Sunday, April 29, 2012

Preaching to the Choir

First of all, who is the choir?  Generally when someone says, "I know I'm preaching to the choir," they are speaking to a group of people who are assumed to be the faithful or loyal to the cause.  The choir is often the group of people who comes in early to rehearse and hears all the cues and knows what will be spoken and get a "behind the scenes" look of things.  Do those things in themselves qualify one as holy?  Do they make one guiltless and sinless?  Who is the choir?  The choir is me in many instances, and I'm sure most people can put themselves in the category of "choir" in many circumstances.
There are times when we think being in the choir is a ticket to exemption from a message or a point.  One might think, "certainly this is for someone else."  Often when a minister or speaker is sharing his/her heart and pouring out a message that was given to them by Holy Spirit, they ask of the listeners to search themselves.  I experienced that this morning in our church service.  My initial thought was, "I think I'm good in that area."  He asked for a response from the congregation and very few outwardly responded.  He asked that even if you don't have this conviction, please respond so that those who respond don't feel alone.  Still, very little response.  God put a message on this man's heart and he shared it with the passion that God put there.  Was he just preaching to the choir?
While I don't presume to know the hearts of man, I doubt that there were only a small percentage who should have responded.  Why are we so immovable?  Why are we so apathetic?  The Spirit is moving and we must respond and remove ourselves from an "exempt" status to a "vulnerable" status.  Our mindsets must move from, "It's not me!" to "Lord, search me and show me."
Here's an example direct from the "choir."  As a team of worshipers, we were required to file music at the end of each encounter.  Different people would do it, but there were only 6 of us.  Somehow, the music was not in alphabetical order every time.  All of us are intelligent women.  All of us know how to file music, but somehow, it wasn't always done correctly and all of us complained.  The interesting part is that none of us were the one who filed incorrectly.  Apparently at least one of us made a mistake now and again.  I suspect that each of us made a mistake, but none were willing to admit it.  (If you are one of the 6 reading this, please know that it is not accusation, but observations from my perspective.  I love you guys and if the alphabetizing is perfect now that I'm gone, I guess I was the only culprit.)
Apply this to the choir.  Obviously when God gives a message to one of His messengers, it is for all those who have an ear to hear.  Often when I have delivered a message to a congregation or to a small group, God meant it for me first, but wouldn't have burdened me with it further if it were not meant to be shared.  I don't want to have an apathetic heart.  I don't want to be unmoved when God speaks.  I don't expect that every person should outwardly respond to every altar call or every challenge from a pulpit.  I do expect that even the elect, the choir, the elders, the congregation, the leadership whatever name you give to it must first examine themselves and respond as God would have them respond.
Perhaps I have it all wrong.  Perhaps I am the only one who immediately thinks of someone else when I hear a challenging message.  Perhaps each person responded in their heart even though the Pastor implored us to move forward in response.  That is not my place to judge and I hope I am not being judgmental.  I just noticed my own apathy and non-response when I should have responded.  The reward for response was His freedom!  I couldn't ask for much more than that.
God has given us an opportunity to hear His message.  He has sent an invitation, "Come."  Just as when we each receive an invitation to a party or celebration.  The same invitation is given to each invitee, the host doesn't beg for each guest to come.  In fact in a parable Jesus told, the "choir" or "choice guests" all had excuses why they couldn't attend the wedding and their invitations were given to those on the street.  I just don't want to miss my invitation again.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Philippians 4:12-13 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
These past few months have been an adjustment for our family.  We moved and found a  new church family and began homeschooling.  As my husband said the other day, "we are happier as a family than we've ever been."  That is true we are being united into a family unit unlike we've ever experienced.  There are those few hitches, though.
While we've lived on 1 income for 2 years now, I've learned a lot about budgeting and living without the excess.  There was a lot of excess that I threw away or gave away to prepare for our move too.  Wow, I can't believe how much stuff I've collected through the years.  We were essentially debt free before our move and now we have a few moving expenses and a few bills that couldn't be covered because of  the move.  Well we have a house to sell to take care of those things.  The problem is that the house needs to sell for us to gain the benefits of its sale. We also need to sell a car to pay last years taxes and buy some other things.
Our single income is better than it had ever been and we now have health insurance.  I don't notice the insurance as much because I've learned to live through illness instead of seeking a doctor and God has blessed us with no serious illnesses since a few weeks before I resigned from my job.  I am so grateful for that!  We always have food for the table and it is relatively good food.  We always have enough to pay for all of our bills and have never over in our bank account since we've lived here.  We bought a house in our new location.  We own dependable vehicles.  We get great hand-me down clothes from various places so we are well clothed as well.  God has provided for us!
Lately I've found myself grumbling a lot about the things I don't have.  My steam mop broke, my weed eater broke, my large crock pot broke, our house hasn't sold.  We have to pay a lump sum in taxes while many others get large refunds.  I was comparing what I have and what I do and what I owe with that of other people.  I was griping because our house hasn't sold.  I was complaining because God told us to move here and so our house should have sold right away and our car should sell so we can pay our other bills.  Complaining, complaining, complaining.
The NIV says in Philippians 4:12 "... I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation."  I know this secret, it is Christ!  On Wednesday evening, our Pastor shared and I can't remember his point, but I can at least paraphrase his statement that really hit me hard.  He used the example of a mother working hard to prepare a meal and everyone gets to the table and complains about what has been gifted to them.  Those complaints are just like saying that what has been prepared for them is not good enough.  So as I had been pondering the Philippians verse for several weeks now, Pastor's words struck me in the heart.  When I grumble so much about what I don't have, I'm in a sense telling God that what He has provided is not good enough.  I may say we're as happy as ever and inside I'm griping and whining and discontented.  I've had to backtrack and apologize to God because His provision is more than enough.
When we can't go to the swimming pool every day, we will be together using our imaginations and creativity to enjoy the family that God gave us.  When I don't have extra money from the sale of our house and the lesser payments we need to make each month, I need to live a more disciplined life.  I am not as wasteful of the provisions He has given to us.  I am not as wasteful of the time He has given to me because I have to be more deliberate with my planning.
In the last 2 days of reflections, I'm learning to thank God for His provisions for me and my family.  I am learning not to complain in my heart about the things that we cannot afford right now.  I will strive to control my conversations when someone asks if our house has sold and guard my heart from anger, bitterness and discontent.  Many mothers cannot stay home and enjoy their children in the way that I get to enjoy mine.  This joy that I have is not always laughing and feeling on top of the world, but it is an inner fountain that is irreplaceable.
God is good!  He is Good!  His provision is more than enough!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

10 minutes

So what can I say in 10 minutes unrehearsed?
I probably can say a lot, so lets go!
I have been in a state of awe regarding the crucifixion and resurrection and Passover realities. I've read and studied the Word this week, but nothing really has penetrated as much as knowing that my Savior chose to give up His life in a brutal excruciating way so that I may have life.
I was talking with my Mother-in-law yesterday and this revelation is what guides our actions. We ask Him to increase our revelation and He does.  When He increases our revelation we are now responsible to do something with that.  Do we reject it?  Do we chew on it?  Do we try to prove/disprove it?  Do we test it?  Do we quickly accept it?  Do we search it out?  How do we deal with revelation?  If we choose to do nothing, we have done something which is closest to rejecting it.
Each time I read the Word, it is new revelation to me.  Yes, even John 3:16.  Our pastor preached on John 3:16 Resurrection Sunday.  After hearing it over and over again in my lifetime, it still makes a difference to me and I can still actively listen to a message where that is the only scripture shared.  What do I do with this Word?
Sometimes I read to just get my time in and a lot of that time, the reading doesn't penetrate me. Sometimes, I read too much at a time to actually let it penetrate me.  I really need to take a portion of scripture and stop when I am being ministered to by it and chew on it more.  I don't think reading the Bible in a year is wrong and actually it is one of my goals, but I need to do more than just read it.  I need to let it read me.  I need to let it penetrate my heart.  I need to consume it!  So my new personal challenge is to take the Word.  Read my daily segments that will get me the whole book in a year AND I'm going to start with at least 2 days a week, meditate on more than what I've read or what is in a devotional guide and search Him out.
There is my 10 minutes and a challenge for myself.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Crucifixion

Often I find that others say what I feel better than I can say it. This 6 1/2 minute video really says a lot.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

His Blood

These are Holy days.  We remember Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross, His burial and resurrection.  The purpose was for my salvation and he bore my sins upon Himself.  Let me not forget this sacrifice. As I walk through these next few days, as well as all of my days, may I do all things and remember You.  May the work of my hands be as unto You in every way.  I don't want to take your sacrifice lightly.

Help us to hear Your words as we partake the Seder tomorrow.  Bring revelation.