Monday, January 31, 2011

Meat

For the last several weeks our pastor has been preaching a series of messages entitled "Radically following Jesus." There have been a lot of really good and memorable stuff here. These are a series of messages that are moving my faith forward. They are changing the way I see Christianity. So I thought I would share a few of these thoughts below.

The purpose of salvation is to reproduce. (We aren't just supposed to be saved, sit back, and wait on heaven. More than we aren't supposed to, the entire point of salvation is the opposite of that.)

Christ has full reign over the things in my life... that I have been most comfortable in giving him. (Is this what we think? Do we comfort ourselves with the notion that we have given it "all" to Jesus? Is that really true or is it just what we are comfortable giving him?)

"Our cross" is not our issues that we refuse to give to God. It is what happens when we are surrendered to God. (The cross was torture, humiliation, the death penalty, so why do we think our human frailties that we refuse to consider changing have anything to do with the cross.)

Cross isn't about me, it's about God's glory, not saving me from my sin. (We can make anything selfish and self-centered can't we? I managed to make the cross about me instead of about God. That one hit me like a ton of bricks Sunday.)

Sin isn't the bad things. It is wanting to do them. (We persist in our childish definitions of these things and it limits our walk with God. Sin is just the bad stuff we do, so don't do bad stuff don't sin. Hardly! Jesus himself tells otherwise in his sermon on the mount. Our intentions matter as much as our actions.)

Gospel is the power of God for salvation. (It is not just a story or a series of verses that get someone saved. It is much more than that!)

Salvation is not a one time decision. (It is a lifestyle and a continuous process whereby you commit to a continuous process of purification by the refiner's fire. That sounds nice and we can sing about it even, but that isn't an easy process. The heat is turned up on us. Our bad stuff comes to the surface, so we have to admit it is there and then admit that we can't do anything about it. Then ask God to take it away. Are we doing that?)

The suffering of the cross wasn't the nails, etc. It was our sin being thrust on to the Son of God, taking God's wrath upon himself. God turned away because of our sin. (We make the suffering of Jesus into a purely human suffering. However, Jesus was human AND God. While he did suffer physically, the more important and more difficult suffering was the taking of ALL our sins on himself. Thereby taking God's wrath. God couldn't look at his son while he was dying because of us!)

We need to want God most! More than his blessings and the things of God. (What do you want more the "benefits" of Christianity and God' blessing or God? We know what the answer should be, but what really is your answer? That was another hard one on Sunday.)

The opposite of giving glory to God is selfishness. (If we aren't doing it, saying it, thinking it for the glory of God, then it is for us. How often then is it for us?)

Our confidence in sharing the Word is grounded in God's sovereignty not in our savvy, not in our intellectual capacities. (Why are we so worried about talking to God to others? He tells us to and he does the hard work. We just have to open our mouths and let him talk. Note I said let him talk, not let us opine. Refer back to the previous note if you aren't sure about talking or not.)

Showing the Word enhances our message when sharing the Word. People want to see Jesus with skin on. (Make sure that you are showing the Word. That is the first part of sharing the Word, sharing our actions to the glory of God.)

I don't know if I have explained these the right way or fully explained the impact these had on me. I'll trust God to use these words as you need. I'm sure there is still much I can learn from these words, but these are my first reactions. I hope they challenge you as much as they have challenged me.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Light: Part 4

Psalms 56:13 "For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life."

Isaiah 2:5 "Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord."

Both of these mention light and walking. We need to be walking in the light which comes from God. That light will show us the way to keep from stumbling and from dying. We can not see the way to walk apart from the Lord. How many times have we felt like we were stumbling and didn't know where we were going? In those times, were we talking to the Lord? Were we asking him where we were going?

Do we know people that are stumbling? Are we inviting them to walk with us like they did in Isaiah?

Let us make sure that we and those in our sphere of influence are walking in the light. Walking in the dark just gets us and those around us injured and lost. More than just a good idea, this is something that God expects us to do. Psalms tells us that he delivered us from that so we can walk in the light. He did not save us for us to sit still or to continue wandering around in the dark. We are expected to look to him and keep moving forward.

As a side note, I do believe that sometimes the light only shows us the first step and God leaves the rest in shadows to see if we are really going to trust him.

This covers a few of the ideas, but I always think of this song when I talk about walking in the light.

Friday, January 28, 2011

What little boys are made of...

Just when you think you have something figured out, they throw something new at you.  I know this is true with parenting, but I imagine it's true with just about everything.  Ben will turn 2 next month.  I wonder where the time has gone and where my baby has gone.  But I think mostly I wonder, what am I going to do with this little boy.  2 seems to be his threshold into boyhood.  Of course, some things about him have always been little boy like, but recently it seems like everything just screams little boy.  I guess that's a good thing considering he is a little boy.  :)

What really set me to thinking about this was the other night at his gymnastics class.  I was watching a couple other little girls.  Their mothers would tell them what to play on and they did it.  I would suggest something to Ben and he would run by it and keep going.  The other mothers told them to hang on this bar or climb this wall and they would.  (with help obviously.)  I suggested that to Ben and he wanted nothing to do with it.  When it came our turn to play in the pit, Ben ran up to, said "Ready, Set, Go" and jumped in.  The little girls weren't quite so daring.  I signed him up for the 2 year old class, but I was wondering if that is the best idea.  Is he ready?  The class is much more structured.  The pre-2 class is just running around and seeing how things work.  2-3 is with parents, but led by teachers.  They use certain apparatus certain ways.  Boys are much more independent, do it my way, take charge, take a risk kind of people.  And good thing they are.  Otherwise our great great great great great grandpas wouldn't have gone out and fought wild animals for our food.  Girls are much more able to be lead, think about the risks involved, see the big picture kind of people.  And good thing they are.  Otherwise our great great great great great grandmas wouldn't have told her husband to take the gun and don't try to fight the animals bare handed.

What does that have to do with a 2 year olds gym class?  Everything!  The girls are ready to listen to the teacher, play on the one apparatus, and play they way they are told to do.  I'm not sure Ben is there yet.  I don't think he is ready to give up running around and doing it his way.  So what do I do?  Try to force him to be "more like the girls" or just drop the class?  My immediate decision is to wait and see what happens, but if he isn't ready then what?  I think I'm going to drop the class until he is a little older and ready to give in a little more.  I understand that it is important for him to learn to do as he is told and he does at home and with baby sitters and what not.  In this one case, I don't think he should be made to give up running around and jumping on things.

Of course these are generalizations and there can be girls just as head strong as Ben and other boys are.  By the same token, there are boys that can be less head strong and more willing to listen.  And of course whether your child is more head strong or less head strong does not make them better or worse and I am making no value judgments about the head strong"ness" of a child.  These are simply my observations and thoughts.

One last note:  His feat of strength and daring for today is to stand on my stomach, say, "Ready, Set, Go" and jump off.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Light: Part 3

Psalms 27:1 "The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear?"

Isaiah 49:6 "he says: 'It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."

We have talked about the Lord being light and about light as clothing. This week we see light as a part of salvation or involved in the process of salvation. I'll start with the part in Isaiah. Reading the footnote in my Bible, this passage is sometimes referred to as the Great Commission of the Old Testament. I didn't know that, but it completely makes sense. I'm not going to comment on the first part because I really don't know what that could be talking about. So I'm going to focus on the last part that makes the most sense to me. We see light as a part of the process of salvation. His salvation will be accompanied by light. In this case specifically, it is for the Gentiles. This says to me that they are currently in darkness. If so, they would not be able to 'see' salvation without that light. In order to find salvation, there must be a light. That would be Jesus in us. With this light, we are supposed to drive out darkness in order for others to find salvation.

How can we do this? Look at Psalms. The Lord. His light shows us his salvation and with that, what do we need to worry about? If we have all that, we should be wanting to share it. That takes us back to the Isaiah verse. Light illuminates, obviously! In this case, light is illuminating the process of salvation. There is so much to this one word!

Are we living the dream?

With today being Dr. King's birthday and having to teach today, I had a few thoughts on him and our world today.  I know this can be a sensitive subject and I sincerely hope that I offend no one with my thoughts and opinions.

Normally, we do not have school on Dr. King's birthday, but even so as the day approaches, I usually think, "Is there anyway I can tie this in to Spanish?"  I have yet to come up with a way to do that, so the day passes without much fanfare in my classroom.  And yes I could just talk about it even though it has nothing to do with my subject area simply because it is important.  However, I have been told in the past by administrators that everything I teach should be related to my subject area and they really mean EVERYTHING.  So if I can't relate it, I don't teach it.  This is the category into which this holiday normally falls.  However, today since we were in school, I took the rebellious stance of simply talking about it because it was important.  So in a couple classes we listened to the "I have a dream" speech and a couple others.  I asked the students to think about how we are or are not living that dream. Since I asked, I began thinking about this as well.

To answer the question, 'how are we living 'the dream'?' one simply needs to take a quick look into the history of the civil rights movement and see how far we have come.  So this question didn't really interest me.  The one that interested me more was, 'how are we not living 'the dream'?'.  I have a few thoughts about that.

I wonder if we are living 'the dream' when students and parents choose to celebrate this day not by educating themselves, but in protest by skipping school.

I wonder if we are living 'the dream' when I as a white woman feel uncomfortable even talking favorably about Dr. King and his legacy.

I wonder if we are living 'the dream' when we judge people now by the language they speak instead of the "content of their character."(1)

I wonder if we are living 'the dream' when there are still many who believe they "have nothing for which to vote."(1)

I am in no way suggesting that we have not moved forward significantly.  I am also not suggesting that those who fought, and I mean fought, for civil rights were fighting in vain because of the work we have left to do.  I am simply trying to put a few thoughts out there in honor of Dr. King's memory and his dream. 

(1)King, Martin Luther.  "I Have a Dream." Washington D.C. 1963.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Light: Part 2

Looking again at the concept of light in Scripture. (Wow, I feel really unqualified to say that. I haven't done an exhaustive search, just a looking at a few verses and giving my opinion.)

The verses this week portray light as a piece of clothing. Light is something to be put on.

Psalms 104:2 "He wraps himself in light as with a garment;"
Romans 13:12 "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."

In Psalms, it talks about all the great things that God has control of, clouds, wind, fire, the heavens, and light. He has control of light to the point that he can wear it like a garment. While that in and of itself is impressive, what really made me stop and consider this week, was the portrayal of light. Light is shown as a garment. It is something that can be put on. To our earthly minds, this makes no sense. Light has no substance, no matter. How can something with no matter be put on? I don't know, but God does and I'll trust him. I just think it is interesting that He can use it this way. What does that mean for us?

Romans tells us at least 1 possibility. It is to be worn as armor for us. When would someone wear armor? In battle of course. So light, for our purposes, can protect us in battle. Light is more than we know it to be. Light has a power to protect as well as a power to reveal. How is that possible? To me, it only seems to make sense that in the process of revealing, light is protecting. How? If we are children of God and following his will, our deeds will be known and the reasons for them will be known. What would be the reasons for our deeds? Love. So we have nothing to worry about in the process of revealing.

So to summarize, light can be something we put on when we are following after God because he puts it on. And when we do that, we will be protected. Just a few thoughts for today.

Boys

Something I have grown to be very passionate about is the role of men and women in our society.  I think our society does a great disservice to men and to masculinity.  That has become a mean and nasty word and very unnecessarily so.  Our society has taken away the "right" to be men and so we see lots of young men wandering around wasting their lives and causing havoc in the process.

Because of this, I was pretty excited and a bit scared when I found out I was having a boy.  It is very important to me to raise Ben as a man.  He needs to know what that word means.  Not the societal misuse of the word, but the real meaning that God has for that word.  This seemed like an awfully big task to me and it still does.  It is something I pray about regularly and have read a couple books about it.  I am very blessed to have a husband who knows what it means to be a man in the true sense of the word.  I am so glad he stays home with Ben because I know that Ben is sure to have a good 'man' education.  So I pray that Ben can lead his friends to be healthy men.  Maybe Drew and I can make a difference with one little boy.

And yes I am a teacher, so shouldn't I be able to make a difference in classroom?  I hope so.  Not to say that I play favorites.  It isn't that.  I just try harder to check up on some of the boys I encounter.  It seems like in this area of the country anyway, there is a realization that men are pretty okay and should be involved as men with society.  That makes me happy.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Christian music

Sometimes I listen to The Message on Sirius satellite radio while I'm in my car and there are a few songs they play on a regular basis, so I seem to hear them a lot. And when I was listening to a couple, I thought what a shame it is that these a relegated to just the "Christian" station. They really have messages that everyone is needs to hear. Check out a few of them.

Johnny Diaz - More Beautiful You



Casting Crowns - Set Me Free



Matt Maher - Alive Again



Tenth Avenue North - You are more




I'm wondering if there is a way we can't use these songs and others like them to witness to people. The words of these songs speak directly to the fears, the doubts, and the pain that people out there are carrying with them every day. What I keep coming back to is how do I use this to give hope to others? I don't have any answers to this, but it seems like a really important question. Do you guys have any ideas?

Light: Part 1

So I have a new plan for this blog this year. I thought I would come up with a topic and blog on it for several weeks. I particularly like to study the way a specific word is used throughout the Bible. The first topic is: Light and I should be covering it for about 6 weeks.

The first couple verses that jumped out to me were Psalm 4:6, Psalm 76:4

Psalms 4:6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?" Let the light of your face shine upon us.

Psalms 76:4 You are resplendent with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game.

In these verses we see light is a part of God himself. This is an important aspect of light. It really makes me realize how the imprint of God really is in everything he has designed. How much do we here our culture calling for light. We want lots of windows in our houses. We want better headlights for our cars. We use lamps so often that we have to create special bulbs to use less energy. We want our photos taken outside in the light. We want light and preferably natural light. Why do we have this craving for natural light because it is the creation of our Father. Whether we want to admit it or not we have a deep craving to be with our Father and light reminds us of that. We even have the phrase that someone's "face lights up". Where do we get that idea or imagery. I think from our Father who's face lights up as well. Even in saying that, my mind just can't wrap around the idea. I picture someone who has Christmas lights around their face or something, but that isn't even close to what the Bible is getting at. God's face has light, natural pure light. And it isn't just his face that has light. He is "resplendent with light." He himself shines with light. He is light. No wonder we, as a culture, have a craving for light. We are craving our Father.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dental Health

Bedtime routines are an important part of a child's day (and the parent's day too).  Ben's bedtime routine is fairly simple, brush his teeth, read some books, and go to sleep.  Going to sleep sometimes involve walking, sometimes involves rocking, and sometimes I just put him in bed.  Ben's favorite part of the bedtime routine is hands down brushing his teeth.  He would brush his teeth every time he's in the bathroom if we would let him.  And of course since he is Ben, there are very set ways that it is supposed to be done.  At night when I ask him if he wants to brush his teeth, he takes my hand and runs to the bathroom.  Then he has to be put up on the counter, so he can watch himself.  Last night I tried to put him on his step stool, but he couldn't see in the mirror, so that didn't work.  I hand him his toothbrush with toothpaste and he sucks the toothpaste off.  I brush my teeth at the same time and when I start brushing mine he starts moving the toothbrush around in his mouth.  While we are brushing, he puts his head up against mine and knocks on the mirror.  He puts his head up against mine because I had done that several times when we first started brushing our teeth.  When he spent the night with Nana one time, she knocked on the mirror and let him.  He thought it was fabulous, so he started doing that.  When I'm done, I spit in the sink, clear my mouth with water, and then take a sip.  I noticed Ben spit or try to spit in the sink for the first time yesterday.  A couple weeks ago, he started to lean in when I took my sip, so I started giving him a sip as well.  Of course even with the tiniest sip, he spills some on himself.  So after his sip, he's done brushing his teeth and he turns out the lights.  We go to his room and start the next part of our bedtime routine.
You know, I think brushing his teeth might be my favorite part of the routine as well.