Saturday, May 21, 2011

When NV Means More Than Nevada

Riddle me this, Batman...

What is only a wee bit larger than a bread box (does anyone even have a bread box anymore?), is a perpetual source of humidity, is a hideous 1960's yellow, and designed for one, but usually harbors at least three?

Our bathroom!!!

Scott is a magnificent designer and carpenter.  I would love for him to take military explosives to the bathroom and start from scratch.  Unfortunately, we have this guy, Bill who lives with us.  He usually brings about five or six of his friends -- also named bill.  They make us go to work and they drain our bank account every month.  They rarely leave us enough to consider a large expense like a completely new bathroom.  So, I suffer from "Bathroom Envy."

Bathroom Envy can actually be spiritually life threatening.  Sure, it starts out small, maybe just a symptom or two, but eventually consumes everything with which it comes in contact.  That is, if you don't head it off with the proper course of treatment.  Not only can it be deadly in and of itself, but it can metastasize to other parts of one's life.  It can lead to "Kitchen Envy," "Garage Envy," "Lawn Envy," even "Shoe Envy!"  Envy can manifest itself in many, many forms.

Don't panic!  According to Spurgeon, there is a cure:

"The cure for envy lies in living under a constant sense of the divine presence, worshiping God and communing with Him all the day long, however long the day may seem. The more of heaven there is in our lives, the less of earth we shall covet. The fear of God casts out envy of men."

How wonderful is that?!  Partake of Jesus, and even the best this world can offer will seem like dregs.  After receiving the blessings of Our Heavenly Father, the finite, temporal things of this world are offal.  When you are filled with Jesus, there is no room for anything else!     

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hearts In Service; Hearts Served

Last Saturday Scott and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary.  I suppose, maybe when we get up to the ten or twenty-year mark or something, we'll celebrate it in some outlandish or big way.  But for now, we're content to celebrate quietly.  This year it was a couple of godfather's with the girls after a church work day.  Perfect.  Nothing better than spending the day outside -- active, then showering early, filling our bellies, and relaxing for the rest of the evening.  Except...

This wasn't a typical work day.  This was our first with Mount Hope, and its Hearts In Service Ministry.  Admittedly, I was feeling a little guilty -- I had suggested we do this, but couldn't get out of work early as I'd planned.  So, Scott had to go it alone with the girls in the morning.  Did I mention, Madison is not a morning person?  Nevertheless, they did a fabulous job -- packing lunches and plenty of water -- what do they need me for?!

By the time I'd arrived, the group's first job was in full swing.  Scott had, apparently, come up with a plan, passed out some business cards, and divvied up the work.  Was I a little nervous?  You betcha!  Scott can be a little, um, let's say... pushy, bossy, overbearing, demanding.  (Can't imagine why God put us together.)  But, there were no small groups huddling, plotting an overthrow; no flaming effigies hanging from the eaves.  In fact, Scott may be a little coarse, but he's a man's man, and he'll probably not like me telling tales out of school, but he has a real heart for those in need.  He'd already developed a rapport with a few of the guys, and he was actually smiling! 

Prior to this, my experience with service in the church had been limited to childcare, teaching, envelope stuffing, kitchen duty...  This was all new.  But what a blessing!  We met others from the church, had opportunities to talk and work side-by-side.  The folks we "served" were such a blessing to us.  They sat with us during our devotional, laughed and cried with us, met our needs with snacks and water, were ever so grateful -- we were a family.  But it wasn't the work we did for them that was the blessing, it was the work Jesus did in all of us that day, that was the real blessing.

The girls had a great time, running and playing, learning from other "cooler" adults, tending the rubbish fire, building their own friendships, helping load the wheelbarrow until the siren song of childhood called, being spoiled and sugared... 

At home, we agreed it had been the best anniversary ever.  We had done something constructive while spending the day together, had developed relationships with other couples and individuals, had each received personal blessing, and were able to come together at the end of the day and meditate on how good God is to us as a family.  Isn't that what marriage is all about?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Caution: Victory Ahead

How often to we close our prayers with "In Jesus' Name?"  I've done it since I was a kid, only it was more, "J'susnm we pra-Amn."  This morning, as I prayed -- for something I really wanted, mind you -- it occurred to me to use the name of Jesus that it may be so.  (I wasn't praying for a new car or anything like that, so I figured it would be OK.)  But it struck me how important it is to pray in Jesus' name.  He is not only our High Priest, our Intercessor, The Way -- there is power in the name of Jesus:

John 14:14 (NLT)
Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

Phillipians 2:9-11 (NIV)
 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
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.

When I am fearful or angry, when I don't know what to pray, when I don't feel like praying -- I automatically resort to saying His name over and over.  I started it as an alternative to...

"Dear Lord, I love you and --
*C'mon, Buddy!  Gas is on the right!!*
"-- I want to glori --
*Are you kidding me?!*
"glorify and praise you..."

...or as an alternative to not praying at all.  Saying His name over and over brings peace to my spirit, calms my heart and brings my thoughts to the place they ought to be when I pray -- directly to Jesus and His will.  Jesus spoke the world into existence. He commanded the healing and restoration of others.  He raised Lazarus from the dead with the power of His voice.  If all He has is imparted to us through His death on the cross and our surrender to Him, it only stands to reason that the use of Jesus' name can work blessing in our lives and the lives of those around us.

Romans 4:17 (NKJV)
God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

That's power!  Speak it so -- in Jesus' name!  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

With Love, Your Mother

Sitting in church on Mother's Day, I was feeling good -- relaxed, looking forward to a day of doing very little.  The weather was beautiful; I'd even considered going to the wildlife reserve for a walk, then decided I wasn't even up for that.  "Such a nice day, I'd feel bad if I wasted it," I thought during Offering.  "Glad Pastor Tom isn't preaching on the Proverbs 31 woman today; I don't think I could stand it.  I feel so lazy today."  Then I saw her.  A mother, about my age.  I've known her for years.  Her oldest son is, I think, thirty or so, and mentally handicapped.  She was looking up at him as he swayed to the music.  She wasn't embarrassed that he was the only one standing; she wasn't adoring him or coddling him with her eyes.  She was just loving him.  I can't begin to know what her thoughts were, but her expression said, "Love."  Not pain, not bitter sweetness, not frustration or disappointment.  He was not her world, her all-in-all; she was not in love with him.  It was not fatigue and sleepless nights; it was not a cry for sympathy, or her empathy given to him.  It was love, pure and simple.  It was what Mother's Day is all about. 

Giving until you have no more to give -- or not.  Taking some much needed "me" time -- or not.  Handling it all with such synchronicity, such skill -- or not.  Stern discipline for you and your children -- or not.  Dinner before dessert, early bedtime, help with homework, white-knuckle driving lessons -- or not.  Dancing with abandon, laughing as if your bellies will burst, soaring like kites across rolling green hills -- or not. 

Point is, there's no exact science when it comes to being a mother.  Some of the best mothers "on paper" can turn out to be some of the worst in reality.  And that Proverbs 31 woman?  Have you ever tried to be her?  Well, if you're setting out to prove something, or win some kind of award -- forget it.  She was who she was because she loved; she feared the Lord and desired a Godly heart.  Remember, "If I... but have not love...?"  Mom's need prayer; Mom's need to know the Love of God. 

I knew then, how I'd spend my day.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  (James 5:16 KJV)