Christmas Is Here Again!

December 4, 2008

This is my LifeMatters post for this week, and I liked it enough to double post it.

When I look back at the Christmas story I see simplicity, humility, peace, and love. It’s because of God’s love for all people that the Christmas story even exists. I see some meager surroundings and smelly shepherds as an audience. Nothing over the top or spectacular about His entrance to our world. But as I look around today, the Christmas season has quickly become the busiest time of the year. People fight over toys, WalMart employees get trampled by crazy people looking for a deal, and selfishness seems to rule. Our thoughts are consumed by decorating our house, sending out cards so everyone can see how wonderful our family is, buying the best gifts, and making sure our children have a magical holiday. How different do those two scenes appear? How did we get here from there?

Oddly enough, I feel church has become very similar. Christ came for others, to redeem that which was lost. His focus was never on Himself. His desires were always to obey the Father and save humanity. The original churches were places focused on telling others about Jesus and serving their communities. People living openly with each other. Living and sharing life together. People chose to sacrifice for the good of others. Today’s churches often seem too inwardly focused. We argue over meaningless topics while people are hurting and struggling right next door. We form committees to discuss forming committees while people go to sleep hungry. Families are suffering and falling apart with a smile on their faces sitting in “their” pew Sunday after Sunday. How did we get here from there? 


This whole month is going to be about looking at the world through God’s eyes. Very often we talk about having a Christian worldview, but I think we need to have God’s view of the world. We can look around and justify excluding people from the church, but God’s offer of redemption is open to everyone. Christ did not die for some, but for all. Christ allows us to be light bringers (I just made that up I think) to the world around. Unfortunately we can choose to keep that light hidden rather than bringing it into the world we live in. Be in serious prayer this month about how you can get involved and how you can get a glimpse of God’s missional heart. Look for ways this month to join His mission. Opportunities are everywhere this time of year and especially now with the economy the way it is. Find a family that is hurting and show them some Christmas love. Buy food for a local food pantry to help feed families during this holiday season. Make a sacrifice of something you don’t need to help someone in need. God’s arms are wide open, are ours?


Becoming is important!

December 2, 2008

Today officially marks my two-year anniversary in Nashville, Tennessee. Part of me reads that sentence and can’t believe its been two years, and the other part of me can’t believe its ONLY been two years. Sometimes I wonder about the journey God has me on. Sometimes I feel like the Israelites heading for the Promised Land, for 40 years. All heading and never arriving. I can only imagine the complaining and whining that was heard during those 40 years, because I know the complaining and whining I hear coming from my camp. I just finished reading Michael Kelley’s post for today and it was weird reading the thoughts that were in my mind. 


Looking back at my time in seminary, then my time at InQuest and now here with LifeWay, it has been a long journey. There have been ups and there have been downs. I have seen God do amazing things and I have seen myself whine and complain shortly after. I have seen God teach and use me in ways that seemed unthinkable and I’ve seen me put Him on the back burner and forge ahead on my own. One thing I do know for sure is that the days walking with Him are days I treasure, and forging ahead on my own never works. You’d think I would have learned that lesson well enough by now not to make the same bad choices, but it still happens. 


I loved a line from Michael’s post today, “God is just as concerned about who we’re becoming as where we’re going.” Those are wise words I believe. Our journey can take us many directions, but one thing is certain, they should always be towards Him. That is the prayer I am praying right now for my life. I don’t want the times spent working alone anymore. I simply want to follow and move with Him. I don’t know what that means really, but I am trusting Him with that. I am simply desiring to focus on becoming more like Him and let Him worry about what’s ahead. I want to focus on time WITH Him. It has become very easy recently to allow other things to invade my life and eat up my time. It shouldn’t happen, but it does. When you aren’t constantly checking those areas in your life, it is amazing how quickly you can get off track. Well, the time has come to right the ship. 

Where has your past two years taken you? What does your journey look like? More importantly, what do you look like? 


Saturday and Santa

November 10, 2008

This weekend we officially began the Christmas season. I know Thanksgiving hasn’t happened yet, but it is what it is. We went to a Wake Up Santa event at Opry Mills. Macie had breakfast while a bunch of children between the ages of 3 and 12 played the violin. One violin looked plastic so I am not quite sure what to make of their “performance.” After the breakfast and music Mrs. Clause read a story and then the kids yelled really loud and Santa woke up. He better get busy if we are all going to get our presents. Here is my favorite picture from our day out:

1192008-017I chose this one over me sitting on Santa’s lap, although that one is pretty nice. One look at this picture and you can see what I am thankful for this time of year, and there’s one more on the way. Me in a house of girls, gonna be crazy!


What we do in small group

November 7, 2008

I have had some questions lately about what our small group is like, so last week I grabbed my video camera and put this little tape together. I am hoping that by sharing this our small group will grow. I just love how Erik leads us in song each week. Enjoy!


Friday Video Fun

November 7, 2008

First, we have a video of Ed Stetzer talking about his friend AL.

Next we have a video that depicts life if Starbucks were a church. I wish it didn’t depict churches so accurately. Good video and introduces a good blog as well.


From one soldier to all of us

October 31, 2008

I love hearing from soldiers about their experiences in Iraq. I know many of them have different views and different experiences but I would rather hear from them than from a reporter. So this video caught my eye this morning. This is also a political video and the timing is pretty good to discuss these issues. I read a little about this guy and this is not a McCain paid advertisement. So check it out and let me know what you think.


Included in a bigger story!

October 30, 2008

This is what I posted on my LifeMatters blog today and I figured I would share it here as well.

One of my new favorite TV shows is “Eli Stone.” You can watch it on ABC Tuesday nights, or you can DVR it like I do and watch it later. I hate commercials and our small group meets on Tuesdays. If you’ve never seen “Eli Stone,” here is a quick summary of the first season: Eli is a lawyer rising up the ladder and is engaged to the boss’s daughter. He is destined to become a partner and probably make tons of money representing less than respectable people. But then he begins having visions and those visions help him to see the world differently. He starts helping the people he has visions about and his life changes. Season One ends with him having his brain aneurism removed, oh I forgot to tell you about that but everyone is blaming his new crazy actions on the aneurism. Season Two begins with a healthy Eli, the aneurism is gone, trying to return to his old life. He is meeting with a therapist and she later reveals she is actually a messenger from God. Her message is simple—Eli’s life is meant for something more. He needs the divine in his life. The ability to help people was given to him but could be given to someone else. If he wants it back then he has to take the aneurism back as well. He does, of course, and things get back to “normal” for him.

 Please hear this, you will not get a theology lesson from watching this show. But it’s thought-provoking and entertaining. You can watch episodes for free on abc.com so get to it. The title for this episode is “The Path.” 


I mention all of this because I found the scene between Eli and his therapist (Sigourney Weaver) intriguing and challenging. It reminded me that we are all in a similar boat. God’s story is going on all around us. Some of it is done using conventional methods and some of it only He understands. The beauty is that He allows us to be a part of it. God allows us, His children, to be as active on His journey as we want. We have full access and yet so often take it for granted, dismiss it, or choose something “better.” Eli thought returning to “normal” would be better for him. The aneurism would be gone and life would be good again. He quickly realized that his old life was not “better” in fact it was dreadful. Once you experience the divine, ordinary won’t satisfy. Once you experience the eternal, temporary fixes won’t do. Eli learned this and made the choice to live dangerously but be part of something bigger. His life mattered and he made differences in people’s lives. The good news is we have that same opportunity, and ours is real.

 I love Romans 10:14-15. How blessed are we that we get to take the gospel to the world? God allows us to take His light and His love into a world of darkness and despair. We have the chance to impact people’s lives not only for eternity, but also for tomorrow. Sometimes people need hope and love today, and we get to play a role in that. Examine your life this week and ask yourself what role you’re playing. Do you have the divine presence in your life? Are you joining the story of redemption playing out all around you? Ask God for a part, and be ready and willing to accept what He offers. Use what He gives you to change the world around you. Guess what, that’s why He gave it to you.