Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A View from the Fast Lane

It has been a long time since my last post.  Life has taken some unexpected turns in the past few months. 

·         My oldest is home for a short time, working and earning money to leave again.  This time, she’s not only leaving for school, but “really” moving out. 

·         I’ve started substitute teaching here and there. 

·         My 15 year old niece has come to live with us for the school year. That means that I have four teenage girls and one pre-teen boy in the house.

·         My homeschooling is in full swing with a 6th grader, two sophomores, and one senior.

·         Mark and I have aging parents with various health issues that need constant attention. 

Needless to say, we have our hands full. 

So that is the view that I am currently enjoying.  Enjoying?  Yes… most of the time.  Stress is unavoidable.  But God is giving us grace beyond what we could imagine.  Mark and I celebrated 25 years of marriage in October.  What an amazing gift.  Family times are precious as we try to make playing together a priority.

During this time away from my blog, I’ve been really wondering what direction it will take in this season of my life.  I’ve always tried to make it a reflection of what I’m learning or what is occupying my thoughts the most.  Right now, that consists of dealing with a busy schedule, raising teens and the extravagant love of God.  Sounds like I could stay busy for quite a while with those topics.  

I’m not an expert on blogs or blogging, but the mom blogs that I read are typically written by moms with young children.  I haven’t found many that deal with a house full of teens.  (Please send me your favorite links!)  That’s where I am, so that’s what I’ll be writing about for the near future.

I’ve read a lot of parenting books in my career as a mom – just ask my husband.  I love my kids so much.  I want to be the best mom I can for them.  I know that I’ve made many mistakes.  As my kids get older, the seeds that were sown in their youth are bearing fruit – for better or for worse.  Now, as we near the time when they will fly out of my nest, I feel an urgency to make the most of the days, months and years that I have left.  I'm like a kid that realizes that summer vacation is almost over and has a ton of stuff yet to do.  I know that I must be more intentional about parenting before this season of my life is over.

The books that I love on this topic are:  Age of Opportunity, by Paul David Tripp and Loving our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk.  Writing about what I’m learning will help me process the information as well as pass it on. 

The situations in my life that cause stress will not be changing any time soon, so finding balance in my life is key to my survival existence.  I don’t merely want to survive – I want the abundant life that was promised me by my Savior, Jesus.  It's out there, I just need to carve out space to rest and receive it.
I think I'll paraphrase the apostle Paul and say, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether too busy or rested, whether living in peace or in stress."

"I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:13 NLT


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Where's the Wonder?


 It's a sign of the times.  I think my kids have missed the "wonder years."  I remember being a kid and having profound times of wonder.  I'd wonder things like, "How do they get that cream inside the Twinkies?" "When astronauts sneeze, to they shoot backwards?" "Who invented the first pogo stick, and more importantly, why?"  These kinds of questions would keep me busy for hours.  I'd have a thought like this and just have to say, "Hmmmm, I wonder...." 

Now, when my kids have an "I wonder..." moment, they immediately go to the internet and find out.  Their sense of wonder truly lasts only a moment.  At 3G speed, they instantly have more information at their fingertips than they really wanted or needed to know.  Don't get me wrong.   I love that they want to know and have a way to find out.  That's been one of my homeschooling goals all along - instill a love of learning and the skills to do so.  But...  Where's the wonder? 

The feeling of wonder comes with the realization that the world is a big place.  There are things out there that are yet to be discovered.  Now, so much of the mystery of life has been eliminated.  It may be the kind of change our world went through with the invention of the airplane.  With the faster modes of transportation, we lost the experience of the journey.  (And TSA hasn't helped either...)

This leads me to other "I wonder" questions.  Will this loss of wonder spill over into our spiritual lives?  Will this generation tolerate a God that is larger than our understanding?  Will a God of Wonders hold the attention of the knowledge-at-my-fingertips Church?  I pray that she will be able to embrace the wonder of God and not stumble over His mystery.  After all, if God could be "Googled" in His entirety, what kind of God would He be?

Psalm 17:6-8

  I call on you, O God, for you will answer me;
give ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show the wonder of your great love,
you who save by your right hand 
   those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Enough is enough... Really it is!


I've just spent the last couple of weeks pouring over curriculum catalogs and websites...  You'd think that after 14 years of homeschooling, I'd have made up my mind what to use.  The problem is, no two kids are alike and new materials are coming out every year.  But the biggest reason that I'm making a change this year is that I'm spending too much time planning each week.  It's not uncommon for me to have to work 3-5 hours on the weekend just to be ready for the next week.  Enough is enough.

As a recovering perfectionist, it always seems to me that there is more that I should be doing for my kids.  Planning their work and preparing just the right lessons had begun to consume me, much to the chagrin of my family.  I've  come to the point where I must admit, it's just not working for me.  I love my old curriculum, but at this season of my life, I can't afford the time it takes.  So the search began.  How to find a curriculum with the educational value I want, without all the hours of preparation?  I had to find the balance of "enough".  I've settled on something that will give my kids enough history, math, language arts, science and supplemental learning without ruining our life.

I don't know about you, but when I think about the word "enough," it has a negative connotation.  Maybe because it is often preceded by the phrase, "not good."  Enough always seems to be the amount that is just getting by.  A disappointed second place...enough.

e·nough

[ih-nuhf]
–adjective
1.
adequate for the want or need; sufficient for the purpose or to satisfy desire: enough water; noise enough to wake the dead.

–pronoun
2.
an adequate quantity or number; sufficiency.

–adverb
3.
in a quantity or degree that answers a purpose or satisfies a need or desire; sufficiently.
1. ample. 3. adequately, amply, reasonably.


According to these Dictionary.com entries, I should be satisfied with enough.  It says that enough is "adequate; sufficient for the purpose..."  Perhaps I've fallen victim to the mindset that I must have more than enough, an over-abundance of something to feel secure.  Could the consumer mentality have crept in even here?  Maybe so.  If I have enough ingredients to make cookies, don't I end up with perfectly good cookies?  More than enough does me no good.  It may even be wasted.

In thinking about "enough," I've discovered that my subconscious aversion to it has tainted a well-known Christian song, Your Grace Is Enough, by Chris Tomlin.  We sing it quite often but I can't help feeling that old skin-of-my-teeth enough.  That's not the meaning of the song.  God's grace is enough; adequate; sufficient for the purpose..  The need of my sin was adequately met by the blood of Jesus. 

So in my journey to a more simple life, I must embrace enough.  I have enough possessions.  I have enough food to eat.  I have enough time to do what needs to be done.  And by the time my children leave my home school, they will have learned enough.  But most importantly, God's grace is enough to cover all my sin, all my failings, and all my need.  Jesus is enough.







Sunday, July 17, 2011

Learning to Enjoy the View of the Valley

Today is one of those days...  a day where I have more questions than answers.  A day where the journey ahead seems a bit too long.  This is a day that I struggle to enjoy the view.

I have a dear friend who is suffering an illness that is taking her away from me.  It's taking her away from everyone - even herself.  It's scary.  I feel helpless.  I want to fix it but can't.

It's days like this that knock me off my feet and make me wish for heaven.  The longer I live, the more I yearn for all of the pain in this life to be over.  Growing up was supposed to fix all the longings in my heart.  Now, there seem to be more longings, not less.  I wanted a world were everyone was loved, where families stayed together, where no one got sick, and only ancient saints were called to heaven.  I wanted heaven on earth.  But we're not there yet, and God in His wisdom is not bound by my fleeting emotions.

Days like this tempt me to hide in my shell.  To play Scarlet O'Hara and "..think about it tomorrow."  To turn off my emotions so I don't feel the pain.  But that's not living.  Being alive is feeling everything - joy as well as pain.  I've spent far too many seasons of my life pushing hard emotions aside.  I've used denial as a means of survival.  I don't want to live like that anymore.

How can I accept the blessings of God and not endure the pain?  How can I ask for the mountain top but refuse the lessons of the valley?  How can I depend on a faithful God, if there is no need for faith?  How can Jesus be my Prince of Peace if there is no chaos?  Ah, but there is pain and loss and chaos.  So will I run to the One who holds all of life in His hands or will I pull the covers over my head and curse the darkness?

Days like these demand that I call on the One who I profess to be my Good Shepherd, the Vine, and Lover of my Soul.  Days like these allow the Holy Spirit to be my Comforter and Friend.  Opening myself up to the pain is the only way that the Healing can come in.  It's worth the risk.  Jesus is Faithful and True.  He is the Way and the Life.

So I will feel the pain of today for I am alive to feel it.  I may not have all the answers, but what I do know is this:  God is good and I am loved.   That's the only way to enjoy the view...



Friday, July 15, 2011

Looking at Jesus with New Eyes



One thing that makes us unique as individuals is the way we see the world around us.  If you ask three people about the same movie, you are likely to get three very different answers.  Did they really see the same move?  Of course, but each one interpreted what they saw based on who they are and what life experiences shaped them up to this point.  Each one has a different "world view."

All of us have a world view.  We may not call it that, but its the way that we personally see the world.  Everything we are flows out of our world view.  It affects how we receive information and it also colors how we give out information.  There are many things that contribute to the formation of our world view such as culture, economic status, family make-up, education, and even how far one's traveled from home.   Knowing a bit about someones world view helps a great deal in understanding what they say and what they do.  It serves as a framework to interpreting the full content of their message and intentions.

So why is that important?  Well, if I don't know a persons world view, I will be inclined to interpret what I hear by my world view.  This can cause a wrong interpretation of the message completely.  For example, let's take the biblical example of "turn the other cheek."  My Christian world view says that this is an exercise in humility and grace, while a non-Christian world view may see this as weakness and foolishness.  This is a basic example that is pretty obvious.  But what about other subtle world view differences. 

Recently, I picked up a book called, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg.  I've only gotten a few chapters read but already I can see new insights into the world view of Jesus.  The place and time, culture and faith of Jesus colored the way He spoke to the people.  New Testament scholars wrote the Scriptures based on their world view as well and assumed that the readers would share that world view. 

One insight that I found personally exciting was the fact that,

"women were encouraged to sit in on the advanced discussions at the synagogue if they were able.  A few even acquired the high-level education required to contribute to rabbinic debates, and their words are still on record.  Some restrictions on women, like separating men and women during worship, actually arose several centuries later."


Mary of Bethany was one of those women.  We always see her at the feet of Jesus.  Now I know that she was a true disciple.  I love that.

The authors go on to say,

"If you were a first-century Jew, you probably would have heard a saying in circulation for at least a hundred years: 'Let your house be a meeting place for the rabbis, and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily.'"[Mishnah, Pirke Avot (Sayings of the Fathers) 1:4.]


That's exactly what Mary and Martha chose to do.  Just these two bits of Jewish culture give such richness to the women in Jesus' life that I already admire.  I'm looking forward to more understanding in the days to come.

I agree with Paul when he said,

...that they may know the mystery of God, even Christ,  

in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden.

Colossians 2:2-3 (ASV)



There is so much to learn about the mystery of God.  True disciples are the ones that sit close enough to the rabbi to learn.  The mysteries of Jesus are not hidden so no one will find them. They are hidden so that the diligent and hungry will search and find them!   It's kind of like hiding Easter eggs from your kids.  When they are little, the eggs are practically in plain sight.  But as the kids get older, more creative hiding places are needed.  Not because we don't want the eggs to be found - that would be a sticky disaster.  There is joy is searching and finding.  God's knows us.  It is His delight to reveal things hidden.  And they are all to be found in Jesus!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Let the River Flow



I love when God surprises me.  It happens quite a lot.  There are times when the Lord brings things into my little by little.  He moves so gently that I don't even realize it.  Remember this pacesetter post?  I guess it's time to put my money where my mouth is...

Today, I met with a young woman who wants me to be her mentor.  I was blown away when she asked me.  What a huge responsibility.  My first (unspoken) response was, "Who me?  What do I have to offer?" (That's been my enemies favorite lie.  I will fight it all my life.)  But as I prayed about it, I realized that God has been preparing me for this for many years.  I even found a book on my shelf about women's mentoring ministry that's been there for about 12 years....unused.

With all that's going on in my life, will I really be able to give what's needed to keep up my end of this relationship?  I must trust that this is God's timing.  He will enable me to give what He wants me to give.  He is my resource.  He is my strength.  Any fears I have about being a mentor come when I'm thinking about using my strengths, my knowledge, and my ability.  That wont do this sweet woman any good.  It's in taking what our gracious Lord has given me, and passing it on.  Why learn all those hard lessons?  Not just for my own benefit.  They become blessings when I can share them with others.


“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 

Anyone who believes in me may come and drink!

For the Scriptures declare,

‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

- Jesus, from John 7:37-39 (NLT)





If the Lord's Spirit is within me, but there's no out-flow, I become a stagnant pool like the Dead Sea.  The life giving water will turn to death, benefiting no one.  It's my hearts desire to let Jesus's living water flow through me and into another.  Not only do I benefit, but so do those around me.  What a better way to build the Kingdom of God.



(Thanks, Cindy!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Offenses of Jesus: A Strange and Difficult Message

(This is Enjoying the View's 100th post!)

 

When I started this series, I gave an introduction that explained the premise.  I said that Jesus used the tactic of offense to reveal the hearts of His listeners.  Jesus often used it to reveal the motives of the Pharisees.  But I've found an offense that Jesus used to reveal the reason why He came to Earth.  He was not engaging the Pharisees, but his own followers.  This conversation was not merely a tactic of Jesus to reveal and adjust perception of Him, but in my opinion, the most foundational principle that defines the relationship that each follower will have with Christ.  Jesus revealed the very meaning behind His death on the cross.  A meaning that his disciples could never have anticipated.

The passage is found in John 6 (This link takes you to BibleGateway.com. The Amplified Bible and New Living Translation are parallel.)  It's a long chapter, but all parts of the story are so important to the meaning of Jesus' words. There is a reason that the scholars lumped all these stories into one chapter!

In verse 1-15, we read the familiar story of Jesus feeding the 5000+ people.  They are so impressed with their free meal, they get the idea to seize Jesus and make Him their king. That is not in Jesus' plan so He "withdraws" to the hillside alone.  He stays away until after dark.  The disciples (the Twelve) decided to put off in the boat and head for Capernaum.  A storm kicks up.  Working as hard as they can, they only get about 3 or 4 miles off shore.   Then they see Jesus walking on the water toward them.  They are understandably terrified.  Once Jesus speaks, "I AM; stop being frightened," they gladly let Him in the boat.  Verse 21 says that immediately they arrived at their destination.  (Ponder that for a moment...)

The next day, many of the followers (disciples, but not the Twelve) caught up with Jesus at the synagogue.  Jesus knew their hearts and minds.  They followed because they wanted more free food! (vs. 26)  Jesus admonishes them to stop striving for food that perishes but work for the food which lasts for eternity.

Okay...how do we do that?  Jesus gives them the good news - "This is the work that God asks of you:  that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger]."  (vs. 29)

But they still were not satisfied.  They came for the free food.  Show us more, Jesus...  Moses gave our ancestors manna.  What can you give us?

So Jesus brings them back to the real lesson of the bread multiplied on the hillside.  He reminds them that Moses didn't give them manna, God did.  And God has living bread to give them, and it is Jesus Himself.  "I am the Bread of Life." 

At this, the Jews began to grumble against Jesus, after all, this is just Joseph's kid.  How can Jesus be the one that came down from heaven.  He grew up around here.  We know his folks...  (Be careful of your assumptions of Jesus... Jesus was not Joseph's son.) 

But instead of backing off His message, Jesus continued, "I [Myself] and the Living Bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever; and also the Bread that I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh (body)." (vs. 51)

At this point, I'm sure that the Twelve are beside themselves.  This is not the way to build followers.  Jesus is going to drive off all the new people!

Despite the negative reaction, Jesus keeps pressing the point, "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood dwells continually in Me, and I [in like manner dwell continually] in him." (vs. 56)

Now the Jews are truly offended.  Everything they new about holy living told them to avoid consuming blood.  This was too much for them to accept.  The Amplified Bible puts it this way, "This is a hard and difficult and strange saying (an offensive and unbearable message).  Who can stand to hear it? [Who can be expected to listen to such a teaching?] (vs. 60)

Yes, this was a radical message, like nothing they had every heard before.  The offense to the mind was now to reveal what was in their hearts.  Jesus knew their intellectual struggle.  So He challenged them one step further and said, "Is this a stumbling block and an offense to you?  What then [will be your reaction] if you should see the Son of Man ascending to [the place] where He was before?"

Jesus assures them that the words He speaks are spirit and life.  And no one can come to Him unless it is granted by the Father.  Now they must choose.  Following Jesus was not going to be a free picnic.  Jesus' followers must come to Him in the manner that only the Father designed.

In verse 66, we see that some of the disciples (not the Twelve) turned away.  They gave up following Jesus and went back to their old lives.  So Jesus turns to the Twelve who have been watching and listening.  He asks them, "Will you also leave?"

Simon Peter speaks up, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words (message) of eternal life.  And we have learned to believe...that You are the Holy One of God, the Christ."   Yes, Jesus words where hard to understand.  But one thing Peter knew.  His words contained life.  There was no one else who could speak that way.  They had seen the bread multiplied and picked up the leftovers.  They had seen Him walk on water.  They had learned to believe.

When Jesus' words are hard to understand, we would do well to learn to believe them.  It is a process.  Believing involves an intentional cleaving to, trusting, relying on.  Remember what Jesus said was the real work of following God?  It was to believe in His Messenger!  When I trust the One who says the words, I know I can trust the understanding to come in time. 

Jesus was giving them the secret to eternal life.  A life that brought us back from spiritual exile and into a life where Jesus dwells within us.  A life reconciled with our Heavenly Father.  The very reason He came.

In time, the Twelve understood the meaning of these hard and offensive words.  They just had to stick around long enough to fine out!

Are you wrestling with words of Jesus that are hard to understand?  Is He asking you to do something that doesn't make sense?  Maybe it's your assumptions of Jesus that are throwing you off.  Get back to the basics of His word.  Trust Him.  Keep seeking Him.  Don't miss the greater understanding that you will receive in time!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Have you ever had a moment in your life when you knew you were at a crossroads?  A moment that you knew things in your life would never be the same?  I remember a time when I was 18.  My parents had decided to move away from Hawaii and go to the mainland.  I was a sophomore in college in San Diego.  They brought me home during the Christmas break to pack my room and say goodbye to my Hawaii friends.   

I remember sitting on my bed in the midst of the boxes.  I felt devastated. Everything I knew about home was about to change.  Always one to have music playing, the song that filled the room at that moment was, "Because He Lives."  It was like the light broke through my darkness and I felt a peace like never before.  A peace I desperately needed.  Whatever lay ahead, I knew that Jesus was with me.  I could face all the uncertain days with Him at my side.

Fast-forward 28 years down the line.  Here I am.  When I look back at all that's happened during those years I am amazed.  There have been plenty of joys and sorrows.   I graduated from college, married my sweetheart, and have had four beautiful children.  But I've lost both my parents, and all my grandparents.  I've been up and down financially.  I've felt many victories and defeats.  But through it all, Jesus has been my rock.  His resurrection power and grace in my life have given me the strength to face every day.

At our recent women's retreat, we sang that song.  It struck me that the truth of that song still rings true in my life.  Because Jesus lives, I can face tomorrow.   Because He lives, all fear is gone.  Life IS worth the living.  Sitting on my bed those many years ago, I never could have imagined what would come my way.  But faith in a faithful God makes it possible to face everyday without fear.   Oh, fear does come, but I have somewhere to take that fear - to the feet of Jesus. 


  Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I don’t concern myself with matters too great
or too awesome for me to grasp.
  Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
  O Israel, put your hope in the Lord
now and always.
Psalm 131 (NLT)

I am grateful for the time a slower schedule brings. Time to look back and what Jesus has done in my life, and time to look forward knowing He holds the future.








Saturday, June 18, 2011

Camping at Kualoa - now I know it's really summer!

"Chinaman's Hat" off of Kualoa Beach Park in Kaneohe Bay


Our summer hit full swing this weekend as we're out at Kualoa Beach Park for camp.  Spending time with biological family and our faith family is what summer is all about.

Whatever you're doing this weekend, I pray you'll find a bit of rest and relaxation.  God's creation is all around and speaks of His glory.  Get outside, find a shady spot and enjoy His presence!

 

 The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
  The Lord is good to everyone.
He showers compassion on all his creation.
  All of your works will thank you, Lord,
and your faithful followers will praise you.
Psalm 145:8-10 (NLT)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Source






There is a lot of talk these days about getting back the the source.  A trend to simplicity is in fashion now.  And that's a good thing.  We're learning the value of buying local, supporting local farmers, and keeping fuel consumption down by buying products that are produced within 100 miles of our homes.  Living on an island in the middle of the Pacific, that's not an easy task for me.  They say that Hawaii is the most remote location on the planet.  While standing in the grocery store, I fully believe it.

But it's not just in food that finding the source is important.  Finding the source of information is critical to knowing the worth of that information. We live in the information age, where we have an abundance of knowledge right at our finger tips.  But as you well know, just because it's available, doesn't mean it's credible.  Finding the source is always the place to start when looking for authentic, un-edited, and un-spun information.

Our journey of faith is no different.  Thanks to our information age, we have an abundance of information that aids us in our relationship with Jesus.
  • Christian music:  There is no doubt that music speaks to my soul and brings me into the Lord's presence.  But if I'm just listening to my music without connecting to the Source, I'm not really getting the full benefit of this resource.  (Wow, just that word "resource" shows me I'm off the mark.)
  • Christian books:  I am a voracious reader.  I have trouble reading fiction, but love to read what other's have written on following Jesus and living this faith.  But mostly, I'm reading about other people's experience.  It's helpful in my own walk, but the Lord wants to show me things first hand, too.
  • Christian speakers:  I love to listen to sermons by people who truly know the Lord and teach of His truths.  But in a court of law, when they tell me what Jesus said, it would be hearsay.
  • The Bible:  I'm sure we can all agree that this is a crucial source material.  Jesus' words are given to us in black and white (and maybe even red).  We learn of His character, how He lived His life among us in flesh.  We learn the history of God in dealing with His people.  We hear the stories of the faithful and unfaithful.  It is the source for building our faith and gives of the parameters we need to follow Jesus with all we have.  I must daily read the words of Jesus to connect with Him.  There is only one more source that trumps it...
  • Time in the presence of Jesus:  There is no better way to connect with the heart of God than to sit at His feet.  Time with my Bible is vital to understand God's ways but I have had seasons of my life where I read the Bible and left there unchanged.   The give and take of prayer and listening builds relationship.  When I am parched an dry, time in His presence restores my soul.  How can I get to know Him without spending time with Him?  That is my personal responsibility to this relationship.  No one can do it for me.  It is a privilege I cherish and frankly what sets Christianity apart from any other religion that I know.  Our God is personal, alive and active in our lives. 

Jesus is the Source.  A great example of this is found in John 1:36-40.  John the Baptist has just declared that Jesus is the Messiah that all have been waiting for.  He tells two of his own disciples that Jesus is the one.  One of these disciples is Andrew.  Without hesitation, he leaves the one whom Jesus said, "Of all who ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist." (Matt. 11:11)  Andrew had found the Source.  He left the great to follow Jesus, the Greatest! 

I regularly use the resources above.   I'm so grateful for them!  But there is no substitute for getting to the Source.  

This morning I was listening to a podcast that was talking about fresh maple syrup.  She said that once you taste the straight-from-the-forest syrup, you can never be satisfied with the rest.  That is so true with Jesus.  Once you taste of His goodness firsthand, you can never settle for anything less.

Enjoy His presence today, for in it there is fullness of JOY!





Friday, June 10, 2011

The Offenses of Jesus: The Women, Part 2




The sisters, Mary and Martha, are two more women that we read about in Jesus' life.  John 11, tells about a time when their brother, Lazarus is very sick and eventually dies.  Jesus is a two-day journey away and yet when He hears the news, He doesn't just pick up and go.  He waits. 

The disciples may have thought that Jesus stayed where He was because the Jews in Judea were trying to stone Jesus (v. 8).  But Jesus had a much bigger reason than that, something that would bring more glory to His Father.  Jesus said, "This will help you believe..." (v. 15).


 I don't know about you, but I would be offended by Jesus' delay. My good friend, Jesus, has the power to heal and He doesn't come running to help when I call Him.  It seems that the sisters felt a bit offended as well and may have had a few conversations about it because when they see Jesus, they say exactly the same thing to Him, "If you had been here my brother would not have died."  I've had a few conversations like that myself, "If only Jesus would ________!"  Just fill in the blank.

But let's get back to the sisters.  First Martha (of course) comes out to meet Jesus while He's still on the way.  She still can't wait.  I love her.  In the midst of her offense, she still believes He can do anything.  It's as if to say, "I know plan A didn't happen, but You must have a plan B in mind, right?"  Jesus assures Martha that Lazarus will rise again.  But Martha wants specifics (you go girl!), and replies with her belief that her brother will be raised with everyone else "in the resurrection at the last day (v. 24)."

So what did Jesus' offense reveal about Martha?  I see a heart that longs to understand.  Even in her confusion about what Jesus is doing, she comes to him, honestly confronts Him, and states her belief in who He is.  Jesus reveals Himself to her in plain language, "I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying....Do you believe this, Martha?"  Her reply is a proclamation and is just as profound as the one Peter makes in Luke 9:18-20.  She says, "Yes, Lord, I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God." 

And where is Mary?  She is grieving.  She must be told that Jesus is here.  Her first impulse is to return to the place she loves, she falls at Jesus' feet.  She is desperate for Him, and yet the same words flow, "If only..."  Even in her offense, Mary is steadfast.  She holds to Jesus.  Her heart is revealed by her actions.

Seeing His friends grieve, even with the knowledge that a miracle is just minutes away, Jesus takes time to feel.  He joins in their weeping.  He reveals His own heart. 

Could it be that our hard lessons in faith are hard on the Savior as well?

You know the rest of the story.  Martha is unsure about moving the stone - the stink will be awful.  But Jesus is not deterred.  The One who is Life brings life.  Jesus' way of handling this situation bestows salvation not only to a family but also to the community.  His ways are always higher than our ways. 

Some of my lingering questions: 
  • Since the stone was rolled away, could they see life return to a rotting body?
  • Did the smell disappear when life came?
  • What did Lazarus say?
Sometimes I wish there was a gospel written by one of the women.  We love details and she wouldn't have let us down!  I guess I'll wait to ask Jesus when I see Him face to face.

So what can I learn from Mary and Martha?  There will be times in my life when I don't understand the timing of Jesus.  Will I run to Him and sit at His feet?  Will I remind myself of who Jesus is and stand on what I know to be true?  Will I wait for His solutions and get the greater blessing for it? 

I hope so. That is my hearts desire.












Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer is Here! Housekeeping on the blog.

I love summer!  The change of pace is always something I look forward to as much as my kids.  My project list gets long and with it expectations of how the days will go.  As you probably know, that is a recipe for disaster.  You'd think I'd learn by now.  But every year about this time, I have to look at my lists and prioritize them.  What do I REALLY want and need to get done. 

One of the things on my list is to better organize this blog.  I hope to be working on some format changes.  I also want to do a better job at planning my posts.  Case in point, I really should have titled my Offenses of Jesus posts better.  I wrote one week about the Faith of a Gentile woman and then the next about the Women in Jesus' Life, Part 1.  Well, technically the Gentile woman should have been Part 1 and the story of Simon and the "notorious sinner" woman should have been Part 2.  I 'm almost finished with  "Part 3" on Mary and Martha at Lazarus' tomb.  I'm not sure how to fix that...   I'll probably just have to leave it as is - lessons learned.  Thanks for your grace!

I have a new goal for the fall.  I'm planning on running in the Windward Half Marathon in September.  Lord willing, I'd like to blog about my journey to that race.  The Lord speaks to me so much while I run.  I'd hate to keep it all to myself.

But with all my planning, there are some things happening that I just couldn't have foreseen.  For instance, I thought I'd have my oldest home for the summer.  But she has decided to stay in California and work before school starts again for her in the fall.  I also didn't expect to be applying for substitute teaching positions at two Christian schools but the Lord seems to be giving me an alternative to bookkeeping for work.  Thirdly, I didn't expect that we'd be selling our beloved sailboat.  But God is good and I am loved.  Those facts keep me centered and peace is within reach. 




My verse for this summer:

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
  Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT)

The seasons may change, but our God never changes.  HE is good.  He IS good.  He is GOOD.




Monday, May 23, 2011

The Offenses of Jesus – The Women in Jesus’ Life, part 1



There are several instances that Jesus has opportunity to reveal the hearts around Him in his encounters with women.  It is amazing how Jesus consistently breaks the cultural barriers to show His love and honor to the women in His life.   I’ve heard it said that Christianity is demeaning to women.  Well, if it is, it’s not what Jesus modeled for us. 

For example, the story of the woman found in Luke 7:36-50.  Jesus has been invited to the home of Simon the Pharisee for dinner.  In verse 37, the Amplified version says that “a woman of the town, an especially wicked sinner…brought an alabaster flask of ointment (perfume).”  She comes to anoint Jesus.  Her love for Jesus is so great that she can’t stay away, even when she must come into the presence of people who despise her.  She can’t even face Jesus.  She comes up behind him and starts weeping, wetting his feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair.  She kisses His feet and anoints them with the ointment.

Here is where the offense is made.  The Pharisee sees all of this happening and says to himself, “If this man was a prophet, he would surely know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him – for she is a notorious sinner (a social outcast, devoted to sin).”  (vs. 39)  Jesus replies to him, even though he never voiced his opinion, with a story. 

A certain lender of money [at interest] who had two debtors: one owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  When they had no means of paying, he freely forgave them both.  Now which of them will love him more?  Simon answered, "The one, I take it, for whom he forgave and cancelled more."  And Jesus said to him, "You have decided correctly." (vs. 41-43)

Jesus takes the opportunity to honor this wicked woman.  He turns to her while still talking to Simon.  He points out to Simon that she is the one who is lavishing love, while he did not even give the common courtesies of the day – water for his feet, a kiss of greeting, and oil to anoint His head.    “Therefore I tell you, her sins, many [as they are], are forgiven her – because she has loved much.  But he who is forgiven little loves little.” (vs. 47)

There are so many things that strike me about this passage.  First, the woman.  She is so bold.  Her love for Jesus compels her to Him, no matter what others will think.  She is lavish and extravagant with her love; expensive perfume, her own tears and her un-bound hair.  She doesn't let the criticism of the Pharisee stop her.  Her love must be expressed.  She knows the love Jesus has for her.  It is done in response to Jesus, not in order to receive anything from Him.  The result?  She is saved and takes with her the peace of Christ.  “Your faith has saved you; go (enter) into the peace [in freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as the result of sin].” (vs. 50)

Jesus is amazing in this passage.  He is not the least bit upset or embarrassed by her behavior.  He lets her continue what she is doing.  He knows He is worthy of these acts of love.  He receives them with grace and compassion. He stops whatever was going on at the party to address the situation.  He doesn’t tell her to come back later.  Simon is offended that Jesus would let this notorious woman touch Him.  The Pharisee didn’t treat Jesus with honor that He should have received.   Is Jesus offended?  No, he uses the moment of Simon’s offense, and reveals the hardness of his heart.  Jesus gently leads the Pharisee to the truth with the story of the debts forgiven.  To Jesus, it was all about love and forgiveness, not “political correctness” at the dinner party.

Jesus allowed the woman to express herself just as she wanted.  He accepted the anointing she gave Him.  He understood the intent and received it.  Although she starts out behind Jesus, He turns to her, even as He speaks to Simon and tells His story.  There is no question that Simon gets the meaning of the story.  He answered correctly.  The one who is forgiven much, loves much.


This is one of my favorite stories.  The Lord has used it in my life as a reality check.  I must admit that I have stood in the place of the Pharisee.  It's easy for me to forget how much I have been forgiven.  The truth is that Jesus had to die for both the Pharisee's sin and the wicked woman's sin.  Sin is sin, and any of it separates us from God.  Just because I may not have been a "notorious sinner" doesn't mean I don't need forgiveness.  I would paraphrase what Jesus said for my own life:  The one who remembers how much she is forgiven, loves much.  The one who forgets how much she's been forgiven, loves little.


I knew I had lost my "first love" with Jesus when I saw other people with a greater passion for Jesus than I had.  I was jealous.  I would read the psalms of David and think, "What an emotional man."  I would listen to people like Beth Moore and think, "Wow, she really loves Jesus."  I wanted that.  I had been living an emotionally dead faith.  This story woke me up to the reality that I had become ungrateful for the forgiveness I had received.  Only by remembering the value of the forgiveness given, could my passion for Jesus be revived.  


I know this post is a lot longer than my others.  Thanks for hanging with me today.  I just can't say enough about this story.  Just as with Simon, Jesus gently offended my mind to reveal my heart.  He rescued me from my emotional prison and freed me to love Him.  He is worthy of all the love I can give.    






Monday, May 16, 2011

Back to reality...

On arriving to our church's annual Women's Retreat, my spirit was tired and my body was needing rest.  On returning home from the retreat, my spirit felt revived, but my body still needed a nap.

We had a wonderful time.  The Lord is so faithful.  He always takes my small offering and multiplies it into the more-than-enough that He provides.  Everyone who was able to attend "caught" the transforming power of eucharisteo - the thanksgiving, grace, and joy.  It was so amazing to see the light bulbs go on above their heads.  I couldn't have been happier.  To see my friends fall in love with Ann Voskamp and her book was priceless.  Jesus spoke His love to each lady and the joy filled the room.  There were almost a dozen new Gift Lists started this weekend!

I can't think of a better book to take along on a girl's getaway weekend!  I highly recommend it!

So now, back to reality.  Fortunately, my new reality contains the tools I need to live with a thankful heart, receiving all that God has for me as a gift of grace, and the joy of His presence.  Bring it on!
 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Enjoying the View is becoming more than a blog name.

When I started this blog, I searched for a name that would represent me.  Something that I've always loved is a great view.  I'll endure quite a bit just to see one (as you may have noticed by my hiking posts...).  But as with a lot of things in my life, the name is evolving to mean more than just a physical view of my surroundings.  A view can also be a perspective of life, like a world view.

This week, I'm busy working on retreat presentations.  Our topic for this year is from Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts: Daring to Live Fully Right Where You Are.   If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.  One of the main points of the book is learning to see what God is placing right in front of you as a gift from Him.   All of life is a grace that is meant to be received with gratitude.  Eucharisteo is the Greek word that breaks down into three:  Eucharisteo = thanksgiving, Chara = joy and Charis = grace.  Such a power-packed word.  I'm learning to look around with new eyes.  I look for the beauty of the ordinary; a rainbow, a sunset, a child's smile, a piece of bread.  I look for the joy even in the hard things as Jesus did - but for the joy set before Him, endured the cross.

This looking for the God-gifts is not easy.  It takes deliberate effort, practice.  I've been trying to make a list to 1000 for quite awhile now.  I must admit.  I haven't been adding to it lately and I miss it.  As I look over my previous posts that have a portion of my list, I instantly feel the joy that came along with those entries.  Counting gifts makes me feel God's love for me.  That's a view that I will always enjoy, right where I am - no hiking necessary!




So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.  Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.  Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,  singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:15-20 NLT

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Retreat on the horizon....Waterfall in the rear view...

I ask for your grace for the next two weeks.  Our annual Women's Retreat is May 13-15, and I need prepare.  I'll try to keep in touch, but my study focus needs to be on our retreat material.

Keeping with my "Enjoying the View" theme....


We found this fun water hole on a short hike in Kahaluu.  Nice clear, cold water to dip our feet in.  Sorry about the graffiti.  Can't seem to get away from it.  One person's art...


Mark was carving Andrew's name, not ours....



Nice shot by the waterfall.
Smooch!

But just so you don't think it's so easy to get these shots, I'll show you how graceful I was on the way down.
My daughter, Rachael, was all too happy to document the moment!


We were standing on a water pipe about 5 feet off the ground.

I'm too scared to jump...

Maybe if I squat down first...

I look like a frog..



Who me?  I'm always this graceful...
The older I get, the easier it is for me to laugh at myself.  I can't take myself too seriously!


But as for me, I will sing about your power.
      Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
   For you have been my refuge,
      a place of safety when I am in distress.
O my Strength, to you I sing praises,
      for you, O God, are my refuge,
      the God who shows me unfailing love.
Psalm 59:16-17

Have a great day!  

Friday, April 29, 2011

This is my solomn vow....

In honor of William and Kate, here's a re-post:


I love weddings. I never used to cry at them, until I got married myself. Now I can hardly even watch one without crying - even if it's on TV. I think it is because once you enter into that marriage covenant and live a few years together, those vows really take on meaning. A starry-eyed bride can not begin to understand what she's saying. But don't try to tell her that... She's making them in faith.


Here is a copy of the vows my groom and I made to each other: 

I, (Karelin/Mark),

take thee (Mark/Karelin),

to be my wedded (husband/wife),

to have and to hold from this day forward,

for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,

in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish,

'til death do us part,

according to God's holy ordinance;

this is my solemn vow.


During my quiet time this week, it dawned on me that a prayer of surrender to the LORD is very much like the vows I made at my wedding. When I give myself fully to my Savior, it is for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish.... I make these vows in faith, too. A new believer can't really know what lay ahead in his journey with Jesus. But there is a trust, a knowing that God is a good and faithful God. "Perfect love casts out fear," and day by day, those vows take on new meaning.

There is no better groom than Jesus. He remains faithful, even when I do not. He loves me completely, even though I am just learning to love Him. The best part is, there is no "'til death do us part."

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

Now that's romantic! *sniff*

This LORD's day, I want to come to Him with my heart given to be fully His. There's no better love than the love of God.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pacesetter...Moi?


Had a beautiful run this morning.  The rain had just passed through and the air was clean and fresh.  With Rachael's driver's ed. class forcing me to get up and out three mornings a week, my road running has improved. 

Since I posted about finding that pacesetter, I keep coming back to that image.  While I run, even though there is no one a head of me, I can imagine those feet and see the pace.  I don't have to have a physical pacesetter, in my mind's eye, I can see them.  It has improved my time.  I don't start out too fast and use up all my energy.  It helps me run more and walk less. 

I passed a man on the street today.  He looked like the "old coach" type of guy.  He actually commented as I went by him, "Nice pace, real comfortable."   I thought, "Yes, it is comfortable.  I could run a long time at this pace..." 

A little further on, I passed a woman running just a bit slower than I was.  (yes, I can actually pass people...)  I began to wonder if I might be a pacesetter for her.  Not that I'm such a super-star runner.  But I know how much I was helped by a passing runner. 

It got me thinking.  Isn't that how our journey with Christ is supposed to be.  We find a pacesetter for us, Jesus and others, and we also become a pacesetter.  Paul repeatedly talks about running the race in his letters to the churches.  He set an example for us to pursue Christ at all costs.  Paul new that he hadn't "arrived" to perfection, but that didn't stop him from urging them (and us) to imitate him. 

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead...
Philippians 3:13 NIV


...For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. 
So I urge you to imitate me.

I Corinthians 1:15-16 NLT


Before my come-back to road running, I was content to run on my treadmill.  It was enough to keep me going.  I could mark off a few miles a week and not feel too guilty.  How many years of my Christian life have I been content to run my own private race?  It's enough for me to get by, but that's not what Jesus commanded as He left this planet.  He said, "Go and make disciples of all nations..."  If I'm not running my race as a pacesetter, who will come after me?  How will I obey this command?  I'm coming to the strong conviction that this journey is not to be lived in isolation.  There is no "plan B" for reaching the world.  I am a part of it and I have a role to play. 


As I was coming back to my starting point, I passed the same lady again.   This time as I passed her, she was walking.  I'll never know if I was a pacesetter for her, but when I was finally at my car, I saw her a third time.  But this time she continued past me - running.
Do you have someone who can set the pace for you?  Are you setting the pace for someone else.  The truth is, people are watching us.  What kind of pace will we set?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Offenses of Jesus: The Faith of a Gentile Woman



Usually, the offenses of Jesus make me cringe.  This is one that inspires me. It is found in Matthew 15:21-28.  Jesus leaves the offended Pharisees and travels to the north, to the region on Tyre and Sidon.  A gentile woman comes to Jesus, pleading for Him to deliver her daughter who was possessed by a demon.

Don't you hate it when you are talking to someone and they ignore you?  That's what Jesus did.  (Offense #1)  He didn't say a word - no reply to her pleading.  Evidently that didn't put her off.  She keeps begging.  So much so that the disciples ask Jesus to send her away, "She is bother us with all her begging."  So Jesus speaks to her.  "I was sent only to help God's lost sheep, the people of Israel." (Offense #2)  She is not deterred.  Her response?  She came and worshiped Him, and pleaded again, "Lord, help me!"

Jesus comes back with this, "It isn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs."  (Offense #3) Ouch!  Basically, Jesus is calling this woman a dog, unworthy of His attention.  But this woman is amazing.  Her love for her daughter and her belief that Jesus is the answer gives her the chutzpah to push on. She ignores His insult and replies, "That's true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their master's table."  Wow.  Such boldness.  She passes the test.  Remember, Jesus only offends the mind to reveal the heart. Her heart for her daughter and her faith in Jesus is revealed  ~ and impresses Jesus.  Now Jesus can drop the offenses.  His tone changes completely.  "Dear woman,"  Jesus says to her, "your faith is great.  Your request is granted."  Finally, the intended result.  His offense of the woman revealed a heart of faith.  Her daughter was instantly healed.  If there was any doubt that our persistence and faith can move the heart of God, here it is.  Jesus stated that His purpose was to bring salvation to the Jews.  But her bold faith pleased Jesus so much, He extended His grace to her, even before the dispensation to any other Gentile.

And it is impossible to please God without faith. 
Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists 
and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 NLT


In our day, the salvation and grace of Jesus is fully available to everyone.  But do I persist in prayer, using bold faith to lay hold of what I need from Jesus?  Does my faith please God, enough to move Him?  Do I believe it can?