Monday, May 21, 2012

Three Dollars Worth of God

I haven't been posting regularly...but I'm sure the handful of you that read my blog have noticed that.  I am having issues with the things that are in my heart matching my blog description.  The issue being that they don't all.  The blog description says its an uplifting blog about God's grace and how we can find Him in and amongst every day life (or something like that).  But the things that have been on my heart I wouldn't exactly categorize as "uplifting."  Maybe toe-crunching or thought provoking...but not uplifting.   

I want to be uplifting, I truly do!  I see God in so many things, in so many ways that He never ceases to take my breath away.  But those are not the things I feel pressing on my heart when I sit down to write.  Do you know the feeling?  It is the feeling that there is an important message to convey.  It's like writing your children a letter for them to read when they grow up.  I have thought and prayed and really, really want to have something upbeat and encouraging to say but when I heard this poem in yesterday's sermon I knew that this is the message given to me:

Three Dollars Worth of God

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,
but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk
or a snooze in the sunshine.
I don’t want enough of God to make me love a black man
or pick beets with a migrant.
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth.
I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
— Wilbur Rees
I sat stock still in my chair after those words were read.  They resonated in my soul and I knew them to be True.  But the real issue isn't when we recognize a truth such as this one.  Recognizing the problem is not the problem.  The problem is when we shrug our shoulders and say, "I'm okay with that."  It is when we choose to sit in our pew and ponder the lunch menu instead of how the message coming from the pastor applies to us.  It is when we come into God's house dragging our feet wondering what we're going to get instead of coming to pour out our thanks for what He has already given us.  It is a comfortable, complacent, apathetic Christianity that resides in the hearts of many of God's people these days.

We love verses like Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."  We like getting what we want, and we totally skip over the first part of that verse that says to "Delight yourself in the Lord...."  We want to forget about the last words of our Lord and Savior before He ascended into heaven that commands us to spread to gospel to everyone because it's not comfortable for us.  We want God's blessings but we don't want to seek Him because, well, we don't have time, Sunday is our only day to sleep in or we find church is boring, full of hypocrites or just "not for me."  

We take only a small slice of what God is offering to us and then we wonder why we don't feel His presence.  We wonder why our faith seems small and we are accosted by doubts and fears.  We cry out for God to answer us in our times of trouble but do not utter His name during times of plenty.  

And yet, He remains faithful.  He answers us, He loves us, He comforts us and He never leaves us.  If God is so good in those times when we choose to take Him out of the box we tend to keep Him in, how much better could He be if we sought Him with our whole heart?  How much more of Him is there when we submit to His will for our lives instead of seeking our own?  

If your "religion" seems dull and lifeless, if you are still reading this blog and have a growing desire to want MORE of Jesus Christ in your life then I have successfully communicated the message.  When we desire more of Jesus, we can rest assured Jesus wants more of us!  Why not give Him more of you and find more of Him in the process?  This is the only way we will ever experience revival.  It must start with us - with bowed head, humble heart and total submission.  May it start with me!

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:13  (emphasis mine)

Monday, May 7, 2012

What Kind of Question is THAT?

"Do you want to get well?"

This is the question Jesus asked a man that had been lying paralyzed beside a pool for THIRTY-EIGHT years!  What a question, right?  I would think this man would scream out, "YES!!!"  Instead he gives Jesus his sob story, "Sir...I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred.  While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me," (John 5:7).  At first I want to feel bad for the guy, but then I think...thirty. eight. years.  

I don't know about you, but when I really want something, I can think of some pretty wild schemes to get it!  This man didn't seem too intent on getting well.  He didn't even ask Jesus if he'd stick around and help him get into the pool.  He just complained about his situation.

I love what Jesus told the man to do next.  He said, "GET UP!"  Ok, Jesus didn't yell (or, I don't know, maybe He did) but there IS an exclamation point after Get up!  He told him to get up, pick up his mat and walk.  Jesus did the work.  He healed the man.  But the man still had to accept the healing, he still had to carry his own mat and he had to walk.

Jesus is making you the same offer!  Whatever it is that cripples you; anger, impatience, depression, lack of self-control - Jesus can heal it!  But here's the catch:  You have to accept the gift.  When you accept a gift, you are not fighting against the person giving you the gift.  You actively reach out and take the gift. 

We actually already have several gifts our Lord has given us.  They are the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22):  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Notice, it is the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruits of the Spirit.  They are a packaged deal and given freely to anyone who has the Spirit of God within them.  

So, if Christians already have them, why do we spend so much time asking, BEGGING God for them?

Galatians 5:24-25 hold the key:  "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." 

Right after Paul says we live by the Spirit and not the flesh he says in verse 26, "Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other."  So what gives?  If we live by the Spirit then we shouldn't be conceited, angry, jealous or anything else negative (because the Holy Spirit cannot be those things); so why does Paul remind the Galatians not to be those things?  Because we are human and because we have a choice.

Just like the paralytic that Jesus healed, we have to decide if we want to get well.  We have to decide that we are not going to give into our fleshly desires.  For instance, last night my husband got mad at me because he thought I had gone to bed while he was putting the boys to bed.  I had not gone to bed but had gone to the restroom.  Then when he told me he had been angry with me...guess what?  I got angry at him!

A few years ago, this fight would have lasted all night.  I would have gotten myself all worked up and probably cried myself to sleep because I had been misunderstood and falsely accused.  Then I would have woke up this morning still angry and when I talked to my friends on my morning walk I would have fussed about Wes to them.  They probably would have jumped on the bandwagon and said something negative about their husbands.  Then I would have come home and snapped at J.D. (my oldest son) for being too slow getting ready for school because I'm good and ill by this point and proceeded to give my husband the silent treatment which would have sent him off to work in a bad mood.  After all of that I would have gotten on Facebook and talked with my aunt and griped some more about Wes' insensitivity.

I could go on and on but I think I've made my point.  I could have chosen that road.  The reason I can give such a detailed account of that road is because I have chosen MANY times before.  I know what it looks like.  So, how did it turn out for real?  Wes said, "I'm sorry I got mad at you," and I said, "That's okay, I was mad at you for being mad at me.  Silly huh?"  And that was it.

I have decided I don't want to be angry.  Sometimes I feel justified in my anger; I have the "right" to be angry.  But does it really accomplish anything?  In my story, what did my anger accomplish?  I got three friends in a bad mood with me, hurt my child's feelings, made my husband angry and got my day off to a rotten start.

Whether your issue is anger or depression or financial issues I have to ask you this question:  Do you want to get well?  We have to stop wishing to get well, pick up our mat and start walking!  Jesus will do the work but we have to work with Him instead of against Him. 

Get into the Word and find a couple of verses that speaks to you about your ailment.  Commit those verses to memory and live them out!  Attitude is everything.  Make a decision - Get up and WALK!

"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."  2 Corinthians 10:5