Sunday, February 27, 2011

What to Do When Your Noes Knows No-Noes

So my life happens. and, yeah. the strangest things remind me of God and the different lessons He’s taught me. I thought I’d share kind of an odd one.
I work at a preschool. My office is the same room that also stores giant paper rolls, the copy machine, and the laminator.
The laminator is used at least once a week, and every time it is turned on, a hot, metallic, smokey smell fills my office. you know, the “laminator” smell. But I “live” in it, and after a few minutes I barely notice it anymore. Well, one step out into the hall lands me in the center of baby-land. the one-year-olds and their abominably tragic diaper scent competes with the sweet potpourri smell of the front office. most of the time i just crinkle my nose and pass on through, but sometimes it’s so awful I step back into my office for a few minutes, until the scent dissipates. 
Here’s what cracked me up last week: A teacher from the one-year old class came out of her (what I thought) awful smelling classroom and into my office. You know what she said? “Phew! That laminator stinks!” I had to chuckle. I couldn’t even smell it, and here was the teacher who dealt with stink-bombs fourteen times per day, commenting on how bad MY laminator smelled.
And that’s when my mind jumped into “practical application” mode.
A lot of times we walk into other people’s lives and say, “phew! your life reeks!”. But, if they were given the chance to walk into ours, they very well might say the same thing.  WE ALL HAVE STUFF IN OUR LIVES THAT STINKS. YES. EVEN YOU. So here’s the pre-point: Living in it, we often become immune to our own sin-stench, and only recognize the bad in others. So when you walk into something of someone else’s that stinks, don’t forget, they’re not the only one with problems. Do a me-check too.
I DON’T WANT TO STOP THERE, THOUGH. You see, i think that all too often in today’s Christian culture we stop at the “we ALL have stuff” part, and make the main point, “don’t judge” “be understanding,” etc, because we don’t want to offend anyone. Or even worse, we don’t want to deal with our own stuff either. We use the line “judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matthew 7) and at the same time forget the encouragement of Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” 
Paul doesn’t suggest “Only If your closest friend is in the greatest of imaginable evils,” he says, “if ANYONE is caught in ANY transgression” restore Him in a spirit of gentleness.

This can go two ways. One, I believe is wrong. One I believe is what Christians are supposed to do ALL the time.

The wrong thing would be to go up to every believer you meet and tell them what’s wrong in their life. That’s not edifying. That’s not what God has called us to do.

The RIGHT thing is to encourage one another to do right always. (1 Thess 5:11) In wisdom, encourage the people God has placed in your life. You don’t have to go looking for people to correct, there’s plenty to do right where God has led you.
If we were on a trip together and you saw me about to walk into a deep, deep pit, would you wait for me to fall in, then come help, saying, “I saw that coming, but I didn’t want to upset you. Can I help you try and fix this mess you’re in now?” Oh, I hope you wouldn’t! 
And in the same way, I hope I will always have the courage to confront you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, in an effort to help, out of the great love I have for you in Him. 
God wants us to encourage each other to live lives of godliness. To grow closer to him, to become "Holy as I am Holy". (1 Peter 1:16)
Left to my own devices, I’ll get comfortable where I’m at, and become a lukewarm follower, my sanctification process stalled. WE NEED each other to spur one another on to good works, (Hebrews 10:24) which at some times will involve dealing with sin-issues. 
My prayer and encouragement is this: that you would pray with me. 
1. For God to open up our eyes and hearts to receive admonishment with humility.
2. For God to open up our mouths and arms, to gently admonish our brothers and sisters in love.
May we do these things in the hope of glorifying God all the more- becoming a brighter testimony to the world, and a more free community of believers. (Phil 2:15-16;)
When your nose knows, don’t just walk back into your own stuff! 
walking (and sometimes stumbling) toward holiness,

Extra Verses:
Col 3:16
Rom 14:19
Rom 15:5
James 5:16

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February 9, 2011. best day in all of my nearly 20 years. (verbose title, i know)

Okay, seriously, there are days when I’m so shallow minded that I run into the bathroom wall because I was looking in my mirror. (slightly embarrassing, but true)
And then there’s days that I go out of the house without even glancing twice, ‘cause there are just more important things in life, you know?
Well. let me say, the ninth day of this February was a new day entirely. how i looked, where i went, blah blah blah and all that stuff didn’t matter. at all.
God, on the other hand, COMPLETELY overwhelmed me. completely.
You see, it started in the morning, when God blessed me with a gift, an amazing confirmation of my Summer plans. Yes, I will be going to Slovakia. I’ll let you know the dates as soon as I buy my tickets. :D

That was enough to keep me smiling for weeks, but
Then. Ohhhhh then! it’s hard to write it in words, but I’ll do my best...
In chapel, I was teaching a lesson on God’s Great Love. I basically went through the plan of salvation, like, full on. Yes, to two, three, four and five year olds. No, I did not preach fire and brimstone, condemned to hell and the like. I focused more on the idea that those with sin could not be in Heaven with God. That was enough to mortify them.
Especially after I pointed out the fact that WE ALL HAD SINNED!
Oh no! We couldn’t be in heaven with the Holy and Perfect God. what could we do?!?
Well the simple fact is, we can do NOTHING. No. Thing. At. All. 
I paused and let that sink in. Most kids were listening, but when you’ve got over 60 kiddos under 5 years old in one room, hey, you can’t expect them all to listen at the same time... someone’s gotta go potty, or their friend is sitting just a bit to close and needs to know they are free to scoot over, or the teacher will be told, etc...
but back to the story... we could do nothing. 
BUT GOD loved us so much, that he sent His Perfect and Holy Son to earth, to save us. and Here’s what he did. He took our sins. in His own body. and he Died. HE DIED. With OUR sins. 
“Now, friends,” I said, “If you have sin, can you go to heaven with God?” *they shake their heads no* “Jesus just took ALL our sins. By that rule, can Jesus go to heaven?” The WHOLE ROOM was quiet. (that’s a miracle all by itself) EVERY EYE was on me. EVERY EYE was wide open in horror. I’m sure I had every child believing that Jesus wasn’t ever allowed back into heaven, because he had sin. Which wasn’t exactly my intention, but to them, it was over. done. gone. dead, dead, dead. Jesus had no hope.
“But, friends,” I said, “after Jesus had been dead for three days, the POWER OF GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD AND INTO HEAVEN. HE WENT TO BE WITH GOD! and not only could He be with God, but OUR sins were forgiven too, and WE COULD BE WITH GOD!!!”
This is the best best part, the reason I’m telling you the whole story, right here, right now:
At hearing this, the whole room (still recovering from shock) was quiet. 
And then it happened. A sound. A joyful little clap. A HAPPY clap, an overwhelmed-at-such-good-news-that-i-don’t-know-what-else-to-do clap.
A little boy from a three-year-old class began clapping and smiling with EVERYTHING he had. Oh, the precious joy that spread through the chapel. Every child clapped. Some shouted “hooray”. Because Jesus is ALIVE and He made a way for us to be in Heaven with God.
Oh. the joy. I thought my heart would explode. It was such a sweet moment with “my” kids. I had to keep myself from skipping around town, hugging everyone I met. I won’t ever forget it. and I hope they won’t either. I pray that their little hearts will be turned toward that powerful God who loves us enough, that He sent His own Son to take the punishment WE rightfully deserve. Oh my dear. Oh. How can you not clap, Jump, Shout with Joy, knowing that wonderful, wonderful truth?
I hope you believe it. I hope you are overwhelmed when you remember what Christ has done for you.
These are the verses we are learning from this month:
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
   God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 
1 John 4:7-16
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 
Go ahead. Clap your hands! Give Him Glory! 
He loved you. Believe it. 
He LOVES you. Live like it.

so that's pretty much why February 9th was the best day I've had. ever.