Monday, March 26, 2012

Makoto Fujimora

We watched this video in our Truth Project class yesterday. It meant so much to me, as the Creative Coordinator for our church. I struggle to find the value (to God's Kingdom) in my work. It feels like fluff. It doesn't feel like real ministry to me. I think I need to investigate Makoto Fujimora a little more. He has a passion for the arts and the Kingdom and can see their relationship. I want some of that!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Trusting God... Always

My friend is living by faith today. Money has always been tight for her and her family. She has two teenagers and one pre-teen. Her husband was laid off from his job and has had difficulty finding one in this struggling economy. That has all been a challenge, but now he has been diagnosed with a condition that makes it even more difficult t find a job, and could greatly affect their future. Right now, the future for them looks dark and scary. There are so many unknowns. 

But here is the last post my friend made on facebook last night: “Every blessing you pour out, I turn back to praise. When the darkness closes in, still I will say "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord. Blessed be Your Name.” 

And her first post this morning: ‎"My foes are many, they rise against me but I will hold my ground. I will not fear the war. I will not fear the storm. My help is on the way. Oh my God...He will not delay. My refuge and strength Always. I will not fear, His promise is true, my God will come through....Always." 

That is walking by faith. That is courage. Trusting in God even in the face of fear and an uncertain future... Day and night, even while she slept. This is how lives, attitudes and hearts are changed. This is how we get to know God. It’s not always easy, but God will come through. Maybe not in a way that we would expect, but He will come through for them, and they will come through knowing Him and trusting Him on a deeper level. A level they have never known before. 

That is Unswerving Hope!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Grace is Sufficient For You

We so often don’t understand why we must endure difficult times in life. Sometimes, it just seems that we can’t catch a break!

There have been times when I’ve felt like life continues to kick me or my friends when we're down, and I have gotten angry with God for allowing it. But I believe that God weeps when we weep, He hurts when we hurt. He hates that we have to go through tough stuff, but He’s willing to allow it because He sees the end result. He wants to do so much more for us than make us comfortable. His purposes are so much deeper than a life of ease could bring about. He loves me too much to allow me to wallow in comfort.

But the end result also depends on how I react to the trials in life.  Sarah Young, in Jesus Calling says,  “Human weakness, consecrated to Me (Jesus), is like a magnet, drawing My Power into your neediness.” I can continue in my anger at God, or I can consecrate my weakness to Him--I can declare it sacred, set it apart, see the beauty in it and turn it over to God. If I do the latter, it will be like a magnet, drawing His Power into my neediness. When that happens, I experience a supernatural event... a spiritual transformation that cannot happen any other way.

That is my unswerving hope. And it lies, not in God fixing all my problems, but in God walking with me through my neediness.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. “ –2 Corinthians  12:9

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Persistence of a Desperate Mother

25 The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said. 26 He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs." 27 "Yes it is, Lord," she said. "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table." 28 Then Jesus said to her, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed at that moment. --Matthew 15:25-28 (NIV) 

This scripture has always bothered me. How could Jesus be so unkind to this woman who was desperate to get help for her daughter? I know there are a lot of cultural things going on here that we don’t understand. Jesus is in the district of Tyre and Sidon, a non-Jewish area. But still, the way Jesus responds bothers me.

According to my You Version Lenten devotional, it may have been some kind of a test. Usually it was Jesus who had these kinds of tests thrown at him, but this time, it was the other way around. Instead of giving up in the face of rejection, “The woman accepts Jesus' point of view and turns it to her own advantage. 'Yes,' she says, 'but the dogs under the table eat what the children drop!' We feel the buzz in the crowd. Great line! Well said! Nice job! And Jesus seems to agree. 'You have great faith! As you wish, so let it be done.' And the girl is healed.” 

I love how the devotional writer wraps it all up, “And we are left thinking: is that what we mean by faith? Faith to see how God's strange plan works, even though it isn't exactly flattering for us? Faith to cling on to everything Jesus says even when it's unexpected, and to pray in those terms rather than assume he's going to do what we want in the way we want it?” 

I believe the answer is “Yes.”

Monday, March 12, 2012

Waiting, Trusting, Hoping

Today’s devotional in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young starts out, “Waiting, Trusting and Hoping are intricately connected, like golden stands interwoven to form a strong chain.” It is so hard to wait, trust and hope. We are an impatient people. We want to fix things… like now!

Many of us were raised with the TV as our babysitter. I used to love the Brady Bunch. Their family was so amazing. Every time one of the kids had a problem, Mr. or Mrs. Brady would stop what they were doing, focus on their child and his or her problem, and at the end of thirty minutes, all would be well with their world. I guess I came to expect that that was the real world and that’s how things worked. If only I could get my parents to be more like Mr. and Mrs. Brady! My parents weren’t like Mr. and Mrs. Brady. (Neither were anyone else’s, because the Brady Bunch wasn’t real life!)

But somewhere in my childish psyche, I decided that I would be a mom like Mrs. Brady. I would make sure I was there for my kids and I would solve all their problems within a thirty-minute time span. Obviously, I failed.

I failed to live up to the Brady Bunch way of life, but I’ve learned a lot about waiting, trusting and hoping. I still don’t like it. I still want to fix everything within a thirty-minute time span, but I realize now that it doesn’t work that way.

At first glance, waiting, trusting and hoping seem so passive. Like swinging on a swing or sitting on a porch step, waiting for a ride. But waiting, trusting and hoping are extremely hard work! I vow to trust God, but I find myself picking up my issue or my child’s issue. I have to convince myself to lay it down again, even though I fear things could go bad. At best, I know things will go a different direction and take longer than I would like.

I’ve written several times here about putting my trust in God even with my teeth and fists clenched. Sometimes it takes every ounce of energy and will to pray, “I trust you, Lord, I trust you.” Today is one of those days.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Love Me Enough

Relationships are messy—they can be painful. We get our feelings hurt, we hurt others—usually unintentionally and often obliviously. A snide remark from an insecure psyche, an uncaring act from selfishness—I do it every day to the people I love. Someone may unintentionally and unknowingly hurt me, and if I’m not careful, I will barricade myself in my own little fortress—making sure I never get hurt like that again! 

Maybe the only way to keep from being hurt is to never love anyone again. But is it really worth that? Not loving carries a pain all its own. So really, I’m just swapping one pain for another.

We have to be intentional in our relationships. We must be forgiving. This life is too hard to get through it alone! 

If you are a friend or relative of mine, let me warn you in advance, I will probably make careless, selfish comments that will hurt you. Please love me enough to talk to me about it. Please confront me about it. Don’t wall yourself off from me. Help me to see my sins of selfishness and insecurity. Help me become a better person. Don’t just be mad at me and quit speaking to me. Love me enough to point out my failures. We are all imperfect people living in an imperfect world. We’re all doing our best, but everything we say and do comes from a brokenness that we can’t fix on our own. 

 So please love me, confront me and forgive me—don’t hide from me and allow me to continue in my selfish oblivion!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Our Problems Are Our Friends

That sounds so ridiculous, I know! But Sarah Young writes in “Jesus Calling,” “Make friends with the problems in your life. Tough many things feel random and wrong, remember that I am sovereign over everything. I can fit everything into a pattern for good, but only to the extent that you trust Me. Every problem can teach you something transforming you little by little into the masterpiece I created you to be.” 

A masterpiece? That sounds so great, but oh, I feel so far from being a masterpiece! Does that mean I have a lot more problems, I mean "friends" coming my way? Ugh!

Our problems don't automatically our friends. We must choose to befriend them! Young continues,  “The very same problem can become a stumbling block over which you fall, if you react with distrust and defiance. The choice is up to you, and you will have to choose many times each day whether to trust Me or defy Me.”

We have to choose many times to trust God or defy Him. Wow. There’s no in between. It’s either or… either trust or defy. When I think about it that way, it puts the fear of God in me. I never every want to defy God! But I don’t always want to trust Him either. When I can see that not trusting is defying, I’m much more motivated to trust.

So, today, this moment, I choose to make friends with the problems in my life. I choose to trust, not to defy. (That kind of makes my stomach hurt, but I will press on!)

“But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:12-13.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Check out this blog post by Mark Batterson. He talks about the competition between pastors. Competition can exist in many other areas of ministry as well. It's a good point to remember that what we do is for the Kingdom of God and NOT the kingdom of ME!