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

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You Will Find Him Here

Today is Day 19 of the series on rest.
I posted this song nearly a year ago, but the message is perfect for the Rest series. You will find Him – He is here. Come and rest here.

Photo credit: Piotr Zarobkiewicz (CC-BY-SA-3.0 Creative Commons)

Claygirlsings

Come and rest here.

I haven’t been able to get this song out of my head for some time now. It pulls at some inward broken place in me, drawing me in. Do you feel drawn to find rest?

Come and lay your burdens down.

Come and rest here.

There is refuge for you now.

Doesn’t your soul ache from the pressures of life? Don’t you want a safe place to hide?

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Day 13: Rest from Idolatry to Worship

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Has your soul felt rest today?

It was wonderful to be in Karis Church worshiping the Lord with my brothers and sisters.

The sermon focused on idolatry (Exodus 32:1-33:6), which tied in well with my post from yesterday about cracked pedestals. The gist of the sermon was roughly this:  like the gold-powdered water that Moses made the Israelites drink in that passage, idolatry leaves us with a bitter taste. But Jesus calls us away from idolatry to worship.

There were a lot of great points, which, unfortunately, I couldn’t get down fast enough, but I did note one quote from Tim Keller:

Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves.  Joy-based repentance makes us hate our sin.

Cool stuff, eh? I highly encourage you to listen to the sermon, by a Karis Church deacon, Billy Glosson. You can either listen online or download the mp3.

How have you been learning to rest this month?

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Today is Day 13 of 31 Days of Rest.

Day 10: On What are you Resting?

Saturday schedule grid at BarCampLondon 5

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Let’s have a brief chat here, shall we?

You’re tired. I know you’ve done your make-up so those shadows under your eyes are camouflaged, but when I look deep into your eyes, I see the weariness. There was a moment, when the conversation swirled around someone else and you sorted of drifted off to another place. Not asleep, though that’s happened at times, too. A glaze separated us and you, just briefly.

I want us to be real enough friends that it’s okay to admit you’re tired. Like a group of girls I used to meet with every other week, let’s let it be okay to show up in sweats or even our pjs. We’re all pretty worn at times; let’s stop trying to hide it.

I spent some time with a mom of two young children recently and she was exhausted, but young ones need looking after, her lack of rest is not by choice.

But sometimes it is by choice, like my busy schedule this week. There are valid things that need or ought to be done, but I waste a little time on Facebook or play a couple more rounds of Temple Run 2. Or I might suddenly decide that the junk mail really needs to be sorted out, right now, and then I’m late to an appointment. I manage to reach one deadline successfully, only to realize that two more fell through the cracks.

Why do we run ourselves ragged? Why, when we are already stretched thin, do we spend valuable time on worthless activities, that neither help us cross off another item on the to-do list nor give us a moment of rest?

I’m not sure I know the answer to this one. If you have a theory, feel free to share it in the comments.

What I suggest we think about in this moment is not why we add things to our daily tasks, but what are we filling our days with. When you look at all the things you have to do and all the things that distract you, what do they center around?

Are they things that will make you look good in front of your colleagues, friends, or family?

Do you do them so you will be seen as successful or to get rewarded at the office?

Do you keep doing the same activities because it’s what you’ve always done?

Are they things you enjoy doing?

Does a never-ending to-do list make you feel like you are in control?

Are you worried what might happen if you didn’t have every minute of every day scheduled?

I just started reading Timothy Keller’s book, Counterfeit Gods, where he explores, as the subtitle says, the empty promises of money, sex, and power, and the only Hope that matters. He talks about idols in the book, which many would think refers to statues or replicas of something to bow down to and worship, but Keller refers to an idol as, “something that we look to for things that only God can give.”

I flipped ahead a little and found where Keller offers four ways to determine what our idols might be. He suggests considering what you spend your mind on what your mind go to when you find yourself alone, what themes repeat in your daydreams. Another way is to browse through your checkbook and see how/where you spend your money. Spending patterns will reveal our idols. A third test is to look at when you have unanswered prayers, frustrated dreams or unrealized hopes. When you don’t get something you really wanted and you lose it emotionally, whether by anger or despair, that points toward your functional savior. Yet another way is to review where you lose control of your emotions. Look at the moments when you experience strong anger, fear, despair or guilt.

So what do we do when we look at the busyness in our lives and realize it’s because we are functioning as if these things were our gods? Confess these things and try harder next time? Yes, and no. Repenting of putting money, sex or power before God and continuing to grow in grace are necessary but only part of the equation. We must learn to view Jesus as more beautiful, more worth striving for than these empty idols that will never satisfy. We must replace these counterfeit gods with the one True God.

Do this, and you can bet you will feel restful, even with a busy schedule.

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Can you believe it’s Day 10 of the 31 Days already!?! Click the button to find links to every post in the series.

And I don’t say it often enough, but thank you for reading my posts day in and day out. I know a few of you are faithful readers, some who don’t comment often, but you’re still here and it means so much to know that you are. So thank you.

Day 7: Rest Provides Margin

Photo credit: Pauli Antero via flickr (Creative Commons)

It’s been interesting to begin a series on rest when I was having one of the busiest weeks of my year, definitely of my fall (so far). Some of the things on my plate outside of work responsibilities were:

  • completing church communications tasks (writing a newsletter, maintaining a Twitter and Facebook page, reserving rooms, communicating with team members),
  • getting out early for Lead School (and finishing the reading before the session),
  • helping my husband with some graphics and printing needs for his business (and I’m not trained to do graphics),
  • starting up regular exercise again after recovering from foot injuries (to both feet), and
  • continuing to promote the launch of The Wall Around Your Heart (releasing October 15).

And I felt pretty overloaded but tried to find space in the hours I had to make it work. I was trying to find rest in the middle of it all. Some of the time, that meant I had to forego (forewent isn’t a word, is it?) pleasures like watching TV or playing games. Sometimes it meant taking a deep breath and deciding what was MOST important (since everything feels so important at the time). Sometimes it was choosing sleep over getting one more thing done (I had a great convo with Rachel, who is both a super-cool friend and super-smart PhD student, about sleep – watch for a post on that soon).

Photo credit: MoneyBlogNewz via flickr (Creative Commons)

There’s a key point that I’m learning about rest, and it relates to community. By building rest into your life (not sleep, here, but soul rest and spirit rest), you are building in margins. There’s space around you to flex and breathe. We need to have that margin of rest built into our lives, so when we are needed by a friend, spouse, child or parent, we have the resources to give out.

Here is an excellent example shared with me by another great friend: she was told that she had a dime for each day. From waking up until sleeping, there was only 10¢ to spend. Every task costs money and more expensive items cost more emotional, spiritual or physical energy. Laundry was 1¢, a tough conversation with a spouse or friend was 5¢, etc. She had to decide how to spend her dime each day, but when it was gone, there was nothing left.

Rest is like adding deposits to your day’s account. This is why I’m not emphasizing sleep. Sleep adds maybe a penny, but meditation on Scripture = 5¢. We need rest in our lives so we have more to give to others.

Jesus shows us this by His example.. The book of Mark records how Jesus would go into community and heal people and teach, then he would retreat to the Sea of Galilee. People followed him there and he would heal and teach, then retreat to the mountains. People followed him, he would teach and heal, then retreat. He continually sought out moments of rest. The times of rest refreshed Him for ministry.

By building rest into our lives, you/I can drop all the seemingly important things to focus on this one thing (a distress call from a friend or a neighbor in need at the door), because you/I have extra deposits in your rest account.

Does this make any sense? I’m kind of unwinding this ball of thought as I go – I’m learning right along with you here.

Photo credit: on2wheelz via flickr (Creative Commons)

Taking time to rest, in its various forms, provides margin in our lives that we can, in turn, pour out on the community around us. Are you creating those margins in your life, adding deposits to your account? Think about that as you go through your day.

31Days_Rest_thumb  ← Click to find links to each day in the series.

There are 1500+ blogs participating in the Nester’s 31 Day Blog Challenge. We’ve chosen nearly 1500 different topics, organized under nine categories. You’re sure to find one or more topics that interest you.

This week I’m linking up with these blogs:
              

Called to Rest – 31 Days

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.                                                                                                           – Matthew 11:28-30

We spend so much of our lives striving for something. We work to fit in with peers, we fill our calendars with events, we climb the corporate ladder. Our children study to reach SOL goals (or whatever they’re being called these days), their evenings and weekends are filled with dance, soccer, girl scouts or AWANAs.

As a successful up-and-coming, the modern-day answer to the question, “How are you?” is “Busy.”

But how many of us, when the day is done and the party is over and we’re finally alone in our homes, are just plain worn out? We kick off our shoes and get into some comfy sweats and sigh deeply. We long for the weekends, vacation, a holiday or just a day off, but even then we fill those to the brim, finally exclaiming, “I need a vacation from my vacation!”

Jesus calls us to rest.

Join me for the next month as we learn to rest. Together, let’s take a deep breath.

Inhale. Let’s look at things we should rest from – the busy schedule, trying to please everyone, our own perfectionism.

Exhale. We’ll ponder things we should rest in – God’s strength, His promises, His grace.

Inhale. Let’s take time to let a peaceful song wash over us, soaking in words of hope.

Exhale. We’ll meditate on scriptures that encourage us to rest.

31Days_Rest

It’s time for 31 days of blogging as part of the Nester‘s annual challenge. Last October 1200+ joined the call. Take time to read through some of the other bloggers. (And if you comment and have a 31 Days post, I would love to return the visit and check out your post, so be sure to let me know). Come back to this page anytime to catch up on all 31 posts.

Together, let’s heed the call to rest.

Day   1:  Rest from Expectations
Day   2:  Rest in Worship and Praise
Day   3:  A Place of Quiet Rest
Day   4:  Rest in God’s Strength
Day   5:  Sabbath Rest
Day   6:  Rest in the Beauty of Creation
Day   7:  Rest Provides Margin
Day   8:  Rest right where you are
Day   9:  Rest in Wonder
Day 10:  On What are you Resting?
Day 11:  Rest for your Weekend
Day 12:  Cracked Pedestals
Day 13:  Rest from Idolatry to Worship
Day 14:  I took a break, which is explained on Day 16
Day 15:  Take Down The Walls – a book review
Day 16:  A Letter for You (yes, you)
Day 17:  The Peace That Seems Impossible
Day 18:  Rest for Those Who are Worn
Day 19:  You Will Find Him Here
Day 20:  God is Glorious
Day 21:  Jesus, I am Resting, Resting
Day 22:  When Words Fail
Day 23:  Day off to rest
Day 24:  Altogether Separate – a Five Minute Friday
Day 25:  Truth to Rest Upon
Day 26:  Nothing is Wasted
Day 27:  A Sort of Coming Home
Day 28:  Tired and Heavy-Laden
Day 29:  Rest Day
Day 30:  Rest in your Mess
Day 31:  True Rest – the Beginning to Never Needing

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I’m linking up with these blogs:      

Gratitude Equals Joy

To be simply frank and frankly simple, I do not have better words than Mary DeMuth’s from chapter 3 of The Wall Around Your Heart. Lessons that I believe God has been teaching me for the past 6 months are verbalized throughout this chapter focusing on loving God and loving others. Permit me, then, to share just a few parts of the chapter that hit me hard, with my italicized two cents thrown in.

Gratitude and Joy

Mary:  Loving others isn’t easy. And at times I don’t love well. I’d rather trumpet everyone else’s failures and barbs and minimize my own. I’d rather God forgive my mountain of sins than choose to forgive the molehill of sins that others have perpetrated against me. I’d rather bask in my self-righteous rightness than consider that I may be the perpetrator in need of others’ grace and forgiveness.

Janice:  Ouch. At times I don’t love well. This hits so close to the heart.

—–

Mary:  If I’ve learned one thing on this earth, it’s this: people who live in gratitude toward God have the most joyful lives. Dare to be set free today by exercising that kind of praise. The roadblocks to growth and joy come when we forget the bigness of God and instead make people bigger than He is.

Janice:  There it is. Gratitude toward God = joyful living. Wow.

—–

Mary:  It’s time we let go of people as idols. Not that we live fatalistically about others but that we realistically understand that God designed us to be filled up by Him first. If someone hurts us, we don’t need to be freaked out or surprised. In fact, we should be surprised when people don’t hurt us. This kind of letting go leads to freedom.

Janice:  Going to God first for filling is hard to remember sometimes. But it helps me see how often I try to put something else ahead of God, in essence making it an idol.

—–

Mary:  We are not leeches meant to suck people dry for our happiness. We are people in need of a Savior. Even though we all try to be like Jesus, we can’t truly be Jesus to others, nor can they be Him to us. Let’s let Jesus be Jesus, place our expectations firmly on Him, and grant others the freedom to be human, to be blessedly themselves, to rid them of our expectations.

Janice:  Let Jesus be Jesus. I can’t be Jesus to you and you can’t be Jesus to me. Word.
I can name relationships where I have drained others for my own happiness or what I thought would leave me happy. I am so sorry, dear ones. 

—–

Mary:  How much do you trust God with your relationships? Do you believe He is good? Do you have faith that He knows what is best, particularly when He moves you into a new circle of friends? Do you cling to some friendships longer than you should because of fear or insecurity? To revere God—to hallow His name—is to trust Him at this foundational level. God is a God of relationship. And He has a sovereign plan even in your friendships.

Janice:  How much do you trust God? Do you have faith that He knows what is best? Something to ask in your heart of hearts. Do you?

—–

Look for more thoughts from The Wall Around Your Heart in the near future. The book is available to pre-order now and will be released on October 15, 2013.

I’m linking up with these online friends:

Flowing Faith

Pray Like This

I’ve mentioned once or twice (maybe three times?) about how I’m on this launch team for The Wall Around Your Heart, right?

Right.

See, I’m so good at this, that even though some of us on the launch team decided to blog through one chapter every Monday, I waited until Sunday night to even begin to put my thoughts down in concrete form.

I’m know. I’m brill.

Wall Around Your Heart Launch Team

What I’m loving (and sort of secretly hating) about the challenge of promoting a book this book, is that every day that goes by, I’m having a mirror held up to my behavior and thoughts and friendships (or lack thereof). I don’t think it quite works this way, but I almost envision God saying, “Oh, you want to promote a book on community, do you? And you say you’re in missional community at church, are you? And this is a book about how community hurts and wounds and betrays, but you’ll learn how to come to me and in the community I give you to find healing from those hurts, is it? Well, let’s get the hurtin’ on!” (See, that sounds snippy and vindictive and God is just not like that, so this is clearly not what He’s saying.)

And yet, in the three weeks since I learned I made the launch team, it’s all coming out of the woodwork. Tough conversations, stretched friendships, messy community, slights from a friend, fresh reminders of my past screw-ups in community, etc.  I guess it makes the lessons easier to learn because I’m applying them right away, but it feels like the hard way to go about it.

All this to say, guess what my pastor preached on this past Sunday morning, guess what my church is in the middle of a 40 day challenge on, guess what I’ve been hearing God telling me I need to work on in my marriage, AND guess what Chapter One of The Wall Around Your Heart is all about?

In the opening of Chapter One, as Mary begins to walk us through the Lord’s Prayer, we read these words:

Jesus started His famous prayer with three words: “Pray like this.”

Not gossip like this. Not tell everyone else the other person’s issues like this. Not stew on the issue until your heart embitters like this. Not grumble like this. Not avoid like this.

“Pray like this.”

So simple. Praying is easy, right; just talking to God. I started praying when I was 7 or 8: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…” or “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for this food…” How wonderful that Jesus understood we would need to be guided in how to pray, so He gave us His example, “Pray like this.”

And yet…don’t you sometimes have a hard time praying? I do. I get distracted, sleepy, interrupted, too busy, or at times too stubborn in my sin. It’s sometimes the last thing on my mind, when it should become first. Jesus gently reminds us, “Pray like this…”

I get annoyed at someone in the office – Pray like this.

My husband does something I think is inconsiderate – Pray like This.

A friend says something hurtful or her silence causes pain – Pray Like This.

I see someone hurting others – Pray Like This.

Someone does something I deem thoughtless, careless, or idiotic – Pray. Like. This.

Dear friend, we must be praying. We need to pray when someone hurts us. We need to pray when we hurt others.

One great thing from Chapter One of The Wall Around Your Heart is that Mary walks us through where to begin with prayer. She gives us a place to start, a mindset to have as we begin to pray for hurts and for people who hurt.

Of those starting points, the one I’m most struggling with is to begin seeing difficult relationships as gifts. This is something I will most likely bring up again soon, but for now, I leave you with a great quote from Chapter One:

gifts_gutsier_stronger

I’m ready to become gutsier and stronger. Are you? Together, let’s start remembering to go to prayer in these tough situations, in our difficult relationships.

“Pray Like This” is an invitation from Jesus to take your difficult relationships and place them in His hands.

I’m blogging through The Wall Around Your Heart, to be released October 15.  You can also pre-order the book on Amazon.

I’m linking up with:

Flowing Faith     

Leaving the Blood-Red Stained Nets Behind

This week, the Five Minute Friday prompt is RED. After an initial thought of Santa (ho ho ho), I couldn’t get the idea of blood out of my head….

Fishing in Puget Sound

Tom got the chance to go fishing with his dad a couple times in the Puget Sound off the Washington State coast. They fished for salmon and halibut on different occasions, based on availability.

Together they brought in a boat record halibut – 5’3″ long and 154 lbs!

BoatRecordCatch Tom_halibut

Fishing is nasty business. At least to me. It’s smelly and the fish are slimy. But I didn’t realize until seeing photos of Tom’s trips that it was bloody.

Call me a naive city girl, but it just didn’t occur to me that fish would bleed as they were caught. The red of their lifeblood oozed out on the boat deck.

My Missional Community in Karis Church decided to work through the book of Mark in our small core groups known as fight clubs. Last night, we read in chapter 1 how Jesus saw Simon and Andrew tending the nets in their fishing boats, he called to them, “Follow me.” And they left their boat and nets and came after Jesus. A little further on, he saw two brothers, James and John, with their dad, Zebedee, and Jesus called to them, “Follow me.” James and John left the boat, with the blood stained deck, and the nets, and their dad, still knee deep in the stained nets, and followed Jesus.

We marveled at these men, who felt or sensed or somehow knew that Jesus was different. That he was worth abandoning the family business – abandoning Dad himself. With the stink of fish on their clothes and the red of the fish blood on their hands, in the space of a breath, they walked away, not looking back, because what they were gaining was infinitely greater than what they were giving up.

—–

Thanks for joining me here. There should be many interesting takes on the word, Red, if you want to see other posts on the prompt. What do you think of for the word, red?

KarinToo

Wall Builders

In my freshman year of college I worked for a semester in the cafeteria dishroom. It was pretty nasty, as you may imagine. I don’t remember much about it except the gross things college students do with leftover food, the steam from the dishwasher, one epic food fight, and an odd conversation with a cute upperclassman.

He observed correctly that I had never been in a relationship before. After confirming it was true, I asked how he could tell. It was a badge of shame for me rather than something to be excited about. Of course I’d wished to have dated in high school, but no one ever seemed interested in me that way.

His response has always stayed with me:  Because I didn’t have any walls up as I would have if my heart had been broken.

A few years later, I finally understood his comment and then how I wished I could go back to those innocent, pre-wall days.

Everybody has walls. At least, everyone who has been in relationship with other people has built walls around their heart. Even by my freshman year, I had some walls from girlfriends who betrayed me or left me.

When we are hurt by course words, betrayal, careless actions, and sinful behavior from people we are close to, our gut reaction is to build walls to keep ourselves from being hurt again.

Those walls, however, end up preventing our hearts from opening up to others. The walls we build to protect ourselves become barriers that keep us from loving and being loved. Through Jesus, we can learn to love the people who hurt us.

Jesus Open Heart Example

I’m reading through The Wall Around Your Heart, which will be released in October. In it, author Mary DeMuth takes us on a journey using the Lord’s Prayer as “our treasure map. The obstacles are our hearts and the pain inflicted by others. But the outcome will be freedom, joy, peace, healing, hope, and our fortress wall broken down.” 

Who doesn’t want an outcome like that?

Would you join me here each Monday as I blog through the chapters of the book and we work together to stop being wall builders? You can also pre-order the book on Amazon.

Here is Mary’s hope for you as you read this book:

My heart for you in this journey we’ll be taking together is this: be loved. Be wildly and audaciously loved. Give what you receive. See others as Jesus sees you. Settle your worth. Rest in God’s compassion. And as you choose to believe His favor, your life won’t be able to help spilling love, compassion, and forgiveness to everyone you meet.

I’m linking up with:

Flowing Faith

  • 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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