Thursday, January 28, 2010

Modern-day Idols

I have been slowly reading through the Bible (started sometime last year) in between Bible studies. Right now I'm plugging through Isaiah, which has always been an interesting and sometimes confusing book. The other day I was reading in chapter 44 and there's a section about man making idols (verses 6-23).

A carpenter cuts down a tree in a forest. He uses some of the tree for wood in his stove. The other part of the wood he uses to make an idol which he bows down to. God points out the ridiculousness of making something out of wood and then worshiping it and asking it to save you. How can someone think that something they created themselves could have any power of its own? It's like picking up a stick and asking it to help you find a job. People would think you're crazy!

At first, it may not seem like people today make things to worship, however some definitely worship man-made things like money and power and status. While there may not be a shrine in one's home to these things, they still can hold power over a person and be the reason why s/he work so hard or is willing to blur the lines at times. People may not see these things as gods or idols, but they certainly can be.

It makes me wonder, what do I spend my energy, time and money pursuing? Is it something created by this world or is it God?

Isaiah 44:24-26 : "This is what the Lord says - your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense, who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers."

Just Say Yes...Part 4

Here is this past week's message a few days late. I think that everyone will find it quite relevant. You can listen to it here. Enjoy!

Just Say Yes...When You Have To Wait


We will spend two to three years waiting in line, approximately 6 months waiting at a stop light (maybe more since we live in Atlanta).

Even though we get a lot of practice waiting, we haven't gotten very good at it (In this case, practice doesn't make perfect.).

1 Samuel 16:1-13 : a twelve year old is anointed to become king but God does not give a timeline for when this will happen
>Why didn't God wait to anoint David shortly before he became king?
-->There is something that happens in waiting that is necessary in our becoming who we're supposed to be.
-->If we didn't wait, certain qualities would not be developed in us. (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-4)

We are supposed to wait actively.
1 Samueul 17:20-51
>Saul becomes jealous of David and tries to kill him for several years.
1 Samuel 24:3-12
>David knew that it was not his job to take out Saul so that he could become king. He trusted that God would fulfill his plans in his timing.

We are supposed to wait patiently.
>Abraham faced the consequences of his inability to wait on God for a son (Genesis 16).
-->We sometimes try to take God's promise and our plans and cram them together.

We should wait expectantly.
2 Samuel 5:4 : David becomes king nearly two decades after his anointing.
>David's waiting finally ends.
>Psalm 40:1-3
>Isaiah 40:27-31
-->We should have a sense of hope and excitement because we know that God's promise will be fulfilled.

Ultimately we are in a constant state of waiting - for the return of Christ.
>Romans 8:19-25
>Revelation 21:4

A reminder about waiting God is especially relevant in today's culture and economy. We're all about now and fast (Drive-Thrus, Speedos, Quik Trip, Rapid Release medication). At the same time there are many people who are in need of a job and have been playing the waiting game. I liked to reminder that we will always be waiting on something. If we're not waiting on God to lead us to a job, we may be waiting on wisdom regarding a certain situation. Even if everything in our life seems to be going smoothly, there will be an opportunity to wait coming up. It's always something.

For me, I am heading into a season of waiting with the book I'm working on. I am at the point of trying to find a publisher. I will submit summaries and proposals and then have to wait and see if I receive any response. I hope it will be easier to be patient throughout the process knowing that waiting has purpose and should be an expected part of life.

Right now, I suppose I am also sort of waiting to become a parent. I know that it is coming, but I don't know exactly when. In the meantime, I am trying to wait actively by preparing a place for the baby and reading about the various aspects of caring for a child.

What are you waiting for? Have you been able to wait patiently, actively, and expectantly?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

K.I.T. and Facebook

I am once again feeling a little frustrated about the issue of maintaining relationships. This time it's slightly different. I am recently aware of my efforts to contact people and then not receiving a response back. My previous concern was with having to always initiate contact. This new revelation is like the second layer - initiating but then hearing nothing in reply.

I do realize that people are busy. I also know how hard it is to maintain long-distance relationships, especially when you have friendships in your local area that you are trying to maintain. I can't really fault anyone for choosing to spend their time keeping up with those they see over those they used to see. It can be a little difficult for me sometimes to lose once-close friendships. I guess my purpose in blogging about it is to help me deal with the emotions involved with losing friends. Sharing helps me to let go and move on.

I am realizing more and more that Facebook has become a way to appear to maintain contact with others. You "friend" someone because you have known them at some point in your life. You may never visit their page or comment on their status or photos, but you feel like you're still connected. You may decide to look at their info every once in a while, but choose not to leave any indication that you visited. Relationships usually involve communication (specifically two-way) and Facebook (or Myspace - I'm not prejudiced) has helped to disconnect us even more while helping us to think that we're actually more connected. I think it would be interesting if there was a feature that would remove friends from your list if no contact had been made between either party for a certain period of time. I know I'd have a lot fewer "friends".

And that's another thing that irks me but that I am guilty of as well. "Facebook friends" - people that you don't really care to stay in regular contact with but are okay with them learning about your life online. It can really hurt to learn that you have been relegated to "Facebook friend" status when you thought you and the other person were closer than that - this happens when you learn about some major life change/event via the person's status rather than a phone call, email or some other somewhat direct mode of contact. I realize that email can be depersonalized, just like those group Messages people send out through Facebook, but at least they thought about clicking on your address versus skipping over you. Not that this really brings much comfort.

Okay, enough of that for today. I didn't even mention the whole mess of "defriending", which I'm sure will be discussed in a future rant. Until then, just because you never hear from me on Facebook doesn't mean you aren't important to me... (Right?)

Just Say Yes...Part 3

This past Sunday, Neal shared the third installment of our Just Say Yes series. It was quite enthusiastically given and one I think you would enjoy hearing. My notes are below.

Just Say Yes...When You Are Afraid

The Book of Esther

Even when God seems invisible, he's still evident and invincible.

Esther became the Queen (bride of the King) which meant that she received all of the rights and privileges of the royal family.

Esther 4:14-16: For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."
>Esther's call and response.

Even when Esther was afraid, she still said yes.

We must stop making excuses and start making decisions to just say yes.

Are we living fully in the promises and rights of God's family?

We aren't promised an easy life as Christians, only a great end reward.

Do you realize the full potential of being part of the Royal Family?

Do you believe that God has purposed you for such a time as this?

Matthew 10:28
>God is the only one who matters. Your relationship with him is what ultimately counts.

I really didn't have a lot of notes because I was engrossed in Neal's telling of the story of Esther. He really helped to emphasize God's hand in the events of that time (You can't make this stuff up!) I would strongly encourage you to go listen to it yourself for a fresh hearing of this story. He reminded us that even though God's name is never used in this book (the only book in the Bible in which this is true), you can see him moving throughout the story.

I am really enjoying this series because it is addressing the main excuses we tend to use as to why we can't (or won't) do what God is calling us to do (fear, inadequacy, lack of understanding - the unknown). It has caused me to think about the areas where I don't trust God to fill in my weaknesses or shortcomings. I am being reminded that there is no excuse where God doesn't have a provision waiting for me. The ultimate question is whether I trust that me + God will be able to overcome any obstacle.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Just Say Yes...Part 2

Below is this past week's message notes. I really enjoyed it and think you would too. You can listen to it here.

Just Say Yes...When You Feel Inadequate

Exodus 3-4 (Moses)
>Moses resisted God's call to use him (he even gave 5 reasons why he was inadequate!)
->3:3 "I must turn aside, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up." (NASB)
-->Moses did not HAVE to turn aside; he chose to. We also must choose.

How God are you at turning aside to listen to God? How hard is it for God to get your attention?

1. Who am I? v.11 (I'm nobody. How am I supposed to do what you want me to?)
>God does not look for extraordinary people, just regular people willing to say yes to an extraordinary God.
>v.12 (God's response) "I will be with you"
->Hebrews 11 - common people with great faith
->2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

2. Who are you? v.13 (What about your character and intentions?
>v.14 "I am". I AM the God who cares about you.

3. What if they do not believe me or listen to me? 4:1
>God asks Moses to trust him; provides miraculous signs
->God asks us to give him whatever is in our hand (unhindered access to what we DO have).

4. I am slow of speech and tongue. v.10
>v.11 Who gave man his mouth?...Is it not I, the Lord?...I will help you.
->God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called.
->God has made you perfect for what he wants you to do.

5. Please send someone else to do it. v.13
>God gives him his brother Aaron to help him.
->In community we help one another say yes to God.
->Who is your Aaron, helping you say yes to God? Who are you being an Aaron to?

What happened to the burning bush? Scripture doesn't say. Perhaps it's still burning, inviting us to turn aside and answer God's call.

The cross of Christ has made our insecurities irrelevant.

This was such a good message. We are all guilty of making excuses as to why we cannot do what God has asked us to do. It may be as simple as "It's too hard". I know I can be like Moses and just not want to (Please send someone else). But there's a reason God has asked ME to do this thing. There is something he wants to teach me or bless me with. I don't want to miss out on gaining intimacy with and knowledge of God. I need to stay connected so that I will have eyes to see and a heart willing to turn aside.

Is there anything in your life that you know God wants you to do but you keep making excuses? Perhaps you should ask God to answer your insecurities like he did Moses'. Of course, if you do this, you may feel really silly when you realize how small you've made God out to be. He can do ANYTHING with ANYONE!

Just Say Yes...Part 1

It's January and we have a new message series to help us start the year off right. I will try to be diligent in posting notes about each week. Enjoy!

Just Say Yes...When You Don't Understand

Genesis 12-22 (Abraham)

Pray this week: "Lord, help me to say 'yes' to you today."

Abraham's story tells us four things:

1. There's always a Promise
>God tells Abraham to leave everything he's known for an unspecified destination.
->People who say 'yes' to God hold things loosely (plans, possessions)
-->Is there anything you are holding on to that keeps you from fully responding to God?
>Abraham lived for another world.
>When God makes a promise, he ALWAYS delivers.
->It's one thing to believe IN God; it's another to BELIEVE God.
-->Doubt does not diminish one's faith.

2. There's always a Test (ch 22)

3. There's always a Choice
>Will you continue to trust God even when you don't understand?
->"Faith is trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse." Philip Yancey
>22:5 WE will worship and then WE will come back to you.
->Hebrews 11:19 - Abraham reasons that God could revive the dead (having never seen or heard an instance of God actually doing so!)

4. There's always a Provision
>"God is seldom early, but he's never late."
->Don't miss out on God's best/blessings for your life just because they aren't package din the way you want or expect.

I really enjoyed this message. It was good to be reminded that we have a God we can trust. This is a needed reminder because often we are asked to do things without knowing how it will all play out. God has a plan and we can trust him to come through and provide what is needed to accomplish his plan. Our job is to be willing to be part of God's plan.

Is there anything that I am holding on to that keeps me from being useful? I'm sure I am more concerned with "stuff" than I need to be. I definitely put a lot of hope/stock into spending a long part of my life with my husband. Not that God would ask me to let go of him, but he knows how much time we have together and it would be a big shock to suddenly be without him. I know it seems weird that I'm thinking about that, but I guess that's what happens when there's a new life on the horizon. I can't imagine having to raise a child on my own. I digress...I hope that I am not grasping onto things that aren't important at the detriment of being useful to God. I pray that if there is something, God would help me to see it and let go.

Reflect the Light

In December, our message series was "Light." I am just now getting around to December 20th's notes. I wasn't around for the 27th, but it seems like it might be good to listen to it to have all of the messages on here. So keep your eyes open for the fourth Light message. In the meantime, here are my notes from week three.

Philippians 2:5-7 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
>the Incarnation

Luke 2:6-7 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
>birth event
>Max Lucado quote about birth story

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
>the application of the Incarnation
->Put Others First
*In our culture, we are taught to fight for our rights and look out for ourselves. If we are this way with our own family, how much more so with strangers/neighbors/etc?

Philippians 2:14-16 Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
>Do EVERYTHING Without Complaining.
->We like to complain, to point out to God what we are lacking or what's not fair.
->Joseph didn't complain; Mary didn't complain; Jesus didn't complain

The light did not just come into the world, the message was handed off to us to reflect to the world.

Challenge: Instead of being drawn into the darkness, would you reflect God's light?
>Instead of fear and anxiety, will you choose peace? Instead of a critical spirit, compassion? Instead of impatience, kindness?

Philippians 2:10-11
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

I really enjoyed Jeff talking about exchanging negative emotions for positive, life giving ones. I wasn't able to write fast enough to get all of them, but I know they're all on the podcast. It was a good reminder to hear that none of the members of the family were given the best circumstances - Joseph a pregnant fiance, Mary an unplanned child, Jesus life on earth as a human - but they accepted God's will for them and chose to trust him with the outcome. How are we to know whether our difficult circumstances might hold an unseen blessing? God is faithful and can be trusted.

Happy New Year!

Obviously I am way behind on posting. I can't believe it's been nearly a month since I was on here. I guess that's what happens around the holidays. I will do my best to catch up on past sermon messages soon. In the meantime, I'll do a little updating.

As you may know, I've been participating in a women's Bible study with two other ladies in the neighborhood. We have all really been enjoying the study. I am surprised by how much I do like it. I was a little wary before we started. We have three meetings left with this study and will have to decide if we want to start a new study. If we do, it would be a great opportunity to invite others to join the group. I would certainly share the group's existence with a few ladies I know in the neighborhood. We will see.

Our last meeting before Christmas, we talked about trying to find a way to serve our neighborhood. I suggested seeing if we could help a Welcoming Committee get started again. It appears that there used to be one but I haven't seen any glimpses of one in the three years I've been here. The other ladies thought that would be the best thing to look into right now as it is too cold to do any sort of clean up/yard work. I'm trying to get some information from the board and will hopefully have something to report to the ladies at our next meeting.

I was telling my husband about what we are thinking about doing. He reminded me that I have been working on a community newcomer book with my job at church that could be useful to those new to our neighborhood. I love how he thinks of these things! It's definitely a great idea and would save some leg work if we do get something started.

I'm actually excited about getting more involved with those around me and hope that everything works out. Even with a baby on the way, this project is something that wouldn't require too much work or time. I will try to remember to keep everyone updated on what happens.

Is there anything exciting for you as a new year gets into gear?