In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mind boggeling

Picture from http://fineartamerica.com
Tomorrow is the day we celebrate the fact that our Lord is risen.

Gratitude is not a big enough word to express what I feel.

Here are some scriptures and a quote. I'm thinking on these today and thought you might appreciate them too:


Luke 17:20-21:
20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (NIV)

Ezekiel 11:19-20:
19 I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within them; I will remove the hearts of stone from their bodies and I will give them tender hearts, 20 so that they may follow my statutes and observe my regulations and carry them out. Then they will be my people, and I will be their God.(NET)

Jeremiah 31:31-34
31-32 “That’s right. The time is coming when I will make a brand-new covenant with Israel and Judah. It won’t be a repeat of the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant even though I did my part as their Master.” God’s Decree.
33-34 “This is the brand-new covenant that I will make with Israel when the time comes. I will put my law within them—write it on their hearts!—and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about God. They’ll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I’ll forget they ever sinned!” God’s Decree. (MSG)

Psalm 40:7-8
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.” (NKJV)

Hebrews 10:3-10     

But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. So when he came into the world, he said,
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me.
Whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you took no delight in.
Then I said,Here I am: I have come—it is written of me in the scroll of the book—to do your will, O God.’”
When he says above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you did not desire nor did you take delight in them” (which are offered according to the law), then he says, “Here I am: I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first to establish the second. 10 By his will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.(NET)

"The basic and most fundamental problem of the spiritual life is this acceptance of our hidden and dark self, with which we tend to identify all the evil that is in us. We must learn by discernment to separate the evil growth of our actions from the good ground of the soul. And we must prepare that ground so that a new life can grow up from it within us, beyond our knowledge and beyond our conscious control. The sacred attitude is, then, one of reverence, awe and silence before the mystery that begins to take place within us when we become aware of our innermost self. In silence, hope, expectation, and unknowing, the [we] abandon [ourselves] to the divine will: not as an arbitrary and magic power whose decrees must be spelled out from cryptic ciphers, but as to the stream of reality and life itself. The sacred attitude is, then, one of deep and fundamental respect for the real in whatever new form it may present itself."
Thomas Merton. The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation.
William H. Shannon, editor (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2003): 55.


I constantly feel like it's beyond my grasp to understand.  

God Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, the commander of the hosts of the armies of heaven, the Holy One,  chose to make it so that I could come into relationship with Him.  Chose to separate Himself and His son so that His son Jesus could die on my behalf. Chose to allow a part of Himself, His Holy Spirit, to come live inside me and create anew my spirit. 

Mind boggeling.

I do not really understand.  But I'm gateful.

What about you?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Values driven leadership

Graphic from http://blog.7geese.com
My first class toward my MA in Health Administration  is on Leadership.

I actually look forward to the times when I'm engaged in the course, reading & writing assignments, and the course project.  It's thought provoking.  The professor is encouraging and inspirational.  I've been blessed to do well on the first 3 of 4 units.   The premise for the course is  leadership that is driven by the leader's values. 

I've decided to spend some time choosing my core values.  Then I want to spend time in subsequent posts thinking on each of them from a Biblical perspective. 

The most difficult thing for me is  narrowing down the list.   Some of the companies I've worked for in the past have had core values and mission statements.  These companies never had more than 4 core values.  I couldn't get my list down to less than 9.  These are the value that I want to make sure underlie my decision making and impact how I lead:

Surrender
Surrendering my entire life to God and letting Him be in the driver's seat.

Simplicity
Letting my words be few and ensuring that everything I say is true.

Congruence
Making sure that my words and actions match.

Mercy
Consistently choosing to extend compassion and forgiveness.

Generosity
Keeping my hands wide open and having a lifestyle of giving.

Service
Doing what needs to be done to help others.

Humility
Considering myself who God says I am; no more or less.

Diligence
Working to accomplish what needs to be done.

Vision
Keeping in sight what God wants me to do.

What about you, what are your core values?


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Talk about a good book

I'm not much of a football fan.  I've only gotten into football at all because two of my three sons played in high school.  I checked this book out of the library because I've been checking out books on leadership and this particular book was on CD.  I adore listening to books on CD while I cook, clean, or engage in other mindless duties.

The book is Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy.  I was repeatedly inspired by a few things about Dungy's story:

He didn't hear God's voice in loud, spectacular ways.  Repeatedly throughout the book Dungy talks about how he had a decision to make and he prayed.  He repeatedly says that he didn't have a lightening bolt or a voice from heaven but he did what he thought was God's will.  I can so relate to that.

He experienced deep tragedy and stuck with God.  I appreciate how he didn't have simple answers as to why his son killed himself, he just chose to trust God through it all.  He hurt, he grieved, he was confused.  He chose to walk with God to the best of his ability through it all.

Repeatedly he had life experiences where things didn't work out.  Experiences of losing jobs or not getting positions he'd been led to expect.  Like most people, I can relate to that.  I was inspired by Dungy's emphasis on how God used those situations to move him to where God wanted him to be.

His emphasis on family and work-life balance.  It was refreshing to read a book by someone who wasn't obsessed with work success to the point of leaving behind his family.  I've seen too much of that.  It was great to hear examples of a devoted, hard worker who also valued his family.                                                                                                                                  

He was mentored and mentored others.  My heart has long burned with the passion of wanting to make a difference in the lives of people.  I read books related to leadership because I desire to be an effective leader in my family, work and ministry.   I was encouraged as I listened to the way God brought people into Dungy's life to mentor him, and the ways God used him to mentor others.  I pray for open eyes to see God's leading me in these ways.

His take on success.   I think Dungy says this best himself: "God’s definition of success is really one of significance–the significant difference our lives can make in the lives of others. This significance doesn’t show up in the win-loss records, long resumes, or the trophies gathering dust on our mantels. It’s found in the hearts and lives of those we’ve come across who are in some way better because of the way we lived.” (p.144)                             

He has such a firm, sweet, and simple faith in God.  Throughout the book I'm captivated by the story of his life because he loves the same God as I.  My heart rejoices and I'm always delighted to get to listen to, or read about, someone who loves the Lord and people.

I'm glad that I was able to listen to this book on CD.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Enlightened eyes

Photo from http://www.colindye.com

This morning I felt impressed to do something different during my morning time with God so I read this God tube devotional. 

 The focus of the devotional was on the story from Luke 24:13 - 35.  That's the one where 3 days after Jesus' crucifixion 2 of His followers are walking along the road to Emmaus bummed.  Not many days prior they'd fallen in love with Jesus, knew He was a prophet and had even started believing He was the Messiah.  But then he was crucified and some of the women had gone to His tomb that very morning and said His body was not there.   As these two sad men were walking along Jesus had appeared to them, but they did not recognize Him.  Jesus explained the scriptures about the Messiah's need to suffer these things.  The two invited Him into their home (I'm always blown away with that culture - inviting strangers into your house?!)  They were having dinner together and when He broke bread they recognized Him.  As soon as they recognized Him, He vanished.  As they discussed the whole event together they spoke about how their hearts burned within them when He was explaining the scriptures to them. 

The author of the devotional made the point that "Their eyes were dim, but if they had only paid attention, their hearts would have shown them the truth. Sometimes, our blind eyes need to listen to our fire-lit heart".  The devotional author then points to Ephesians 1:15-23:

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.  (NIV)

I've adored this passage in Ephesians for a long time.  Felt especially connected to pray this passage over my oldest son for the past few years.  Today I looked at it for me.  Today I prayed that the eyes of my heart would be enlightened.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Faith life forced into the open

As I read from James 1:1-4 this morning these words struck a chord:

Photo from www.multifaith.utoronto.ca
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
James 1:2-4 (MSG)

These verses fit exactly where I am at right now.

I have an inner struggle that goes like this:

I want to want God to be in the driver’s seat of my life, but I also want everything to be about me.  My driving motivation is frequently comfort, ease, and pleasure. 

Less than a week ago I was encouraged by my employer to resign from a job.  It was not fair, conclusions were drawn that were not accurate, I was blamed for situations that were not my fault.  It felt like my former employer wanted the proverbial scapegoat and I was it.  The national unemployment rate is 7.7%, my state rate is 9.4%, and my part of the state is 10.9%.  Having been on the employer hiring side of the equation for the last couple of years, I’m well aware of how many people are applying for the same jobs that I have applied for this past week.  Sound like ‘tests and challenges come at you from all sides”?

I appreciate Peterson’s turn of the phrase “your faith life is forced into the open and shows its true colors” This is a time for me to see what I really believe.  Do I trust God or not?  This is a time in my life when I get to face my doubts.  I speak words of faith all day but then, in the wee hours of the morning, I notice my fitful bouts of sleep.  During my short sleep stints I have dreams regarding work.

So the counsel here for me is to refrain from trying to “get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way”.  I do want to be mature and not deficient in any way.  So I pray that God will work in me, change me, develop me into who He wants me to be, during these trying days.
 



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Choosing Pleasure

I've always adored the way the green pine needles look against the clear blue of the sky.  Today I got the bonus of small white clouds behind.  How could I feel anything but grateful to be out hiking in this beauty right behind my house?  A cool breeze drifts lazily by, lifting my loose blouse and caressing my skin with its fingers made all the more cold by the patches of snow still tenaciously clinging to the ground.

I don't know what tomorrow will bring.  I'm still a bit confused by the events of yesterday morning.  But I am grateful.  Grateful that I know God is good and my future is in His hands.

Yesterday morning.  Just thinking about it feels unreal and painful at the same time.  I got blind sided. 

I was notified by someone that I had a 9AM in the west side conference room with an OPR (office of professional responsibility) investigator with the company.  Nothing unusual in itself.  Unfortunately, having staff walked off the premise is not an unusual occurrence at this work location.  As I walked the short block to the meeting my mind was still filled with the data I'd come in at 6:30AM to compile and analyze.  I've always found that I'm far less disturbed during those pre-8AM hours and can actually think at work.

It felt odd and stilted from the moment I walked into the conference room.  The attractive young sergeant, with her clear dark skin and eyes, was asked by the investigator to move aside so that I could sit next to him.  As I slid into the soft leather seat I got that odd feeling that something was amiss.  As the investigator began to question me I could not understand where the line of questioning was either going to, or coming from.  When my former boss walked into the room just a few moments into the questioning it felt even weirder. 

Because I was caught unaware, my mind had difficulty processing the words.  Even more difficulty comprehending.  He was taking things out of context, drawing conclusions that were not accurate.  I was tongue tied (I've never been particularly eloquent of speech in the best of times and this certainly was not that).  He was saying things....were those threats couched in a nice manner?  Saying that it could get ugly for me, that nothing good was ahead, and hinting at legal suits aimed against me.  I didn't understand.  I had done nothing wrong.

I was aware that the customer was embroiled in a lawsuit.  Was my company trying to appease the customer by laying the blame for things gone wrong at my feet?  Were they trying to say that I was the problem and they got rid of me so now no problems?   I couldn't tell.

Or at least I couldn't tell until the investigator slid a tablet of paper toward me.  This action had been prompted by my response to his question of what I was going to do.  I'd asked if I should quit.  Guess that was my answer.

So I wrote the letter.  My former boss walked me out with a guilty look on his face.  As we walked the short block together back to my office in the other building he seemed way more uncomfortable than I.  I was still in shock.  At one point he mumbled something about how he and the company medical director realize that the company does a terrible job at start ups.  Into my silence he related how he'd been thrown into things at this company starting a facility an hour drive north of us.  At my continued silence he hastened to say that this did not excuse that he threw me into this situation without any training or understanding.   I just couldn't deal with his guilt and my feeling of disconnection so I continued to walk in silence.

It still felt unreal as I drove home.  Maybe it still does a bit today, but it's starting to sink in.  I've been putting applications and feelers out for another job all along, so I'll continue. 

For today,  I'm choosing to enjoy the day.

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