Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ramblings of Brokenness

My heart is overwhelmed right now. It's like a heaviness pulling through my throat, down my chest, and just teetering atop my stomach. It aches, makes me want to gasp for a breath, but the air I gasp for brings no satisfaction.

I want to weep, there is a sadness in me like I cannot even describe, broken, weary, disturbed. I feel ruined.

I fear this is a byproduct of doing a study on revival and truth concurrently. Both are opening my eyes, and I am so heartbroken over what I see.

I feel a little like perhaps I understood how Isaiah felt.

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips,
and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

Isaiah 6:5

So much is on my heart. I am disheartened by so much that I see around me. Compromise, so destructive, such a bad witness, and it's rampant.

I don't just see it around me, I see it in my own life, and I hold to the Lord, praying He will help me through. I feel compelled to warn others, and then am grieved when others counter the truth, not with intention but in carelessness.

I am grieved... by my sin... sin in the church... the sin of the world.

My heart breaks for the lost, who live in sin's pleasures, not knowing the havoc they wreak on their own souls. My heart breaks for the believers who likewise dabble in sin for it's momentary pleasures, squashing the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. My heart aches when they lead others into the sinful way.

"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
1 Corinthians 10:23-24

We have to live our lives... differently... not only for our own sake, but for the sake of those watching us... dare I say... following us. And when we don't, we set huge stumbling blocks in front of others.

I proclaim the power of Christ is in me... the power of victory over sin and death, and then I live like a pauper, unable... unwilling to resist the temptation to walk in sin, away from my Savior. It is a choice.

It breaks my heart. When I see others doing it, I want to shout, to scream... "Stop!" Young people bombarded in the world with temptation, we have to throw them a lifeline, and we have to hold on to the rope, tie it tightly to the anchor of truth.

I have an unrest in my soul, no longer willing to exist in the world of "good enough" and "not that bad." I want freedom, and I want everyone else to find it too. The perfection of it eludes us until Christ's return, but is that excuse to settle?

If the world is darker, no matter how small my light may be, I long to let it shine, not under a bushel, but on a lampstand for all to see. And the more of us gathered high, the brighter we shine together, Christ in us, the hope of glory.

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:15-16

Forgive me for rambling, I cannot even fully put into words all my feelings and thoughts, but I know what the Lord has for me, and for all His children is something better, something brighter, if only we will not settle for compromise.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Seeking Him Together - To Obey

OBEDIENCE, that's the buzz word of the week. I just dropped my two younger kids off at church camp this afternoon, and of all the things I have on my hope list for the week, their obedience, without doubt, lands on the very top of my list. Over the last couple days the conversation has been somewhere between repeated and ongoing. I think it was on the way to church yesterday morning that the little kids were in the car with us and Neal told them, "Do you know the most important thing to do at camp? Have fun!" I of course, true to form couldn't help but correct him. "No," I said, "the most important thing is to obey your counselors and the other staff leaders at camp."

I told them the way to guarantee the most fun was by being very obedient, completely obedient. I talked about how their obedience would provide them with safety and security and give them the ability to make the most out of their very first camp experience. I assured them if they were not obedient, would they not only not have a good time, but if they were too disobedient they might not get to stay and enjoy the fun at all. I made sure they knew if Mommy got a call from camp, that would not be a good thing.

The thought that has been passing through my mind this past week is this, being a little disobedient is an awful lot like being a little bit pregnant. The fact of the matter is, you either you are or you aren't. As a girl who refuses to define life in the gray, the black and white has never been more bold than when you look at it that way. For someone who has perhaps had the tendency to look at disobedience in degrees up to now, this whole concept has been quite the "OUCH" moment (after moment after moment). And true to the entire process of this study so far in my life, my pastor had something to say in church on Sunday that has raised the bar on the concept we are studying. Here's a little piece of meat to get stuck in your teeth. Pastor Rick said yesterday, "Christian obedience means saying 'yes' to the Lord first and then asking 'what?'" Stop... don't let it choke you at first bite. Chew for a minute... now stick it in between your gum and your teeth and feel free to go back to it later. Yeah, been chewing all day.

Sigh. The fact of the matter is, just like my children at camp, my obedience in life makes it possible for me to better enjoy my life, to make the most of it, the most of my faith, the most of my giftings, the most of my time, finances, the list goes on and on and on.

Obedience is tough. Reading 1 Samuel 15, the account of Saul and his customized obedience made me think of conversations I seem to have repeatedly with my kids when they don't do exactly what I ask of them; and they always have their valid reasons for doing it their own way. I thought about how we should do a family devotional on this chapter of the bible. Then when I was asked to decide if I was more like the obedient Moses or Saul, I even found myself trying to fit into the mold of "more obedient than not," but the fact of the matter is there is no degree, it's an all or nothing game in obedience. Ouch! Maybe I should be giving this account a lot more consideration myself as well.

So I'm going to make a confession. On the bottom of page 132 there is a note written in the margin. It's about an area I know the Lord is calling me to an obedience. It's not a broadly defined area for all Christians, it's a specific directive between me and the Lord. It's a place of surrender, an issue just between me and him. Tomorrow will be the first day it's come up, and I was honestly thinking how I doubted I would be able to follow through, and then today I read these two sentences on page 137. "Each act of disobedience is a step away from God." Ugh. The knife went straight to the heart. The next line in the workbook then says this, "Likewise, each act of obedience is a step back toward Him."

So the question I now must address is this, tomorrow as I face this issue, will I walk toward the Lord or away from Him? I think it's interesting that tomorrow I am starting this study over again in my home with 4 other women face to face. (I will also still be continuing here with my blogger and Facebook friends.) I find myself wondering if six weeks from now when I have to revisit these pages how I will be able to answer the question about which direction I chose to walk. CH.O.SE to walk... Obedience is a choice people, no denying that truth.

So as I step back from that burning question, let's answer the questions our hostess Amber has posed for the lesson this week.

What blessings or consequences have you personally reaped from some act of obedience or disobedience in your life?This question is tough for me. I don't know if it's "part-timer's disease" or selective memory that is causing me difficulty to recall a single incident where I reaped the benefit/blessing of obedience, or consequence of disobedience. I know when I have walked in a general disobedience, I have reaped the consequences in my home and family. For example when I don't make time with the Lord a priority, the spiritual temperature of my home suffers. When the Lord isn't first (Exodus 20:3; Matthew 6:33) life doesn't run right, not in my home, not in my family, not in my marriage, workplace... again, a long list. As for the blessing of obedience, I can think of times when I have followed things the Lord specifically asked of me (unlike the my disobedience examples that he commands of us all). One in particular was when things first started to go awry in Ethan's adoption process. When it first went south we had just stepped into it and could have easily walked away. Neal and I went back to our hotel room in Oklahoma and sought the Lord together for what HE would have us do, and He told Neal and I to fight for our son. In that moment had we known what that meant, we probably would have disobeyed. No one would sign up for what we walked through without having the perspective of the Lord, but because we obeyed Him, our lives have been blessed in ways I cannot even begin to express.

Why is it so important that we obey God completely? Why is it not enough to obey some, or even most, of what He says?I think I covered this above in my intro for the most part. Obedience is an all or nothing deal. James 2:10 pretty much lays the whole thing out there as it says, For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. There is no "a little bit pregnant" and no "a little bit disobedient." The key thing for me to remember though, is very much in the way the camp counselors watching over my children this week know what's best for my kids because they can see beyond what my kids in their youth can see and understand, the Lord has a perspective far greater than mine. His wisdom is far beyond anything I can even comprehend. His laws, rules, directives all have a good plan and purpose for me at the core, and my obedience is completely for my good as well as His glory, which is even greater than the obedience these counselors (and sometimes I, myself) ask of my children which can sometimes be rooted in simple convenience. Much like Jake has grown and graduated from a kid at kids' camp, and now finds himself in the position of a "Counselor in Training" and will perhaps someday even graduate to the responsibility of lead counselor, I in life can grow as a disciple of Christ, growing in obedience, the more I obey, the more I will grow and the more can entrust to me.