Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Looking at the whole

It's always seemed to me that I should emphasize the things that God does. We all know that there are some things talked about repeatedly in the Bible; like God's love for us, our sin, and His provision of Jesus - it's in there from Genesis through Revelation.

One of the thing that Chan does in his companion workbook to Forgotten God, is have you look up 15 different Scripture passages about the Holy Spirit (I've linked those passages here to each of these 4 blue words.) As I've spent time thinking on these scriptures during the last 3 mornings, I've noticed that only a few of these are about the miraculous. There's more emphasis on the change the Holy Spirit brings in us and the power.

There's one Christian woman at work who's always talking about the miraculous and God's power. But I've noticed that people don't tend to like her over much; she's sort of self-absorbed and difficult. It's almost like who cares if you've seen God grow back a leg, do you love me, the person right in front of you kind of thing. Makes me think. I still don't have answers, just more questions.

When I wrote about my investigation into the Holy Spirit the other day, I mentioned wanting to experience more of Him in my life. Well isn't it just like God to give me so many opportunities this week to do just that?!

I've had more stuff heaped on me than seems even possible for any one human to do. There's a lot going on at my current job that I need to get finished out, and I've been surprised by the emotional response I've received as I've let people know that I'm leaving (I've only been there 10 months). I'm the type to quickly love people and become attached, but haven't seen those kinds of feelings returned (or haven't recognized in the past if it's been there). So there are opportunities for God to love these folks through me; at the same time as needing to get lots of work completed. To be candid, I don't really know how to respond to my co-workers (one of my managers, interestingly enough the one I've found the most difficult to work with, got tears in her eyes); but I know that it's God giving me an opportunity to....what? So I'm praying and asking Him to show me; in the Word He talks about opening our mouths and He'll fill them; so maybe He'll do that for me right now, I don't know. It's definitely one of those ok God You're gonna have to take this one - use me.

Then my new job calls and wants me there right away due to some audit - so now I'm balancing two jobs. I have an intense desire for God to show Himself mighty through me at my new job; I want to be like Joseph and do things well and be able to give God glory through my performance.

Then my 16year old niece, who my husband John & I have been praying for consistently during the past few years, and have offered her to come live with us, suddenly decides to take us up on the offer. The fact that my sister is allowing it is nothing short of miraculous. My niece has been through so much and I so desire to love her and have God use me in her life. School for her and my youngest son starts August 11 and I've got to get her registered and the whole thing about me being guardian regarding educational matters worked out.

Did I mention that my middle son leaves August 8 for college in Nebraska? I want to make a few special times with Him. I'm praying that God would work through me however God chooses to in my son's life; but I definitely just want to love on him and let him have security in the knowledge of his value to me.

Fortunately both my sons who are still at home are on vacation with their dad this week, and John's out doing his wild-man-in-the-outback-at-Yosemite thing. So I can work really long days and get a lot of work done.

I don't think it's by mistake that I've embarked on this quest to see the Holy Spirit more in my life right now. I NEED Him. I'm excited about His empowering me to not only accomplish all these tasks but to minister to these people in my life through Him.

I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Can we get enough?

As Christians we can never "get enough" of God. I think we want to grow and learn and see more evidence of the Holy Spirit's power and leading in our lives. I know I sure do.

I appreciate something I read recently by FB Meyer recounting an experience he had when he was crossing the Irish channel on a dark, starless, night:

"I stood on the deck by the captain and asked him, 'How do you know Holyhead Harbor on so dark a night as this?' He said, 'You see those three lights? Those three lights must line up behind each other as one, and when we see them so united, we know the exact position of the harbor's mouth'"

Meyers explains the implications he drew from this experience, "When we want to know God's will, there are three things which always concur - the inward impulse, The Word of God, and the trend of circumstances. God in the heart, impelling you forward; God in the Book, collaborating whatever He says in the heart;God in circumstances. Never start until all three agree".

Lately I've had the inward impulse to learn more about the Holy Spirit. Not so much on an intellectual level as on an experiential level. I want to see more of the fruits of the Spirit manifest in my life, I want to be used more to bring people to God and help them grow in Him, I want to have greater impact on the lives of my sons and the people with whom I work.

Recently I had the experience of looking through the CBD (Christian book distributors) website and saw a book by Francis Chan entitled "Remembering the Forgotten God Revising our tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit." I ordered both the book and the workbook. I've decided to read 1 to 2 chapters each week during the evening, and work through parts of the workbook during my morning times with God (there are sections in the workbook where you're looking up scriptures so those portions would work perfectly for my morning times with God).

Most likely I'm the same as you and have met many wonderful, and many struggling, Christians during my life. For myself, I've often fallen into the struggling camp and it's only by God's grace and goodness that I don't stay there.

I've unfortunately had the experience of encounters with some people in my life who talk the most about the Holy Spirit, yet seem to evidence the least of His fruit. These people seem so caught up in going on about the miraculous, to think that the sensational proves who God is....yet, is that really what the Holy Spirit within us is about?

I do know that God's heart is one of compassion. Over and over in the gospels I read about God in the flesh-Jesus-and how he was moved with compassion for people. He was also constantly healing people. I'm also impressed by what I read in Acts 4:13; that the world saw a difference in the followers of Christ. Being around Jesus, having His Holy Spirit within them, made them different from the rest of the world. I want to be like that; for people to see Him in me.

I grew up in a Baptist tradition and have many people who I respect greatly who are into dispensationalism. While I agree with lots of that thought process because I see much of it clearly in the Bible, I'm not sure about all of it. Some I know would go as far as to say that while Jesus walked the earth, and for His first followers to be authenticated, it was a time for the miraculous, but that God does not really work that way today.

While I can not see that, on the other hand I do not see people doing miracles to the extent that we see the disciples doing them in the gospels or the early church leaders in the book of Acts. I don't see the Christian groups I hear talk a lot about the miraculous, as a whole, living any differently than those who are not of faith. Or any differently from the Christian groups that are not into the miraculous. Is this an example of the fact that, although God's character, Word, and purposes do not change, His methods do? Or is it for some other reason? Should the miraculous even be where I'm looking; should I instead look to see His fruit manifest in me and then He'll show me what I'm to do?

These are just questions that I have and things I've been pondering.

I'm certainly not looking to Chan's book to provide me with the answers. But I see it as an aide in this process; I don't think it matters if I end up agreeing with Chan's conclusions or not, it's the process of examining the subject that interests me.

What about you, do you ever have encounters with Christians who talk a lot about the Holy Spirit but don't seem to manifest His fruit? Do you wonder why we see so little of the miraculous in the western world? Do you ever question the place of the miraculous in our lives? Do you have questions about the Holy Spirit and His place in your life?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Getting to enjoy some good stuff

I've shared plenty in the past here about the hard times I've gone through these last couple of years with parenting challenges/frustrations and my job loss and job interviewing. Perhaps even because of all this, I find myself giving thanks to God and appreciating some good things that have happened lately.

On the parenting front I'm grateful to be able to say that my middle son did finish high school and keep his football scholarship. It's a division 2 school and he'll be red shirting his first year so it's only a partial scholarship, yet God blessed and we've got this first year covered so he won't have to take out any loans. The first week in August he'll be heading off to Nebraska (Chadron state college). He's driving with a friend of his who also has a football scholarship there; so I see another opportunity to trust God in my near future. This son is a good person but really impulsive; interesting is one word I could use to describe the thought of him driving that far with another 18-year old (anxiety could be another word but I'm choosing to trust God instead).

My youngest son has actually said the words I love you, and thanked me for stuff I've done for him, a few times in the last couple of weeks. I handled this matter of factly on the outside but boy was I shouting praise to Jesus on the inside! My husband John and I have both prayed our thank yous for what we believe to be the turning of the tide of this son's heart with regard to me. All I can say is that what is impossible with man is possible with God!

On the job front, God has blessed me with a job!!!

Of course I've had a job for the past 10 months and I do admit that I've enjoyed it. It's just that it pays 57% less than I used to make and was what I did 16 years ago for another company. This new job pays decent, uses more of my skills, has some exciting new challenges, and appears to have potential growth opportunity. Is God good or what?!

My new position will be Health Services Administrator (HSA) for an immigration detainment and processing center that is opening up not too far away. I'm excited about it being a new program and the opportunity I'll have to make a difference where that's concerned and to build a team. Health services are one of the most humane aspects of any detention center, so I'm looking forward to being part of a department that can make a positive difference in the detainees lives during what will be a super hard time for them. It's a bit different than what I've done in the past so I'm looking forward to trusting God to help me be "smarter than I am" (a phrase I learned from Beth Moore) so I can learn a lot of new stuff and still be effective.

What about you, what's some of the good stuff you've been enjoying lately?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What are your convictions?

Last Sunday the pastor spoke about convictions and since then I've been mulling over that sermon in the back of my mind. I'm always curious about that subject, and interested in hearing what different people see to be their convictions.

It was suggested last week, and then again this week, that we actually take the time to write out our convictions. So I decided to take some time and write out my convictions, linked to why these are important to me.

So I want to share my convictions and then I'd like to hear yours.

The over arching principle, or conviction, in my life is that I want my life to be about Loving God and Loving People. I'm convinced that, for myself, there are some ways that can happen and I'm committed to the following convictions of seeing that love for God and love for people lived out:

Love for God
  1. I'm committed to daily spending time in His presence. Praising and worshiping Him, Reading His Word and thinking about it throughout my day, Praying, and listening for His Voice.
  2. I'm committed to a life of gratitude. God has done so much for me, and I want to live my life in thankfulness and enjoying all the good gifts He's constantly giving me.
  3. My life is not my own any more, I chose to live it following after God. There's a few ways that impacts daily life: A.Money and stuff is not the goal so I'm very careful with my money so that I can use it as I feel God wants me to. I don't want to be in debt so that I'm all tied up. B.I want to keep myself available body, mind and spirit to God. Because of this I need to take care of my body (practical things like sleep, exercise, nutrition). C.I want to keep myself available body, mind, and spirit to God. Because of this I am committed to keeping myself free from things that will pull me away from my major focus (this could be TV, music that promotes lifestyles and attitudes that I don't believe are the ones God wants for me, or even some movies or books). This is a difficult one because it's so specific and it means that I just need to pray about things and evaluate them in light of this commitment. I do not always have to read, watch and listen to things that I agree with. Contrary ideas and thoughts can be helpful and growth producing.

Love for People
  1. Because I love the husband with whom God has blessed me I protect this relationship and refrain from contacts and relationships that could impede this relationship. For me that means I never go out alone with another man. I don't look at things that involve looking at what could be considered "sexy" men's bodies (in clubs, magazines, movies, etc.). I am committed to never allowing my mind to wander to what it might be like to be in a relationship with anyone other than my husband.
  2. Because I love my sons with whom God has blessed me I consider how any decisions I make in life will affect them, and make decisions accordingly. I choose to invest time into doing things with them. I make praying for them regularly a priority (2Xs a week are set aside for just that purpose).
  3. I don't want anyone to die without God. So I've spent time praying and thinking about how to share the gospel; I try to live my life open each day to opportunities to share as situations arise.
  4. I choose to live simply and without debt so that I am free to give money to others as God leads.
  5. I want to be open to helping the people God's put into my life - however that may look. Be it being helpful to a co-worker even if it means taking on more work, or listening to someone who I get the feeling needs to unload, or making food for someone, or being friendly to someone in a social situation who seems left out. These are not things I can know in advance, it's about having an open attitude and trying to look for ways to extend love. (This is the opposite of getting caught up in my own agenda and living with blinders on)
  6. I'm committed to humility. To not thinking I'm better than anyone, to listening to what others have to say, to not having to always have my own way. Another part of humility is being honest; not needing to make things better or worse than they are, just being true.
So what about you, what are some of your major life convictions? What made these important to you? How have these convictions impacted your life?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

At least it was better this time!

For those of you who've borne with me in my rants about losing a job and let me drone on about the trials of job interviewing - THANKS!

And so the saga continues....

The last time I talked with my oldest son on the phone, he'd asked about my job interviewing experiences. When I told him about the last fiasco (the one where the CEO I'd driven two hours to meet with walked out during the interview) he asked me questions that caused me to think. He asked why I was interviewing for geriatric nursing home administrator positions when, in the entire time I've had this nursing home administrator's license, I've never worked in a geriatric setting. I stumbled as I replied; speaking of how noble it was to provide care for the elderly and what a wonderful ministry. Then I honestly explained that I need a good paying job and that could be one. I also sheepishly admitted to him that I have no idea why, but that, if I'm really candid, while I find working with the elderly to be admirable, what really does it for me is working with psych patients, or substance abusers, or criminals. But then I asked - what does this say about me, as I laughed. To which my son replied - that it's a vocation for you.

I thought about that and realized he was right. Working with those populations is where my heart is at. So I prayed about it some more and went back through all my avenues of job searching again. I again came to a position for a health services administrator with a private company that sub-contracts with the state and federal government to provide correctional type facilities; it was at a relatively close (when you live in a small, mountain resort, town anything within 50 miles is considered local. Especially if you don't have to drive all the way down the mountain) location. I applied for this job a while back, but I sent them my resume, with a cover letter that I spent some more time on, again.

Within a week I heard from a man named Ted who's the regional director for this company's health services operations in the western US. He asked me to come over to a local hotel where the company was interviewing people and meet with him. This interview wasn't at all like my recent experiences, this guy was a type B personality just like me. I was relaxed and asked him all kinds of questions about the position. We just talked. He didn't feel like he had some set agenda and I felt like I could just be myself and find out about the job and discover if it was something I wanted to do. I didn't feel like I had to sell myself (something I can't stand about the typical job interview). When we were finished he gave me a very lengthy application and explained that, since this new location that they are opening is sub-contracted with the federal immigration department, all applicants have to complete the federal application.

This was on a Thursday, and Ted said to take the application home, that he would be back at the hotel doing more interviews the following Tuesday-Thursday and, if I wanted I could give him and call and he'd sit down and go through my application with me. I thought that was so considerate and helpful of him.

The application turned out to be a real pain so I was grateful of his offer. Plus I figured that more face time with him would be a good thing. So Monday evening I called Ted and we set up to meet Tuesday (which was yesterday). We went through my application and he didn't have anything that he thought I needed to fix. When we finished he told me that I'm his first choice for this position so far but that he did have a few more interviews to complete. Then Ted said he wanted me to meet with the warden of the facility since he would be my actual boss in terms of day to day life. I said I'd like that too so he called me back yesterday and invited me to meet at the actual facility this morning with himself and the warden.

Well, when I go to the facility there was another man there as well, another applicant for the same position. I thought to myself - oh no, not this again (that last time, when the CEO walked out on me, the operations manager I'd been interviewing with told me that I was his favorite but the lady who would've been my boss liked another candidate best. It was such a NOT fun situation). My "competition" had not been interviewed yet by Ted. The competition looked sharp and had corrections experience (I don't have corrections experience). But, as I waited while Ted and my "competition" interviewed, I didn't get anxious. I just figured - if this is where God wants me, I'll get the job. If not, then I don't want to be here anyway. So the warden finally finished giving a tour to some judges who wanted to see the facility and my competition and I were introduced to him. Then the warden, Ted and I sat down and talked (followed by the warden, Ted, and the competition having a private chat). The warden made me more nervous than Ted, but he's a good guy. Ted was going to give the competition and I a tour of the facility after we'd each met with the warden and the warden asked Ted, so when are you going to let them know who gets the job? Then he turns to both of us and says how we're both good people and the hardest part of the whole interview process is the not knowing, and that it's better to know as soon as possible if you don't get a job because then you can just move on. I appreciated his considerate attitude.

So Ted took us on the tour and then my competition and I awkwardly said our good byes. Within 10 minutes of being on the road Ted called me and said I'm still his top candidate. So I said great and how much I appreciate him letting me know right away. Then I asked - what does this mean? Do I have the job? He said it's not a formal offer yet and that he wants me to meet with the immigration department HR people and go over my application. We discussed times that I could make such a meeting and then he said he'd talk to the HR folks and get back to me. Ted called me back later and gave me a time to meet with a representative from the Immigration department HR, at that same local hotel tomorrow.

So we'll see what happens.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

You mean it's not all about me?

This week over at Kingdom Bloggers we're talking about our Identity in Christ. Today I'm sharing about how understanding my identity in Christ helps me see others as important.

How does understanding your identity in Christ affect your relationship with others?

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4th Thoughts

I once heard it said that as Americans, every time we hear the song God Bless America we should change it up to think about it this way: "God bless America through me".

Sometimes it's easy for me to get caught up in attitudes that are like two sides of the same bad coin. On the one side I can be so critical of those who are in power in our nation, or the sliding condition of morality and values. On the other side I can think that loyalty to my country is about proving that we're bigger and better. Both are unhealthy.

I believe that God calls every person to be a loyal citizen to where ever they live. It seems fitting, as an American, to spend some time thinking and praying today for guidance. To ask God to show me a need in our country, and how He wants to use me to help fill.

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