Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Money and Manna

So, a bunch of newly freed slaves are traveling through the desert and realizing, "we're in the dessert. what are we going to eat!?!?! (Read this excerpt from the story...I promise it's relevant!):

"And Moses said, "this will happen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning. . . . " So it came about at evening that quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew had evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine cake-like thing on the ground. When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded, 'Gather of it every man as much as he wants to eat: you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.'" And the sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. . . And Moses said to them, "Let no man leave any of it until morning." But they did not listen to Moses, and some kept it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul." (from Exodus 16)

This is such a cool part of the story of God, because here God is providing food for literally thousands of people-- daily-- as much as they could possibly want. But every night the leftover food (the food that they tried to hoard and save up for themselves) would rot. Why? Well I'm sure God has a lot of reasons for doing things that I am not aware of, but ONE reason I think is because God wanted to teach them that HE is their Provider- and that His children are to trust Him to "show up" again tomorrow and give them what they need.

The past few months our finances have been a little scary. Like, we literally have JUST enough to get by every month. It kind of reminds me of the bread God provided for the Israelites in the desert. I can tell He is saying, "Trust Me. I'm your Provider, I will give you what you need...be confident in Me, not your savings or your large income."

This is really challenging me because beyond our monthly financial situation, we've felt led by God to take a number of different trips this year. None of these trips were a result of "wow, look at all this extra income- let's go on a trip to celebrate!" Every time we decide to commit to going on a trip that we're not sure if we can afford I get really anxious and wonder how we're going to survive (I'm a little dramatic sometimes, I know, but seriously!) and every time, God provides. It's honestly a little ridiculous that I still don't trust Him! No wonder we are compared to sheep in the Bible...don't they have like a 2 second memory?

Ok and last but not least, here's one of my favorites:

"But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." Jesus (Matthew 17:27)

For real, Jesus made money appear in the mouth of a fish so that the disciples could pay their taxes! And then I worry and wonder how He will provide. I love how good our God is and how He is constantly reminding me of His ability and His desire to provide.

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly more than all we ask or imagine...to Him be the glory!"
Eph. 3



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Paul Tripp on the Kingdom of Hannah

One of my classes this semester is a marriage counseling class, taught by Dr. Paul Tripp (he's pretty legit, and has the mustache to prove it). Anyway, while it's been enlightening for me as a married person and a marriage "counselor", it's also been enlightening for me as a Christian in general. One of the main themes he talks about is the war between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Self.

Luke 17:21 says "the Kingdom of God is within you" or "among you"...which means that it's not just this heavenly place where we'll all sit on clouds and play harps- it's a place where God is King. God can be King within me when I choose to forgo that extra 10 minutes of sleep and help my husband study his Hebrew flashcards (believe me, that's a HUGE sacrifice for the Kingdom of Hannah) or when I choose to offer the bigger piece of cake to someone who might not actually see me take the better one for myself (again, big Hannah sacrifices..) and God is King within our midst when we as a group of believers submit ourselves and listen to His voice.

So that's all well and good- easy for my to wrap my mind around. But recently Dr. Tripp threw a wrench into my two-dimensional understanding of all this when he started talking about how often we're so blind to our sin that we let the Kingdom of Self parade as the Kingdom of God.

Most people who know me know I'm passionate about international missions. I get so swept away with ideas of "following God's call" and "giving my life away" and poetic generalizations about going "to the ends of the earth" etc. etc. Now I really believe that desire is from God and that missions is an incredible, wonderful, important, and non-negotiable aspect of every Christian's life, BUT when my (delusional) vision that I have for my own future becomes something that keeps me from living well in the present, that's not the Kingdom of God. When I create a hierarchy of holiness and decide that serving others in Africa is "better" than serving others in Dallas, that's not the Kingdom of God. When my discernment about the failings of the church in America (whether or not they're accurate) causes me to become bitter and sarcastic, that's not the Kingdom of God. What's scary is often I think these symptoms are evidence of holiness when in fact they're evidence of hypocrisy.

So all that to say, God is revealing a lot of the deception that is in my heart and teaching me more about what He is truly like, and how He truly calls me to live. More on this later :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

God's Fridge

A missionary that I admire once spoke on ministry, and how all of our best attempts (and even our most “successful” encounters) really don’t “impress” God. In the grand scheme of God the Artist, even the most gifted or qualified person’s ministry looks like childish scribbles. Don’t let this depress you- because God the Artist is delighted with our efforts to please and emulate Him and He hangs them on His fridge. He doesn’t mock our ultimately silly imitations of what we’ve seen Him do, just like a good father doesn’t mockingly point out that houses aren’t really purple and Daddy’s legs are disproportionately long compared to the rest of his body (good thing too, or my artistic endeavors would have been crushed long ago!)

This weekend my husband and I shared Jesus with the guy next to us on the plane and with our taxi driver, and we had no idea what we were doing. We made somewhat of a mess of things and walked away thinking “we have no idea if that went well or not!” And the feeling I got was, “that’s OK.” I think our silly little pictures of love for God and our messy attempts at sharing Him are hanging on His fridge right now.

(And I'm never going to get better at doing the things I want to do (ie. share the Gospel!) if I don't actually do it and learn as I go. There's no class I can take that will prepare me for perfection before I just start opening my mouth! That is one of the things God likes about our scribbles, I think. Because then we're giving Him something to work with!)

So yea, God's fridge has a lot of "purple houses" on it that make Him smile.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Silliness

Here's a brief update for those of you who just want to know what life is like right now and keep asking me (and I keep not answering). But be warned, I'm being totally and completely amazed by all God is and is doing right now, so a more heady blog post will be coming soon!

Three 8 year old girls and I did some serious artwork at Purple Glaze and then got ice cream (chocolate in a chocolate cone with chocolate sprinkles):

My husband and I carved our first Halloween pumpkin. We had to turn the pattern upside down to make him a happy pumpkin. We named him Fred and put him by our door. Wouldn't you want to be greeted by this happy face? (Looking at this picture I'm realizing how much Fred and Michael look alike!)

We drank obscene amounts of coffee on our 15 hour drive to Ohio over the weekend...

...via Memphis, where we got the biggest rib plate I'd ever seen! (Beef ribs are bigger than pork ribs, we learned)

And we ate the leftovers the next day.


Once in Ohio, we went to a wedding where we got to see a flower baby in a basket!!!


And here's a snippet from life back at home. This is not a reenactment: my husband can actually sleep like this.






Monday, November 1, 2010

Not a "good, Christian girl"

I'm working through a book right now that is addressing some issues I faced when I was younger. One of the questions I'm supposed to answer in this workbook is, "Think about your secrets. Why would it be terrible if people learned the secret?" So in other words, I was trying to think about why I hid what happened to me and some of my behavior from people when I was younger and this answer popped into my head:

Because people would think I'm not a "good Christian girl."

Which immediately reminded me of a story I heard today of a pastor who was listening to a talk about sex at a youth conference. The speaker held a rose in his hand as he was describing various sexual activities that a person can partake in (ie. sex before marriage, adultery, etc. etc.) and as he was describing them, he was ripping a petal off the rose with each description. And by the time the rose began to look damaged almost beyond recognition he held it up to the crowd and said, "now who would want that?" And this pastor wanted to stand up and scream "JESUS WANTS THE ROSE!"

That is the Gospel. I am NOT a "good Christian girl." I am a tattered, broken, defiled rose and Jesus still wants me. He still loved me and picked me up and covered me with His righteousness and gave me a new name and a new identity- His own. My acceptance before God has nothing to do with how good or bad I've been, it has everything to do with Christ and His unmerited goodness and mercy toward me.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come... For our sake God made Christ- who had no sin- to become sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21

"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.