Friday, August 31, 2012

"Lookin' down at creation"

I got home last night (like most nights) in time to help put the finishing touches on dinner.  The kitchen at our house has a sort of gravitational pull that draws us all in, whether we're working on food, snacking on food, cleaning up food or just chilling, there always tends to be a crowd there.  For some reason last night we were discussing the shift in popular music, how rap and techno beats are fading out and more creative and alternative styles are coming in.

"I bet I could predict what the next number one song is gonna be," my little brother boasted. "Merrie, can I use your iPhone?"

Things were quiet for a little while before this horrible children's choir's rendition of an old Carpenters song started playing through the speakers.

We, being the silly individuals that we are, can be, started dancing and exclaiming how this song was just our absolute favorite ever.

*gasp* "How in the world did you find this?"

"Oh, I googled 'the absolute number one song for 2012' and this is what came up!"

"I looooooooove this song!" *spinning in circles*

"I'm on the top of the world lookin' down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I've found ever since you've been around
Your love's put me at the top of the world"

I've been listening to this awesome (and super convicting) sermon series by Chip Ingram all about love and lasting relationships while driving to and from work this past week.  He talks a lot about the difference between God's recipe for a relationship and the worlds recipe for a relationship, about the difference between love and infatuation, and he focuses on something that really hit home to me.  He said that a person who needs an "other" or a relationship to feel fulfilled is the very person who is not ready for a relationship at all.

He stresses that every person needs to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are loved, cherished and worth dying for to Jesus.  A person who knows this doesn't even need another person to fulfill them.

So naturally I've been pondering just what love looks like, just how that applies to me, and just how loved I really am. I've been thinking about it so much that I found myself singing that silly song, only now with conviction.  "I'm on top of the world, lookin' down on creation and the only explanation I can find is the Love that I've found ever since You've been around, Your love puts me at the top of the world."

P.S.  Maybe the song wouldn't seem silly if my first introduction to it wasn't through Kid History and the second introduction was someone else besides that terrible children's choir.  Anyways, it rang true for me today.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Instruction for today

"I will bless the Lord at all times.  His praise will continually be in my mouth!"

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous.  It is fitting for the upright to praise Him. 

Magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. 

Love the Lord, all you faithful people.  The Lord preserves those who are true to Him, but the proud He pays back in full. 

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. 

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before Him.

I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

"Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him.  Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken."

NOTE: There's no way I could add anything more valuable to these words penned by David so many years ago, but I did want observe the action words.  Just like Hebrews says "Labor to enter into His rest," we have to do somethings - sometimes even the action of waiting and being patient - to see His goodness.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Learning to say "Thank You."

Commence pity party
Three hours of sleep is not the best way to start a work day.  Or a work week, for that matter.  Filling up my gas tank (again) is getting hard on my wallet, and I'm really sunburned.
Pity party completed

Last night we all piled into the van.  Eleven of us with as many blankets and sweatshirts (yeah, even with the 100 degree temps) headed to the rendezvous - a poor unsuspecting Starbucks store.  We loaded up on coffee and joined the caravan.  The eleven turned into twenty seven, and the destination was still unknown.  Getting away from the city lights was the main idea.

The meteor shower was incredible.  We laid out the blankets under the stars and soaked in the cool desert air.  Dad even got to hear the crickets sing for about three seconds.  We told scary stories, lame jokes and plans for the future.  We ooh'ed and ahh'ed over the meteors streaking across the sky and tried (unsuccessfully) to convince one of the little ones that shooting stars don't make any noise, and if they wanted to see them, they needed to look at the sky instead of burying their head under the blanket.

In retrospect, it was totally worth it.   But retrospect wasn't what I had in mind when my alarm when off this morning.  Tearing my head away from my pillow was actually physically painful.

I groaned about getting up, I silently complained about my empty gas tank, and I wanted to be mad about my sunburned shoulders too, until I remembered a snippet of a conversation I'd recently had with my sister.

I was putting my contacts in as we were getting ready for the day.  I'm the only one in the house who has to wear corrective lenses besides my parents who each have their reading glasses.  The contacts are a trial pair that maybe don't quite fit right, so they're not exactly comfortable and - to be honest - I've been in this "let's feel sorry for Merrie" mood for a couple days now.

"Have you thanked God today for your vision?" I asked my sister.

"No," she responded.  "Have you?"

Ouch.  Lately I've spent so much time thinking about what I don't have that I forget to be thankful for what I do have.

The five hours of sleep that I didn't get? Well - I told you about the meteor shower already.  The empty tank of gas?  Two perfectly beautiful trips to the beach within three days.   The sunburned shoulders?  Hours of playing beach volleyball with my friends, splashing through the surf, visiting, laughing and playing more volleyball.

It's taking me a while, but I'm learning how to say "Thank You."

Friday, August 10, 2012

What Paul said...

"Brothers, I'm begging you, as the Lord's prisoner, that you would walk in a manner that is worthy of the job you are called to do.  Walk with lowliness and meekness, humbling yourself.  With endurance and love for one another, purposing to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

LA evening, thanks to Photo Pin
I was sitting on our front porch in the evening breeze, talking to my brother on the phone.  (Which was also a good excuse for getting out of the dinner dishes.)  The brother, far away from home, was telling me how he was blessed to have shared fellowship with a man who's doctrine is light years away from his own.

We got to talking about how we (Christians) tend to lend the utmost importance to things that matter so little.   Head coverings and whether or not we're supposed to eat organically.  How to spend our money and how the Bible says to get married.  What Christians should wear.  What activities they should participate in.  Whether or not to celebrate Christmas and what kind of music is glorifying to God.  When and how the rapture will happen, Calvin-ism, Armenian-ism or Universal-ism... Sadly, the list goes on and on.

Instead of spending so much time and effort trying to show other believers where they are wrong and we aright, what would happen if we focused on what we have in common?  One body and one Spirit.  One hope, one Lord, one faith and one baptism.  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all and us all.

I want to be able to look past the outside of every believer - past the appearance, the doctrine, the denomination - and be able to see the heart.  The part that's just like me.  Created by the same Creator, loved by the same God, led by the same Spirit, filled with the same hope.

It would be a major game changer, that's for sure.

"But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Working today.

"Employers around here don't hire 'Christians' because they've made such a bad name for themselves."

"Your work ethic is a huge testimony."

 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

I quit my job.  Accurately I quit my job a few months ago, back in May.  That was when I told my employers that I wouldn't be staying past the original one year commitment.  While it's a good job working for a good company with great people, it's not where I want to be in five years, (or even one year) so I severed the tie.

The quotes I wrote above are all snippets of actual conversations I had within a three day period.  I didn't bring up the topic either time.

More timely words have never been spoken.  (Or maybe they have in some time and place in history.  I don't know.)  I had been showing up at the office, putting in my time, getting my required tasks completed and going home, because what's the point of investing into a company or a position that I was leaving?

I have 40 days left of working here.  I know because when I changed the calendar over to August this morning, I counted up the work days I have left.

The first time I counted it was 65 days.  65 days to fill the position of customer service representative, to answer cranky customer's calls.  65 days to watch the clock moving every so slowly towards that blessed five o'clock.

Now there are only 40 days left.  40 days to give my best, to change cranky customers into satisfied customers.  40 days to serve my employers as unto the Lord.

You know, as a Christian, I should know better than anybody that we don't really have a guarantee of any days left.  Each day should be lived as if it were my last.

In reality, I have today.  Today to give my best.  Today to do everything as unto the Lord.