Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Be Still...

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

This past week has been a very difficult one. Partly because of my human, fragile heart and partly because I felt so sure of God's leading in my life. But things didn't turn out like I thought they were going to. I have been asking God a lot of "why" and "I don't understand" questions. I also just felt so unsure because I feel that over the past few years, I have gotten much better at hearing and recognizing God's voice. Not as an audible sound, but often as a still small voice in my soul. And I never felt that I was walking outside of the steps He was leading me in. This just doesn't feel right.

But here I am. In a place that was unexpected. And then a couple of days ago, I heard His voice again. That same, small voice in my soul. "Be still and know that I am God." After that, I received a gift for Christmas. It was a new Bible and Bible cover. On the cover, was inscribed a verse. "Be still and know that I am God."

The next day I was changing the block calendar on my desk. I had been slacking in changing the date in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. As I changed the date, I noticed the verse printed above the numbers. "Be still and know that I am God."

Last night I was reading the Karen Kingsbury novel series that I have been reading for a while now. One of the characters, Katy Hart, was praying and God brought to her mind a verse. "Be still and know that I am God."

And then there was this morning. I read a question and answer article about a young man, probably just out of college who felt called to be a youth pastor. But nothing was opening up for him because he is unmarried and is also still young. He wrote in asking what he should do. That was not the part that intrigued me. It was the response of the person answering his question.

The writer talked about David as a shepherd boy. He said that while David was in the fields tending sheep, he was just like any other shepherd boy. One speck in the cosmos. It didn't seem that he was doing anything life changing or of ultra importance. But he was exactly where he was supposed to be. The writer stated, "Here's what is important to remember about this season: If God is who He says He is, then nothing about your life is random - nothing."

And then there was that phrase again about being still.

The article continued, "Being still and waiting might not be the favorites of present-day society, but they are still critical priorities in the Kingdom of God. This time in your life is fertile ground for God to shape Christ-like character, growing roots that have the strength to hold a tree and the fruit it bears. It may be the only way you could waste it is by wishing it away."

So, in the midst of the things I am feeling, no matter how difficult it is to muster the strength, I know I don't have to. Because my Strength is always there and He has a plan for me. So I will be still. No matter how hard that is sometimes. I will be still and know that You are God.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmahanakwanzika

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love to one another." John 13:35

"There's an exit at stage right and stage left. There are also two more exits at the back of the auditorium."

"I sure hope the kids holding candles behind me don't set my hair on fire."

"I wonder if I could leap this row in front of me."

These are the types of thoughts that go through my mind each year when I attend the annual Christmas Eve candlelight services. As I have gotten older, I admit I have gotten a little less neurotic, but I do still know precisely where the exits are located and where the teenage boys who like to put their fingers through the fire are seated.

Tonight I attended such an event. It was different than any other candlelight service I have attended, however as the entire sanctuary was dark except for a candle at the front podium where the pastor stood. It was that way throughout the whole service until the very end. During the final parts of the service, people from each section went forward and lit their candle and passed the flame on to those sitting around them. What resulted was a place filled with light. All from the flame of one light at the front of the building.

I recently finished a Bible study on the book of Esther by Beth Moore. In it she talks about how in the book of Esther, the name of God is not mentioned one time. However, the evidences and works of God are weaved throughout the entire tapestry of verses.

I was thinking about that recently. We live in a day when it is not "politically correct" to say "Merry Christmas" anymore. I've even heard rumors that people are starting to get away from even saying "Happy Holidays" because the word "holiday" refers to a "holy - day." When I go to work at my secular job, it is written into the HR policy that the topic of religion may not be discussed in the workplace.

So in a day of tolerance when everything must be gender neutral and non-offensive, how can we as Christians spread the love of God yet still comply with guidelines set in place on the job and elsewhere and be respectful to the rulers and authorities set in place around us?

"A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another... by this all men know..."

Our actions speak far more loudly than our words. I may not be able to speak openly about Christ in my workplace, but my life and my actions can scream His Name. I am a hard worker. I strive to be fair and not show favortism. I don't talk about co-workers to other co-workers in a derogatory way. If I see something that needs to be done or a paper that got left on the floor, I pick it up rather than waiting for someone else to do it.

I Peter 2:12 says, "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God..."

Perhaps one of the best compliments I have ever received was when a man stopped me near the office kitchen one day and asked me, "Jenny, you're a Christian, right? Like a born again Christian?" I had never talked about my salvation with him before. It made me feel so good that he just knew.

Just like that one candle that lit the front of the sanctuary during the Christmas Eve candlelight service tonight, one small light has the ability to light an entire world without ever even speaking a word. In a day when the Name of God is not allowed to be spoken in many places, the light of Christ can be weaved throughout the tapestry of everyplace our feet lay rest.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Who Am I?

"You're being naughty!" my six year old scolded his younger brother as we were getting in the car this morning.

"Mommy, he just said I was naughty!" came the retort from my little rambunctous, red-headed three year old.

"Are you being naughty?" I asked in return.

"No, I'm a good boy," came the answer.

"Well, I think you are a good boy, too so don't listen to what your brother says about you."

That was how my day began. Not long after that conversation I got to work and started going through my emails. My office is now open 24 hours a day 365 days a year. That means that some employees have to work on Christmas Day. And guess who gets to make the decision of who works and who gets to spend the day with their family? That's right. That would be yours truely.

Actually it has gone pretty smoothly since the announcement was made that we would be open. At first, I was afraid I might need send out the notices and run before I received any offers to meet someone in a dark alley after work! Instead, I have actually been overwhelmed by some of the responses from people who have offered to work on Christmas Day in order to allow their co-workers the time off instead. It has turned out to be more heart warming than anything else.

In compensation for having to work the holidays, the company has offered the scheduled employees another day off in exchange. That's where I am right now in the process. Scheduling all of the comp days. In the past week or so I have made some decisions to try and help employees get the time off they wanted before I begin approving general time off for 2011 later this week.

Sometimes good intentions don't always go as planned and I have learned that it is impossible to please everyone. That was made clear as I read through the emails in my inbox this morning. At first I felt upset about one message in particular that had been sent to a supervisor and forwarded on to me with inaccurate information preceeding it. Thankfully I save everything and had the accurate original information. Misunderstandings are one thing and are certainly going to happen from time to time. But when I felt that my character was called into question, it ruffled my feathers a little bit and it sort of hurt my feelings.

"I'm not naughty. I'm a good girl," I thought. Or something to that effect anyway.

That's when I was reminded of the conversation between the boys in the car this morning. The world may say what they will about me, but I know who I am.

I am a child of God. John 1:12

I am a branch of the true vine, and a conduit of Christ's life. John 15: 1,5

I am a friend of Jesus. John 15:5

I have been justified and redeemed. Romans 3:24

I have been accepted by Christ. Romans 15:7

I am joined to the Lord and am one spirit with Him. I Corinthians 6:17

I am no longer a slave, but a child and an heir. Galatians 4:7

I am redeemed and forgiven by the grace of Christ. Ephesians 1:7

Because of God's mercy and love, I have been made alive with Christ. Ephesians 2:4-5

Not that it doesn't still hurt when we have character attacks but if you are a child of God, then you can claim all of the promises above as well. For me, it helped to bring things back into perspective.