Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Confession No. 13: I didn’t Answer The Call

With talks about financial crisis, political disarray, and war threats on every side, it’s no wonder the average American struggles with so much stress. It’s hard enough that we each have our own personal problems, but to have to think about the country’s problems as well can feel overwhelming.

A few weeks back, I felt God calling me to pray for our country and its leaders. I’ve never been one to do so, so my immediate response was to ignore the call by rationalizing with myself. How could my simple ignorant prayers ever make a difference? I don’t know the first thing about economics, politics, or war. I decided that someone more knowledgeable in those areas could worry about those things. Unfortunately, God didn’t let me off the hook that easily. As the current events become more dramatic, He’s intensified the burden on my heart to pray diligently. With the chaos that’s been going on all around us, it’s obvious that we are all clueless about how the country should be handled. Neither of the political parties have an answer to our imminent problems and the media’s ploy to increase ratings and revenues leaves us with an even more skewed and fearful view of the days ahead.

So how can we make a difference?

First and foremost, God is calling us to keep our eyes on Him. Don’t be moved by what’s going on around you. The market and gas prices may go up and down, but God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He holds us in the palm of His hand and even though everything around us may be falling apart He still reigns. He created the Universe and knows every detail of it’s past and future.

Secondly, we need to do something! We can’t just point fingers. Everyone loves to blame the president or the Republican’s or the Democrats, but the truth of the matter is that we are where we are today because we have failed as a church to be God’s people. We have all waited for someone else to pray or take action, but action must start within ourselves. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God tells Solomon, “if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” God didn’t tell him that he would heal their land if they elected the right officials or if they came up with the perfect economic bailout plan. God also didn’t leave it up to Solomon’s actions and prayers to heal the land. God gave the people three tasks

1. humble themselves
2. pray and seek his face
3. turn from their wicked ways

If we want God to restore our land, we must be willing to do each one of those tasks. We need to stop blaming others, humble ourselves through confession of sin in our own lives. Seek God’s face for grace, mercy, and wisdom not only for our own lives, but also for our country and for our elected officials. We need to ask God to reveal our wickedness to us so that we may repent and make changes. He is calling us to serve Him through diligent prayer and worship. He has always promised to take care of the details. Jesus said that His yoke was easy and His burden was light. He wants all of you: your faith, your time, and your adoration, but He will never give us more than we can handle. Be faithful with the three tasks above and leave the rest to Him. He wants to heal our land, but we must give Him room to rule and reign in our own lives first. The Lord is calling you. Will you answer?

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. -2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Confession No. 12: I Was Storing Junk

I recently learned that the first rule of getting organized is to Purge! Purge! Purge! “Get rid of everything that you don’t absolutely want or need,” experts say. In my sincere effort to “start over” in life, I started on a mission this morning to clean out the unnecessary. It’s not like my closet was a complete wreck, but it was full of boxes and bins of “stuff” and to be honest, I could use the extra space. Now, you might be wondering what “stuff” was in those boxes and bins, but the truth is that I couldn’t of told you about 5 hours ago. I’ve been lugging them around for the past 6 years from house to house… did I mention that I’ve moved three times in the last 6 years? It’s been that weird time in my life where I’m just trying to figure out where GOD wants me. Each time I pack up my boxes and move everything with me, never taking the time to figure out if I still need all of that “stuff.” The sad thing is that with each move I have more and more “stuff” to take with me.

Today, as I sorted through my boxes, I started to realize how much of it was actually junk. Junk that I no longer value or need… junk that was taking up precious space that I could be using on things that I now love. With all of my junk unpacked and spread out over the room, I started to think about my life. How many things am I still holding on to that are just taking up valuable space for what GOD wants to do in me? I’m not sure yet, but I’m thinking that it may involve a few time wasters, past commitments I’ve made that may have run their course, and maybe even a few unproductive relationships. Tonight I’ll lay them each down before the Lord as I ask Him to examine my heart to help me get rid of the junk.

How about you? Is there anything that GOD may be asking you to let go of? He has so many amazing things for you and I wonder if you’ll need to let go of a few things to make some room for HIS plans.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Confession No. 11: My Pursuit Was Half-Hearted

What are you pursuing in your life right now? Is it the American Dream of wealth and prosperity? The historian and writer James Truslow Adams coined the phrase "American Dream" in his 1931 book The Epic of America. His analysis perfectly expresses what we strive for from day to day. I wish that I could call myself the exception, but my confession today echoes the lives of millions of Americans. We work our tails off for our homes, cars, financial security, and personal achievements. We sacrifice time with our creator, family, and friends, to get ahead… to achieve The American Dream.

In a seminar that I attended a few months back, I was asked to list out my values and describe what was most important in my life. Then I was asked to outline my schedule to see if my daily activities reflected those values. I was completely shocked to find that the one thing that matters most to me (my relationship with God) was the area of my life that I was devoting the least amount of time to. My heart was saying that I loved Jesus above all else, but my actions were saying that I loved money, security, and my own personal achievements. My actions were far from that of an heiress to the throne of The Almighty. Instead of diligently pursuing the King for myself, I’ve settled for the scraps that are hand fed to me by my favorite Christian books, music, and sermons. I’ve traded true intimacy and fellowship with Him for the comfort of His promises.

In the book of Luke, one of the teachers in religious law asks Jesus how he can inherit eternal life. Jesus responds with a simple answer. “…You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” -Mark 12:30-31

What a challenge GOD has called us to. Since childhood, I’ve been taught to work hard and do my best so that I can achieve success. I’ve spent years building my business, pursuing excellence, and trying to leave a legacy for those that will come up behind me. The only problem is that all of these pursuits have been in vain. They sound good on the surface and they may even exemplify the American Dream, but the truth is that they have caused me to sacrifice what truly is important to me. I’ve got a lot of serious reflecting to do from here. What does it look like to love GOD with ALL of our heart, soul, and mind? Will you join me on this journey? What changes will we need to make? What things must we stop doing and what things must we begin?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Confession No. 10: I Can't Be The Bunny

Remember the Energizer Bunny? She just kept going and going and going. I can relate to her in so many ways (and not just because she can stylishly pull off an all pink wardrobe either). The last few weeks have been especially fast paced for me. Trying to be everything to everyone as well as the girl who positionally lives out her dreams has lead to a lifestyle that I'm not sure I can keep up with. As I watched the sunrise outside of my office window (after pulling another all nighter), I asked myself "Is this the life that Christ has called me to?" From all of my efforts to be a customer focused entrepreneur, the perfect June Clever wife, the zealous Monica Geller-Bing friend, and the Oprah wannabe Encourager; it just seems like something is missing. It seems like I've neglected my most important role of all. As a daughter of the king... hmmm... Princess (if you will allow me to indulge myself for the purpose of making my point). As GOD's princess, my most important role should be to spend time with my King. Absolutely everything else in life should be secondary. I've not only allowed others to steal this precious time away from me, but I've practically been giving it away. In my chaos, GOD has spoken a word to my heart... "but only one thing is needed." (Luke 10:42) In the story of Martha and Mary, Jesus stops by their house for dinner and Mary chooses to sit at his feet and bask in his presence while Martha is frantically trying to make everything perfect for their guest. I can totally understand where Martha's coming from. When the creator of the Universe is sitting in your living room, paper plates and a frozen dinner just won't work. The surprising twist to the story comes when Jesus tells Martha, "but only one thing is needed. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Just one thing! I've been doing a million good things lately, but I've neglected THE ONE that Jesus has called me to. If you are like me and my pink bunny friend and you've been going and going and going... trying to make things perfect... trying to be it all to everyone... trying to be the perfect hostess to The Creator of The Universe... I hope that you'll take time to answer Jesus' call. He's still there waiting. Waiting for us to take off our aprons and put everything else in life on hold to sit at his feet... daily. This is the one thing that truly matters in life. This is what pleases the king. Don't let anyone or anything steal this time away from you.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Confession No. 9: I Can Only Imagine...

The I Can Only Imagine Mercy Me song has been out for years. When I heard it today, it reminded me of the tears that filled my eyes the first time it's lyrics touched my heart. The song offers such a powerful reminder that one day we will meet Jesus face to face. We'll finally be able to embrace the one that comforted us, loved us, and died for us even while we were at our worst. We'll be able to touch the hands that created ours and actually hear the voice that guided us from within. What an amazing moment that will be. I don't know what I will do when we finally meet, but My confession today is nothing more than some deep internal dialogue. Why don't I feel moved any longer when I imagine meeting my king? How did my heart get so hard? and more importantly how can I regain the enthusiasm, zeal, and passion that I once had for him? How can I let go of this world and cling to the only one that gives me any real reason to live? How can I grab hold of the vision that my life here is so temporary and that He has created a home for me to fellowship with him for eternity? How can I daily remind myself that I was created to serve him, not the other way around?

My heart wants to want Him more! More than I want peace, security, and to be loved and approved by those around me, I want to be desperate for His presence again. I want to long to hear His voice again. I want to get lost in His overwhelming glory.

For today, I know I won't find my answer in a song, program, or Christian book. Only Jesus can answer my questions and only Jesus has the power to breath spiritual life back into my suffocating lungs. I can only imagine where we'll go from here.