Sunday, August 10, 2008

It takes The Village to raise a child?

The best thing to have ever happened to my walk so far is for me to have become a part of The Village Church. I don't believe that the Lord has more power there or works deeper there or loves us more. I just believe he is working there. He has placed in my life, in His timing, a body of believers with joyful loving hearts that seek to love Him with their lives above all else.

One problem with college is that you begin to make friends with temporary relationships in mind. Friendships will undoubtedly change in a semester or in a few semesters or when someone graduates. Joining a college ministry makes it easy to temporarily invest in a group of people (whether you mean to or not) because you are soon going to lose them to real life. That will be a challenge here in Lubbock because I don't know how long I will stay.

But a Village homegroup doesn't go away. Even when you get tired and you want it to. It is, by design, an environment when you begin to "do life" with others. It is a permanent investment in real relationship. It will grow and change, and people will of course come and go. But the mindset is that of lifelong commitment.

Someone in my family said "Oh, so its like a Bible Study Group?" Oh no, my friend, it is so much more, but only if you let it become what God desires to use it for.

I began attending a homegroup childishly and selfishly. "Fix me, please," I said. What I failed to realize was that Jesus Christ is the only Healer, and the homegroup is the burden bearers. THAT is what changes me. He is what has taken me from fearful adolescence to excited, unashamed adulthood in awe of what He will do next. The willingness I now have to let Him fix me is what gives me back my childlike expectancy and hope for my future whether in Lubbock, DFW or a hut in Thailand. Relationship with these women in my homegroup points me to Jesus. It sometimes gets really messy but it is making me grow up.

Now I am church hunting here and I will miss these women. They share in the story of my life that God is telling and in all of the fears and fun that have come my way in the last year of my life. And what I learned in the last round is that you can have relationship with people for self serving reasons or you can come together with the desire for true community. I will grieve the relationships I have left but will invest here with a different perspective.

I pray that God will replace the relationships I lost, but not to the point that I exclude relationship with him. His is the constant love that is with me wherever I go.

Hebrews 10:24-25
Acts 2:42-47

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Comfort Zone??

Here I am in Sugar Brown's with a smile and a question mark both on my face.

Sugars (the coffee shop's nickname) is where I did most of my spiritual searching and failing when I lived in Lubbock previously.

Well now I am back in this flatland called Lubbock and wondering what God really is doing. Sometimes we know His plans before they come to pass; sometimes we know what he is teaching us while its happening. Sometimes we see it in hindsight, and sometimes we never know what in the wide world was going on when God decided to do that thing...

Today, however I find myself in a coffee shop that brings me back to so much. I know this place and it almost seems to know me. I like the booth around the corner so that I don't get distracted by everyone I know that comes in. I know the coffee is best in the morning and at night but be sure to order something with espresso in the middle of the afternoon. Oh and the coffee cake is excellent. I know that the toilet handle in the women's restroom has to be held down to flush. Ok, TMI, but I am just saying I know this place like I know my own home.

I guess that is why it is hard to be home. DFW challenged me. I was not in my comfort zone. But now I am back in my old house, with my old friends, and back in my coffee shop. It would be really easy for me to slip back into old habits and old comforts.

The challenge for me is to stay on my face. To keep seeking the Lord for his plan and his will. I believe he has be here for the practical. I am getting out of debt! Finally.

So the thing he is doing now is teaching me to use Wisdom when making decisions. I also believe that this is a stepping stone to the future. I can't adequately respond to his call when trying to juggle debt that is swallowing me. We'll see what hindsight brings. I am sure there is A LOT more going on here than I see. I sure hope so.

I am kind of ok with not seeing the big picture right now. He is keeping me content with the present.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

I attended the Sunday morning service at First United Methodist Church in Lindale a few short weeks ago. Be warned: Methodists are very proud of their eleven o'clock services and I was appropriately dressed in slacks (not a common occurance for me anymore as I now wear jeans to each church service I go to on Saturday nights), and I was seated modestly on the front row with my extended family as any eleven o'clock going granddaughter should be.

I have been attending a contemporary service for the last five or so years of my life, but I am always happy to attend the more traditional service for the sake of my parents or in this case, my grandparents, or occasionally Aunt Ida who invites me to her church in Richardson. Because of my upbringing, I do have a particular respect and reverence for these traditional environments, but I was struck particularly on this Sunday by the anthem. The choir included my grandparents, Yeah and O'boy (Don't ask. That is another blog for another day...), and a remaining 30 or so of every other 70+ person in the congregation with the ability (on a good day) to match pitch.

I expected because of my experience in these environments and my well trained musical ears to receive a tonality of geriatric indifference and was met with something entirely different.

The anthem was an arrangement of Great Is Thy Faithfulness. It was simple and straightforward, with piano accompaniment and lovely harmonies. However, I was overwhelmed as I watched the faces of these men and women singing lovingly of the Lord who has been forever with them and forever faithful.

As I watched them I saw grandmas and grandpas, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. As I looked deeper I saw my own grandparents and thought of each of their stories and began to see much more being expressed from the heart of this song. I saw friends, party planners, practical jokers, listeners, teachers, comfortors, veterans, widows and widowers. But thankfully, more than anything else, I saw worshippers. I saw people, His People, who could sing the text with gratitude and love for Him.

With each new verse, it was obvious that the song had been, whether they knew it or not, a faithful creed of their hearts toward him for the duration of their long lives.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.


Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!


I have often, as a young person, assumed that my generation is the most enlightened or the most faithful, and then I realize that I don't yet have near as much to be thankful for. These men and women have seen more war, more tragedy, more success, more failure, more joy, and more love than I have ever seen. And they, by the gift of music, attributed all of this to the Lord. I was moved to tears and grateful for their ministry and message. I thank the Lord for keeping me humble in my opinion of music when he can quite obviously use anything to the praise of His Name.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Shack

The Shack by William P. Young
Read it. It is a novel based on a "true story." You'll see what I mean.

Willie Young is a faithful and loyal friend of the man about whom the story is written. Young's friend Mack experiences tragedy and God lovingly and frighteningly confronts him. At first I was skeptical, but began to realize that even though the story is unconventional, I fell more in love with GOD than I have ever been.

He is a trinity of full humanity and full deity. He is all roles: He is Mother - with lullabyes, with advice, He is Friend - with stargazing eyes and listening ears, He is Father - with strength and wisdom, He is Creator - both with gardening tools and by forming from thin air. He is Grandmother - with cookies and milk, He is King - with rule and judgement and authority, and he is Servant - with His Death and His Grace and His Love.

And even when I try to put Him in the boxes above, He bursts out of them with great fervency for me to seek Him and know Him even more. If you have ever wondered how a huge powerful God could also be a Friend, you must read this book. If you have ever found yourself usually thinking of God as only one role, this will change your heart. I believe in Mack's story. Even if it didn't happen anywhere this side of heaven, I believe that the God I got to know in this book was more real to me than I have ever experienced Him to be.

And now I want more of him than I have ever wanted. Thank you, Jesus.

Compare the following scriptures and as you read, begin to see the many-faceted, fully engaged, overwhelmingly undescribable God that we sometimes try to put in a box. Ask yourself, Who is God in this passage? Prayerfully ask him to show you the parts of him you have never seen before.

Psalm 50:1-6
Luke 7:36-50
Isaiah 6:1-4
Gen 1: 27-31
Acts 2:1-4,17-18