Monday, June 26, 2006

A Useful Life

In preparing to go through a Life Plan Facilitation with Kelly Thorne of Blooming Ministries I’ve discovered something. I’m lazy.

God has given me circumstances and people to confirm his useful plan for my life. Yet I keep coming back to “Why would God want me to do that? Maybe I should just enjoy life as it is.”

Two weeks ago at a writers conference, Jim Watkins said “If I'm going to be a faithful Christian, I must write.” It was one of those times when I felt like there was a megaphone aimed right at me.

Yesterday Greg McNichols at Newstart Community Church made this comment: “If you are not doing what you are created to do, then you are useless.” Greg was speaking on Matthew 5:13-16.

Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.

If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand.

Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand - shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16 (The Message)

Greg pointed out the Greek for “shine” in verse 17 indicates active participation. We are not a shiny piece of silver for God to display. One of my favorite verses, 2 Peter 1:3-4, also reminds us that we are given everything we need to participate in God’s divine nature. This is not about staying busy. It’s about doing what we are created to do.

A hidden light is of no use at all. Salt that is contaminated is thrown out as useless.

I can sit back and blend in, or share my thoughts in circles that create more havoc than peace. Or, I can do what God created me to do and be useful in this world. I don’t want people to look at me as a wall flower. I want to be useful in making others thirsty for truth and light the path to Christ. That requires active participation with God.

How about you? Are you allowing the “just enjoy life” culture to render your life useless. Being busy isn’t always useful and being useful is not generally the easiest path.

Here’s the choice as I see it. Do you want to just exist (busy or not) until you die? Or do you want to experience life as it is intended to be?

I’m choosing Life.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Quit Striving

Are you frustrated with life? Maybe you are frustrated with your boss or a family member? Have you thought about the real reasons for your frustration?

I’m not a full blown Type A. But I used to get frustrated when I wasn’t getting things done on my to-do list. Or when others wouldn’t do what they needed to do so that I could accomplish my goals. Another major frustration was being interrupted. Children are very good at interrupting life in small and big ways.

Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life begins with a powerful phrase. The first sentence in chapter one reads “It’s not about me.”

All Christ followers know that, right? Our frustration is because we want the best for others or the best for God’s kingdom, isn’t it? I’ve learned when I’m frustrated, I’m not trusting God.

Luke 1 tells about the angel’s news of John the Baptist and Jesus. John’s father and Jesus’ mother had very different reactions.

The Greek words for “how” in Zachariah’s and Mary’s questions are not the same. (search Luke 1 using the NAV with Strong’s Numbers at for more on the Greek)

Zach wanted to know the full game plan and proof that it was going to work before he believed. Mary was in awe and recognized that it couldn’t be in her power.

Zach is like many of us. We want to get the details from God so we will know what we are supposed to do. After all, God has gifted us to do things. Surely he will give us the game plan so that we can get started and get the task accomplished.

Can you imagine Zach at home after that? Headache? You can’t have a headache tonight. He can’t talk but he is doing everything he can to make this happen. He’s striving.

Mary left town immediately. She wasn’t thinking about her part in accomplishing this goal. She was anxious to get to someone who would understand God’s way of controlling the situation. She was living, not striving.

Our Type A personalities drive us to think life is about accomplishing tasks. Our only goal is to love God and love others. God gives us gifts to do that successfully. Most of the time, the circumstance is insignificant. The key is to remember that accomplishing God’s will for your life is not about you.

In John 14:6 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

Quit striving. Be excited about what God has revealed to you. Don’t try to take control of his goals. You can’t change people. You are not the way to God. You may know truth but you are not the truth. Enjoy the life of letting Jesus manifest all the truth he wants in exactly the way he desires. Our giftedness, personality, circumstances are God’s tools, not ours.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Who Moved?

Have you ever felt distanced from God only to hear someone say “well, if you don’t feel close to God like you once did, he’s not the one who moved.”

Hmmm, I’m pretty sure I’ve said that to others but I’m not so sure it’s true. Numbers 9:15-23 talks about the visible presence of God in the cloud by day and fire at night. This is how God guided the Israelites in their travels. Verse 22 says “Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on.”

My first thought after reading this section of scripture was wouldn’t it be nice to have the visible presence of God like that now? I was quickly reminded that we have even better than that. We don’t have to open our eyes to see God; we have his presence inside us. We are the Tabernacle.

The Israelites moved as one body. God’s presence is now spread all over the world but he still leads one body for one purpose.

God’s purpose is not about finding a place for us to be physically comfortable and stay put forever. His presence is in our lives so that we may carry on the work of Christ.

In Luke 4 we find the people amazed with Jesus’ teaching and healing. They don’t want him to leave their town. But Jesus says “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”

Numbers 9:21 says “Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning they set out.” A generation of Israelites wandered through the wilderness being taught by God how to live in peace. The next generation entered the Promised Land after being raised to move from place to place as God leads even if it isn’t where you really want to be.

Has God’s peace lifted from you? Maybe he is the one who moved.

Put on your shoes so that you are ready to spread the Good News that gives peace.

Ephesians 6:15 (GWT)

Personal note:

I told someone recently that God would show them the right decision. The nonverbal response said that’s easy for you to say. I laughed thinking of the times I was in her shoes. But the truth is, I’m learning this day by day right now. I have discovered that every day can be peaceful if I simply stay focused on God for directions. I used to have a schedule for everything. Now… my house is a mess and I’m not up-to-date on bookkeeping which caused some finance charges on credit cards. Those things would once upon a time have sent me into hysterics. But last night I had so much fun passing Frisbee with my kids and earlier this week we hit golf balls. I spent all of Wednesday at my son’s Pioneer Day and he even allowed me to be his square dance partner. My daughter and I have gone for walks without me ending up irritated at her (that happens when I have other things on my schedule that I want to get to) and I’ve even let the kids stay up a little later. Life is so much easier when I remember that I really don’t have as much control over tomorrow as I think I do. I’ve come to love Proverbs 16:9 “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” If I try to step according to my plans, there will be an awkward struggle. I’m becoming much more graceful (pun intended) in my walk with God. And it makes life so beautiful.

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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