I’m a Five

I’m a five.   I’m definitely a five.   And it’s kind of painful.   I thought I was a 9 which I really loved.   I want to be a peacemaker.   And I am definitely an avoider of conflict.   But I am private, introspective, curious, and quiet.  I spend a great deal of time thinking, studying, and preparing to do.   I want to be capable and competent.

I just finished reading (for the first time) the book “The Sacred Enneagram” by Christopher Huertz.   I am forever transformed.    The book is brilliant in defining each type and various components of how we relate and retreat.   The second part of the book connects our type to specific challenges to encounter God through contemplative practices.    This is the part I am just embarking on and I already know it will be quite challenging.

CONSENT TO SILENCE

My mind is never quiet.   And sitting in quiet where I choose to turn off the noise in my brain seems not only impossible, but also willfully giving up control.   Yes, God is on control, not me.   But willfully choosing quiet seems self-destructive, scattered, impulsive and nonproductive.   Why would I choose to be nonproductive?

Less of me, and more of Him.   I am not in control.   If Jesus is to shine in and through me it is because Jesus is in control and using His voice through me. 

I have talked before about how Philippians 4:6-7 seemed impossible to me.

Philippians 4:6-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Until somehow it didn’t.   I could at least TRY.   And peace has come to me.  Not from anything I have done, except for a willingness to try and pray.   Thank you Jesus.

And now, I see my new challenge.

Romans 12:2 New International Version (NIV)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I need to stop.    Just stop.   Stop searching for my own answers.  Stop my willful desire to be in charge and find my own solutions.   It feels burdensome and overwhelming.

This is my prayer.

Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord    and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

and this……

Isaiah 55 New International Version (NIV)

Invitation to the Thirsty

55 “Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
    a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
    and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has endowed you with splendor.”

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”

Thanks be to God.

And for more clarity about the HOPE that I see as I grow in my faith and understanding, I am grateful for the words and music of sleeping at last that has artfully communicated the enneagram 5 in music form.  Only after reflection in the scripture do I see the beauty of surrender and consent.

And now I want to generously lose
This energy that I’ve been hanging onto so desperately
I finally feel the universe expand—
It’s hidden in heartbeats, exhales
And in the hope of open hands

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Your Servant is Listening, Speak Lord to my Soul

Now that I have three adult child, and they all made it to adulthood without me killing them, I am at a new stage in life, wondering how God will call me.

For a repressed introvert, there has been an explosion of fire crackers going off in all different directions of interests, desires, and inquiries.   I feel like I’m juggling so many things, but I don’t want to drop any thing because they are all pursuits that I want to develop.

Physical Health – Eating well and moving more.  I am learning and changing my lifestyle.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20:  Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought aa price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.\

Personal Development – Childhood Messages, Enneagram (Coming to know myself as a 5).  and relation to my faith development and God’s calling for me.

Genealogy – Learning about my family and roots of dysfunction, and God’s calling to rise up and persevere.

Spanish – I found a free program available from my library and by dang it I will pursue!

2 Peter 1: 5-8:…….make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

None of these things are worth pursuing if God does not abide in me.

Romans 8:6  ….the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

Romans 8:14:  For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Lord, in all things, may you shine and reveal what I need to live in your will.  May I continually be tuned in to Your voice, Your desires and Your calling.   Nothing else matters.

 

A Broken Mess

Have you ever noticed someone who is a broken mess?  And while you are judging their brokenness, you are inspired by the hopefulness they express?   I am a broken mess, and yet I see how God loves me as I am, but is preparing and propelling me onward and upward.  And there is no time to waste!

At Staff Chapel this week, we had the amazing privilege to be inspired by Dr. Robert Tuttle.   What a jolly man of God, and a Spirit-filled vessel of wisdom. As a Seminary Professor for 50 years, he has educated and inspired multi-generations on the Word of God.   He spoke to us from Romans, Chapter 8.

Romans 8:1-4 New International Version (NIV)

8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Then to demonstrate this Scripture, he testifies how this text means we are free.  There is nothing keeping us from living a full and vibrant life in Christ Jesus.  No condemnation.

John 8:36  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Hallelujah!   No more average. Life is extraordinary. And to seal the deal, our on-fire Worship Leader, Corey Shores, led us in this hymn:

You are My Peace by Housefires

I lay my burdens at Your feet
I’m letting go of all the things I can’t control
In my frailty Lord I find your strength
I am depending on a love that won’t let go

Chorus:
I trust You
I trust You
I trust You
Oh You are my peace…..

I may be a broken mess, but I am richly blessed.  The sky is not gray.  I just couldn’t/wouldn’t see the colors.  I was blind, but now I see. Moving forward the agenda is to trust in the goodness of God, and set priorities to be a part of life changing renewal and revival in the name of Jesus.  

Pastor Glenn Ray brought it all into perspective for me. “I truly believe if you get your priorities in order, you will want to make a positive mark on your world. You will want to leave a legacy of service to others and to change the life and the outlook on life for those around you.”

Life is difficult.  But I don’t have to live in fear and loathing of my next trouble.  My Lord and Savior has my heart, and this girl ain’t going anywhere.  

John 16:33 New International Version (NIV)

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If I truly believe there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, then I need to live like I believe it.  As my friend Lauren Daigle says, “The darkness should have known…..He’s still rolling stones.” Watch out world!

May the Lamb Receive the Reward of His Suffering

I don’t think I have really understood the impact of Christ dying FOR ME until the last few years.   It’s not that I wasn’t taught.    I had plenty of head knowledge about the Easter story…just not heart knowledge.   I’m an out of sight out of mind kind of person.  So feeling the impact of a brutal murder 2000 years ago, although a beautiful story, felt distant.

But through the sharing and witness and spiritual leadership of Pastor Ken Hagler,  I really came to see how God used cancer and death of his wife Heather to bring me greater understanding of His love for me.   It just seems so unfair.   A righteous, loving, beautiful wife and mother taken from this earth much too early, and I grew in faith, knowledge and spiritual awareness because of it.  She did not deserve to die and I certainly did not want her to die in order for me to finally get Jesus’ love for me.   I am truly grateful.   And I do see how “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28.  But I don’t see how my being blessed makes up for the world’s loss of such a beautiful person.

And for sure  this Easter 2018 will not be the same as we mourn our loss of beautiful, precious 14 year old Grace Bunke.  I have been so inspired and blessed by the witness of this child and her family through her battle with stupid cancer.

Here is a sampling of my favorite lessons from Vicki Bunke as she shared, taught and inspired us:

Life is too short and God is too real to let it go to waste.

We trade our fears of an uncertain future for the loving assurance of an unchanging God

Hope…. is what dreams are made of – it is what lands people on the moon and cures diseases and ends wars.

We acknowledge the darkness, but choose to stand in The Light.

Focus outward and I see myself in the role that God has intended for me: helping, loving, and serving others. And when you focus on that, one can’t help but be in a good place.

Living radiantly is being able to accept it all, live it all, and in it all find the wonder of being truly, fully alive, with all of life’s sometimes cruel contradictions – yet with the constant thread of God’s goodness running through it all. When you live radiantly, your inner light is able to shine outward serving as a natural antidote to any and all of the darkness in your life.

“If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” (Luke 11:36)

When in doubt, look up.

Because today, love and joy and peace, but mostly GRACE won. Death did not. Nor will it ever.

I am not so vain as to think Grace and Heather were put here on earth and suffered death specifically for my benefit, but I do finally see the sacrifice of someone dying on my behalf to demonstrate a RECKLESS LOVE that is meant to change the world.

And now I have been challenged to make it count.

May the Lamb Receive the reward of His suffering means that anyone who comprehends what God has done for them needs to be a sold out, soul on fire to live for Christ.  I am an unlikely candidate.   I am unworthy.    But He is worthy.    I have no idea what I might be called for.   Your servant is listening….speak Lord to my soul.

Let it not be said of me I withheld anything from You, Dear Lord.

 

 

More About Surrender

Near the beginning of my prayer class recently I wrote in my notes what I feel is my hindrance from the Holy Spirit…and that is Surrender or submission.   I love the Lord with all my heart.  I know God is in charge and I am not.   I struggle with giving up the perceived feeling of control.

Then my teacher said  “Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a response to our Surrender”.  I thought he was going to point me out and call me by name!
It hasn’t always been like this.   25 years ago I preached in a Lutheran Church on Holy Trinity Sunday (the week of annual conference/synod convention).  I remember being blessed and fully filled with a vision of how the Spirit had been working in me.   Shortly after when I was married and had children, I became frightened and overly focused on being a good parent and my responsibilities that I felt ill-equipped for.   So much so that although I knew God walked with me, but I had to be focused and did not have time or trust to work with God on my fears.
Fast forward to where my youngest is now 18 and has refused to cater to my obsessive worrying and need for control.   I could not hold on to my facade.

Philippians 4:6-7 New International Version (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This scripture became absolutely my only choice over what seemed completely impossible.   It is the recipe for peace.  And yet I still cringe at the word surrender.   I don’t go willingly.

Harvest Bashta is a worship leader and has a song about “signs and wonders” that I planned to re-listen to on the way home from my class.  It was actually her other “Song of the Lamb” that pointed out surrender.  If you Google her main phrase “May the Lamb receive the reward of His suffering” you will find that the phrase comes from a story about two Moravian missionaries as told here:  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moravian_slaves.
It is a story of complete surrender.  Lord, create in me a desire for complete surrender.
This revelation for me came right ahead of my mother entering her final stages of life on earth.   The following morning I got to sing praise songs with her, pray over her and shed a few tears as she surrendered her tired, pain riddled body to the arms of our loving Savior.   My memories of that time help wade through the pain of getting to see and talk with her.
Surrendering to Christ is not giving up.   It is victory.   It is moving forward so that God can make all things new, including a reluctant, fearful, follower.   Let it be dear Lord, let it be.

When this race is over, it is just the beginning

The title is another great quote from my friend Vicki Bunke.

Recently I became aware that I clearly have a problem with surrender.   I wrote down the words “Perfect Submission” with the intent of a big raspberry (PLTTTTTTTT!), sarcastically admitting to myself that it is something I don’t have.   Even worse, parts of me just don’t want it.   I don’t like the idea of handing over control…..even if I never had it in the first place.   What a mess I am.

Here is some more great wisdom from Vicki Bunke

“Ever notice that the pictures we use to represent someone surrendering look a lot like the pictures we use to represent someone being victorious? Who would have thought that surrender is an effective method for victory? Who wins by surrendering? History books are not written about those who waved the white flag, but about the conquering heroes and nations. We grow up daydreaming about being the champion, the victor, and the overcomer. No one dreams of being the one who grows up to surrender. But it is exactly to this very thing that Jesus calls us. In fact, He makes it pretty clear that unless we are willing to surrender everything, He won’t be able to do much with our lives.” — Vicki Bunke

Ouch.   He won’t be able to do much is right.   My pastor explained it as

“I see us laying something (a burden or something we ‘need’ to control) in His arms but refusing to let go of it thereby restricting Him and us from dealing with it. Likewise we ‘surrender’ our lives to Him but still hang on enough to interfere with His plan.” — Rev. John Freeland
I’m sabotaging myself.    And just like with fear and prayer, I must find a way to “let go and let God” if I want to progress at all.

 

And i do want to progress.   What is in store for me as a surrendered servant is far, far better than a fearful, untrusting, so called follower.
Lord I desire to put my full trust in you.  I want to surrender to you and live fully in Your will.    When I don’t know how to move, I will come to you to direct my path.

Romans 15:13 New International Version (NIV)

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Homework:   The story of the writer of the hymn “I Surrender All”  https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-i-surrender-all

Continue reading “When this race is over, it is just the beginning”

When Not Enough is More Than Enough

There is much for me to love about the holiday season.  I’m fortunate to have family I love, no one has died recently or around the holidays, and each year I gain new understanding about Christ’s birth and how it impacts my life today.

There is also much reason to really struggle with this season.   It’s the season of abundance and there never seems to be enough money for big expensive presents.    There is not enough money to spend on special food…not enough time to cook it all.    It’s a season of excess and it all seems like gluttony to me.

                    noun    habitual greed or excess in eating.

I can’t keep up.   I can’t compete.    I cannot represent my full love with a budget that barely dents towards a requested luxury item.   It’s not enough.

But God says His grace IS enough.   Will I go into Christmas Day filling inadequate and unnecessary?    No.   I am a child of God and I will love as best I can, and greet others with a warm welcome and genuine fellowship.  I will do what I can.

John Wesley says it best:   “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”   Just do your best.    Don’t stress.  Don’t overdo.

And be grateful for those who share their fellowship with you as well.  This year I was blessed at a wonderful staff luncheon.  The food and fellowship was plentiful.   We were all gifted with a book that will guide us into the new year and maybe our entire direction in life.   It’s Divine Directions, by Craig Groschel.

Master the decisions that will make your life everything God wants it to be.  Every day we make choices.  And those choices accumulate and eventually become our life story.

Even Teddy Roosevelt said it well   “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

It’s a busy time of year.  I’m working full time, commuting in Atlanta so lots of time in the car.  I am recovering from dental surgery (expenses, and healing).   And yet I will share with thought, word and deed my love, admiration and appreciation to my family and loved ones as best I can.  I will do what I can to make a welcome home with tasty food and good fellowship for anyone who wants to share.   I will enjoy quiet down time with peacefulness and not feel guilty as I reflect and appreciate God’s abundant grace this past year.

And I will take hold of God’s reminder that “…..“My grace is sufficient for you, for power[a] is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”      2 Corinthians 12:9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Amen.  Thank you Lord Jesus.