Friday, June 26, 2009

Retro Sacrifice

I was feeling a little retro the other day, so I pulled out some earrings that once belonged to my grandma. Very fun earrings, BUT they are clip-ons. Tight clip-ons. When I first put them on, my ears began to scream in pain. I knew that it was going to be a sacrifice if I was going to wear them. The fashion outweighed the pain (for a few hours at least).

Just as fashion can involve pain and sacrifice, being a Christ-follower often involves sacrifice and pain. I can readily list what I sacrifice. Unfortunately, my list of what I sacrifice often overshadows why I'm making the sacrifice. I get so caught up in my list of what I give up or must endure that I lose sight of the reason.

As athletes train, they sacrifice and endure pain because they have a goal in mind. As Christians Paul encourages us with comparisons to athletes: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

If I only focus on the sacrifice, I lose sight of the prize and will most likely never make it. That's a sobering thought.

How do I focus on the right thing? Again, referring to Paul: "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14

I must make the conscious decision to focus on the prize rather than all the sacrifice. If I can endure my ears being squashed for the sake of fashion, I would hope that I can endure sacrifice for the sake of Christ.

Friday, June 12, 2009

High Maintenance

Just as my shift was almost over at the coffee shop, I had a high-maintenance customer. Not only did he inform me that on his previous visits, his order was not the way he wanted it, but he told me to write down exactly what he wanted. He was very specific! Although I complied with all that he asked, my attitude wasn't very cheerful. On the inside, I was definitely complaining!

I don't think we often realize when we are high-maintenance. I've been taking a hard look at myself and my relationship with Christ, wondering if I come across as high maintenance to Him.

Do I approach my time with Christ as a chance to tell Him that He hasn't been delivering what I want? Have I been giving Him a list for Him to get right? Instead of seeing the effort that He puts into my life, am I only seeing the lack of getting my own way?

I know that I am really good at presenting requests to God, but is that all my relationship consists of? Am I just a high-maintenance customer to Him?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Generic Flour

A couple of years ago I talked to some people about generic flour. As Scott has recently spoken on Generic Christianity, I was reminded of my generic flour story.

In our early days of marriage I purchased some generic flour. Every item that I made with that flour turned out bad. I decided that all generic flour was bad and was willing to shell out the few extra cents for brand name flour. Almost ten years after that experience, it hit me how that one package of flour turned me off all generic flour, and I began to think about what it would take for me to try generic flour again. At first I couldn’t imagine anything making me want to try it. Ultimately I opened my mind to the possibilities of that one brand being bad or even that one package being bad and that maybe not all generic flour was bad. As I thought of the flour, I saw a parallel to what so many people feel about Christianity.

So many people have had a bad experience with Christianity, which has turned them off it forever, just as I was turned off generic flour. These people may have been hurt by someone in the church or by a situation in the church. Whatever the negative experiences they may have had, should they turn away from the church and Christianity forever? What can make them want to try again?

I went ten years without even thinking about trying generic flour. Honestly, it took me a few months after first thinking about until I was willing to buy and use some generic flour. If it was so hard for me to purchase a bag of flour, how much harder must it be for someone to reconsider Christianity?

Can we live our lives in a way that we can help that transition be easier for others? Can we live our lives in a way that doesn’t create the negative experiences for others - the ones that turn them off Christianity?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Magic 8 Ball

Remember the toy, Magic 8 Ball? You ask a question, shake it, and then an answer appears on the toy. How many times do we treat our faith like a Magic 8 Ball?
Have you ever prayed, “God, lead me to Your word today,” then flipped open the Bible and whatever page you landed on is God’s word for you that day? What about asking God to give you an answer to a decision? Have you prayed for God to give you a sign? For example, as you are driving, you pray that if God wants you to go ahead with a certain project, then the stoplight ahead will be green and if He doesn’t want you to go ahead, it will be red. Then you get to the stoplight to find it yellow!
It’s a good thing to seek God’s will and direction, yet we try so often to seek His will while adding our own qualifications. Telling God how to answer us isn’t really relying on faith.
Faith involves waiting and listening and fully seeking God. Just as it is foolish to shake the Magic 8 Ball to find out the answer to a serious question, so it is foolish to treat our faith like a Magic 8 Ball.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Honest, I'm not perfect

On the radio today I heard an eHarmony commercial featuring Lindsay Lohan. In it she addresses rumors and many of the negative exploits she has been involved in. When it was over, the DJ said the commercial made him like Lindsay again. I was feeling the same way. There is something refreshing about a person admitting her faults and even poking fun at herself.
Why does it seem so natural for us to hide our faults and mistakes? If we do admit we were wrong, we might be hit with a lawsuit in some situations. I don't think this is the driving force behind our cover-ups though.
In Genesis, Adam and Eve tried to hide from God when they did something wrong. It was a natural, instinctive reaction. We know we aren't perfect, yet we don't want to let others see that. We tell ourselves that it is more important to save face with others and to make ourselves look good, rather than be honest about who we are and what we've done. This troubles me. I think it takes a lot of courage to humble oneself and own up to one's mistakes and shortcomings.
I consider myself to be an honest person, but when I think about this, I don't feel so honest anymore.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who prayed?

Although I would like to say that every single day I pray blessing on Corner Coffee and Corner Church, the reality is that I don't. Yesterday morning I did though. I prayed knowing that we fully rely on God and need His blessing and provision. My heart was definitely into it and not just saying some prayer by rote.
Cheryl told me yesterday that lunch was really busy. This morning I saw Allison, who worked yesterday at the shop. She said it was unbelievably busy during lunch and that they kept running out of things. She told me she even thought, "Who prayed?"
Because I had heard a good report, I prayed again for the shop this morning and thanked God for what He had done yesterday. He heard my prayers and blessed the shop, which made me want to give Him thanks.
Today, lunch was busy again. Just when I thought our lunch rush was over, in walked more people. This happened a few times. It was again an answer to prayer.
God doesn't always answer my prayers like this, but I hope I can always be faithful to give Him credit when He does.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Random Kindness

Yesterday as I was looking over some items at a store, I heard a lady apologize to Kaiya for bumping into her. I didn't see the lady bump her, but I guess I wasn't really looking. Then the lady did something odd. She asked me if she could give both my girls a dollar. I stammered that it was up to her since it was her money. To be honest my first thoughts were that I don't know this woman, so what is she going to want in return? What's the catch? Why would a stranger give both my children a dollar?

I decided that although I didn't know her reasons, I would accept this as a blessing from God especially when I heard my daughters comments. Abrea exclaimed how nice that lady was and how we should invite her to the coffee shop. She innocently accepted the kindness.

How often do we perform random acts of kindness for others? How often do we do that for strangers?

From another angle, how often do we question the motives behind kindnesses we receive?

How often do we question what God gives us?