Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Endeavor to Be Better

I’m in a phase of life where I’m trying…hard.  I’m trying to be a better person, wife, mom, employee, leader, and Christ follower.  I’m not succeeding so far.  I’m working to relax, have fun, and enjoy life.  I’m consciously trying not to clench my teeth and to relax my shoulders, daily behaviors that result in headaches and sore muscles and betray the constant anxiety within.  I’m trying to get back into the Bible, hence this blog.
Then life happens.  Kids get sick.  Kids don’t sleep; I don’t sleep.  I hurt someone’s feelings.  Someone makes me steaming, crying, red-faced angry—within minutes of my reading Scripture and praying.  So, I re-read the Scripture, and I find nothing that relates to my current situation.  I want to cry, eat a big bowl of pasta with fattening cream sauce, lie on a couch, under a blanket, and fall asleep to a chick flick.
But I’m at work…on a day I was supposed to take off but cannot, because I’m utterly swamped with tasks that must be done by tomorrow or Sunday.  I’ll leave work this evening, go home to two adorable kids, and watch them alone all night while my husband’s at a meeting.  I’m exhausted.
Life isn’t going to stop happening so that I can become a better person.  I must become a better person in the midst of life, maybe in spite of it.  I cry out to God for his help and his grace…and I go back to work.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

One Dose of Humility Coming Right Up

I should read Romans more often.  I stay away from it, because it’s complex.  I prefer the life application Paul in letters such as Philippians.  But this week I’m tackling Romans and getting a good dose of humility.
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking because futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:21)
I know of God; I’m not sure I’d say that I KNOW God.  Nonetheless, I give him too little glory and too little thanks.  God has given me the abilities to think, to analyze, to synthesize, yet my thinking is often futile.  Consequently, my words and actions become futile, too.
“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness…greed…envy…gossips…slanderers…boastful…faithless.” (Romans 1:28-31)
God has taught me so much, through life experience, through study, through his word, through his people.  But I forget.  I don’t retain that knowledge.  Like a student cramming for a test, I learn the knowledge of God in the moment, and then leave it behind.  I hope and pray God does not give me over to a depraved mind.  Yet, I am guilty of some of the “kinds of wickedness” Paul enumerates.
Thank you for all you have taught and given to me.  Continue imparting your knowledge to me.  Let me see glimpses of your glory.  Forgive me for futile thoughts and living.  Guide me to meaningful thinking, speaking, and doing.  Forgive me for my wickedness.  Don’t give up on me; don’t give me over to a depraved mind.  Thank you for humbling words that reorient my day.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wise and Fools

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.  That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.  Romans 1:14-15
Did Paul just call the Romans foolish?  I think he may have.  There’s a good way to set-up your future audience (or so Paul thought at the time)—call them fools.  I’m sure after receiving this letter, the Romans are okay that Paul never makes it to Rome to preach.
I understand where Paul’s coming from, though.  I think anyone who’s led a small group, taught a Sunday School class, or otherwise attempted ministry knows the obligation to minister to both the wise and the foolish.  Some people are drawn to the fools.  They’re driven by a desire to change people, to help fools become wise.  They’re compassionate, optimistic, hopeful leaders.  Others are drawn to the wise.  They’re driven by a desire to change the world through high-capacity, intelligent people.  They’re driven, potent, and energetic leaders. 
But we’re obligated to be both kinds of leaders. 
We’re obligated to both kinds of people.
We’ve been both kinds of people.
Lord, remind me of how often I am foolish.  Give me patience for others who behave foolishly.  Grant me your wisdom.

Monday, February 7, 2011

For His Name's Sake

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. Romans 1:5

We received grace and apostleship FOR his name’s sake.  Scripture doesn’t say, “For our personal fulfillment, we received grace and apostleship,” or, “For our joy and peace, we received grace and apostleship.”  We may get peaceful consciences and an inner joy from receiving grace, but that’s not why we receive it.  We may feel whole as we follow God as apostles and as we call others to obedient, faithful lives.  But that’s still not why. 
God extends his grace to us, even though we are grossly undeserving, for his name’s sake.   Seems a little self-centered, doesn’t it?  If I do something to further my name or make myself sound good, then that’s self-seeking.  That’s sinful.  But when God does something for his name’s sake, it’s not sinful.  My name is not worthy of praise and honor and glory.  God’s is.  “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7). 
May I bring glory to your name as I live in your grace, follow you, and try to draw more apostles to you.  May I mean it when I call you Lord.   May I address you in a manner worthy of your holiness.  Thank you for the gifts of your grace and the ability to follow you.  Amen.