"Blessed is she, who has believed, that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." Luke 1:45

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Holy Spirit, Have Your Way

If you have been around my blog, my life, or just me, you will know I absolutely LOVE Leeland. Their worship is so pure and beautiful.

I can't seem to get it out of my head, and there are worse things to sing over and over to our amazing God. (More of you and less of me, God. More of you and less of me, More of you, overflowing.)

Enjoy!




For more songs, head to Signs, Miracles and Wonder's TSMSS!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

SOFF

This is one of my favorite days of the year.

Special Olympics Family Festival!

Every year my hubby's company sponsors and completely organizes this amazing festival for the athletes in central Illinois. It is the most fun you can every imagine! We work on the hayride activity. We are one of the most popular attractions. You will see why below!

I just had to share this day with you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
Psalm 139:13-18
Olympians and Friends for a Day (FFAD) gather at the stage to wait for the opening ceremonies to begin.Olympian Pledge... "Let me win. But if I can not win, let me be brave in the attempt." Makes me cry every year!
The parade kicks off!

The balloon release is the finale of the opening ceremonies...time to get to work!

Me and the hubby at our station, ready to get to work!

Guess who we met!
I don't care how old I am, Scooby will always be my #1!

Ahhh...lunch! Thank you for the hands that prepared a couple thousand lunches...eat at super speed and get back to work!

The real reason we have one of the most popular stops at the festival...and man, do they have an attitude! They know they are the main attraction!
As the day goes on, our lines get longer and longer, but everyone waits patiently. We never have heard of a single complaint.
We took some teens from our youth group. I love serving with these guys!

Can I just encourage you...If you EVER have the chance to work with Special Olympics, in any way, shape, or form; DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! You will be blessed beyond what you could ever imagine!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Focused on service

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a
woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called
Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha
was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him
and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by
myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
Luke 10:38-42



Jealousy. Bitterness. Anger. Distraction. Frustration.

How could these things live inside of a woman who wanted nothing more than to provide comfort and rest to all who entered her home, especially Jesus.

These verses are a very short glimpse into the rapid progression of how love for Christ and a desire to serve him can quickly lead to a "sin spiral".

Martha desired to provide comfort to Jesus. She loved him and wanted to serve him in the power of her gifts. She was a natural born hostess. She knew what was needed to provide comfort, nourishment and contentment. It was her pleasure to serve.

So what happened to get her to the point of questioning Jesus and telling him what he needed to do?

Jesus arrives. Martha probably immediately assessed what he would need to recover and rest from his travels. She feverishly worked to provide those things that would comfort and restore. She loved Jesus and wanted to give her worship through service. What an amazing gift!

But...

Martha got busy.

"Jesus needs something to eat." Martha thought. "And water to wash his feet. Did I beat the cushions today? Should I give him wine or water to drink? Thank goodness I baked bread early this morning!"

Martha got distracted.

"I can't do everything myself! Jesus needs tending to. Where is Mary?"

Martha lost focus.

"Why am I doing all the work? Does Mary think that she is so special that she should enjoy rest and company while I do everything? That girl is always dreaming and lazing around when she should be helping me!"

Martha got angry.

"That's IT! I work and work and work, and what does Mary do? NOTHING!"

Martha got an attitude.

*Huff* *grumble* *huff*
"I'm not going to let her get away with this! Jesus needs to do something. Doesn't he know that Mary is being selfish? I'm going to tell him to make her help me".

Martha's eyes were opened.

Jesus could have easily told Mary to help her sister to prepare food for him, and she would have gladly jumped up and run to do his bidding. He could have invited Martha at any time to come and sit, to let the work wait.

But he did neither.

Jesus wanted Martha to find, on her own, that good thing. But she couldn't. Why? Because she was too busy. What started out as a beautiful act of worship through service turned into a spiral of selfish thoughts and loss of focus on what really mattered. Why? Martha forgot who she was serving because she was too busy focusing on her service.

Have you ever been there? What started out as a wonderful way to show your love and gratitude to God ends up looking like nothing lovely? We get too focused on our own power and what we are going to do for God, and then we start getting into the details and making it look good, and all of a sudden...who is center stage? That little stumbling block we all fight against...Me.

Martha wasn't any different.

When she took her focus off of Christ, and glorifying him, it became all about Martha. We want to serve, but we also want to be front and center, receiving God's undivided attention. When we feel like the balance of work and attention aren't balanced, that God is giving more attention to someone we see as not working as hard, we get angry. We get frustrated. We get angry.

Not very glorifying, is it?

Martha started out great, but lost focus, let herself become the center instead of Christ, and all of a sudden, nothing was as it should be. I think we can all appreciate her desire to give Jesus the best that she had, but once she started losing that focus, it became something sin-laden.

Jesus knows our struggles. He knew that Martha only wanted to please him. He had seen her heart and knew her love for him. And he also saw her human struggle against self. He weighed his teaching and rebuking against that love and was gentle and compassionate with her.

Isn't it wonderful to know that even when we stray far away from our original goal and live a life that is less than glorifying, that Jesus can still see in our heart, and know that even though we just can't seem to get it right, we want the opportunity to keep trying?

We are all like Martha. Paul said it like this:

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there
with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Romans 7:21-25


Is there something that you are struggling to break free from? What once started out as something that was beautiful and meant to glorify now is a struggle? Have you allowed the world to tarnish something that you intended to shine for Christ?

Don't give up! Martha didn't.

Don't give up! Paul didn't.

They were willing to keep going, keep trying and keep starting over.

Jesus blesses that in mighty ways. Maybe not the ways we first intended. Maybe we will glorify God by telling others of how he had to discipline us instead of through our faithfulness and wonderful deeds. How he was faithful to forgive our sins. How he took our mess and made it beautiful.

Just like Martha, we can easily go from great intentions to stuck in a place of sin. It doesn't take a tragedy. It doesn't take much of anything at all. It just takes losing focus and becoming too busy.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Her service seperated

What happens when we lose focus? I asked this question and got an answer from a woman who had been there, done that. I'll tell you about it soon...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Construction Ahead


This is currently the view of my street. It has been the view for about three weeks. Normally I would find this to be irritating, annoying and highly inconvienent.

Today I find it to be one of those life illustrating life scenes.

They are replacing the sewers on our street. We have to eel out the sewers every January during that weird, midwest warm-up in January. This is also the time that monsoons make landfall in Illinois. We don't know how this happens, it just does. With the frozen ground and the massive amounts of rain in short amounts of time, we end up with lots of water in our basement from the backed up storm sewers.

You might look at this scene and see a big mess and a lot of inconvienence. I see it as an indication that our January in 2010 might be a little less costly, and a little less exciting (in a good way).

This picture also reminds me that sometimes you have to get really messy to get all the groundwork in order. Wouldn't I have more patience and understanding if I could remember that in my own life? I stress so much over the messy outside, I never notice what needs fixed underneath. Sometimes we need these warning signs to let us know that work is coming up quick, and we need to be prepared.

Head on over to Chatting at the Sky for more profoundly normal moments.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Life Light Up

God has opened some doors that I haven't noticed because I have been so focused on the painful realization that some windows had to be closed. I have finally seen the open doors, and I am so excited! This song perfectly captures my heart this week.




For more songs that reflect God's moving in the lives of his children, check out Then Sings My Soul Saturdays.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Joy found at the well


The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.
How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks
you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living
water."

"Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the
well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our
father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his
sons and his flocks and herds?"

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks
this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will
never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water
welling up to eternal life."

The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this
water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water."

He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back."

"I have no
husband," she replied.

Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say
you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you
now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."

"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet.

~ John
4:9-19 ~


I have been studying the accounting of the woman at the well. I find her very fascinating, but more so, I find Jesus' response in the above passage very telling of his heart and his purpose.

Jesus has introduced the two main components of true salvation in this one short section of scripture, but I think we tend to gloss over, or even miss, the importance of what Jesus did here.

He has been speaking with the Samaritan woman and has told her of the Living Water that is available to her. He clearly tells her that only he is the source of this water and that with it she will have eternal life.

Like any of us, the Samaritan woman jumps at the opportunity to have this Living Water. She wants the promises of what it will give her, but she doesn't see what is required of her, she doesn't see what it will mean.

She only thinks of the moment, of securing for herself the need to never thirst again.

Jesus will require more of her.

In verse 16 he requires her to acknowledge before him the truth of her life. She asks for the Living Water, but before it is granted to her, Jesus requires of her that she bring her transgressions, her sins and darkest parts, into the light. Into his presence.

Jesus knows there is no place in her heart for Living Water when she is still holding on to the things of this world that afford her what she has always known.  This is the thing that has leaped out and grabbed me by the hand. Right here is where Jesus teaches us about repentance. He obviously wanted to give her eternal life. He knew that she would further his kingdom and that she would bring to him many people seeking his salvation. But he also wanted her to repent of the life that she was living.

She eagerly grasped for the living water, not even thinking about laying her life at his feet first.

How often do we do this same thing? We want the redemption and mercy that Jesus offers, but we don't want to look too closely at all the things that we need to give up or change. We look eagerly to the salvation, but turn our eyes away from the call to repent. We don't want to pull out all the ugliness inside of us and expose it to the Light. We don't want to go through the struggle of letting it go and allowing ourselves to be filled with that Living Water. Even when we know that where we are and where we are going are places we have no business being, we don't want to acknowledge it or turn from it.

Jesus doesn't sugarcoat the woman's sins.

He doesn't couch it in comfortable terms.

He doesn't try to find the most politically correct or gentle and non-confrontational way of bringing up her sins.
In his love he lays it out there in black and white. He asks her, point blank, about her sin. She has no choice but to acknowledge it.

In light of her reaction we should ask ourselves several questions

Do we turn back from complete obedience because we don't want to acknowledge those things to him?


Do we sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that if we don't acknowledge our sins Jesus will simply ignore them?


Are we willing to simply admit to Jesus that we are allowing things in our life to keep us from the relationship He desires to have with us?

It is at this point that I find the woman at the well to be unbelievely brave. When she admits her sins she doesn't justify them. She doesn't ask for pity. She simply admits.

I believe that Jesus found her to be brave as well. He rewarded her truthful admission, her trust in him, by confirming to her that he was the Messiah that she had been longing for.

Can you imagine that moment in her life?

Shock.
Instant hope.
Welling Love.
Joy.
Excitement.

In verses 28-29 we see her leave her water jar and run back to the town. At the moment she realized what had just happened, and who she was talking with, she was overwhelmed with the need to share Jesus with everyone she could find. She forgot everything else as she ran to tell her news.

Jesus offered her Living Water, called her to repentance and then affirmed to her that he was exactly who she was longing for. Her new life had just begun.

Her joy was such that she could do nothing but allow the need to share this amazing thing to direct her feet to where she knew she could testify to Jesus' power.

When was the last time we were at that level of joy in our relationship with Jesus?

When was the last time that we confessed that we need Jesus to continue to well up in us, that we have things in our lives that are holding us back from receiving all the mercy and forgiveness that he has for us?

When was the last time that we were so overwhelmed with joy for what Jesus has done for us, and for what he means to us, that we just couldn't hold back our need to profess him in our lives?

It doesn't matter if we have been walking with Christ our whole life or only a few weeks. For the sacrifice that he made and the gift that he gives us, we should purpose in our heart to continually seek his will, pray and repent of the things that will keep us from knowing the full measure of his grace and mercy, and then joyously and passionately proclaim his working in our lives.

In Acts 1:8 we are called to be Christ's witnesses. Witnesses testify to what they have seen with their own lives, what they have experienced personally, and what they know to be true. We have not been called to do the impossible. Like the woman at the well, we have only been called to testify to what we have seen and experienced Jesus doing in our own life.

How can we live our lives like the woman at the well?

Search your heart for the things that are keeping you from fully experiencing the joy of Christ's love. 

Repent of those things fully, humbly, and with complete honesty before Him. 

Joyously proclaim the amazing things that he has done and is doing in your life.

Then be amazed at what God does in the lives of the people that you tell your witness to.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Empty Me

This is a current favorite of mine, and his voice is so wonderful.

There is such truth in how he talks about how fast our heart can change. Our hearts can change at the drop of a hat, and not always for the good. This reminds me that we need to constantly be in a humble place in our relationship with God.

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.




For other great songs, follow the link to TSMS Saturdays in my side column.

Friday, September 4, 2009

An Amazing Woman and a merciful Man

I have met this woman and I can't wait to tell you about her. I have heard people talk about her for years, but never took the time to dig in and get to know her for myself. I can't believe how much I have missed not allowing her to speak in my life!

I am talking about the Samaritan woman at the well. (John 4:1-42)

This woman seemed to have nothing, and have nothing going for her...

But Jesus did.

I am trying to organize my thoughts so that I can tell you all that I learned.

Until I can get my thoughts to quit running and jumbling up in my head, check out this post about a woman that was desperate and a Man with perfect timing.