Lessons learned for the Christian life.

Lessons Learned On The Lawn

     I have spent the better part of the last year feeling utterly defeated. I have prayed, I have talked to friends, I have talked to my pastor, I praised God through the storm but nothing seemed to lift the cloud. I realize, and have written about, the fact that we can't spend our entire lives on the mountain top. Would it be so much to ask though for just a few more mountain tops and not so many valleys??

   Those who read regularly will know that I have a plan to be out of debt this year, and that I am doing some pretty unusual things to save money like making my own shampoo and household cleaners. Well my newest brilliant idea came to me when my husband informed me that it was going to cost about $200.00 to get the lawn mower riding again this year. I just thought, jeeeez really, what next?!?!?!

   I did some math (on a Saturday of all things) and figured I could save money by getting a manual mower. I brought the thing home and put it together and started pushing it back and forth on the grass, which in some places is pretty steep. It went along pretty well... for about 45 seconds. Then I hit that first acorn, the mower came to a stop and I just about went flipping over the handlebars.

   I managed to free the acorn and get back on track. It wasn't long until I felt that same jolt that meant that I would again need to stop and pry something loose from the blades of the mower (a small stick this time).  Right about then is when I started rethinking this whole work hard and save scenario. I wanted to pack that joke of a mower back up in its neat little box and carry it right back to Lowe's and forget the whole mess.

   Isn't that just how we sometimes treat the Christian life. We grab a hold with both hands and take off in a straight line, then we inevitably hit an acorn or a stick that stops us in our tracks. How many times do we pack it up and throw it back in the box, forget living this life, it's too hard.

   I am not going to get all metaphorical and equate the sticks to sin or trials. I will tell you that after a bit of a pity party I got out in the yard with the help of my kids and cleared away everything that might trip me up or get caught in the mower.  I still ran into a few that we missed, and again had to stop the whole operation to clear out the blades, but I got through it. I am still trying to clear out all of the acorns and sticks from my Christian life, something seems to be snagging me up as I try to push ahead, so I stop for a minute (or a month) and just try to figure out what I comes next, but I don't give up. I keep trusting in the One that saves me.


Let's Make A Deal

   We have all done it, you know.... Try to bargain with God. I have done it more than my fair share of times.
"Oh God, if you will just let this hangover/trouble go away then I will never drink again."
"God if you would please just see fit to help me pass this test that I didn't study for because I was too busy watching tv/talking on the phone, I will be a model student from now on...I will even get straight A's, God"

   I really could go on, but you get the idea. When I think of God, I think Almighty, Powerful, In Control...... not wheelin' and dealin'. In fact, I sort of wonder how insulting it must be to God when we try to buy him off. Like he was an unruly 2 year old that we are trying to bribe into eating their vegetables.

   I was reading Judges this morning and was completely disgusted by the deal that Jephthah offered God. He promised to sacrifice the first thing that walked out of his house to greet him when he got home if God would give him victory over the Ammonites. We already know this isn't going to end well, it isn't like his pack of cigarettes, or cinamax, facebook or something else we readily think of when people are giving things up for God- those things aren't going to get up and walk out of his house. And I do not think that at that time they have their pet beagles in the house with them. So we pretty much know this is going to be a person in his house... maybe he hoped it would be a servant.. maybe he knew it would be someone he cared about like his wife. Turns out God did give him victory over the Ammonites, so when Jephthah went home and it was time to pay up his beloved daughter, his only child, walked out to meet him.

   This is where things get a little gray for me, I mean it isn't like God offered him the deal, God wasn't asking for the sacrifice of his only child, and God certainly could have made sure that the town felon would exit the house as Jephthah came home instead of his child. But I have to wonder if just maybe this is meant to show us just how much we offend God when we try to buy His favor.


What is your FIGHT SONG

   For those of you wondering why I haven't posted anything in 8 days... well I got a little behind. When I say a little behind what I mean is that I didn't read the book of Joshua at all. I don't even know what happened, I guess those old quitter habits got the best of me again. I will make up Joshua but I started back this morning where I should be and that is Judges. It took me a few minutes to get back into the swing of not glazing over the words and letting the Holy Spirit speak to my heart while I read, but once I did it was a doozy.

   First of all, let me say that I am thrilled to pieces that there was at least one girl prophet/judge. Deborah struck me as the kind of girl who told it like it is. She told Barak to takes 10,000 fighting men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun to face Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite kings army.

   O.K. so here is where it gets funny, Barak, a military chief <so, I read> who has an army of 10,000 men will not go out to fight unless Deborah  A GIRL!!!! goes with him. Deborah agrees to go but she tells Barak that he will not be honored for the victory- a woman will! I literally LOL'd at that part.

   So, just like Deborah said a girl gets the victory, in a rather gory way I might add, she hammers a tent peg through Sisera's head and into the ground.

   All this is awesome of course, but it wasn't until I was nearly finished with today's reading that God hit me over the head with today's insight.  Judges chapter 5. Deborah and Barak start singing a song about the victory.

   Judges 5:15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah and Barak.
      They followed Barak, rushing into the valley.
   But in the tribe of Reuben
      there was great indecision.
 16 Why did you sit at home among the sheepfolds—
      to hear the shepherds whistle for their flocks?
   Yes, in the tribe of Reuben
      there was great indecision.
 17 Gilead remained east of the Jordan.
      And why did Dan stay home?
   Asher sat unmoved at the seashore,
      remaining in his harbors.
 18 But Zebulun risked his life,
      as did Naphtali, on the heights of the battlefield.

  The clans of  Reuben, Gilead, Dan and Asher are getting called out for not taking up arms and joining their brothers in battle. I went back and looked at chapter 4 where Deborah tells Barak what the Lord says “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: Call out 10,000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor. 7 And I will call out Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.” It doesn't say anything about any tribes except for Naphtali and Zebulun. Apparently though, they were still expected to get off of their rears and help, even without the invitation to do so.

   All of that to say this, when the battle is over and we head "HOME" and the fight song is ringing out. What will be said about you? Did you sit at home because no one asked you to do anything or will you notice the work others are doing and get involved without an invitation to do so? I don't want to be remembered as someone who watched from the sidelines, I don't think there is a second string in the Kingdom.

Sunday Psalms 117

Psalm 117

 1 Praise the Lord, all you nations.
      Praise him, all you people of the earth.
 2 For he loves us with unfailing love;
      the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.

   Praise the Lord!

Less Talk, More Praise.

Josh Wilson I refuse

Casting Crowns Glorious Day
Mercy Me God With Us



I know I struggle with it. I know I desire to have it—more of it, all of it—all the time. Can you sense why this may be an issue for someone who wants to be fully surrendered to the will of God? I feel like Gollum (from Lord Of The Rings. I frequently show my NERDness with these sorts of illustrations) when he gets all crazy wide-eyed at seeing "THE RING," and says, "We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us!" If you have seen the movie, you know that this little creature goes straight-up berserk when he loses that ring.

That is how I feel when I am not in complete control of any given situation. I can rationalize (rational lies) this compulsive need if I try hard enough. I was married to an abusive drug addict that tried to kill me—frequently. So to someone who had no control over whether they were getting beaten or held hostage, control can seem like something they want to get and keep.

More recently, my controlling ways have kept me directly outside of God's will. I served as a worship leader at my church for two years, then stepped away from that due to stress, a bit of a burn-out, and feeling called into another area of ministry. For a few weeks, I was blissfully happy not having to deal with people not showing up to practice, finding songs to sing, putting together PowerPoint presentations, etc.

Then there was this gnawing ache within me. I felt like my puppy died. I was mourning the loss of a ministry that God had gifted me for. I will not deny that I needed a break, time to gather my thoughts, focus on my relationship with God, restore my soul, and renew my love for music and worship, but I do not believe He intended for me to quit the position like I did. Now it has been a couple of months, everyone is asking me when I will sing again, and one of the leaders that took over for me left our church. I can feel God leading me back to the worship team. I called up the pastor, he seemed thrilled at the idea, and spoke with the group I used to lead. Great! They wanted me to come back! I went to church the next day feeling pretty good, happy to get back into the swing of things, and discovered that my team is following another leader. (Can they even do that?) My role is being filled by someone else. She is arranging the practices, selecting the music, and—dare I say it?—telling me what to do!


I actually went home that night, after telling them that I wasn't ready to come back after all, and told my husband that if I couldn't be in charge, then I didn't want to play—errr, sing. As soon as the words left my lips I was so ashamed. Lord help me, I know that this isn't about me. I do not want my life to be the "Angie Show, Starring Angie!" I want to live as a humble servant whose life reflects Christ.

Humble—wow. Isn't control all about pride? I don't want that. I don't want any part of it. I know what happens after pride shows up. Control is something that you can never have enough of, like an addiction. I am going to have to surrender (relinquish control) of my control issues to God and live every day trying to kick the habit. I guess this means that when I show up for practice next week I will be eating a big fat plate of humble pie.

And I intend to relish every second of it.