Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Out of the Corner of My Eye

“But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” (MSG – James 1: 25)

I don’t know what your life is like, but lately I have definitely been acting like a distracted scatterbrain; and I don’t like it at all! So, when I read this passage of scripture this morning my interest was piqued. This verse tells me that if I catch a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God, even out of the corner of my eye, I am not a distracted scatterbrain but a woman of action.

As I began to ponder the verse, a couple of questions came to mind.

First, I must question, “What or more accurately who, is the revealed counsel of God.” I think that it would be safe to answer that one with one name: Jesus. Our Lord and Savior lived an earthly existence to provide us a glimpse into the heart and mind of God our Father, to set an example of how we should live our lives, and the sacrifice Jesus made through His shed blood, poured out at the foot of the cross paved the way for us to be redeemed of sin and to give us the hope of eternal life. (John 6:47)

What I find intriguing is that this verse doesn’t command that I must reach some goal or lofty religious pinnacle of success to gain the ‘free life.’ Rather, it states that all that is required is that I ‘catch a glimpse’ of Jesus. I like that! I am human. I fail. Often many times I fail before I can even begin to gain a small amount of ground in my quest to live life more as Jesus did. You see I really want to follow Jesus and live my life out loud for him, but I struggle with selfish desire and human weakness. I can relate to the apostle Paul when he wrote, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19 NIV)

What makes this verse even more powerful for me is the fact that I have very limited peripheral vision in my left eye due to a birth-defect. So, this verse provides me hope and assurance that when my heart and mind remain set on following the path of Jesus, I have already won the race for the free life. Yes, there will be times when I fall down as I run. Yes, there will be times when I become distracted by the things of this world. There will even be times when I hurt the cause of Christ by my selfish and sinful actions. However, as long as I sincerely desire the cross of Jesus to shine in my life, even a slight vision of Jesus out of the corner of my eye, will allow me to repent and quickly jump back on track and finish the race strong. Now that’s what I call, the power of God’s amazing grace.

The second question that this verse brought to my mind is this. “If I am truly no longer a ‘distracted scatterbrain but a woman of action,’ what actions should I be focused upon?” And, “If I focus on carrying out those actions, will I truly find ‘delight and affirmation’ by doing them?”

These are some really BIG thoughts for my little mind to ponder. For the next few days I intend to mull them over and allow my soul to steep in the thoughts that the Holy Spirit impresses upon me.

If this verse speaks to you, I invite you to put the kettle on and brew yourself up a big helping of reflective Jesus tea, and ask the Lord to reveal to you what action you should to be taking. I’ll come back in a few days and let you know what has been placed on my heart. If you are willing to take up the challenge and are willing to share your thoughts about this verse, please post a comment to share.

May God bless and enrich many coasts through this time!

Sunday, April 13, 2008


I have been moved to think a lot about this word just lately. It started with a blog posting by Lysa TerKeurst. Since I read Lysa’s post requesting help for the children of Liberia, I have been praying about my level of compassion. I have been seeking God’s direction for how I can better utilize my spiritual gifts, my talents, and my abilities, to reach out to others in ‘compassion’ to share the great news of our loving Savior, Jesus Christ.

Then, my thinking and my heart were challenged yet again today by the sermon message at church entitled: “When the Holy Spirit Empowers the Church – Inspired to Influence,” which was presented by our youth pastor, Tom Buchanan. Our main scripture reference was, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 But the challenge of the day was simply this; “What are some of the things our church body, you and I, willing to do to make a difference for the cause of Christ? How can we reach out to show “compassion”?”

Personally, I have been kicking around an idea that I feel has been laid upon my heart by the Holy Spirit. I am still formulating a plan in my mind as to how I can utilize some of my talents, skills, abilities and spiritual gifts. I feel God gently urging me to use my talent for writing, my ability to take photographs, my skill at organization and desktop publishing, and my spiritual gift of teaching to develop a tool to focus attention on ways that people can be more compassionate. I may post more about this idea if I continue to feel that the idea is from God, and if He leads me to proceed.

However, no matter whether this ‘idea’ turns into a workable and doable thing or not, I know that I am called to reach out with compassion to share with others the love of Christ. I am realizing that although I do not always have the monetary means of expressing compassion and to meet expressed needs by providing $$ support, I can meet needs in other ways. In fact, for me to not seek out ways to do so would be a sin of omission.

Further, as I ponder this accountability to compassion I had some thoughts as to how I, and possibly you, can start simply.

· Cook my husband’s favorite meal, to express gratitude for being “head-of-the-household”
· Spend an extra 30-minutes of uninterrupted, focused attention with my child(ren) this week, just to connect and bond
· Change out my husband’s clothing – put away winter things, pull out the spring and summer things
· Pack up a bag of unused clothing (from the sort above) and take them to the donation center
· Visit an elderly person in a nearby convalescent home
· Take a hot meal to a family with a loved one in the hospital or having to attend therapy or treatments of some type
· Volunteer to baby-sit for a couple who have no family in the immediate area

This list is by no means exhaustive; get creative, and have fun coming up with ways to express your compassion!

Sometimes, in the midst of our busy lives we forget to extend compassion to those in our own communities or more importantly to those living within the four walls we call home. We can start small by extending compassion to those most important to us and build up to broaden our circle of reach. It is all about a shift in the attitude of our heart and then putting feet to our faith.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

“Mommy wrecked my bike!”

When did my son get to the age where he tells all of my secrets? How is it possible? He can’t be growing up!!

The weather in Southeastern Illinois was just beautiful yesterday. So, after I picked my son up from daycare, we spent a little time outside playing. He wanted to practice peddling his bike. Now for those of you who have never tried to teach a three-year-old to ride a bike, let me just tell you, extreme patience is required!!! Several times throughout the experience I had to remind myself to relax. I caught myself sounding more like a drill sergeant, than a loving mother.

“Look where you are going! Peddle, peddle hard! No, don’t peddle backwards, that puts on the brake and makes the bike stop!” (Like a three-year-old has a clear understanding of the concept of backwards and forwards peddling. I needed a reality check on that one!) I had to remind myself that it really would be okay if he didn’t master the feat in one day of practice. The sun was not going to fall from the sky if he didn’t get it today.

As my beautiful and determined little boy kept working hard, I realized that possibly the seat on the bike was a little too low for optimal performance to be accomplished. I thought that if I would raise it up a bit, it could make the peddling easier for him. So, off to the garage we went. I tried to get the screw loose to move that seat, but no luck.

However, I did manage to allow the bike to fall off of the table where I had placed it to try to work on it, and when it hit the ground one of the training wheels broke off. My son looked up at me and said, “Mommy you wrecked my bike!” Now what could I say to that? It was true, I had wrecked his bike. Although he was a little sad, he must have been tired out, because when I told him that I would make sure that his bike got fixed and we would practice again another day, he didn’t put up much of a fuss.

What added insult to my injured pride at not being able to help my son by raising that bike seat, was that when my husband called from out of town last night, the first thing my son wanted to share was how “Mommy wrecked my bike!” Then I had to reveal the whole story to my husband and share with him how painfully inadequate I have become with a wrench! Now I guess I’m going to have to stay out of the garage and away from the hand tools. Just think of the damage I could have done if say, “I had decided to change the oil in my vehicle or rotate my tires?”