Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tuning In

Do you ever battle with tuning out a particular subject matter at church because you have heard it so many times before?  I think if we were to be honest, most of us have.

I was in that place this past Wednesday.  The topic was forgiveness.  I settled back in my pew ready to relax, more than to receive.

Scripture verses popped up on the screen.  Over the course of the past nearly 18 years of being a Christian, I have read them countless times. 

Yes, I know I am supposed to forgive.   And I know it should be more than the seven times that Peter boasted about. 

The thought crossed my mind, “I am beyond seventy-times-seven.”  This honestly wasn’t a prideful thought but more of a frustrated feeling.  I couldn’t help but wonder if there wasn’t some kind of cap on forgiveness.  I mean, isn’t there eventually a point you reach in which the limit has been hit?

Then the topic of resentment came up.  I started to feel a little unsettled in my heart.  But then I almost breathed a sigh of relief when it was mentioned how those who are resentful are looking for payback. 

Whew…that isn’t me.  I definitely don’t want something bad to happen to this person I feel like I am constantly forgiving.  I love this person.

It was nearing the end and I guess I was sort of feeling like I was home free.  But then it happened…God spoke something very specific to me.  It wasn’t a Bible verse that had been shared.  It wasn’t a personal story that impacted me.  It wasn’t even the usual teaching you receive about forgiveness (you know, how it doesn’t mean you are excusing that person’s behavior, etc.).

This was something that was specific and unique to my situation.  You wouldn’t find a reference to it in the Bible.  No one else would ever guess what was laid on my heart.

But here is the point.  If I had not been sitting there, hearing a teaching on something I’ve “heard a million other times,” I would have missed out.  It made me wonder how many other moments have been lost because I wasn’t there to receive it, either physically or otherwise.

How many times have I tuned out when God had something specific for me?  Perhaps it is those moments in which we are ready to stuff some cotton into our ears that God might have the most to say.
Source:  Flickr

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Routine or Relationship?

Shortly after leaving church I was at a red light and a truck in front of me had a license plate frame that read, “I’m not religious…I just love the Lord.”  That sums it up.  At least it does for me.

I wasn’t raised with religion, so I really don’t know what that is like.  I have only known relationship because of the very deep pit that the Lord pulled me from. 

Well, let me take that back.  It may not be religion but it’s something else that has at times overtaken relationship.  It is…routine.  And many times it sneaks in without me even noticing.

This usually begins with my quiet time, or devotional time, whatever you prefer to call it.  Suddenly things have become a routine, a ritual.  I do this and I say that.  I’m stuck in a rut and I don’t even know it.  

Once that becomes a part of my quiet time, it begins to infiltrate into other areas.  Church becomes routine, a part of my “to-do” list.

The thing with routines is that they become boring.  Nothing is happening.  You start to feel spiritually lifeless and if you don’t recognize it’s going on, you will only sink deeper into it.

Part of my “disappearance” from this blog the past year had to do with this.  There was nothing in me to draw from because quite frankly, the well was dry.

It wasn’t that I stopped praying or reading the Bible.  I didn’t stop going to church.  I was still “doing” those things.  But there was no passion or fire with it.

So I have been on a quest to rediscover the passion.  Or maybe it’s something new that God has for me, I don’t know.  Something is definitely stirring within.  And I have a feeling that I’m not alone in this.

Take the time to evaluate whether or not you are thriving in a relationship with the Lord.  Or if it has all become nothing more than a routine?

(Photo: RoganJosh from morgueFile)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Even If

Hebrews 11 has always been known as the “faith” chapter.  It is filled with all the ways in which faith worked in the lives of ordinary men and women.

Recently I felt inclined to look at this chapter differently.  Instead of focusing on the part about faith, I was drawn to one of the last verses of this chapter, verse 39:  These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised…”

How many times had I read this verse, yet not noticed something so significant.  NONE received what had been promised. 

It reminds me of a song that I love by Kutless, “Even If.”  The chorus goes like this:

“Even if the healing doesn’t come

And life falls apart

And dreams are still undone

You are God, you are good

Forever faithful One

Even if the healing

Even if the healing doesn’t come.”

You can almost look at the faith chapter as a record of things that didn’t happen.  They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”

Although this portion of the Bible contains a lot of things that happened because of faith, there were also unimaginable sufferings:  Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” (verses 36-38).

Can I say the same thing?  Even if…my prayers don’t get answered the way I would like.  

Even if…my world falls apart.

Even if…I lose everything that matters to me.

Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him…(Job 13:15)

THIS is what faith is really about.  It isn’t about trusting when all is going well.  It is trusting when it isn’t.  What a challenge this is to me. 

It has been nearly a year since I have blogged here. There are several reasons that I laid this aside. Perhaps another time I will share but for now...I am back.