Monday, January 19, 2009

Testing


Yesterday at church our pastor taught about testing. I really don’t like that concept or want to think about it. Yet it seems that the Bible is pretty clear that God tests us. So I can’t keep running away from that fact. The other reason is that I began to get the sense as I was listening that perhaps I had been tested in November and December – and failed.

So why would a loving, all knowing God test us? I mean God knows my heart. He knit me in my inner most being. God knew I would fail so why would He test me? Then the answer came to me. Next time maybe I won’t fail. Or maybe it will be the next time after that. Eventually I will be strong enough to withstand the trial.

I took a course on how to study before I started university. One of the things I learned from the course was that the best way to study was to test yourself. The method I used was to make a list of questions. By doing that, I was rarely surprised by any question on the test. I actually learned way more content than was tested.

I wonder if I had recognized that I was being testing if I would have acted differently. Maybe next time…

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Be Real


I was watching my pastor’s teaching online today because I had missed the service on Sunday and I thought I should catch up. I have to admit that I often find ‘vision’ services annoying and something I put up with because I am a part of a church body. I knew that the teaching had something to do with vision because I had seen the first little bit a couple of days ago. I watched the rest and it intrigued me.

What I heard was that he characterized his vision for Soul Sanctuary as being real. I had to stop. Most people would probably say that I had that down pat… I mean I post honest and authentic articles to my blog. I am approachable and easy to talk to. I don’t pretend to be okay when I’m not. Still I sense a challenge in that.

To be honest about being honest… I am selective about what I share. Sometimes that is because it is not wise to post some details to the internet. However, more often that not it is because I don’t want to talk about something or admit something. There is often a long lag in posting to my blog because I don’t want to post until I have come out of something. Maybe that’s okay but I also tend to distance myself from others when I feel that way too.

Even when I do finally share I noticed that I tended to smooth out the rough edges. Instead of talking about sin I talked about darkness. I talked about making bad choices to deal with my pain. I never admitted that I made a series of choices. I never admitted when I was going through it that I was being tempted.

Even beyond the honesty in being real, I sense a greater challenge. Being real is also about being authentic. There was a list of questions in the teaching. Are you praying, are you reading scripture, are you worshipping, are you giving, are you in community? I have to say that I have not been doing all of those things consistently.

In the fall I had a vision of a group of people who would strive to be disciples together. They would pray together, they would lift each other up. They would confess sin. They would have words for each other. They would be reaching out to others outside of the group. That is my prayer for Soul Sanctuary. My prayer for myself is that God would use me somehow to make that happen.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Be Still


So as I mentioned in my last post I have started to read the Bible every day. My routine is to read first thing when I get up. Before I went back to work I had a nice routine of getting up, making tea, then sitting down to read the Bible. Of course I was pretty well rested by that time too. Now I am getting up really early so I can be into work early. AND I am making sure the read the Bible.

The thing is that I find the quality of this time is much diminished from when I was reading when I had the luxury of not reading at 6am. Now I read much in a fog and I was starting to doubt if there was a point. Yet this morning God shone through again. I was reading the story of Moses when I came to this verse:

“The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.” Exodus 14:14, NIV

I have been moving forward by changing residences and by waiting for God’s direction in ministry. That has been very difficult and I went through a tough time. Last night I met with a friend who offered me an opportunity to be part of a ministry that I think will be fulfilling and brings me nearer to who Jesus wants me to be. I am excited about finally moving forward. You see God asked Moses and the Israelites to move in big ways. But He also asked them to be still. I could see that in my own life.

In November I sensed God telling me to just wait – that He had something for me. But I was restless to the point of wondering if there was anything left for me to hope for. I gave up to a certain extent. And God has rescued me. I have many reflections on what I have learned... about how I got to where I did. But I am also excited to move forward.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Psalm 103


Psalm 103:1-22 (NLT)
A psalm of David.

Praise the Lord, I tell myself;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
[2] Praise the Lord, I tell myself,
and never forget the good things he does for me.
[3] He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
[4] He ransoms me from death
and surrounds me with love and tender mercies.


So it’s been a long time since I last posted. I even had a really hard time writing my Christmas letter. I got it in just under the wire. My Christmas cards went out late so a bunch of people probably got them after Christmas. I was trying, then I stopped trying, then I started trying again.

Throughout this time God has sent people to rescue me. Particularly one day, right at one of my darkest moments, someone showed up at my door. They didn’t go away when I didn’t answer. They pulled me up. That day I purchased a new Bible and I came across this Psalm. I have been reading the Bible every day since. I have been holding onto this Psalm because this is who God is.