"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Monday, July 30, 2012

Chasing the Fire- Part 1

Jude and I through the looking glass at the Dallas World Aquarium


I am currently reading through Leviticus (just started), Psalms (will be here forever), and finished John today.  Here's what's been really interesting to me- I can make so many "text to text connections" (teacher word) between all 3 texts each day.  And it's kinda so fascinating- I sometimes sneak in an extra set of chapters.  Do you know how crazy it is to think that the Bible is more of a page turner than my New York bestselling novel?  I'm not the 'super Christian' type.  I'm pretty average.  And usually feel pretty steeped in sin.  I say this only to say that anyone can study the Bible and really glean something out of it.  Because it's not about being a super Christian- it's about the Holy Spirit.  He does it, and all of us terrible sinners get to join him for the ride.  #1000 gifts friends, 1000 gifts....

I've got to say Leviticus has been fascinating and convicting.  My heart just doesn't have Jesus on the throne enough.  For a long time my throne was occupied with Michael or someone else.  God removed that idol threw open heart surgery.  And lately I am noticing my idol is trendiness trendiness trendiness. This is driven by a desire to create and recreate.  It's not bad necessarily.  The problem is that it keeps me from having an eternal focus.  And I wonder if it keeps me from hearing God's voice?  

There are two things that have really stuck out to me:

an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord...

This line appears approximately 14 times in 6 chapters.  So given that it is mentioned nearly twice daily in my readings, I've been thinking about it.  In Romans, Paul mentions that our bodies our living sacrifices.  Heard that a million times, but reading through what a sacrifice actually involved is really giving me a fuller understanding.  All these sacrifices were made by fire.  Made by fire.  Looking back, I can think of countless trials in my life.  They have all made me the person I am, for better or worse.  Mostly better, because God has certainly used those more than anything to purify my heart.  Those times where the fire is raging around my life, are the times I am most likely beholding God's face and presence in my life.  Blessed are the persecuted...  And those are the times that my life is an aroma pleasing to the Lord.  Now I am not saying that in the midst of the good times, I am no longer pleasing.  But I will say this, if I am not willingly subjecting myself to the fire of doing more for others than myself or giving more than I spend on myself or being vocal about my faith as opposed to hiding it for popularity's sake, if I am running or hiding from the fire, I might have a problem.  (See the idol on my throne which I am working through...)  No sin is an easy fix, and this is certainly no different.  I am really trying to pray through this and understand what God is saying fully, although I have some ideas.



Here's the other thing:

All the fat is the Lord's - 3:16

There is a good bit mentioned about the fat, although not to the extent of being made by fire.  I am not sure what this means for today, but here are some things I've being playing around with.  (This could be totally wrong, by the way.)  Fat is used to insulate, comfort, protect, add flavor.  It's extra, or as we say in Louisiana, lagniappe.  Thinking in those terms, the fat of my life would be trends, new bands, changing my hair color, shoes, clothes, instagram, fashion blogs...  They add flavor to my life.  They are the little extras that I find interesting and fun.  But they aren't needs.  Those things belong to the Lord first.  None of these things are bad.  I am not saying I needed to be rocking an out of touch with reality look.  In fact, I discourage that, because I think we are supposed to be in the world enough to be able to carry on a normal conversation with anyone of any background/belief/gender/race/sexual orientation/whatever.  But those things should not be what makes me what I am.  I am not of this world.  

But how in the world do I find that balance?  What does a trendy Christian who has surrendered her interests for the sake of Christ look like.  These mainly hold me back in particular area, which I will talk about as God reveals more.  It's kind of hidden in my heart for now.  However, today, what can I do to surrender my love of the trends so that even my love of trends brings Christ glory?

............................................................................................................

I don't know all these answers yet, but here's what I am looking for: ways to chase the fire...  Not the American dream, not my comforts, not myself- not when there is a world out there dying and unreached.  

I have so much to say on this regarding what I've been reading in Psalms and John and Acts... but that will have to wait... 

Please share your thoughts.  I really want this blog to engage me and you in conversation.  I love being challenged and growing from other ideas :)




Friday, July 20, 2012

Pursuing God- My story



For those of you who don't know, I have been a Christian for about 8 years.  Yes, I grew up around it, and while I went through phases of embracing it at times, most of my phases rejected it.  So, in my opinion, it was not until I was 20 that I personally surrendered my life.  And never since that day have I been completely the same.

From the moment I did become a Christian, I have somehow (grace from the Holy Spirit) managed to have a daily quiet time pretty consistently minus weeks of where I'm on vacation or what have you.  And the insanity that is post partum.  

Originally, I have thrown in a devotional book from time to time, but mostly used old Today in the Word copies from my mom (these are mailed to you for free from Moody Bible by the way, and are really fantastic).

However, sometime last year, Tommy Nelson, who's been my pastor for awhile challenged us to be reading 3 chapters of the Bible a day until you read through the Bible.  Repeat cycle throughout your life and hopefully by the time your 40 you should basically know the Bible like the back of your hand.  I was so inspired by this, convicted by this.  I don't know my Bible consecutively like that.  I know some random books.  But not chapter by chapter by chapter.  

And so I started last summer by reading Genesis, Job, and Matthew daily.  My little Today in the Word devotions have mostly fallen to the side, although I do throw those in for a little change up once a week or so.  During the school year, I couldn't keep up with the 3 chapters a day, plus all the journaling of my thoughts and prayers I like to do, plus teaching and being a single mom.  And that is fine.  I switched to a chapter a day.  I haven't given up yet, although it's going to take me years to get through the whole Bible.  The thing is, I'm starting to see that its so worth it.

Currently, I'm at the end of Exodus, the middle of Psalms, and the end of John.  And as I've slowly worked my way through, one thing that is really really sticking out to me is that God actually speaks to me!  I don't need 'help' understanding scriptures because I have the Holy Spirit living in me.  It's just crazy to me how 'alive' Jesus really is within them.  (aside, some months ago I blogged about someone whose story in the Voices of Martyrs convicted me because I realized I didn't recognize how alive Jesus was.  My prayer became that I would see how Jesus is alive in my life.  Prayer- being answered as we speak!)  I'm at the point in Exodus where most of what I am reading is how many cubits tall the tabernacle is etc.  I've never understood the point of these belabored details.  But I have been amazed as I've worked through it at how much there really is to learn.  Namely, God is so sovereign.  God CHOSE people and then ENABLED them with the skills to do this stuff.  Life can seem so daunting when you think of all the things you should be doing.  But you read that and realize God CHOSE me to do something that he is ENABLING me to have the skills to do.  That is God carrying my burdens for me.  That is God walking with me and leading me in all things.  And this is stuff I've learned from the building of the tabernacle!!!



And then recently I read about all the people willingly giving God loads and loads of gold, jewels, etc.  Not because they had to, just wanted to.  That is amazing and convicting.  Especially as an American.  I'm so addicted to fashion blogs and up and coming trends and music and pop culture and changing my hair color and vanity, vanity, vanity.  I've thought a lot about foreign missions here in the last couple of years as I've become obsessed with voices of the martyrs.  And one day, thats pretty much what I want to do.  But the thing that currently freaks me out about it is the loss of personal comfort and all my hobbies (see music and fashion).  I was so convicted of that this week.  But I hope that at least now that I am so strongly aware, at least I can start letting go.

I am currently reading "The Pursuit of God" by Tozer - highly recommend.  Chapter 2 deals with this so specifically.  There were other idols in my life the first 7 years of my Christian walk (another blog for another day), that I completely had the Abraham experience of being asked to put it to death.  Painful, gut wrenching, but I can honestly say I am free from those idols.  (Not that I don't have to continuously keep myself in Christ to avoid those resurfacing or anything...)  It's just crazy because as soon as you realize one is gone, another pops up.  And this I am struggling with now.  Except this time, I want to be willing to surrender it without have to walk the valley until I have no other option to surrender.  Hard to even consider when you have the lifetime American habit of consuming, consuming, consuming....

And so my prayers from those who read is this: that God would make me willing to surrender it all at a moments notice if that was necessary, that I would 'possess nothing' but realize that God is my only possession, and that I would be able to recognize where He wants me to be.  

And my challenge- if you have ever been afraid by the daunting task of reading through the Bible and how the heck you would make it through things like Leviticus- stop! being! afraid!  God really did put those in there for a reason- and you can actually learn so much.  It may just be one line out of the whole chapter- but that line will be powerful!  And honestly the reading through 3 sections is nice because it keeps it fresh :)  Try it!  You will never go back to sheer devotionals again.  Although I do recommend a study Bible to explain some things along the way though :)


And coming soon- I will write about how my Abraham experience, how God had me surrender what I held most on to, and the beauty of letting go and being filled by God....

Monday, July 2, 2012