Posted in (in)courage, Breathe, Busy-ness, Devotional Life, Forgetting, Goal, god is with us, God's Voice, Jeremiah 29:11, Rest, Straining

God Speaks

I went to the kids’ award day for the third nine weeks, watched Kathie Lee Gifford’s last Today Show, walked the dog with my husband, Mike, and cleaned out my car.  I haven’t washed or cleaned the car since we left Mt. Pleasant in July.  It was gross.  When I found this devotional book that I’ve had in there for a year or more. IMG_2570 (1) I put it in there because I often have a busy schedule.  Well, if I’m honest, I ALWAYS have a busy schedule and I need to get in my devotions when I can.  Stuck in traffic, waiting at the doctors’ office, waiting in a drive thru line, before I go into work – you get the idea of why I put it in there.  You know what?  I have used it approximately 3 times.  I check emails or I’m calling someone or ….. I’d forgotten it’s in there.

I thought about taking it to my office where all the other prayer books are.  But then, I would never use it….except for maybe a staff devotion or a devotion for church.

I subscribe to the (in)courage blogs and I know I’ve not taken enough self-care by how many blogs I have in my inbox.  (I have many.). As I was in the massaging pedicure chair, I was reading this blog titled “Here, Take a Moment to Breathe,” and at the end, lo and behold it’s the book that’s been riding around with me for years under my console.  Much cleaner, I must say.  I got the message loud and clear.

The sermon on Sunday is based on Philippians 3:12-14. The verses are about pressing towards the goal.  If we (I) don’t take time to breathe, if we (I) fill up our calendars, even if it’s doing great and worthy stuff, then we’re missing out on the richness of living the daily Christian life.  It’s not about getting little Jesus fixes, but it’s about the day to day spending time with our Creator, our best friend, the Spirit that intercedes for each of us.  

I’m going to live into these verses, “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Not rear view mirror living, but windshield living.  Taking it ALL in and straining/leaning/inching/muscling toward what lies ahead.  What’s our goal?  What are we pressing for?  The prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus?  I think it’s what Matthew 22:37-39 says “37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  

First, we HAVE to stay connected to the TRUE VINE with every ounce in us.  Otherwise we are short-changing ourselves in the abundant life that Jesus wants to give us.  Second, we have to love people enough to show them Jesus in our every day lives.  “Go ye and tell ALL the world” that I have an abundant love for them.  I want a relationship with them.  If they seek me, they will find me.

I think that’s the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus – to have our essence be so in tune with the Lord that it shows.  That IS our greatest goal in life – our greatest prize!  In her final words, Gifford referenced a Bible verse. “Jeremiah 29 says, ‘I know the plans I have (for) you, declares the Lord,’ ” she said, getting choked up, ” ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.’ That’s not just true for me, you guys, that’s true for everybody watching. Trust Him. Let Him love you like He wants to love you,” she continued. “Like I am loved by all of you.”

Looking forward to Sunday, my friends!

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Kathie Lee Farewell

Peace Over Productivity by Becky Keife

 

 

 

Posted in calling, Campus Ministry, God's Voice, Movies, Nathan, Sermons

Nathan – The Editor

This semester at Gator Wesley, we are going to use as our backdrop, Leonard Sweet’s book, 11 – indispensable relationships you can’t be without – in which he talks about the 11 people [relationships] that we need to be who Christ creates us to be – we need
• an Editor
• a True Friend
• a Butt-Kicker
• an Heir
• an Encourager
• a Yoda
• a Back-Coverer
• a Reject
• a ‘Little One’
• a VIP
• a Place
• a Paraclete – “one who consoles, one who intercedes on our behalf, a comforter or an advocate”

This week we have Nathan, the editor.

1 Chronicles 17:1-15
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
God’s Covenant with David
17 Now when David settled in his house, David said to the prophet Nathan, “I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the LORD is under a tent.” 2 Nathan said to David, “Do all that you have in mind, for God is with you.”
3 But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying: 4 Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: You shall not build me a house to live in. 5 For I have not lived in a house since the day I brought out Israel to this very day, but I have lived in a tent and a tabernacle. 6 Wherever I have moved about among all Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people, saying, Why have you not built me a house of cedar? 7 Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people Israel; 8 and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies before you; and I will make for you a name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 9 I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall wear them down no more, as they did formerly, 10 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will subdue all your enemies.
Moreover I declare to you that the LORD will build you a house. 11 When your days are fulfilled to go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, 14 but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever. 15 In accordance with all these words and all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

Have you ever heard of a “yes” man or woman? It’s a thing. Merriam Webster defines it this way, “a person who agrees with everything that is said; especially: one who endorses or supports without criticism every opinion or proposal of an associate or superior.” You will meet “yes” men all the time in the workplace. Have you ever heard of a celebrity out of control because they’ve surrounded themselves with no one that ever tells them no? I can name all sorts of actors/singers/entertainers that died tragically because they were surrounded by people on the pay roll. They received no unbiased opinions, because the machine around them depended on their celebrity for their livelihood. We can give countless examples of these behaviors…..Hello, Britney shaving her head or Justin Bieber in his latest trouble or need I even say Lindsay Lohan without images flashing through your head?

They needed someone to be “real” with them or keep them grounded. They needed an editor, like Nathan. Nathan spoke truth to power. Who’s not afraid to call you into account for your actions? Who’s not afraid to get under your skin? Who’s not afraid to gently, but firmly say that you’re acting like a jerk? That’s your Nathan.

A Nathan reveals, pulls back the curtain, to who you truly are. Recently I went on a facebook posting rampage, where I watched the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance. In the movie Bagger played by Will Smith, says, “Inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing. Something that we were born with. Something that’s ours and ours alone. Something that can’t be taught to you or learned. Something that got to be remembered. Over time the world can rob us of that swing. It can be buried inside us in the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s. Some people forget what their swing was like.” A Nathan’s not afraid of calling you out because he can see through the layers to YOU. And the Nathan’s in your life, care about and love you, but they’re not about to let you get away with anything, just like Bagger Vance.

Nathan figured prominently in David’s life 3 times. At 3 critical junctures. In the text for today, 2 Samuel 7, David had just finished building his palace. He had been greatly blessed by God and decided that the ark of the covenant, which was still in a tent, needed a permanent home. He consulted with Nathan who agreed at first, but as you hear in the passage, Nathan changed his mind because it was not what God wanted. Nathan also said some good things to David – that David’s name would be great, his people would have peace, his son would build a “House for my name,” the throne and kingdom of David and his son would be established forever, and what would later become the Davidic Covenant – that Jesus would be in the lineage of David. You may be thinking that’s not gutsy speaking truth to power, he just told him not to build a church, and he said several good things after that. Well in 2 Samuel 12, David had recently committed adultery with Bathsheba and had arranged the death of her husband Uriah. Nathan was sent to David by the Lord with a parable – a poor man had one lamb, a rich man had great flocks of sheep – a traveler came to the rich man who prepared a meal for him – the rich man took the lamb from the poor man rather than use one of his own for the meal. David heard the story and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die!” [vs5] Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” [vs7] Awkward.

David repented of his sin, and the Lord forgave him – but the consequences of his sin then meant that the child born to Bathsheba did in fact die. The sign, however, of forgiveness was that David and Bathsheba had another son, Solomon, the inheritor of the promise.

The third time doesn’t have the same sting as the Bathsheba story, but it’s important nonetheless. It happens in 1 Kings 1 right at the end of David’s life. God had made it clear that Solomon would inherit the throne from his father – when another of David’s sons, Adonijah, tried to usurp the throne, Nathan supported David rather than Adonijah. He informed Bathsheba of the plot and advised her on how to ensure the right successor. Nathan was called in by David and told to anoint Solomon king – this he did and it was proclaimed to the people.

An editor works tirelessly so that you can be the best that you can be.

“Joe Myers illustrates the editability with the story of his wife, Sara, handing him back an essay she had edited for him, and all he could see was red. Every page was dripping with blood. As he tried to find one pure white page, she said these words: ‘Joe, this is fantastic! This is one of the best things I have ever read! This is going to change people’s lives.’
‘You’re kidding. You hate it…’
‘No, I love it.’
‘But look at all the red. You hate it.’
‘Joe, I love it. I just want you to get your ideas out as powerfully as you can. Every time you see red on the page, you should hear me saying to you, ‘Joe, I love this, I love you, and I want the whole world to read this book.’”

How many times do we see the editors of our lives as our biggest critics? How many times do we see the ink all in red and think that we’re not good enough? How many times do we take personally what we see as criticism but those that love us have said it to make us better?

Leonard Sweet writes, “What makes the Nathans unique in your life is that they are fundamentally best understood as welcome intruders. They tend to pop in unannounced to take the moral temperature of a particular moment, especially at the most inconvenient and disturbing of times. But because you are already in a relationship with them, and authenticity is your brand, their temperature taking isn’t always welcome. In a culture of increasing transparency, thanks to the internet and ubiquitous surveillance (the average Londoner is captured on camera over three hundred times a day), you refuse them entrance at your peril.”

In biblical language, Nathans “speak the truth in love.” As it says in James 1:22, a Nathan is not someone who rushes to “tell you the truth” but someone who helps you to “do the truth.”

As anyone who has ever written some words on a piece of paper, it’s not always pleasant or fun to get edited. The English major in me, cringes at the thought of taking my paper to the writing center and for them to pull out the fine tooth comb or the magnifying glass to make corrections. It’s like they see my soul stripped bare and the vulnerability is apparent. They see me. In all of my weaknesses, in all of my vulnerabilities, in all of the places I would rather not see – they see me.

So prayerfully consider the Nathans in your life. You don’t want to pick a person that is critical for critical’s sake, that is destructive to your world, or does not care about your well-being. So be discerning as you notice the people in your life that make you better, aren’t afraid to give you a reality check when the situation calls for it, and do so in love.

But as you notice the Nathans in your life they have some tell-tale signs. The first is they get under your skin. They look at the inner workings of your life and are not afraid to call BS. An English teacher in high school taught me the acronym meant Be Specific.

The second is they will ask you questions. Sweet says that questions can comfort, challenge, or convict. A Nathan looks at the heart. Snow White on Once Upon a Time wouldn’t get away with the darkness growing in her heart, if a Nathan was around. A Nathan would ask the familiar words of Wesley, “How well is it with your soul?”

The third and final thing is that they will tell the truth. A Nathan helps us see the truth about ourselves – truth telling, not truth dumping. Truth dumping is when we tell someone the “truth” but we’re really giving our own opinion, and it’s needlessly hurtful because the truth teller is not seeking to make us better but is seeking to destroy, cut down, or belittle. Nathan’s words are blunt, but with love. It is said about a Nathan, “There are kinder words that could have been said to me, but there aren’t truer ones.”

My brother Josh just happens to be a Nathan in my life. You’ll meet him on fall retreat because he’s going to be the speaker. He’s not afraid to call me on the carpet when he thinks I’m not being my most Godly. But I trust him implicitly. I don’t always like what he says. I don’t always agree with what he says. But 9 times out of 10 he has a point. He has perspective on my life. Even when I don’t see it. Even when I can’t see it. He has a way of breaking through. It may take a couple of days, of inner debate within myself, to see truth in his observational interruptions, but I trust him. So I listen to him. Because I know he’s watching out for me and just wants me to be the best that I can be.

So I’m glad that Len Sweet writes, “Everybody needs a Nathan. Even Nathan needs a Nathan.” Even Josh needs a Nathan in his life.

So open your eyes to the Nathan’s of your life. Your Nathan’s may easily come to mind. They may not. But we all need them. Oprah is attempting to be Lindsay Lohan’s, but that is another story and another sermon.

Do you know what David named his son? That’s right. Nathan. And that’s the line through which Jesus came through Mary’s side. You see, the Nathan’s of your life will have a big Godly impact in your life if you will let them. May it be so.

Holy and gracious God, may we be ever on the look out for the Nathan’s in our life. That they call us into account and are willing to ask the hard questions. May you set our feet on right paths and may we walk in your ways. Thank you that we were fearfully and wonderfully made and we can rest in the promise that you will never leave us or forsake us. May you give us wisdom as we discern answers to questions that seemingly have no answers. May you give us your peace that transcends all understanding, when we wrestle or need your comfort. May you give us your grace that we may know your more fully and as we continue in your sanctifying grace to be the person you created us to be. In Jesus’ name I pray. We pray now as you taught your disciples to pray….

Posted in Busy-ness, Campus Ministry, God's Voice, Grace, Love, Mercy, Music, Providence

Can you hold me together?

There’s a song right now on some Christian music stations by Royal Tailor called “Hold Me Together.”  I know some are not huge Christian music fans and I get that, but for me, it seems that if I’m open to it, I often hear exactly what I need to hear and music seems to speak to me in ways that can break through even when my guard is up to everything else.

This past weekend Winthrop Wesley took a trip to Florida for Disney’s Night of Joy concert series.  It was a great trip and I think the students all had a good time….but it was exhausting.  Like for real, seriously exhausting.  After working all day Friday, driving to Gainesville to spend the night at Gator Wesley took a pretty big toll on my energy level.  And then getting up at 6 this next morning to get ready to drive to Orlando was a lot.  In the midst of the hustle and bustle of Disney and rides and getting people where they needed to go and answering questions, I was pretty empty.

That night at the Magic Kingdom, Christian music was playing everywhere.  Even when the concerts weren’t playing, the music on the loud speakers everywhere you went was Christian music.  It may not have been everyone’s cup of tea and for those that don’t particularly love Christian music, it may have been pretty annoying, but for me – I really, really needed to hear it.  I was on the D for DONE side and it was nice to feel God’s presence even in the midst of walking through the youth-crowded park and pushing one of the students in a wheel chair.

On the way to and from the trip we didn’t listen to a ton of Christian music and it was very much top 40 kind of stuff, and I must admit that lately in my car, I haven’t listened to a ton of Christian music.  Sometimes I just get burnt out listening to the same things or I’m just tired of noise at the end of a long day, but how refreshing is it to know that we can be replenished when we need it in some of the least likely of ways if we’re just open to it?

If we stick both fingers in our ears and scream la, la, la at the top of our lungs and don’t want to hear or see or feel the power of God, we may just succeed, but if we ask, we’ll receive.  It may not come in the form we want and we may have those seasons of doubt or frustration or questions but it’s amazing to me how faithful God is when we let it happen.  I also believe that even when we la, la, la our heads off, that God continues to seek to be in relationship with us.  God continues to want to open our eyes to mercies anew each day.  Even when we’re tired.  And our energy is shot.  God seeks to hold us together and let us know that grace covers it all.  We don’t have to always live the picture perfect, black and white, cookie cutter image, but we just have to let it go, drop our pride at the door, and be fully open to the grace, power, and life-changing hope of Jesus.

That’s something I needed today and something I continue to long for.