Tag Archives: Body of Christ

Merciful Days: Inspection Fear

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Inspection Fear

Heat-herding curtains hanging in the stair-well. Electric blanket on the bed. Drawers of summer clothes half-way traded for tubs of winter ones.  Outdoor play pieces and summer toys piled in the garage.  It’s Fall.  Suddenly.  Sadly. Unusually early.  The cold, rainy season is here.  And amidst all these season-change-over activities, I regretfully felt inspired to clean off a bookshelf and contemplate every book we own.  This resulted in piles upon piles of books waiting for new spots on our shelves.  (Or a trip to Half-Price Books if I can get my heart to admit that I’ve been treating books like they are family members.)

It was a mess.  An unending loop of uncompleted tasks. Daunting tasks that are great excuses for not completing other ones.  Like bathroom cleaning. Bed-linen washing. Meal planning. Homework supervising. Blog writing.

I haven’t quite got the hang of having a kid in school.  And our home is showing the fruit of my inadequacies. Our home looks like my heart and mind does.  Disorganized. Unraveling. Cluttered. In-process.

On Wednesday night I found out our landlord was coming to do an annual property inspection on Friday. [Continue…]

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Please Don’t Correct Him

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Rom 14v1bWith a huge smile and sparking eyes, our 2-and-a-half-year-old threw himself into my arms shouting, “Happy Birthday Mothers!”

It was the best Mother’s Day greeting ever.

He is ridiculously cute.  Two-and-a-half-year-olds say the funniest things.  I love, love, love the things he says.

PLEASE don’t correct him.

I know, I know.  He’s “wrong.”  His language is “incorrect.”  He needs to learn the “right” way.

But, apart from me thinking it’s cute, have you seen all the research about language development in toddlers?  The common adult need to correct toddler language can actually discourage healthy language development.  As he uses words experimentally to express his feelings and thoughts, correction can invalidate his feelings and discourage future attempts. Language specialists say that the best way to help toddlers learn is simply to model correct pronunciation and grammar in our every day conversations.  Over time, he will learn the intricacies of language by listening to all of us.

At this age, it’s not the “word” that’s important, it’s the concepts behind the word.  For toddlers, communication is the highest goal not correct grammar. To adults, toddler language may seem “wrong,” but their ramblings are developmentally appropriate.  On Sunday, his little heart expressed a blessing for his mother with full joy.  He communicated using a concept he already knows and loves: birthdays.  His “incorrect” words were full of meaning and emotion. Way more meaning than if he’d simply parroted the right words.  He associated concepts and compiled words to express his feelings.  Bravo my son.  Bravo!!

Yes, correction is needed.  And it will happen.  But this is a season of attempts.  Of experiments.  A season to savor his cuteness.  There are many serious lessons ahead and correction will be given.  He is becoming a full-grown man but that takes a lot of time.  But for now we are enjoying these days of gorgeous childishness.

My child’s attempts delight me. Please don’t correct him.

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My mother-heart is thinking about Abba Yahweh and His leadership of each of our sanctification journeys.  I’ve never thought about it until today… but as a Father, He must be delighted by our sweet developmental stages.  This amazing God of Grace and Mercy.  This God of Redemption and Transformation.  He must utterly enjoy our sweet attempts as we grow in Him.  As we worship Him, serve Him, Love Him, follow Him.

We see it woven through His Word.  He sees beyond our outside behaviors.  He sees our hearts.  He knows who far we’ve come.  And He is proud of His children.  His masterpieces.  His beloveds.

And I wonder: Do I ever give correction to His children without asking the Father what His plan is for them?  Do I point out “problems” just because I consider them to be problems?  Am I part of God’s Plan for developing people or am I administering my own plan?  Am I using common sense and experience-based wisdom instead of asking the Holy Spirit each and every time?

Oh friends. The weight of this is big.  For my son, someone’s well-intentioned correction could produce a language development problem.  For God’s children, someone’s well-intentioned correction could produce a spiritual development problem.  Or… even cause someone to walk away from God’s Love all together.

We have to give correction in the right way and at the right time.  And only Almighty Yahweh knows how and when.

Now. It has to be said: When something is wrong, it’s wrong.  Loving correction and coaching towards Truth is an essential part of our growth in God. And it is so important for Truth to be given when error exists. Right?! Yes. And God’s Word gives us directions and guidance about giving correction within the Body of Christ.

But, I am hearing the Father’s Heart cry out to me through my own motherhood journey.  Correction given in the wrong time is not good and it’s not godly. Just like our sweet 2-year-old is on a developmental learning curve, all of God’s children are on a journey with Him.  A non-linear, unique, God-orchestrated journey.

Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with – even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.   (Romans 14:1 Msg) [Check out the whole chapter: Romans 14]

I wonder if correction given outside of God’s Plan could be some of those “idle words” we will have to give account for?

Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. (Matt 12:36 Msg)

I wonder how often God is saying to me. To you. To us: My child’s attempts delight me. Please don’t correct them.

Sanitation Specialist. Astronaut. Arborist.

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Rom 12v11“When I grow up I could be a Trash Collector!  Or I could go to Space!  Or be a Tree-Planter!”

Her face was alive.  Her heart captivated.  The dreams of her future were all so exciting.  Every option equally beautiful.

My grown-up judgemental sensibilities laughed.  Those are three very different options.  Each with different stigmas.  And paychecks.  And lives.

O my sweet child.  How grandly simple your world is.  How cute you are.

Yet her excitement and joy call to me.  Cutting through my cynicism.  Wooing my heart to pursue her simple purity.

Her eagerness to have a function is, honestly, delightful.  Refreshing. Inspiring.

I’m thinking about the vision Yahweh gave us for the Body of Christ:  All parts needed.  Each essential.  Each beautiful.  (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4)

But how, instead, many parts are absent.  And some parts feel like a burden we have to endure.  And some parts seem ugly and not like Jesus at all.

Ugh.  When did we allow ourselves to get so sick?  So misshapen? So unteachable? So individualistic? So jaded? So offended? So self-righteous?  So dysfunctional?

O, why aren’t we a heart-captivated people?  Why aren’t we waking up each day exploding with excitement to function in the roles the Spirit gives us?

Where did our joy go?  Our simple purity?  Our passion to serve His Kingdom?

Once again, my four-year-old daughter is my mentor.  Today I’m asking the Holy Spirit to strip away the things that daily taint my heart, and to re-inject my heart with that beautiful simple passion to do anything, everything, whatever He wants.  Selah.

Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. Be glad for all God is planning for you. (Romans 12:11-12a NLT)

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord. (Romans 12:11 Amp)

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others. God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. (Romans 12:4-6a NLT)

My Beautiful Flock

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Jer13v20This has consumed me:

Where is the flock that was given to you [to shepherd], your beautiful flock? (Jeremiah 13:20b Amp)

As I read Jeremiah 13 today, these words reached out from the page and grabbed me.

Where is the flock that has been given to me to shepherd, my beautiful flock?

Personally, I know Yahweh has asked me, called me to be a shepherd.  For nine years I did so as a “professional” pastor on staff at our church but for the past four years I have not been in a formal, official pastoral position.  I have not, however, stopped serving those God has given to me to care for.  It just looks different.  It looks… less structured. Less frequent. Less purposed.

Oh.

Where is the flock that has been given to me to shepherd, my beautiful flock?

Today I’m praying.  Who I am supposed to be caring for today?  The flock of this season.  Not necessarily those I cared for in the past.  I’m asking the Holy Spirit to tell me who He has given to me today, for this season.

Without a doubt my children and husband are at the top of that list.  And I could easily assume four other specific people are also on that list.  They’ve been on my list for many years.  God spoke to me about caring for them.  But, beyond my immediate family, I’m not going to assume anything.  For, honestly this is more about my relationship with the Holy Spirit than the completion of a task.  So the one thing I can confidently assume is the Holy Spirit will have something new for He and I to talk about.  And that is beautiful.  For I am a sheep in His flock.

So, with prayer journal in hand, I’m about to talk with God about my flock.  My beautiful flock.  I have a huge sense of anticipation.  Who is He calling me to care for now?

When I know who He has called me to care for, I can give my energies with joy.  And I can let go of others, with joy. It is so exciting that God invites me to be part of His Kingdom and He gives me important work to do.

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I submit for your consideration:  If we all cared for the flock God asks us to care for, would the entire Body of Christ be well cared for?  What would we all look like, if we were sheep well-cared for?  What would it do for the health of The Church?  What would it do for the health of all our work-lives, families, marriages?

Is it grabbing your heart too?!  This feels so massively important and beautiful.

Where is the flock that was given to you [to shepherd], your beautiful flock? (Jeremiah 13:20b Amp)

Where is the flock that has been give to you?

Phone Call

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Eph 4_16bThe usual grey cloud covering is gone. The sky is clear. The sun is warm.  It’s a glorious day.  And yet, this morning I felt sad.

Sipping a cup of coffee without chatting to someone.  Preparing dinner without co-chefs.  Doing dishes alone.  After living life with 10 people, our little family of four is feeling sparse.

There’s a gaping hole in my heart carved by the deep desire to share life.  This morning I was thinking about dear friends who have moved away, and our good-old-days of youth ministry, and how good it felt to have a place to use my gifts as part of an awesome team.

This morning I felt… alone.

The phone rang and interrupted my lonely thoughts.  Perfect timing.

“I wanted to call last night,” She explained. “But I felt to wait.  The Holy Spirit had me call you today.”

Her call was about a project but as we talked she threw in side comments about my life, my motherhood, my gifts.  Amidst the business, she snuck in encouragement, and affirmation, and vision.  Her comments addressed the list of feelings I’d been having today.  This was not your garden-variety phone call.   It totally rerouted my day.  Somebody thought of me.  I am not alone.

Our church family is in a study about the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus recorded in Luke and in the Early Church recorded in 1 Corinthians.  Yesterday’s message was about the type of life Jesus wants us to be living: A life of miracles.  A life that is overflowing with the power of the Holy Spirit.  A life that is open to, responsive to, and excited for the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Today’s phone call was that.  Perfectly timed. Full of prophetic encouragement. Flowing with Life.

Sure, it wasn’t a feeding of 5,000 or a raising from the dead.  But it fed and gave life to my heart.  And, thankfully, I matter to God just as much as the big miracle situations.

I am so thankful she made time to listen for God. So thankful she made time to call.

I’m feeling inspired and challenged: What opportunities is the Holy Spirit giving me today?  Will I hear Him? Will I say yes?

A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. (1 Cor 12:7 NLT)
Under His direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (Eph 4:16 NLT)
If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.  (Gal 5:25 NLT)

What opportunities is the Holy Spirit giving you today?  What do you do to make space to hear Him?  What do you do to make time to do what He says?

Goofy Foot Revelations

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I learned to snowboard during the huge December snowfall of 1998.  The day I first strapped on a board, there was over two feet of new snow on the slopes and it kept falling hard all day.

Not only my first day snowboarding, it was my first snow experience of any kind.  This girl from the tropics was pretty excited.

I took a group lesson.  At first it was awesome.  Everyone moment was magical.  Then it was frustrating.  I couldn’t stay balanced.  I spent most of my time on my butt (or face).  Snowboarding was hard.  It wasn’t fun.  I was cold.

Then a moment that changed everything: the instructor switched by board around.  “That’s the problem,” he encouraged me. “You’ve been leading with the wrong foot.  You’re a goofy foot!  No wonder you’ve been having a hard time.”

That switch was a game changer.  By the end of my first lesson, I was a skilled “falling leaf” snowboarder.  😉

My joy and success came from one important thing:  Knowing which foot to lead with.

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He moved me to tears.  His words were beautiful truth.

He said something like: The church is a family that is offending each other and forgiving each other. Over and over.

Forgiving each other.  That’s what makes us different.  THAT is our hallmark.

NOT that we are un-offensive.  NOT that we meet or hold others to some level of appropriate behavior.  NOT that we deserve to be loved.

Our cultural identifier is: Our unending forgiveness of each other.

Oh Francis Chan.  Thank you for pointing, once again, to the fullness of God’s Word.

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When I talked to my amazing husband about it, he asked “what about correction?” 

He is right, of course.  If it’s all about forgiveness, when does correction happen?

Correction needs to happen.  Mentors need to speak instruction and guidance.  People need to change.  God’s plan is to transform us towards holiness.

But, isn’t it all a question of which foot we lead with?

If we LEAD with correction and follow with forgiveness, are we truly behaving like God’s people?

In a world of regular-foot riders, God is a goofy foot.

In a world where we give forgiveness only when it is deserved, God gives it liberally while we are still inflicting Him.

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. ” (Romans 5:6-8 NLT)

To mirror our Father Yahweh, we must LEAD with forgiveness and follow with correction.

Check out Matthew 18:20-22.   Two well-known passages that happen to be right after the other!

For where two or three gather together because they are mine,  I am there among them.
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No!” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:20-22

In the midst of our community, God dwells… and forgiveness between humans is needed to the nth degree!

Riding goofy foot made my life better

Snowboarding regular foot was awful.  I was miserable.  I was struggling.  I was failing.  Riding goofy was fun.  My body worked better.  My balance was strong. I stayed on my feet.

How much better will life be if we live with the right leading foot?  Our church families will work better.  Our faith balance will be strong.  We will stay on our feet.

Forgiveness first.  Correction second.

The church is a family that is offending each other and forgiving each other. Over and over.

I have new glasses on:  I am expecting my friends and church family to offend me.  And I am bracing myself to lead with forgiveness.  I will choose it… (Help me Holy Spirit!)

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My community of goofy-footeds

I am now choosing to lean towards those people who ooze forgiveness.  I want to be a groupie that follows forgivers around.  I want to be bubbling with it.  I want my words to be full of grace.  I need to rub shoulders with people who lead with forgiveness.

Thinking again about 1 Cor 13 being a snapshot of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  It’s a passage about the Body of Christ (not marriage / weddings). Read 1 Cor 12 & 14 to see the whole picture.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

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This post is a response to the “Fellowship” topic in Francis Chan’s “Basics” small group study.

P.S.  I am not talking about abusive situations.  (Abuse is not ok.  Run.  Get help.  Stay away from dangerous people.)

Escalators

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She has loved them her whole 4-year-old life.  She smiles with pride as she confidently steps on and off.  She giggles as we travel up and down. Up and down and up and down.

Today her world changed.  At the top of the escalator she froze.  Her body gripped with panic and screams.

I don’t know where it came from.  Fear.

She pulled away from my hand.  She backed away with wild eyes.

The only way to get my sweet daughter on the escalator was to pick her up and take her onboard with me.  Then she was happy to be put down and ride to the bottom where she stepped off with no problem.  It seems it’s the beginning that is the problem.  The launch.  The start.  The first step.

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Today’s escalator adventures has me thinking.

How does something loved become something feared?

How do I step onto the escalators of life?  The travelling into new seasons?  The journey to a new level?  The jump into the unknown?

I want to be full of excitement. Not fear.

When fears are born they rob your life. And the Body of Christ. And the world.

I have some praying and reflecting to do.

What areas of my life are being affected by fear?

For I am overwhelmed, and you alone know the way I should turn. (Ps 142:3)
O my people, trust in him at all times.
Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. (Ps 62:8)
I command you — be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.  (Josh 1:9)