Feeling A Little Restless

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Tuck your feet in because I may step on them. There is this teaching going around that we are to rest and not strive for the things of God. The teaching is solid. We are to rest and not strive but what does it mean to rest? A cease from labor? Not quite.

Resting in the Lord is a state of peace, yet sometimes our lives look nothing like that. In fact, we are some seriously busy stressed out folk. Well……..except when it comes to ministry. At that point we are resting.

Start a small group you say? I say, “I’m waiting on the Lord to direct me.”

Come to a prayer meeting you say? I say, “I can pray at home, God knows the needs of others I don’t need to do that.”

Help disciple you say? “No sir! I did my time in 19…..”

Do you realize the 1900’s were over 16 years ago? By now you should be growing moss under your then weary body. Excuses excuses. And dare I say not biblical?

Perhaps the burden for the lost isn’t all that great. Perhaps the great commission doesn’t really pertain to us. For you see, we and our households are safe. So sorry for anyone else.

Or wait a minute.

Could it be that we want the palace living without the work it took to become a kingdom citizen? For you see, there is a process. Or perhaps wilderness living is just where it’s going to stay because to enter into the promise takes work.

We have yet to shed that old slavery mindset. As slaves our lives are dictated by the whims of our Master, and just who is our Master? Well in this mindset I can say for sure it isn’t the Lord Jesus Christ because he gave an order, but you all know that. It’s that sticky little go make disciples verse. It reveals our heart every time.

 

Multicultural Church

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Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs–we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” NKJV

Acts 4:32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. NKJV

I am crazy enough to believe that multicultural means just that, all cultures in one. However that is not the common process in church. We like segregation. It suits us to have what we want. I was surprised to hear a pastor teach recently that what we have in today’s church is not multicultural but rather multicolored. Each group in its own service talking about doing life together. So that if you take a picture of the church it doesn’t look like a mosaic.

The reason for this is that while we can preach mosaic all day long, we go home primarily to segregation. We prefer to be insulated in our own culture so it makes sense to segregate each in our churches. And this is not just about language. This is about color, socioeconomics, male and female, even raising our hands in church. Oh we can do a wave at a football game but raise your hand in certain segregated churches and you’re an apostate. I actually heard of a pastor who didn’t want his youth group to mingle with other youth groups because they may be exposed to youth who raise their hands. HUH?

I am still crazy enough to continue to believe that one day we will see a multicultural church. Notice I didn’t say churches. Don’t miss that. One day we will hear the sound of nations worshipping together in one mind and one accord. For now, we continue to be happy with multicolored segregation where the lesser meets in an adjoining room, each getting what we want. One day though we’ll catch a glimpse of heaven where everyone is in one place with all things in common. One day Your Kingdom Come will become an actuality and I think some will be shocked.

Doris Avila

1795291_10201567281649883_1883956978_oOnce upon a time a long, long time ago a boy brought a girl home to meet his mom. His mom was a Christian woman who had raised her son in church. In fact, his mom was baptized when she was pregnant with him and she said he awakened in that water and begin to move around. She loved him so much. It was evident by the way she looked at him.

The girl he brought home was not a church girl. His mom met her son’s girlfriend and smiled at her and welcomed her. She took her into her life and we will never know if she was scared for her son, approved of this girl or not,  but we do know one thing, she invited this girl to lunch often and because she is a wonderful cook, she would serve her up a great lunch and a great bible study. I guess she figured if her son was going to marry this girl, then she’d had better get to work on leading her to Christ.

I am in awe of this woman because she could have decided that this girl was not worth her son’s time. Only this mom was wise and understood her son was stubborn and talking to him about this unsaved girl wasn’t going to work. So she set out to do what she knew to do. She prayed. She spoke a word in correct timing. She loved her. She cared for her and she showed her Christ.

Eventually, her son and this girl did get married and the girl did find her way to Jesus in a profound way. When her son died, she looked at her daughter-in-law and said, “We are now Naomi and Ruth and we will find your Boaz.” This was probably the only time that the girl felt misunderstood by her mother-in-law but you see, her mother-in-law was wise and had insight that this girl didn’t have.

That girl was me and that mother is Doris Avila whom I love to this day. I’m writing this today because memories of those days are flooding through my mind. She has moved away and there are days I long to sit with her and talk about life and the love of Jesus. To this day, we remain close and she holds a place in my heart and in my life where she speaks and I listen!

You’re Not Allowed

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It bothers me when a spouse says in public what their spouse is allowed to do and what they aren’t allowed to do. I can only imagine what that nightmare of a marriage looks like in private.

“My husband is not allowed to drink his coffee in the living room.”

“My wife is not allowed to work.”

“My husband knows better than to think he’s bringing home a recliner.”

I stay quiet as I hear these statements but in my mind I think, “Bully”. I believe when we try to usurp authority over a person we are in essence saying we are higher than God. The bible reads that God is not one who overrides your free will instead he offers choices. Those choices usher in his presence or not.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

My husband and I are very strong people in very different ways. I am verbal and will say what I think. He is non-verbal and votes with his action. So when we disagree we tend to stop until a compromise is reached. He has never said to me that I wasn’t allowed to do something and I have never forbid him anything. We both take into account the free will of the other.

Are there forbidden things in a marriage? Of course! Adultery, Abuse, Addiction, Manipulation, Lying are things that are forbidden in a marriage but I would think if I have to demand a ceasing of these actions then I married the wrong person who lacks love and character.

When we  continually call the shots, continually admonish our spouse as if they are our child, continually manipulate the finances, I wonder where Christ is in all of that? When it’s our way or the highway whole people sometimes cower for a season but they eventually fall away. Maybe they don’t leave the situation. Maybe they just go away emotionally. Maybe they begin to spend time alone not meeting our needs. Maybe they find someone who respects their opinion.

We can argue that the person who is experiencing the violence of the violation of free will, chose to give it up and I would say that is true. In counseling I often hear that they feel stuck because of a circumstance such as children who will be devastated by divorce, so they bide their time. Then there is the lack of work or experience where they can’t support themselves which often keeps them in this situation as well.

It can happen in the work place. There are those who feel threatened by their boss or their employee. The employee who continually threatens to quit, who calls in sick as a pattern on critical days. The boss who lords that there are plenty of people out of work over their employees. It isn’t right.

As Christians we are supposed to have no unwholesome talk come out of our mouth. When we think of unwholesome talk we think about cussing, gossip, but what about bullying? What about dragging about someone by a leash demanding our way? Isn’t that the tearing apart of a person of free will? Un-whole-some?

 

 

Near-Sighted

nearsightedI am nearsighted meaning I can totally see things up close but I can’t see things far away. To be able to see things far away I have to put glasses on. It’s a pain but hey at least there are glasses to correct vision right? There are no coincidences in life. Everything happens for a reason and my journey through 2015 was no exception, my nearsighted vision would teach me a lesson.

I heard Chris Hodges say once:

“Spiritual nearsightedness shows up in our prayers.”

Every Christian has a promise over their life. I could see the promise. I could taste the promise. I could reach out to take the promise. I was working overtime and when I was honest with myself, I was unsettled. I felt the Holy Spirit speak:

“Breathe, take a minute there are things yet to teach and do together before you enter in.” 

I wish I could tell you that I went willingly but you see when you’re a workaholic, you don’t just stop working willingly. Instead you pretend you misunderstood the prompting in your spirit or you fail to hear it at all. You spiritualize it and you begin to pray nearsighted prayers. The problem is that when you pray with nearsightedness your prayers aren’t to change the world they are change your circumstances to move in your direction. Nearsightedness causes the inability to get past the right here and right now and see the future.

So there is a choice. You can reach for the promise in your flesh. Meaning you make something happen but that is vastly different than allowing God to reach for the promise for you.

If you reach for a promise and aren’t ready for it you end up birthing an Ishmael which fails in the end, while had you waited for God he would have birthed an Isaac on your behalf.

Alright that may be confusing for those of you who aren’t Christian.  Let me back up. There is a story of a man named Abraham in the bible. His story begins in Genesis 12. He was married to a woman named Sarah and she couldn’t have children. God had given them a promise that they would birth a child. In fact, the Lord told Abraham he would be the father of many nations. Sarah was just hoping for one baby. Years go by and she’s an old woman and she hasn’t given birth. In her desperation she reaches for the promise in her flesh. In other words, she makes something happen on her own. She convinces her husband Abraham to have sex with their servant Hagar (I know we see the writing on the wall right?). The plan is Hagar will have a child and give it to Sarah because Hagar’s a servant. Hagar has a child and she names him Ishmael but she doesn’t hand him over. Instead the whole scene becomes bitter and embattled.

I chose to sit still. Have you seen a workaholic wait? It isn’t at all pretty.  BUT:

Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

So what are you grabbing for that isn’t in its season? Can you wait for what God has for you?   I promise it will be better than anything you can make happen!

 

 

Integrated

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Integrated – Adjective – combining or coordinating separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole:
an integrated plot; an integrated course of study.
2.organized or structured so that constituent units function cooperatively:an integrated economy.
3.having, including, or serving members of different racial, religious, and ethnic groups as equals:

I was sitting with my Godmother who is 89 years old. She was born in a time of segregation and being a Latina I am acutely aware of these circumstances on some levels and acutely oblivious on other levels. Meaning my heart hurts at the stories but to say I have experienced this level of treatment in my lifetime would be a lie.

My Godmother told her story with quiet assuredness,

“My mother wanted us to attend Cecil Avenue School. It was the white school and some of us our parents sent us to that school for a better education. Back in those days it was much different than it is today. We were not allowed to eat in the cafeteria because we were Mexican. Instead we had to eat outside. In the rain, in the heat, whatever the weather was, but we were kids and we made the best of it. Huddled under trees we stuck together.”

I sit and listen to her story and wonder if this is the reason she became a school secretary? She certainly never hesitated to give a student a what for. “You’re here to get an education make yourself a better person. You’re here so that if you desire you can go to college. You have been given more opportunities than we ever had. Don’t waste them.”

This is why segregation in any form is abhorrent to me. This ideal that it’s us against them regardless of the excuses for the behavior is ignorant. Studies show integration pulls people up not down. So why do we so quickly abandon the notion of equality? Because it requires we set our mindsets and our idea of who they, whichever they we are prejudice about, are aside for the truth. The truth being that we are all more alike than we care to think. That regardless of where we came from we are now here, wherever here is for you, and therefore should be working together to make here better.

On my way to see my Godmother I listened a podcast on This American Life. I have posted the link at the end of this post and I would ask you to listen to it by clicking on it please. I cried because here we are still squawking about equality by being separatists. It’s no better in the church. We elevate the segregation to doctrinal issues to make it holy.

Yet, I have hope. I see millennials who are crossing lines, untethered by pants, raised hands, and a tone of a voice which makes it male or female, and instead making an effort to make the world a better place in the name of Jesus. While CNN and FOX scream about Jihadists 24/7 there is terrorism of a different kind going on, in our neighborhoods and in the church. Let’s make a difference where we can. I think Jesus would be pleased if we extended our hands regardless of the color of our skin.

Click Here for This American Life Podcast

This Heart Of Mine

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Free people.

Free people.

Free people.

I don’t get to control how free people behave. I don’t get to control how free people respond. I don’t get to judge whether their response is reasonable or not. I don’t live in their head. I live in mine. They get to tell their truth. I get to tell my truth. We don’t always have to agree. We don’t always have to walk together. The response we have to free people shows our heart. It also shows our respect for others and ourselves.

That being said, it doesn’t give someone the right to trample on you. I’ve seen some pretty crazy relationships in the name of respect. Different doesn’t mean it’s good. In fact, it could be bad only you get to line it up with the word of God and decide. Where the line is drawn however is when we march off backbiting because the person didn’t agree with us or didn’t allow us to emotionally hijack them. Taking our ball and going home mad is fine when we’re 12, but it’s immature at 20, and looks ridiculous at 40.

Will we decide to keep score or will we forgive? One looks like flesh and one looks like Jesus. Our choice. Our account.