Monday, December 2, 2013
As we drove, we talked. The talking led to the unraveling reality of my life prior to Christ.
I use to sell a product that guaranteed a flatter stomach by applying a topical cream to the abdominal area. The name said, Tummy Flattening Gel. I remember first learning about the product, rolling my eyes at the thought--people really believe this? No less than 3 months later I was applying the product twice daily as recommended.
Towards the end of my career there we had launched a new dietary supplement with the slogan, eat all you want and still lose weight. I remember being on the phone with people for an hour, convincing them that this revolutionary product was indeed true!
As I explained the products to the big guy we laughed. I continued to explain that with all weight loss products we recommended diet and exercise for the best results--we laughed again. And then in the same breath our conversation led to how this lie is seen in many fascists of life, especially faith.
Ironically, last night I had a conversation that put this all into play.
We have a girl from San Diego living with us. She came to Utah a while back with a missions group to evangelize the Mormon religion. Shortly into her mission she was deeply convicted by God to stay and make Utah her home.
This past week she went to temple square in Salt Lake City on a date. Her and her boyfriend went to the family history library to look into their genealogy. While being assisted the latter-day-saint asked her if she was a going member. Replying that she was not, the latter-day-saint asked her what religion she was.
"I'm a Christian," she responded.
Being taken back, the latter-day-saint replied that she too was a Christian. Pointing to a sign with their churches name she said, "See, our church name has Christ in it."
I've learned over the years that just because something is labeled one way, it doesn't necessarily contain a product that is true to that name. The same goes for Jesus Christ. People can label a building with His names, but the reality of what is inside proves to be counterfeit to who Christ is and what being a Christian is all about.
Like the products I use to sell, the underlining truth was that a little diet and exercise were all that is needed. Like Jesus, He says that He is the way the truth and the life, and that no one gets to the Father except through Him. It is Jesus, plus nothing.
[Encouraging everyone to look past the label.]
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
I find that the most miserable state of affairs is the one in which you have not made up your mind to something. God gave us a thinking brain that we should use to arrive at conclusions, not to constantly dither and balk at moral dilemmas.
At the beginning of a new marriage, there is a tendency to watch one’s spouse to see if he or she will fulfill certain expectations that one unwittingly smuggled into the marriage: Will he listen to all my whining? Will he always be sensitive to my moods? Will he remember the things that are important to me? Will our mutual giving be totally equal? (In other words, will he be God?)
Then one day the Spirit brings to mind a verse:
“… present your bodies as a living sacrifice …” (Romans 12:1).
And on this particular day you decide not to blow it off but to take the thought seriously. And more than taking the thought seriously, you decide to make a decision as to whether you will act upon it. You say to yourself:
“God tells me to present my body as a living sacrifice. A sacrifice, in the Old Testament, is an animal that is put to death for the sake of someone else. A sacrificial animal does not talk back. A sacrifice does not argue. A sacrifice, in the New Testament, is Jesus Christ, who not only died on an altar like an animal but who spent His entire life dying to personal desires so as to be completely at the beck and call of His Father.”
Once you have seen this truth, you must either obey it immediately or reject immediately. There is no turning back into ignorance. Speaking for myself, I find the only course that brings inner peace is the one in which you make up your mind to be a living sacrifice in obedience to God’s command. Halfway measures are futile. Attempts to cut a deal are futile. Try giving God 90 percent and to reserving for yourself 10 percent, and you end up with the 10 percent swallowing up the 90. But to give all to God and to one’s mate is the very essence and taste of freedom.
Make up your mind
Faith & Inspiration | Andrée Seu Peterson
COPYRIGHT © 2013 GOD’S WORLD PUBLICATIONS
Monday, November 4, 2013
Monday, August 5, 2013
Weeds are like sin. The less attention given, the more they grow.
My daisies had died, but the weeds surrounding its base were green in growth which didn't belong.
Weeds are like sin. They flourish without care.
I turned towards the garage to fetch my gloves.
Kneeling down on the ground I began to weed. Making myself level with the burden, I saw the abundance that had over-saturated the soil. Some with roots only surface deep, others that penetrated deep underground--weeds all the same.
Weeds are like sin. I think back on my life. I think back to the condition of my heart, when sin had penetrated its roots deeply, producing a garden of green that only boar weeds.
Last week the neighbors down the street had passed while saying hello, making note of the bloomed black-eyed Susan's. Overlooking the weeds, they only focused on what was good. And as I dug my fingertips in the dirt today, I thought about our desensitized hearts and the disservice done to one another by looking passed our sin, letting roots continue their growth downward.
How differently life could be if we were honest, helping one another keep an eye on the weeds.
Before the shadow from the side of the house could shrink to a size that left no shade from the sun I gathered my bucket filled with weeds. She pushed her baby stroller to the steps and we went inside for water.
Washing dirt off my arm I gave pause to the thought of my life now, in Christ. Weeds that once were are now gone, and those that still try and take growth have roots that only take hold on the surface before being pulled away quickly by the Gardner tending after my heart.
I never forget my life prior to Christ. Each day I give prayer for the discernment of my thoughts, actions, and motives; are they rooted in Christ or of something else--clearing out the weeds--living in the light. Prayer that I never seek after that which is only pleasing to the eye.
Weeds are like sin. Don't let them go untended for too long because eventually the green that you see will appear not as it is.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
What brought me to this post was what ultimately brought me to this friend. Today she had posted a statues that was giving praise to God for knowing that her children will grow-up to know the One True God and not a counterfeit.
If you have recently come to Christ through way of leaving a false religion, the word "counterfeit" creates pause and interest. My interest was caught and I immediately clicked over to the page of the acquaintance I had not formally spoken with in over ten years.
Her religion stated Christian and yet the next click over showed her wedding pictures of a Mormon temple ceremony. Confused without lost hope, I began the click digging; learning about someone through way of clicking through their Facebook page. It wasn't until I came to a photo album that showed her daughters dedication in a nondenominational Christian church that I realized she had left the Mormon religion. Without hesitation I immediately messaged her. Below is the sequence of conversation leading to her story which she later gave me permission to share.
My story of finding Jesus! Those of you who have known me for a long time are probably wondering why I left the Mormon Church. I want to share my story with you…
I was filled with abundant hope in reading her story. In sharing, I extend that hope to those seeking and to those who have been found.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
I heard about Matt...
He was hitchhiking in McCammon Idaho, headed to Colorado Springs. He had come from Missoula Montana, chopping wood for a guy; work had ran out. He wasn't a beggar, simply on the move--or rather, on the run.
The last nine of his 29 years had been spent traveling the country. His coast-to-coast tally was 6 or 7 times, having been to every major city and everywhere else in-between.
Haven't been to Alaska or Hawaii. You have to go up through Canada to get to Alaska. Canadians don't care for hitchhikers, he said.
He hiked the 30 mile stretch of Red Woods in three days; surviving off of pastrami, oatmeal, and raisins. With a small hand tool, he learned to harvest Brussels Sprouts in Georgia. The stories continued, filled with the experiences and people--those that would give time to a decent conversation.
With a strong passion for people, the chip on his shoulder was evident. Standing in one spot for three days while watching people pass by was hard; feeling their assumptions made from a thumb in the air.
It all started when he came home to find his fiance with another man. Anything that was logical or of sense went up in flames, fleeing to the streets--running.
Dad asked most the questions, Matt did most the talking. Ultimately the synopsis of Matt's story was told. The two sat and one last question was asked.
After all this time, being around the country, meeting people--what is it all about?
Confused by the question he asked for clarification.
What is the purpose and meaning for any of what you have experienced?
It's about being happy. Finding that one thing and going out to get it, he answered.
Do you think anyone ever finds that true, pure happiness? asked my dad.
He did, and gave his reasoning.
Watching the road they let the recent conversation settle for consideration.
What do you think it is all about? Matt asked, breaking the silence.
It's all about our connection with God; our relationship to the Creator. It's not that I think all that other stuff--happiness, being good--is bad, it's just that I have found without the connection to God, nothing will ever make sense. I had and pursued everything that brought "happiness" and it only left me looking for the next fix--like chasing after the wind. When you spoke about the loss, anger, and confusion of when you first ran, I too have been in that place--6 years ago I was packing up my truck to run.
What happened to you? asked Matt.
I had a huge conversion to Jesus Christ.
Closing in on their destination the phone rang.
Matt and I are headed to Walmart, I will pick some up there, answered my dad.
Arriving at the store, Matt picked up a candy bar, salad, and a gallon of ice tea with the food stamps he had. Dad got the chocolate chips needed for the cookie dough sitting at home.
Having been on the road for nine days a shower and bed were the least that could be offered. Taking Matt to the hotel down the street, they exchanged a key to a room for a handshake of gratitude.
Turning to leave my dad said one last thing.
Matt, if you don't find what you are looking for, remember you can always look up. God bless.
Bless you too, said Matt.
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
My house rooms more space than I use in one day; the square feet of our basement is typically only seen when laundry needs washing, or the flour container needs filling.
Every morning I grind 13 dollar coffee beans because I have grown custom to a beverage without bitter aftertaste. Each sip brings my worldview less from the reality of starving children and dying mamas. I have grown custom to a cup that lacks suffering, a cup proving to be half empty--completely empty.
Reading Katie's story I sit in front of a screen that begins to reek of wasted time. A screen that has become the delusional window to meaning and truth. How is this young woman living on her knees, comforting the last moments of life, mothering the motherless? The screen blurs.
With eyes closed--heaving for air, her tiny fingers touch my wet cheek. I look to my right and she searches my face for answers. Why is mama sad? Because a mama who died left behind four daughters. And that was just one story that paves way to a thousand other mamas who closed their eyes on this life, unable to look over to the children searching for answers of why.
God, why do I live here? Why am I not in Africa holding the babies without a mama?
And as she fell into my lap, lip quivering from confusion, she too began to heave. Holding her close I stop the words of it's ok, the words that would try to comfort, the words that would bring understanding to why mama cries. The innocence of her tears make way for His words to be heard.
My Kingdom is here too. As if each tear of hers are His.
She is you and you are Me. He cries to show the limitless love for me.
And it's in the moments of uncontrolled emotion that my soul becomes still and He is able to turn my face towards Him and speak the hard truth of why I am where I am--why I'm not in Africa holding babies without a mama.
I live in America, specially Layton Utah. Sitting in my office, holding my baby, sharing tears--I brake.
He does not have me in Africa being a mama because He has me being a mama here. The work of fully giving myself to another has broke me--in all that is good, even when the good is not seen. Loving well here will prepare me to love well out there. There is still much work to be done.
Learn to love like I love, in the Africa where you already live.
Sitting her in the seat next to mine I interlace my finger to pray. With tear stained cheeks she looks at my hands and does the same with hers. The only words I can seem to muster from my mouth are I'm sorry. Details are not needed because He already knows.
My heart is not crippled by the outer extremities--no strings are attached to the things that hold no value; the coffee, my home. It's the lack of grace extended which leaves my cup empty. The lack of patience, when His patience is continually poured out for me. It is the drink of mercy from His cup, extended out to my desert-dry, undeserving mouth. It is His love that is not yet perfectly reflected in me.
The reality of who I am as a mama is why I am here, in the Africa where I already live.
Monday, July 1, 2013
Being a God of relationship, the understanding of that relationship played out is something you learn through those who are already captivated by His great love.
In the beginning months of our marriage we attended a church where our first friendships of Christ began. Standing in line at the in-house coffee shop, the big guy and I were approached by a couple with similar attributes for our season of life; both young, no children, he was tall, she was active, their spirits radiated sincerity and truth. The underlining desire for a relationship which encompassed God was met with joy! The next years were made of laughter, tears, babies, and above all, life in Him with them.
The final evening of our time living close left us all in a pool of thanksgiving and heart break. Our dearest friends that we had done life with were moving back home, and it felt as if they were taking a piece of us with them. Though separated by miles, our love still remains intact and full.
In the years time it has been since they moved, our loneliness for God centered relationships has been daunting. Now sitting across from a woman who radiates Christ I eased into the sofa, being washed over with the blessed assurance of His love for me.
She asked me about where I had been and how I had come to where I am.
We exchanged stories--the tip of the ice berg version, as she called it.
When conversation led to those in our life, or perhaps since passed by from earlier years, I spoke of the doubt I had; watching people I once knew trapped in the world were I once lived.
Without recognizing the hope I had lost, she broke my sentence.
You don't know that!
As if being caught stealing something of worth, her words slapped me across the face.
But..she stopped me before the continued doubt could roll off my tongue.
God can reach them in the midst of disaster just as He did for you and I!
She continued on, I have family that have been brought to Christ because they saw my life and said, "If it can happen to her then it can happen for me!" Do not underestimate the Power of God.
My mind hung on her words, hung on the cliff I had pushed myself over--by a finger I hung.
Our time continued, moving forward in the get-to-know-you talk. Discovering similarities, enjoying what seemed for both of us, the first time in a long time that small talk could be had with God in the midst.
As we said our goodbyes, my mind still hung.
My life is living proof of what God can do. My husband is living proof of what God can do. And so it continues on with my parents and many others. God saved us all from the depths of hell and yet I unconsciously have let the doubt that He can do the same for everyone take captive a part of my heart.
It was a beautiful weekend of saving grace.
Perhaps a new season is in bloom where we live.
New friends, less doubt, more rest.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Having wound up sitting next to each other at church. Our dots were connected when we became aware that we were both first time visitors. The morning had been one continued conformation after another; having been led to attend. Meeting my new friend was simply another act of mercy from God.
Transitioning from one church to another is a task of unknown and new beginnings. But the act of being led into the correct body for your current walk is worth it.
Jesus himself might as well been standing behind the pulpit preaching directly to me. Everything that God had been pruning me for was spoke with the utmost authority and love.
I have heard a saying over years, the pastor said. When a pastor speaks He should be hid behind the cross. When I stand before you on Sunday, it is my hope that you would only see Jesus.
I murmured a quiet Amen to agree.
Who was this guy? How did he know to speak on the very topic that has been shaping my decisions and convictions for the past 3 months?
Church leaders will be constantly tempted to water down the message of the gospel and its application so that few are offended. When ordained leaders take their eyes off of Jesus and put them on their congregation everybody loses. I nearly stood-up and looked around to ask if everyone had heard the same words as I? Or was this all some sort of illusion and I was hearing one thing while the pastor in front of me was truly speaking on another. The nail was hit on the head and I clapped.
God had come through full circle and I wanted to stand-up and start a congregational wave in celebration.
Once the final song was sang, with joined hands of the body, I didn't think there could be anything more that God, in all His glory could/would do for me in the given moments. And then I turned around and my new friend was eagerly at my side to shake hands and give proper introduction.
With open hearts we walked and spoke of our family and their names. Her daughter and mine came out from nursery with big grins on their faces and big cookies in each tiny hand.
God is good. And in His perfect and loving time, He will unleash a magnitude of Truth and blessing that will fill every crevice of your heart, soul, and mind.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11