Archives for September 2011

Friday Finds: Poem

Satisfy me not with the lesser of You
Find me no solace in shadows of the True
No ordinary measure of extraordinary means
The depths, the length, the breadth of You
And nothing in between.
Etch the words upon my heart, knowing all the while
No ordinary roadblocks plague extraordinary miles
Your power as my portion, Your glory as my fare
Take me to extremities
But meet me fully there.

-Beth Moore

Home

I’m typing from my home today, but when you read this I will actually be at my parent’s home in Texas.  My other home.

Question: When does your home stop being your home?

In the last year I’ve changed my name and my welcome mat. I proudly display my initialed stationary, coasters, and towels. None of these changes have been involuntary. I registered for everything with the letter C on it as my husband chuckled and rolled his eyes.

Question: When do you stop feeling like you are moving all the time?

I’ve moved 15 times since 2000. Most of those were moves within the same city or area code, but all the same: that’s a lot of transition.

I’ve been trying to dig roots here, honestly. I’ve been living in my new city for almost six months now and I feel like I should have a really settled feeling… but I don’t. I am so happy to be D’s wife. I am excited for my business and dreaming endeavors, and I am so pleased to live in our home. We have a lovely church, diverse and wonderful neighbors, and family within 45 minutes of driving.

So what gives?

I think I knew the answer even before it came, but all the same I still had to be smacked across the face with a frying pan this week.

My friendships are changing again. Those that I depended upon for years are now moving steadily forward in their own communities and families. I feel like all I can do is watch from the side and call out as they lap me one more time. None of this is bad or even sad… it’s just part of change.

I’ve been attending three different groups this year. I signed up for Bible study, small group fellowship, and Bunco fun. I just realized that out of the forty others represented in those groups, I have FOUR of those phone numbers in my contact list. Granted, I don’t need all the numbers from my co-ed small group, but the statistics are still surprising as I sit here adding.

The numbers are evidence of my frying pan moment. I am not letting anyone IN. I attend, I cook food, I share my prayer requests, and then I rush out the door. I have yet to really share me.

Here’s what I read on Tuesday sitting on a bench outside the Library.

The discipline of community makes us persons; that is, people who are sounding through to each other a truth, a beauty, and a love which is greater, fuller, and richer than we ourselves can grasp. In true community we are windows constantly offering each other new views on the mystery of God’s presence in our lives. Thus the discipline of community is a true discipline of prayer. It makes us alert to the presence of the Spirit who cries out “Abba,” Father, among us and thus prays from the center of our common life. Community thus is obedience practiced together. – Henri Nouwen, Making All Things New

You know what I wanted? I wanted to be able to blame this on cliques or inside jokes or even being the new person. But I can’t. This is my doing. This is my stubbornness, disobedience, and judgement. I have kept the shades drawn and kept community out, and for that I feel deep regret. I am saddened and sorry.

But it’s time to move on. I am done with passive community. I am ready for this community to become my home… away from my Heavenly Home.

“So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:22-25, The Message

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ…” Philippians 3:20, NIV

Following and learning,
Ginger

***This post was written in April of this year for another blog.  This new home is home and my roots are deepening every day.  God is good!

Out of the Trials

2 Corinthians 8:2-4, “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.  Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.”

The math doesn’t add up.  Coming from the severe trial, overflowing joy PLUS extreme poverty EQUALED rich generosity.  Are you following me?  Since when does a severe trial bring overflowing joy?  How often is extreme poverty associated with rich generosity?  Surely Paul was confused when speaking about the Macedonian churches.

Or was he?

The truth of the matter is that joy flows most often when we take a step back from ourselves and notice those around us.  Joy comes from blessing and encouraging others around us, rather than focusing on our own needs.  The Macedonian church had realized this truth in spades.  When life is “all about me” it leaves little room for the joy that emerges through community and service.

I had a horrible week last week.  I was an emotional mess and couldn’t seem to pull it together.  I heard the question that Paul asked the Church of Galatia now asked of me, “What has happened to all of your joy?”  (Galatians 4:15)  My joy had left me in every arena of my life.  In the midst of trials all I could do was look around and feel despair.  Can I tell you what changed my outlook, what has seemingly restored my joy?  It returned the moment I took my eyes off of myself and made my concern those around me.  Rather than wondering what my friends could do for me, I began to seek out what I could do to bless them.  That change of perspective has made all the difference.  The challenges of last week are just as present this week, but I have decided to change the outcome of equation, just like the Macedonians.  It shouldn’t make sense, but it does.  Overflowing joy comes when we seek to share, to serve, and to love others.  Joy comes as we take on the attitude of Christ and love beyond measure.

 “…Love of old vs. unselfishness of today:  Unselfishness carries the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point.”  C.S. Lewis – The Weight of Glory

Following,
Ginger

Three in One

Dear Ginger-

I’ve been reading my Bible a lot lately and I can’t seem to find the word Trinity anywhere in it.  Can you help me understand the term and what it means that God is three in one? – Thanks! -F

Big question!  Let me see what I can do to help explain the Trinity.  Please note, I am sharing my interpretation based on Scripture and commentaries, but we serve a God who is beyond our comprehension!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16

“Trinity” is a term that is not found in the Bible but a word used to describe what the Bible tells us about God.  The Bible describes God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit.  What can sometimes be confusing is that the Bible also clearly tells us that there is only one God. Thus the term: “Tri” meaning three, and “Unity” meaning one. Tri+Unity = Trinity. It is a way of showing what the Bible reveals to us about God, that God is three “persons” in one.  Still with me?  Ok… let’s keep going.

Check out Luke chapter 3 where it describes when Jesus was baptized.  It’s a really cool story because it talks about all three “persons” who make up God.  …”Jesus was also baptized.  While Jesus was praying, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit came down on him.  The Spirit was in the form of a dove.  Then a voice came from heaven and said, “You are my Son and I love you.”  (The Magnify Bible)

That voice from heaven was God the Father!  This passage shows us that each of the persons of the Trinity may look or seem different, but that they are each fully and completely God.  In our world, with our small minds, it’s tough to understand the Trinity.  But from the beginning we see God this way in Scripture. Check out Genesis 1:26 — Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

Here’s how all three parts are described in scripture:

GOD THE FATHER:
Father of Jesus
Pillar of cloud, pillar of fire, burning bush, loud voice, bright light

GOD THE SON:
Jesus
Fully God and fully man
Came to earth
Sacrificed for our sins
MEDIATOR!! (Curtain ripped!)

GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT:
Jesus said he was leaving us the Holy Spirit as our help, guide, comforter…giving gifts, bearing fruit, helping us make wise decisions – appeared in tongues of fire and as a dove, and as a rushing wind.

We pray to the Father in the Name of the Son with the help of the Holy Spirit.

“Hear O Israel!  The LORD is our God, the LORD is ONE!” Deuteronomy 6:4

Hope that helps a little.  Sometimes I describe it to kids like an apple – the core, the white “meat” and the peel.  All three are part of the apple but they all have separate looks and functions.  OR sometimes we describe it like the components of H2o- liquid, ice, vapor.  All are made up of the same material but serve a different presence.

Keep reading!  Keep asking!

Following,
Ginger

Art and Faith

I’m thrilled to be back in Texas this week meeting with a motivated group of students. We are exploring relevance, faith, culture, and art.  (Get excited.)  When I started explaining the topic to my husband he was less than enthusiastic- at first!  But rather than spend five hours talking about specific works of art, my desire is to raise questions about our response to culture.

Here’s the quote that got the ball rolling:

“There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation.” – Madeleine L’Engle

I don’t have time to turn this into a lengthy series, but I wanted to direct some questions your way.  Feel free to respond in the comment section or to just answer for yourself.  I think our responses to this question DO matter.  So…

What was your first reaction to L’Engle’s quote?  Do you agree with her statement?

sec·u·lar/ˈsekyələr/

Noun: A secular priest.
Adjective: Denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis.

sa·cred Adjective/ˈsākrid/

1. Connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration: “sacred rites”.
2. Religious rather than secular.

in·car·na·tionNoun/ˌinkärˈnāSHən/

1. A person who embodies in the flesh a deity, spirit, or abstract quality: “Rama was Vishnu’s incarnation on earth”.
2. (in Christian theology) The embodiment of God the Son in human flesh as Jesus Christ. 
Happy Pondering. :)
Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Backyard

You don’t have to go far to locate today’s Friday Find.  I’m slowly but surely making some changes to the website.  I feel like just about everything else (laundry, speaking prep, working out, watering the plants) tends to get my attention before this sucker.  But I KNOW that I need to keep the content fresh and up to date.

That being said, I’ve actually added a new mp3 to the Audio section.

The latest addition - Replenish.

What you see in the pic above are various speaking sessions that I’ve given in the past year or so.  The latest addition, Replenish, is from the Revive Retreat this past August.  The download is free.  Who knows, one day I may get this show on the road enough to turn it all into a podcast.  But for now – check out the listen.  (More audio files to come this fall!)

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: The Main Thing

Hi Ginger!

I just started high school and I’m beginning to feel the stress of homework, extra-curricular activities, etc. I spent today anticipating the moment I could come home and crash on the couch. After having such an awful day, I was just wondering, what should I do on days like this? I find it so easy to blend in with my surroundings, and hard to understand how I can live courageously when all I can think about is the weekend. Is there anything God says I should do? -T

T- again, thank you for sending in such a great question.  This one has caused me to have many conversations aloud with myself over the past week!  (Don’t worry – it’s totally normal.)  I’ve spent time praying and reading and am hoping that we’ve come close to giving you a decent answer to a really important question.

Here are some more practical thoughts…

“Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Psalm 34:10b)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith… And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5: 7-10)

May He restore, support, strengthen, and establish you as you continue to press on!

Following,
Ginger

Wake Up!

Hi Ginger!

I just started high school and I’m beginning to feel the stress of homework, extra-curricular activities, etc. I spent today anticipating the moment I could come home and crash on the couch. After having such an awful day, I was just wondering, what should I do on days like this? I find it so easy to blend in with my surroundings, and hard to understand how I can live courageously when all I can think about is the weekend. Is there anything God says I should do? -T

Yesterday we started tackling T’s question by responding with rest.  Today we are taking what might seem to be quite the opposite approach: Wake Up!

“Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre!  I will awaken the dawn.” Psalm 57:8

The reason I am claiming this verse today isn’t because I pulled out my harp when I got out of bed.  I identify with this verse because I don’t always awake full of the courage or desire to live out the joy of the Cross.  Open your Bible and notice the inscription at the beginning of Psalm 57.  My Bible says: “Of David.  A miktam.  When he had fled from Saul into the cave.”

A miktam was most likely a musical notation or title for psalms of penance for sin. (Jennifer Rothschild – Me, Myself & Lies)  David is running for his life, possibly for years at the point this song is written.  He spends the first portion of the passage asking for mercy and crying out to God.  I picture him pouring out these words on the verge of tears:

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge.  I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. (Psalm 57:1)

The passage continues as David anguishes about His situation.  He pours out his worries to the Lord.  And then, starting in verse 7, the tone of the passage begins to make a shift.

“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.  Awake, my soul!  Awake, harp and lyre!  I will awaken the dawn.  I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.  For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.” (Psalm 57:7-11)

David is in real danger.  He probably hasn’t slept, bathed, or had a regular meal in days.  He is lonely and probably feeling anything but courageous.

I know that when I become overwhelmed I want to crawl up into a ball and have a good long cry until everything has blown over.  I want God to swoop in and just fix it.

David demonstrates reliance upon God, but he also makes a choice when it comes to his emotions.  David chooses to praise God in the midst of terror.  He commands himself, “Don’t sleep through this!  Don’t trust your heart, trust God!  Get up and get moving!”  David’s heart might have been telling him to hide, to distrust God (after all, wasn’t David SUPPOSED to be King.  He didn’t choose that, God did!), and to even check out for a while.  Instead, David knew how important it was to be awake and alert.

The Hebrew word translated awake means “wake, life up (self), stir up (self).” (Rotschild)

I’m not saying it’s easy, and I’m certainly not saying that this is my usual behavior.  I just want to point out the example of David.  He’s worn out from the fight and yet he commands his soul to praise the Lord.  His attitude and response are his choice.  Your attitude and response in the midst of exhaustion are your choice.  Choose to live wide awake!

Stop back by tomorrow for tips on this very topic.

Following,
Ginger

Breath of Fresh Air

Hi Ginger!

I just started high school and I’m beginning to feel the stress of homework, extra-curricular activities, etc. I spent today anticipating the moment I could come home and crash on the couch. After having such an awful day, I was just wondering, what should I do on days like this? I find it so easy to blend in with my surroundings, and hard to understand how I can live courageously when all I can think about is the weekend. Is there anything God says I should do? – T

T – thanks for writing!  First of all, let me commend you for desiring to live courageously.  I wish that was something more of us lived out in an practical sense.  I applaud you for not waiting until the next phase in your life to take ownership of all God has called you to each day.  Your question is one that is applicable to anyone reading.  Although we probably didn’t have your exact recipe for exhaustion, we can all identify with feeling overwhelmed, over-scheduled, and like we just need a break.

I love that you finished your question by heading straight to the Word.  “Is there anything God says I should do?”  So many of us would want to simply be validated in our feelings.  You are seeking out Truth!

When I read your question my heart and mind immediately went to this verse:

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30, NIV

I also love this passage in the Message Translation.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30, The Message

Did you breathe in and out as you read it?  There’s just something about that passage that makes it feel like a cool breeze.  There’s a reason God’s Word can have that effect on our hurried selves.

It is the Spirit who makes Christ’s words known to us, applying them to our lives and making them live.  They are not dead words, ancient history, a static set of instructions, or an encyopedia of belief.  Through the Spirit they are the living, life-giving words of God (Ezekiel 37:1-14).  The Spirit is the Spirit of truth… In both Hebrew and Greek spirit and breath are the same word.  The word of God comes on the breath of God.  (Excerpt from Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis)

As for your question, I think it’s always good to remember that any needed rejuvenation is ultimately going to come through God and His Word.  Yahweh holds the release for our stress and worries.  Jesus goes so far as to invite us to come to Him for rest.

The second thing I want you to notice is the phrasing of the Message Translation: Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

Jesus is the example!  Watch how He did it.  He spent his days pouring out, living courageously- if you will, but He also took time to recharge with His closest friends and especially with His Father.

“And early in the morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there.” Mark 1:35

“And immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the multitude away. And after bidding them farewell, he departed to the mountain to pray.” Mark 6:45-46

“And they came to a place called Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground, and began praying.” Mark 14:32-34

“And when day came, He departed to a lonely place; and the multitudes were searching for Him, and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from going away from them.” Luke 4:42

“But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12

Refilling is going to be imperative for you.  Between rehearsals, practices, classes, and activities… you are going to have a plethora of opportunities to live out the gospel.  Continue to love God, love others, and share the truth with courage and determination!

And although there is no “time out” in the Christian life, I do believe that there is definitely a time to catch a breath of fresh air… just make sure you are turning to the right Source.

I fell like we’ve just gotten started and there’s so much more to talk about.  So, if it’s ok with you, I want to keep tracking on this theme for the next few days.  Hang in there with me.

Following,
Ginger

p.s. Check out this series on Sabbath from one of my favorite people!

Intentional

I spent Friday evening in the presence of women that I have known for several years.  We used to see each other six days a week and now have had to make do with once a month because life is full of change.  We’ve gone through a lot together in the past five years.

Each of us is still going through a lot, but the occurrences are in three separate spaces.  In the first hour we talked about everything from vacations and plans for the year to television shows and responsibilities.  For the rest of the evening we began to share our hearts.  We each voiced our worries, our struggles, and our weaknesses.  The listeners would nod and ask and press the speaker to honesty.  There weren’t tears this time, but there might be next time.

I value our time together so much because it reminds me of what we talked about on Friday, I’m not in this alone.  I shared things that I haven’t even shared with myself because I was being asked the right questions… the hard questions.

Better together.

Do you have a network?  I talked about this a few months ago, but wanted to make sure I pointed it out just in case you didn’t catch it the first time.  Having wise counsel in your life is so important at every stage.  I hope there is never a point in my life where I assume that my job is just to give advice and never to receive wisdom from others.  I’m so thankful for these women who are willing to ask me the challenging and pointed questions that I need.

“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14

“A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength; for by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 24:5

“Every purpose is established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.” Proverbs 20:18

“Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” Proverbs 15:22

“Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.” Proverbs 19:20

Get intentional with your friendships.  Locate a strong network of people who will provide wise counsel in your life.  Don’t go this alone!

Following,
Ginger