Insufficient Funds!


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Ask yourself some questions she told us:

Are you surrendered?

Are you content?

What’s not sufficient to make you content?

Ouch.

Some people say God’s in the healing business; I say he’s in the hurting business!

Hurts so good though.

I received a pretty good kick in the pants at our annual ladies’ retreat with one Mrs. Penny Soboleski. She reminded us of last year’s theme and challenge: surrender. I didn’t really know last year what I needed to surrender, but I was willing to do whatever God asked.

Well he knew what I was ready for and when. He asked me this year, not to surrender but to be content. This year’s theme?

Contentment

 

1 Timothy 6:6 – Contentment with godliness is much gain.

II Corinthians 12: 7-10 – So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,[a] a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

So many terms here to understand and apply: surrender, contentment, sufficiency! Let’s look at a few:

Contentment: Miss Penny gave us a working definition for contentment as being: Believing God’s provision is sufficient

Discontentment:  My expectations not being fulfilled

Then she asked some questions:

What have you surrendered or surrendered to? I have surrendered to staying home, having seven children, and home educating us all.

She told us: You can be surrendered and still be discontent. (This was such a helpful distinction!!)

What are you discontent with? I am not content staying home

What are you not satisfied with? What is not enough for you to be content? …

Me. I am not enough.

Oh.

What is it I lust after? To be esteemed, recognized, successful. These things do not happen in my home. I am a terrible organizer, I am not patient and kind.  I am not a fun or crafty mom. I am a horrible house keeper. I have nothing I am doing in my vocation that makes me feel good about myself.

 

I am insufficient.

 

“My grace is sufficient for you.” “My strength is made perfect in your weakness.”

I’ve heard these phrases a hundred times at least, haven’t you? I have not had a clue how to apply them other than to just believe them.

 

But when I looked up the Greek words contained in these phrases some understanding and power were unlocked for me.

1) Content – there is “content”, autarkes- be self-content, self-sufficient. Not meaning “self-made man” but, there are things we can content ourselves with – sufficient for one’s self – as in Paul’s epiphany: I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Phil 4:11, also 1 Timothy 6:6 – contentment with godliness – self-satisfaction – is much gain.

2) Content – then there is “content” which is “sufficient” – arkeo – be possessed of unfailing strength – be enough – not connected with “auto” i.e., “self”. – My grace is “enough” for you. II Corinthians 12:9. The rest of the verse explains why we have to learn to settle for God’s grace – yes, settle: for my strength (dynomis – as in dyno-mite) “force” is made perfect (consummated!!) in weakness (lack of strength. feebleness).  When God says, “enough”, we have to learn to be content with what he calls sufficient. Sometimes we are dis-content with the amount or the extent of his grace; but

never

the

less

it is perfect – complete for what he has purposed.

There is an amount, a length, a measure of contentedness and sufficiency God has equipped us with in our person we are allowed and even expected to utilize: autarkes.

But there is also a measure that is short and unable to measure up: weakness: astheneia – God has purposed as well.

And to the extent we don’t allow for that weakness, that feebleness, that failing to manifest, the more we cover it up, avoid it, and cope with it, the less we are operating in God’s strength. The less it is conceived in our bodies and minds and spirits.

Did you note “consummated”? You know – that mystery that happens on the wedding night – or used to only happen on the wedding night? it is the physical and spiritual union of the husband to the wife. His strength. Her weakness.

We don’t like to be weak, to be vulnerable. In essence we don’t like to receive because it means we need.

But if we act like a scared or scarred bride on her wedding night – not allowing or receiving her husband’s strength – then we will not be consummated in God’s strength.

I told you I am discontent with staying at home because I feel unable and ill-equipped to accomplish success in my home. I need someone else’s strengths to shore up all my weaknesses: non-administrative, non-organizing, impatient, unkind, unmotivated, etc… on and on and on.

And here is God offering me his “dynomis” – his force, his strength, his character.

But I don’t like these thorns that keep me from boasting. I also told you I desire, I lust after, esteem, success, acknowledgement. If I stay in my weaknesses then part of my problem will remain as well: I want to boast. I want someone to boast about me. In my autarkes – my own strengths, my gifts, my honed crafts – I have power, I have force.

And then, just how will God get any glory? How will his strength show through me? When a marriage is consummated there is evidence. God wants it to be evident He is in my life. But I want it to be evident I am in my life – apparently. Which just sounds silly now that I write it: I am in my life. Of course I’m in my life! Why do I need to prove it? Over and over and over? Why am I not concerned with evidencing God in my life, over and over and over?

How do I boast in my weakness?

I don’t know. But God says it’s ok if I boast in that. That’s what I ought to be identifying with: I don’t know. Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner, and save me. 

ugh!

eww.

ick.

Look at the end of verse 9 in II Corinthians 12: Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Do you ever feel like God is temporary or inconsistent?

Sometimes he’s so close, and sometimes it seems like he’s changed phone numbers! That word “rest” there means “to fix a tent or habitation on”. The children of Israel were wandering forty years in the desert. While they were being testing and tried God had them erect a temporary tabernacle they could take down and set up as they went.

I know I’m not home yet. I’ve not arrived, if you know what I mean. Sometimes I do feel like I’m wandering as I wonder. But God is here. And he’ll rest upon me – he’ll set up a habitation if I’ll but glory in my weakness and allow him to consummate his strength in me – HIS power – not my own.

God wants to habituate not visit. In my weakness God finds rest! And in God’s power, I find rest.

So, here I am, boasting in my “insufficient funds”! It may be bad news at a banking institution, but in the store rooms of heaven, my weakness makes room for the treasure of God’s grace, and strength, and provision.

 

How can you let God’s sufficiency empower your weaknesses?

Worship Me with Your Ears


rabbit

 

“Worship Me with your ears”.

I was singing loudly as usual, you know, to bless the folks in front of me. OH, and I was singing to God to bless him too. God had said to me a few months ago – while I was doing the same thing – Your voice is louder than Mine. OH, Lord. I am so sorry. I will work on this.

It wasn’t just about the singing, it was about my life. God also shared with me that I can’t hear him because I am too loud. He made me put it into practice too. It was easy to sing softer during worship time at church. It was excruciating to say nothing when my feelings were hurt by my husband. I immediately went to write a SCATHING email to him laying out in perfect persuasion and pointed passion the ways he was failing in our household and how he had hurt me. Just the second before my finger found the send key God whispered, Is your voice louder than mine? 

UGH!!

But God! This letter is the only thing keeping me from crying. I don’t want to be hurt, I want to be angry and act in that anger. I want to avenge and pillage! I had to erase the whole thing, because if I kept it as a draft, I was sure to “edit” it and send it later. I then sulked up the stairs to my bathroom where I turned on praise music and cried. THAT HURT MY FEELINGS, LORD!! Then I left it alone. I didn’t take it with me. That was it.

The next day my husband sent a text apologizing – which is a big step for him – but it wasn’t good enough for me. It was so mean, what he said to me, I wanted a full-on frontal, verbal apology. God would not have it. I walked around offended a few more days, but God would not be moved. So then I-I-I had to apologize. That’s what I get for trying to be louder than God.

 

But this weekend, God upped the ante: I want you to worship me with your ears.

In two ways he showed me I need to be a better listener. And then he gave me this word to back it up. And again, it was easier to not use my voice to worship in the congregation, but once I got home – oi vey! I have six children still living at home. I have a lot I want to say. But God wants me to listen.

So, if you think about it, pray for me – pray for me ears! Or, I suppose pray for my mouth! – that I might not open it, but instead, worship God with my ears. And, if you think about it, you might try it as well.

James 1:19

Proofing Your Faith


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Proof.

The world wants proof.

Proof God exists; that he is; that he is coming.

Well you know what? God wants proof.

Proof that WE love him. That we follow him.

And he doesn’t even want it presented to himself.

He wants us to prove to ourselves, so that we may not be deceived.

Consider these two scriptures:

1st out of Luke 13:

18 Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?

19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.

20 And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?

21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Do you know what you do with leaven – yeast? You wait on it. It has to “proof”. 1st you have to “bloom” it – sort of a 1st proof – you have to ensure it’s even active before you put it in your bread. You mix it with a little sugar to give the living bacteria something to eat, and they in turn give off carbon dioxide which creates bubbles. You do this separately, in a bowl with a little warm water. Image

If after fifteen minutes there are no bubbles, you have dead yeast. The bubbles and the “digesting” of the sugars throughout the dough, the yeast itself, develop the texture and the flavor of the dough making crackers into bread. But you have to wait. and you have to prove the yeast again.

Once you know you have live yeast you mix it in with the rest of your dough and you knead it – you agonize over it – wrestling with it creating gluten – stretchiness – in your dough. Once you have kneaded it enough for the type of bread you are making you set it aside to proof. This takes hours. And sometimes days. It is a patience-building process. You don’t make bread in 30 minutes.

Or even an hour. Image

This does two things: ensures your yeast was alive enough, and gives it time to work throughout the whole dough to cause it to rise.

This brings us to our second scripture reference out of 2 Corinthians 13:

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Prove your own selves.

Proof

 

Is the yeast of the Kingdom of God in you? Have you bloomed? Is the yeast alive? Is it active? Are you a cracker, or do you resemble the Bread of Life?

Assess your own self today and see if God exists. If you find him lacking, it is not that He is not, but that he is not in you.

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Pictures provided by this great recipe at: http://www.macheesmo.com/2010/03/chocolate-donuts/

Resolving to be Good


New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

It’s 2014! It’s a new year! That means resolutions right?

Well, I’ve already broken mine. Isn’t that pitiful? It’s only 14 hours into the new year and my resolve of yesterday is already thwarted.

What the heck?

Don’t tell me you have made it through an entire month sticking to your resolution – what about a whole year? Did you change your life because of a New Year’s Resolution?

Not me. I always have good, some even GREAT, intentions. But not enough resolve to back them up.

Makes me sick.

Makes me sad.

A couple of times, even hopeless.

So I quit making resolutions and decided to live a mediocre life. I was definitely happier not failing at living up to my potential dreams! But I knew there was always something missing. I knew I needed changes in my life.

 

What’s this all got to do with a resolution to be good? I just thought about how people, who for the most part cannot even keep a New Year’s Resolution to loose ten pounds, think they can ‘be good’ and they don’t need salvation, or religion: just resolve.

I guess I’m weak.

I guess I’m deceived.

I guess I’m underachieved.

Because I can’t do it. I can’t just resolve to “be good” – mind you, not “better than” – as most of us truly mean i.e., I’m a good person – I mean, I haven’t murdered anyone. Oh, you mean you are better than a murderer. But are you better than God – because his standard is not other human beings, who are all flawed. To live in our house and be in our family – you have to become a Floyd. To live in Heaven you have to become a child of God – and you can’t do that with your “resolve” to be good.

Thank GOD he doesn’t have a standard of “good enough”. His standard is perfection – and this is why you quit; you quit trying to go to church, to be good enough, and you think you are happy in your mediocre life. But then something happens to remind you, you aren’t quite happy, you are just settled to the fact you are flawed, most of the time. But all of the time Jesus is available as our first-born brother – because of him we can be adopted into the Family of God.

Family of God. I know they are a mess. God’s not finished with them yet. He’s finished with “his” work – Jesus as our entry – but “our” work has just begun. Not our work of getting in to the family, but now working as a family member with our family. Don’t you have a crazy earthly family? Why wouldn’t you expect the family of God, made of these earthly people, to be crazy too while we’re still here in the flesh, on earth. Don’t you want forgiveness? How about you give some? How about your resolve to be forgiving, full of the grace you so greatly need and desire. Can’t do it? Not enough resolve? That’s why you need God not a goal.

My resolution for this year is just change. I want to be more like Jesus. I am so blessed: God wants this too. So that means I’m just working on what he’s already got going. And you know how much easier it is to work on something when someone is already on it.

So, still resolved to be good – enough? Any thoughts on making resolutions and not keeping them?

Is Santa a Better Jesus?


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You better not pout. You better not cry. You better not shout. I’m telling you why…

You’ll go to hell if you do.

He see’s you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good – so be good for goodness’ sake.

Then you’ll get to go to heaven.

Who are these verses talking about? Who keeps a list of who’s naughty or nice? Who threatens, “No special gift for you if you don’t behave!”?

It’s not Jesus!

I just find it fascinating that we are so highly offended with the idea of a righteous God punishing sin, but we love to wield over our children this mythological being who has attributes of God – knows all, sees all, can be all over the world in one night, answers all prayers – he will not give you presents if you behave badly! But we don’t like the real God who sent his real son to die for our “naughtiness” so we could be on His List: The Lamb’s Book of Life (1). And we don’t have to be “good for goodness’ sake” – that’s what Jesus did for us!

It makes me think of a cosmic White Elephant Party: You can’t afford to bring the gift to take part – So Jesus paid the price, and then you get to take the gifts of salvation, life, and sonship home with you! You enter the party a stranger, you go home part of the family of God.

What exactly is it Santa gives children? A sense of a need to be good – a false sense. Parents don’t actually withhold a present – no matter how bad their kid is. So in essence, you’ve made them feel there isn’t really a standard of right and wrong – and there is no real consequence for delinquency, in fact, just the opposite: You are entitled to presents! You are entitled to heaven, and life, and happiness! “Good” is something subjective anyway – as long as you aren’t Charles Manson you are a good person, right?

Except, God didn’t use Charles Manson as our standard. He didn’t make up a fat man in a red suit either to be our judge. God says: Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect. and Jesus came down to live in the flesh so he could die our deaths for all eternity just so we could mete that standard.

I just wonder if our Santa standard contributes to our culture’s disillusionment with God – how dare God call me a sinner and my actions sin. How dare he bring consequences into my life to try to turn me around from my wicked ways. There is no God. I stopped believing in “Santa” long ago.

Santa is just a fun way to make memories. What memories are we making? Are we imparting ideas about the nature of the supernatural – that it’s not real. it’s only pretend. We don’t really have an obligation outside of ourselves to a moral existence. “We’ll get presents either way. We all go to heaven. Because we’re all basically good. That’s why mommy and daddy gave me presents and pretended to be Santa: they love me. And if we all just love each other, we’ll go to heaven.

Except mommy and daddy lied. They deceived you. They made you believe in something that wasn’t real – be it an Elf or Santa. And now, they may be internally messing with your belief in a real God. A supernatural God. A holy God who requires holiness.

Where is the “holy” in our holy day – you know, holiday? Where is THAT gift to our children? Where is THAT gift to God?

There is only one purpose for Christmas: Christ’s mass

There is only one present that is omniporant – Christ.

There is only one person who brings peace: Jesus Christ

Luke 2:13-14

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Can We Perceive Loveliness?


Is beauty in the eye of the behold, or the nature of the object being held?

Is beauty in the eye of the behold, or the nature of the object being held?

I had a conversation with my 13yo about this statement:
“Boredom is the seed of unloveliness.” Leigh Bortins refers to this idea in this video after reading a priest’s passionate book on cooking, The Supper of the Lamb. He has a chapter on smelling onions or loving onions?!
My son defined “boredom” and we defined “loveliness”. He remarked that loveliness included what is good, and “what you like”. That opened up a conversation about whether there are things that are lovely whether we see them as such or not. Is a rose lovely whether you like it or not? Is creation lovely because a loving God made it, not because we perceive it as such? Does our minute perception or opinion diminish the eternal beauty of created situations, subjects, or seasons of life?
Part of his definition of “boredom” was – not wanting to work. Yes! I am so glad he didn’t say – when there’s nothing to do, because the point of the quote is that the reason you perceive something as unlovely is because you do not want to work at seeing the lovely – if you are bored with it, it is unlovely to you – is this a correct way to assess loveliness?
What makes a thing boring – is it the hard work? Is it the lack of natural affinity – and then should an acquired affinity be attempted? – Because that strikes at the heart of the essence of Classical education – beholding the true, the good, the beautiful.
Here was a quote she also referenced from Plato’s Meno . Plato credits Socrates as saying:
“Some things I have said of which I am not altogether confident. But that we shall be better and braver and less helpless if we think that we ought to inquire than we should have been if we indulged in the idle fancy that there was no knowing and no use in seeking to know what we do not know; — that is a theme upon which I am ready to fight, in word and deed, to the utmost of my power.”
I want to convey to my children they should not be content to just be bored or dislike something – they should seek to ask why they don’t like something, and then seek to undislike it, acquire an appreciation of its inherent loveliness, and this may require hard work.
But what can I-I-I do to exemplify and inspire this attitude, or principle? I hope my children see me seeking what is true, and good, and lovely, and not avoiding the things that are hard for me.
Although, I will say I avoid housework. And as I listened to Leigh and her going through these ideas of loveliness and the passionate cooking priest loving onions, I wondered about the need for me to stop and seek the loveliness of keeping my home. – Help me, Lord Jesus!
What are some things you avoid because you perceive them as hard or unlovely? Can you see a need to ask God – how is this thing lovely and help me to work hard to see it that way too?
Some recommendations that reflect these ideas:

The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection (Modern Library Paperbacks),
Beauty for Truth’s Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education,
Meno

Who Likes Being a Failure, Raise Your Hand!


Well, you can’t see it, but my hand is not raised. I’m sure yours isn’t either. Yes, there are those of us who have resigned ourselves to failure in certain areas, or concerning things in the past. But nobody enjoys failing. Nobody likes being a failure.

What happens when your spouse leaves, or your child grows up to not be all you wanted them to be? What happens when your life at this moment is utterly removed from all you had hoped and dreams so many years ago?

failure.

Right?

Definitions are such an important part, or should be, of how we perceive a situation. Is the opposite of success failure? Isn’t that what we just said? Wasn’t what we really meant: My marriage was unsuccessful; I was an unsuccessful parent; my life is unsuccessful. I failed. I failed. I failed.

Right?

What if…

What if, God has a different definition of failureSuccess?

What if God said to you like he said to me: I didn’t call you to be successful; I called you to be faithful.

Oh.

Oh wait just a minute. Because I know I wasn’t perfect as a spouse, or a parent, or in my life, but I do know I was faithful. I never stopped coming back to you, Lord in my marriage; I never stopped looking to you for my child, Lord; I never stopped trusting you with my life, Lord. I’m hurt, I’m disappointed, I’m disheartened, but I’m not unfaithful. And neither are You.

Success belongs to God. It seems like semantics, but like a tiny seed, a word will plant and grow into thoughts, which branch into ideas, which give fruit to beliefs. What do you believe about your part in any success or failure related to your life?

Scripture tells us about one planting one watering; but God gives the increase (the harvest, the success). 1 Cor 3:6

Verse 7: So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

God isn’t looking for your works: your success! Just your faithfulness.

Even where you fall short in believing or having faith, Jesus is the author and the perfecter of such things. that means he begins our faith and he completes what we lack! Isn’t that awesome? I fail to always believe my situation is going to get better, or change but God is fully faithful, and Jesus makes up for my lack. Heb 12:2.

Put off the “old man” with his idea of  failure! Put on the new man, who only by faith and only by faithfulness should judge his “success”.

This post is part of a blog carnival you can enjoy at: http://peterpollock.com/2013/01/failures-blog-carnival/