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Friday, May 21, 2010

Holy Discontent wk. 1

It seems that people, other than me, are eager to hear the heart of God for their lives. Go figure! He has brought together what I think will prove to be a great mix of women for the study of Bill Hybel's book Holy Discontent. For the next 7 weeks, we will pour over it, underline, highlight and discuss. I would like to bring some of that here to those who can't be in the group physically. Feel free to buy the book and get in on the discussion via comments or just read what is written here. Either way - I hope that God reveals something to you about your Holy Discontent. Let's get started...

To start, Bill asks this question, "Why do people do what they do?" For most people when you speak of their job, the answer is to get a paycheck. However, there are some who are passionate about what they do, so much so that they do it for very little money - teachers, social workers, pastors, the list could go on. Not that only people who don't make much money can be passionate about their jobs. But people do other things besides working with their time. They volunteer, they give money to causes. One woman in our group, "V",  supports 2 women in countries where women have little to no human rights. She stated (paraphrasing) that she does this because it tugs at her heart and is wrong, so she does what she can to help.

So, why do you do what you do? To go one step further - what are you passionate about? What get the "firestorm of frustration" (as Bill calls it) going in your gut? What is your underlying motivation?

In the opening chapter of the book we look at Moses. A Hebrew man raised by the Egyptian Pharaoh's daughter, He did not taste of the slavery his people did. But one day he was taking a walk and came across an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. He grew so angry that he killed the Egyptian. The next day he was out walking and came across 2 Hebrews fighting with each other. His eyes were opened to the plight of his people and the firestorm was ignited. The story is much longer than I will go into here, you can read it in Genesis. but he basically was so heart broken to see his people self destructing that he couldn't stand it any more and decided he had to do something about it. After a life changing discussion with a burning bush (GOD), he found that he would not be on his own in his fight for the Hebrew people, God's heart was breaking for them as well and they would fight together. This was Moses' holy discontent. 

Hybel's goes on to say that "still today, what wrecks the heart of someone who loves God is often the very thing that God wants to use to fire them up to do something that, under normal circumstances, they would never attempt to do." So it begins with you determining what it is that you just can't stand. Hybel's also pointed out the very important fact that God is in the business of restoration. If we only look at the world through the lens of what is broken and forget that God desires to restore it, it will only result in anger and frustration.

When we realize that the anger and frustration we feel for the things that break our hearts in this world also break the heart of God, we have usually identified our holy discontent. 

One of my favorite lines says this, "The most inspired, motivated, and driven people I know are the ones who live their lives from the energy of their holy discontent. Most important, they suit up and jump in to the game when God says, "If you'll hook up with me, I'll involve you in effecting some much needed change around here!""

Oh, that I would live my life from that place. Actually taking action instead of just complaining. The bible is filled with stories of common, ordinary men and women who have partnered with God to do things they could never do on their own. I want to be one of those!

So take stock. What fuels your firestorm of frustration? What breaks you heart and makes you want to help change the world? If you can't answer that quite yet, stick with us on our journey. I pray that our faithful God will speak clearly to each of us and that we will be courageous enough to jump in the deep end with both feet!

Chapter 2 next Wednesday, May 26. 7-8:30 pm in High Connections at the church. Join us there or online.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Friendship and The Fear

Yesterday was a typical Sunday. Full of church and work and worship and fellowship with other artist/worshipers as we sat in the room back stage waiting for our time to once again take the stage to lead the congregation in song. What happens in that room during our "down time" is a mystery to most and each week is very different, depending on the characters that are appear (and I do mean characters!) Lot's of bonding and conversation takes place over 6 hours of on and off the stage. 

At one point yesterday, the conversation turned to a song called Friend of God. Now, no offense to the writer, but that is a song that I can hardly stomach singing. The version of it that most people hear is to me - very "bubble gum." I feel that it shows only the "hey let's go fishing together, or to the mall" side of God. One participant in the conversation made a statement something to the effect of "lots of people come to church and need to see that side of God." I assume this is because they only hear about the wrath side of Him from a non-churched person's perspective. 

The conversation continued down that line for just a bit and while I agree to a certain extent that everyone who comes to God needs to know that He is desires to be their friend and have them come to Him with any and everything in their lives, most people forget that He is also to be feared as seen by David's mistake referenced in my previous blog post

I always find it humorous when I have a conversation and shortly there after God brings something to my attention in scripture that adds something to the conversation (a true picture of a friend I suppose.) This morning in my reading I read this:

Psalm 25:12-14 Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.

For me, the highlighted verse nails it on the head! How can you have a friendship with someone you do not KNOW and how can you KNOW GOD and not fear Him? They go hand in hand.  If I have just met someone, I would not normally consider them my friend, only an acquaintance. To be a true friend, it takes relationship and to build relationship you have to spend time getting to really know that person. 

In my lifetime, I have had very few people that I would consider friends in the deepest sense of the word. A friendship takes work, it takes time, it takes giving more than you get sometimes, it takes honesty, it takes love and all that takes effort. But when that occurs - you have something very precious and oh how I long to have that kind of friendship with my maker.

Several years ago a singer/song writer named Matt Redman came on the Christian music scene. Most of you would know his as the writer of The Heart of Worship. I had occasions to hear him speak and not only learn from his leading as a worshiper but as a God follower. His heart is one that is not found very often. I imagine him like King David - a man after God's own heart. He wrote a song called The Friendship and The Fear. The lyrics of the song are rich and so I leave you to ponder them today and ask yourself these - On the friendship scale, have much to you give compared to how much you gain? Do you fear the Lord, I mean really fear Him? If you struggle with how to answer these questions, then join me in the ever present quest to know Him better. If you could answer them to your satisfaction fairly easily, then I would challenge you by saying I don't think you KNOW Him as well as you think you do.

Show me the way of the cross once again
Denying myself for the love that I've gained
Everything's You now, everything's changed,
It's time You had my whole life;
You can have it all.

I resolve to give it all;
Some things must die,
Some things must live.
Not, "What can I gain,"
But, "What can I give?"
If much is required when much is received,
Then You can have my whole life;
Jesus, have it all.

I've given like a beggar but lived like the rich
And crafted myself a more comfortable cross,
Yet what I am called to is deeper than this,
It's time You had my whole life;
You can have it all. 

Friday, May 7, 2010

6 Steps and a Sacrifice

What is your morning prep like to get to church on a Sunday? If it is anything like my house was when my kids were small there is one word - chaotic! Even now that my kids are older there is some element of that to get everyone to church on time. Because I work at church, I have to get up way before the sun (which should be breaking some sort of commandment, but according to Proverbs 31 - apparently is not! ) Usually one or more of my children either choose to or have to come with me because of their volunteer schedule. Anyway - you get the idea.... In my house, unless I am very intentional, we usually arrive to worship the God of the universe pretty much in the same manner we would make a trip to Target or get out the door to school/work.

In my Bible reading I have come to the story of King David returning the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem after being captured by the Philistines and being away from the Israelites for some time. He decided it was time to bring it back to where it belonged and so he made a plan to go get it. Enter problem #1 - David didn't follow the rules. The ark was supposed to be carried by certain people in a certain way any time it was transported. Instead, he had prepared what was, I am sure, a very nice cart pulled by oxen. Of course! Why not? It was probably very heavy and this would make the 6 or so mile trip much easier and quicker.  

So they story goes that they are moving along, the ox trips, one well meaning guy (Uzzah) reaches up to steady the ark so it doesn't fall to the ground and BAM! He's dead. Why, you might be asking? Well, no one was supposed to touch the ark but the priests appointed to care for it.  Not fair, you might be saying. What was he supposed to do, let it fall? Well, that is exactly what King David said. He was not very happy with God. 

2 Samuel 6:8-11 And David was angry because the Lord had burst forth against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, How can the ark of the Lord come to me? So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

So, here is where I have to laugh! David sees the Obed's house is prospering because of the presence of the Lord, so he decided to try to move it again - but this time doe it the right way. He uses the priests to follow all the proper directions for moving it - including carrying it on poles the whole 6 miles. But take a look at the highlighted verse above. David was afraid of the Lord that day... There was now a holy fear going on that should have been there from the beginning. David remembered who he was dealing with. So here is what he did:

2 Samuel 6:12-14 So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing. And when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. And David danced before the Lord with all his might.

Did you catch that? Every 6 STEPS David sacrificed not 1 but 2, what I would imagine were,  large animals. Every 6 steps for 6 miles they stopped and made an offering to the Lord. This was one long and bloody trip, full of work, but also filled with joy and worship before the Lord.

Truthfully, I probably need to paste this passage of scripture on the dash of my car, or on the bathroom mirror so I can see it when I get up (REALLY EARLY) to worship on Sundays. I have to remember who I am worshiping. I can not and should never treat coming in to the presence of God like it is something nonchalant. 

Through the blood sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, I no longer have to sacrifice animals every 6 steps to come before the Lord in worship, but I am called every minute of every day to sacrifice my life to Him. I love that Jesus made a way for me to boldly approach the throne of GRACE. Thank God for grace! I am grateful to be able to call the one who made me - my father and my friend. But I have to hold Him in the proper place, high and lifted up above all things here on this earth - full of awe, reverence and a holy fear. 

So this Sunday as you wrestle with the kids to get ready and into the car, as you wake up exhausted from the weekend which was once again "to full" and think twice about even going to church - consider all those obstacles you face and all the work it takes to get there as a joyful sacrifice to the King of Kings. Put on some worship music and dance before Him as an individual and a family as you prepare to join others to do more of the same. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Holy Discontent

OK People - if you follow me at all , you have heard me mention Bill Hybels book Holy Discontent many times. Well, after much calendar deliberation, the date is set! We will begin the book study on Wednesday, May 19. The idea is to meet at the Starbucks on Hardin and Eldorado each Wednesday from 7-8:30 pm and discuss what we read that week. 

So if you want to join us, you can pick up the book at multiple places online (or at a book store near you), but it is being sold at a discounted rate right now if you click here! If you choose to do so, you can also purchase the companion guide called Living and Leading from Your Holy Discontent by the same author. That book is not necessary though.

If you are in a place in your life where you want to be challenged to the next place with God to change the world around you - you should join this study! If you are looking for some time spent focusing on God - you should join us! If you just need a break from you life and some good coffee - you should join us!

If you can't join us in person, but would still like to go through the book study, I would love to get an online group together that meets via video chat. So you can be just about anywhere and still take part (you will have to bring your own coffee though!)

Please message me if you are "in" and get your book. I will put together an email list for the group and contact everyone with reading assignments for the first meeting. I look forward to growing with you all!