Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My stumbling block

I read something really profound in a novel last week, and it’s been churning in the back of my mind ever since. The book is “The Seat Beside Me” by Nancy Moser, which tells the story of the survivors of a plane crash, and the impact the crash has on their lives and the lives of those around them. Incidentally, I enjoyed the book and give it a “thumbs up” recommendation, but that’s not why I am writing this.

There is a scene in the book where one of the crash survivors, Tina, is talking to Mr. Carpelli, the grandfather of Mallory, the girl who was sitting next to Tina when the plane crashed. Unlike Tina, Mallory did not survive the crash (sorry for that spoiler moment), and Tina and Mr. Carpelli are lamenting the opportunities they missed to share Jesus with Mallory while she was alive. In their conversation, Tina and Mr. Carpelli talk about why so often people chicken out when they have the chance to share Jesus with others. I read this scene in the book several times, and I thought about my struggles with sharing Jesus. Now, I do know people who seem to find it very easy to talk about Jesus with people they know or meet, but it has never been an easy thing for me; it's something I constantly struggle with. I want to share Jesus, and I believe with all my heart it is something I should do, but I feel I am just terrible at this, and too often, I let the chance to share just pass me by, and then I berate myself for another missed chance. I’m willing to bet others struggle with it too. I think Ms. Moser really understands how difficult this is, and she captured this struggle so well in this book; through her characters, I recognized myself in this scene from the novel in several ways:

First, I’m afraid of being thought of, or labeled as, a fanatic, a Jesus-freak. And this is especially true when it comes to talking about Jesus with people who knew me before I became a Christian. In my mind, it’s like throwing down a gauntlet. I can be having a pleasant conversation with someone, but when the conversation turns to Jesus, it’s like drawing a line in the sand; if the other person shares that they are a believer too, then it becomes a unifying thing, there’s an instant bond there. But if the person I’m talking with is not a believer, then instantly there is a perceived division, walls go up, and we are on opposite sides of the most important question we face. It seems to me that just the mention of Jesus compels one to take a stance; I’ve never met anyone who is truly indifferent or neutral about Jesus, although I suppose they may exist. I've only encountered believers and non-believers. And honestly, I've never had someone say "...Oh yes, I want to hear about Jesus! Please tell me more!" Nope. What I typically see is a look of dread as they start looking around for a way to get out of the conversation.

Second, I am afraid of rejection – rejection of me, but even worse, rejection of Christ. Moser’s character cited a very interesting statistic in the book, namely that over 96% of the world believes in God, so there is little risk of rejection simply from mentioning God in a conversation. How often do we talk with someone about God in vague generic terms, without pressing to see if the person we are talking to is really on the same page? We tell people “God bless you” when they sneeze, we may even tell them things like “God loves you” or “God can work things out”, or many other such platitudes; I know I am guilty of this! But I know I must not stop there, content to talk with people about God without talking about Jesus. I need to get past my fears to tell people that Jesus is God’s Son, that He was born with the specific purpose of dying for our sins to restore us to a relationship with God, and that Jesus is not one of many ways to heaven; He is the only way! The book made a great analogy to a stand-up comedian. Would a stand-up comic not give the punch line to a joke because he is afraid the audience won’t laugh? Of course not! He gives the punch line and if they don’t laugh, at least he made the effort. Just because people may not (most often will not) respond the way I want them to doesn’t let me forego making the effort to talk to them about Christ. There was a great quote made by one of the characters in the scene: “…even if our hands tremble and our voice wavers while we stumble over the words, or even if our timing isn’t perfect, God can use our efforts. But He cannot use our silence.” To me, that is such a good thing to remember.

Lastly, I must not forget that that convicting people in their hearts of their need for a Savior is something only God can do, and that God may just want me to plant a seed, or to encourage a seed someone else has planted. It may be up to others to water, fertilize, or harvest these seeds later.

So while evangelism is not one of my gifts, it's not something I want to ignore and just leave up to everyone else. I heard a pastor once say "...shepherds don't make sheep, sheep make sheep", meaning that the church congregation cannot rely on the pastor to do all the evangelism and outreach. And yet, I feel like such a failure. It's really weighing on my heart lately as I have many lost family members, and I find it excruciatingly difficult to talk to any of them.

So, how about you? Is it easy for you to talk about Jesus? Can you share any secrets or suggestions?



Monday, January 26, 2009

In my dreams...

I was really bummed yesterday.... I had sooooooo wanted to make it to Travis Cottrell's CD taping in Woodstock, GA yesterday, but in the end, I just couldn't go. So I had a small pity party, knowing I was missing out on getting to see the siestas, join in on a great worship session, and see Travis and Siesta Mama Beth. Gloom. Disappointment. Sadness. Stifled sobs. Waaaaaaaaahhh. But by bedtime, I was over it, no problem, or so I thought.

Y'all, I had the strangest, most vivid dream last night. Now you have to know that I am not one of those people who has exciting dreams, rivaling the plot line of a bestselling thriller novel. My hubby does, but not me. He dreams about spy chases in Madrid and epic struggles with monsters from other worlds; I dream about mundane things like laundry, and cooking, and cats. And then I usually struggle to remember what I have been dreaming about after I wake up, which is probably not surprising given the snoringly boring subject matter of most of my dreams. So, all this to say that my dream last night surprised me. It was strange, I woke up in the middle, laughed at myself, went back to sleep, and dreamt some more of the same stuff, and I remembered it all when I woke up this morning. So here goes...

I dreamed that I spent a day with Beth Moore. Now, if I was going to plan a day to spend with Beth, I think I would pick some fun and exciting things to do, invite my best siesta friends, add in some good Mexican food, throw in a trip or two to a Starbucks for some coffee and ample girlfriend-talking time, and voila! ...a wonderful day. Doesn't it sound fabulous??? But in my dream there we were, Beth and I, along with some of my friends from high school. (FYI -I graduated from high school 25+ years ago and I haven't seen these people since). And we seemed to be spending the entire day in a large park, climbing up on play structures, trying to get a cell phone signal on some kind of weird cell phone. Although at one point in my dream we were out on a lake in a small row boat, and Beth and I were throwing donuts at the ducks while the others laughed. And then right before I woke up, we were all in a marching band for some kind of parade in the park, and I remember thinking "...Oh Beth is NOT going to like this because the band uniform hat will give her the worst case of helmet head and her hair will be ruined" and I felt terrible... And I clearly remember at one point in my dream, someone saying to me "Oh I am so looking forward to this day with Beth" and I replied "It's here!! We are doing the thing!", and Beth cracked up laughing because that is something she says. And to tell you the truth, I don't know if the whole cell phone-thing worked out or not...

Y'all, it was the strangest dream, and in my opinion, the stupidest way to spend a day. Sigh...

OK - gotta go and get my day started.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Off to a bad start...

Well this morning did not start out very well…. I was having my morning quiet time, and I had a small space heater on the floor of the room near my table. Chuckles, our beagle/basset hound mix, came into the room, and proceeded to hike his leg and PEE ON MY SPACE HEATER! The stench was unbelievable! And by the time I got him outside, the heater removed (I think it is forever ruined), and the mess on the floor cleaned up, my concentration was shot and it was time to wake the kids up. Grrrrrrrrrr!

This was not an auspicious start to my morning…. How about you?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A "Must Read"!

Do yourself a favor and read this piece on the concept of sustainability from Selwyn Duke's website. I think it truly hits the nail on the head regarding our current economic woes...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Like a paper airplane....

I love reading Max Lucado books; I enjoy the way he uses metaphors and parallels to make biblical concepts relevant, interesting, and applicable. The book I was reading this morning is his book "It's Not About Me", and I found myself in Chapter 4, which talks about how God is "Holy Different" from us.

Here's what Mr. Lucado had to say:

On the one occasion seraphim appear in Scripture (Isaiah 6:2-5), they endlessly trilogize the same word. "Holy holy holy is the LORD Almighty" (NIV). Repetition, in Hebrew, performs the work of our highlighter. A tool of emphasis. God, proclaims the six-winged angels, is not holy. He is not holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy..... God's holiness commands headline attention.

He then goes on to say:

The Hebrew word for holy is 'qadosh', which means cut off, or separate. Holiness, then, speaks of the "otherness" of God. His total uniqueness. Everything about God is different from the world he has made.

What you are to a paper airplane, God is to you. Take a sheet of paper and make one. Contrast yourself with your creation. Challenge it to a spelling contest. Who will win? Dare it to a race around the block. Who is faster? Invite the airplane to a game of one-on-one basketball. Will you not dominate the court? And well you should. The thing has no brainwaves, no pulse, it exists only because you formed it and flies only when someone throws it. Multiply the contrasts between you and the airplane by infinity. and you will begin to catch a glimpse of the disparity between God and us.

Heady stuff here....

I've thought about and struggled with this before, trying to reconcile two disparate concepts. That while we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), we are so clearly NOT the equal of God (Isaiah 40:25). And I've never seen an analogy like the paper airplane used before. I am not a shrunk-down, reduced version of God, a Mini-Me of God, if you will. Everything about God is different from me, not just magnifed from me. I am the paper airplane, formed by His power and will, lifeless and powerless on my own, and God is, well He is God. The chasm between what I am and what God is, is infinite. But does this mean that God is unknowable??? The Bible says otherwise. Jesus himself said to his disciples "If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on you do know him and have seen him", John 14:7. And Romans 1:20 tells us that since the creation of the world God's eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. I'm still processing these thoughts...



I'm a daffodil!

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

Linda at "Thy Grace is Sufficient" had this quiz on her blog today, and since a few spring flowers would be nice about now, I gave it a try.

Description: "You have a sunny disposition and are normally one of the first to show up for the party. You don't need too much attention from the host once you get there as you are more than capable of making yourself seen and heard."

I don't know if this description is very accurate.... I generally have a sunny disposition, true, but I'm shyer than this suggests, and I'm not the one to be in the spotlight in a group of people. But I do like yellow, and love daffodils!

Friday, January 9, 2009

A glimpse at the madness

This week has just been crazy 0

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A fun meme!

Jenni at One Thing had this meme posted today, and it is fun! But I did tweak it a little…. If you like it, please feel free to copy it at your own place and leave a comment!

Just boldface the items that you HAVE done, and leave the rest normal….

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Lived in another country
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain.
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29 Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Walked on a glacier
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41 Sung karaoke (...and it was a TERRIBLE rendition of "Delta Dawn"... I'm still embarrassed)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (…and the 2009 GS Cookie sales start next week!)
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets, or plasma

65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (sadly, yes)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible (close, but I’m not there yet)
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (well I helped…)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life (No, but my friend Anne saved mine when I was choking on a meatball!)
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (I was in the studio audience when Bill Clinton was on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson – does that count???)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

and a few of my own additions....
100. Ridden an elephant
101. Hiked over the Continental Divide
102. Toured an underground copper mine

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I'll be back!!!!

I've been feeling a little puny lately - fighting off a cold with Nyquil and lots of naps... I'll be back to post something in a day or so.