Tuesday, November 30, 2010

LIFE in Christmas Pt. 1: Holiday Nourishment for our Spirits

NO! No, no, no! Or the ever-popular, drawn out with tears nnnnnnooooo! All too regular responses from our precious 2-year-old, Alice. What about in your house? Isn’t it interesting how easy our little ones can say “No,” and how difficult it can be for us big people?

It can come from many places, friend. For some of us, the adults in our lives modeled burn-out, and we feel intense pressure to follow suit…maybe even from them. For others, we struggle with jealousy and comparison, and are plagued with fighting to keep up with some “super-woman” perception…You know her... the one can do it all, in heels, without a single bead of sweat on her brow. (She doesn't exist, btw) For many of us, there may just be a lot of things we enjoy, find pleasure doing, so we have a hard time using the word, “No,” in a sentence.

Among one of the many things I love about my Jesus is His intense, intimate relationship with His Father…Our very same Father. He was all about the Father’s business. Check out John 4:34, “…My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.” Wow. His very nourishment! I am so struck by that, are you? Take a moment and breathe that truth in, dear ones!

So, if we are called to imitate Christ (1 Corin. 11:1), and if Jesus is telling us the truth about Himself, then we get to be nourished just by doing the will of God by finishing His work?! That’s what He said, so I’d like to believe so.

What in the world does this have to do with the Holidays?

Glad you asked. As a participant of various dress-up eateries, keeper of the cheek book and shopper of the Christmas gifts, (did I mention regular life demands?) we have a unique opportunity to be nourished this Christmas season. That’s right, nourished. Not drained, strained and spit out only to recover sometime mid-January…nourished.

If we imitate Our Savior (you know, the one who came in mere humanity at Christmas, fully God, the One who all this is for anyhow), as Paul tells us, and live as Jesus lived…being in the Father’s will, finishing His work…we will receive His very nourishment.

So we pray. In all occasions, in the Spirit, through the power of the Spirit (the very One who raised our Lord, available to you and me!), as we plan our budget, our schedules, while at Target, at Sam’s, at Aldi (just to name a few of my hot spots). Lord, help us with our calendars! Help us know where to spend, and where to say, “No”. Show us where to volunteer with Your joy. Show us where we are over-committing out of performance for others and pleasing man and are out of Your will!

Holy Spirit, Show us if there is any Holiday offense in us, and lead us to the way everlasting!            (Ps. 139:24)

Friends, if we are about the Father’s business, there will be nourishment. I have to believe we will not overspend, we will not be over-tired! I have seen Him provide miracle sales, open up time where gatherings looked impossible when I stop and listen for that still, small voice. (I've also seem my self worn to a nub when I hear Him say "No" and proceed anyhow. Are you like me?)

Let’s pray for each other...and joyfully expect miracles and refreshment, because we are about the Father's business this Holiday season.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

God Permanence

Have you ever played peek-a-boo with a baby? Oh my word, the pure amazement and joy that washes over a little baby-face when yours magically "appears" from behind closed hands...it's like instant happy time for both baby and adult alike. Having a rough day?  Peek-a-boo.  Need a lift?  Peek-a-boo.  I think you get it.

If I played, however, peek-a-book with hubby Wes, hopefully I would not get the same response.  He would probably look at me like I was loosing my sanity.

What's the difference?

We know Wes is an adult, and a baby is...well...immature.  But specifically, we are dealing with a term deemed "object permanence" defined as the 'understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, heard, or touched.' (wikianswers.com)

Peek-a-boo is such wild entertainment because baby does not understand "object permanence"...when your face is hidden behind closed hands, baby believes, and thinks to be absolutely true, that your face is gone forever.

We of course, know better.

What about the Permanence of God? I heard a quick radio spot by author Larry Crabb recently that has stuck with me.  His father was in the hospital, longing, reaching out to God for His presence from the hospital bed...Crabb's father said something stunning.  (I paraphrase here) "I am thankful God gave me the opportunity to trust Him at His word, regardless of His presence." Wow.

I say again...
He was thankful that God gave him the opportunity to trust Him at His word...regardless of His presence.

Do we trust Him at His word, regardless of our feelings and circumstances? That He is working out ALL things for the good of those that love Him (Rm 8:28), even when we feel left out of the blessing and life is in disarray?

Or are we like the baby, and truly believe that if God isn't showing up, He has decided to check out, leave, be gone.

Friends, He is with You and I until the end of the age!  He is our ever-present help in times of trouble!  An adult not understanding "object permanence", walking around with a bottle in hand should be as dis-heartening as a mature Christian not understanding "God Permanence".

"Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity..." Hebrews 6:1.  Check out Psalm 139:7-12 under this week's passage...wow.

How would our lives be different, how would our day be different even, dear ones?  Thank God today, this moment, that He is the Permanent One.

Special thanks to the Stewarts for bringing up this concept...next stop...baby thug life...lol!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lip Service to our Lord

Ugh, isn't it easy to say we are Christians on Sunday morning, when the birds are chirping and sky is blue?  When when the cash money is flowing in excess (ha) and children are magically calling you "Mummy" (suddenly in a charming British accent btw) and honoring you in front of the grocery clerk?

Also, what is this Mom "high" that I get all about?  Sick, it is such pride people!  Lord, Help me!  I can get such a rush from a TOTAL stranger complimenting my child...like it's not just a 50/50 chance they didn't catch us in, what I like to call a "learning moment".  Are you like me?

I am sitting here in Luke 6:46, and Jesus asks a question that brings the heat this morning..."Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"  Which brings me to the all famous and widely quoted James 2:26b, "faith without deeds is dead."  Oh I pray we see this with new eyes today friends.

It occurs to me this morning, that all the time spent in communion with God, church going, bible study, community groups we can actually be...dead?  If we claim to call Jesus our "Lord" and don't do what He says, our faith is well...dead, dear ones.

There is true DEATH in worry, financial mis-trust of God, sin, criticism of the body of Christ...etc!  These are REAL things that plague our lives, our families, our marriages and the church!  If we call Him "Lord" we must live what Kay Aurthur calls the "rest of faith": living out of every, single Word, big and small, that comes out of the mouth of God!  That means to walk in FULL belief that he will "supply all of your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus" Phil 4:19, and not allow emotions and ungodly choices to rule us when supply is low and demand is high.

Or what about what Jesus says in John 12:27, "Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid!" We get that awesome freedom, friends!  We do not have to live in fear if we know Him!  He is in control, now walk in your freedom! (whew, I needed to hear that)

How many of us live in lip service to our Lord?  Check out this definition of lip service," Verbal expression of agreement or allegiance, unsupported by real conviction or action."  (answers.com) We say we He is our Lord, yet many of live in fear, regret, jealousy and bitterness.  No wonder the church is loosing impact.  We have the King beckoning us, yet we go own way... and wonder where the change is.

We must do the "deed" of believing Him at every Word, otherwise we will surely seem as dead as those who really are.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's the Sick who need a Doctor!

It has been one serious cold and flu season at the Thorpe house.  Alice has been fighting various forms of runny noses, fevers...and last night got her very first stomach bug.  Oh my y'all it is the most pitiful thing I have ever witnessed.  Those big eyes looking at me like "What on earth is that Momma! Help, What's happening to me!"   Bless her heart.

Side note: as I write, there is this bird that keeps flying into the window, people. Have you ever seen that before?!  Poor guy slash gross slash funny.  Anyhow...

As I was holding her and rocking her (oops, not so good on the tummy, I quickly discovered as I cleaned up another mess...no more rocking) I was asking my loving God to heal her precious tummy ache and restore her to health.  I heard Matthew 9:12 in my spirit, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."  And so to Matthew 9 I went this morning.

Now, many responses may strike you (as the did me).  Isn't that obvious, Jesus?  What are you getting at?  He goes on, "But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice.  For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Do you realize that if you are spiritually sick, you are specifically called?  I mean, He uses the word "call" as in, you, me...my name, your name. 

Jesus did not come to save and redeem the well, dear friends, He came for people like me and you!  It is when you are the SICKEST that He reaches out to heal and "doctor" you; to rock you and soothe you; to call you into His kingdom because of His perfect love.

Are you stuck in a spiritual "sickness"?  Is depression, jealousy, worry for the future, bitterness, sin...etc making you ill?  It can and oh, it will.  Call the Doctor, the Great One.  Press in to the redeeming, trustworthy person of Jesus Christ.  He walked this walk: fully God and fully man.  He cannot only empathize with you in His humanity, but can heal you and change you because of His deity.

Dear friends, if you are worried, choose to trust Him, He is Worthy and He is Able.  If you are jealous, ask for a revelation of what He has given YOU and in all things...be thankful. Call to Him, for He hears you.  Live in expectancy, looking for Him to show up in your sickness.  He is really good at it...believe me, I know this all too well!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blessing the Guilty?

I sat down at my table Monday morning, stunned as I held my iPhone in my hands.  It was stolen right under my nose when we were traveling a couple of weeks ago at a Starbucks.  (I knew my coffee addiction would get me someday!)

I left my phone on the coffee bar as I reached to grab an iced Americano for Wes from the barrista behind me.  I grabbed our drinks, quickly ran out, and within minutes realized it was missing.

Almost instantly, I had a "peace" in my spirit that it was gone.  I was moderately angry with our Thief, and supa dupa frustrated with me.  OK, Lord, I trust you. We spent the rest of the day talking to managers, cancelling service...consumed with the Event.

We left San Francisco a few days later, one iPhone lighter.  Now, I could go on and on about "I realized how much I didn't need it; or go on and on about how dependent I am on technology"...but I am just sure you already thought that, or have heard it before.

The interesting thing is a couple nights after we got home, I couldn't sleep and I found myself praying "under the influence" of the Holy Spirit and had a well of grace grow inside for my dear Thief. 

"I forgive this child of yours Lord.  Lord, would you bless the person who stole?  Would your conviction would rest on them so heavy that they return the phone for their own good?"
What was that?
For their good?  Not getting caught in sin causes the heart to harden.
But what about me and my iPhone and justice?
Luke 6:28, "bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you"
Romans 12:19, "Do not take revenge, my dear friends...It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”
says the Lord."
This so goes against what I feel, but OK, once again, I trust you Jesus.  I can't claim to know you and NOT trust you at your Holy Word, believing, and living out of every word that comes out Your mouth.

And so I bless.  "For their own good, Lord, that he or she would not steal any longer, but they would see something on my phone...a bible verse, a song, my blog, that would usher them into your kingdom!  Yes, Lord, bring a miracle to a thief I pray. That this would be the day he or she says, 'No more!'"

The next day Alice and I are at the park and my "loaner" phone (which is driving me CRAZY btw) rings. 
It's Wes. 

The manager from Starbucks in San Fransisco called him, "You won't believe this, someone ran in and quickly returned an iPhone to us this morning...this was the last number that was dialed.  Can you describe the phone to me?  Thanks.  I'll get it in the mail to you."

Seriously?!  God did you change another heart?  I know He changed mine.  Suddenly I found myself rejoicing just as much for our miracle-UNthief as I was for my returned iPhone!

Maybe I'm dreaming, but I pray I get to meet this person in heaven and we can talk about what went down in those 5 quiet days between the Event and the return. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Where Do I FIT Part 4

Make sure to read Part 3 when you get a moment, as I am posting these back to back...

Our final piece of FIT comes with a bit of surprise to me.  As I prayed I just kept getting the word- Transparency.  Really?  OK, God, you're in charge, this is your idea, let's dig in.

Fist off, let's amuse ourselves with what transparency is NOT.  It is not (although I am guilty!) a free excuse to say whatever is on the brain or whatever I feel at the expense of tearing down, hurting, embarrassing or harassing another... and then using the phrase "Well, it's true!" to justify.  The Word tells us in fact "Love is not...boastful or proud or rude" 1 Corin. 13:5 NLT.

Transparency is also NOT airing out all of my dirty laundry to everyone, everywhere (guilty yet again!).
It is actually wisdom to know when to speak and when to remain silent.

In fact, Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:6, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

We can be truth tellers and be bold share our history… and yet walk in extreme discretion with whom we share ourselves with.

So, why transparency and what in the world is it really?

Let me share this insightful definition: “A transparent object, especially a photographic slide, is one that is viewed by light shining through it from behind or by projection.”

Something that is transparent allows specifically light to pass though.  I am sure you know where this is going.  By being transparent we can allow the light of Christ to shine though our very lives!

Suddenly, that abuse we may have endured; the bully we put up with and prayed for; the test (scholastic or situational) we failed…through the light of Christ can become the very thing that helps complete the puzzle around us!

The people God has put around you need YOU, with your experiences and even your shortcomings!  Testify to those in your life about what God has done, and what He has brought you through.  Bring hope to your neighbors and friends by allowing light of Jesus to pour through the dark times of your life.

Tell of what He has done in wisdom and love...no one else has your story.

Your story helps make the puzzle whole.

Where do I FIT part 3

Excuse the delay...we have been out of town for 10 days!  Miss y'all!

Where Do I FIT Part 3

I am writing this on my iPhone while on a plane traveling to San Francisco. As thrilled as I am with my personal pocket genius (thanks to a generous friend who gave it to me!) it is not the greatest for typing (fir ecample thus is unedititrd)

Moving on... We are over the great state of Kansas at the moment, Alice, our 2 year old, is in a trance watching a Praise Baby video... (also my husband is in a trance playing ping pong on his iPhone-who knew?)

Great time for mommy blog time.

As I'm sure you're on the edge of your desk chair... I bring you part 3 of our series on "Where Do I FIT?"

If I am called to "put off falsehood" (see part 2) then how in the world do I actually find out who I am?

This brings us to the "I" in our acronym. We find out who we are, and thus, where we fit only in a constant and intimate relationship with the very One who created us. Don't miss this...the term "intimacy" is so used in church these days we can so easily over look it.  Isn't that funny how that happens? 

If we are to ever "find ourselves" we must press into this intimacy, a deep relationship with God. He knows our personalities, talents, desires and potential... He is the ingenious master mind of you.

He is the one who can show you- you, thus I find me by seeking Him.

Beware of false prophets! Many out there tell us to "find ourselves" by traveling the world twice, chanting and humming, love relationships...etc. Dear ones, this is why we must know the Word-it is clear!
Psalm 103:14 says “for He knows how we are formed"
Psalm 139:1 “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.”
1 Corinthians 8:2-3 “The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.”
Other believers, mentors, parents, spiritual tools are wonderful helps but it is really through intimacy with Christ and through His word we find ourselves.

You may be in a loving encouraging home, but when you get to school or the workplace and can’t bear to be “you”. Or you may be in a very broken home and being who God made you to be isn’t very welcome.

I don’t know, but I know the pressure is somewhere for each of us, because our enemy is prowling and if he can get you to become someone not you, you will not have the influence God intended for you.  You will not complete the puzzle.

Dear Friends, let me encourage you, you CAN, through intimacy with Jesus not only find out who you are, but the Holy Spirit can enable to help you walk that out! We are not left alone- Praise God!