To DO for WHAT or to BE for WHOM?

BAPTism

BAPTism (Photo credit: dtcchc)

The other day I was chicken little, and the sky was falling.  Perhaps those days are somewhat common for a number of people, especially in January or February when the snow is left over and dirty and the air is grey and S T I L L cold.  But this particular day was very low, the sky had already fallen and I couldn’t see.

Everything I’d ever done for the Lord kept repeating in my head like a broken record, followed by these irritating, echoing question marks.  I asked my Lord “what is it all for, everything I’ve recorded or written down, or worked at and invested in?”.   I felt as though every little note and lyric was being sucked down some vortex.  Every time I looked at the stack of files full of songs I felt as though God had forgotten them.  I had spent hours, weeks, months and years perfecting, writing, recording, networking and for what?

“And for whom?” he replied.

About four years ago I remember asking God, “If I’m going to miss what you want me to do, then please bring it to the door!”

He brought them to the door, and many of them were carrying pieces of their broken lives in their hands.

To DO for WHAT, or to BE for WHOM?

A phone call came a couple of days after my L O W day, from one of the single Dads we met three years ago when we started a single parent dinner.  Over time we have become good friends.  I could hear my husband talking on the phone and instantly I knew that our friend had called to tell us he was getting baptized.  I could just tell by the tone in my husband’s voice and sure enough, after passing the phone to me – that was exactly it.  He was getting baptized and wanted us to come.

Suddenly not a single thing mattered other than our friend’s choice to publicly announce his choice to follow Christ.

I heard those words again “for WHAT or for WHOM?”

I heard something else too.  We measure what we “do” because that is what we know from birth, that is what is natural to the flesh – doing and measuring.  How futile.  But when we become followers of Christ, we don’t measure what we do.  We don’t measure that which is spiritual.  How would one even begin to measure the transformation of one person’s heart, and the chain reaction that is set in motion from here to eternity?  I suppose we could begin just by looking upon the cross.  But our hearts will never be able to completely fathom His sacrifice.  When we become followers of Christ, we learn how to relate to a person, and “be” like Him.  And what does that “being” look like?

We love and that love covers a multitude of sin. “Remember this; Who ever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins”, (James 5:20 NIV).  That love saves a precious life from death.  That love brings purpose and a future and a promise that no one can take away.  “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 hope and a future”, (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

And I am in awe that we get to BE a part of that, a part of Him, a part of others’ lives.

 

 

 

Monkey See, Monkey do do do do do do do

You’ve heard it said, heck we’ve all seen it proven that ten percent of a church body does the work while the rest…..  I don’t know what the rest do, and I don’t want to waste time finding out.  All I want is to hear Jesus speak to me.  If I take my eyes off of Jesus I will drown.  

I am convinced if we are all sitting on the edge of our seat with expectation, He is going to speak to us and tell us what is needed.  And usually, if we’re really paying attention, he whispers something sweet and low ..”here I am” – r e l a t i o n s h i p.

Ah that’s the key.  What is needed.  Jesus has been teaching me so much about relationship which is very important from where I come from.  I was born into a family and my parents did the best they could but relationship wasn’t encouraged.  You could say we are the same as anyone that is born here on earth.  Monkey see, monkey do.

Look at Adam and Eve, they were given this garden to walk and talk with God in and Satan comes along and tempts them to ‘DO” something.  All of a sudden just being with God wasn’t enough.

It is all this doing that we do, that keeps us from Jesus and truly caring about one another.

Our human word, the one that trips us up because it sounds so dog gone necessary….

r e s p o n s i b i l i t y

That’s right, most of the time we miss Jesus and everything he has for us because we are so high and mighty on the responsibility thing, the planning, the details, the lists.

If you want to get technical, the most responsible thing you can do is be “eternal” minded, and to be eternal minded you need a mind transplant, and for a mind transplant – it’s quite simple – you need to listen to Jesus.  Only Jesus can reach in with his healing hand and turn our brains heavenward again.  When he does – we are saved from the perpetual

do  do  do  do  do  do  do  do  do  do  do  do  do  – you get the idea.

If you are planning something today and want God’s blessing, ask yourself this question:  Was it His idea, or yours?

If it was His idea, how much of it did you decide to pump up, and why?

Be very careful you don’t plan God right out of the plan because if you do – there won’t be any relationship come of it at all.  Even the smallest of things can take His glory away.

God has a plan, and He’s asked us to share it with others.  The simpler we do that the better..   No, so and so isn’t going to pat you on the back, and maybe you who over there is going to scowl.  You might look disorganized or artsy fartsy, but in the end it only matters what God looks like.  It’s always been about HIM.

 

A Heart at Home Anywhere

So Friday morning came and I was up and out of bed to see our daughter off to the airport.  So proud of myself, organizing and starting breakfast.  The only thing was,  I forgot I started breakfast and went out to my workshop.  When I came back in the house it was full of smoke.  I felt like a total ditz.  Talk about having my mind on something else.  Anyway Julie forgave the smoke, and I decided I simply couldn’t ever try multi-tasking when it came to cooking, again.  That way she’ll have a home to come home to, when her DTS in Australia is over.

I’ve been thinking about her latest post in http://www.juliechristinepalin.wordpress.com, about “feeling out-of-place”.  I was working on a paper for school yesterday and reading about how Moses felt out-of-place in Egypt and in Midian.  It wasn’t until God called him to lead the people out of Egypt that Moses felt like he was living on purpose.

In the last forty years of his life I suppose it could be said he never had a home.  I suppose his tent sufficed, but I believe Moses heart was always at home with God.

I was blown away to read about the death of Moses in Deuteronomy 34.  Verse seven tells us that his eyes were not weak and his strength was not gone when he died.  In other words, God decided to take him and Moses obeyed.  Don’t you find that amazing?  Doesn’t that make you want to have that kind of relationship with God?  Moses trusted him, Moses was in love with him and knew there was a bigger picture.

I suppose many don’t press in because they want the relationship but not the sacrifice.  That says a bunch about our culture.  We want the marriage but not the sacrifice.  We want children but not the sacrifice.  We want to be Christians but not sacrifice.  We want a church but not the sacrifice.  We want our house and our cars and our shopping but not real life.

Real life, real honest to goodness living is having a heart that is at home with God.

You press on Julie!  Press on Wes and Laura and Eric and Madison…..don’t settle until you’re living on purpose!

Answering the Call

julie and little red wagon

Julie pulling her little red wagon, soon to be toting her big red backpack

We hear He loves us all the time but when He actually moves in close where you can feel His breath on your neck, and romantically bestows a tender personal gift – we’re surprised.

Christmas brought relatives and visiting and cooking and eating.  New Years brought school, and related assignments, back to work and more visitors to bid our Julie farewell on her travels.  A midst everything I kept pressing in to Jesus and then a couple of days ago – a song.

I love the melody, the words, everything about it.  I got a call yesterday from a writer’s group (whom I’ll leave anonymous at this time), and they were asking about one of my songs that I had entered into a competition.  Even though I thought my entry didn’t need to be accompanied with a disc, they were requesting a sound file anyway.  I went out to my workshop and dug out the box of cords for my recording equipment.  We had moved all the studio stuff to the workshop so we could set up a guest room again for all our guests.  I wondered when I’d get to record again and then the phone call.

So I plugged everything in whilst remembering the first time we bought the equipment, our friend John who had helped us set it up, wondered if I’d remember how to do it myself, and bingo – recorded a rough draft for my entry and sent it off.  Then I remembered – the song.  Now that I had everything set up and plugged in, I locked the studio door and indulged myself.   I sat down again and began to record the new song and lost myself in the moment of it all.  Somehow I knew the timing was significant.

This morning I awoke and three things were on my mind.  Julie had one day left with us before she was to take off for five months.  I had a new song floating through my head AND Jesus loves me that much.  He knows what we need when we need it.  He comes along at just the right time and gives us – a song.

I recognized what He was doing, the giving and the taking.  The adding and subtracting of life.  He was blessing us for releasing our daughter to serve Him, by giving me a song.  I knew the song in itself didn’t hold some magical power, but the truth, the message in the song was two-fold.  Julie was answering a call and so must I continue to live out the call God had for me.

A dear neighbor and friend once told me about an article she had read.  Another mother in the faith had suggested that we understand our children leaving as not only part of God’s mysterious plan, but a gift!  A window of time different from any other, for us to continue to answer the call He has on our lives.  I must also say that if Jesus is going to prepare us for releasing our daughter, He is going to be as real and strong for her.

I’ve recorded a sound sample without vocals for you to hear.  It is a rough draft.  And as you listen to it, remember – Jesus loves you.  Give Him a chance to romance you and for Eternity’s sake – ANSWER THE CALL.  http://www.newcindypalin.com

see website above for sound sample

Going through the motions, knowing there is someone else

promising devotion, calling you beyond yourself

there are times you’ve considered leaving what you know

then default wins the battle and even if it’s cold

You’re gonna stay living your life your way

You’re gonna stay – living your life

You’re gonna choose whether He paid the price

that you’re alright – living your life

He knows you’ve hungered after more

He’s seen your soul reach for the door

Going through the motions, knowing there’s an atmosphere

more than just a notion, want to hear Him loud and clear

So the hour of decision stands before your heart

Mercy wins the battle and opens up His arms

You’re gonna stay living His life His way

You’re gonna stay now that you’re alive

You’re gonna choose learning to sacrifice

and you’re alright – now that you’re alive

You’re gonna stay

copyright February 1, 2013 – Cindy Palin

All rights reserved

Nest Jumping

bird in nestWe asked our Pastor if he would pray for our youngest daughter in front of the congregation this past Sunday morning.  It is a practice we enjoy for anyone who is leaving the fold, for a mission.

Befittingly after the service, people who we’ve known for years came up to bid her goodbye and it meant so much to all of us.  One of our friends matter of factly stated that I looked too excited to see our daughter go.  It must have been my smile that threw her off.

I pondered her statement walking home from church.   I was trying to figure out if part of the reason we parents fall apart when our last child leaves the nest is because people expect us to.  There’s a lot of hype about how we are suppose to feel and react when it happens.

I asked God for some clarity.  How was I going to go through this transition?  Immediately I thought of the opposite end of the spectrum.  How did I feel when we brought our firstborn home?  Maybe I’m strange but as soon as I laid our new baby down in her crib I knelt on my knees and cried “what have we done Lord?”  All the mistakes I’d made as a teenager came flooding back through my mind.  If it hadn’t been for Christ’s forgiveness, they would have revisited in stabbing, living color, but they were just faded memories of someone I use to know.  Memories removed as far as east is from the west.  Regardless, how could even a” new creation” possibly do right by the precious little infant smiling up at me?

My mind went further back in time to when I set off in my little red Chevette for Tennessee where I planned to attend songwriting workshops in Nashville.  I was 21 at the time and all by myself.  How did I feel?  I was nervous to be driving across North America alone, but I was excited to be leaving everything I knew to focus on my new relationship with Jesus.

There’s something really special about jumping out of the nest when you know you’re jumping into Jesus’ arms.   From what we know of our daughter thus far, and the choices she has made we believe she’s leaving the nest to fan the flame of faith.

So it is count down to Friday, four and one half days ’till she jumps on a plane, and then another and another.  Four and one half days ’till she jumps out of the nest into Jesus’ arms and begins her own journey of faith.  We as parents shared our story, our faith with her for a time.  When she walks through the security gates at the airport – their story begins, Jesus and Julie.

Our daughter is planning to blog about her first prolonged trip away from home.  While she is away I plan to blog about how it feels to have an empty nest.  Together we’ll see how this new leg of the journey affects our whole family.

Orange and Blue

Was kneeling beside the bed talking to God.  I looked up and saw the dead orange maple seeds clinging to the bare bone branches.  But there in behind was that incredible, trustworthy blue sky backdrop.  P.S.  We don’t live in Vancouver.

I think that’s what I must look like when I am walking in my own strength, dead and orange and clingy.  And there’s the Lord in all His grandeur, vibrant and true blue, waiting in the wings to envelope me in His arms when I finally learn to trust.

Orange and blue.  Those colors go together amazingly well, something you don’t see much of in home decor.  I smiled as I looked around our bedroom, blue and orange.  I know it sounds crazy but I had inadvertently designed our bedroom after the pattern outside our window.

I’ve been feeling kind of sorry for myself, discouraged about some of the gifts God has given, not being used.  And yet, as soon as I released that thought I heard Him say something.

You’re right, Lord, I am using them, they are just not fitting into the box we live in.  But we don’t LIVE in this box.  I’d rather our relationship be ALIVE than do something simply for the sake of doing it, or because it is the trendy thing to do, or for someone else’s approval.

Then I thought about some of the people I’ve been discouraged for, and I heard Him say something else.

You’re right Lord, discouragement is a sign we’re walking in our own strength again.  Trusting in our own wisdom.  And it’s not even close to wise.  Wise people don’t write people off before the end is even here.  “It is a good thing you don’t do that to us” I sighed.

“I’m sorry” I said out loud.  I got up off my knees and went out into the living room.

I trust you Jesus with what you’ve given me.  Thank you for what you are using it for even if I can’t see that right now.  I trust your timing and I trust you with those people you’ve put in my life.  And as I learn to be more like you, as I talk to you and practice being ALIVE in you, I trust that you’re going to show me some amazing things.  You already have.

Orange and Blue.

Creatures of Habit

Strange, but writing out the phrase “creatures of habit” doesn’t bring me any kind of peace,  instead those words bring me to my knees.   On my knees to meet with Jesus who knows us all by name, who can release the same power in our lives that rolled away His tombstone and brought Him back to life the third day, a power that can save us, change us and rescue us from remaining “creatures of habit”.

My friend is going to continue to wait for an apology before he goes back to church, an apology that may never come.  So why wait?  Creatures of habit.

Another friend is waiting on God to show her what to do about a relationship she is caught in the middle of.  Question is, why didn’t she wait on him before she jumped into it?  Creatures of habit.

A dear loved one is having trouble reading the Bible.  She has witnessed God’s transforming power in other people’s lives, and wants to experience that transformation too.  The Bible sits on her end table day after day, waiting for her to pick it up, but she still believes the lies she was told when she was little.  “You’re stupid” someone said.  She still believes the lies she was told when she got married, “you’re stupid” he said.  She didn’t like those words then and certainly doesn’t like them now but they’ve become familiar.  So instead of trying something new, instead of picking up the Bible that is full of truth and freedom and promise, she sticks with what she knows best – lies.  Creatures of habit!

Someone battles day after day with garbage that was dumped on him years ago.  Powerful garbage, the kind that seeps into your pours and smells from the inside out.  He’s making progress, he’s gaining ground and then……creatures of habit.

Someone lost his temper the other day.  He thought he could keep it under control by ignoring it, by working hard, by going through the motions by telling himself he’s good and then it appeared and destroyed everything.  Creatures of habit.

Someone got badgered again.  He’s never taken the reigns to protect her, never understood his position of leadership.  Always thought someone else could say it, if he couldn’t and now she suffers every day because he never said anything.  Creatures of habit.

Oh Lord, deliver me from my sin and the person that I am.  Fill me with your Holy Spirit anew every day that I might soar high above the circumstances of life and be that new creation instead of a creature of habit. 

And Lord, teach me how to pray when I am on my knees.   Teach me how to pray for others, that they too will experience new life in you – and be released from merely going through the motions.  I believe!