Friday, December 28, 2012

When I Don't Understand God

{Scriptures to Meditate on When God Doesn't Make Sense}

Just when I feel like I've got everything under control, life is good, and it's all making sense, God comes along and reminds me . . .

I'm not in control
Life is unpredictable
God will never make sense

If I can figure out God, and keep Him in a box wrapped in a bow, than He is not God. He is not beyond me.

And there is something both terrifying and peaceful about that.

He is greater than my thoughts or understanding.
He is beyond circumstances.
He is still good, even when life doesn't feel good.

And it's a glorious confusion.
I am limited. He is limitless.

I cling to these verses as a reminder . . . that even when God does not make sense, He is still in control.

There is more to life than what is seen . . .
"16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

It is when I'm emptied of myself and broken, that He is near . . .
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18)

He is beyond my understanding . . .
"8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Our hard is for HIS good . . .
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Trusting Him during confusion and pain . . .

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bag Sale #2 at Aynesworth Elementary

Last June, a bunch of us put together a bag sale at my school, Aynesworth Elementary, in southeast Fresno. It all started because I was working in a classroom and noticed one of the students wearing soccer cleats at school. When I asked why he had those on, he said "because it is my only pair of shoes".

Another of my students came to school hungry. I asked why he didn't come to school early for the free breakfast and he said because his "dad was drunk on too much beer and was sleeping on the couch in the morning" so he had to walk and didn't make it in time for breakfast.

Yep. You're probably feeling the same way we were feeling. Devastated, angry, confused, heart-broken, and eager to help feed and clothe children right here in our city!

We read some good books that had stirred us and help us understand the best way to serve those in need, and learned hand-outs weren't the answer. So we decided to host a bag sale where we'd collect tons of clothes, food, and hygeine products and discount them so parents could come and shop and fill up a grocerty bag of whatever they wanted for just $5!

Here's the story from last June: Bag Sale #1

We're hosting another bag sale Saturday 12/15 from 9-11am and we need your help!

We are in need of the following:

Food: perishable/non-perishable

Hygeine Products: soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, diapers, pads, lotion, dish soap, laundry soap, etc

Clothing: ALL sizes, especially elementary age (5-12yrs). Coats, sweaters, pants, underwear (new only), socks, shoes
Misc: blankets, towels

Christmas gifts: new toys, clothes, shoes, household items, etc. (These will be sold seperately at a discounted price and we'll also include free gift wrapping).

If you can help in any way, please let me know. We have this week left to gather items for hopefully 100 families!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Beyond Christmas

{Being a Christian is so much more than celebrating Christmas}

Our friends recently decided to host a foreign exchange student from Vietnam. She has lived in the country for 3 months. We just met her a few days ago for the first time, at our annual couples Christmas party (where we play fun/hysterical games and have a white elephant gift exchange).

While we were laughing and doing ridiculous things, of course my deep/reflective side looked over at her and wondered what she was thinking about all of this? She was laughing and even participating in a few games, but I wondered what she was thinking? Are Americans crazy? What is this “Christmas” they celebrate? Why are they giving each other Sponge Bob coffee mugs and weird framed pictures?

Which made me wonder . . . does she even know the true meaning of Christmas? Does she know we really gather to celebrate Jesus, not just have a fun evening with our friends (thought that’s a bonus). Of course this was not the intention of the night, but it did make me wonder . . .

If people look into my life, do they know the true meaning of why we celebrate Christmas?
Do they understand why Jesus was a gift to the world?
Do they see me imitating His incarnational living?
Do they feel loved by me?
Do I shine my light brightly?
Does my life proclaim Christ, even if I don’t say a word?

How much of our Christmas is really about CHRIST?
How much of our life is really about Christ?
We all say Jesus is the reason for the season, but how so?
Would people know you as a Christ follower all year round or just because you insist on “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”?

It reminded me of my friend asking the question someone asked her:
“If the government came to your house to arrest you for being a Christian, would they know you were one by looking at where you spent your time, your talent, and your treasures?”

If they looked at your weekly schedule, would they see a Christ follower?
If they looked at your bank account, would they see a Christ follower?
If they recorded your conversations, would they hear a Christ follower?

I know. Gulp.

I honestly think that if this foreign exchange student doesn’t understand the true meaning of Christmas or know the gospel, she will by the time she leaves this country. Maybe not because of the games we played that night, but because the people hosting her proclaim Christ in their home, in their marriage, in their finances, in their lives . . .

They know Jesus is not the reason JUST for this season, but the reason for every season. I want my life to proclaim that. I want people to be able to look into any part of my life and see a Christ follower. I want people to see Christ in me by the way I speak to my husband, by the way I handle my finances, by the was I treat the poor and oppressed, by the way I serve the lost AND the found.

I want Him to be known.

I want to give honor to the King with much more than lip service. I want to celebrate the incarnation of Christ every season, not just in December. I want to do it in a way that is generous, courageous, obvious, and loving.

I want to be known as Christian not just because I “celebrate Christmas” and speak of Christ one day a year, but because I follow Christ and proclaim Him with my life 365 days a year.