Thursday, December 30, 2010

On The Failure

oh....Dear........Father. My emotions are so raw right now. My thoughts are harried. My heart beats in a confused rhythm. The wounds still fresh. 

Sometimes I just don't know what to do with myself. My failures stack one on top of another, again and again, as if attempting to mimic the tower of Babel. Dumb idea, I know. But my sinful nature seems to definitely has a mind of its own--and a very powerful one at that. 

WHY, GOD, WHY do I keep doing the things I hate--the evil I see within me? Why do I cling so tightly to the Law of Sin and Death?

How is it possible to know the good I need to do, and even to WANT to do that good, but to fail to do it. 





But alas, I know the truth of the matter. I am sinful. I fail. I will keep failing. But I am not a FAILURE. My identity is found in You alone. 

What a wretched woman I am!! Who will rescue me from this body of death?! THANKS BE TO GOD! for it is through the grace given me by Jesus Christ our Lord. 

On His Leading

Jesus is calling, saying, "My child, don't look to the left or to the right. I am leading you along a path which is for you alone. No one else will ever experience what I have in store for you. All I need from you is your hand tightly in mine, your eyes fixed on me. It may seem difficult to be living in a way that is becoming more and more set apart from this world. This is not cause for fretting--that only leads to evil. Your path will increasingly diverge from that of others. But you know what? This actually gives you even more freedom to love people. 

Today, stop and take the opportunity to rejoice in the intimate communion we share. Experience my peace and be filled with eager expectation of losing yourself in Me."

Monday, December 27, 2010

On Setting Aside Busyness

From December 19 Jesus Calling

Do not be weighed down by the clutter in your life: lots of little chores to do sometime, in no particular order. If you focus too much on these petty tasks, trying to get them all out of the way, you will discover that they are endless. They can eat up as much time as you devote to them.

Instead of trying to do all your chores at once, choose the ones that need to be done today. Let the rest slip into the background of your mind, so I can be in the forefront of your awareness. Remember that your ultimate goal is living close to Me, being responsive to My initiatives. I can communicate with you most readily when your mind is uncluttered and turned toward Me. Seek My Face continually throughout this day. Let My Presence bring order to your thoughts, infusing Peace into your entire being.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

On Jesus, Always

Jesus says, "Why do you rely on imperfect human beings to fill and support and strengthen you? There are so many reasons you know this to be an unwise decision. First, it is unfair to put such a burden on them. You know and they know there's no way they can be your everything, all the time. People fail. So why place your trust in them? 

I beseech you to trust in me. My deepest desire is that you would long to spend every minute you are drawing breath with me. I know you love your husband. That is so good. I am honored by the cherished relationship the two of you share. You seek me together. You build one another up. You are a positive example of marriage and thus of the Bride of Christ and My Father. 

No matter how much you love you husband, you cannot look to him to sustain you. You mustn't place your need for security and peace in his power. Yes, he will do his best to provide for you and he does deserve your trust. But, daughter, I will never fail you. You know this, don't you?"

Yes, Jesus. I know. 

"Then come to me. Turn your needs over to me--I will fill them to overflowing. I will give you purpose. I will give you peace. I will always listen. I will never fail."

Jesus, I'm so sorry. I know you deserve my everything. You shouldn't just be a priority in my life. You should BE my life. I want to make YOU the one I long to spend every waking minute with. I want to think of you first when I have exciting news or a devastating blow. Forgive me for replacing you. Be my everything. Now. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

On Respect

Jesus calls husbands to love their wives. We women are pretty good at demanding that, right? If the men in our lives don't tell us enough or show us enough, we can beat them into the ground. We would never take the excuse, "Well, I told you I loved you on our wedding day, shouldn't that be enough?" That's crap. So how much more should we run from the lie that we will respect our husbands as we see fit. As long as he's taking out the trash when I want it done, as long as the towels are folded correctly (MY way), as long as helps without me asking, as long as he works hard and makes plenty of time for me, as long as he's not stupid for not stopping to ask for directions, THEN I'll respect him. 

NO. Jesus calls wives to respect their husbands. He's a smart one, our Creator. He wired us women to need to feel loved, so he commanded men to love. He designed men to function fully only if they feel trusted and respected, so he commands women to respect. Simple. 

I shared a bit of my personal story over yonder, and I may (I hope to) continue to share the wonderful truths I learn in Shaunti's book, For Women Only

But for now, I will tell you what I am telling myself--
respect your husband simply because he's your husband. 
trust his judgment (even when it has to do with laundry or dishes or directions).
defer to his judgment (stop cutting in and correcting him).
stand up and support him publicly and privately. 
seek a change in heart--ask Jesus to move you from making an effort to trust, to give you a heart that truly trusts him.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On Teen Pregnancy

I admit. I don't always stop to think about the passage of Scripture I'm reading. It's easy to just skim past them after hearing them again and again and again for years. But the Word of God is living and active--and it applies specifically to me today in a way it didn't three years ago. And twenty years from now, that same passage will be filled with God's Spirit and working in my life in a new way once again.  

I was reminded of this as we enjoyed a beautiful Christmas musical presented by a church in our conference. It depicted the story of Mary and Joseph in a fresh way, delving into their thoughts and emotions, the criticisms and pressures felt by the onlookers. And it made me think. 

My husband has been writing a modern day version of the Nativity story for our teens to tell our congregation on Christmas Eve. (I won't go into the reason he's still working on it, other than to say I may have bumped the power button while dusting, causing him to lose his almost completed work.) As we talked about the details of the birth of Christ and what the implications would be if it occurred today, in 2010, I was struck by the thoughts running through my mind. 

If one of my teen girls came up to me and told me they were pregnant and then went on to say it was the Son of God in their womb, I'm fairly certain I would call them crazy. 

"WHAT IN THE WORLD are you talking about, Girl?! Honey, if you're pregnant, it's ok. We can deal with this. We'll help you through it."  

"Melanie, I am still pure, I promise you. An angel of the Lord appeared to me and scared the crap out of me. He told me I was going to give birth to son--God's son. I know it's unbelievable, but it's true. I've never been so certain of anything ever before."

"You've got to be kidding me."

"Don't you remember all of those Old Testament passages we've studied together? So many of them talk of our Messiah and give details on his entrance into this world. THIS is IT. I've been chosen. Will you support me?"

Wow. I never thought about it like that. It's easy to believe a story that happened thousands of years ago. But taking the concepts and applying them to my reality points out my lack of faith. It helps me identify with Mary's family and friends. And yet it shames me. Why wouldn't I believe her?

God is so good. He chooses those who are weak, those who the world ignores, rejects, despises. He choses those who have nothing so that when His Will is accomplished, everyone will know it was God's work--not man's. To Him be the Glory. 

Jesus, I pray you would continue to reveal your story to me in new ways this Christmas. Open my eyes to the truth and bring my spirit closer to the faith I lack. Amen. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Routine Blows

I mean seriously. Granted, I could probably have worded this blog title a little more appropriately...  I just figured why bother being demure when I'm about to post about how getting situated and all nested in is terrible for your spiritual life.

Lately, I'd been getting situated in a routine where I was really productive. I was getting a ton done, getting talks and studies ready for Youth Group, memorizing scripture with the teens, and in general doing all the things I thought I should be doing.

Somewhere along the line, I feel like I've forgotten to stop and smell the roses. I forgot to enjoy the feeling of the arctic chill when I walk outside and I'm honestly cold. I forgot what satisfaction there could be in doing something well...and something out of the ordinary.

Right now, I feel like I need to mix things up a bit in my life. I've gotten situated in this whole "sub to earn money, spend the rest of your time on the Youth Group" thing going. Then the last few weeks have been crazy, what with Thanksgiving and the National Youth Worker's Convention we went to. (Thanks, Spring Arbor FMC for paying our ticket cost!)  All that break in routine just made me realize how unsatisfied I am with it. We weren't meant for consistency.

As humans, we seem to crave stability, safety, and predictability...but I wonder why we think it's important. Why do we need to know where next month's meal is coming from?

Now don't get me wrong, I have money in the bank in case of a 'rainy day.' But that doesn't mean that I don't question why I feel like I need more stability. If we really trusted God, would we need the money in the bank to feel secure? Why in the world do we value our routine and shelter in it like a suit of armor? Why do we as Americans put so much time and effort into walling the moving Spirit of God out of our lives and decisions?

So I'm here to tell you that I think routine isn't just overrated, it flat out blows. I think that routine is Satan's way of getting into our psyche. If he can get us to value our routine, then we'll do our part to silence God's voice when He tries to move in our lives. I don't want to block God out.

God, mix up my life a bit, I think it'd do me some good.