Waiting

I have been learning a lot about waiting over the past few years, and waiting has taught me about seasons. If you are like me, you don’t pay attention anymore when someone brings up the verses in Ecclesiastes 3 about a season for everything because we’ve heard them so many times. But reading and living something out are two different things; I would rather gain knowledge by experience as opposed to just reading words on a page. There truly is a season for everything, not just generally, but specifically.

Kairos time is an exact opportune moment for something, whereas chronos time is just the sequential passing of time. If we want our lives to be lived out in kairos timing, we have to learn to wait. I like to imagine passageways for us to hop through that pass by us to where we must jump through them at just the right time or we will miss them.

There are a number of reasons for this, I believe. 1) Isaiah 40:31 says, “they that WAIT upon the Lord will renew their strength…” So many things in life threaten to sap us of our human strength, but if we wait on God’s timing for things we will be given strength to sustain us both in the waiting and in the completion of the tasks. 2) I believe God’s ultimate goal is to have us close to him and totally dependent on him. This gets into splitting hairs, but I believe God wants us close to him more than he wants us to bear fruit, and that the RESULT of us being close to God happens to be fruit. We get it backwards and want to bear fruit and accomplish things, quickly taking our eyes off of Jesus and putting them on ourselves and our accomplishments, even if we are attempting to accomplish things for God.

We all have dreams, goals, and desires, and I think they are placed there by God and that he delights in us fulfilling our God-given destinies. I think we underestimate just how much we can rely on God to direct our path whether that be in day to day errand-running around town, starting a business, applying for a job, having conversations with people or keeping our mouths shut sometimes, how to parent children individually as opposed to using the same methods for every member of the family, what movies we watch and books we read – I think God wants to be involved in it all and that we would experience much less stress and anxiety over decision-making if we would come to him even with the little things.

Decision-making could seem to be a side-step away from waiting, but I have found over the past few years that waiting is an integral part of decision-making if we want to be able to hop through those imaginary passageways God creates for us in order to experience the pure joy of kairos timing with him. For instance, you may feel the pressure of needing to run 5 errands in the course of the day, rushing out the door to try to get all of it done so that you can move on to whatever comes next on your list. What if God wants you to wait on an item or two because he knows there is a traffic jam? Maybe you need a job and the bills are piling up. God has the perfect job out there but what if the person holding the position right now hasn’t given two weeks notice yet?

Again, more than anything God wants us to remain close to him and dependent on him. For whatever reason, oftentimes he chooses to accomplish this through waiting so that our focus remains on him instead of our problems or to-do lists, knowing that staying focused on him will renew our strength. Plus, the more we remain focused on him the sharper our hearing becomes so when he says, “Okay! Now is the time to jump!” we can be confident we are hearing him and respond accordingly. He is a good father and he finds ways to speak to each of his children in a way that they begin to recognize it is him doing the talking and directing.

It never gets old recognizing how God speaks to me whether that is the understanding that I need to wait, or the nudge that it is time to act, and he offers little reassurances along the way to let me know I am on the right path. Sometimes these are just between me and him through nature or a “knowing” inside of me, other times it comes from something someone says to me or something I may read somewhere. So, as much as we are talking about waiting and seasons it is just as much about cultivating intimacy with God. That is always and will always be the bottom line between us and God.

Father God, thank you for anyone who reads this and I pray that they will recognize your gentle nudges, whispers, and encouragements throughout their day today.

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Cocoon

I sit down indian-style in the middle of the floor and scribble in the carpet with my finger. I have resisted coming here lately. I feel naked and distracted. I am tense and resistant. I am too composed. I need to do things so I feel productive. I can’t smile. Everything feels cold and stiff but I know something in me wants to be here.

 

I need to be still. Stop fidgeting. My finger stops. I close my eyes and hold my breath. I want you here but I don’t want to let go. I listen. I wait. I am trying to squint my way to you. I am grimacing like I’m in pain. I am anxious. I have it together. If I am not composed and in control then I will feel ashamed. If I let go I will feel like I need to apologize. I don’t want to show emotion and make you uncomfortable, Father. I need to relax.

 

Too much of me is still exposed to the openness. I bend my upper body toward the ground. I curl into a ball on my side and hug my knees to chest. I still feel unsettled trying to shelter myself. I need to relax my eyes and stop squinting. I breathe slowly and try to calm myself. I wait for the cocoon to come. The warmth.

 

Sometimes I like being a caterpillar. I return over and over. I stay there a little too long at times. But I sense the hunger. I vaguely remember what the wings feel like. And then I remember the process of building the cocoon and I cringe a little. Was it worth it last time? I think I just want to stay here. I still know you’re there somewhere, you just don’t feel as close as you could. No, it is always worth it when you change me. The metamorphosis. The cocoon is warm. Climbing out feels invigorating. The wings carry me effortlessly. I just don’t want to build that damn cocoon…

 

I listen. I want to close my ears but I also want them wide open. I know if I concentrate enough I can shut out the world. No, that isn’t quite right. I need to stop trying and forcing. The world will stay. I need to quiet myself and open my heart ears. I need to let go. The chaos is real. The chaos is what brings me to you. I don’t need you to take it away. Thank you, Jesus. I want to be with you. Thank you, Jesus. There are many things I don’t understand. I am scared. Can I trust you, Father?

 

You have been refining me lately and it hurts. I have been resisting building the cocoon. But it brings me to you. I allow my lips to smile. I relax more. I do not have it all together. I am not strong. I am a mess. I am poor in spirit. I am hungry for you, Abba. Not by might. Not by power. By your Spirit. Thank you for grace that covers.

 

The warmth is coming. The tears come. I know you will catch me once I let go. The fire is stirring. You know everything about me and you love me. Thank you, Abba. I don’t want to hold on. You teach me not to condemn myself. It is okay to laugh. It is okay to cry. It is okay to smile. It is okay to relax. It is okay to dance. You know me. Thank you, Jesus. You can have me.

 

I am bare but I do not feel naked or ashamed because the cocoon is forming. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Daddy. I know you hold me. Thank you, Jesus. I relax and my heart urgently reaches for you. I don’t know anything except you. I am not scared. I finally let go and my heart is dancing. The fire is growing. Tears continue. I am coming back home. Breathe out. Thank you, Jesus.

 

You are a consuming fire. The flames are roaring. The tears are pouring out. A rush. Unwrap my arms and stretch out my legs because the cocoon is here now. I am not my shelter.

 

Quiet. The flames crackle and hum. You hold me in your lap. You are gentle. You knock. You do not barge. We stay here for a while.

 

You whisper to me. You quiet my soul. You teach me to forgive. You heal me. You make me whole again. You give me desires. You let me create like you create. You remind me how to dance. You make me carefree. You make me jubilant. Thank you, Jesus.

 

I am your beloved. I am your child. You delight in me. Thank you, Jesus.

 

It is almost time to go.  I can feel them on my back.

 

Freedom.

Grandma’s Cabin

Newland Welcome Sign
Okay, honestly I took this picture on my way home from the cabin.

I am back from a great time at my Grandma’s cabin in Newland, NC! The plan was for me to leave Friday morning at 8am and get there by 10:30am. Well, for some reason I could NOT sleep Thursday night. I’m still not exactly sure why. Some combination of what we ate for dinner, the fact that our room stunk from painting the walls, Aaron snoring, and I might have drank coffee too late in the day I really can’t remember. All I know is I got out of bed around 3am and took some blankets and my pillow and moved into the living room to see if that would help. I finally fell asleep around 3:30 and woke up around 6 or 6:30. I went back to bed for a little bit after Aaron left. The point is, I didn’t leave on time. I left at 9. My cousin, Jena, called that morning to talk about me going to the cabin and to catch up on “stuff”. She was always my NC buddy when our Grandma would take pairs of grandkids to the cabin each summer when we were growing up.
So anyway, I got to the cabin around 11:15am. My grandma was out finishing up some errands so I talked to Grandpa Bob for a while as he worked on the fire and shared some wisdom with me. He always has something to share! Some of the family rolls their eyes at this but I like it. I figure he has lived a lot more life than me so maybe I’ll learn something.

Grandpa Bob
Grandpa Bob coming in from the cold.

Grandma Bonnie arrived within 15 minutes or so and asked Grandpa if he had lunch ready yet. Har har har. Then she gave everyone the game plan. She would put lunch in the oven and we would go down to the garden to dig up some potatoes. They saved their potato digging until after I got there so I could help. Haha. I didn’t mind. I like being in the garden. OH! One of the first things my Grandma announced when she arrived and after saying hello was that it was going to snow tomorrow. Uh, what?! I was not prepared for that. Oh well. Needless to say, it was pretty chilly. So we all bundled up to head to the garden. Then we piled into the golf cart (Dinah the dog, too) and bee-bopped down to the garden.
(I just have to pause and say writing this post is making me laugh because anytime Jena and I would go to the cabin with Grandma and Grandpa when we were younger, Grandma would always tell us to make sure we keep a journal! Haha. I thought to myself as I was leaving the cabin this time around that I better hurry up and write or type everything that happened so I don’t forget!)
We spent an hour to an hour and a half in the garden I think. We dug up a row of potatoes. Grandpa gathered some corn. We got some green beans, too, and then right before we left we grabbed some collard greens. As we were digging potatoes Grandma and I talked about anything and everything. I think the conversation really got going when I asked my Grandma what she would say some of her best decisions or investments of time or money were and then what her regrets were or things she wished would have happened differently. That just snowballed into all kinds of conversations that continued the whole time I was there. faith, politics, our family, our country, etc.
(Pause to take the dogs out!)
Honestly, I was hungry when I arrived at the cabin so I was starving at this point. We were about done anyway but I told my Grandma I was dying and needed food haha. So we hopped back on the golf cart with our boxes and buckets of produce and headed back up to the cabin. On the way back (and the way to the garden, now that I think about it.) Grandma pointed out little landmarks in the creek that we all named as kids; places like Picnic Rock! I remember going there to write in my journal. Once we got back to the cabin we ate lunch. Acorn squash, potatoes, and cornbread, I think. The potatoes were from the garden but they were the ones we had just picked. We talked some more over lunch.
Then Grandma and I headed out to thrift stores after lunch. Oh, that got started because soon after I arrived that morning I realized I totally forgot to pack any jeans so I was going to ask my Grandma about finding something cheap at a thrift store. She said she wanted to go to a few anyway so we could make a trip. We asked Grandpa if he wanted to stay or go. Not surprisingly, he chose to stay so we said goodbye and headed out. I think it stayed in the 40s all day Friday, somewhere around there. The main store Grandma wanted to take me to, a thrift store in Crossnore, was closed, so we moved on to another one. I can’t remember the name of that one. Grandma gave me some money to spend. I really appreciated that and it made me smile because my mom tells me every now and then how Grandma likes to slip her and my aunt a little spending money sometimes when they go shopping.
So at this second store I eventually found some jeans I liked that were long enough. I also ended up finding some boots and a skirt. All for 11.50, I think. I was trying things on for quite a while and kept finding more and more to try on so Grandma had finished her browsing and was waiting on me. We moved onto the next store she wanted to visit, Ram’s Rack, and they were closed too. We decided to try again the next day. We ran into the grocery store, Ingles, really quick to get some soda and ice cream.
When we got back home we got our stuff inside and then headed out to a different little garden closer to the cabin. We were hunting for green tomatoes because we were going to do fried green tomatoes for dinner! We also picked up some apples that had already fallen off the tree on the way into the cabin.
So, that night I made fried green tomatoes for us for dinner. That was my first time cooking them and eating them. They were actually pretty good. We had cornbread and we might have had one other thing with dinner but I can’t remember. We talked about all kinds of things over dinner again and moved into doing dishes and turning on the tv to listen to O’Reilly in the background. We got to talking about something and Grandma busted out her Bible dictionary and Interlinear Greek Bible and a guide to the Old Testament. Eventually we made some rootbeer floats and settled in front of the tv. Everybody but me fell asleep watching tv and reading books. Hmm…

My Room at the Cabin
My Room at the Cabin

I slept really well that night but I woke up in the morning sick. My throat was killing me but I still had energy at that point so luckily it didn’t ruin the trip. I had been fighting off getting sick for what seems like two or three weeks leading up to this trip so I think I was finally relaxed enough that my body thought it could be sick without slowing me down in the middle of all my busyness. At least that’s what my mom says about when we would get sick on school breaks! Our bodies were just waiting for us to slow down so they could have time to be sick without messing up our schedules.
Anyway, back to the trip. Everyone grabbed their own breakfast that morning. I had a banana and an oatmeal cream pie. I think Grandpa had donuts. Grandma said she usually tries to have granola bars and fruit these days. We decided we would get ready and do our thrift store shopping first and then come back and have my sewing lesson for the last few hours I was there. Oh yeah, I brought a sewing machine my grandma gave me to have her teach me. My mom has sat down with me a few times over my life but I’ve had a slow start with sewing so I decided to bring one of my sewing machines with me for this trip and get some more experience.
So we all finished our breakfasts and I got myself ready to go. We said goodbye to Grandpa Bob again and headed back out to Crossnore. Grandpa Bob was born in a hospital out there. I ended up spending the most time looking at furniture because Aaron and I have been looking for a few things. I found this really cool enclosed desk cabinet thing. Really technical, I know. I don’t know what to call those things. From the outside it looks like it could be a wardrobe or entertainment center but when you open it up it has a desk set up inside. Anyway, I really liked it so I told Aaron about it and took some pictures. I was coming back to Newland the very next Wednesday to pick my Grandma up and I was thinking I could come back in the Jeep instead of the Honda and bring it home! Me and my crazy ideas. But Aaron was good with it so I think that’s what we’ll do. We just need to check to make sure one part of it isn’t broken first. I tried on some clothes there but nothing worked out. My grandma and I were supposed to meet at the books at the end so we headed over there and I found a book Aaron and I had been wanting and a few others for me. We checked out and headed to our next stop: I guess it was the Ram’s Rack. This was a nice little thrift store too. The one at Crossnore was really nice. At Ram’s Rack we looked around for a while and I ended up finding 3 skirts and a few books. My Grandma found where they had free magazines to take so I picked out some. Then we checked out and headed back to the cabin! Well we stopped at the grocery store first to get some barbecue chicken for lunch.
When we got home Grandpa had the greens cooked. The chicken we picked up was already warm so we sat down and had greens, chicken, and cornbread. Oh, I forgot about this earlier but I told my grandparents about having honey on the cornbread at our first meal and they liked it. That idea was from Aaron so I’ll have to let him know.

Sewing with Grandma
Sewing with Grandma

After lunch we set up our sewing machines. Grandma showed me how to get the thread set up. Then I had to pick out fabric because she was going to teach me how to do a 9-square piece. I guess it is basically quilting in a sense but you can repeat the squares to make different things like place mats, table runners, etc. So anyway, I took forever to pick my fabrics. Hey, that was a difficult decision! Even thinking about it now there were still different color combinations I could have picked that I liked. Hmm…
We worked on my project until I had to leave (about two hours). It was a lot of fun. I am slowly getting more comfortable with everything that goes into sewing – all the measuring and cutting and planning it out and then actually sewing the stuff. I got a blister from the scissors I was using. Bummer. They were right-handed and pretty stubborn as far as movement goes. You wouldn’t think the right-hand left-hand thing would make a difference but it hurt pretty bad. I was close to tears. Not to complain, but I wouldn’t have expected it to hurt so bad either. Anyway, I left everything set up there and I’m going to work on it more when I bring my Grandma back after my mom’s wedding, then take it all home with me.
I already had my car packed at that point and Grandma Bonnie and Grandpa Bob had loaded my car up with potatoes, canned green beans, and canned jam. We said goodbye and I headed by the Crossnore thrift store on my way out to have them hold the desk for me. Once I was headed for home I drove through a Wendy’s for dinner and was on my way. I was pretty tired at that point and feeling pretty sick!
I got home and Aaron was out finishing grocery shopping. He did it this week since I was gone over payday and he also made a big dent in our apartment painting. He got through most of a to-do list I left him and that was all with him finding out he would have to work some on Saturday. Once he got back we unloaded both the cars and spent the rest of the night swapping all of our stories from our two days apart, haha. There was a lot to tell!
I am really glad I got to make this trip to the cabin. It was a much-needed escape and it reminded me how grateful I am for all my family and how much I love them. I was glad Jena called me, too. Now I’ll get to see everyone in less than a week for my mom’s wedding!
See you guys soon. Oh, and it did flurry a little bit Saturday morning! It was pretty.

Restoration

I want to offer some encouragement. But first, it has recently been brought to my attention what encouragement really is. In one dictionary, “to encourage is to give active help or to raise confidence to the point where one dares to do what is difficult.” We have lost that definition. I think oftentimes we mistake flattery for encouragement and the Bible speaks against flattery. The definition of flattery is “excessive and insincere praise, especially that given to further one’s own interests.”

Proverbs 29:5 says, “A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.”

Psalm 5:9 says, “For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is destruction; their throat is an open tomb; they flatter with their tongue.”

That is pretty strong language. So, we are not called to offer each other meaningless fluff in order to manipulate ourselves into good standing or just say what people want to hear. We are called to literally place courage in each other to do difficult things.

God has always been in the business of restoration and reconciliation. He desires relationship with us and that is why we were created.

But things got screwed up starting way back in the garden of Eden. Ever since then, God has been patient with us, slowly drawing us to himself to restore us to a right relationship. We inherited a sin nature from our ultimate parents, Adam and Eve. There is no one who comes from the womb loving God. We are born basically hating God and He begins the work of restoring us to that right relationship.

As we come to realize this more and more, we are sometimes crippled by shame due to our pasts. This is where we get to the meat. God is bigger than my past and your past, no matter what is contains. I have personally been wrestling lately against feeling hopeless and eternally chained to my past.

We have to understand that the whole point of this life is glorifying God and living in appreciation because God wants us despite our pasts. He rescued us while we were still sinners. He did not wait for us to clean up our act. My favorite verse lately has been Joel 2:25.

God says, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.”

God can restore anything. By ourselves, it is true that we are worthless and lost in sin. But when we are washed in the blood of Christ, God can look at us and call us beautiful.

To fully benefit from this, we must come to terms with the last part of that verse: “…My great army which I sent among you.” You see, what God is restoring is destruction that He Himself sent. That army was one sent by God because His people were disobeying Him. So what was the point of that process? When we are disobedient, God disciplines us because that is what a loving Father should do.

After God disciplines us, he waits for us to be brokenhearted over our sin and repent. Repent means to turn away from sin or change our mind about our sin.

Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart–These, O God, You will not despise.”

So the restoration comes when we are brokenhearted over our sin and have a heart that desires to change. Salvation comes by the grace of God through faith. Restoration comes through a broken heart. The purpose of our lives is the good works God has planned for us in order to glorify Himself.

Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

God saves us by no merit of our own. That is clear. But once you become a child of God, he treats you accordingly which includes instructing and disciplining us. Proverbs 12:1 says, “whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. “

When we try to avoid admitting mistakes due to pride or to protect ourselves, we block God’s work in our lives. God desires intimacy in our relationship with Him just like we desire it in our human relationships. Nakedness before God is scary but it is where restoration takes place.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Once you have confessed and accepted God’s forgiveness, repent. Repair. Take back what you can take back. If you don’t know where to start, start with thoughts and move to actions. Don’t use human logic and emotion to determine what can or can’t be fixed. When Adam and Eve fell into sin in the garden of Eden, their minds went with them. We cannot trust our minds when they are left to their own devices. They will lead us to sin. We have to learn to actively replace our own thought patterns with God’s promises and commands. Start with the thoughts that creep in and whisper lies to you; lies about how your past has ruined everything and made you unlovable and the situation beyond repair. Start with the lies that God’s commands are life-sucking, outdated, nonsensical. Start with the lies that you can do whatever you want because God will forgive you and ultimately following Him is too hard.

Isaiah 55:9
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;
Who can know it?

Numbers 23:19
God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

When God does reveal our sin to us, we should not condemn ourselves. Rather, we should repent, rejoice that He is working on us, and obey Him. When Jesus says, “if you love me you will obey my commands” in John, it is not a manipulative command. He is saying that when we truly enter into a relationship with Him and experience His love we can’t help but want to please Him. Obedience leads to a fulfilled life.

Romans 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Romans 6:1-3
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.

Micah 7:19
He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

John 16:33
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

The Full Gospel

So, today is Good Friday and Sunday is Easter. Just thought I’d share something I read lately. I typed up a little intro of my own thoughts but then I deleted it. I’ll just leave it with the excerpt from the book.

This is part of a chapter from David Platt’s book, Radical.

“This is the gospel. As long as you and I understand salvation as checking off a box to get to God, we will find ourselves in the meaningless sea of world religions that actually condemn the human race by exalting our supposed ability to get to God. On the other hand, when you and I realize that we are morally evil, dead in sin, and deserving of God’s wrath with no way out on our own, we begin to discover our desperate need for Christ.
Our understanding of who God is and who we are drastically affects our understanding of who Christ is and why we need him. For example, if God is only a loving Father who wants to help his people, then we will see Christ as a mere example of that love. We will view the Cross as just a demonstration of God’s love in which he allowed Roman soldiers to crucify his Son so that sinful man would know how much he loves us.
But this picture of Christ and the Cross is woefully inadequate, missing the entire point of the gospel. We are not saved from our sins because Jesus was falsely tried by Jewish and Roman officials and sentenced by Pilate to die. Neither are we saved because Roman persecutors thrust nails into the hands and feet of Christ and hung him on a cross.
Do we really think that the false judgment of men heaped upon Christ would pay the debt for all of humankind’s sin? Do we really think that a crown of thorns and whips and nails and a wooden cross and all the other facets of the crucifixion that we glamorize are powerful enough to save us?
Picture Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. As he kneels before his Father, drops of sweat and blood fall together from his head. Why is he in such agony and pain? The answer is not because he is afraid of crucifixion. He is not trembling because of what the Roman soldiers are about to do to him.
Since that day countless men and women in the history of Christianity have died for their faith. Some of them were not just hung on crosses; they were burned there. Many of them went to their crosses singing.
One Christian in India, while being skinned alive, looked at his persecutors and said, ‘I thank you for this. Tear off my old garment, for I will soon put on Christ’s garment of righteousness.’
As he prepared to head to his execution, Christopher Love wrote a note to his wife, saying, ‘Today they will sever me from my physical head, but they cannot sever me from my spiritual head, Christ.’ As he walked to his death, his wife applauded while he sang of glory.
Did these men and women in Christian history have more courage than Christ himself? Why was he trembling in that garden, weeping and full of anguish? We can rest assured that he was not a coward about to face Roman soldiers. Instead he was a Savior about to endure divine wrath.
Listen to his words: ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.’ The ‘cup’ is not a reference to a wooden cross; it is a reference to divine judgment. It is the cup of God’s wrath. (Footnote here references Matthew 26:39, Psalm 75:8, Isaiah 51:22, Jeremiah 25:15, Revelation 14:10)
This is what Jesus is recoiling from in the garden. All God’s holy wrath and hatred toward sin and sinners, stored up since the beginning of the world, is about to be poured out on him, and he is sweating blood at the thought of it.
What happened at the Cross was not primarily about nails being thrust into Jesus’ hands and feet but about the wrath due your sin and my sin being thrust upon his soul. In that holy moment, all the righteous wrath and justice of God due us came rushing down like a torrent on Christ himself. Some say, ‘God looked down and could not bear to see the suffering that the soldiers were inflicting on Jesus, so he turned away.’ But this is not true. God turned away because he could not bear to see your sin and my sin on his Son.
One preacher described it as if you and I were standing a short hundred yards away from a dam of water ten thousand miles high and ten thousand miles wide. All of a sudden that dam was breached, and a torrential flood of water came crashing toward us. Right before it reached our feet, the ground in front of us opened up and swallowed it all. At the Cross, Christ drank the last drop, he turned the cup over and cried out, ‘It is finished.’
This is the gospel. The just and loving Creator of the universe has looked upon hopelessly sinful people and sent his Son, God in the flesh, to bear his wrath against sin on the cross and to show his power over sin in the Resurrection so that all who trust in him will be reconciled to God forever.”

Metro Ministries and Bill Wilson

I did not write this. I am just reposting it on my blog! :o)

Click here if you want to see more of the website.

Abandoned As A Child
As a child, Pastor Bill experienced the pain and hopelessness of abandonment. One day, as he walked down a street with his mother, they stopped to sit for a while. She instructed him to sit there and wait for her to return. He sat and waited for three days straight. She never returned. A Christian gentleman who had seen Bill stranded and alone stopped and picked him up. It was here that Bill’s relationship with God began.

Mission to Help Hurting Children
Out of the pain, impoverishment and isolation of his own abandonment, Bill developed a heart of compassion for suffering children everywhere. From the ghettos of America to the garbage dumps of Manila, Bill has sought to rescue hurting children.

Founding of Metro Ministries
Pastor Bill established Metro Ministries in 1980 in what was one of Brooklyn’s roughest neighborhoods, the Bushwick community, most commonly known for its history of gang violence, crime, drugs, and poverty.

Here, violence is a way of life and a constant threat. Pastor Bill has been beaten, stabbed and shot in the face. Yet, he perseveres and refuses to leave the area or give up on the children growing up in such an environment. Because of that, his efforts have made a difference, not only in the lives of children but in the community as well.

Due to the success of Metro’s programs, President George Bush, Sr. appointed Pastor Bill to serve on the National Commission on America’s Urban Families in 1991. Metro’s influence was also identified as a factor in the noticeable reduction of crime in the Bushwick community and the organization was featured on ABC’s Nightline.
Today, Pastor Bill travels widely, speaking in churches nationally and internationally each week. He is frequently featured on Christian television networks throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. And his programs, curriculum and techniques are being duplicated in cities all over the world. However one thing remains the same. Every Saturday, Pastor Bill is there in the heart of the urban jungle in Brooklyn, driving the school bus to pick up boys and girls for Sunday School.

Exercise – Obsession, Dirty Word, or Moderation

My last blog post was about idols and the first two on the list were “good health” and “physical appearance”. See that blog post if you want some insight as to how to know if you have made these things an idol.

Also before I start, some (not all) pictures I included *should* be linked to other blog posts about exercise. They are not mine and I haven’t read them fully to make sure they’re not crazy, but they could provide more resources for you!

Next, here is my confession: I really struggle to exercise regularly, and this struggle comes from my lack of self-discipline! A few things have happened over the last 5-6 years:
1) I graduated from high school where I was constantly involved in at least one and often multiple sports that kept me active. I didn’t even have to think about exercising because there were practices, sometimes mandatory time in the weight room, and then obviously the games. I never fully jumped on the gym bandwagon in college.
2) I hate, hate, HATE, how many girls and women in our country have body image issues! I saw how many people were getting sucked into exercise, counting calories, eating disorders as a means of control and to make themselves feel better and it really made me sad. So what did I do? Made sure I did the exact opposite, which is almost never the way to handle a situation, I have to say. I think there is a time and place for extreme measures, especially when we know our weaknesses. (I think I will do a post later about “personal legalism”.) But so often we react to things by hopping clear across the spectrum to the other extreme when that isn’t necessary or even productive.
3) I join in with the rest of the world in trying to convince myself, “There’s no time!” This is a lie. We make plenty of time for other activities that are not necessary. I do not always manage my time well and do not choose the activities that matter over the ones that are more fun or convenient.
4) I am lazy. ‘Nuff said.
So there is my struggle in a nutshell. Up until recently, I have chosen to not spend the time and energy it would take to start working through this area in my life.

I will now insert a disclaimer:
1) I know I am skinny. (People who are overweight are judged so openly that it is just accepted and “funny” and they are assumed to be lazy. People who are thin are also judged and not taken seriously and despised… None of these are biblical attitudes. Just food for thought.)
2) I know I may not struggle with the same exact things that you do.

But I also know a few more things:
1) We tend to dismiss advice when it comes from someone who isn’t exactly like us or hasn’t had the same experiences. Prov 1:5 says, “let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance”
2) Physical training is valuable to God. 1 Tim 4:8 says, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” Physical training is in fact of some value for many reasons but it is not the most important thing and should not be made an idol.
3) The First Lady launched a campaign to decrease obesity for a reason… it is a problem in our country!
4) My husband and I have just recently discussed how technology and our overall attitude of get more results for less work has slowly affected our society. I will be the first to stand up and say I love technology and my dishwasher, but really, we are a bunch of lazy, unmotivated, undisciplined, selfish individuals! Seriously. I say that in love. Who wants to be those things? Prov. 14:23 says, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

And here is a list of reasons to exercise from the Mayo Clinic website. They can be found with more details about each one here.
1) Exercise improves your mood. (see website for details) My cousin, Jena, over at Life is Beachy Keen often mentions how her evening runs help her recover from a stressful day at work.
2) Exercise combats chronic diseases. (see website for details)
3) Exercise helps you manage your weight. (see website for details)
4) Exercise boosts your energy level. (see website for details)
5) Exercise promotes better sleep. (see website for details)
6) Exercise can put the spark back in your sex life. (see website for details… at your own risk!)
7) Exercise can be – gasp – fun!

I think everyone can find at least one thing on that list that they could benefit from.

I alternate between trips to our apartment complex gym and doing these YouTube videos from home. I am attempting to work out at least 3 days a week for 30-60 minutes. I recommend these videos because they leave me little room for excuses. Even with the apartment gym sometimes I have to traipse through the snow to get over there. There’s my excuse! With these videos, I can do one in between loads of laundry right in my home. Everyone has what works best for them and yours may not be YouTube videos. All I’m sayin’ is find what works for you instead of finding excuses!

Like I pointed out at the beginning, I have really struggled in this area in my very recent past. However, I would go so far as to say it is a sin to not care for the bodies God has entrusted to us for this short period of time (compared to eternity). When something is a part of God’s will for us and/or His commands to all of us, I believe that is when we apply this verse:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13

I want to take care of the body God has given me, I want to look good for my husband, and I want to have more energy to do my other tasks well throughout the day and get more done! If my motivation is to please God and make His priorities my priorities, I fully believe He will give me everything I need to accomplish what I set out to accomplish. I do NOT think this verse means I can expect God to help me do anything my selfish motives cause me to pursue. I may achieve them, but outside of God’s will. Different post, different time! :o) I just hate when that verse is abused!

I am hoping to discuss discipline and time management in upcoming posts so check back in for some encouragement and especially to hold me accountable!

I am linking up to Living Well Wednesdays!