Saturday, May 28, 2011

Adding On Jesus

My first year of teaching, one of the mothers gave me a book as a gift about how to have time for God in your busy life. I refused to read it. She meant well, but I just couldn’t stand the thought of that message “stay busy, but add on God when you can.”

I was thinking of the call he gave to His disciples “Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

It was never keep your busy, comfortable life, and try to make time for me each day. He called His disciples to abandon all, to live a life of radical faith. He never said “Add me on when you can, I know your busy, so just make time for me.”

We declare Jesus as LORD and yet very little time or thought is given to Him throughout the day. Rather than an abandoning all, radical life changing faith, He is an “add-on” to our very busy life. I don’t want Jesus to be an “add on” to my busy day. I want Him to be my day, my life! I read Psalm 96 this morning in my prayer time. I decided I want to be “busy” in doing these things . . . it’s my new to-do list:

“Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!” (Psalm 96:2-3)

Worship, praise, proclaim, declare!

Jesus is not about time-management, to-do lists, self-discipline, balance, etc. Jesus is about abandon, abide, pursue, trust.

Serving is good, but not good if it’s above abiding in Christ. Then, it’s a distraction and that was the rebuke in the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Like Mary, we must choose the good portion and sit at the feet of Jesus in order to serve from an overflow of our hearts. Otherwise, we are not being sustained by The Vine.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Let’s keep the main thing, the MAIN THING and ABIDE . . . not add-on.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Other Aisles

I went into the Christian bookstore for Mother’s Day and found myself lingering, walking up and down each aisle, curious to see what is on “Christian” bookshelves.

WOW! Honestly I couldn’t believe some of the stuff that’s out there. I remember the first time going into a Christian bookstore, seeing all of these books, and thinking “How do I know which one to choose? How will I know if what these books are teaching is true?” I still think that when I go into Christian bookstores.

I always check out the section on prayer. Okay I think this is the worst section! They might as well call it “How to Get What You Want from God” or “God Can Be Your Genie in a Bottle in 5 Simple Steps”. Seriously, it just shows how truly sinful we are-we want God only to get stuff from God. We seek after His “blessing” more than we seek after Him. Women’s interest is just as bad. It’s all about us. I think this section should be called “How to Stay Busy and Add God on to An Enormous To-Do List without Feeling Guilty”.

I noticed that the aisles were full of people, but the section with all the bibles had not one body in front of it. Here we are again . . . God’s people looking all over the place to find the answers to life, how to deal with life, how to get a better life, and not one standing before the Bread of Life for nourishment. Just like God’s people in 1 Kings-they begin seeking out other gods, worshipping other gods, building high places to make sacrifices, etc. I asked myself these questions . . .

Is God truly the “God of my life"?

Am I seeking after other “gods”-whatever they may be . . . career, status, motherhood, beauty, relationships, materialism . . . fulfillment from anything but him?

I say I believe, but do I truly trust God for the big things AND for the little things in my life? Do I trust Him for my decisions and provisions? Do I follow His direction, do I heed His instruction?

Do I go to the other aisles more than I go to Him? Do I follow those authors from the other aisles or do I follow the Author and Perfector of my faith?

So here’s to putting down the books and picking up The Book. Resting and abiding in Him, being nourished not by the Bread of Life (John 6:35), drinking from His river of delights (Psalm 36:8) and letting His Truth set me free (John 8:32).

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Just a Little . . .

As you read through 1 Kings you see Solomon go from seeking God . . . to seeking wives . . . to allowing idol worship. You see him go from good . . . to bad . . . to worse. A little compromise here, a little compromise there, and soon he is far from the LORD. So far from the LORD that the subtitle of Chapter 12 reads “Solomon turns from the LORD.”

What happen to this God fearing, wisdom seeking man from 1 Kings 3?

Slowly and steadily . . . he compromised. Little steps away from God, little steps toward sin, and soon, he turned from the LORD. Just like Eve. Our pastor once shared “notice how Satan didn’t ask Eve to turn from the LORD and deny Him all together, he just asked her to take a little bite.”

Just a little compromise. Just a little doubt. Just a little fear. Just a little greed. Just a little sin.

I’m wondering in my own life where I’m taking little steps away from God? Where am I taking “just a little bite” of sin? As a friend once shared with me, “if a ship gets off by even one degree on its journey, it will end up far off from its destination.” Just one little degree.

So where am I compromising “just a little”? Oh LORD help me to see my folly and turn! Oh that I would follow you with ALL of my heart.

“For you will make known to me the path of life . . .”
(Psalm 16:11)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Simple or Simple Minded

“The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15)

In Proverbs, you see these 3 characters over and over: The Wise, The Fool, and The Simple. I am all for simplicity, I try my very best not to be “busy”. In Ann Voskamp’s book “1000 Gifts” she says "Simplicity is ultimately a matter of focus. Eucharisteo. That keeps the focus simple--sacred.” However, this verse is not talking about keeping your life simple but warning against being simple minded.

I’m finding that God wants us to trust, have faith, rest in Him . . . AND . . . be wise, discerning, thoughtful, and plan. So I'm trying to find balance in that, trying to live in both. My life is a big question mark right now regarding career path. I don’t want to be haste and go after things He doesn’t intend for me to do, but I also don’t want to be simple and follow everything.

So I will wait on Him . . . AND be thoughtful. Simple life, not simple minded. Have faith like a child but grow up in my thinking.

"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)

“Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” (1 Corinthians 14:20)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Purge or Preserve

Zephaniah, a small 3 chapter book, a minor prophet tucked away in the middle of your bible with a simple message. Repent and be saved! Return to the covenant keeping God and be blessed. Be silent before Him . . . the day of the LORD is near. Prophets proclaim salvation and repentance. I love the prophets for that reason . . . simple message, pure obedience to the LORD to proclaim Him, even if they’re fearful, inadequate, or unsure. The message is hard to hear at times and even harder to obey, but the words are simple.

Theme of Zephaniah: The day of the LORD (1:7), preached more consistently by him than any other prophet. This approaching day shows two faces: judgment against those who sin against God, and one of blessing for those who follow him. God will show himself just in both punishment and praise. (*Taken from my ESV Commentary)

God will purge the faithless and preserve the faithful.

Purge-rid of whatever is impure, remove, eliminate
Preserve- to keep alive or in existence; make lasting.

For those who do not repent, for those who continue in their own way . . . judgment and destruction. Oh but for those who turn! Singing, salvation, restoration, rejoicing!

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (3:17)

Can you even imagine this? A God, in your midst, rejoicing over you with gladness? Quieting you with love? This is just beyond me. The Creator and Sustainer of the universe, soothing us with love and delighting in us when we repent and pursue Him.

Repent & return?
Punishment or praise?
Purge or preserve?
Faithless or faithful?
Destruction or salvation?
Mourning or gladness?
Weeping or rejoicing?

I choose praise! I choose repentance, obedience, silence, salvation, reverence.

I choose God . . .

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wisdom & Breadth of Mind

"And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all . . ." (1 Kings 4:29-30)

-knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action
-keen perception, sound judgement
-discernment-acute judgement and insight
-insight-seeing into inner character or underlying truth

-freedom from narrowness or restraint

God is the giver of every good gift (James 1:17). HE gives wisdom and understanding. Remember Proverbs 3:7? “Be not wise in your own eyes” . . . I’m asking the LORD to fill me with wisdom (His wisdom) and breadth of mind like He did with Solomon. Oh how I want to be wise and open-minded to things of the LORD!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

When I Grow Up

Yesterday, my students wrote about what they wanted to be when they grow up. We had the usuals . . . teacher, doctor, loyr (lawyer), mechanic, and the student who wants to be a police officer because “you get guns and cool stuff and you get to say freeze!” And then some originals . . . work at Foot Locker, work in a nail salon, runner, UFC fighter, vegetarian (I think she meant veterinarian), and “famous” (that was all she put, no job, just wants to be famous).

As they were writing, one of my student’s asked “Mrs.Danisi, if you got fired from this job, what would you want to be?”

Hmmmm . . . funny she would ask that. I’ve been wondering that since March 15th?!?! She had no idea just how much I’ve been considering this question. After getting my pink slip along with hundreds of other teachers, I have been seeking what my future holds.

While other teachers started actively pursuing other districts, I didn’t. I felt the LORD tell me to “wait”. Wait on Him. He had something in the works for me, just to wait. Would it be teaching? Something else? I don’t know. But I just had this confident feeling that He will provide. He will make known to me the path of life (Psalm 16:11) and for now, I just need to wait on Him.

A pastor I loved listening to would always talk about giving Jesus the steering wheel to your life. I may not know where I’m headed, but I know who is driving. I trust that He is taking me somewhere. I get to sit in the passenger seat while the One who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18, Ephesians 1:20-23) drives me to my new destination. I’ll sit back and enjoy the scenery until we arrive!

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What Would You Ask For?

Santino and I are reading through 1 Kings together. In Chapter 3, the LORD appears to Solomon in a dream and says "Ask what I shall give you." (v.5). God basically tells Solomon to ask for anything and the LORD will give it to him.

Before Solomon even asks for anything, he responds to the LORD with reverence, praise, thanksgiving, and humility. (*See 1 Kings 3:6-8)

After exalting the LORD and humbling himself, Solomon asks. And what does he ask for? An easy life? No suffering? Power? Celebrity? Health? Wealth? Prosperity?

“Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?" (v.9)

He asks for wisdom and discernment.

What would you ask for?
Would you ask for wisdom and discernment like Solomon? Or ask like Paul in all of his chapter 1 prayers for knowledge, wisdom, love, and faith?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:7 to ask. Ask and it will be given to you. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” (John 16:23)

The LORD will answer, if we ask according to His will.

The LORD answers Solomon. And guess what? The LORD also blesses him with all that he didn’t ask for too.

“It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days." (v.10-14)

The LORD has given us permission to ask freely. What would you ask for?

Go ahead and ask.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think . . . to him be the glory . . .” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Just Be

Last Thursday, Santino's Grandpa Frank passed away. Santino was just devastated. Grandpa Frank was like a second father to him. My mom came into town to be with his family and help in anyway she can. She became a widow 8 years ago, so this is a familiar road for her. Different circumstances, same pain.

When she left today Grandma Ida (Grandpa Frank's widow) said "Thanks for coming and for all that you did." My mom responded "Your welcome. But I didn't do much." Ida said "just being here was more than enough".

I thought about that this whole weekend with them. You don't have words to comfort, so you "just be". Just be there. Just be with those who hurt.

Weep with those who weep.
Mourn with those who mourn.
Comfort those that are grieving.
Encourage broken hearts . . .
sometimes with words, sometimes without.
Be slow to speak, quick to listen.
Not lose heart.
Keep your eyes not on what is seen,
but what is unseen.
Serve like Martha, or just sit and be like Mary.
Just be.

“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)