family life, journey, Rest, Uncategorized, weather

Todays Forecast…Snow…

2013-02-06-sne-snow-map-02-08

In the middle of the latest snow storm which brought us 14 inches of snow, I couldn’t help but laugh as I thought about a few of my former blog posts. In September I wrote about how the marketing moguls attempt to rush us through the months, initiating Christmas in September.

Last month I wrote about how various advertisers continue this process by telling us what to eat, when to eat it, and how to lose the pounds when we’ve eaten too much. One way or the other, there are grand plans to get us to buy bathing suits in February and to go on diets so that we can fit into the bathing suits during the upcoming summer. Just when they thought they had us hyped and ready to buy…God de-planned their plan!

With this winter already bringing us over 53 inches of snow (with more to come…), the retailers were forced to go back into their warehouses to find more winter hats and gloves, and other winter accessories to accommodate the demand of the consumer. Despite all of the best laid plans of mice and men, it is God’s purpose that prevails. (Prov. 19:21) I love to see God shows up people who think they have it all figured out! (myself included…:))

Let it Snow…Let it Snow…Let it Snow!almaty-intro-snowscape-1-1

Wait!!!! Don’t stop reading!!! I know that some of you may feel like I just cursed you or used some other form of illicit language!:) Now it is true, I happen to love Snow. I know that it can be a pain in the neck on a lot of different levels. It can greatly alter our schedules, it causes great damage to our roads.

Potholes are are the worst! I have first hand evidence to this fact because of two tires that were destroyed by a snow caused pothole to the tune of $350.00! I know that the elderly and others who have trouble navigating ice and snow, get tired of being homebound. But stay with me a moment while I explain why I love snow.

11403265-running-people-vector-illustrationAlways on the Run…

We live in a time when schedules, jobs and other activities drive our lives and make us become driven people. Although there is nothing inherently wrong about having drive and ambition, being a driven person is something different altogether. Driven people often miss the little  nuances of life.

We run from one task to the next and miss opportunities to connect with one another. Connecting affords us time to really listen to whats going on deep down inside. We tend to listen more closely to the hopes and dreams that often go unspoken when we pass like ships in the night. The other reason that I like it is because it reminds me that we (humans) are not in control! It forces us to slow down and reflect. The grocery stores are swamped with people buying food that will be eaten together as we all hunker down and wait for the roads to be cleared. Meals that may have been eaten on the run if the weather was more favorable to travel.

Many of us see being busy and on the go as a sign that we are productive and successful. When we are constantly on the go, doing what society dictates as important, we often miss the still small voice inside of us; the voice that has to do with our Ephesians 2:10 purpose. We forget that we are each an individual masterpiece, created for a very unique and special purpose. We just need to learn that it is ok to be still. In other words…Chill...

“Be still and know that I am God…”

Psalm 46:10

The next time the snow falls over night (and it is coming :)), take time to notice the stillness of the morning. The hustle and bustle of cars and people are in submission to the freshly fallen snow. I wonder if we can learn the same submission to the God who made the snow?

Advertisements
Evangelism, family life, trust, Uncategorized, worship

The “In Crowd”

Be_Our_GuestMany years ago, when my children were young, The Disney company had a slogan that shaped the values of the entire organization. That slogan was, “Be Our Guest”!  There was a song written with the same title that was song by one of the Disney characters that would fill my children with excitement and glee every time they heard it. When they heard the first couple of bars of the song, “Be… Our… Guest…”, they would stop whatever they were doing and start dancing and singing. The next thing out of their mouths were, “Mommy, Daddy, can we go to Disney World?” That’s powerful marketing.

This theme set the tone for every activity in their parks as well as the company at large. The Disney brand was recited and emulated in businesses throughout the world. They became a company known for the excellent way in which they treated their guests. Walking onto the Disney property, guests immediately feel secure that the proper preparations had been made to ensure that all of there expectations would be met and possibly exceeded. Branding is powerful. It drives everything.

The Shepherds Brand

Psalm 23:1 is a passage of scripture that I have read many times and even memorized. I was taught to recite it as a child. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…”. Many of us can quote these familiar scriptures, but I wonder if they really make for change in our lives. I recently re-read this passage in another translation. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.”  Upon reading that phrase, “in want”, I realized that my relationship with the Shepherd Jesus was also based on branding. Living under the Shepherds covering represents a well thought out plan by God the Father to make perfect provision for all of my longings and desires. Just like a person paying for a ticket to enter the Disney park has expectation for a time of family fun and connection; we have been purchased by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross which grants us access into everything we need for life and godliness. When we are abiding in the Shepherd, we don’t have to be in want.

To be “in” is a present tense phenomenon that requires faith for today. Just like the children of Israel, I must trust God to provide for my daily needs. Storing up manna for fear of lack only causes things to go bad. John 15:7 says:

“If you remain in me (abide in me), 

and my words remain in (abide in) you, 

ask whatever you wish and it shall be given unto you.”

People are always talking about “out”; coming out, outspoken, outsourced, but perhaps the real key to peace and joy is being “in”. In the secret place. Abiding under the shadow of his wing. Psalm 91:1-2 says:

“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge, 

my God in whom I trust.”

Disney’s brand offers you a world of fun as long as you stay in the park. The Shepherd’s brand offers abundant life as we live in Him. Acts 17:28 says,

“In Him I live and move and have my being”

“In”, is a function word used to indicate inclusion, location or position – within limits.

My children were not disappointed when we vacationed at the famous theme park. They squealed with excitement when we walked through the gates and they realized that they were finally “in” Disney World. Maybe we should do a little more dancing and celebrating the fact that we are “In Christ”. Our marketing strategy of love, joy, peace etc. should make people long to be a part of the “in crowd”.

I like being part of the “In crowd”. How about you?

journey, judgment, self-acceptance

Do You!

“Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave YOU.” (Colossians 4:17 NLT)

Have you ever noticed that when we get excited about something, we want everyone else to be excited about it too? I find that I not only want or desire others to be excited about the same things, but I go further and assume that that they will be just as impacted as I was. When that doesn’t happen, I have a tendency to look around and say, “what’s going on here? Did they just hear what I heard, or see what I saw?”.

If the person or persons doesn’t respond in a given way, I am often tempted to evaluate and make judgements about the person or myself. I want to find out whether they missed the point, or did I make too much of the issue. Either way evaluation can be very dangerous.
Evaluation begins from the premise that you are standing on a firm foundation of “rightness”. Surely, my thoughts about this situation are correct. It is so important to remember that our thoughts are not His thoughts, and our ways are not His ways. His purpose is working deeper in us then we can imagine.

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him.” But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:9-11 NLT)

When we evaluate people based on our emotions, we may completely miss what God is doing in us and them. We must be careful about make comparisons and believing that one part of the body is more valuable than another. In Colossians 4:17, Paul says, “be sure to carry out the ministry that God gave you.” Ephesians 4:1 says, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

Be careful not to cast off the work of the master architect. He is the God of intelligent design. Who we are, how we think and process things is something that only God can fully understand. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

The Body of Christ, much like the human body is a very complex mystery. The mystery of how all of the systems work are known only by our creative God. It makes no sense therefore to evaluate or compare ourselves to one another.
“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Corinthians 12:17, 18 NIV)

There is a better way to interact with each other. In fact, 1Cor. 12:30b says,” I will show you a more excellent way”. This is a set up for the next chapter which is all about love. Because, love never fails.

When you are tempted to evaluate, or make swift judgements, pause and ask God to show the beauty of his handiwork in the other person. Choose a heart of gratitude for a person who has different gifts, and who may be on a different part of the journey then you are on.
The world would be missing much beauty and creativity if everyone was just like me.

Christine James is a wife, mother and pastor at CareView Community Church. This is her first blog. She is glad you came.

journey, trust, worship

Journey Through The Desert

Some years ago my husband and I decided to use our vacation time creatively to kill two birds with one stone. We own a timeshare based in Las Vegas that often runs promotions to get you to come and see how the city is attempting to change its face from just being a gambling town to being a place for everyone in the family to enjoy. The primary goal of course was to get you to buy more property. It was such a great deal and airfare to Vegas was relatively inexpensive, so we decided to take advantage of the deal, and use it as an opportunity to visit our friends in Southern California. Our friends had been telling us for years that Vegas was only a three hour drive from their home which seemed very doable; like driving to Virginia or other places on the East Coast. Upon our arrival into Vegas, we excitedly picked up our compact car and proceeded with great anticipation. We were enjoying our time together and looking forward to the reward of reengaging with our long distance friends. The first hour was fun. We laughed and talked about the sights: The bright lights and gaudy hotels and casinos in the desert. However, as time continued on, the mood began to change. The landscape started to change dramatically. The sights began to conform to the natural habitat of the desert. All of a sudden, there were no more glitzy hotels, no more casinos and no more humans at all. There was just an arid landscape complete with the tumbleweeds that I’d seen so often in the westerns that I loved on TV—The tumbleweeds I’d seen in ghost towns. My mind began to race. I thought about all of the Mob movies that had depicted the desert as a convenient place to “dispose” of people who were “problematic”. As we traveled down the road, I realized there was no highway divider, or shoulder rails to stop cars from going off the side of the mountain. Only big tractor-trailers racing up and down the mountainous road. What if one of them decided that we had cut in front of them in the way they didn’t like. Or what if they just didn’t like the way we looked! Paranoia began to overwhelm me in a way that is not characteristic with my personality. I was horrified by the fact that we literally could drive a couple hours between points of civilization. No city lights, no people, not even an abundance of cars. Until that time I was not aware of how much I depended on a certain type of environment to make me feel safe. After all, what would we do if there was some type of emergency? Our cell phones would go in and out. There were not many cell towers in the mountains. What would we do if we simply had to go to the bathroom? I wasn’t getting out of the car in this “No Man’s Land”. I was holding my breath and my bladder, anxiously awaiting the next town. Very, very small towns with people who didn’t look or talk like me. About halfway through our journey, I heard the Lord speak to me. “I am El Roi, the God who sees”. I will never leave you nor forsake you. Lo, I will be with you, even til’ the end of the earth. My flesh wanted to say, “Okay, Lord, but will you be with me til’ the end of this desert place?” The desert had become a god to me. It became larger than life. Larger than my big hulking husband, who I knew loved me and would always protect me. It became larger than my normal rational thinking mind. It became larger than Jehovah God: The God who is more than enough. The desert place of the unknown can be an ongoing struggle for us as believers, but I think women can be particularly vulnerable to this because of our great need for safety and security. We like certain systems and norms to be in place to fuel our so-called faith. But real faith is that which is written in God’s word: “Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) When there was NOTHING to see in the desert, I realized how dependent I was on my ability to see versus God’s ability to see. Today, as you struggle with the unknown, trust that God has perfect vision and provision concerning you. Never forget that you are the apple of His eye. “Keep me as the apple of your eye; Hide me in the shadow of your wings.” (Psalm 17:8 NIV) Rejoice in the fact that you are safe in the father’s arms.

20120926-213309.jpg

Christine James is a wife, mother and pastor at CareView Community Church. This is her first blog. She is glad you came

.