Monday, November 29, 2010

Eat Pray Love (Only If It Makes Me Happy)

I recently saw the movie Eat Pray Love. I had a preconceived idea of what it was going to be like based on the trailer and a description of the movie. I sensed that there was going to be a lot of hogwash about how you need to "find yourself" and take any and all necessary steps to find your own happiness. I had hoped that I would be pleasantly surprised and the movie would offer some depiction of the main character discovering joy in life through giving of herself to help others, or better yet, by reaching out to God Himself and desiring to please Him rather than herself.
But sadly, Eat Pray Love turned out to be just what I was afraid it would be: a story of an unfulfilled, young woman who decides she doesn't want to be unfulfilled anymore. So she does what any selfish, misguided person would do; she sets out to satisfy her longings and "empty places". It's all about her. Ironically, toward the beginning of the movie, she does cry out to God. It's quite a moving scene, actually. It's the middle of the night and she asks God for His help and begs Him to tell her what to do. Then she promptly climbs back into bed and tells her husband she's leaving him. And we're supposed to be thinking that that was God's answer to her.
From there, the character moves on from one self-focused decision to another. I couldn't help but think how many women this movie will influence. How many selfish attitudes will be perpetuated by the message that happiness is attained by doing "whatever feels good" and putting one's own wants and needs first? What a sad, narcissistic way of thinking.

What a silly, shallow movie.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Practice Makes...Peace

I want more peace in my life. I think we all do. There are plenty of deterrents in our lives, though, that would keep true peace just out of our grasp. But they are just that-deterrents. Not insurmountable circumstances, but challenges to be faced head-on. In fact, the very definition of deterrent suggests "a way around":

deterrent: something that makes movement or progress difficult

Not impossible, but difficult.

There is a passage in Philippians 4:7-9 that gives us a prescription for peace. Within three verses we read two phrases that sing to my soul: the peace of God and the God of peace. These  verses are within the context of our thought patterns and what we choose to do mentally with our concerns. Paul tells us to think about eight things regularly, as we go from day to day, some days good and some days that bring challenges. He says to think about things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise. 
Hmm, a lot of things I think about don't really fall under any of those categories. How about you?

Then Paul goes on to say that we have to practice these things. Practice. That sounds intentional. Deliberate. 

So if I had to sum up Philippians 4:7-9, I think Paul was telling us this:

The peace of God will guard your mind as you deliberately think about positive, God-honoring things. And as you practice this kind of thinking, the God of peace Himself will live in you and through you.

I want that kind of peace!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Joy of Service

I worked with a group of women tonight preparing for our Ladies' Retreat at The Creek which starts tomorrow night. I came home with a smile on my face thinking about the evening and what fun we had. Those women were a pleasure to work with because of the joy they had while serving. We were all tired, none of us had eaten supper, and one had come straight from work where she'd been since 7:00 that morning! But the sheer joy of service and Christian fellowship won out over hunger and fatigue. At one point we even took a break and danced to the music that was playing. I came home thinking, "This is how it's supposed to be; using your gifts in service to others, and finding joy and fulfillment working together for a common purpose. And having a blast doing it!"
God is good. He didn't have to allow us to have fun serving Him. But that's the kind of God He is!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why do you call me Lord?

 I love the drama group "One Time Blind". They say so much in a very short time and each message is right on target concerning an area in which we tend to be hypocritical. This one is based on Luke 6:46: " Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"

How often do we ask things of Him because He is our "Lord", but we don't bother doing things He's asked of us?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

By Our Love

We're getting ready to have a Ladies' Retreat at Cedar Creek next weekend and the theme is "Love Rocks!" We're going to watch and discuss four videos on how to love four different types of people: Joy, Testy, Foe, and Far. Joy is the person that's easy to love. Testy is that person who is sometimes difficult to love because of selfishness, irritability, or simply a lack of character. Foe is your outright enemy; someone you just do not get along with at all. And Far is the person representing the mission field; that vast number of people all over the world that need Jesus but who seem too far away for us to make a difference.
Why, after all this time, do we still need to talk about, study, and discuss how to love one another? We all know we're supposed to do it. We know Jesus modeled it perfectly and called His followers to do it. We know it's what sets the church apart from the world and makes us light. Yet we struggle.
 Jesus said, "By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another." So it stands to reason that if we do not have love for one another (love that is evident), people will not know that we are His disciples. If the devil can get us to harbor unforgiveness and bitterness; if he can entice us to gossip and backbite; when we don't reach out in love to others who are hurting because we are too busy, then we cease to look different from the world and our witness is lost. Satan works overtime on this one. If he keeps Christians from loving each other and the lost, he doesn't have to do much else. We become completely ineffective for the cause of Christ.
Jesus gave the command to love one another when He was on earth. He called it "a new commandment". You'd think He wouldn't have had to give such a command even then, but He did. Then John reminds us of the command in 1 John 2:7, only he called it an old commandment, because by then it was. But the Christians  he was writing to obviously needed reminding. And so do we. Because to love difficult and faraway people takes intentionality. It simply does not come naturally to us. We need reminders and we need repeated looks at the life of Jesus. He loved perfectly. All the time. And people were attracted to Him because of it. He was light in a dark world. And that's what He has called us to be.
And so we study love; the new, old, and most important commandment. (Mark 12:29-31)

Saturday, August 21, 2010


"And He did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief."  Matthew 13:58

I've read that verse a hundred times. I always "understood" it in its context-Jesus not being accepted in His hometown. But as I read it again a few mornings ago, it dawned on me that this verse is for me. I have sensed the Holy Spirit saying to me, "You're holding back God's mighty works with your unbelief." Don't get me wrong; I pray about things and I believe in the power of God. But do I believe God will do mighty works in my life? In my family's life? In the church? In the world? Do I have the faith that God requires in order for His works to be unleashed? Do I really believe that He is "able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us"? (Ephesians 3:20)
What is the power at work within us? James tells us that "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." (James 5:16) The context of that statement is faith. God will hear, comfort, heal, raise up, forgive, when we pray in faith. Elijah prayed for a drought and God did a mighty work and stopped the rain. After the three and a half year drought, Elijah prayed for rain, and God did a mighty work and sent rain. "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours", it says in James 5:17, but he prayed fervently, and he was a man of great faith. We often pray fervently, but do we have great faith? Do we truly believe that God will do the mighty act for which we are praying?
Mark's account of Jesus' rejection in His hometown contains these verses: "And He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief." (Mark 6:5-6)

How long has God been waiting to do mighty works, but we've held Him back with our unbelief?
Jesus told the man who asked for healing for his sick boy, "All things are possible for one who believes."(Mark 9:23)

My prayer these days is the same as that man's in verse 24: "I believe; help my unbelief!"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Countdown

My daughter is going to college in six days. I had a "moment" this morning. While making plans for next week, it occurred to me that none of those plans will include her, and the thought brought me to tears. I recovered fairly quickly, but I am expecting to have several more "moments" over the next few weeks.
What a strange season of life. I'm thinking back to when I left home for college, and I wonder if my Mom had the same feelings about me leaving as I'm having now. And I'm thinking about how the last thing on my mind when I was 18 was how my Mother was feeling about my leaving home.  I suppose that's a good thing. My daughter has enough to worry about; leaving her home and family, moving into a new place with strangers, beginning college classes, striking out "on her own". She doesn't need to be worrying about her mother! But I do hope she misses me a little.
Is that too much to ask?