finding vision - part I

Yep. It's another multi-part post. :)

I'm in this... I don't know what you'd call it... book club? class? ... THING. That'll work... It's a core group of people from Torch who are getting together once a month to talk through concepts found in some of the books we're reading. Last month's book was Visioneering, by Andy Stanley - and it was excellent. To help us think about what we're reading, our pastor gives us what he calls an application guide (and I call homework) and one of the questions he asked last month was really good.

The last question on the guide was, "What's your life vision?" to which I answered, "I DON'T KNOW" and that I'd get back to him on that - it occured to me today that I should probably get around to it - so, since I still don't know, I was re-reading the rest of what I'd written, and thought I'd share this bit.

So here's the question:
What are the top seven values that shape how you (will) live?

1. TRUTH - 2 Timothy 2:15 - "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." I want how I live to honor Him, and to teach (by both word (what I teach - written and spoken) and deed (how I live)) His truth.

2. HUMILITY - Micah 6:8 - "He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." I want to live the balance between justice and mercy well, which something you must have humility to do.

3. JUSTICE/RIGHTEOUSNESS - Isaiah 56:1 - "This is what the Lord says, "Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed." I want to be known as someone who will always do the right thing, and who knows instinctively what that is, even in complicated, messy situations.

4. FREEDOM - Isaiah 58:6 - "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?" I want to be a yoke-breaker, through fasting and intercession, both private (prayer-closet) and public (praying over people).

5. *SABBATH* - Isaiah 56:2 and 58:13 - I want to learn what this means. I'm not in a place yet where I would die for this - but i think it's God who keeps bringing it up, and it seems to tie in with how I am supposed to structure my life in order to achieve what He wants to do through me. I don't get it yet, but I want to... so this is a "should" - but I want it to be a "would" - and not to impress anybody but because I think it's what God wants for me... Isaiah 56:2 - "Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. Isaiah 58:13 - "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight, and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words...."

6. YIELDEDNESS - John 3: 8 - "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." Wherever. Whenever. Whatever. I want to be when and where He wants me, doing whatever He wants me to do at any given moment.

7. HOSPITALITY - 1 Peter 4:8-10 - "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."
Romans 12:10-13 - "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality."

I want to live hospitably - as a person of invitation - regardless of my personal circumstances. No matter how in need I am, there will always be something to share. "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you..." (Acts 3:6) etc. Hospitality involves so much more than just having people over for dinner, tho I want that to be a part of my life as well - it's inviting people into your life AS IS.

That last one is tricky sometimes. In spite of all I've written/thought on the subject over the past couple of years, I still find myself trying to clean up both my house and my act...

So what about you? This isn't a meme (unless you want it to be). :) But what do you value? I'd love to know.

prayer and fasting and faith on the earth - part one

I've been kicking a few thoughts around in my head, and working on this post for ages, and I have finally realized that it's going to take me awhile to sort it all out in my head... so, rather than not post anything for weeks, I thought maybe I'd give you a glimpse into what I'm thinking about. :) This only about half a thought so far, so please keep that in mind, but feedback, discussion, etc. is still more than welcome.

About a month and a half ago, Jon wrote an incredible post that raised a lot of interesting questions for a few of us, about the "greater things" that Jesus talked about, and what that really means. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." (John 14:12-14)

I've already written a fairly lengthy post on this verse and others like it, and a month and a half later, I am still mulling all this over. I still find myself incredibly challenged to seriously consider if I really believe that it's true - and if I do, then why do I not act on it?

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine was really not feeling well, and my heart totally went out to him. "Can I pray for you?" "Absolutely." So I went and got Stephie, and eventually we prayed.

It turned out to be quite the experience. I'm not really sure what it was like on his end, or Stephie's for that matter. But there were two dimensions of it for me that just left me wondering.

First, my hand on his shoulder got really tingly. Like seriously, pins and needles - but there was no "real" explanation for why that would happen - we were all sitting down and he was sitting on the floor, so it's not like my arm was falling asleep because I had it raised or anything. I don't really know how to describe it. And I found myself wondering - is this the power of God, flowing through me into my friend to heal him? I'm not sure... but he said later that he felt a lot better when we were done praying for him... which means that God was doing something...

Second, I ran smack into something we talked about on Jon's blog last month. Jon said, "i don't think it is simply a lack of faith that keeps these things from happening. i think it is because we have never practiced or tried, which is because of our lack of faith, which is because of a lack of practical examples." and then he raised a question:

have you ever tried to heal someone? and i'm not talking about "praying for healing." although that is the age old tradition within the church, i don't ever see jesus or the apostles doing that. they don't sit around, talking to the air saying things like, "dear god, if it be your will, please take away her cancer. may it be so, lord. may it be so. for your glory. amen."

no. they walk up, look the person in the eye and say, "be healed." they command it to be so with confident assertion.

That really tripped me up, I have to tell you. Because he's right. That's how they did it.

So this is what I said then:

I'm not willing to jump into the boat that says we can't do this. I've yet to walk up to someone and tell them to be well. I don't know if I can - and to be honest, I AM concerned about what it could do to someone's faith if I said it, they believed it would happen, and then it didn't. So there's the fear that prevents me from stepping out. I'm not a fan of the people who whack you on the head and tell you to be healed and wait for you to fall over - tho I do believe that in spite of the hype and in spite of the people who lie and twist it all for their own glory, honest people who are truly seeking God will still meet Him (have still met Him - I was one of them) in meetings like that.

But what if we could do it the way Peter and John did. Can you imagine that guy at the temple gate? His friends (or family) drop him off in his usual spot for another day of begging. Wow, that'll do a lot for your self-esteem... So Peter had to ask him to meet his gaze. What did that man see in Peter's eyes? What did John see as he watched? I don't know, but I think it was love. Compassion. A truly heart-felt desire to, on behalf of Christ, give this man a shred of dignity he had never known. I can almost see Peter grin as he reached down and took the man by the hand, the twinkle in his eyes as he tells him to get up. This man has never walked a day in his life. And AS he gets up (putting his own faith in line with Peter's?) his ankles become strong, and all the muscles in his legs he's never used are suddenly in working order, to the point where he can jump and leap in a way he'd only ever dreamed of for his whole life.

Imagine it, if we could bring that kind of joy to someone - the contagion it would be - how quickly the gospel would spread...

I don't know if I'm able to get past my lack of willingness to act on what I say I believe - but I hope I will. Because I think part of the point of miracles and whatnot (lol - "miracles and whatnot" - Happy speak for "signs and wonders") is to AID us in our faith - to help us believe. Jesus himself said something to the effect of, "oh for heaven's sake, if you don't believe what I SAY, then at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves" - that's paraphrased, but I think it's the jist and you can look it up in John - somewhere between 14-16, I think. :) He performed miracles as a testimony to who He was - and I think that's still the point. That, and just love...

(It's John 14:11, by the way.)

So that story in Acts 3 that I referenced in those comments has completely captured my imagination... and there is this very small - but very vocal - part of me that is starting to wonder if it is possible to say what Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you..."

"What I have... "

...What do I have? And is it really mine to give away?...

I didn't say it.

...but I wanted to.

I wonder what would happen?

reflections on an incident with blackberry pie

i am not the world's greatest cook. i have been known to burn vegetables. you know, the kind you put in water and boil on the stove? yes, those. i've burned them. my rice generally turns out sticky, i tend to overcook my fish, my omelets fall apart. but i like to bake, and i'm halfway decent at turning out brownies and cookies and i make a really good apple pie. (or so i believe.)

our minichurch (new word for small group) meets on Tuesday evenings and we generally eat. i decided, in a fit of insanity, to make a blackberry pie for dessert. i'd never made one before, but i found a sugar-free recipe online that looked simple, got some advice from Sara (who is a brilliant cook) about adding extra fruit, and figured i was good to go.

allow me to share with you some things i have learned:

1) frozen berries tend to get a little juicy when they thaw
2) when a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of apple juice as a substitute for sugar, and tells you that all you need is 2 tsp. of corn starch to thicken it up, you should be suspicious
3) as a result of the first two lessons, when you pull the pie out of the oven, and it seems odd to you that there's berry juice boiling through some of the slits in the pie crust, there might be a reason for that
4) if you are foolish enough to not recognize the wisdom in lesson three, and cover your pie with only a sheet of tinfoil, you really ought not to stack the pie on top of your Bible and journal and carry it tilted slightly sideways on your way out the door

i am not kidding about lesson 4.

i would like, at this point, to mention that I looked fabulous. i felt fabulous too. from about the time i left my kitchen till about the time my friend chased me out the front door to tell me i was dripping.

dripping was an understatement.

there was a veritable lake of blackberry juice in my purse (purchased, of course, on my last missions trip to Germany). (the juice lake missed only my wallet and my cell phone - what were the odds? (thank you, Jesus!)) sweater, jeans, my favorite jacket - khaki suede... oh, and did you know we have white carpet? the front porch and the sidewalk all the way to the driveway are covered in variously sized and shaped purple splotches. and my bible and journal are decorated as well...

i stood there - dripping - in the middle of the sidewalk, holding the pie, looking at the disaster, and all i could say was, "i don't even know what to do right now..." seriously, what do you do in a moment like that?

you stand there, dripping, and wondering what to do.

and then your friend comes and helps you for a minute, and holds the pie so you can at least put down everything else. and you get some paper towels, and you start to clean up the mess, one bit at a time. you get new tinfoil and more paper towels and a carrying case and you wrap the pie more securely and contain it for the next stage of its journey. and you change your clothes, and dash out the door late, and looking slightly less fabulous, only to discover that the Boy Scouts have parked you in. so you dash back in and choose politeness and patience when internally you want to scream. and you get to minichurch eventually. and everyone is kind about the fact that they find your story hilarious, and they express sympathy while laughing. and then you go to cut the pie and find out that no, actually, it was a bigger lake than you thought. so your friend takes the pie to the sink and drains the rest of it. and the boys all tell you the pie is really good in spite of being so soggy. and you think, well. next week i will make an apple pie to make up for this...

and then you just kind of grin, because while you have been a complete moron on several counts today, life is just like that some days, and in so many ways the whole thing with the pie really is the way life goes. so you live and you learn...

and next time you ask someone who knows how to cook what corn starch is actually for anyway.

a spin down memory lane

Heather over at A Deconstructed Christian posted an unusual video this week - someone covered a song and attempted to "Christianize" it, and it was... sigh. Well, anyway. Rabbit trail, and here we are, taking a spin down memory lane.

I have a very special friend whom I will simply call Little Sister (because that sums it up well). About 6-7 years ago, we were hanging out at her house one day, listening to music, and we made up a dance routine to this song. (This isn't the official video, but I found this one amusing.) :) It was fun, and one of the things I loved most about hanging out with Little Sister back then was how young I felt sometimes. We choreographed for the greater part of the afternoon and then her dad came home.

"Dad! We made up this dance, do you want to see it?!"

(I believe he grinned.) "Of course, sweetie! I'd love to!"

I stepped off to the side, intending to sit this one out. Little Sister knew the moves. She didn't need me.
"You HAVE to!!! It won't be any fun without you! I might forget something. I need you! Please?!"
"Yeah, Hap! Come on, let's see it." He was thoroughly enjoying this. And I was mortified. (I suspect he knew it.)

But she would have been so disappointed... So we danced.

It was really good for my humility. Lol. No, honestly. It really was. :)

And I am happy to say we are probably somewhat gifted choreographers, as they seem to have used some of the same moves we did.... lol. :)