Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Are you a "knower" or a "seeker?"
I want to be a constant seeker. Of course, my pride leads me to be a knower often.
Let me explain what I'm talking about.
I'm no Bible scholar, but from what I've studied, seeking is the way to go.
Matthew 6:33 says "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you."
Hebrews 11:6 says "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him."
It doesn't say know all about the kingdom of God. It doesn't say diligently know Him.
It says seek.
God's working on this part of me in my inner Robbie. That part of me that must stop daily and just sit at His feet and glean from Him. The lesson has been reflected in conversations. I've suddenly noticed how so many Christians I talk to love to use the phrase, "I know."
I know that verse.
I know what I should do.
I know He loves me.
I know Jesus.
So I'm learning that knowing is well, in a way, stagnant. It's not enough to know. I think this is more difficult for those of us who've been Christians for a while or for those who were raised in the church. We have all this knowledge in us. Sometimes
that host of Bible stories and verses work against us. Sometimes, we Christians, rely on our past experiences with Jesus to pave the way for future growth.
But what if God has this really new wonderful thing for you or me, but in order to experience it we need to do nothing but seek Him. Not visit old glory days or tried and true Bible verses and lessons. A completely new work.
So now I seek. At least I try.
Instead of just knowing verses, I read verses and seek new meanings, new applications. I listen carefully.
Instead of knowing what I should do, I seek what I should do. Today, tomorrow, this year.
Instead of just knowing He loves me, I seek HOW He loves me. I look around and discover the new ways He wants to love me every day.
Instead of knowing Jesus, I seek Jesus. I'll never understand or know all that is the Creator and Savior of the Universe. Never. But today I can seek Him and learn more.
I hope this encourages you to seek more and know less. Makes living for Jesus more of an adventure, and less of a duty.
Monday, June 29, 2009
A month ago I sat at a restaurant with a friend and the subject of death came up. I mentioned I’d been to many funerals for family and friends.
“So you’ve had a lot of people die in your life?” She asked.
I began listing the many people that I’ve lost from childhood friends to family members to neighbors to students and fellow teachers. After I finished my list, she gave me the incredulous look I’ve come to expect after I recite this morbid inventory I happen to own.
Maybe that’s why I didn’t respond in empathy when Ed, Farrah and Michael died last week. I’ve experienced grief so many times for people I actually know. So no empathy came. Just judgment.
I’m not proud that I often judge others, but I do. I wish I could blame it on some genetic disease or the altitude in Colorado, but I can’t. Part of my sinful nature, that dark part of me that Jesus has redeemed but that I still have to battle, is this tendency to judge first, empathize later.
So I looked down my nose at all the folks who were sad about Michael Jackson. I made jokes and I tsked at the outpouring of people on Facebook who’d never met the man.
Puulllease! He was a weirdo!
God got a hold of me. He is sneaky and surprises me often. As He did Saturday night.
My husband knows my history of love for John Denver. Growing up in Van Horn, Texas, I discovered the music of John Denver and fell head over heals. I learned all his songs and could play many of them on the piano and guitar. I spent endless hours singing them with childhood friends and folks from my youth group at church.
I have wonderful memories of “Back Home Again” and “This Old Guitar.” “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and “Country Roads, Take me Home.” Sweet moments that come to me delicious, like butter pecan ice cream.
So for our anniversary, my husband bought us tickets to a John Denver tribute at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The man who sang, Roy Rivers, sounded just like John and brought me right back to Van Horn, Texas. Once again I was a cotton topped kid singing his songs at the top of my voice, loving the smells of wildflowers in a forest and the soft winds of friendship.
Sitting in that gorgeous amphitheatre, I cried when I thought about the day John Denver died. I’d heard the news in my car on the way to work. I drove into the Horizon High School parking lot and chose to miss our teacher meeting before 1st period. I needed a while to grieve. I sat in my car and cried for those moments of singing with my guitar in the backyard at night. I cried thinking of the sweet laughter with my friends around the piano.
This is when God snuck up on me and whacked me upside my head. It hurt a little. It was supposed to.
Empathy poured over me and I felt badly for those grieving over Michael Jackson. Maybe they weren’t trying to grieve as if they’d lost someone they personally knew. Maybe they were grieving moments of memory. The sweet times that MJ’s music had come into their life and provided the backdrop for joy or sorrow.
I still don’t grieve for Michal Jackson. I feel bad for his kids. Not him.
But in the middle of a song, under a perfect Rocky Mountain High sky, I discovered empathy for those who do grieve for him.
For you guys, I am truly sorry for your loss.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I write a devotional each week and send it out via email to people all over the country. I would love to send it to YOU. Joyvotions are always under 500 words and I never reveal or sell your email address. Just email me (my email address is on the right side of this posting)and I will add you to my list. The following Joyvotion is the one I sent out this week.
The Devil Wears Lies!
This is my first Joyvotions Series! Over the next six weeks, I am going to write about the Armor of God from Ephesians 6. As a believer in 2009, it is crucial to be ready to live in the abundant joy God has for me. This means protecting myself with God’s armor.
“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth.”
If you’ve watched “The Devil Wears Prada” you might remember the line Stanley Tucci’s character yells into the halls of the Runway Magazine office just before Meryl Streep’s character (the boss from hell) makes an entrance.
“Gird up your loins!”
A funny moment in a hilarious movie. Words warning the fashion peons to prepare themselves for the worst. In this case, a malevolent editor-in-chief.
The phrase “gird up your loins” refers to a common act by the Roman army. In the days of the Bible, the soldiers wore long tunics. In battle, a soldier would gather up his tunic around his waist so he wouldn’t trip as he fought his enemies. He wanted to be his most agile and mobile.
Paul uses this phrase in Ephesians 6, admonishing Christians to “Gird up their loins with truth.” From what I’ve studied and read he was conveying two things. First, it is crucial for believers to protect that part of our “gut” that holds our intuition. The enemy assaults that part of us daily, attacking our security in God and our position as the children of Jehovah.
Second, we must be alert to protect ourselves from the world’s lies that would cause us to stumble. As a woman and wife, as a mom and follower of Christ, I want to run the race God has for me in joy and purpose. The moment I believe the enemy’s lies I trip up.
It’s a choice I must make each day. Do I take time to wrap my heart and mind in the Word of God and His truth? Or do I envelope myself in other people’s opinions or the mantras I hear on the TV?
Standing firm in the battle of today means choosing to gird my heart, my gut, in the truth of who God is and what He says about me.
So tomorrow when you wake up, remember that a malevolent force is headed your way and wants you to doubt yourself and God.
Take action – “Gird up your loins!”
Monday, June 08, 2009
Tomorrow starts 10 weeks of summer vacation with my 10-year-old boy. As I thought about the summer and our plans and goals, an idea popped into mind. Why not look at the summer as if it was over? Looking back at those 10 weeks, what would I want to say?
I wrote the following letter this morning. It helped me set goals and yet see the summer for what it is: another wonderful season created and guided by the Father!
August 18, 2009
Thank you for a glorious summer. One of the best ever. Why? Because I did not live in the bondage of self, but instead chose freedom in YOU!
What a delight it was to meet with You every day and hang out! It always prepared me. And You surprised me a few times. Remember?
What joy to hang with Noah and see him grow in You and the Bible. How freeing it was to not worry about entertaining him all the time but instead going with the flow and enjoying every day for whatever it had to offer. And we had a blast swimming, seeing movies, bowling and just being. Thank You for our time reading about Mythology and teaching Noah to type. And Lord, thank You for a great summer soccer season!
And I am so thankful for the strength You gave me this summer to take care of myself physically. Because of You I took my pills on time each day and moved often. And because of Your Spirit I watched, paid attention and WOKE UP to see and limit what I put into my body!
You were with me during my continued organizational efforts and You guided me in furthering my writing and speaking career!
What a blessing You gave John in celebrating his 50th birthday! I am so thankful God to watch my beloved be loved by You.
So it was a great summer, Lord!
Thank You that is wasn't perfect at all. But it was exactly what guided our family to cuddle up with You even more in desperation and gratitude.
Now bring on the fall for You are God of every season!
Try this yourself! Write a letter of gratitude to God from AFTER the summer. Of course, the summer may be totally different than what I think. So what? God will be there. Writing this is a fun exercise in faith!
Thursday, June 04, 2009
How do you deal with disappointment?
Here are three methods I WISH I used:
1) Pray and become philosophical and look for the lesson God has for me.
2) Feel the feelings and then turn that energy into usefulness like feeding the poor or running a mile.
3) Logically look at what happened and analyze the long term benefits that may be initially hidden.
Here are the three methods I ACTUALLY use:
1) Ranting. I am one of the top three ranters in the country. I believe number one is a reality TV star and number two, a TV evangelist.
2) Eating. Yep. I eat my feelings, Oprah. And I’m working on putting the cookie down.
3) Taking a mental trip to the worst possible location. I am my own travel agent and I take Concord flights to “This Is Happening Because I Am A Bad Mother Island” or “Why Can’t I Ever Get Ahead In Life Beach.” I stay, get sunburned and crawl back to reality, aloe lotion in hand.
Today I experienced disappointment. I employed my 3 methods in order. First, I got angry and ranted. Next, I cooked peanut butter cookies although I was not hungry. And finally, I packed my bags and visited “I Am So Overwhelmed Luxury Spa And Resort.”
But I am home again. It’s late and the guys are all asleep.
Maybe because it is so quiet, His voice is easier to hear. Or maybe because I’m feeling a little desperate. So I ask, “Okay Lord, how should I deal with disappointment?”
I pause and wait for the Spirit to start enumerating a list. Maybe some verses or words from a recent sermon that will help me out or at least guide me to perspective.
And what do I hear? Over and over?
Robbie, I LOVE YOU with an everlasting love. Therefore with loving-kindness I draw you close to me. (It’s from Jeremiah 31:3.)
That’s all God tells me tonight. No formula. No Bible Study. Just His love. An agape love that casts out fear and soothes every inch of my disappointed heart.
I breathe and take it in. I sit a minute in stillness.
I receive my Creator’s love, for it is never forced.
And now I can sleep in peace.
I don’t need methods. I just need HIM.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
I have moments when I fantasize about having a little daughter, a little darling who asks me to have imaginary tea with her and play Barbies. And then every weekend I imagine she asks me in a sweet high voice, "Oh Mommy, can we get a girl movie? Something with a castle and long dresses and a princess?"
But then I wake up to my 10-year-old son with dirty knees and spaghetti on his face begging, "Mom, please! We gotta rent Paul Blart Mall Cop!"
So we did. And it was better than I thought. Of course, my expectations could NOT have been lower. :0)
Paul Blart is a mall cop who dreams of love and a job as a policeman. His extreme hypoglycemia has limited his career to that of a security guard, no wait I mean, security officer.
As I watched this I thought about my blog and looked for a lesson. Um. Well. Couldn't find it. Not that Paul Blart Mall Cop isn't a redeeming movie. Paul's rise to an unlikely hero is a path that has many spiritual implications.
But the thing I want to point out about Paul Blart Mall Cop is the silliness. My son laughed. A lot. So did I. The pratfalls reminded me of Jerry Lewis on steroids. The sincere geekiness of Paul made me think of a less sophisticated Steve Martin.
Lots of great moments in this film for family viewing. And the absolute best part? My boy's laughter. If I could bottle it and take it with me wherever I go, I would have instant perspective at all times. Listening to his cackles, guffaws and manic giggling made renting Paul Blart Mall Cop worth every penny.
Who needs princess movies when I have my own little 10 year old jester.
Monday, June 01, 2009
Laughter is good for the soul.
No one would actually debate that. It is a universal truth.
One of the cheapest ways to lighten up your soul is to engage in the art of Punnery. I don't know if that's a word, but if it isn't, it should be. People who pun are quick and clever. They are also incredibly un-hip. People groan at their humor, but punners don't care. We know the same people will probably laugh loudly at our puns when they're alone. Maybe even try to retell it later. We know. :0)
Yesterday the last survivor of the Titanic died. When my friend Kay told me this I replied, "Bummer. I have a sinking feeling about this."
She groaned. But she laughed in private later. I know she did.
Here's a little cheap laughter for your day. I hope. At least in private. :0)
Wanna go golfing? I hate golfing because I'm just no good at it. I have to cheat to win and my brother is always telling me I have to play the fair way. I could club him when he says that. He thinks I'm too green to play anyway. I show him. See, I show up in two pair of pants, in case I get a hole in one of them. I wanted to play last week but I didn't - I wasn't feeling up to par. But I went the next day and couldn't finish. My brother got so teed off.
Groan away. Or laugh. It might be good for your soul.