Hi everyone...sorry for the long blogging absence. We have been pretty busy here with an outreach team, a new church building, etc. and me keeping up on our team blog that I haven't had time to write here. Only tonight did I get a chance to check on many of my friend's blogs and was so encouraged and inspired that I had to write something....but I warn you, its been a long day and its late and its probably going to be a rambler...if you're not in the mood, "turn back now". :)
SOME THINGS I KNOW...
I have become convinced of some things lately and want to share them...sorry for being so self-indulgent... oh, and I KNOW these things, but I'm still working on implementing them...I am preaching to myself here as much as anyone...
1) GOD IS REAL, GOD IS BIG, GOD IS LOVE, and one way or another my focus should always be on Him
I am not a calvinist...there, I said it. BUT I do believe that God is in control. That He knows my steps, has full control of them, AND I can do nothing without Him...not even believe in Him, love Him or serve Him. So why, then "Oh foolish Christian...what God has begun in the spirit do I try to complete in the flesh"? (Galations 3:3, "caraphrase version"). Why do we stress? Why do we fret over plans? (I'm not saying, "why plan?" I'm saying why "fret" over plans). Why are we so severly disappointed at failure? Ours or others... Do we not really believe that God is control? Didn't he know what was going to happen anyway and so therefore is He - God Almighty - not able to take care of any of our "mistakes",etc... (that so often, I think in His economy are not even considered "mistakes" as much as "lessons") Why are we so disgusted at weakness in ourselves or others? Isn't God bigger than that? Isn't that just all part of needing a saviour? Why is that a surprise to us? If God is really God, why should I be shocked when man is man?
2) RELATIONSHIP IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT - with God and then with mankind
Jesus said "and this is eternal life that you might KNOW ME". "And by this all men will know that you are my disciples..that you have LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER". Not that you have a perfectly oiled smooth running program. Not that you have seamless presentation. Not that you all agree on everything and have only one opinion. Not that you NEVER stumble or fall. Not that you all look alike or goodness sakes -vote alike - but that in the midst of weakness, diversity, problems, growing, changing...that we LOVE EACH OTHER! "In this is all the law and the prophets are fulfilled...love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, soul, strength and your neighbor as yourself". Not ACT like I love you, but really love you...not FEEL like I love you, but really love you...meaning accept you where you are, I focus on YOU not what you do, but YOU who are made in the image of God and who Christ died for...are you hungry? are you cold? are you sad? do you need a hug? You are loved. I am loved. We are so little and God is so big and that is ok. And I fall so short of maintaining the many, many, many wonderful relationships God has given me....but I keep going.
3) LOVE DOES NOT EQUAL THAT I UNDERSTAND OR AGREE WITH EVERYTHING THAT YOU DO OR SAY
I have had, and still often have, unfortunately, an immature view of love. But over the years, from my amazing and long-suffering and deeply loving parents and my incredible, smart, talented siblings I am learning love. Love is not that I always understand you. Love is not that I always agree with you. Love is not that I even always LIKE you! :) Love is that I want the best for you. Love is that I support YOU, maybe not what you do, but YOU. Love is that the door to my heart is always open to you. Love sometimes means that the door to my home, my wallet, my whatever ISN'T open to you if that would not be best for you...if you are being self-destructive, hurtful to others, whatever...but my heart, it is always open. The most loving people are my friends and family who disagree with me on points but still welcome me in their hearts..names are needed here...Harvey and Ferne Denney, Matt and Kris Denney, Mark and Deborah Denney and their outstanding Christian, Nicholas, Ryan and Kyle; Janice Denney-Wood and Brent Wood and their amazing Caitlin, Michelle Knisley, Marianna and Jim Peipon and their clan, Tanya and Sergei Susidko and their little pirates, Katya Pilypuk, Janice Evans, Marilyn Gibbs, Jed Gourley and his outstanding family,Paul and Teri Sisemore...I'm sure there are so many more...these are the ones that come to mind at this late hour...don't feel left out! I maybe just have not put you to the test yet! ha! Or maybe I am delusionally convinced that you agree with me on everything! ha! :)
3) Ministry is honoring, worshipping and glorifying God and loving people
I haven't thought this one completely through (as opposed to those "scholarly diatribes" above! ha!), so bear with me...but this point works itself out in many ways...yes through organized religion sometimes, through "dis-organized" religion, through programs sometimes...but more often than not, in my opinion, simply through life! Do I live like God is really GOD ALMIGHTY WHO CREATED THE HEAVEN AND EARTH WITH THE WORD OF HIS MOUTH...or do I need to help Him out or everything is going to go to hell in a handbasket? Do I really walk in the Spirit in every aspect of what I do...yes, make plans, but be open to changing them...down to how I spend my time, my money, my affection, or is that all up to me? If I can honor, worship and glorify God and love people having a meal with them..go for it! If I can do that at my job, in a church service, GREAT! But if "form" and "routine" and "schedule" squeeze those things out - EVEN IF THAT IS PART OF THE CHURCH SERVICE - dump them in a second!
4) I am at once both the hugest failure in the world and also the greatest victor
I am a constant work in progress. I have weaknesses that could cause me to despair if I focus on them and not on God and his glory (as I have unfortunately done for many years). But these facts do not change the truth of God's nature and holiness. I live in the light and am not ashamed if my sins and weaknesses are revealed (although at first I might be, but not in such a way that leads me to live in constant concern over image, how I appear to others, whether all the ducks are in a row or not, etc.) because I regularly confess my faults to both God and to those around me...if a list of my sins were read to a crowd it would be nothing that those close to me were not already keenly aware of and probably be only half of what I have already seen in myself and confessed to others...be brutally honest with yourself, with God and with others and there is no need to fear being "revealed" to others! What could anyone say about me that, yes, might initially smart, but that once that initial sting is over I would say "well, yes, I know that is something I struggle with...anyone who knows me knows this, too...sigh...well, yes, its still here and it is in God's hands". Surprise! I mess up! Surprise! I'm weak! Surprise! I've got a lot to learn and grow and always will this side of heaven...but guess what? It's not about me, its about God. And in Him I am more than a conqueror, as Scripture tells me. So I rejoice in my weaknesses, because when I am weak, He is strong.
5) When it is all said and done, no one ever said "I wish I spent more time at work"...
No matter what that work is...saving lives, saving souls, curing cancer, etc. "I am sorry I didn't write that letter". "I am sorry I didn't go to that wedding". "I regret missing that recital, that game, that presentation of my friend, my child, my neighbor", "I should have called that person", or even "I really needed to just sit and pray", "I wish I would have made the time to be still and listen to God's voice", "Why didn't I just sit and sing to God? read His Word?"...but "we didn't get that project done when we wanted it to"? "we didn't have that physical detail ready for this deadline"..."I didn't get that document finished"... "I missed that meeting or that event of which there would be ten million more in my lifetime"? Maybe I am being too simplistic here, and maybe next year I will have a different perspective on this, but for now this is where I am. And its ok that I don't always live this way...God is changing me...but it is vital that I understand this point in my core and that I aspire to live by it, or I will never come near it ever.
Ok...with this I will have either welcomed some of you even closer into my heart and my life, which is core to all that I have been saying here, or just the opposite! There may be those that will now be assured that I am certifiably crazy, lazy, heretical or all of the above...but whatever the reaction - you will know me. There is no mask, there is no image to uphold, this is where I am. I can't be with you all, I can't even keep up with all my correspondences, etc. like I would like, but I can be real with you. I can keep my heart open to you. I can be vulnerable to you and in this I hope you know that I love you all very dearly.
Ok...ranting done..Gold star for those of you that made it through this. :) G'night. :)