Saturday, December 18, 2010

Season of Giving

During Christmas it seems that all the charities of the world come together to tap into the Christmas spirit of giving. I think this is a good thing. I like to help my kids see the bigger world and share the blessings we have with Christmas Shoeboxes through Samaritan's Purse. I love to stock up on canned goods when they go on sale in the fall so the boys can raid my pantry for the annual school food drive. I think it is incredibly important to teach my kids about loving our neighbors not only with our words and deeds but with our belongings as well. My boys have a very blessed life and I want them to understand their responsibility to care for those in need.

But I have been struck this year by the amount of need and the lack of funds to meet those needs. Our country got ourselves into a huge pit when we started to live beyond our means as a nation, when we started to redefine what is a need and what is a want. I think we grabbed onto our houses, our cars, our vacations, our kid's new clothes and held tight in order to feel valued, fulfilled or safe. Our priorities shifted and I think somewhere along the way we lost God. Our comfortable lives became our idols, the things we worshipped with our time, our money, our talents.

I have been reading the Old Testament a lot recently because I am way behind on my Bible reading for this year. As I have been rushing to catch up, I found myself spending a lot of time reading the prophets warning the people of Israel of God's impending judgement and discipline. The prophets were crying out for the people to turn from their idols, repent and follow God's law. And the people, who knew the stories of Moses and the Israelites wandering the desert for 40 years, who knew the law and all the commands, who were the descendants of those who built the temple and those who served at the temple, these people continued to hold onto their false gods, their idols, their possessions, their own abilities.

Today I read Hosea 12:9 where God tells His people, "I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; I will again make you dwell in tents, as in the days of the appointed feast." I will again make you dwell in tents. I will again take you into the desert, to the place where you have to trust in me, your God. I will bring you to a place of total loss, to a place where you again, have to trust in me because there is no other hope. I am the Lord your God and I will show you how much you need me.

I am deeply saddened by the pain families are feeling as the economy continues to drag down. I want to help. But I don't want to help support our idols. I don't want to accidently keep people away from God because I jumped to meet a "need" of this world and did not pray, share and meet the greater need of their lives. I want to continue to be obedient to caring for those in need. I want to be generous. But I also want to be wise. I want to help our community find that place where we remember what we really need and what are wants. I want to help people become dependent on God and not slaves to money and what it can do. I want to catch those who are truly falling and not get distracted by those that are standing on the wrong balance beam.

But how? There is no easy answer. I only know that when I pray about a need sometimes my heart hears yes and sometimes it hears no.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reading the Bible - Coming soon the 2011 Edition

So the women at our church, not all of them but a lot more than I thought, are going to be reading through the Bible in 2011. I am really excited to see our big dream coming to fruition. Reading through the Bible with my friends this year has taught me so much and given me a much better understanding of just how big God is. Whenever I open His word, even if I am simply trying to just get the reading done so I am not too far behind, God has met me. I don't always find some deep meaning or word of encouragement or reproach. Often it is more a feeling of peace that comes from reading God's word, from being obedient and allowing whatever words I read that day to wash over me even if I didn't really remember most of what I was reading. I want the women at my church to meet God in His word daily because I know it will change them. It is a good thing.

But in the planning for this big dream, I have been surprised by the opposition we received. I don't think they would think of it as opposition but instead as concern or guidance. Whenever we talked about reading through the Bible we heard, "what are you doing to give background?" Or "what study materials are you using along with the Bible?" It seems that these last few months we have had to convince different groups of people that the Bible is enough. That while having background, knowing the audience and setting of the different books of the Bible, helps us better understand the story, the Bible really does give us all the background we need. The Bible is God's word. Any supplemental material while helpful and for a history lover like me is fun, is not the actual word of God. And I really believe that the word of God is enough.

We are showing some videos that teach about different parts of the Bible. We will be encouraging people to read the book introductions in their study Bibles. But "studying" the Bible was never our intent. Our intention was always to get women to read the Bible, for themselves. Just one woman and God reading the words He gave us. Our hope is that the women will be meeting God in His word daily. Because when we show up, God shows up.

So staring January 1st I will be again reading the Bible in one year. This time chronologically which I am really excited to do. I would love to take the time to figure it all out myself, but why reinvent the wheel when a great resource has already done it for me. Here is the link to the schedule we will be using. Would you like to join me?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's been a while...

So it has been a while since I last posted. I really feel like I have not had much to say. But I am thinking it has a lot less to do with not having anything to say and a lot more to do with my hermit habits.

I love the idea of writing down my thoughts and usually I love to share my thoughts with everyone as well. I have a habit of rambling on and on and have found this blog a helpful place to ramble without wearing out my husband or friends. But every so often, usually when I am feeling exposed or overwhelmed I go into hermit mode. I want to crawl under the covers and stay in my own house all day long. I want to climb back into my cave. That is where I am right now.

And yet, I want to keep this blog going because I know I will someday have something I really want to write. Actually there are a few things turning in my head, things that I probably need to write in order to process, and yet in hermit mode, I don't really want to expose myself to my friends who read this blog. Strangers - sure read my blog and my deepest thoughts. But people I know... I am not sure I am ready for you to know what I fear in life or what hurts me.

While thinking of writing, I hear the responses I think my friends would have. In the past I have found myself editing to the expectations of those around me, even without them ever knowing. But right now, in hermit mode, I cannot even begin to open up. Both because I am not sure what people would think but also because I am not sure I want to open myself up to other people's opinions. Interacting with the world means that I am open to criticism or suggestion. Spending time with people and sharing my life means that my heart can be hurt and my expectations shattered. Some days, some weeks, some months it is easier to withdraw.

But even when I don't feel like writing, I keep hearing that voice in my head telling me to sit down and write. I keep ignoring it lately. I find other things to do. Because if I sit down and actually write, I may let out more than I am comfortable. I may write something that a friend disagrees with. I may allow people I actually know more into my mind than they or I want. I don't mind not being perfect but I am not sure I want the people around me to know how seriously flawed I am. I really don't want to open the door to the possibility that I don't have it under control or know what I am doing. And most importantly I don't want to discover that normal, all that I ever wanted to be in life, really doesn't exist.

Look at that. I just wrote a whole blog post without having to actually dig into the meat of what is on my mind. I may be a rule follower but I am also good at avoidance techniques apparently.