Wednesday, June 30, 2010

An Unconventional God

The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. ~Psalm 118:22-23

According to, to be "conventional" means to be:
based on or in accordance with general agreement, use, or practice; customary: conventional symbols; a conventional form of address.
2. Conforming to established practice or accepted standards; traditional: a conventional church wedding.
a. Devoted to or bound by conventions to the point of artificiality; ceremonious.
b. Unimaginative; conformist

God is nothing like this. We serve a very unconventional God. He doesn't use conventional methods or do things according to the ways men would do them. As a matter of fact, He often tends to do them not just differently, but very differently.

There could be many reason why, one being to teach us to walk by faith, not by sight, because earthly vision alone is often misleading, being only a small piece of the real picture.

Perhaps another reason is to teach us that we have no right in deciding whom God may use, nor where He may use them. Saul, a Jew and murderer of Christians was called to reach the Gentiles. What earthly man would have ever given him that assignment?! Most people would have thrown him in the slammer and left him there. Or stoned him to death. They definitely wouldn't have invited him to come minister to them!(For more on this refer to the blogs "Amazing Grace" and "The People God Writes About")

God created each us with a destiny. Yet another reason God may use unconventional ways may be to teach us to, as the song goes "Let Go & Let God" work it out. This goes back to the concept of "walking by faith, not by sight", but, whereas that concept is merely a concept of "trusting" God, this delves deeper, to the extent of trusting Him enough to not try to create your destiny, no matter how certain you may be of it, but rather to maintain a hands off approach, unless God leads otherwise, and trust Him to open the right doors as they need to be opened.

Psalms 118:22-23 is a prophesy of Jesus Christ and how He would first be rejected, and glorified. Rejected, then glorified! Our own Savior! Not only that, but vs. 23 reveals that this would be "marvelous in our eyes" that He would bother to go through so much to save us. (Marvelous: evoking surprise, admiration, or wonder; astonishing).  This is how God likes to work. I believe He enjoys watching his children marvel!

So what if you were told this about your life? (Rejection then promotion) Would you still be willing to "stick with the program"?

What if someone you knew was a carpenter, fisherman, tax collector, liar, adulterer, murderer, etc? Would you believe God could call or change them in an instant and save, not just individuals, but whole nations through them? Yea, even the world?

What if God showed you specifics of your destiny, would you have enough long suffering (Remember, it IS a fruit of the Spirit) to wait it out, not trying to create your own path? Perhaps sometimes simply doing your best not to make more messes for God to fix?

Yes, we serve an unconventional God. God's thoughts are not our thoughts nor are our ways His ways.

I have been reading quite a few books written by Sis. Freeman lately. Man would never have thought to choose a young man & woman from small town Lousiana/Arkansas to reach a large portion of the continent of Africa. But God did. He ordained it! What about a man from the hills of West Virginia to be an apostle to Thailand? Yep, God again. A dear couple from Wisconsin/ Tennessee to reach the country of Singapore? A God thing. No doubt I could go on forever with this list, but I hope I have already made the point....

Don't put limits on God.
Don't put limits on God's people.

God can do anything through His people, because they are HIS people.

We serve a God who specializes in using unconventional methods to reach a conventional thinking world.

My conclusion as to why He does this?
To make sure when all is said and done that we remember who's in control and to whom all the glory truly belongs!

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. ~1 Corinthians 1:27-29

Call me foolish. Call me weak. Call me lowly.

Under the umbrella of a loving, unconventional God, I call that sweet music to my ears.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Drop Your Weapons

You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” ~Indira Gandhi

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
Today I want to remind you that unity is SO important...even more now than ever before.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD. ~Isaiah 2:2-5

Weapons do not have to be physical or verbal. I've learned through recent years that silence can also be used as a weapon. A very brutal one. Perhaps even worse than verbal. I am guilty, in the past, of having sometimes been on the sending end of this situation. I also know all too well what it's like to be on the receiving end.

One of my textbooks in college,on interpersonal communication, discussed how silence can speak and mean more than words:
"Adults, as well as children, have used the silent treatment in virtually every society throughout history as a powerful tool to express displeasure and for social control. We all know intuitively that communication--the company of others--is one of the most basic human needs and that lack of contact is among the cruelest punishments a person can suffer"(Looking Out, Looking In).

This textbook also has a Newsweek article about a military cadet who, due to having to endure this type of punishment, lost 26 lbs. I highly recommend reading the article: The Silencing. (Sorry, the only place I could find it online was on someone else's blog :-)

Years ago I witnessed something that broke my heart. Actually, it still breaks my heart. My family and other close friends gradually noticed another close friend drifting farther and farther away from our close knit circle. This person started avoiding quite a few people and gradually quit coming to our church. No one had a clue why. And I'm pretty sure just about everyone within this circle wondered if they had done something wrong to offend this person. Eventually it was discovered who had done the offending, but even they honestly had no idea what they had done. They went to this person, told them they were sorry for anything they may have ever done to hurt them, and tried to make amends....Years later, I know very little about this person or their family. They still attend church somewhere, at least I know that their children, who I once was extremely close to, do. But what was originally an awesome team of leaders being used together in a specific ministry was almost destroyed by the harboring of bad feelings, instead of the addressing of them. To my knowledge, the hurt individual has yet to be back on speaking terms with the offender, and the offender never did get a specific answer as to what they had done wrong. I reiterate that this breaks my heart. I love both of these people very much.

The Bible says that this would happen in the Endtimes:

And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another ~Matthew 24:10

The devil's greatest tactic is to provoke disunity among the brethren. If he can do this, he doesn't have to worry about anything else, because "a house divided against itself cannot stand" (Matthew 12:25).

So, while we should be careful not to offend...
Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! ~Luke 17:1

We should be just as careful to keeps our hearts in the right place, so we are not offended.
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. ~Psalm 119:165

So, in conclusion, I challenge all of you to a truce.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a truce is:
1)a suspension of fighting especially of considerable duration by agreement of opposing forces
2)a respite especially from a disagreeable or painful state or action

I want to be the first to say that if I have offended you in anyway, I am genuinely sorry. I do not want there to be one Apostolic on this planet that I could not comfortably sit down to have dinner or a cup of coffee with. As the song goes.. "I need you. You need me. We're all a part of God's body. Stand with me. Agree with me. We're all a part of God's body. It is His will that every need be supplied. You are important to me. I need you to survive."

If there is someone you're at odds with, whether due to offenses or judgments, make things right with them. Don't just sugar coat the issue or avoid it and move on. That doesn't fix anything. Work through it or it will still be remaining ever present years later. We are the FAMILY of God. More so than even in earthly families, we are in this together, and we are in this forever.

Drop your weapons & pick up your tools. We've got work to do.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A God You Can Trust

So, here I am, sitting on my couch for the 6th hour in a row...No, it's not because I'm a loser and a bum. It's because my day has went nothing like I had planned. It started out according to schedule: Teach summer school a few hours...then in charge of watching the boys at Parks Hall for a while,...then, well, before that "then" occurred my plans for the day came to a screeching halt. Out of nowhere I became really dizzy and had to call for someone to fill in for me and take me back to my apartment. This is actually the second day in the row this has happened, but last night I was already sitting on my couch when the feeling hit me. So, my evening plans of catching up via phone with a dear friend and mentor didn't happen (slept through the time we were supposed to talk). Packing for my trip home hasn't happened. Nor has some actual packing up I was planning on doing for a soon coming transition happened. All I have accomplished this evening is eating a little and reading a little...and these only if I hold my head veeerry still.

I'm not saying any of this to make you feel sorry for me, no point in that...well, unless you live nearby and want to bring me ice cream or something. ;o) While I've been lying and sitting here bored out of my mind, I have been trying to think positively, instead of thinking about all the random things I should be accomplishing, but can't just yet. This has kind of been a theme in my life lately..thinking and talking positively no matter what.

So, while I was lying here I got to thinking about how thankful I am that I can barely remember the last time I was sick...and how I should have died in a car accident about 3 years ago, but didn't...I wasn't even hurt more than a few bruises. After that I vowed to myself that I would thank God every day simply for the gift of life, no matter how bad things might seem. And I did...for about a year or so. Recently I realized that I had gotten away from that some, and am now working on it again. No doubt 2 years ago God spared my life as well...think I'm the only person I know who's been in 2 car accidents within 2 hours of each other (for the record, I was only driving in one :o). Once again, no injuries. God has truly protected me.

After thinking about all this this evening, and then starting to read, what do I happen to read but the following:
Sickness helps us appreciate health. Failure helps us appreciate success. Debt helps us appreciate wealth. And the tough times help us appreciate the good times. That's just the way life is. I've also learned that our worst days can become our best days. ~In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day
A quote I just read tonight sums this up well, ""Today's thorn is tomorrow's flower."

The author goes on to talk about how he has a birthday he celebrates and a pseudobirthday. When I first read that I was like "Huh?!" Then it made more sense when he went on to explain how that was basically the day he should have died due to a serious medical problem. He goes on to say:
It is difficult to take life for granted when you have almost died. I enjoy life more because I've come to terms with my mortality.
After that first major accident, many people asked me things like "Did you think you were going to die?" "Did your life flash before your eyes?" I was honestly able to tell them "No". I thought "this might hurt!", but there were many promises and words about my future that God had given me and I knew it wasn't my time, because they hadn't been fulfilled yet. God had spoken and when my car was spinning, being hit, and rolling, in His Words is where I found my peace.

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? ~Numbers 23:19

What's going on in your life? Has God spoken to you? If so, are you walking by faith or by sight? God doesn't use words to butter you up and make you feel good. When He speaks, it's for a reason. His words are truth and He doesn't throw them around.

I know my best days are ahead of me. I am excited about committing my life to doing what God has called me to do. Recently I was reminded that only through this will I ever truly be fulfilled. Fulfillment in Christ is my soul desire. I've realized I need it more than I need anything else. Hold to Gods promises. You can trust Him like none other. Do what you know to do and trust God to take care of the rest. He doesn't need someone to offer Him advice; He needs a willing vessel.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Small Cosmos

How much happier you would be,
how much more of you there would be,
if the hammer of a higher God,
could smash your small cosmos.
~GK Chesterton

Recently a pastor & his wife ministered at the church where I attend. Their messages were each titled differently, but went hand in hand. His: "Intentionally Infinite". Hers: "Intentionally Intimate".

He talked about how God created the universe... with sand & stars immeasurable and with a sun more than 100 times the size of the earth. There were many characteristics of our vast universe that he talked about that day, but what inspired me the most was the reason why He said God created it that way: So we would always remember that God can do ANYTHING. That he created the universe and has all control.

Last week I was at the beach and got to do one of my absolute favorite things ..something I usually only get to do once or twice a year, if I'm luckily. I got to sit on the beach that night, by myself, and listen to the waves and think about God and talk with Him. Nowhere else on the planet do I feel any closer to Him than when I sit and stare at that vast body of water that seems to go on forever and hear those waves crash in perfect rhythm against the shore. It is there that I can partially grasp the full reality of how big He really is. It is there that I also am reminded how small indeed I am, and how that doesn't matter because He cares about me and He is the one in control of everything. It is there that I'm remind of Romans 8:28, and how "..all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."

Returning back to the pastor & his wife who spoke.. after he had concluded speaking, she then spoke on how God is intentionally sometimes, whether through fault of our own or through just life circumstances happening, he will let us go through trials for a while, because it is often in trials that we draw closer to him and learn from him..and that your trial will not last forever. Her personal testimony she shared involved a rare sickness, which almost everyone who had ever had it had died. She was sick for many years with it, but God provided 2 miraculous instantaneous healings and she is now doing very well.

The book I am reading,"In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" shares the following:
Too often our prayers revolve around asking God to reduce the odds in our lives. We want everything in our favor. But maybe God wants to stack the odds against us so we can experience a miracle of divine proportions. Maybe faith is trusting God no matter how impossible the odds are. Maybe our impossible situations are opportunities to experience a new dimension of God's glory.

Now I know I have already mentioned Romans 8:28..but verse 29 is also very important:
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son...

So what does it take to make an image? According to an article by Elisabeth Elliot:
Michaelangelo made it sound very simple when he said, "All you have to do is take a block of marble and knock off anything that doesn't look like David." But it takes a hammer and a chisel and a file. There will be hammer blows as God takes upon Himself the shaping of each one of us individuals. So there will be some hammer blows, some very big and recognizable crosses in your life, to change the metaphor. Then there is the chisel, which is painful, chiseling off those sharp corners. Finally there's the file, which is probably everyday in one way or another.

She also goes on to remind that any cross God "sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms, and weighed with His own hands, to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you."

So..I ask you: What does the universe look like to you? Do you just see your universe.."your small cosmos". Are you in the center of it? Or are remembering that you are a part of God's...and that HE is to be the center?

Your universe may have limited resources, but His doesn't.

His also has a greater plan in mind for your life, a greater one than your finite mind can imagine.

No more tunnel vision. It's time to open our eyes to the big picture.