Life This Week

IMG_0317

I want to be less self-centered this week. I want to be Christ-centered and other-centered. You know how sometimes you do things for other people and you view them as a departure from what you had planned or expected that day? You had a list of agenda items and that one act of service threw you off, and you feel a little less accomplished for the day? Serving that person was an interruption. I think maybe we’ve got this whole thing backwards, like the agenda is the departure and interruption, not the other way around. Perhaps “I am a servant” is the answer to that ubiquitous question, “What do you do?” rather than the answer to “What are your hobbies?”

God is very clear in Isaiah 58:6-7 that fasting from our own agendas and plans so we have room to serve is what he considers obedience. He is also very clear that what comes from this serving is freedom and light instead of the night and darkness slavery to our agendas brings.

“…[I]f you spend yourselves in behalf of
the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the
noonday.”  (Isaiah 58:10)

Here’s what I’m doing this week to refocus and stay centered on what God has for me:

I’m wearing a servant’s towel. I’m shifting my whole view so that my job is servant. In everything, what if I were servant instead of achiever/accomplisher?

I’m spending myself. I’m not a half-way kind of person typically. But, I must say that I tend to stop short of spending myself fully. I hold some back. What if I instead believed God’s word and spent myself on behalf of the hungry?

I’m singing “Overwhelmed” out loud to God. This song by Big Daddy Weave has captured me. And I’m singing it.

I’m praying for someone. I don’t mean in my alone time (which I will also do), but I mean if someone needs prayer, in faith and with their permission, I’m praying with them right then and there, whether I’ve got the right words or not.

What does your week look like?

Could you change your answer to “What do you do?”

Advertisements

Are You Embarrassed by Jesus?

Have you ever noticed how much harder it is to share your faith in Jesus with people you know – like people at work, your friends, and your family?  So much so that maybe you don’t do it much anymore.  Is it the embarrassment that creeps into your heart?  You know what I mean, don’t you?  Haven’t you had a conversation with someone that falls into one of these categories and after disclosing your faith in Jesus, you feel embarrassed, like you wish you hadn’t said anything?  You wonder what the other person must be thinking and if they will still respect you.  Somehow this feeling doesn’t arise with strangers typically, but only with people you know.  This happened to me at a lunch with work friends.  After accidentally mentioning my faith in Jesus, I was overwhelmed with embarrassment.  But I wanted to push the feeling down and away because it scared me to know that there is something about Jesus that embarrasses me.  The feeling calls too many things into question, doesn’t it?

Frederick Buechner, in a sermon called The Sign by the Highway, tells the story of a man, who, while driving on the highway, sees a large white sign that says: “Jesus Saves.”  His immediate reaction is to wince with embarrassment. Buechner explains that one reason this embarrassment comes is that the words “remind us of old-time religion and the sawdust trail and pulpit-pounding, corn-belt parsons, of evangelism in the sense of emotionalism and fundamentalism.”  But there is something deeper.  Buechner goes on to say that “Jesus Saves” embarrasses us because it implies that we need to be saved.  These two simple words carry our vulnerability, inadequacy, desperation, and deepest longing.  What could be more embarrassing to our me-centered, strong-willed, and fiercely independent selves?

Sharing my faith in Jesus with people I know and have a relationship with gives rise to similar feelings.  Part of it is my fear of being rejected because of association with pre-conceived, negative notions about who Christians are. But the deeper part is that although I present myself as put together, in control, independent, and capable, what I really am, and what my reliance on Jesus exposes, is the opposite.  I am in desperate need of someone to save me.  When I show this to someone else, my ego takes a serious hit, but often, in the process, the other person is no longer distracted by me and sees Jesus.

Embarrassment, as uncomfortable and wrong as it feels, in this context, is an incredible gift.  If we notice and embrace it instead of turning from it in fear, it actually pulls us into deeper reliance on Jesus because it reminds us of our need for him and the fact that he has saved us.  Otherwise, we can tend to think we’ve got it covered or that we can and need to save ourselves.

Have you felt this embarrassment in Jesus before?

Can you see it as a gift from God to remind you of your need and ability to rely on him?

Scripture to consider:

John 16:16-33

Psalm 42

Three Questions I’m Asking Today

IMG_1340

I could go to work today, sit in my office or cubicle and catch up on my emails and phone calls. I could head to my scheduled meetings, provide my input and walk back to my computer screen. A big part of me wants to do this because it is rainy and dreary. Bad things seem to be happening all around – explosions and earthquakes and flooding. I feel at risk, exposed. Better to close down and hold on. But, as tempting as that approach is, I’m going to reach out and up, toward light and away from darkness, asking myself these three questions:

1. Who needs encouragement today? I know four people in the midst of struggle who I could call or email to build them up and shine a light.

2. What is my faith in today? Basements flood, buildings crumble, stuff gets ruined. I wonder if this low-level anxiety and fear I feel upon hearing about tragedy stems from me unknowingly or unintentionally placing my faith in the man-made, instead of Christ.

3. What am I believing God for today? There are some deep wounds and patterns of thinking that, if I’m honest, though I want to, I don’t believe God can heal or redeem. I need to speak these wounds and patterns of thinking with my mouth and seek increased faith.

When tragedy is all around and storms roll in one after another, are there any questions that you need to ask?

Scripture to consider:

Ephesians 4:29-32

Isaiah 46:1-10

2 Corinthians 3:17-18