Go where I send thee

It’s time for #fmfparty again. Five minutes to write on a word prompt. Last week it was welcome. This week, the word is send.train

And the first thing to hit my mind is the old children’s song:

Children, go where I send thee
Well, how shall I send thee?
I’m gonna send thee one by one
One for the little bitty Baby
Born of the Virgin Mary
Born, born, born in Bethlehem.

I’ll have to search youtube for the whole thing. It’s a little silly, especially when it gets stuck in your head. (Hey! I found a Hall & Oates version, who knew?)

Child, go where I send thee. And how shall I send thee?

train_graffitiWe have to be ready to go when/where God calls. And for some, like my friend, Eric Papp, or my sister’s friend, Sue Takamoto, it’s across the world. But for others, it may only be across the street.
Across the office.
Across the counter.
Where you are is where God is calling you in this moment.

Stop reading and look around you. This is where you have been sent. Is it a coffee shop? a bus? your living room? your cubicled office? a doctor’s waiting room?

Child, God is whispering for you to go where He sends you. It’s time. You are there. You have been sent. If you don’t know what comes next, pray to Him to show you who to reach out to, where to speak words of comfort, peace, healing, truth, and what to do next.

Go where I send thee.
I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday.

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To the new year

Fireworks_tallWelcome new year.

Welcome blank slate. Welcome fresh start.

Welcome new challenges. Welcome the old faithful ones.

Welcome temptations. Welcome trials. Welcome hardships. Welcome stretching experiences.

Welcome new friends. Welcome unexplored places. Welcome firsts.

Welcome health; welcome sickness. Welcome riches; welcome empty pockets.

Welcome laughter; welcome sadness. Welcome births; welcome deaths.

If I truly believe God is in control and sovereign over this new year with its good and bad, joys and sorrows, easy and hard times, then I welcome them all. If…

…we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

…then – welcome. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for His glory in 2015.

Fireworks_long

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday.

I don’t know what you’re doing

green teaMy husband is addicted to Lipton Diet Green Tea.

I suppose (full disclosure) you could say that I’m addicted, too, but not quite to the extent that he is.

So, when we go to Sam’s Club about once a month to stock up on green tea, we don’t just buy a case or two. We buy 10-12 cases. Of 24 bottles of tea. 10*24=240 bottles of green tea. Minimum.

I stopped by there tonight on my way home from work and grabbed a modest 9 cases to get us through a few weeks. Did I mention the addiction?

What I neglected to consider is that my trunk is full of boxes, so I ended up stacking the cases in my backseat. During the ten minute drive home the cases slid or fell over as I rounded several curves. With each plastic crunching crash, I cringed. And then sighed. Now my car – like my house and my life – is a mess.

(It’s not as hopeless as all that, and I’m reminded that my mom reads my blog and hurts with a momma’s heart when I talk about hard things. But I’m learning that I can’t always stay silent to spare her further pain. To all the mommas, your children are going to go through hard stuff in this life, both when they are under your roof and years after they have flown the coop. Of the joys and pains, heights and depths of being a mom, this is one of the lows).

Where was I? Oh, yes, the mess. There’s a lot going on that I cannot control right now. I can’t fix the problem in our basement. I can’t fix my husband’s chronic pain. I can’t fix problems with relationships. I can’t fix my heart. Etc, etc. It’s all way too much for me to handle. And lately, I’ve been not handling it in very destructive ways.

Who You Are

So, I’m driving home with cases of tea scattered across my back seat and Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Jimmy Needham’s version) playing through the speakers. I found myself asking God, how? How can I sing that your faithfulness is great? How is it great?

I know the answer as soon as I ask. It’s faith. It’s believing everything I know about God as revealed in the Bible – that he is true, that he is unchanging, that he is sovereign. It’s also God’s faithfulness, not mine that I lean on. I run away. I abandon him. He never leaves me. He never stops loving me.

And, so, tonight, this is where I am. This is what I can say: I don’t know what You’re doing, but I know who You are.

I had never heard this song before today, but that line hits home so perfectly and gives me the strength to hold on for today. And then one more day. And then another.

I hope you take the time to listen to this song. I hope it helps you find faith to trust what God is doing in your life.

I’m linking up with:

Day 30: Seeking the True Kingdom

Fall LeavesYou may be asking yourself what the deal is with all this kingdom talk. It’s not normal in our day and age to talk about kingdoms. Why should it matter?

When we live for ourselves, we are focused on things that satisfy ourselves. At our worst, we hurt others to achieve the things we want. At best, we are seeking only our own good – or the good of others to promote our purposes. All of this falls short. In Isaiah, it says that the good things we do are equivalent to filthy rags:

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Forget the good things we try to do, which clearly don’t amount to anything worthwhile – our iniquities or sins sweep us away like the wind carries off dead leaves. A few chapters earlier, Isaiah speaks prophetically of Jesus as being crushed for our iniquities:

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

God caused his son to pay the penalty of our sins, death, in our place. In exchange, we are given the righteousness of God. By faith in his name that exchange happens, and we are reconciled to (restored to a good relationship with) God.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Once that reconciling has occurred and relationship is restored, we are then free to focus on building his kingdom rather than our own. From the passage of scripture mentioned in Day 8, we set our minds on things above, not on things of the earth. We put to death the things in us that build our own kingdoms. In their place, we:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness,humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

If you’ve never done this, would you join me as we seek the true kingdom, the kingdom of God? Recognize that your best attempts at being good are still like filthy rags in the eyes of a holy God, accept that God took the responsibility for your sin and exchanges it with the righteousness of Jesus, and then, turning away from the earthly things within you, seek to live a life focused on the true kingdom, with God on the throne.

~~~

Tomorrow is the last day of the series. You can view all the posts on this index page:

crushing your kingdoms

Day 26: Four kingdoms (root idols)

apple orchardHave you had a chance to think through those questions from the You are here post? I sat down and went through each one. Frankly, I wasn’t surprised at my answers, even though I didn’t really like them. They pretty much confirmed what I guessed.

These questions are digging at determining the sin underneath the sin that drives most of our sinful behavior and other idolatries in our lives. I’ve heard several pastors and authors teach that these boil down to four big ones:

Comfort
Approval
Control
Power

The Journey Church in St. Louis did a series that includes these: Transformation. The sermon, Loving People by Uprooting Idols, in particular hits on this. If you  want to spend some time learning more about crushing kingdoms, these are a great resource. I know my church has preached on this, but I couldn’t find the audio anywhere. 😦

So, here’s the deal:

If your answers pointed to lack of stress, freedom or privacy, where your greatest nightmares are stress and demands on you, then you most likely have a comfort idol.

If your answers  leaned toward finding affirmation, love or relationships and your greater fear is to be rejected, then you are dealing with an approval idol.

Do you fear uncertainty and worry a lot? Do you regard standards and self-discipline above all else? This is the idol of control.

Is success the name of the game? Is everything about winning or asserting your influence over others? Then you’re looking at a power idol.

fallen applesThis is deep, heavy stuff, if you take time to really look at your heart and where your affections lie. I’d encourage you to go back through the questions and take inventory in where you have rooted your time, attention, and heart.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! – Psalm 139:23-24

Above all, spend time in prayer over this. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts. These deeply rooted idols are not removed without God’s help. But, it begins with a willing spirit to see what lies between you and God. One way might be to spend time praying through Psalm 51, David’s cry of forgiveness to God.

~~~

We continue to work through the series, Crushing Your Kingdoms, this month, with only a handful of days left. Click below to view the index of all posts in this series.

crushing your kingdoms

Day 25: Ears to hear and eyes to see

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”

So begins, Matthew 13, where Jesus speaks in parables to the crowds who followed him. We’re allowed to listen in to the conversation between Jesus and his disciples, where they ask him why he speaks in parables:

And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
    and with their ears they can barely hear,
    and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
    and turn, and I would heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Later, his disciples asked him to explain the meaning behind the seed that fell on different ground:

“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Let us pray today that, like the good soil, we would have ears to hear and eyes to see and know the kingdom of heaven.

crushing your kingdoms

Day 22: You are here – a brief recap

Dear Reader Friend,

There are less than 10 days left in this 31 day challenge. I’ve posted scripture and songs and stories from others. The things going on in my personal life (see Day 2 for a glimpse into THAT) have made it very challenging to carefully craft out a blog post each day. I lost a few days early on and am not quite caught back up yet. But thank you for hanging in there with me.

you-are-here-illustration by hikingartist (CC BY-ND 2.0)

you-are-here-illustration by hikingartist (CC BY-ND 2.0)

So, where are we now?

My goal this month was to look at the things in life that we try to build on, trusting in our own strength or ability rather than leaning wholeheartedly on God, his strength and his peace. I thought I would go through different things we try to rely on and show how they are kingdoms with foundations built on sand that easily crumble. Instead, my physical kingdom, i.e., house, crumbled. Not literally, but with water soaking our entire basement floor and an upstairs crammed with all the furnishings that were down there, it’s been a challenge. I’ve learned that I don’t need to wait until my house is perfectly decorated to invite people over. Instead, I’ve actually had more people in my house this month than probably the past three months combined. It’s hard to swallow pride and ask for help, but the community that has surrounded us has been worth it.

I’ve had some stumbles, too.

Temptations that repeatedly tease with their false hope of something “better” have been taunting me. Being tired and worn thin, it’s been easier to give in, to allow the serpent in the garden sweet talk me into taking a bite of his apple. When I look at it in light of crushing kingdoms, the sins I gravitate toward are often my attempts at building my own kingdom. The idols I manufacture are my attempt at putting myself on the throne.

The next step in this series, though definitely more difficult to spell out in words, is to look at four of those areas that are often classified as the deep idols. These would be the root of the issue, so to speak. If you take the sins you feel you struggle with and start probing even deeper, where does it lead you? At the heart of things, what is it you really long for? How do you figure that out? Here are some questions to begin asking yourself:

What do you worry about the most?
What, if it failed or you lost it, would make you perhaps not want to live anymore?
What do you rely on for comfort?
What do you do to make yourself feel better?
What do think about, or daydream about, when there’s nothing else pressing in?
What gives you your self-worth?
What are you proud of?
What would you want printed on your tombstone?

Think through these, so in the next several posts, you’ll more clearly see what deep idols you are clinging to as you crush your kingdoms.

Thanks for following along with me this month, whether you’ve been a faithful reader for a while or if you’re one of my new friends, many of whom are also participating in #write31days.

me in my World Help shirtHave a blessed day,

Janice
aka Claygirlsings ← (how this name came about)

Day 21: What others are saying

God is Glorious

I’d like to share several things, mostly from fellow #write31days bloggers. They may or may not connect, but all have been impactful for me.

Beth, of Simply Beth, writes:

God does only good things. Although this is true, He will use our hardened hearts as an opportunity to demonstrate His power and to bring glory to His name. He will use everything to bring glory to His name.

She refers to the story of Moses to show how God accomplishes His purpose, even with stubborn people.

~~~

Jennifer Neyhart has blogged about C.S. Lewis this month. While Jennifer and I connected over a discussion on Eustace Scrubb, it was this post on longing in The Weight of Glory that really got to me. She quotes Lewis:

If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Jennifer concludes:

We were made for a whole, complete relationship with God, lacking nothing! So of course our heart aches for more than this fallen world can offer. And we know that God has set eternity in our hearts; he put the desire there so we would long for him and not be satisfied by lesser things. Praise be to God!

~~~

(Jennifer’s mention of Eustace, from The Voyage of The Dawn Treader, reminded me of a post I wrote on the stripping off of some sinful thoughts and behaviors – Stepping out of your skin.)

~~~

And on the waiting, Cheree Hayes reminds us:

Right now, things are not right.
Right now, things are broken…so broken.
Right now, you live here – on this fallen, muddy earth.

And right now, by grace through faith, you are also “seated with Christ in heavenly places.” You wait for His kingdom to come make its home on earth. You wait with Jesus in tears and groaning prayers, longing… You seek the things that are above. You are a citizen of the Kingdom. It’s who you are now. So you wait, eager for your faith to be made sight.

~~~

I hope you find some encouragement from these bloggers as I did.

I’m blogging on Crushing your kingdoms this month.

Click here to read all posts in the series

Day 19: Christ is King over Ebola

Ebola virus virion

Jeremy Writebol is a pastor and blogger. He’s also the son of Nancy Writebol, missionary and Ebola survivor. Jeremy wrote a powerful piece about how Christians should respond to Ebola in the US. ← I encourage you to read the whole post on his website.

I love what he has to say about Christ being sovereign over viruses:

Our theology must start with Christ and with Christ as King over all, including microscopic biology and viruses. Jesus is king over Ebola. This epidemic and global outbreak does not take him by surprise or warrant fear or trembling from the Godhead. Christ is king over Ebola. Additionally this does not mean that God is some evil, maleficent deity. Ebola is a product of the fall. It is a product of a broken and sin-filled world. Christ is still king over it, and he will bring justice and righteousness.

Since I’m writing about it, I encourage us all to be praying for this global epidemic. Join in here – this prayer was posted to praytoendebola.org:

 

 

This post is part of the #write31days series, Crushing your Kingdoms.

Day 18: Even still

Do you know the old hymn, It Is Well? If you click that link you can read a very heartfelt reaction I had to that song a little over a year ago. I also share the story behind the song, written by a man who lost nearly everything.

This morning, as we sang the song again in church, I had a visceral reaction. The words that really hung me up are in a tag added by another band recently.

TreeThe words?
“Even still.”

It is well with my soul.
Even still, it is well with my soul.
Even still,  it is well.

Why “even still?” Because I sing the song with excuses. Do you ever find you do that? We internally might sing something like this:

It is well with my soul, but I hate my job, career, major.

It is well with my soul, but I don’t like my roommate, spouse, boyfriend, family.

It is well with my soul, but I wish I could live in a bigger/smaller apartment, house it in a bigger/smaller city, town.

It is well with my soul, but I don’t like my body, hair, ears, voice, feet, personality.

It is well with my soul, but I wish I was married, pregnant, single.

Even still.

The reminder is that, yes, this world we are in is flawed and imperfect and filled with people who sin (including ourselves). People may grievously wound us, intentionally or not. Yes, we may not be satisfied with our station in life. We may never attain that dream we’ve clung to our entire lives.

Even still.

With our souls it can be most well. Even still.


crushing your kingdoms

This is part of a series of 31 days of Crushing your Kingdoms. Click to read all posts in the series.

I’m also linking up with Testimony Tuesdays:

Holly Barrett
  • Hi, I'm Janice. I'm part bookworm and part creative. I love both science and music (and the science of music). I'm stumbling around trying to grow closer to God. Click the photo to read more about me.

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