1/12/18 Morning Musing: We Damage His Name…

After reading another story about another woman being sexually assaulted by a man and it not coming to public knowledge for decades and hearing her disparaged and minimized because she “waited too long” or because it was “decades ago”…I just can’t be quiet any longer. (This time, it was Andy Savage of Highpoint Church in Tennessee.) It’s late and my heart hurts so be patient with me as I try to make coherent points.

I can not understand how “waiting so long” is supposed to negate the victim’s reliability or the truth. People in power have gotten away with abuse of the ones without that power forever…and unfortunately, it is also true in churches. But unlike outside of the church, we Christians should be held to a different standard…not because we are better than anyone else…not by a long shot. We should be held to a higher standard because we have intimate understanding of Jesus’ example of giving a voice to the voiceless…of bringing justice to the marginalized…and giving dignity to the broken or hurting. This intimate knowledge of our God and his heart means that we can not continue to ignore injustice and abuse of power while representing our Lord accurately because each time we do, we aren’t just lying…we aren’t just hurting the individuals being denied justice…we are also damaging the name of our God.

We damage his name when we continue to turn a blind eye to abuse.

We damage his name when we refuse to see other people…other image-bearers…as valuable.

We damage his name when we give racism or sexism (or any other ism) a pass by remaining quiet when we know we should be speaking up.

We damage his name when we refuse to enter into honest and respectful dialogue about topics that matter. (This contributes to the trend of people seeing the church as obsolete.)

We damage his name when we defend abusers and judge victims based on whether or not we align with them politically, denominationally, etc. (Yes, I just went there.)

We damage his name when we push for male leaders in church to receive funds for their ministry, appropriate pay and title, and continuing education while denying it for their female counter-parts.

We damage his name when we beat people up with our religion instead of listening to them and loving them.

We damage his name when we applaud what is wicked and criticize what is good.

We damage his name when we deny others the freedom that we simultaneously demand for ourselves.

We damage his name when we judge others instead of remembering how we have been forgiven.

We damage his name when we mistreat each other in the name of “witnessing.”

We damage his name when we abandon the needy, weak, marginalized, aged, or hurting.

We damage his name when we refuse to own our sins and, instead, justify our ugly behaviors or minimize them by using more palatable wording so that we can feel better about ourselves.

I could go on and on forever with this. At some point, we must quit tolerating the abuse of power. If we are the ones with power, God’s blessings are not limited…there is no need to try to hoard it. If we are the abusers, yes there is forgiveness…the gospel is not too small for any sin…but that doesn’t mean that accountability is void. If we are the survivors…and hear me on this…please hear me…our pain is not to be wasted! It can become a beautiful place that will allow us to minister to others and understand the hurts of others if we allow it. If we are the ones without power, our God is the God Who Sees us (El Roi) so he clearly sees the power-mongers and they will be held accountable.

How are you doing with this? Did any of these points make you wince a little or bring a specific incident to mind? Is there some way that you can pursue a more truthful and authentic way of living this out? Is there someone that you feel you should apologize to? Is there forgiveness that you can extend to someone regardless of whether or not they have asked for it?

My prayer for us tonight is that we would simply love each other better. I am praying that instead of constantly grappling for power or position or status or whatever, that we would see the truth of what is important and life-giving and pursue it with abandon. I am praying that we would try to squeeze every bit of living out of this life while we have it instead of pursuing the things that lead to our physical, emotional, and spiritual death. I am praying that we would also learn how to receive love when offered by others.

Much love friends,

Beks

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7/26/17 Morning Musing: Whack-A-Doodle

So, some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been writing and sharing my “Morning Musings” in quite some time…and some of you have no idea what I’m talking about…either way, I have some stuff to confess: I stopped a while back when I realized that I was getting discouraged by lack of response from people.
 
The truth is, I became unsure as to whether or not it made a difference…it was like thinking I was speaking to a room full of people and then realizing that the room was actually empty. The problem with that statement is that you all are not the audience that I was supposed to be writing for…the musings were always meant to simply be a conversation between me and God…I just happened to be having the conversations in public…which might classify me as a whack-a-doodle…I don’t know.
 
Anyway, I have felt him prodding me lately and I can think of specific instances where I waved him off and said “Why? It doesn’t matter to anyone.” And I felt God saying “But it matters to you and me…to our relationship.” So, despite my hesitation and fear, I plan to begin working on this again and making it a priority. I don’t know if it will be the same as before or not…I don’t know if any of you will read it or not…I don’t even know at what frequency it will occur…but I do know this: God wouldn’t impress on me to do it unless it mattered…and that’s enough for me. So, here we go again!

Much love,
Beks

9/22/15 Morning Musing: It’s Only Bravery If We are Scared

In about a month, I am giving a talk in my marriage class. It shouldn’t be a big deal…I’m outgoing and never (ever!) have trouble talking with folks (whether I know them or not and whether they know that they want to talk or not)…but having a conversation is different from holding a microphone and talking from the front of the room. I have incredible anxiety around these kinds of situations…any situation where I feel like I am having to “perform.” The subject area is right up my alley: Fun and Connectedness. (I mean, c’mon! This practically has my name written all over it.) So what’s the problem?

Well, I guess my problem is two-fold:

First, there is the performance thing. I am the girl who would vomit before tests in school…from seventh grade all the way into grad school. And even as an adult, I would get performance anxiety around testing for taekwondo. (I’m sort of ashamed (and sort of proud) to admit that I was known as the lady with the fun flask at testings and tournaments. I would arrive early and pour vanilla rum into Dr. Pepper and voila! It was a yummy Vanilla Dr. Pepper from Sonic…but more fun.) I mean, c’mon! I’m an adult! (at least chronologically if not otherwise.) And…I am paying a lot of money for these judges to judge me…but I was so afraid that they would also “judge” me. *shudders* As a deeply-died-in-the-wool-people-pleaser, that thought alone can make me freeze up and just shut down. (And yes, I know all of the reasons (Biblically and otherwise) why I should not care what anyone thinks of me…it’s my blood pressure, stomach, and brain that have the absolutely terrified and paralyzed disconnect.) **Warning: Digresses to a story: When I first started board breaking in taekwondo, I got all gummed up in my head at testing because I knew my board-holders (Mr. Scott Mischke and Mr. Nevels.) Nicest guys in the world…but I knew them. When mentally preparing myself for this testing, I had faceless board holders…but these guys…I knew! And I liked them! Ugh! Well, as it would go, I was all amped up and kicking it wrong for the first two tries. When I got to the last possible attempt, the thought occurred to me, “If you throw up on them, you will have to quit because it will be too embarrassing to ever return to class.” Well…that’s just great! I knew then that vomiting was eminent and I had to do the last kick (pass or fail) before the vomiting happened or I was just screwed. So, I managed to throw a terrible, ugly, embarrassingly bad side kick…and accidently broke the board…with my calf. What the-? Hold on, I used to be a science teacher…I have taught physics…that isn’t supposed to be possible! And in my confusion and disbelief, I passed my test. I stood there stunned and saw the stunned and amused faces of Scott and Kevin looking back at me as I thanked them and wandered away somewhere. (I’m still not sure what I did or where I went after that…I sure hope I wasn’t driving.) The only thing that made sense to me was that I was so pathetic that God had mercy on my and broke the board for me. Honestly, it’s the only thing that I can think of.**

The other problem for me, where this upcoming talk is concerned, has to do with my long-held belief about women being quiet in church (1 Tim 2.) And while I have this settled in my mind after extensive study (I am happy to have a conversation about this if you want,) there is still something that nags at me…some insidious voice that tells me that I am being a “bad girl” (and not in the fun way…just in the disobedient-to-God way) and that gives me heartburn. It gives me pause and it opens me up to doubt. This nagging thought is the reason that I have denied my Spiritual giftedness for so long…but I simply can’t deny it anymore: Pastor/Shepherd, Teacher, Prophecy (Counsel), and Exhortation (Encouragement)…these gifts define who God made me to be and the story that he has chosen for my life to tell. So, every time I consider doing this, I have to go through the entire exercise of re-studying in order to make sure that I am in humble obedience to God and not in some sort of rebellion. It can be exhausting.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I guess it’s for a couple of reasons: First, I’d love prayer support. Ever since making this decision, I have honestly felt attack. My time has managed to become over-loaded with stuff that I don’t like or have a passion for (soul-sucking tedious stuff like updating websites and dealing with rosters and stuff) and have been denied the deep conversations with actual people’s faces (in person) about real ideas. I have been unable to muse although it is one of the only things I want to do. So, I am asking for prayer as often as God brings it to mind to think about. (And thank you in advance.)

Another reason I’m writing about this is that I think that big things are happening in the Church (universal…not just the one I attend) where biases (gender as well as others) are concerned. As long as we are unable to put ourselves in someone else’s circumstances (gender, race, socioeconomics, orientation, up-bringing, etc.) it is crucial that we talk with people to gain their perspective. I would be willing to bet that very few male pastors in the Bible Belt have struggled against feeling like they are a willfully disobedient Christ-follower for speaking truth in church. Considering that many of us spend time with others who are like us, it stands to reason that we lack exposure to many perspectives that could allow us glimpses of God’s truth and character that we don’t currently see.

Finally, I’m writing this as an encouragement. I don’t think that there are many worthwhile things in life that don’t require some work to accomplish. For example, if public speaking were easy for me, I might be prone to thinking that I was doing it through my own strength…I might forget my need for God…and then I’d miss the entire point of why I do this.

Time to flip the tables: How are you doing with this? Is there something that you should be doing but aren’t because you “aren’t good at it?” (For me, it shows up as recurring thoughts that make me go “Where did that come from? I don’t wanna do that!”) Are you surrounding yourself in “holy huddles” and not exposing yourself to other perspectives? (We are each a PART of the body…not an entire body on our own…we are meant to be in community with people who are different from ourselves (different body parts.) Who can you ask to enter with you into a healthy exchange of ideas? How can you grow in your understanding of God and the story that he would like to use your life to tell?

My prayer today is that we would be obedient to our Lord regardless of whether or not we like what he has planned for us to do. I am praying that we would honor him with a gift-offering of being willing to lean into our discomfort instead of fleeing from it. And finally, I’m praying that we would respect him and those he loves by allowing them to share stories about their experiences with God with us.

Much love friends,

Beks

8/27/15 Morning Musing: 🎶🎶 Hide It Under A Bushel? NO! I’m Going To Let It Shine!!!!!! 🎶🎶

A couple of weeks ago, I was buying folders (and other stuff) at a local “stuff-mart” for a marriage class that I lead at our church. I had a ton of the folders in my basket and so I told the older man with a heavy accent who watched over the self-checkout lines that I would appreciate it if he would allow me to to count up all the folders and have him enter the number into the register instead of me having to swipe them one at a time. He agreed and I went on about my business. Once I counted them up, I told him that there were 110 folders. He asked “100?” and I responded “No, 110.” This seemingly unimportant interaction ended up having a profound effect on him and, in the end, myself as well.

While I was going through the payment process, the man asked me if I was a teacher. I told him that no, I wasn’t…but that these folders were for a class at my church. He continued to ask questions about what kind of class and what religion the church was. I answered, not really thinking much about it, until he said, “I ask because I notice some things: the whole time you were over there by yourself at checkout, you are smiling. Then, I watch you count the folders. There were lots of times that they stick together and you make sure to pull apart and get number right and then when I asked with wrong number, you correct it so that you pay more.” The man concluded with “Ok, so you are preacher then?” My immediate answer was no, that I just lead a class. He asked if I shared my religion with this class and I replied that yes, I did. His response was what stilled me “Do Christians not call that a preacher?” I smiled at him and said, “Yes, I suppose we do.” The conversation went on for a while, even though I was already late for an appointment, because it felt imperative to me that I not rush this interaction. Before I left, the man knew the name of my church, my name, and a little more about Jesus.
If you have made it this far through this rambling of mine, you are already asking “What is the point?” I guess I would have to say that I learned several:
 The first point is that you never know who is observing you and drawing conclusions about you and those you represent by your words, actions, and body language. I had no idea that I was being studied. (I also had no idea that I was smiling alone like a crazy person…although I do hear from strangers often that my smile has improved their day.)
 The second point is that you don’t always have the time or opportunity to “clean up” your response or behavior. Knowing that you represent more than just yourself can cause you to behave differently…for a while…or in certain circumstances. But what about the circumstances where you encounter people like this and your guard is down? If you are playing a role…performing for an audience…at some point, people are going to see through the facade. Wouldn’t it be so much better to have the change be on the inside and let it spill out to your behavior?  
 The first two points we’ve all heard before and they are not particularly insightful…valuable yes…new or insightful? Not really.
 The last point was for me to take to heart: I have struggled for a long time with my own spiritual giftedness and calling. Culturally, (I live in the Bible Belt) it is a bit taboo to be a female with the gifting that I have: Pastor/Shepherd, Teacher, Prophesy, and Exhortation. (Just typing these words has made my pulse rate and blood pressure shoot up! I wish that was an exaggeration…but it isn’t. In all honesty, I tried really hard to convince God that he had messed up and that he should give me more “feminine” gifts.) The truth is, I feel alive when I am interacting with people and problem-solving, encouraging, speaking truth, and helping to point them toward Jesus. It is life-giving for me and fills me with energy. So, the final point to myself is this: regardless of whether or not the people around you ever acknowledge what is going on in you…regardless of whether or not your title ever matches your function (some of you will say that this doesn’t matter…but it does! If I were a man, it would be absolutely acceptable for me to be called “preacher” and even get paid as such and experience the natural fulfillment that would accompany the position…but it has been ingrained in me to immediately say no to that and even feel shame and guilt over someone else drawing that conclusion. I shouldn’t think “but can’t you see that I am female?”) Regardless of whether or not I am “allowed” or supported, I am called by God to use this giftedness in the ways that he leads me…and I will be obedient.
This is the point of the musing where I flip the tables on you: What is your God-given giftedness? Are you using it? If using our gifts is how we show God to the world and our purpose on Earth is showing God to the world, it would stand to reason that we would use our gifts a lot…so…do you? If not, what is stopping you? (Don’t think that it is other people because there is a huge difference between title and function!) If you struggle with this, what changes could you make in order to be more available to God when he asks you to do something?
My prayer today is that we would love God by loving those he loves…that we would use our gifts and passions to honor him…that we would stop making excuses and start being obedient. I am also praying that those of us who are hindering others from using their gifts would see the ramifications of that and get out of the way. Much love friends,
Beks
***It’s been a while since I mused and this is pretty tender for me so please be gentle.***

4/17/15 Morning Musing:  And In This Corner…The Challenger!

“You challenge people.”  Hmmmm…hearing that immediately made me think that I’m seen as argumentative or ornery…but then he began to tell me why that statement should be taken as a positive and why my presence in different circles makes people look more deeply at their motivations and encourages them to press further…to “stretch” and get uncomfortable.  And then, he asked me to keep it up!

“Maybe the goal isn’t to be comfortable…but to get comfortable being uncomfortable…that is something you do well.”  What?  Me?  I don’t think so.  I HATE pain.  Physically, I’m rather intolerant to it (which is why living with chronic pain for so long has been terrible.)  Discomfort sounds so…uncomfortable.  But then she went on to explain to me how she sees me constantly finding ways to “stretch” and go farther…to upset the status quo…that I seem to know that there is always more refining to do and that the refining, while uncomfortable, is not optional but is always worth it.

“It’s a movie that I just know you would love because it looks like the main character is a strong woman who is a total badass and who is driven to right all of the injustices.”  Yep, that one is probably true.  Sounds right up my alley.  I love turning expectations upside down on their heads.  I love being the gal who will have her hair and makeup done but still pick up the power tools from the garage and get stuff done.  It’s fun to see people’s reactions when they find out I’m a black belt…my appearance must not relay on the outside what I feel on the inside because people are so often just shocked.  I love being unexpected.  Defying my “role” or not being able to be put “in my place” doesn’t sadden me…it motivates me.  If this tells you anything, on my wedding day, we had an “after party” at my in-laws’ house out in East Texas.  We shot guns and threw knives and hatchets and there are pictures of it in my wedding album.  (See feature image.)  How many brides fill up 1/4 of their wedding album with photos like that?  And my father in law loves to remind me of how I was smart about it…I made an excellent kill shot with a throwing knife and then calmly walked away in my afterparty mini-skirt while jaws just hit the ground.

“One thing I know about you is that you simply can not bear to allow injustice.  You aren’t able to rest until it is addressed and amended.”  Ohhhh…wow…I hadn’t thought about that.  “I think that is why you always are drawn to the underdog…you have to see that wrongs are made right.”

“You shouldn’t try to change that about yourself.  It’s beautiful.  You are a beautiful…maverick.”  Hmmmm…maverick.  I have never thought of myself like that…but then she went on.  “You know who else was a maverick?”  Hmm…what?  I was still thinking about the first thing she had said until she continued.  “Jesus.  Jesus turned things on their heads.  He challenged the religious elite.  He challenged the roles that people had just taken for granted were the ‘right way of doing things.'”  And that is when it clicked for me.  

All of these things have been said to me in the last couple of months…my science-geek nature sees a pattern which means I need to learn something from it.  I think that maybe people avoid challenge because it is uncomfortable and requires energy but, for some reason, deeply crave it.  Maybe it’s because there is something missing way down in their soul…some unmet goal.  Or maybe because they know that God wants more for them…wants them to embrace the mission that he created specifically for them…but they aren’t often willing enough to press through the discomfort. laziness, awkwardness, or simple self-indulgence to be obedient to HIM.  For me, I find that my conscience will absolutely haunt me if I allow myself to not step up to the challenges in front of me…I find that my mind immediately goes to how my sin of omission always moves outward and causes damage to others…living with that would require more energy, time and pain for me than just getting off my butt and doing whatever task God is asking of me.

So, I know this one is a bit heavy but…how are you doing with this?  Are there challenges in front of you that you are resisting stepping up to?  What outcome do you expect if you don’t step up?  And what outcome do you expect if you do? Are you living such an booked-up life that you don’t even have the space to sit still and identify what your challenges are?  Maybe that is what you need to approach first.  Ask yourself this:  what are my top 3 priorities in life?  (Now don’t read farther until you have answered that question.  Seriously, answer the question.)  Now, look at your average week or day and determine how much of your time, energy, resources, and thinking are being used toward those top 3 priorities.  If you are deflated by your answer, it’s time to make some serious changes to your schedule and resource allocation.  Now, think about the challenges facing you again…you know what the right answer is.  Instead of trying to wiggle out of the discomfort, try asking God for strength and wisdom and then get in there and join the fight.  You too could be a maverick…a beautiful maverick like our Lord.

My prayer today is that we would rely on God to be exactly who and what he wants us to be.  Whatever he is calling us to, he will give us the strength and abilities to accomplish.  My prayer is that, unlike myself, you would see your God-given passions and characteristics as opportunities to reach our world and make it better…to show people the goodness that God has to offer…and that he is powerful enough to use your weaknesses for his good work.  Much love friends,

Beks

1/16/15 Morning Musing: Today, You’ll Either Be Tracking Right Along With Me or Calling the Folks With the Butterfly Nets!

I was getting my things together after Bible Study and my mind was already on the leader meeting that I would be quickly transitioning into. I certainly had a busy afternoon scheduled with no room for playing around. “Go stand next to her.” Huh? It wasn’t audible but this thought came to me out of nowhere. I immediately started to reason it away: “I don’t want to be late…I have so much to do…I have nothing that I need to say to her…” “Go stand next to her.” Seriously? “She is going to think I’m crazy…she is in the middle of a conversation with someone else. I have nothing to say. This feels foolish.” Again. “Go stand next to her.” *sigh* With resignation and, admittedly a bit of frustration, I went and stood beside this woman that was engrossed in conversation with someone else. When someone does this, it is usually because they have something to say and they are just waiting until your conversation is finished…except I didn’t know what I was going to say. It didn’t matter though because she finished her conversation with this other woman, turned to me, and then her eyes got as big as saucers as she exclaimed “I’ve been wanting to talk to you!” She continued on with an entire conversation that, of course, drew me in. I missed most of my meeting that afternoon and the world did not end…but you know what did happen? That woman prayed to receive Christ right there in that room.

Why in the world am I telling you this story? Glad you asked. Over the last few years, I have become more and more aware of the Holy Spirit. Now…hold on…before you write me off as a mental-case, let me back up. I grew up in a good Southern-Baptist home with a pretty firm grasp of who Jesus is and who God is…but the Holy Spirit…he was more of an enigma. The thought of him wasn’t as concrete to me so I sort of thought of him as “Uncle Spook”…you know…that relative that everyone knows about but doesn’t talk much about because he (or we) are thought of as a little bit crazy. (A bit blasphemous…I know…but…I’m being painfully honest here…I just didn’t get it.)

Then, through a Bible Study that walked me through the Trinity, I began to unlock glimpses of understanding. I went home and talked to Stan about it and we decided that year to make an effort to quiet ourselves enough to hear some of what he is trying to tell us. Once we began trying to hear him, we started hearing him better and discerning which thoughts were our own and which were divine…that led to us deciding to try to obey when we would hear him…and that led to us trying to obey him immediately when we would hear him. This was a several year process: At first, we started with trying to discern between our own voices and his…that actually was not as difficult as I thought it would be. Honestly, my own voice is rather selfish and manipulative (I know some of you won’t believe me…but I am a natural-born con-artist. I read people extremely well when I’m face-to-face with them (which may be why I want to be around people so much) and my sinful side knows exactly how to exploit people.) But, my “conscience” is extremely strong…over-powering even…and I began to realize that it isn’t my conscience as much as it is the Holy Spirit. I can not bear to violate his voice. (As it turns out, my giftedness is Pastor/Shepherd, Teaching, Discernment, Prophesy, and Exhortation. What that means in English? I love people, read them well, advise well, can explain things in terms that they can understand, and love to encourage. I know that sounds braggy…but it’s not me as much as it is the Holy Spirit in me. BUT, when I am not obeying God well, those abilities in me look different: they look like manipulation and selfishness…and I don’t think that anything could be uglier.) All that to say, when I have thoughts that seem out of context, are good in nature, but make me a little uncomfortable…I now know to give some room to that thought…let it grow…because it probably isn’t coming from myself. (Much like the story at the beginning of this musing.)

Once we learned to hear the Holy Spirit talking, Stan and I had to work on obeying him and then we had to work on obeying him more quickly. This revelation came to us as we would have separate opportunities to bless people. For example, Stan was at Kroger and there was a man in the checkout line in front of him who was pointing to an ad and trying to get something for his sweet little daughter who was with him. Stan was hurting for the man. It was obvious that he had misunderstood the ad and didn’t have enough money to get what he had promised his little girl. Stan wanted to buy the toy for the daughter but felt weird about it…felt like he was intruding and maybe would hurt the man’s pride so he kept silent and ended up leaving with regret. He had lost his opportunity…he never saw the man again…he came home and told me about it and how he felt like he heard the Spirit but didn’t obey. The next day, I was at Wal-mart and there was an elderly woman in line in front of me at the checkout. Her debit card kept not working and the cashier looked a little closer at it…it wasn’t her debit card…it was her sam’s club membership card. She was deflated. She asked the cashier to put her things aside while she figured out how she would pay…she told me to go ahead of her. With Stan’s story from the day before in mind, I made eye contact with the cashier and quietly told her to keep it totaled and add mine to it (The woman kept rummaging around in her purse looking for payment.) I then paid for the woman’s items as well as my own. The cashier handed her the bags and the woman was confused. When she realized what happened, she was in tears…she kept telling me that she was independent and would handle things and I agreed with her (turns out, she was a recent widow and was trying to learn how to do things on her own that she had done with her best friend for decades. She was trying to prove that she could handle things well on her own.) I told her that I didn’t doubt all of that for a single moment but that “maybe God was just trying to tell her in that moment that he loved her, that it’s okay to depend on community some, and to just let her know that he is here and he sees her. Also, it could one day be my mom in that position…how would I want her treated?” Eventually, we parted ways and went about our lives. The greatest part of this? The cashier was in tears as she witnessed the whole thing and she was impressed with God…not me.

I know this musing sounds rather braggy and touchy-feely: “These are my gifted areas. Let me tell you about how charitable we are.” Please don’t read it that way. That is not my intention here and honestly, sharing this makes me really uncomfortable. I’d much rather get my reward from God than put this out there for you to read and probably judge. The reason I am telling you all of this is because I have been completely changed by the decision to listen to the Holy Spirit. My life is better and more full and less ego-centric…and it’s all because I decided to have less of me and more of him. I have had so many people ask me how I hear from the Spirit and this is my way of sharing it. (It’s not a big voice that is booming and clearly “the voice of God!” For me, it comes more in the form of weird but kind thoughts that spur me to do something (or not do something…I’ve even heard the Spirit tell me to shut up before!)

If you are a Christian, you have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit…so how are you doing with this? Do you ever hear the Holy Spirit? If not, do you ever quiet the noise enough to hear him? What can you do to be close to him? (I have a special spot that I go to…it’s weird…I know…but the picture for this post is my “Musing Spot.” I go here each morning (that I am able to) and quiet my brain and pray that God would use me to speak or that he would shut me up. Now, I hear him all the time and it isn’t nearly as weird for me…it’s more exciting.) How does the Holy Spirit sound to you? Do you have a different experience than me? I’d love to hear about it! (I get a more-complete picture of God when I gain the perspective that someone else has of him.) Have you ever missed opportunities to obey him? How did you feel and did it change you?

My prayer today is that Christians would be truly changed beings…from the inside out. That we would pursue less of ourselves and more of him. That we would love others well by being obedient to God with our gifts that he has given to us. I’m praying that we would quiet the noise in our lives enough to hear the God that we tend to crowd out of our lives. Much love friends,
Beks

1/6/15 – 1/7/15 Morning Musing: Worship Doesn’t Have to Look the Way You’ve Always Thought

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “worship”? Is it bowing down low? Is it singing songs? Is it mind-control? A lot of people have a lot of thoughts on worship…some correct…some are sometimes correct…some are wrong altogether. At churches across the Bible Belt, the musically-inclined people who tend to sing and play instruments on stage are often referred to as “the Worship Team” and I’ve got to admit…it kind of bugs me. (Don’t get me wrong…I’m alright at singing…I’m not amazing but for the most part can hit the right notes…I’m better at deep bluesy, throaty sounding songs than the high-pitched squealing stuff…in fact, I tend to prefer the “men’s portions” of a lot of songs…but I digress.) Then, there’s my dad. I love him…deeply…but the man can not carry a tune in a bucket. So what he lacks in ability, he makes up for in volume. He can single-handedly knock everyone around him off the right notes of a song. But what I’ve noticed, when he does sing (although not often) it is full of zeal and heart. If we define worship only as music, I think we are missing the mark. It would put entire groups of people in the category of “not being capable of worship.” My dad and others like him, or people who are mute, or people who are hurting so badly that they are relying on the Holy Spirit to translate their groanings into words (I have been in this category before…it’s hard and it sucks.) The purpose of this musing isn’t just to define worship…you can use your dictionary app for that…but to make you think about how YOU are able to do it.

While we were driving home from Colorado, Team Massey had a discussion about what our talents are. Michaela, is amazing at art. She loves it and is naturally inclined toward it. (As her parent, I also want her to be able to make money as an adult…so there is a natural part of me that wants to persuade her toward an area that would be more profitable…but, that is not my job. I am not to re-form the wondrous girl that God created. I am simply to help her recognize where he has gifted her and encourage her to use her gifts to glorify him…to grow in those gifts.) So, when we were having this conversation, I told her that she was an image-bearer of God. (That was a new concept to her…we spent a bit of time there.) Then I asked her to look around us at all the majestic mountains, at all the trees stretching up toward heaven, to think about the variety of animals…God is an artist too! An amazing artist. When she uses her art to express something, she is identifying with her artistic Creator. Anything that helps us to better understand our God is good and I think that is worship!

Of course, little Caleb then said “Aww man! I’m not good at art. I’m just good at sports.” The conversation began to turn a little bit. I reminded Caleb that he, like Stan, is naturally athletic and joyful when using his body in movement (the way I used to be about dancing.) When our bodies are functioning the way they are intended and we use them for fun or healthy purposes, I think that can be worship. You may think that is a stretch but let me put it to you this way: I have chronic pain. I have good days and bad days but I go through more advil than anyone ought to. BUT…I remember when my body used to not hurt all the time…I know what it SHOULD feel like…I remember taking for granted that I would wake up and be able to do whatever I wanted to do without worry of “over-doing it and paying for it tomorrow.” I know how it should be and the contrast of my reality with what was intended is clear to me. Because we live in a broken world, we will experience pain, illness, sin, and death in varying degrees. But, when your body is working well and you use it well…in my book, that glorifies the God who created it so well. It shows his handiwork before we messed things up.

Please don’t read here that I am saying that if you experience pain, it is due to your own sin…I’m not saying that…I’m saying that when sin entered the world, God’s beautiful creation was no longer as he made it…it was no longer Eden…the Earth and it’s inhabitants began to deteriorate which was never intended by our Lord. But don’t you think that when we see someone who is extremely passionate about something and particularly gifted in that area, that we get a little glimpse of what was ‘supposed to be’? We get a quick insight into the heart of our God? We get a flicker…a quick snap shot of a small portion of heaven? I think that is why we are all made so very differently and are wired in such diverse ways. We all can offer a slightly different perspective of what God intended for us.

That said, how are you doing with this? How has God equipped you and impassioned you? What are you doing with your gifts and passions? Are you putting it off for some huge dream tomorrow or are you doing what you can right now? (How often do we trade in obedience now for “pie-in-the-sky” plans for later…and then later never happens?)

My prayer today is that we will be obedient to God. Right now. That we would allow ourselves to hear from the Holy Spirit and not “reason away” why what we hear is silly or ridiculous. I am praying that we would worship God in the way that he has equipped us to do so because he never asks us to do something without equipping us…he never asks us to go somewhere without providing a path. (Look at me. I am NOT a writer! (I’m a scientist! I much prefer bullet points, graphs, and data.) But the Holy Spirit started telling me to write things and now I’ve been doing this for over a year. I never know what I am going to write until I sit down, make space in my morning for his inspiration, and allow him to speak. What I do have is a deep love for people…all kinds of people…so out of obedience, I am being vulnerable, sharing my innermost thoughts, some of my most embarrassing moments, and my brokenness in the hope that it will help someone…anyone…to see God. Sometimes, it causes me deep anxiety…but there is one thing in this world that I can control…I can choose to be obedient to God regardless of where it takes me or what it requires of me.)

If you don’t know where your passions are, get into a quiet head-space and ask yourself what you would do if money was no object. Ask yourself, what brings you the most joy and satisfaction. Then look around at your life and see where you can start utilizing your passions today. If you don’t know what your giftedness is, take a test! Learn about how God has equipped you! I’m including a link to one that I particularly like (free online.) We aren’t guaranteed a tomorrow…but we can worship with our obedience right now. Much love friends!

Beks

Link to Spiritual Gifts Test:

5/28/14 Morning Musing: The Ministry of Accepting Help

Last fall, I was sick and feeling terribly with some sort of throat-nastiness (I think that is the medical term for it) and my sweet girlfriend brought me all the stuff to make a yummy and boozy hot apple cider (apple cider, honey vodka, the works!) Anyway, this sweet gal is always the first one to volunteer to help others but she won’t let anyone do anything to help her out. Right now for instance, she is in terrible pain with her back and waiting to get in for an MRI and she won’t let me bring her dinner or take her kids or anything. So, it got me thinking about this in a different kind of way.

I think that God impresses on our hearts when we should be doing things to help others…I know that he has gone to great lengths to have me help people at various times…sometimes I have been obedient and other times I was left wishing I had been obedient: paying for someone’s groceries when they were short money in the grocery checkout line, helping someone who’s car has broken down, catching a dog that is running loose through the neighborhood and trying to find the owner, offering drinks or lunch to delivery people or people who are doing work for me, etc. I think that we are supposed to respond to those urges…not only with obedience…but with quick obedience before the opportunity is lost. My girlfriend that I am writing about is quick to do that…and I love her deeply for it…honestly, it’s one of the most beautiful things about her! But, sometimes, I wonder if she understands that others are divinely called to do this as well. God lays things on our hearts and there is great joy to be had in obeying his requests. There is great fulfillment in being where God would have me be and doing what he would have me do.

My point? Glad you asked! I think that many of us recognize when we are supposed to do these acts of kindness or obedience or however you want to think about it. Whether we respond appropriately to that is important and we should all be evaluating whether or not we are screaming “No!” to God. But, do we realize that accepting help can be an act of obedience as well and allowing others to say yes to what God has put before them is really important too? I know that I don’t want to be responsible for squelching the Holy Spirit’s work in someone else’s life. So, how are you doing with this? Do you hear God prodding you? Do you obey when you do? If you are obedient, are you obeying quickly so that you don’t miss opportunities? How are you doing with accepting help? It’s hard, isn’t it?! Are you able to allow others to use their giftedness in your life?

I am praying that you all have the kind of people in your life that you can both give and receive help from. Have a lovely day friends!