Saturday, October 25, 2008

Climbing Trees

"So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way."
Luke 19:4

Do you remember singing the "Zacchaeus" song in Sunday School? I even recall all the actions. The climbing motions. Shielding my eyes from the sun as Zacchaeus looked for The Son. I think I always liked that story because Zacchaeus was small in statue, and at only 5'2", I'm not exactly tall either.

However, Zacchaeus didn't allow his physical limitations to fortify him with excuses or keep him from seeing Jesus. He went tree climbing. When walking or standing won't do, climbing becomes a necessity.

After reading this story a few days ago, my mind began to question what lengths I would go to to see Jesus.

I've read of individuals who have literally 'camped out' days before tickets become available for some concert or special event, or when an item comes on sale at a Department Store. Others will wait for hours behind roped lines to catch a glimpse of a favourite Hollywood Star who passes through their town on a movie shoot. What about a parade? Do you go early to get a front row, curb side seat? I remember going early to the train station one morning to have a first-hand glance of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip as their train slowed down on it's journey through a neighbouring town. My Mom had dressed my sister and I in England's colours and we were waving the Union Jack flag. I'm sure the Queen looked right at us. I can still feel the anticipation and joy of that moment.

So, the question that is stirring my soul asks, what lengths will I go to in my pursuit of Christ? Will I wait hours in silence for Him to speak to me? Will I set the alarm earlier so that I can sit in His presence while the house is quiet, before anyone else awakens? Will I turn off the television to be in His Word? Will I pass on an invitation to go out if I haven't first gone away to a secluded spot with Him first? Will I plan and prepare supper a little earlier on Sunday evenings so my family and I can be back at church in time for the evening service at 6pm? What 'tree' do I need to climb?

Then, once I see Him, may I obey like Zacchaeus. God's Word says that Zacchaeus quickly climbed down. He wasted no time. His response to the call was immediate. I don't just want a brief encounter with Christ in passing, my view contained from a tree limb. After seeing Him I want to be walking by His side.

Jesus is well acquainted with trees. Christ climbed a hill to a tree. A tree that forever changed eternity. A tree that we don't ever have to climb. He carried the weight of the world on His shoulders the day He was nailed to that tree. If He sacrificed His life for me, surely I can do whatever it takes to see Him and meet with Him every day. No excuses. Good intentions aren't enough.

Lord, I pray that You will increase my longing for You. Just like the crowds threatened Zacchaeus's view, my life can be so full that it threatens to crowd You out of my view. Give me strength to climb whatever tree is necessary to see You. May I not be satisfied with 'general admission seating', but may I be found at Your feet, in Your presence, my eyes fixed on You.

Put on your hiking boots, and let's climb some trees today!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Serving or Servant

A few weeks ago now my Pastor happened to mention a necessity for more workers in the area of Children's Ministries. I attend a fairly large, active, growing church and with the increase in attendance brings the need for a greater number of teachers in all our programs.

As my husband and I drove home from church that morning, I must confess to complaining in the car. I was annoyed that in a church our size we didn't have a superfluity of workers. Our demand does not exceed our supply - at least not in numbers, but maybe in willingness. I was discouraged as once again the saying appeared to be true - 10% of the people were doing 90% of the work. After grumbling for a few moments, I decided I should keep my mouth shut. After all, I wasn't teaching in Children's Ministries!

As Sunday afternoon wore on, I felt the Lord calling me to be open to the idea of being an answer to this need. At first I argued that although I wasn't serving in this area, I was involved in Women's Ministry and leading Bible Study. The Lord just didn't seem to accept that excuse, and by the time I was heading to bed that evening, I felt strongly convicted that I needed to respond.

To confirm God's prompting, my devotional the following morning was entitled, "We Serve God by Serving Others". All day Monday it was my intention to contact our Children's Ministry Pastor, but busyness and the tyranny of the urgent crowded out my obedience. As the day was ending I thought I had better make a list of where and when I would be available to serve. You see, my husband and I attend the early service together, so I wanted to help during the 11:00am hour. I'm not really a 'baby' person, so I definitely didn't want to work in the nursery - my diaper days were over! We have a trailer at Muskoka Bible Conference Center, so I didn't want to have to give up my summer weekends. My list continued to get longer and longer. I had quite a few stipulations. As I crawled into bed, I tucked my 'wish list' (maybe more my 'list of demands') in my Bible, promising the Lord I would send an e-mail first thing in the morning.

Bright and early Tuesday morning I reached for my laptop. True to my word, I was going to send that message and oh, how pleased everyone would be with my willingness. I was responding to God's call. As I pulled out the list I had written hours earlier, I opened my e-mail to send my message and an on-line devotional had arrived. I clicked into it. God's timing was unbelievable. The key verse might as well have been in LARGE BOLD letters. This is what I read, "No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everday life, so that he many please the one who enlisted him as a soldier." 2 Timothy 2:4

The devotional went on to say that real servants make themselves available and don't limit their availability. The author wrote, "If you only serve when it's convenient for you, you're not a real servant. Are you available to God anytime? As a servant you don't get to pick and choose when or where you will serve. Being a servant means giving up the right to control your schedule and allowing God to interrupt it whenever He needs to."

With tears streaming down my face I looked at my list of demands still held in my hand. Oh Father, how could I? I am so ashamed for my lack of surrender. Wasn't it just days ago I wrote, "You are my Passion", and I told You it was my desire to say, "To the ends of the earth I will follow, there is NOTHING that I wouldn't do"? Already self had taken the throne once again.

With complete humility and abandonment I did write that e-mail. Not the one I had originally planned. I shared that if they could use me, I would be available whenever and wherever.

There is a vast difference between serving and being a servant. One is self-motivated, the other is in response to the love for the One you are serving. One is a duty, the other a delight. One feels more like an obligation, while the other springs from a heart of obedience. One is a responsibility, the other refreshes. While serving, quite often we're looking for something to gain, while being a servant is all about giving.

Is God calling you to some area of ministry? It doesn't have to be in the church. Whatever and whenever God summons you, can you willingly follow? God isn't looking for you to be doing more, but joyfully being used in the plans and purposes He designed for you before you were born. Have you given God a conditional offer, or are you allowing Him to cultivate in you a true servants heart?

The week after volunteering, God had me teaching a room full of precious little 3 year 11am...on a rotation basis of once every five weeks. Do you see how He perfectly looked after all of my desires as well? He's not out to make life miserable for us by placing us in areas that don't coincide with the gifts and personality He has given us. He knows us better than we know ourselves and as He calls us to be His servants and follow His example in sweet surrender, He is maturing us and changing our character into His likeness. Oh if I would only trust Him more.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Just For Fun!

This is my 100th post and Nicki at "Three Girly Girls" asked us to participate in this activity today - and I thought, why not?!

35 Odd Things About Me

1. Do you like blue cheese salad dressing? I’ve never tried it.

2. Do you own a gun? No!

3. What's your favourite drink at Starbucks? Tall Decaf, cream and sugar.

4. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? One cup of decaf coffee.

5. Do you do push ups? As little as possible.

6. What's your favourite piece of jewellery? My engagement ring.

7. Favourite hobby? Writing.

8. Do you have A.D.D? What was the question?

9. What's one trait that you hate about yourself? I’m very fearful.

10. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment: I wonder what the next question is going to ask? I wish my head would stop aching. I should be finishing typing my presentation for speaking on October 28th out of town.

11. Name 4 drinks you regularly drink. Decaf coffee, water, water, water

12. Current worry right now? Health concern.

13. Current hate right now? Hate how my thoughts can take-off and then hold me captive.

14. Favourite place to be? With my family.

15. Do you like to travel? Yes, as long as we can drive there and I don’t have to fly!

16. What colour shirt are you wearing? Burgundy t-shirt

17. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? No!

18. Can you whistle? One note!

19. Favourite color? Depends, am I wearing it or looking at it?

20. If you could, would you be a pirate? No.

21. What song do you sing in the shower? I get writing ideas in the shower.

22. Favourite girl's name? Heather

23. Favourite boy's name? Christopher

24. What's in your pocket right now? A gift card to Montana’s restaurant and a couple of Kleenex.

25. Favourite bedsheets as a child? Multi floral - very pretty.

26. Worst injury? Cutting the end of my finger right off.

27. Do you love where you live? OK…I know God moved us to our present location, but it would not have been my choice. I want to love it, but I think I only like it.

28. How many TVs do you have in your house? two

29. Who is your loudest friend? I’m choosing to pass this question.

30. How many pets do you have? ZERO

31. Does someone have a crush on you? I’d like to think my husband does.

32. What is your Favourite Book? Besides the Bible? Probably “Utmost for His Highest” and the one my friend Elaine is writing :o)

33. What's your favourite candy? Dark chocolate-orange cream truffles.

34. Favourite Sports Team? My son’s high school volleyball team - he’s the captain.

35. What’s the first thing you thought when you woke up? Turned on the light, reached for my Bible and thought, “Lord what are You going to say to me today?

Feel free to join in the fun, then let me know so I can read your answers!

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Passion

"To the ends of the earth I will follow
There's nothing that I will not do
You alone are my reason for living
Jesus my passion is You."
Travis Cottrell

How my heart has been captured by the words of this song this past week. In case you just read them over quickly, go back and read them again.

Can you say that with deep conviction? Would you follow Him to the ends of the earth? Think of what that might mean. Leaving everything - the familiar and safe, and commencing upon a journey of uncertainty. Going who knows where, doing who knows what. Where would the "ends of the earth" be for you? The farthest, remotest place you think you could barely imagine ever travelling - not geographically necessarily, but where does your heart need to travel in order to abandon it all? To the end of fear...depression
perfectionism...worry...doubt...? To what 'end' does God need to take you?

Then, upon your arrival, is there truly 'nothing' that you wouldn't do? Could you...would you completely surrender? Hold absolutely nothing in reserve? I don't know that I'm there yet. I want to be. Lord, I long for You to be all I want.

Do more than listen to this song my friend. Click below. Turn up the volume. Answer His call. Close your eyes. Raise your hands. Let the message come from your heart. Is He your passion today and forever?

"My Passion" by Travis Cottrell

To read more, visit my other blog by clicking here: Pondering in His Presence