Friday, July 19, 2013
As I sit at my kitchen table, the third wave of storms have passed through and there is a calm outside, as if nature is anticipating number four. It's been quite a week with the heat and this rain is bringing relief - not just to the thirsty ground but also to the high schoolers at Camp Harvest, as well as thousands of other campers and vacationers in western Michigan.
And fall is on my mind. Not just fall, as in cooler weather and changing leaves, but also THE fall, as in, "Welcome, sin and rebellion - you can call our hearts "home" for the time being." Yes, I know it's strange - rain, heat, summer, fall and THE fall, but it is a true glimpse into the mind of Kristen.
This summer we've been studying THE fall and the consequences of sin on woman's mindset. Last night in our study one of the speakers went off on birth control and though I wasn't at study (I'm on babysitting duty as my children are counselors at high school camp), I have been waiting for the complaints and concerns to flood my mailbox. I don't think the women were condemning the use of birth control, although I know several of them would if we gave them the chance. I think the rant was more to inform us that the concept of birth control was birthed out of the feminism movement that said, "I'm going to have sex whenever I want it and no one's going to tell me how many children to have. My body, my choice."
I found the history interesting and it made me again think about THE fall. I have this theory - every day we get further from THE fall, we get more corrupt and more wicked. Think about it just in your lifetime. Think about the television shows you watched as a child and what your children are now exposed to - it's getting worse and worse. It's not that sin has a worse consequence, but rather it's just that we are getting more and more wicked in our sin. And that's probably the real reason why every is so angry all the time - will it get better before Jesus returns? Nope.
Which brings me to this post. We are going to be studying Genesis at ladies study this fall. For several of you, you've already heard me teach this, possibly multiple times. Sorry about that. Being at a new church in a new area, I really feel it's time to get back to the basics and teach the beginning of things. Just as this summer's study has poured over just a few chapters and been a real eye opener, the study of Genesis as a whole is life changing.
When I was younger, I loved Genesis because I loved the stories and the history, but the sinful, bad choices of most of the main characters really bothered me. It was like, Come on, is this the best guy you could find for the job?
Now, with some age and experience under my belt, I see Genesis much differently. I love it because it reveals the heart of God to redeem sinful man. Our self-centered, self-protective, self-promoting selfishness only produces pain, hurt, guilt, shame and death. God produces righteousness in all that He does and believe it or not, He chooses to accomplish His purposes through broken, sinful man. Genesis starts with perfection and then quickly crashes into what is our reality. But God's involvement throughout the whole book gives hope to the hopeless and life to dead men walking.
So, ladies, consider yourself invited. We'll be studying on Monday evenings and Tuesday mornings alike, starting September 9 and 10. Sign up at church so we can get a good count to order workbooks and then get yourself ready to drink from a fire hose. Genesis is so rich and full of truth, you'll need to make extra space in your head just to hold it all.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
I noticed the other day while running errands that in general people are pretty angry.
If you don't agree with me, do your own observation. But my experience was that faces are angrier than usual. Brows are furrowed, tempers are short - even people driving alone in their cars look ticked off most of the time. The other day Dave and I were driving home and were on an open stretch of farmland. We came up behind a car and the man stuck his hand out to wave us past him. Then I realized he wasn't just being friendly but was rather agitated at us. What had we done? Apparently, he was having a bad day.
So if someone observed you, what would they see? Anger? Impatience? Depression? Frustration? Anxiety or worry? Or would they see joy, peace, patience, kindness and goodness? Would they see self-control and faithfulness? I think you see where I am going. Believers typically should display the fruits of the Spirit.
I was listening to a sermon in the car, again while running errands, and Chuck Swindoll said that if you wanted to truly know if your were saved or not, the evidence of true salvation was a "burning passion for obedience." Yes, we are called to bear fruit but the true evidence is a God-given, Holy Spirit driven, passion for obedience to the Lord. He said that when you wake up in the morning, your first question would be (if you were a true follower), "How can I obey God today?" When faced with a choice of obedience or disobedience, there's not even a discussion.
He also greatly emphasized that this passion was evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in your life.
So, does that phrase describe you? Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness like Jesus talked about in the beatitudes? Does pleasing God and living for His glory drive your day?
I will admit, it made me pause and think and I think it should make all of us pause and think. I work with enough struggling people within the context of counseling at church, that I see that passion and I also see the absence of it. When faced with that "choice," what does the discussion in your head look like?
Okay - a short blog but hopefully one that makes you think. Oh - one other note: let's say you don't have that driving passion for obedience? What should you do? Get on your knees and ask God for it. Confess your sin, declare Him Lord, beg for His Spirit to rule your heart and then live like it.
And then be sure to come to church on Sunday as Dave begins to explain the practicalities of change and obedience from Ephesians 4...(shameless plug)