Thursday, October 29, 2020

Humility in Leadership

 Recently, I was appointed to a position of leadership and responsibility at work, which I DID NOT WANT.  I'm not gifted with administrative skills.  I have a highly volatile temperament.  I forget easily.  I procrastinate enormously.  I'm not methodical nor organized.  And I find it difficult to see the big picture.  But, for some reason, no matter how much I resisted and tried to get out of doing this, God's plan included that I would have to step onto this position.  So, when I accepted the inevitability of the situation, I began to pray that God would give me what I needed (which was such a long list, that I couldn't even detail it). After all, we've always heard how God doesn't call the equipped, but He equips those He calls, right?  I'm not equating my new position at work with the calling to serve God's Kingdom.  But I know, that in a tiny way I am also working for Him, if all I do, I do it onto Him.

So, as I prayed, I remembered King Solomon, and how when God said to him, "ask me anything you want," Solomon asked for wisdom, and God was pleased with that request.  So, I figured, I'd give it a try and do the same.  That's why, for a while now, I have been praying specifically for wisdom.  However, I also remembered, though I'm not very familiar with all of the details of King Solomon's life and experiences, that things went south for him at some point...and I don't mean "south" in a good way, like, let's go to Florida for the winter...

That caused me to begin to ponder about wisdom.  Being granted wisdom would mean being granted great power.  The power of wisdom may cause us to think too highly of ourselves.  In other words, the great power of wisdom may derive or morph into the great sin of pride.  And I REALLY do not need to add to my on-going, pride-ridden-struggles. So, the Holy Spirit led me to realize that the only thing that could counter pride is a high dose of humility.

I wonder, as I begin my reading of I Kings and to dig deeper into the details of King Solomon's life, if I will find out that his great wisdom got out of control because it was not reigned in by humility?

So, I'm adding to my prayers, that whatever wisdom God grants me to do this job I've been assigned to do, He frames it within a quadrupled dose of humility, so that my pride is tamed, kept in check, tucked away in a sealed lock-box, and I can work the next three years knowing who my King is and who I truly work for.  In Christ's Name.  Amen!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Amazon Intervention

 Update:  well, I wrote this last week, and didn't get a chance to post it...but here it is.

Dylan’s birthday is this week.  He is obsessed with special occasions like this one since he sees them as opportunities to get presents.  He actually starts working on his list for next birthday on his birthday.  And, I don’t really get him everything he wants.  BUT, I usually get him the thing(s) he wants the most.  How does he make me get him what he wants the most, you may ask?  Well, he uses a very effective persuasive technique:  he wears me OUT!

He nags and begs and reasons and psychoanalysis me until I have no will power left and I give in.  Marketing research has actually found out that the lack of will power makes people susceptible to impulse shopping.  I heard the other day that the most effective time to display advertising in Social Media is midnight and the hours afterwards.  Why?  Because will power decreases as we get more and more tired.  For example, take the typical college student.  This person spends all day doing who-knows-what (NOT their homework, I can assure you) and don’t really get to bed until exhaustion beats them…at around midnight-one a.m.  At that time, what do they do?  Do they go lightly into a restful sleep?  Of course not!  They grab their phone and mindlessly scroll through their social media accounts until the hypnotizing forces of blurred pictures and memes make their minds shut down…not before tempting them to press the “add to shopping cart” button on that hard-to-resist/impossible-to-live-without puke colored fanny pack, which just magically popped up in Instagram, on a flash sale for only the next 30 minutes, before it disappears forever.  How did they know I needed that!? Wow!  I’m so lucky I stayed up tonight!

I go through my days feeling so tired that whatever little will power I have, vanishes as the tempting lure of that, which I must leave alone, but I can’t, flashes before my eyes.  I’m so tired and in such need for a respite, that, whatever promises me an instant of joyful escape, seems to call my name (usually something on Amazon).  And I answer that call right away.  Of course, the feeling is fleeting, and I’m left with a guilty conscious (I need some Amazon intervention, quick!). 

Sigh…

I keep forgetting that there is only one place where my drained will power, and my exhausted limbs can go to find rest and to replenish:  The Presence of Jesus. 

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11: 28 

And, guess what?  It’s not like I’m going to be bumming around, doing nothing.  No, I will still be productive.  I will still have to carry a yoke; but it is easy and light…because it’s His yoke, and He is the One who really carries it…we’re just hanging with Him.

Sigh…

OK, I did buy that pair of crazy, flashy, expensive basketball shoes for Dylan’s birthday after I made myself tired with my own lecture on why it is not a good for the soul to believe that material things can make us better.  I know…no comments.  But, I’m learning…slowly…but surely, that the antidote for my lack of will power is not to work harder at trying to be better at it.  It is surrendering my weakness to the One Who Strengthens me.  I can’t have more will power on command.  I shouldn’t make decisions when I’m tired.  I need to seek His Presence and exchange my heavy burdens with Him, so I end up carrying a lighter weight and He ends up directing my path.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

No more rehearsing

 Do you ever rehearse what you're going to say before you have an important conversation pending over your head? I not only rehearse it in my mind, but I write it down so I can read it over and over and over again...the scripted words are a feeble attempt at infusing confidence in a heart that doesn't know any better.  

I read today in my devotional that, projecting ourselves into the future, "rehearsing what you will do or say" is seeking self-sufficiency.  In other words, my attempts at controlling what's ahead is trying to be adequate without the Lord's help. This is a "subtle sin" of which I am plenty guilty of.

The alternative, according to my devotional, is to live fully in the present, depending on the Lord each moment.  Don't divide life into things that I can handle on my own and things that require God's help either...In the big things as well as in the small ones: always seek Him first, and rest in His power.  My confidence comes from knowing He is in me and trusting that He will take care of me.

Easier said than done? You bet!  But that is the state of mind that we need to strive for.  We might not always succeed.  But we must not give up trying.  Peace comes when we allow Him to flow through us.

Of course, it's important to do our part and be prepared.  But, in our preparations, let's not forget to place it all at the foot of the cross, and allow the Holy Spirit to be the One empowering us to speak and act.  After all, there's no way we can anticipate every detail of how the events in the future are going to unfold.  There is no way we can foresee how conversations are going to go, word by word.  It's impossible to be certain how the other persons involved are going to react...or even how we are going to feel like.  The future doesn't belong to us.  That is part of the divine realm.  Let's not try to force our way in there.  I don't know about you, but every time I try...I crash and burn.

Instead, let's just put our efforts into what Psalm 37: 3-7 says:

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.


Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.


Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

In the Precious Name of Jesus.  Amen!


Thursday, October 8, 2020

Sharing a Post about Healing

 I was going to write something today...but, I think I'll do that some other time.  Instead, I'd like to share a post Dan sent to me a few days ago, and I neglected to read until this morning...It moved me so that I'd like others to read it and pass it along as well.  It's a blog post called "This is How You Will Heal the Wound."  Boy...aren't we all walking around with a deep wound?  The entire world is wounded.  Our country is wounded.  Our souls and hearts are wounded.  Healing is what we crave the most.  Often, the healing we seek starts with us.  I pray this inspires you and me to take the steps to begin that deep healing we all so desperately want.  Enjoy:

This is How You Will Heal the Wound



Sunday, October 4, 2020

Christ in Me is the only thing I need

 "Getting a haircut makes me feel confident!"

"I need those shoes...they help me feel more confident!"

"No, I can't wear that...that outfit doesn't make me feel confident"

UGH!

Feeling confident... confident of what?

Confident of how other people view you?  Is that the goal? Status?

I give up...

I get very frustrated at how Dylan places way too much emphasis on appearance.  I give him lectures.  I point him to Scripture.  I preach.  But... I feel like a failure, because of two reasons:

1.  I give in to his requests way too often...so I don't think he actually listens to anything I say: I did get him the shoes in the end...sigh...

2.  I do the same thing he does...

OK, I don't base my confidence on shoes, and clothes and haircuts.  But I do place it on external/material things:  house, car, kitchen, bathroom, office, phone, job, paycheck, savings account, promotion.  I can't complain about Dylan, because I too, place my worth on my possessions just as much as he does.  I kill myself at work, but I rejoice because I like the money and the status that it brings me. I push myself ... but I smile when I think of the extra income at the end of the month.  I'm exhausted, but I like the power.

I'm a hypocrite.  

Sigh...

My preaching to Dylan, is actually a lecture to myself.  I'm the one who needs to hear the message.  I'm the one who needs to be reminded that my identity is not on the things I have, but on Jesus the Christ.  I'm the one who needs to keep the truth of His mercy and forgiveness and grace on the forefront of my life so I never take anything for granted...so I never believe the lie that it was by my own power that I have accomplished what I have...so I never forget to be humble and give thanks for every single blessing God has been so generous to grant me...so I am always aware that it is all His, and that His grace is what sustains me.

Our identity cannot be based on the things of this world.  Our sense of worth must not come from the things we own or the treasures we pile up in the material realm.  Our confidence must not be founded on how others see us.  If we are empty inside...we have nothing at all.  The Holy Spirit is the engine that moves us from within to declare we are children of the Most High!  Therefore, it is by this truth, the truth of Christ in us, that we are firmly planted on Him as Our Solid Rock...regardless of what we are or what we might look like while we are on this shore.

By the Power of the Spirit living in me, I declare, despite what others may see...all that God has done:

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
 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.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139: 13-16)

"Of course we all want nice things...and God is gracious enough to give them to us...but...when those nice things become our idols, that's when we cross the line."  These are the last words I said to Dylan yesterday as we were doing some Birthday shopping for him.  I'm not sure he understood it...but I think I did...I pray I did.  Amen!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Ultimate Love Story

 My favorite type of story is a love story...

What can I say?  I'm an old-fashioned woman with deep romantic sensibilities.  Give me a story line that shows sparks when a man meets a woman, and I'm hooked!  Unlikely romance is my favorite: one that presents thick walls to overcome.  Love stories filled with hardship, obstacles, pain, but also comedy and lightheartedness, but above all, with deep, profound longing and uncertain resolution grab me like a powerful magnet.  Nobody in this house gets near my streaming profiles...they know they won't find anything they want in there... My Netflix and Amazon Prime are filled with the whole gamut of romance genre: from period films to Korean Dramas...it might seem pathetic, but such is my reality.

I need to believe that love still conquers all!

I need to see that women are still worth pursuing, and that there are men willing to pursue them.  I want to see men who are not deterred in their efforts to win their woman's heart.  I need to believe that there are still men who are strong and masculine, and that women are strong enough to not be afraid of that...as they acknowledge their deep desire to experience that strength from the man they love.  I want to see hope when all seems hopeless.  I need to see love when once there was loneliness.

Pathetic? Perhaps...

Unrealistic? Maybe...

Inappropriate and not PC for today's sensibilities? Well, I'm a rebel, what can I say? ;) 

I believe, such is the love story God has written and performed for us since the beginning of time.  In the Garden, He pursued Adam and Eve when they committed the sin that marked humanity's history (Genesis 3: 8-9).  And He continues to call us to Himself.  But we are so deaf and uninterested in what He has to offer, that we tune Him out.  Does that deter Him?  Of course not!  We are His masterpiece, made to love Him.  So, He comes down from Heaven...He abandons His Royal Dwelling and descends to the lowest pit on earth just so He could be with us and we could know Him better.  And what do we do? We crucify Him.  And what does He do? He comes back to live, gives us His presence in our hearts and goes on to prepare a room for us so He can come and pick us up to go with Him and live in His presence forever!

His is the love story of the strong groom who is willing to do anything to win the heart of His beloved.  We are His beloved...and all we have to do is be strong enough to be the bride that waits for Him.

His is the love that leaves no doubt, and that is willing to pursue us... like the song say:

And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
Lie You won't tear down
coming after me.

Some don't like this song because they don't like to think of God's love as reckless. I love it, because it speaks to my heart, and it reminds me that God's love is boundless, limitless, and reckless into Himself, for He does not mind to endure the consequences of what He has done, and the impact those actions have onto Himself. He did it and continues to do it anyway. Jesus allowed Himself to be flogged, humiliated, punished and killed for me. His sacrifice was done for love.

Our story with Jesus is the ultimate love story. All others are just but an insipid imitation. And that's why I long for romance...because it reminds me of the One who pursues me and loves me like nobody else does.


Friday, September 25, 2020

My Little Companion

 I've been working from home since early March...that means, it's going to be 7 months since the front room of my house has permanently become my office/classroom.  It's been interesting, to say the least...challenging, but also kind of fun.  It is especially fun when our dog Link starts to bark.  

You see, Link doesn't leave my side.  Wherever I go, he goes.  He follows me all around the house.  He is my little companion.  But since I spend most of the day sitting at my desk, so does he, sitting/laying by my feet.  Along the scattered books, papers, notebooks and empty cups, he has become a permanent fixture in this room too.  He seems happy.  He seems totally content.  Of course, as soon as he senses movement outside, he goes and looks out the window, which inevitably leads to his loud barking...and to me running to close the blinds to see if he'd quiet down...which leads to my students on the screen seeing me momentarily disappear to then reappear again, looking flustered and annoyed...

Anyway, my point is...it seems to me that, for Link, there is no other place he'd rather be than by my side...and I truly love him for that.  He makes me happy as he keeps me company in his quiet presence (emphasis on QUIET).

I read something the other day that stuck with me:  the abundant life is the life lived in the presence of Christ.

Sigh...

I wonder if, in a way, that's what Link is teaching me.  The abundant life is not dependent on how abundant our earthly possessions are or on the beauty and comfort our homes offer us or on the size of our savings account or even on our families, friends and loved ones.  The abundant life is the one lived by Our Lord.  The closer we are to Him, the more time we spend seeking His presence, the deeper we get to know Him, the larger the joy, and the more real His love becomes.  The more we make Him the focus of our every move, the more we let Him draw us to Him...the more our hearts will overflow with contentment.

 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10: 10

This verse is tucked in between Jesus' talk about the Good Shepherd and how His sheep recognize His voice, and how the Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.  He tells us how He is the gate to salvation, and how He is also the One Who Came through that very gate to save us and to provide out of the abundance of His presence. All we have to do is follow Him, not leave His side, sit by His feet and enjoy the love that pours out of His heart...just like Link...but hopefully, without any loud barks.