Saturday, April 14, 2012

Make the Most of Every Opportunity

The title really says it all this time. I heard this on the radio yesterday and just wanted to jot it down here so I wouldn't forget. Time is precious, and we waste SO much of it. As followers of Christ, we need to make the most of every opportunity we have to reach out, to serve, to bring God's light into the world while we have time.

That's it.

Untapped Potential

Haven't finished this sermon yet, but this is definitely something I want to write down and remember. The sermon title is "We Are All, pt. 1." The guy was talking about how we live our lives with this attitude like we have some great, hidden reserve of untapped potential, and if we could just tap into it, we could do anything. We think so highly of ourselves, like Peter did when he said that he would never deny Christ, even if he had to die with him. We think we won't fail because we're "better than that." Or we feel disappointed in ourselves when we do fail, because we think we should have been "better than that."

But we're NOT. That's why we need a savior.

So in reality, being disappointed in ourselves is actually a kind of pride. We're not better than that. And try as we might, we can't change ourselves and become better than that. The only way we can ever become holy or good is by drawing near to God. We have to remember how needy and dependent we are, or we'll let go of the only One who can help us.

One more point from the sermon that I'd like to include before I wrap this up. Some people say Christianity is a crutch. That it's only for the weak. That is true. But what so many people don't realize is that we're ALL weak. And if you refuse a crutch because you don't want to seem weak, but in reality you're missing a leg (and somehow you haven't noticed), you really won't be any better off. You still won't be able to walk, no matter how hard you try. The guy who accepts the crutch, however, realizes and accepts his weakness, and ends up getting around a lot better than the other guy.

So I guess my point is, accept your weakness. God's strength is made perfect in weakness, anyway. And he knows you can't be holy on your own. So (this is especially what I need to hear) stop being disappointed in yourself, stop trying to be holy on your own, and just draw near to God and let the Spirit guide you.

Simple, but incredibly, incredibly hard to do.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's All About Jesus

Simple but profound lesson today. Matter of fact, it can be summed up in one sentence. "It's not about us - it's about Jesus!" Seriously. The sermon title was "Jesus Is Healer," I think. That or "Jesus Heals." It was good. It was especially good for me because I'm learning to die to myself right now, and that's easier (not easy, but easier) to do when you remember it's not about you anyway. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Epic Homemade Muffin Cereal

Okay, guys. This is EPIC! I was looking for a good soaked grain muffin recipe, and I found this one and decided to give it a try. It seems like a pretty cool website, too - not just for the recipe, but in general. You should check it out.

Anyway, the muffins turned out a little crumbly and dry, and they were slightly overdone around the outside edges, although that might just be our oven. I've been having trouble getting used to it - it seems hotter than most ovens I've used. But moving on... Kaira and I enjoyed the muffins over a couple of days, and while we were enjoying them I left them sitting out on a plate in the open air. The crumbs, which were all over the plate, because did I mention the muffins came out CRUMBLY? Like super super crumbly? The crumbs dried out, and I thought, hmm, I wonder if I can pour these in a bowl of milk and eat them like cereal? And OH! It was GOOD!!!! Way better than the muffins, though again that could have mostly been the fault of my oven. Also, they might have been more moist if I had used honey or maple syrup as the sweetener instead of whole sugar. Maybe I'll try that one day.

So anyhow, today I made another batch and I just baked the whole thing in a huge stoneware rectangular cake pan thing. Like a batch of brownies. And when they were done I ran a spatula through it and crumbled it to bits, then put it back in the oven at 150 degrees for several hours to dry the crumbs out. And YES! Successfully made cereal. On purpose this time!

I'll try to get some pictures up here one day. But WOW! And this is unprocessed, GOOD FOR YOU cereal! Not slow suicide in a box. :) It's amazing!

My Food

I'm having a really tough time right now, but the message I listened to this evening really helped. Not even five minutes into the sermon, the guy talked about how Jesus said that his food was to do the will of his Father. Not just to hear about it, not just to think about it a lot, but to DO it. And I realized... that's my whole problem right there. I want to be satisfied in God. (The message was entitled "Jesus Satisfies.") But so often I try to find satisfaction through people, accomplishments, and material things instead. Why? Because I'm NOT fully satisfied in God. Because I can't be. I'm not doing the will of the Father. In some areas I am, but in many areas I am either struggling or not even trying. So tonight I prayed that God would put a new heart in me - to help me be more passionate for him and to give me opportunities and words to speak. Basically, just to guide me in general.

I am hopeful. I want so badly to be transformed. I want to change!

I really need to get to work on that book. That's one thing I know God wants me to do, and I keep putting it off. No wonder I don't feel fulfilled.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Riches of His Love

This is gonna be a quick post, 'cause I'm going to go take a nap in a minute. But I wanted to make sure I got this down before I forgot.

Yesterday was Easter. I did listen to the first half of one of the sermons, but I want to write about something I heard at Southside. It was actually part of one of the songs, but it didn't really hit me until Darrel said something about it near the end of the evening. The words go like this: "Oh, I'm running to Your arms, I'm running to Your arms. The riches of Your love will always be enough." The riches of God's love will always be enough. And here's why this impacted me so much. I'd been struggling with feeling kind of unsatisfied. Unfulfilled, like I didn't have enough. Enough love from my husband, or enough free time to enjoy life, or enough money... whatever. The list goes on. But there I was singing that the riches of God's love would always be enough for me. Uh, hello? Anyone else seeing a problem here? We ought to mean what we say when we sing to the Lord, and even though I did mean it, I had been blind to the fact that I was living contrary to what I was saying. We can be satisfied in Christ if we just focus on him and stop running after other things. They don't truly fulfill us anyway. They might bring some measure of happiness or satisfaction, but they really only do us any good when they're added to a life that's already satisfied and abundant in God.

Lesson learned. For now, at least. :)

Also, today I finished that sermon I started watching yesterday. The part that struck me the most was the idea that God is actively and forcefully pursuing us, but not in such a way that he drags us to himself against our will. He pursues us in such a way that our will actually changes, and a genuine desire for Him is ignited within us. And it struck me that this is, once again, similar to natural horsemanship. It's also very similar to the way a man pursues a woman. If he wants her to truly love him, he doesn't just take her by force. He may put a great amount of effort into winning her over, but he doesn't take her anywhere against her will. He works to cause her to fall in love with him so that she desires to follow him.

So. Thought that was a pretty cool analogy of the love and pursuit of God for his people. How awesome.

I think I'll sleep on that for a while. :) I'm exhausted. I need to try that "go to bed by ten every night for six nights" thing again and see if I can't do any better this time around.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jesus Is After Our Hearts

I could probably write a REALLY long entry tonight, but I'm going to try to keep it fairly concise if I can. The sermon I watched today was another really good one. "Jesus Is More Than Enough Part 2." What stood out the most to me was when he said that Jesus isn't after getting us to do all these things and fulfill commandments. He's after our hearts. Because if he can get our hearts, we'll WANT to do the things he's commanded. For example, don't steal. If someone's heart had been totally won over and they were absolutely devoted to Christ, are they going to take something from somebody else? No. So love fulfills the law. On the other hand, if someone could do every action required by the laws of God, they could still lack love. And there's a phenomenal difference between someone who's driven by love and someone who's doing all the right things but whose actions are empty.

The reason this one part stood out to me so much was because it made SO MUCH SENSE to me as a horse trainer. The difference between natural horsemanship (which is all about gaining the horse's heart first, and then using that bond as a basis for all other training) and other schooling or training methods is huge. You can teach a horse to do all the right actions, but you can see such a huge difference in the horse that has a genuine bond with the trainer. Everything is... just fuller. That's what Jesus wants in us. Not empty actions. Heart.

I didn't actually get to the end of the sermon. The computer was having trouble downloading the whole thing for some reason. But I'm glad I got that part.

As far as how my day went, I haven't felt particularly lonely today, but I have felt unfocused and kind of shallow. I prayed a couple of times today, and that really helped me organize my thoughts a little. Also, it helped me come to an interesting conclusion about my "shallowness." I don't remember ever being deeply impacted by anything growing up. Every time I read about someone who remembers something from when they were like four, and they tell you exactly what they felt at that time and how it influenced them, I think... is something wrong with me? I just feel like my whole life things have only kind of scratched the surface. Stuff doesn't affect me a whole lot. Internal stuff does, but not external. I want to have a crazy passionate love for God, but I don't think I have the capacity for crazy passionate love. And that's something I'm gonna have to let him work on in me. Because here's the conclusion I came to. I don't feel "shallow" because I'm actually shallow. If I were a glass, I don't think I'd be a super shallow glass. It's just that something can only go so far into it because the bottom of the glass is full of all kinds of junk that gets in the way. If you tried to stick your hand in and touch the bottom, you wouldn't even get close. When I say junk, I'm thinking of all the stuff that I've been trained. All the actions that I learned that were empty and un-motivated. All the proper responses. All the time I spent doing activities and playing games and feeling like nothing really meant anything.

When a horse has been overly "trained" and seems to have no heart left and all kinds of emotional problems and fear reactions and stuff, before they can start doing any natural horsemanship training, they have to give the horse a long period of re-naturalization time. Time for it to just learn to be a horse. To be free. To be itself, not just what it was taught to be. I think that's what I need right now. I think that's what God wanted me to understand today. I need to somehow simplify my life enough that I can really slow down and just learn how to be me. I'm so distracted trying to get things done that I really can't focus very well on that right now. So I need to try and get organized, 'cause I need to figure out who I am, particularly in light of who God is. I need to let God get all the junk out so that I can become deeper and have the capacity to love and worship and serve like he wants me to.

So. That was kind of long, and that's not even everything that's going through my mind right now, but it's pretty good, I think, so I'll sign off. Plus Wes just got home. :) Gotta go spend some time with the hubby.

Friday, April 6, 2012

New Goal

So it just occurred to me how much I really benefit from listening to good, solid teaching about God. Maybe it's partly because I'm alone here so much (well, taking care of a two-year-old and a six-month-old... but as far as adult conversation and socialization goes, very alone) and it fills some kind of gap in my life. Or maybe it's just because it keeps me on track spiritually - helps me to remember my priorities, which are very easily forgotten. In any case, the more I listen, the more "right" I feel. So with that in mind, I've just decided that my "thing to work on" for the month of April is this: I'm going to watch a sermon at every day, blog (maybe) about what I learned and what really stood out to me or touched me, and see where I am at the end of the month. I have a feeling this will effect a great deal of change in my life. We'll see soon enough.

Today I watched the second half of the sermon entitled "Jesus Is More Than Enough." Two things really stood out to me. First, the thing where Paul had the thorn in the flesh deal going on, whatever that was. He prayed that the Lord would take it from him, but his answer was "My grace is sufficient for you." God/Jesus told him that his strength was made perfect in weakness, and then Paul wrote that he would boast more in his weaknesses because of the way it magnified God. I may be misunderstanding (often a possibility with me) but when I read that it seems like it's saying that the fact that we are weak and fail in certain areas only increases the display of the goodness of God. His mercy and strength and patience are just HUGE, and it shows when we fail and he continues to love us. I also think this verse is about being honest and real about where you are, so that God can meet you there and work on you.

Also, the pastor talked about how important it is to know the REAL Jesus; not some Jesus we've invented in our own minds. What he cares about is our holiness. And stuff that we go through (like Paul's trials) serve to increase our holiness in some way.

Also, we really don't have anything to offer God. But he doesn't need anything from us. (The verses the sermon covered were the ones about the loaves and fish that Jesus multiplied.) So that's what we can give to God as an offering - our nothing. Our helplessness. And he pulls us through these things and strengthens us and makes us more like himself. So everything - marriage trials, hunger, sickness, financial troubles... whatever. We're weak, but we give him our struggles and let his strength be made perfect in our weakness.

It was a great sermon! I feel really... hmm, good word for this... positive. Hopeful. My trials seem small right now, and the reminder that God brings us into various trials in order to benefit us and make us more holy... I needed that reminder. It makes everything make sense. Gives everything a good and divine purpose. I feel so much better right now - I feel so trusting. I'm very happy right now.

I've been struggling today with loneliness. Wes worked all day, was home for a little over half an hour (almost all of which he spent with me and the girls, though! Yay!) and then he left again to hang out with Noah and Kevin. I knew he was going to go, but still, I was a little depressed when he left. But he needs that time, and I need to trust God with my husband. (We've been having some communication issues lately and I'm frustrated and want to work through them, while Wes is more of an "I need time and space" kind of guy. So my patience is being tested as well.) Anyway, all that to say that this sermon was exactly what I needed! I feel more attached to God now and I think I'll be able to back off and be less flung about and tormented by my emotions. Or, in other words, I think I'll be less needy and dependent on Wes and other people to fill my needs and help me work through my feelings, and more dependent on God. Which, of course, is exactly how things should be.