The Point of Temptation

I love chips.

I love to inhale chips.

It is completely dangerous for me to be around a bag of chips, because I will eat it all, by myself.

The big problem is that chips make my tongue very, very happy, and my digestive system very, very unhappy. I’m on a fairly strict diet for health reasons, and if I stick to it, I feel great.

If I inhale a bag of chips, I do not feel great. It takes me a day or two to recover.

But, oh, when those chips are being shoved rapidly into my mouth, I don’t really care how many days it will take to get back to normal. It seems worth it all.

Until the second after I’m done inhaling the bag of chips. Then, I am usually overcome with guilt and remorse, and it does NOT seem worth it AT ALL.

Obviously, I have issues with chips.

I was thinking about all of this awhile ago when I was leading a session on resisting temptation. Eating chips is not usually considered sinful behaviour, but for somebody like me, sometimes I wonder….

Those moments of pure indulgence do not do good things for self-control, and they also don’t do good things for my family. My mood is affected by what I eat, and if I feel sick and crabby for a day after an encounter with some chips, it really doesn’t seem fair for everyone involved.

But what happens so often is that we focus on the actual act of wrong-doing, and feel bad about what we’ve done, but we don’t see the big picture. We don’t recognize all the little steps that led us up to the big moment when we caved.

For example….My moment of weakness did not happen when that bag of chips happened to be sitting there in front of me in all its salty, greasy glory. It happened already when I was at the store, and I was pushing my cart past the chip aisle. When I paused there, and started to imagine how delicious a bag of chips would taste…THAT was my moment of temptation.

And resisting in that moment would be a lot easier than later on. At my first point of temptation, all I would have to do is keep my cart rolling straight, instead of turning down the chip aisle.

(Totally outdated picture, but it’s the only grocery shopping picture I have! And I find it funny that although it’s taken two years ago, there’s a bag of ripple chips in the cart!)

Later on, I would have to resist that bag of chips in many other more difficult situations – like when I see it sitting in my pantry repeatedly, day after day, until I break down and eat it. Or I would have to resist it at a party, when the bag is sitting open on the counter. Or I’d have to stop myself in the moment when my hand was in the bag, reaching for another handful, after already consuming half the chips.

But it’s soooo hard to stop then! I want to keep eating until they are gone! (I realize that at this point, you might be thinking I’m completely crazy, and needing some serious help. I would just like to point out that people are either moderators or abstainers – they can do things in moderation, like eat only one cookie, or they are the “all or nothing” type, meaning they would eat the entire bag of Oreos. I would eat the entire bag of cookies.)

I once read a fantastic article about bad habits and how to break them. When you have a problem area in your life, it helps to identify not just what the area of temptation is, but also what leads up to it.

When specifically do I crave chips? Can I stay away from the chip aisle completely when I shop? Can I make sure not to shop when I’m hungry?

When am I most likely to be led into temptation, and how can I avoid those situations in my life?

Today I had to explain to Anika what it meant to “flee from the devil”. After clearing up the difference between “flee” and “flea”, I explained that when we feel tempted, God tells us to RUN. As fast as we can, in the opposite direction.

I must flee from Ripple Chips, as fast as my legs will take me.

I also need to recognize the little choices I make, and be aware of what direction they are taking me.

Okay, confession time! What’s your weakness? And what leads you to the point of giving in?

Pouring Everything At Jesus’ Feet

Well, I feel like we’ve had a few weeks of me baring all of my ugly insecurities and secret thoughts. That Beth Moore. She unearths all kinds of unexpected junk. Here’s a list of the topics we’ve covered in this little series on insecurity:

Introduction: Insecure Much?

Part 1: What’s Your “One Thing”?

Part 2: I Want to Be the Best

Part 3: When We Try to Play God

Today we’re going to look at a story from the Bible that has been one of my favorites for a few years.

It’s the story about the woman who pours perfume on Jesus’ feet. There is something that has always made me feel slightly uncomfortable about that story. I think it’s because it’s a story about a moment so intimate that you almost feel like you shouldn’t be part of it – kind of like when you catch a couple kissing when they think they’re alone.

Or like the time we turned our baby monitor on, and instead of picking up our base, it picked up our neighbor’s base, and we could hear him singing his little girl to sleep. (Different house, so you don’t have to try to figure out who it was!)

Some things are so beautiful and personal, you feel the need to look away, but at the same time, you don’t want to, because those moments are like a window into a person’s soul. You feel like you just want to catch a glimpse…

The story of Jesus being anointed with perfume is one of those glimpses. I’ve read that story so many times – I can still remember the illustration in my old Picture Bible: with her long, long hair, bending over Jesus feet, crying and wiping, completely broken before Him.

That picture in itself is a beautiful, vulnerable thing, but there is another whole dimension added to it – she was displaying that vulnerability in front of a room full of men.

Because of being a woman, she would already have been looked down on, but even more so because the Bible specifies that she “had lived a sinful life”.

I try to imagine what she must have been feeling that moved her to do what she did…

Have you ever been in a place where Jesus has gripped your heart? You’ve gone to the depths to clean out the junk from the past, you’ve been showered with His grace, and you feel so full of Him, so grateful and humbled and broken but whole? Nothing really matters but being one with Him. You want to get as close as possible, and desire a way to praise Him enough, thank Him enough for all that He’s done.

I imagine the woman feeling a bit like that.

So she got out the alabaster jar of perfume, took it to the home of a Pharisee, went into that room full of men, and worshiped Jesus in the most whole way that she could – all of her, poured out. Her perfume, her tears, her hair, her heart. All of it at Jesus’ feet, with everybody watching.

And it didn’t matter to her that everybody was watching, because all she cared about was Jesus. Her heart was so full, Jesus was all that mattered.

There are many, many times I’ve thought about that when I’ve been in a room full of people.

I want to live a life so full of Jesus, my heart so full of thankfulness and worship and love, that I don’t even see, don’t even care who is watching or what they think. I want to rise above every insecure thought I’ve ever had, and permanently live in a place where Jesus is everything, and always enough.

I want to be vulnerable, and I want to serve and love Jesus with my whole being, to the point where I pour out everything.

Because you know what Jesus said in defense of that woman? When Judas spoke up and voiced his negative opinion about her actions, Jesus said,

“Leave her alone….Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me….She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:6-9)

Amazing, isn’t it? “Wherever the gospel is preached…” She just poured out her heart, and Jesus took it as the ultimate act of worship.

He called it beautiful.

It makes me wonder how He feels when we allow the lies of this world to creep in, and we start to feel ashamed, inadequate, ugly, unwanted, unworthy. We hide some parts of ourselves away, and curl into ourselves, because the most precious things we want to protect. We couldn’t bear if someone who saw it would mock or criticize.

But that guarded spirit can be contagious. Others can feel it when we are not transparent and vulnerable. So they start to hide certain things away, too. And before long, we end up in a world where a certain image is everything, and we must be so careful to portray only a carefully constructed front.

And the people who are comfortable with public displays of crying, perfume-dumping and hair-wiping are considered the weird ones.

But Jesus calls it beautiful.

Insecurity is a slippery thing. It can disguise itself in many ways, as we’ve talked about over the last two weeks. It can dampen our spirits, break our souls, and cause people to hide their true selves. It can hinder the way we worship and live out our relationship with Jesus.

What would happen if we would decide we don’t want that anymore? If we would embrace those vulnerable moments, and courageously worship in a transparent way?

I think Jesus might call  it beautiful….

How are you doing? Do you feel like you can show your true self? Are you free to pour yourself at Jesus’ feet, or do you hold back because of who is watching?

Showing You the Way

I taught my last Counselor-in-training session yesterday. It has been great, and I’ve loved it.

I’ve heard that the one teaching is the one who learns the most. I think it’s true.There is one truth that has come out over and over again for me over these last few days, as I’ve taught about prayer, reading God’s word, sanctification, and loving others. The truth is that I get out what I put in. If I love God’s Word, it will show. If I spend time talking with my Father in private, it will show in public. If He is making me new every day, it will show.

If I don’t do those things, I’ve got nothing to show.

And I think that showing is the very best way to be a witness. Live a love for Jesus in a way that is true, and that can’t be contained, and He will take care of the rest.

I was reminded of something Donald Miller wrote in Blue Like Jazz:

I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.

 

When I Start Believing That What is “Good For Me” Is Hard and Horrible

The story of Jesus miraculously multiplying the bread and feeding four or five thousand people has been told to any child attending Sunday school enough times that it can lose its impact at a fairly young age.

Last night I flipped open my Bible to the bookmark, and there we were, at the feeding of the four thousand. I wasn’t confident that new life was going to be breathed into that one for me, which just shows my lack of faith.

However, I prayed for some fresh insight, and sure enough, it was right there waiting for me.

I started reading about how Jesus had been teaching crowds of people, but everyone was getting hungry. The disciples wanted Him to send everybody home, but Jesus said, “I can’t send them home without food – they will faint.”

I really hate to admit it, but for years, it has seemed as though my default setting in regards to prayer, and miraculous intervention from Jesus, has been to believe that He will always choose the hardest option for me to go through. I can pray for deliverance in times of trouble, but deep down, without even consciously realizing it at first, I really believe that He will do “what’s best for me”, which will, in my mind, always be the hardest option.

What is “good for me” will be the hard road, because it will develop my character, and strengthen me, and develop lovely things like perseverance.

I somehow keep falling back on seeing God as an “Oatmeal God” – while everybody else around me is having Fruit Loops for breakfast, my Father makes me eat oatmeal – without any sugar – because it’s good for me.

photo   © 2010   Terren , Flickr

So I eat oatmeal until I feel like I can’t bear waiting any longer for a miraculous change in hard circumstances, and someone is always guaranteed to come along and say, “God will never give you more than you can bear.” I am so tired of hearing people say that, for two reasons:

  1. It often feels as though God is giving me more than I can bear.
  2. Ben says that this idea is not actually Biblical. The Bible doesn’t promise that, but it does promise that God will give us the strength we need to face life’s troubles.

So I carry on with my oatmeal that’s good for me, longing for a miracle, but knowing that it’s better for me to keep plugging, even if I get very weary along the way.

But I read about Jesus standing up for his people. “We can’t send them home! They’re too hungry, and they will faint. It is too much for them to bear.” They had human limits that Jesus knew about, and cared about, and provided for….in the most unexpected way.

He can be trusted. He doesn’t just relentlessly keep pushing me until I break, all for the sake of growing my faith.

He care about my limits, provides for my needs.

He makes something out of nothing, for the deliverance of His people.

He looks down on me fainting with hunger, or sick of my oatmeal, and He doesn’t heartlessly say, “Oh, well, it’s good for you.”

At just the right time, never late and never early, He will deliver me. And it will all be worth it.

It always is. Those Fruit Loops taste so much better after all that oatmeal.

How to Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Ride

I’m pretty good at worrying. It’s one of my skills that I’ve been practicing for most of my life. I also put a lot of effort into getting worked up about nothing.

I realize that Christians aren’t supposed to do that. So in addition to “worrying” and “getting worked up about nothing”, I am now working on “surrendering everything over to God”, and praying a lot for “peace that passes all understanding”.

Given my experience with the skills of worrying and getting worked up, I found it funny that the story I read in my Bible last night has never stuck out to me before. I was reading in Mark (chapter 4:35-41, to be exact), about the time when Jesus and his disciples were in a boat, and there was a huge storm. The disciples are freaking out, but Jesus is asleep. (I really enjoy my translation: “Jesus was asleep on a cushion.” Sounds very comfy, and reminds me of a cat.)

Anyway. Jesus was asleep, so they woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

I actually burst out laughing, because I’ve totally said something like that to God before. I have these needs that could definitely be qualified as emergencies in my mind, and I’m praying about them like crazy, and it feels like God is doing NOTHING. So because it feels like He’s doing nothing, I get all frustrated and impatient, and finally burst out with, “Don’t you care?!! Why aren’t you doing something? Don’t you hear my prayers? Don’t you see my suffering?”

As I read further in the story, I found that Jesus simply got up from His cushion, “rebuked” the wind, and made the storm stop. Just like that, everything was suddenly calm and peaceful.

In the midst of the storm, it seems to go on forever. But how long does it take for God to move and act, and accomplish the impossible?

About two seconds.

And when everything is suddenly calm and peaceful in my own life, and He’s got everything under control, I find myself sitting there with my eyes still red from crying, my nose running, and suddenly feeling incredibly foolish for getting so worked up about… nothing. It’s over, just like that.

Why is it that whenever I have to wait awhile for God to move, I immediately jump to the conclusion that He’s not going to do anything?

So the storm is gone, they’re sitting there in the boat in shock, and Jesus says to them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Reading that story, it all looks so simple. Of course Jesus was going to do something. Of course they would be fine in the storm. What’s the worst that could happen – the boat would capsize, and they would all drown? God in heaven would say, “Well, Jesus was supposed to die on a cross to save the world from their sins, but before that could happen, He drowned in a storm. Oops.”

Ridiculous. We know better than that.

But do I? In that particular story, I do. But if I truly knew better than that, I could stop worrying. Forever.

David Livingstone wrote, “I am immortal till my work is accomplished.”

There is  nothing to worry about, nothing to fear, nothing to get worked up about, because the storm in my life will stop the second that my Father sees fit. My circumstances can change in an instant, if that is what He wills.

And so I am free to go about living life and following Jesus with reckless abandon, because my life is in His hands.

What is stopping me? My lack of faith.

Fortunately for me, that’s something that God can help me with too. I’ve always loved that verse about the man who asked Jesus for more faith. We often think we have to muster up more of that one on our own, but we don’t.

So that story last night reminded me to pray for faith, and then hang on tight and enjoy the ride.

photo   © 2008   Josh Giovo , Flickr

Anyone else out there who’s with me in the struggle to have faith and trust God?

 

When Church Hurts

It seems as though there are many people who grow up believing that Church is supposed to be a safe place, filled with kind, loving people who love Jesus and never make mistakes.

Church is supposed to be a place where everyone is welcome, where there is always someone ready to lend a helping hand, and where we are safe to be ourselves.

That sounds fantastic. Really. But I keep hearing about situations where Church has not been those things for people. I just talked with somebody a few weeks ago who said he had “given up on church”. And that makes me so sad.

When Church is working well, it is a beautiful thing. But when it’s not working well, it is a heartbreaking mess.

What do we do with that? Church is full of people. Therefore, there will always be a bit of a mess involved. People make mistakes, and hurt others out of their own hurt, and do things in Jesus’ name that have nothing to do with Jesus.

And then people give up on “Church”, because Church is supposed to be safe and loving and the Bride of Christ. But sometimes the Bride gets nasty.

I used to be angry with Church. I loved Jesus, but the whole idea of “membership” seemed very ridiculous to me. Why would I want to be part of it? I saw a bit too much of the painful side of Church, the side that can destroy lives. I kept attending Church, but I had pretty low expectations. Church hurt me, too.

But there’s a song we used to sing when I was in Bible school. There’s a line in it that says, “Stand up Church with broken wings. Fill this place with songs again…”

Whenever I hear that someone has been hurt by the Church, that line pops into my head, and I have a picture of the beautiful Church, wounded. She was meant to fly, but she lies there broken.

When we see Church as needing to be the perfect place, filled with perfect people, who always meet our expectations in the perfect way, and always know what to say or do, and never make mistakes, or hurt us, or disappoint us, we have made it into something that it’s not.

We will always be disappointed by people, but we will never be disappointed by Christ. When we look for Christ in people, we will have love for them. When we look for Christ in the Church, we will find Him. He’s there, amidst the imperfection and pain. He hurts, too, along with the Church and with us.

When we look to Christ to meet our needs, rather than people or Church, we will be satisfied.

I heard a message by John Maxwell once in which he talked about happiness in marriage. He said that if we look to our spouse to make us happy, it will never happen. But if we look to Jesus to make us happy, our spouse will add to that happiness in infinite ways.

That’s like the Church. If my life is full of Jesus, it makes me so happy to meet with other Christians at Church. But if I’m expecting the people in the Church to meet all of my needs and demands so that I can then find Jesus, I am in danger of being very disappointed.

I believe that there is a place in the Church for people who can’t find Jesus on their own, and they need some help along the way. But true help will only come from being pointed in the right direction.

But let’s be realistic here – with thousands of years of hurt and bitterness involving the Church, a few little words typed out here is really not going to solve the problem. And that makes me very sad. I have a feeling that “the Church with broken wings” will remain that way until Jesus comes back. He will restore His Bride on that day.

And she will be beautiful, the way she was meant to be. Don’t give up on her!

Food For Thought

Today we’re going to talk about food.  And maybe about giving food up, self-control, and fasting.

I’ve been struggling with writing about this topic, because there are just some things that are socially unacceptable to talk about – how people spend their money, how they are choosing to parent their children, and their eating habits. If you want to make someone’s defenses go up super fast, one of those topics should work out very nicely for you.

So, why would I choose to talk about food, fasting, and eating habits, when it’s a topic that can make people feel uncomfortable??

  1. Fasting is a spiritual discipline.
  2. I’ve spent the last four years of my life seriously overhauling my eating habits, so I tend to think about it a lot.
  3. I’m going to share personal experiences, which no one can argue with, because it’s my experience. I know nothing about your experience. I would never ask, because I usually try to stay within the bounds of what is socially acceptable…(Although I might need to check with Ben to see if he agrees with that statement. Maybe sometimes I don’t try very hard…)

What does God have to do with food? Well, fasting was pretty popular in the Bible, and I believe that it’s something that we should still be doing today.

However, I’m not the best person to write about that, because I’ve fasted only a handful of times in my life.

I have excellent excuses. My doctor has told me that I need to eat every two or three hours because my blood sugar does wonky things if I don’t. Since I have started doing this, I have felt a dramatic improvement in my life over what I felt like before.

Fasting does not go together very well with wonky blood sugar.

Being a mom of young, active children does not go together very well with fasting with wonky blood sugar.

So, I’m working on this one. I’m thinking a mini retreat in the fall would be wonderful. Ben could take care of the girls, I could get away for a day, and wonky blood sugar would just be part of the plan.

I used to use this as an excuse to not fast, ever. But lately, I’ve been feeling that since I know it’s something God wants me to do, I need to trust Him with all of my physical needs, especially the ones that come up because I am obeying Him by fasting.

Obviously, I’m not going to get crazy with this, and fast often, or for long periods of time, but I’m thinking I’ll start really small, and see how it goes.

Why do I think it is important to do this? Two reasons.

The first is that in the New Testament, Jesus talks about how his disciples were not fasting “while the bridegroom was with them”, but implied that once He left, they would fast.That seems to suggest we should, too.

In Psalm 35:13, the Psalmist writes about how he “humbled himself with fasting.” I know that not everyone believes that we need to fast, but I believe that there is much benefit to being humbled in that way – brought to the point where a very basic need is surrendered to God, so that we are continually reminded of our need for Him.

The other reason I think it’s important is because I want the Holy Spirit to control my body, not my stomach. Oh, this is a such big one, guys. It is so big, in fact, that I’m going to have to save this one until tomorrow, or else this post will get honkin’ huge. Plus, it’s the part that is more uncomfortable for me to share, so you have a day to brace yourself….

See you tomorrow!

For Times When I Want To Be in Control…

I like to be in control of my life.

That’s kind of a problem, seeing as there are so many aspects to life that I am not in control of.

I’ve spent years dealing with the struggle between the desire to be in control, and the conviction to surrender everything in my life over to God.

From what I’ve seen, heard, and read, I know that I am not alone in this struggle. It’s one of the big struggles of the Christian life – surrendering to God, giving up control. I spend a lot of time feeling frustrated – I want to surrender control to God, but I have all this energy and emotion that won’t co-operate. What do I do with it all?

But I had an epiphany last night.

I’ve been reading The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin (which you will hear much more about yet, believe me, because that book is amazing), and she ended the book by observing that one of the biggest ways that her Happiness Project made her happy was by giving her control of her life.

But here’s the thing: She didn’t get control over what happened in her life so much as she got control over her reaction.

I’ve been seeing my desire to control as such a weakness – a bad desire that I must get rid of, in order to surrender my life to God.

But the Bible makes it clear that God wants us to be in control of certain things – of our reaction to things, of our thoughts, of the choices that we make.

Self-control is a Fruit of the Spirit. We are told to take every thought captive. We are told to “consider it pure joy” when we face hardships.

Control over the right things in our lives is actually a good thing.

It only becomes wrong when I try to control things that are not mine to control.

What if I have a desire to control because God gave it to me? What if each of us has a God-given longing for self-control, for the ability to choose grace under pressure, for the ability to rise to the occasion, and control the things that He desires for us to control?

What if every time I’m frustrated about my lack of control in a situation, I switch my focus to control my reaction, instead of the situation?

No, I won’t end up getting my own way, but at least I would have a new direction to point my energy and emotions. I would still be surrendering to God what He wants me to surrender, and would get to work on controlling the stuff that He’s actually given me responsibility for.

And now all of the calm people of the world, like Ben and my dad, are probably reading that and wondering why on earth it took me nearly 33 years to figure it out.

I can’t control when I get an epiphany. Since I am not one of the calm people of the world, some of these things take a little longer…

What I Learned From Staring at a Tree

When I think of the term “meditation”, one of the first pictures that pops into my head is of Rafiki the monkey in The Lion King, sitting cross-legged in a tree, humming with his eyes closed, and pressing his middle finger and thumb together in each hand. It’s a big stretch to get from Rafiki the monkey, to meaningful meditation as a spiritual discipline.

Meditation is a spiritual discipline that sounds a lot more mystical and intimidating than it actually is. Chances are good that most Christians who spend extended time praying have actually “meditated” without intentionally trying to do so.

Here’s how I found that out:

A few weeks ago, Ben wanted to do something special for me on one of his days off, so he offered to take care of the girls so that I could go down to the lake for an hour or two. He knows how much I love to do that – it’s my peaceful spot. I have spent hours and hours down there, enjoying the view, thinking, praying.

It was kind of a cold and windy day, and none of my usual spots were very comfortable, so I did something totally different, and went to sit by one of the cabins. I couldn’t see the lake quite as well from where I was sitting because of all the trees in the way, but everything is so beautiful here at camp that it doesn’t really matter what direction you look in, you’ll get a good view.

But something unexpected happened to me as I sat there.

I sat there for a long time, just unwinding. The day had been busy, and I had many, many thoughts crowded into my head. For about half an hour, I just kept releasing things, one at a time. A worry or concern would pop into my mind, and I would take it, pray it over, and surrender it to God. I would sit there for a moment, and then another thought would come, and I would do the same thing. After a long time of doing this, over and over, I felt much quieter, more at rest.

I sat there for a while, not really thinking about anything in particular, staring off at nothing. After a while, it started to register that I had been staring at a tree that was right in front of me. I started to study it more closely – I thought about the roughness of the bark, the patterns, the colors, and just let it sink in how beautiful bark is. I don’t ever really notice bark. But something about it got my attention that day. I can’t really put into words how impacted I was just by God’s creation of… bark.

photo © 2005 Mikhail Esteves | more info(via: Wylio)

Then I started to think about the other trees surrounding me. There were so many, all so beautiful. I started to think about how old they were, how long they had been growing there, part of camp for much longer than I have been. I started to feel very small – not in a bad way, just in a way that made me feel very much a part of all of God’s creation. So much has come before me, much will come after, and all of it with the purpose of glorifying God in whatever way He intended it to, all of it created by His hand, for His glory.

It was just me and the trees out there.

It’s really quite difficult to describe my thought process in all of this, or even to explain why it was all so meaningful. But it all come together in my mind to create this amazing experience of worshiping God, and enjoying His creation. Becoming aware again of how I’m just a small part of this huge, amazing plan in this beautiful world.

I sat there in the quiet, and the verse that kept coming to me was, “Be still and know that I am God.

Be still. Everything was so still. The trees were still and I was still. I kept wanting to be productive. I kept wanting to think up new things to write about. I kept wanting God to inspire me so that I could keep DOING. And yet I kept being reminded to be still. Don’t do anything, don’t accomplish anything, stop working, stop planning, stop writing blog posts in my head, and just be still. It can be so hard to just be in God’s presence. I know that I don’t need to earn His love, and I don’t need to keep trying to be good enough, but my actions would suggest otherwise. I need many more afternoons of meditating on the bark of a tree, remember to just be still.

I came back so refreshed, feeling like my thoughts had gone on a good wandering.

And then a few days later I read what Richard Foster had to say about meditation. And it turns out that all of what I had been thinking about had been….meditating. I wasn’t trying to. It just kind of happened.

I learned that meditating is basically emptying your mind of all the clutter of this world, and allowing God to fill it with Himself. It is possible to meditate in a way that isn’t specifically spiritual – it just ends at the emptying part. But because of my relationship with Jesus, the experience goes one step further, to the point where I am filled with the things of Christ.

God “speaks” to us in so many different ways – through His Word, through creation, through experiences, etc. This time, it happened to be the bark on a tree, but each time, He teaches me something new and different. Meditation happens whenever I quiet my thoughts and my heart, and allow God to fill me with Himself. Meditation happens when I sit there, “chewing” on His words – allowing it to soak in, really letting it rest in my mind, not just reading straight through a passage of the Bible without stopping to take it all in.

I realize that there are a lot of different opinions about meditation. There is a lot of information out there about how meditation is New Age, and that emptying your mind is dangerous, because Satan can disguise himself and control a person’s thoughts when they are in this vulnerable position.

But I don’t feel like meditation is something to be afraid of. I think that we should always be careful to “test” our thoughts – bring them to God and ask Him to convict us of anything that doesn’t come from Him, and hold them up against what the Bible has to say.

And if we do those things, then I think it’s okay to rest in God – to trust that He will guide and direct our thoughts, and bring us to a place where our perspective is put back in it’s proper place.

So those are my thoughts on meditation. Go find some verses or a great sunset, and do some meditating!

My new favorite quote on meditating : Muddy water becomes clear if you only let it sit still for a while. (No idea where Ben got it from, but when I heard him say it, the visual image stuck with me!)

 

Favorite Posts From This Past Year

At least, favorite serious posts.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read the stuff I’ve written this last year! You guys are the best.

10. Been Thinking About The Unexpected

9. Chucking the Five-Year Plan (Part Two)

8. Cheesecake, Beth Moore, and Changing the World…

7. Been Thinking About Fishing (or “How Prayer is Like Fishing”)

6. When We Share Our Stories

5. Please Think I’m Special!

4. Been Thinking About Hearing God’s Voice

3. Learning to Face My Secret Fear

2. Reaching Out To Touch His Robe

1. My Thoughts on Witnessing (Part Two)