Saturday, January 10, 2015

Thoughts on "Interrupted" by Jen Hatmaker

So I started reading Jen Hatmaker's Interrupted today.  Apparently it came out before 7, but it didn't cross my radar until last year. I put it on my Paperbackswap wishlist and, lo and behold, it became available last month!

I'm only a little ways in, but so far I am hooked.  Firstly, because Jen represents part of a movement I have noted in the last couple years in Christianity; a turning away from "Americanized Christianity" and reading and studying the Scriptures without our Americanized lens and the assumptions that go along with that. What did Jesus really say we are to focus on? Making a living and keeping up with the Jones' and the hustle and bustle and fitting in with the rest of society, giving in to the materialism monster? Keeping everyone happy? Doing all the good things expected of us in the church?

Authors such as Francis Chan, David Platt, and Jen Hatmaker are the ones who have opened my eyes to this change of perspective.  

The second reason I will keep on reading is that on pages 17-18, at the end of the chapter entitled "Holy Passion Meets Remedial Shepherd", Jen explains what brought her to this path.  She was studying the passage in John 21, where Jesus is asking Peter if he loves Him. Peter says "You know I love You", and Jesus says to Peter, "Feed my sheep."

Here is a quote from the book:

In my utter ignorance, I thought this was about doing more of what I was already doing, or maybe just a better job of it.  I was trying to figure out which sheep I was neglecting or how to be an improved shepherd to my little flock.  Longer prep time for my messages?  Better e-mail communication with my small-group leaders?

Basically, I was brainstorming how to improve my current performance, never imagining a whole new stage.
Nothing could have prepared me for what came next.  I told Him, "I thought I was feeding Your sheep, but I'll try harder."

And from the heights of heaven, this is what I heard: "You do feed souls, but twenty-four thousand of My sheep will die today because no one fed their bellies; eighteen thousand of them are My youngest lambs, starving today in a world with plenty of food to go around.  If you truly love Me, you will feed My sheep.  My people are crumbling and dying and starving, and you're blessing blessed people and serving the saved."

I couldn't have been more floored if I'd come home to find Jesus Himself making salsa in my kitchen.  I did a little checking, and those statistics were spot-on.  It dawned on me that Jesus was asking me not to do more of the same but to engage a different charge altogether.  He was still enlisting me in the cause of my generation, the mission of God's true church.
All of a sudden, I saw my exact reflection in Peter: devoted but selfish, committed but misguided.  And that is not going to be enough.  It won't suffice to claim good intentions.  Saying "I meant well" is not going to cut it.  Not with God screaming, begging, pleading, urging us to love mercy and justice, to feed the poor and the orphaned, to care for the last and least in nearly every book of the Bible.  It will not be enough one day to stand before Jesus and say, "Oh? Were You serious about all that?"

This testimony would be striking enough standing alone, but the reason it stands out to me even more is that two and a half years ago I heard the clear voice of God saying "Feed the People".   Hubby and I are still searching and praying and trying to figure out how exactly we are supposed to do this and how it can happen (and where). I am interested to read more of Jen's journey and how she responded, while still watching and praying (all the more) for God's guidance in our lives and what He would have us to do.

Prayers are appreciated!

Anyone else want to read with me?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The SEVEN Experiment: Staging your own mutiny against excess...........FOOD

I have joined a group of ladies in working through the study The 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.

The premise of the book is that we live in the land of plenty, and as Christians, we need to examine how we use our resources.  Are we using them as God would have us use them? Do we feel entitled to XYZ? Is taking advantage of what we have readily available at our fingertips kind to our fellow man? What does having these things say about our relationship with Christ?

What happens when we cut back on (essentially; fast from) the excess?  What happens when we stop and take the time to consider the source--how we get what we have here in the USA?

The 7 things that are a focus in this study (and were a focus in the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess that preceded this study) are:

1. Food
2. Clothes
3. Possessions
4. Media
5. Waste
6. Spending
7. Stress

This last week was on FOOD.  We each chose our own methods of fasting from food. One person chose to not go to the store the whole week and eat only what was in the house, another chose to eat like a third world country and pray for that country each day of the week, another chose to abstain from dairy.

I chose to eat a vegetarian (lacto-ovo) diet in addition to my gluten-freeness.  As you may already know, I have an extensive history of food allergy/intolerance issues.  That is one reason I stuck with the milk and eggs, because I don't want to overdo it on corn and soy in an attempt to make complete proteins.

While I was at home or at work, I did splendidly. I was in my "zone". I had a plan.
My leftover Dahl for lunch....part of the plan...

  But it only took one little excursion for me to completely forget about the fast.  We rarely eat out, and hubby and I happened to be out of town on Saturday, alone and together, mid-day, and opted to eat out at a Chinese buffet.  And.....I ate chicken.  The green beans looked limp and soggy, I didn't want to overdo it on the gluten so I avoided the lo mein , and I wasn't going to waste the money on cheap salad I could get at home... ....but I forgot the vegetarian stipulation and I ate chicken!

I. Ate. Chicken.

And you know what the sad part is?

I didn't realize my mess-up until later in the afternoon after we got home.

What did I learn from this?  I learned that, even when we make our own rules, we still fail to keep them. How much more do we fall short of keeping God's rules? The answer to this problem? Christ, of course. We are desperate for Him to make it possible for us to gain entry into heaven, and even to live a good and godly everyday life! 

I am so very thankful for what Christ has already done for me (paid the price for my sin so that I can one day be with Him forever), and what He does for me every day (forgives, graciously, my sins, where I fall short each day).  He loves me, and I want to have a relationship with Him.


That said, I felt Jen stopped the Food chapter short of showing the whole picture. She talks a lot about what God had approved for eating at various times in the Bible (Creation: plants, After the flood: Every living creature--even pork, after the Law: lots of rules to follow). She talks a lot about why, based on what we know today, these laws were probably put into place to protect the health of His people.

But she leaves it there.  At the end of the chapter, I was like, "What about when Peter has the vision and God tells him all things are allowable to eat?", "What about 'we are no longer under the Law, but under Christ?'" Was she really going to leave that out?

And then I came to I Corinthians 10:23, where it says
23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. (KJV)
And this is in the context of a food discussion.  All things are ok to eat, but all things are not the best thing we could be putting into our bodies. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so should we not take care of that temple, as much as we are given the resources to do so?

Just because we can eat something, doesn't mean we should.

God had a purpose for the Laws He made. And even now, when we are not under the Law, and all things are allowable.....they are not all good for us. And we do need to be good stewards of what He has given us...which is the main point Jen is trying to make in the study.

Something to ruminate on, for sure.....

Next week.....CLOTHES! (kind of hard in this change of seasons, and balancing life on the homestead and my library job, but we'll see how this goes!)

Monday, May 13, 2013

An Alarm Sounds. Do you hear it?

All members of my family of 5 are sleeping soundly, until the alarm by the bedside of one of these family members sounds.  The alarm persists, unattended, the need for turning it off unmet and ever more persistent until someone from another bedroom wakes, rises, and treks through the darkness of a 2am house to turn it off.

As I (yes, it was the mother) made my way back to bed, I was struck as to how this little piece of my life relates to where I feel I am at spiritually.

When a call to serve the LORD is put out, are you the one to answer that call?

In this instance with the bedside alarm, there were a few different people involved:

1. The person who did not hear the alarm’s call and did not awake to answer that call.  That would be the youngest child, and the deepest sleeping one.  She totally slept through it all.

2. The person who the alarm was specifically for, but did not awake to the call (or did, and ignored it).  It may be beside the point that my son inadvertently set the alarm for the wee hours of the morning, but the fact remains that the alarm was for him and he did not rise to the occasion to turn it off.  He should have, but did not.

3. The person who was sleeping in the same room as the the person for whom the alarm was specifically for, and decided it was up to the alarm setter to answer the call.  Maybe he heard it, maybe he didn’t. But knowing this child, he would totally decide it was up to the alarm setter to turn off the alarm: ain’t no way he was going to turn it off when he could set his mind to ignore it.

4. The person who heard the alarm, tried to ignore it but couldn’t, and finally got up to turn the alarm off.  This was me, the mom.  I’m sure some of you can relate.  When something needs doing and is persistent and effecting me(sometimes I claim these things are yelling at me), it is actually painful to have it continue unaddressed.  Sometimes it is just easier to do it myself rather than ignore it further (because I just can’t) or to get someone else to do it.  And let’s face it, even I don’t always know the right person to ask or have the most effective method of persuasion in these matters!  I’m also not sure I want to persuade the wrong person to do the task: that’s the LORD’s business.

5. The person who never heard the alarm, but heard about it from person #4 and didn’t rise to turn it off because it wasn’t bothering them.  This would be my husband, who truly did not hear the alarm, even when I alerted him to it. He did not hear it, it did not effect him, so he did not respond to the call.

Whether we are discussing the bedside alarm of a child, or a call to serve the LORD in some way, which person are you?

Are you not answering the call because it is not for you and you don’t hear it?  Are you not answering because you are ignoring it, even though you know it is for you?  Do you assume the call is for someone else and not you, so you then find ways to ignore it?  Do you hear the call, know it is not for you, but can’t stand that the need to answer it is not being met, so you do it anyway? Or have you heard about the need, but ignore it because you truly cannot hear it and so it does not bother you?  Or perhaps you hear the alarm, realize it's for you, and happily respond accordingly.

This 2am experience left me wide awake and pondering where I am at and what I am doing in my life.  Am I in the center of the LORD’s will in all that I am doing?  Am I doing too much in some areas, and am I doing too little in other areas?  Are there areas in my life that I need to, rather than begrudgingly “answering the call” that is not truly for me, gently let others know the alarm is sounding (or simply let it sound and pray others hear it) so that they can be made aware of it and possibly rise to the occasion?

Where are you in your Christian walk? Which person are you? What do you feel Christ calling you to do in your life?  What do you feel Him calling you not to do?  Examine yourself and respond to the LORD’s calling in your life.  He will not let you down!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Who are we trying to please?

As we each walk through life, as followers of Christ we need to ask ourselves this question in all that we do: Who am I trying to please?

In Galatians 1, Paul is speaking to the churches of Galatia.  There had been others distorting the Gospel of Christ, leading the people astray.

Galatians 1:10 says,  "For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."

When we start trying to please people, whether ourselves, our friends,  our enemies, the world in general, we need to question whether we are pleasing God with our actions.  Are we stepping back a bit from a Scriptural stance on an issue in order to win someone over on our side?  Are we distorting the Gospel of Christ as those in Galatia were?

Our first thought in assessing any situation in our lives should be Is this pleasing to God? Would Jesus be doing this like I am thinking about doing it? Does this line up with what He says to do?  Does it line up with Scripture?

This principle can be applied to our personal lives, our church lives, our political viewpoints and more.

So ask yourself.....who are you trying to please?

Lord, help us to seek to please You first and foremost in all we do.

And when we stumble and mess up? Lord, please forgive us and help us to do better in representing You to others. In Your name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Goals for 2013

I've been giving this some thought and have come up with a few things I want to focus on this year.

Here's my personal list:

1. Read through the Bible.  I purchased The One Year Chronological Bible in the NLT translation in hopes that the new approach might help me get through better. 

2. Encourage Gratitude. I want to either(or both) keep a gratitude journal open on a table, or have a monthly sheet hanging on the wall for anyone to write in what they want to share that they are thankful for. I have a gratitude journal already, and am looking at A Holy Experience for a printout I can hang on the wall...

3. More Music. Particularly music based on Scripture.  Pandora has been really helpful since I don't have the resources to purchase music, and it exposes me to other music I might not otherwise discover.

4. Simplify Life. This would include checking out my surroundings and culling what is not necessary or used or even loved. It includes deciding to cut back on the mail I have control over coming into the house.  It also includes cleaning up my inboxes and getting rid of the junk that fills my inbox and mercilessly begs for my money and time. All those emails I keep and never read yet never delete that my husband makes fun of me for ("You have 149 unread messages?!? Bwahahahaha!"). Delete. Unsubscribe. Mark as Spam.

There are other goals I have for parenting/raising our kids and other facets of life, but I might share those another time...

What's on your list for 2013?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

We are not a stick!

Yep. That was the phrase I took away from time spent Sunday morning with fellow believers in Christ.

The topic of the day was about the importance of fellowship within the body of believers.

Acts 2:42-47
 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers.
43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles.
44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common.
45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.
46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude,
47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them  those who were being saved.

There are times when we want to go to a secluded place and just be, ourselves and God, and exclude the rest of the world.

One of the ladies in our group talked about this--our tendency to sometimes think our spiritual relationships are only between us and God.  She moved her hand up towards the ceiling and down to her heart, then said that our fellowship needs to also extend to those around us and moved her hand to the left and the right---very much as if she were crossing herself--and said "Hey, that makes a cross! So...we are not a stick!"

We need to be living "like a cross". True, there are times that we need to pull away from others and remove the interaction with others. Jesus did this in Matthew 14:22-23, for example.

Too often I think we find ourselves focusing on one mode of fellowship--focusing either on our relationship with God or our relationships with others.  Basically, we are acting like a stick.  To be more than a stick--to make our life look more like a cross--is a balance that is sometimes hard to keep, but that doesn't mean we don't continue trying to make that balance.

I am one who tends towards going off by myself and secluding myself from others.  Sometimes this is out of necessity and where I am at in various aspects of my life, and other times I just don't want to move outside my comfort zone.

Look at yourself. First of all, do you have a relationship with God? With Jesus Christ? Have you trusted Jesus to save you from your sin?
Secondly, do you  have around yourself a group of fellow believers that you can have fellowship with?

Are you doing your part to nurture these very real needs in your life?

Are you feeling like a stick? Do what you can to be living like a cross. :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Habakkuk 3: Habakkuk's Prayer

In my last post, I shared how the LORD's main purpose in all that He does is to draw us to Him and for His glory to be praised.

Sometimes we refuse to glorify Him and look to other things for our fulfillment; we even go so far as to claim everything for ourselves, taking the credit for it all.  Now, before I sound like Obama, who was ribbed for saying "You didn't build that(insert whatever fits here).", it's not whose hands, abilities, or time was used to do said thing.

Rather, it's Who gave us the abilities, the hands, the materials, and the time to do said thing that is the point. The LORD has given us all of these things, and we should realize and acknowledge that fact.

How do you think your mom would feel if she made a huge, delicious Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings and received no word of thanks? It's a similar concept.

In Habakkuk 3, Habakkuk responds to what the LORD has said in the previous chapter.  Regardless of all of the bad stuff happening to His people, and the evil running rampant throughout the world, He is still in control.

Habakkuk remembers God and all that He has done to care for His people. From a human perspective, much of it might be seen as cruel, but in reality, God was doing these things to rescue His chosen people (vs. 13).  It is hard sometimes to see the motive behind the action, behind the pestilence, the plague, the shaking earth, the mountains trembling....but the point is that God is All Powerful, even though we feel everything is out of control.

Where do we place our trust? In our earth (that seems to turn against us)? In our leaders? Or in the awesome, all-knowing, all-powerful LORD?

In verse 16, Habakkuk relays his feelings after hearing the words of the LORD about His motives behind the things he has done and things He has allowed to be done.

Although he started out in chapter 1 lamenting the evil that surrounded him, pointing out the many wrongs that were happening in his world, his focus changed by chapter 3.  His focus went from pointing parallel to what people were doing around him, to looking up and realizing the splendor and the power and the majesty of the LORD.  Habakkuk's attitude was transformed from one of despair to one of fear and reverence. He was downright terrified of the LORD! 

And his next response?
16b I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us (God's chosen people, His anointed ones, vs 13). 
17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD!  I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.
19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains. (NLT)

In the volatile world that we live in today, know that the LORD still reigns on high. He is in control and more than worthy of our praise and glory.  May we rely on Him as our strength to get us through troubled times.