-o-phobic status, a clip from a jolly Seinfeld episode.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Do I Really Believe?

I was introduced to Revol Works by a friend several years ago and am continually challenged and stretched by the well-written, thought-provoking devotionals. As stated on their "about me" section:

We are a called people on a journey: living, reading, studying, communicating. We have a heart to share what we’re learning in the process, and you'll see that heart reflected in the material here. Writing and interacting from all parts of the world, we compose a mosaic of nationalities, cultures, religious backgrounds, lifestyles, ages, careers and stations in life. The common interest connecting us all is the person, life, teachings and work of Jesus.

I'm currently chewing on a particular devotional, which is essentially a slew of questions. I typically meditate on just a few at a time, as there are a lot and each requires much introspection. I thought I'd share.

Do I really believe...
That Jesus remains in me?
That I remain in him?
That he cares more about love and mercy than service and sacrifice?
That he believes in me?
That he believes I can be like him? And calls me to be like him?
That God’s Spirit leads me, guides me, comforts me?
That he considers me a friend?

That the world will know I follow him if I love others?
That people will persecute me for following him?
That in him I have peace?
That believers can truly become one?
That he has given us his glory as he received it from the Father?
That he is in us as a body?
That love bears, believes, endures and hopes all things?
That he is with me in the midst of my pain?
That I will overcome the world?
That he is perfecting the faith in me that he authored?
That God’s love is perfected in me if I love others?
That he cannot only forgive things as awful as I’ve done, but that he wants to? And has?
That he healed people, that he still can, and sometimes still does?
That he still has authority on earth?
That he gives life?
That he has conquered death?
That he’s generous toward me? And wants to be?
That he’s willing to make me clean and new?
That my believing pleases him?
That he’s worth leaving everything behind to follow?
That I’m the reason for his journey?
That he’s in charge of all things holy and should be of all things religious?
That he knows my heart and thoughts? And still loves me?
That the poor and hungry and weeping and oppressed are blessed?
That he wants me to love my enemies?
That he was and is friends with sinners and drunkards and tax collectors and prostitutes?
That faith saves me?
That those who hear and do God’s word are his family? Even if I don’t like the way they do it?
That he really wants me to lose my life to save it?
That receiving a child in his name is receiving him?
That clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick or imprisoned is doing so to Jesus?
That he who is not against me in the faith is for me?
That he who hears me speak the gospel hears Jesus?
That he who rejects the gospel rejects Jesus?
That I can bring the peace of Jesus to a home, a family or a friend?
That I am not fit for the kingdom if I put my hand to the plow and look back?
That my name written in heaven is reason to rejoice?
That loving God and loving others is what he wants most from me?
That he’s a father who knows what I need before I ask? And that he gives me what I need?
That if I seek, I’ll find; if I ask, I’ll receive; and if I knock, the door will open?
That if I don’t gather with Jesus, I scatter?
That Jesus denounced the religious?
That the Spirit gives us words when we need them most?
That much is required of them to whom much has been given?
That Jesus divides and unites?
That I need to repent?
That the first will be last and the last will be first?
That he wants me to love him more than anything else in my world?
That he’d leave 99 to find one, to find me?
That I can’t serve both God and money?
That what men exalt God abhors?
That the kingdom is in our midst?
That God humbles him who exalts himself, and God exalts them who humble themselves?
That I must receive the kingdom the way a child does?
That God restores, repays, rebuilds, redeems?
That he knows what he’s doing?
That he thinks of me?
That he doesn’t forget me?
That his words are as vital to my life as the food I eat?
That he’s enough?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Minute to Complain

I'm taking a minute to complain for I'm sick of three things: the Broccoli , coughing, and my jaw.

The Broccoli (aka the pedunculated fibroid) pain began periodically last summer and continues to intensify each month. It now often hurts into my back and right leg. And I have to wait until April to get it out. I have pain meds but am still figuring out the daytime dosage so I don't fall asleep at work! In any case, it's not unbearable, I'm just a little tired of it.

Since I was sick, I've had this rather annoying cough. The past week it's turned into a dry cough. My doctor told me I'd probably have it for a few weeks; stupid virus!

And finally, my jaw. I've had jaw pain off and on since having braces when I was 12, though typically not too bad. After breaking my tooth three years ago and receiving a series of different crowns since I keep having allergic reactions to the metal, it's hurt more. I quit chewing gum years ago, which helps, but unfortunately I clench my teeth and sleep on one side to enjoy the affects of my built-in ear plug (aka my hearing loss). I think I'm going to try one of those mouth guard things.

These "issues" are really not a huge deal, just annoying; therefore, I hereby end my minute of complaining.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Costly Grace Demanding My All

For the past few weeks I almost feel God molding me. My heart is stirring, my mind whirring, and a slew of questions, prayers, and struggles I have posed over the past 10 years are beginning to fit together. I crave his Word yearning for more time. I do not necessarily have concrete answers to my questions, but he is graciously drawing me nearer to him.

God is speaking to me through so many touchpoints (to use an advertising term). The current sermon series on prayer, the Psalms, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship, my fiction reading, my community, even seeing my sweet small group girls embrace authenticity unabashedly.

Friday night I was having dinner with a friend and beforehand took some time to spend in the Word, specifically in Psalm 22; and I read about costly grace in Bonhoeffer. Through this time, I was struck, overwhelmed really by the costly grace of Christ.

Jesus lived a perfect human life. No flaws, no lies, no negative thoughts, no pride, no rebellion, no idols. Perfect life, perfect love. He was wholly human, yet wholly God. He died the most excruciating physical death. I have studied the physical aspect of his death and can somewhat grasp the unbelievable pain, yet I too easily gloss over the emotional and spiritual excruciation Jesus endured. He was all-knowing, he knew what his cup entailed, and he also knew he would rise from the dead. Even still, Jesus agonized to the point of sweating blood. He asked God to take his cup, though he knew it was the only way.

As prophesied in Psalm 22, Jesus cried out from the cross "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Though I've read these words countless times Friday night I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of Jesus' cry. He was separated from God, his Father who earlier said "this is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." God forsaked him as he took on every single solitary one of our sins. I will never ever understand even a sliver of this excruciating pain that Jesus bore for me. For you. Never. I deserve death, but perfect, holy, sinless Jesus who knew he would be redeemed, knew he would rise for us, agonized deeply, was wholly separated from his Father so that we may be restored and never be separated.

Why then, do I flippantly pray, desire the easy road, demand answers on my terms, fear, not trust? This grace is costly. Demanding my all, my dreams, desires, behaviors, possessions, everything.

Later when eating dinner with my friend, I realized I still had a hidden sin struggle. Overwhelmed, I shared and have since started sharing with my community, knowing only when I am a complete open book will God have my whole self. It's a life-long road, full of traffic jams and wide open spaces. I am thrilled to spend it growing closer to my God, who loves me more than my finite mind can and will ever understand.

Precious Lord. Thank you for loving us where we are now. Not where we've been or what we'll become.