Monday, August 29, 2005

Where were you when the lights went out?

In Wal-Mart!!! How funny!!

Everyone was making their escape from work, fleeing before the winds and rain pound us here in Jackson, Mississippi, and of course, we all had to make that one last stop for necessities. I really did have a mission - toilet paper!!! Who can survive a hurricane without toilet paper?!?! Not 3 girls in one house! [My roommate's sister (our former roommate) is staying with us through the storm.]

Anyway, I was in electronics, trying to find some batteries, when the lights flickered and then went out. You would have thought it was the end of the world for some people....the screams were hilarious!!! Then, the lights came back on and people began rushing around trying to gather all the stuff they came for, when...poof! They were out once again! This time for good.

By that time, I had everything I came for so I began to make my way to the front.

It is interesting to me the way people respond in difficult circumstances. You've probably seen it....people either begin chatting together, forming bonds that would never have happened before, or they stand there, fuming at the circumstances over which they have no control. Fortunately, for the time I was there, most people were being nice and waiting patiently, but I imagine it didn't last.

You might be wondering why we were even standing in line. Well, amazingly, the registers were still running! Several of us joked around saying, "Wal-Mart is gonna make sure they get their money!" It was funny. The sad news is they were running on battery/generator power, and the teller in my line said they wouldn't work for very long. Not too long ago, they announced on the news that this particular Wal-Mart had to close because the power was out.

I'm just glad I made it home safely. It is a crazy day.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Raising the bar

Your fellowship with God enables you to gain a victory over the Evil One. Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world - wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important - has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out - but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. 1 John 2:14b-17, The Message

Like it or not, there is a standard. It does not sit well with most of us, either. Given a choice, we want things our way, and like most of us in this "microwave generation", we want it now.

My pastor has said several times that hell is for wimps. That is no lie! It is not easy to always do the right thing. Sometimes there are those gray areas where there's not an explicit "yes" or "no" as to whether it should be done, but if you've spent any time in the Word of God, there is an answer. The principles are unchanging....and very clear.

I'm always surprised how tempting it is to let down the "standard". "Oh, it's not that bad. I didn't do x, y or z." Sheesh. Last night, a friend of mine reminded me of the story of Moses holding up his staff to ensure the victory of the Israelites over the Amalekites. As long as the "standard" (Moses' staff) was raised, they were victorious. I was quickly reminded that I must keep the "standard" raised in my life. There can be no room for compromise, otherwise I will lose the battle. Not only that, the others around me will lose too. You see, Moses wasn't the one fighting....he was the one holding up the standard. When he let the staff down, Israelites lost their lives. Yikes! Puts a different spin on things, don't you think?

One of the things I have struggled with is the idea of not wanting to hurt people so that they have another notch in their belt of "hurts from the church." But I realized last night, that keeping the standard raised in my life won't hurt others. God doesn't work that way. People will be drawn to the light of His Truth, and their lives WILL be changed! The only way I would hurt people is if I respond to them in the wrong way. And I MUST be careful how I do that. Sometimes, my responses to people encompass keeping the standard raised. It's real easy to slip back into the way "I" want to do things.

Anyway, I've been chastised by God. I MUST keep the standard raised. He will bless me for it. Of that I have no doubt. I look forward to seeing what happens and how the battle is won!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Checkin' in

I cannot believe how much stuff is going on in my life and around me! Just about the time you think things are going to settle down a bit, all heck breaks loose! Things at my church just seem to be exploding. The street ministry I'm involved with is taking off and going to a new level. Youth group (which is part of the church explosion) is right on the verge of some exciting things - I'm believing God for that. And at work - we're about to be off and running in so many ways, it makes my head spin to think about it.

How exciting!!!

Even though there are some things I'm dealing with personally (that I wish I wasn't having to) this is absolutely the best time of my life! I've got some awesome friends. My family is doing well. I couldn't ask for better co-workers. And I've recently met some people that are really cool! It's all good!

I'm encouraged and optimistic about life and the future....and I'm extremely tired!!!!! :)

Tonight, I'm hoping to hit the hay early!


Monday, August 15, 2005

Sign of Discomfort

This is the heading for one section of my devotional reading today. I'm reading in Ezekiel about how he was called by God to be His voice to the people and what God asked him to do to present His message to those people. I can't imagine how I would have responded to God's requests. He tells Ezekiel to lie on his left side for nearly 13 months and "put the sin of the house of Israel upon yourself." Each day he lay there represented one year of Israel's sin. Then, when that time had passed, God asked him to flip to the other side and lay there for 40 days - each day representing a year of the sin of the house of Judah. Then God tells Ezekiel to bake his bread over human excrement, but Ezekiel pleads his case for never having defiled himself, so God allows him to bake it over cow dung - yuck! Not only that, Ezekiel has to shave his head and God gives specific directions as to what he is to do with his hair. There are a few other things God asks of Ezekiel, but I think you might get the idea. It's not a walk in the park!

Most of us would (at least I would) cry out and say "Unfair!! Why must I suffer humiliation and extreme discomfort just so you can get your point across to a bunch of losers who just don't get it - and probably still won't! I mean, after all God - how many times have you already told them this? Is me doing all of this really going to make a difference?" I don't know the rest of Ezekiel's story yet - whether or not the people saw what he did and were impacted by it - but I don't know that it even matters. Isn't the point, really, whether or not we'll obey God in whatever He tells us to do?

A friend once said to me, "Everyone wants to be a servant until they get treated like one." Ouch! How often do we (I) exclaim - "Yes!! Yes, God, I will follow you - whatever that means!" and then the first time trouble comes or He asks us to step outside our expectations and plans do we throw in the towel or just gripe and complain? "That's too hard!" "God wouldn't ask me to suffer like this!" Oh really? We ask God to use us and then when He does, we want to cry because we feel "used".

I'll admit - the thought that God wants to use me as He wills scares the heck out of me! What does God want from me? Everything. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been reminded of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20..."You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price." I am not my own. But honestly, how scary is that? Not very. I know that God has my best interest at heart and even though He might require difficult things of me, He will be right there with me as I go through it. Besides that, He will get the glory and isn't that what it's really all about? It's all about Him, not me.

Yesterday, I had someone tell me they felt sorry for me because I didn't indulge in a certain activity because I believe and live by the idea "I do not belong to myself...I've been bought with a high price." I've never had that happen before. I've never been pitied because I live for Jesus. This person told me I was "missing out" and all I could think was how much he was missing out on, because he allows his life be controlled by this one thing. His vision is narrowed by his pursuit of satisfying himself first and foremost. Sure, I may not get to experience certain things, or I might have to do without all the trappings of this life, but when I'm standing next to Jesus in heaven, I just think I won't care. I'll be with Him. What else is there?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I'm a computer geek wannabe!

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Is it just me...

or is everyone super busy?!?! I can't believe how crazy life seems to be.

Well, I survived my first ever Lock-In where I was in charge of everything! We had a great time - I just hope my kids got something from our time together. I had a special guest speaker come, and what he shared was really great. I know God planted some seeds...I hope I will get to see them grow into something awesome! If not, I'll just spend my time watering those seeds and planting new ones. For those of you reading this that might not understand what I mean - let's just say, I know Jesus began a work in the hearts of my youth and I hope to see them become solid in their commitments to surrender themselves to Him in every aspect of their lives. I want them to be able to say (as I do) "I can't imagine living life without Jesus."

The kids seemed to really enjoy it and I had some pretty good games (how would we survive without the internet!?!?) I came up with one "event" that was a smash hit! It was like a segment of "Fear Factor"! I had three volunteer teams of two people each - one person was the "giver" the other person the "receiver". The "receiver" sat on the floor at the end of the table with a plastic cap on their head, holding a bowl on top of their head. The "giver" had two pans in front of them - the first pan had gummy worms covered by whipped cream. The other pan had crushed corn flakes in it. The object of the game was for the "giver" to root around in the whipped cream to find gummy worms with their mouths (hands behind their backs), dip them into the corn flakes and then into the bowl on the "receiver's" head. The team with the most worms in the bowl wins. As I said, I had three teams and after the worms were counted, we had a tie between two of them! That mean another round - and it was gross!!!!! They loved it!! Why is that? The grosser something is, the better. It was too funny!!!

Anyway, I now know why lock-ins happen only once or twice a year! I was exhausted all week!!! My sleep schedule was thrown off and I just couldn't seem to get rested. I think not working out for the past two weeks also contributed to that. I worked out today and feel a lot better.

On top of the youth group, things with the street ministry are taking off. We've got more people involved than we've ever had and there may be two guys that we'll be working with to help get off the street. We've been able to establish relationships with them and now they've asked us to help. We'll see what happens! I can't wait to see what God does in all of this!

My job has also been keeping me busy. It's the end of our fiscal year, budgets are due next week and we have a major golf tournament next month. As if that wasn't enough, I'm making a quick 2 day trip to Kansas City next week - and I'll be going back in November. I'm loving it, but it sure is wearing me out!!!

I guess it's a good thing I'm not involved in a relationship right now. I would be more likely to try and concentrate on the relationship and I would neglect the other stuff. I sort of did that with the last one, and I think I need to learn how NOT to do that! It will be a thought hovering not too far in the back of my mind should I get involved with someone in the near future. That, too, is in God's hands.

Well, I should get to bed - my sleep schedule is still off! Later!