The Gifts

It’s closing in on 11 a.m. on a Saturday morning. April in Tennessee has decided to be a snowy/rainy/wind-chill freezing kind of thing. It resembles more February than it does spring time in bloom. I haven’t showered and I have consumed two very large cups of coffee and one slice of toast. I am in my favorite winter pajamas.

I was thinking about how my singleness looks, about the contrast of life with my friends who text me photos of their kiddos or the friends I see posting about their babies sleeping through the night or husbands whisking them off to fun birthday weekend surprises. There are days, moments, times where I get that sinking jealous feeling of it all. I love seeing their lives, but there’s a small ache within of coveting, of wondering and of doubt that it will happen for me too.

But then there are moments like these, where I find the freedoms of my life to be quite nice. Where there aren’t plans for the day, or worries over planning around nap times. Singleness looks different for each person living it, just like marriage and parenting and pretty much every single thing about living life. One thing is sure though, is that this life and the time we are given for it is a gift.

This morning as I was choosing my time in the Bible I found the words of Paul to a fellow believer to be something I needed reminding of as well. Timothy was around my age as well, called to minister at the church at Ephesus at the time we read Paul’s words to him in 1 Timothy. And some of the people had taken to legalism in the church, things that were good and created by God were being used as a form of legalistic religion instead by the church to set themselves apart as more holy or more devout.

Paul works through identifying the issue and encouraging Timothy in the fourth chapter of his letter. There nestled in between how to treat church members and the mystery of godliness is a small paragraph on ministry, and this phrase: “Do not neglect the gift that is in you…” It reminded me that I too neglect the spiritual gifts given me by God, those that are specifically designed just for me by the Creator of the universe. He knew I would be the only one that could use them in such a way for His kingdom and His purpose in such a time as this.

He knew that the still-in-her-pajamas, unshowered single gal on a Saturday morning would use the gift given her for Him in the way He designed her to use it. Just as He did the friends who are married, who are parents, who are divorced, who are single too. He has given gifts that reside in each of us that I often forget and neglect, letting doubt fuel the misuse or nonuse of the gifts, letting the words of others cause my gifts to look like obligations or ones I wish I could return. But then I remember the words of James just a few pages over from Paul’s letter to Timothy:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

In the Details

Often I skim read to get to the crux of a paragraph, chapter, article, etc. I don’t much care for details unless they are pertinent to a story, a character, a situation directly. The indirect stuff? You can keep it.

But in the details is where most of the story is in actuality. It’s where the plotlines develop, the characters come from the page and into being. It’s where most of the story is actually.

And it’s most often where I’d like a bit more involvement from God in my own life-the details of the every day, the situation, the cause and effect. We tell ourselves that a big God wouldn’t care about the details of our day, of our work, that relationship or that conflict. That He’s got better, more important stuff to handle like poverty, genocide, creating life.

But He does.

The details do matter to Him because I matter to Him. You matter to Him. What we are doing every day, in the big and the small-and especially the small, they matter.

The worshiping, confessing, ministering and cleansing of the Israelites in their day to day lives was so important God detailed how it should happen, what they should do, where it should be done because it all pointed back to Him. Every single detail pointed to a God who cared about the work of the people, how they worshiped, the responsibilities of the every day. He cared so much about the details that He gifted them the resources by which to build it far before they knew what they’d need it for. He set into the hearts of some to be gifted weavers to make the robes that pointed to the gospel before the very mention of Christ.

I like to point to God saying I’d like more details about why this matters, or that task has significance. I cry out for the bigger picture, when He has invited me into the details already. He’s asked for obedience in this task, right in front of me, gifting me with this particular set of skills in order to accomplish it for His good and glory, to point to Him and even to the gospel.

He is in the details of my life, and in yours, but I think I have gotten too accustomed to skimming through life in this perpetual state of hustle and bustle that I don’t see Him in the details. Because He is there, in the threads weaving a story if I but take time to listen, heed and obey.

Your Burning Bush

Ever feel like God is calling out to you, in the middle of your daily life? 

I don’t mean on like the David Koresh level y’all (I have been catching up on the new mini-series Waco obviously) But in a way that only you would recognize? Maybe to get your attention or to remind you that you are noticed?

I was thinking on this as I read through Exodus 3 and 4 this week. Granted Moses got a burning bush and that would be pretty hard to miss, but it was done in the midst of Moses’ daily work. He was in the back of the desert, tending to his father-in-law’s flock of sheep. He wasn’t just in the middle of a desert, he was at the back of it. Doing the day in and day out of work, laboring for his family when God met him there.

burning_bush

But Moses had to take notice first. I love how intentional Scripture is in pointing this out, that Moses stated he would turn aside and see this great sight. He was able to take notice of God revealing Himself to him. But it came at a time that was pretty mundane-doing his work in the field, 40 years into his stay in Midian as an alien resident. He’d fled there as I wrote about earlier.

God is so intentional with us if we are willing and open to hear Him, to seek Him even in the desert, even in our every day lives. The things which we think are mundane? Well He will use us for. I often hear people talk about wanting their “burning bush” moments with God, where He acts in these large ways…but that moment was Moses taking notice of God in the middle of his day, doing his work as he had done for years upon years.

How do we take notice of God speaking to us in specific ways about what He would have us do? How do open our eyes, our hearts, our ears to Him speaking in our day-to-day lives? As we tend our own flocks? As we live out years upon years in a foreign land? As we find ourselves at the back of a desert?

He calls to us when we take notice of Him, His pursuit, His work in and through our lives. We have to be willing to turn aside and see the great sight of Him appearing to us in each moment, day, and way.

Where is it that God has lit a bush on fire specifically for you? Have you missed it? Would you turn aside to see it?

From a Resident of Midian

I acted rashly. Out of emotion. Feeling that I was right and seeking to address the injustice rather than my own feelings. I was in what you would call a personal crisis, reflecting on something that had been stewing under the surface for a while but unwilling to address it head on. Until it came bubbling up in a single moment.

So now I find myself here. In this wilderness land. In a desert of my own making as I fled the consequences of my own sin. Of my rashness of judgement and severity of words. Of emotions and feelings that I allowed to be the controller of my thoughts and life. I didn’t realize how well I’d gotten at running until I took off outside the borders and the walls that I thought were trapping me in. That were attempting to confine me, rather than define the work I would be doing to bust them down.

I ran until I felt I was furthest away from the situations, the people, my emotions and sin, and the consequences of my words. Here I am at a well. In my moment of flight, in seeking to not be known for what has been done by me and to me, I find myself thirsting to be known. Thirsting for water that can wash over what I have dirtied. What others have cast upon me too. Not for just a moment’s satisfaction of quenching this thirst, like I felt my actions were…like my emotions led me to believe would satisfy the thirst for justice.

This desert has left me desperate for water that can only come from a well found in Him. Found in my desperate attempt to cling to everything but Him. To flee and hide, only to be found content in my desperate need for only Him. I came with nothing, only myself, and that’s all He has wanted of me from the beginning-just me. Now I am an alien in a foreign land, feeling as if I don’t belong and yet knowing to be content in exactly that. That wilderness is preparing me for the next season, the next step. Preparing my heart and my mind, quieting the voices of doubt and lies and letting me hear Him speak deeply to me.

I don’t know how long He would have me be here, in this land of Midian, but I know it’s not for me to question why I am here but to only present myself over to what He would have me see, prepare for, work out and understand…to be silent and content before Him alone. He meets me here, in the place of Midian. In the daily. To live out my life in pursuit of a desperate need for Him and not myself, not others, not my plan, my emotions, or my sense of justice.

Current Midianite

 

 

 

Resolutions, Words and Prayers.

new-years-resolutions-goals-ss-1920I think we all can agree on resolutions in the new year…they tend to be made with good intentions and often we find by next week we aren’t really doing too well with them, and we give up. Several years ago I joined the OneWord365 community where you pick a word to be the theme of your year. That’s often one I find I can stick to as well until around April or May, then revisit in the fall. I may even venture into another word theme for the year as I keep having a word pop up on my heart and mind for 2018, especially as I reflect back on 2017, as we are want to do these early days of a new year.

This year I wanted more of a prayer for my life. I am walking into this year knowing there are things I will accomplish and goals I want to set for myself. One in particular is getting certified to teach POUND fitness classes. I have been taking those classes for two year, growing to love it and the community it has brought. Another is to finish writing my book and have it submitted to literary agents. It’s a big goal but one I have carried year to year for a bit too long.

But the more I thought on this new year I couldn’t help but feel this pull to have a prayer for the year. For each month, each week, each day and even each moment. I desired to bring me back to the recognition of His Presence in moments, in situations, in my life in all things. I stumbled upon the words of someone as I was thinking through what my prayer would be, and it hit exactly where I was desiring to be in 2018.

Let me approach each moment as one God has appointed for His glory.

I don’t know about anyone else but that prayer, those words, were meant exactly for me to carry, to ruminate on, to pray fervently for throughout 2018. I want to cling to them and the moments He has appointed for me. Each and every one.

The hard ones? Yep.

The doubting ones? You got it.

The mundane ones? Um yeah.

The joyful ones? Oh yes.

And I have found that already I am running to those words as I begin to encounter moments where I can’t quite figure out why I’m in it, or how I should navigate it. Let me approach it knowing He has appointed it…not for me and my self, but for Him and His glory. It doesn’t mean all the moments will be good or #blessed.

It does mean I will need to look for Him in the moments, the days, the weeks, the months ahead, being proactive in seeking Him rather than retrospective of seeing Him when looking back. Because we aren’t too far gone from Christmas, and the reason for the season, Immanuel Himself. God with us. He is with me in all things, if I approach it with Him, if I pray to seek Him, preparing before any and every thing to know He is in control, He is good even when I fail at keeping my resolutions.


Do you have a resolution? A word for 2018? Or even a prayer or mission statement for your life? Or even a Scripture? I’d love to hear about it, so share below!

Distracted and Consumed

I am chief among sinners. 

I thought about Paul’s words as my pastor spoke the words “Distracted and Consumed” yesterday. I felt the arrows of conviction hit straight and true as he continued on with his sermon, knowing those three words had struck at the heart of a problem. One that I know many wrestle with, even as a society and culture we are suffering from the very disease of distraction and consummation.

I get the irony of writing about this on a platform (and sharing it on other platforms) because it’s the very thing which is distracting and consuming this heart, this mind, and this time. I like to say “well it’s to keep up with this or to share my writing.” Unfortunately though it’s to the detriment of my heart and my focus.

Maybe it’s not so much social media that distracts you, maybe you don’t get consumed by the words, the actions, and the thoughts of others in such a divisive culture we are living in. Maybe the distraction is binging on the newest release from Netflix or your kids’ ballgames (this one I saw first hand last weekend y’all). It is whatever is consuming your time and distracting you from the very thing which God desires of you.

What is consuming your heart that it’s not allowing Him in? What is distracting you to the point you cannot hear Him? I am the first to admit that I willingly would choose those over time with Him, time digging in to His Word, time spent in silence with Him, waiting on Him. I would rather be consumed with distractions than allow Him space in my life…that’s what I am telling Him when I “scroll for just a few minutes.” Or when I say “just one more episode” or let someone else take up residency in my heart.

When I am distracted and consumed, I am more prone to worry, anxiety, doubt, fear, and control. I find that peace and stillness are commodities in short supply. The quiet filling of connection is negated with an empty longing to be known when we are consumed by anything other than the God who desires to know us more.

Maybe it’s time to stop the fighting for our attention and our hearts by simply giving them solely to Him. Not a screen, not the success or failure of our child’s pee wee league team, and not some fictional characters we enjoy.

 

Solomon, Temples and The Body

And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the Lord God. 1 Chronicles 29:1 (ESV)

Y’all I am quoting from First Chronicles, what? It’s an actual book in the Bible in case you were thinking otherwise. It’s back before Psalms and Proverbs, but after Genesis. It chronicles (heh) the Davidic kingdom moving forward from David to Solomon. The transition of the kingdom (and an uprising from an angered son not taking the throne) is laid out as well as David’s heart for building the temple of God.

God gave direction to David that he would not build the temple but that his son, Solomon would. And so here is where we pick up in the story. David is giving instruction to his son, whom is young and inexperienced but that God has chosen to complete. If we blink, we miss it, but the work is great. It’s not that it would be a large scale task, because obviously it would be.

The emphasis here is that the work is great because it’s for God, not for man. It is the most worthy of consideration in what is done. It was for God Himself that the work would be done. The temple was constructed to be where God’s Presence could be with the people of Israel, where the designated priest would go in for the people to give sacrifices and offerings to God, to cleanse the people and give praise on their behalf. The construction of the temple and all the intricacies of it are detailed throughout Scripture.

If I am honest with y’all, I often flip through those pages whether it’s from a devotion or a reading through the Bible plan. But something has switched in my mind and heart on this. Because it’s Scripture…God-breathed….intentional for inclusion in God’s instruction and word to us. So I see the work of the build was arduous, hard and sacrificing work. But the people were willing to give because they were loyal to serving God.

When I read about the temple, I cannot help but look to the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Our bodies are now the temple. We are the ones now carrying within us the very presence of God in the Holy Spirit with us into everything. But that also means we are the ones called just as David did there in 1 Chronicles to do the hard work of crafting the temple. The very dwelling place of God in Spirit is within us for us to bring our praise, our confession and our sacrifices to and through. He prompts us to go before Christ as our Intercessor, our High Priest. It is hard work, building upon the Cornerstone of foundation that is laid in Christ, seeking to give the most valued things of our lives over to Him in order for Him to be praised and glorified within us.

Just like the “young and inexperienced” Solomon who was alone called to the work of building the physical temple, we are called to the work of the temple of our bodies, of consecrating and sacrificing in order to bring God praise, glory and honor. Just like Solomon, am I aware of my need for divine direction and my own limitations in the work? Do we see our need for others to come along with us to assist us in the building up of our temples, our own selves, in order to be the embodiment of who God would have us be, living temples for Him?