Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hey, I'm alive...

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". :)

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 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.

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 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. :)


Anonymous said...

It's wonderful to get a gold star so early in the morning!

These are the issues that we ALL need to be about -- though, for the life of me, I'm not sure where you've convinced me that you're not a calvinist! (HAD to say it.)

I will continue to pray for YOU and your relationship with HIM. It is awesome reading how He is obviously working in you. He always has to work IN us before He can work THROUGH us.

Did you happen to read my post about the marriage book? One line in it reminds me of your post: The very sin that you are fearing to face is the very sin that Christ died for! (Something like that...)

Love you.

Danny and Liese said...

Cara that was really great. I enjoyed reading it and I'll re-read it again later after I've finished drinking my coffee.

I like that you stood up to the man and didn't follow the rules of numbered lists. Way to be a rebel and have two point number 3s.


Cara Denney said...

Hahahaha! :) Good noticing, Mr. Typo. :) Actually that was just late night slip up...I'm sure there is more! :)

Cara Denney said...

Marianna...I KNEW you were going to make that point about calvinism, I almost made it myself! ha! I suppose it would be fair to say "by MY definition of calvinism" I am not (which I suppose is a bit silly to a true calvinists perspective, for me to define it myself) BUT, be that as it may, I just can't hang with all points...(just clarifying for interested readers! ha! all two of them!) :)

regardles..yes, I did read that marriage post and yeah, I do see the connection. I'm just not as good as you to comment so have that blog feed or whatever that shows you when there are new posts on your friend's blogs, right? I need that. LOVE YOU! :)

Cara Denney said...

Ha, Marianna! How vain am I?!?! I just re-read your comment...I thought at first that you were giving ME a gold star! hahaha! YOU got the gold star for reading through all that! "Mahladyetz"! :) ya gotta love me...right? :)

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited to see that you are indeed alive!! I was beginning to wonder. Great devotional from an open heart and a skillful pen.(I already had my cup of coffee...well, I still get a gold star?)

I am deeply encouraged as a similar battle wages here in LA. God rocks big time and may He continue "to show Himself strong on our behalf."
(that verse I have quoted probably 5 times in the last month...whoa.

Love the "caraphrase".

Miss you, love you.

Michelle said...

Whoa there some caffeine flowing on this blog link or what? I am without words but definitely enjoyed the post.....Also thanks for calling the other day....I appreciate the support.

Cara Denney said...

J-9! Love to see your name surface on these virtual parts! You're one of those wonderful relationships that I"ve been blessed with and don't give near enough time to glad God keeps us close regardless...will be praying for you in LA (and we DO mean "down south" and we DON"T mean the San Fernando Valley! ha!)...and hope to be skyping to you soon! :)

Michelle..yes! LOTS OF COFFEE (the acceptable Christian drug! ha!) linked with this blog....both in the writer and the readers...and don't try to fool were drinking your coffee, made in your fancy shmancy new coffee maker, when you read this, too. :) Love you, praying for you!

Marina said...

thanks for your heart, Cara! it was quite interesting for me to read your post. there are some things i've thinking about too.
and it's good indeed to see you back here.

Marina said...

you can use Google Reader which shows you your friends' blogs have new posts on as soon as you subscribe to their blogs. it's easy if you have google/gmail account. just go to your account page & find Google Reader there.

Cara Denney said...

Thanks, Marina! I will do that..then I can keep in touch better. Good to hear from you, too! Sure wish I could be there for the conference you all have coming up...take care!

Anonymous said...

Cara,I really enjoy your "View from Here"...your 'comments from your heart' does really show that you are His tool & He is working great things through you...I keep you in my sorry I was not able to make it to Harvey & Ferne's 50th Anniversary 'shin-dig' (that was one of Aunt Ida & Aunt Alice's words for a good time get together)..I really was looking forward to seeing the "grown up" Cara & chatting with you about your ministry for our Lord..but the Lord had other plans for Danny & I...may this day be a richly blessed one for you Cara...Love from Texas USA...Cathy Rider