Monday, April 21, 2014

Talkin' it over

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Something was stirred in me this weekend; I'd like to talk about it but I have to do a little back story first.

I have posted about that before, in Patience, Part 3 from the Plain Vanilla Files, but I'll copy out the pertinent bit here:

A number of years ago, I was in a situation that I considered to be just plain unfair. I had learned enough to know not to gripe about it to anybody else, but it was just really getting to me. Finally, I found myself driving home from the grocery store, completely alone (I had pre-school kids at the time...time alone was rare). Now, I thought, I can at least tell God how unfair this whole situation is! I opened my mouth and began to let God know exactly what I thought about the way I was being treated. I got about to the second sentence when He stopped me cold.

“Do you think I don’t know what’s going on?” I felt Him speak to my spirit.

“Well,” I replied, “I know You know, but I just feel like I need to say it out loud anyway…y’know, Lord, get it off my chest.”

Suddenly, the Holy Spirit showed me that I wasn’t sharing my heart with God – I was justifying my feelings. I saw that I was actually rehearsing my story so I could tell it for maximum effect later on! And, instead of turning the burden over to God, I was just getting myself more upset about the situation. I felt Him very deliberately tell me not to speak out loud what I was feeling. Big ouch!

The narrative goes on to explain that I obeyed that instruction, and over time the pain healed up.

Which is all well and good, but somehow I let that become the paradigm for dealing with any thing that bothered or disturbed me...I would not speak specifically about it, not wanting to reinforce the negative in my spirit.

Many, many times my prayer about a painful or confusing or frustrating situation was just 'Lord, You know...'

Pastor's Easter weekend sermon focused on the road to Emmaus.  It was plainly evangelic, calling in those who needed to take the road home, but some of the details applied so much to me that I had to fight back tears more than once during the 6 times I heard the message (once in the sanctuary; the other five live streaming back in my office as I worked on the data processing for the weekend).

It was a bit of a paradigm shift.

He pointed out that Jesus asked the two guys what they were talking about as he joined them.  He actually asked them to tell him what was going on.

Pastor pointed out that of course, he knew better than anyone what had happened, but he wanted them to tell him what was on their hearts. 'That's what a good Counselor does,' he observed.

That flew right in the face of my 'He knows and I don't need to hear myself repeat it' approach to such things.

Which means I had to come home and reconcile those two seemingly opposing instructions.

You've probably seen the difference already, but I can be thick skulled and boneheaded and I had to go back and look to see it spelled out.

It's the difference between whining and complaining, wanting to justify my thoughts/emotions and honestly telling God what is going on.  And I've been so determined not to do the first that I have kinda stopped doing the second.

Time to 'recalculate' my direction just a bit.

And I've got some things to tell Him.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My Part

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I wrote a bit on Good Friday last year that  I don't think  I could say any better this year:

Sacrifice is a common theme among world religions.

The Greeks and the Romans were perfectly familiar with the concept of a son of a deity walking around on earth; part of the reason Pilate freaked out when the Jews said Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.  Pilate, a Roman who no doubt worshiped Zeus and Mercury and the like, had no problems with the notion that the Son of God could be standing before him.  So the idea of God coming down to walk around with people isn't unique either.

But...God sacrificing Himself on behalf of the people He loves is unique.

All other religions require people to sacrifice to appease God.  Christianity states that God sacrificed himself so that sin could be removed and His relationship to people restored.

Good Friday is dark and grim and shocking ... Resurrection Sunday is the miraculous fulfillment, and together they are the difference that makes Christianity unique. 

Actually, Good Friday is the culmination of the Great Sacrifice; the first was Jesus leaving heaven, leaving glory, to come walk around on earth as a human, subject to all the same stuff, the same vulnerabilities as every other human

That He also endured Good Friday for us...not just the unspeakable physical suffering, but the emotional suffering of being rejected by the very nation He had come to redeem, abandoned by nearly all the people who were close to Him and under the judgment of God for transgressions He did not commit...(my rebellion and my selfishness) further evidence of His amazing love for us.

Inspired by the BSF study of John, May 1996:


I see You hanging on the cross,
I know Your death’s for me
I understand no one but You
Could pay the penalty

But, there seems to be so much
That You are called to bear,
I find myself reluctant
To add to that, my share.

Why can’t I drop this load of sin
Before You, at Your feet –
And leave it there upon the ground
And then, delivered, retreat?

But gravity will not remove
The stain that sin imparts.
Either You or I must bear this load
That weighs upon my heart.

So I must claim my part in
The suffering that You had
And deliberately choose to place my sin
Upon Your bleeding head.

“Oh, Lord, forgive me!” I must cry
As the burden I cast on You
And count myself along with those
Whose whips and scorn You knew.

Never again will I lightly treat
Your sacrifice for me
For I see anew it was MY sin
You bore upon the tree.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What, Already???

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Easter is Sunday.


5 days away.

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel that, despite the fact that the full moon after the spring equinox didn't actually happen until this week (the determining factor in when Easter falls on the calendar, if you didn't know), Easter has arrived awfully soon?

Maybe it's the cold weather.  Or maybe I'm just not tracking with things.  I just know it sure doesn't feel like it should be Easter.

I have blogger friends who are doing introspective blogs about Lent, or about Holy Week...and I feel really out of step.  Not that I'm doing the whole Easter dress...coloring eggs...secular Easter celebration.  No, I'm coming up with process queues so that folks who respond to the Easter message will be contacted and encouraged in a timely fashion; making sure the extra services are scheduled in the software so that tykes can be checked in to their classes, and making plans to attend the first of six services this weekend (Friday night) so I can spend the other five services doing data that guests are acknowledged, prayer requests come before the intercessor team, and people who want more info about various ministries  get a response.

It's Easter prep of a whole different nature when you're the church data admin.

The struggle is to not lose sight of the miracle and the triumph of Holy Week in the practical and sometimes frantic preparation that enables us to minister to folks who don't normally attend a church present the Gospel to people who may not have heard it before. 

Which sounds crazy...that there could be folks in the Bible Belt South of America...who haven't heard the Gospel.

But they're there.  Many are people who think they know the message, because they've heard some snarky twist on it presented by folks who have an agenda to marginalize and ridicule the concept of faith.  Some are folks who were around bitter church goers who presented a harsh judgmental facade and so they never saw anyone who appeared to be a follower of the One who commanded us to love one another.  And some are folks who grew up thinking Easter was really nothing more than colored eggs and chocolate bunnies, who don't know why  we celebrate.

To be honest, I don't even like to say 'Easter', because of its pagan roots, but that's what's on the calendar so we'll go with it.

However you're preparing yourself to commemorate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus,  I hope you get some time to reflect on the sacrifice He gave...and the glory that followed.

Even if it's arriving a whole lot sooner than it feels like it should. ;-)

Friday, April 4, 2014

In the midst of change...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

One of my favorite Christmas movies is The Muppet Christmas Carol.  There is something at the end of it, though, that has suddenly felt very  real-life...when The Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come moves Scrooge from one place to another, the whole world that they're in skews and spins and they walk through the twisting and come out in the other place as the world rights itself behind them.  They haven't changed a bit, but everything around them is different.

In a couple of key areas in my life and personal ministry, I've felt like things have begun to skew and twist around me.  It's odd and unsettling, because I'm not sure if I'm going to just walk through all the shifting and changing and come out on the other side basically as I went in or if I'm going to get caught up in the swirl and land with  a whole new assignment in another area all together.   Or even if I'm going to get shelved for a season.

As it has seemed to pick up momentum in the last few weeks, the memory verse for the current Friends Club (middle school girls class) unit has been a real 'word in due season' for me --

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  -- 1 Cor. 15:58 NIV 84

So even if the current assignment comes to an a different way than I had pictured...on the other side of the shifting, it has not been useless or worthless or without fruit.

Even if I don't necessarily see what the fruit was; even if all appearances are that it really never worked.  Even if ...well, even if whatever.  Nothing done in Him is ever a wasted effort.

Even if it appears to be invisible.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hodge Podging Again

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

What is there about a set of random questions that includes one about a book that makes me decide I have to answer???

Dunno.  But there are a few other folks who answered as well...check it out at From This Side of the Pond.

1. Since these questions are posting on the first day of April it seems only right to ask-when was the last time you did something foolish? If you can't answer that one, try this one-when was the last time someone fooled you?

I guess the most recent time I was fooled was when I commented on a rather out-of-character facebook post made by a friend, only to receive a message that it was a secret game and now I had to pick something  from a random list of obnoxious posts and put it on my page for an hour.  Now, I consider myself a fairly good sport...I did the giraffe thing, even though the riddle was flawed...but this seemed outside of the realm of fair play and I balked.  Shame on me, maybe, but fair is fair.

2. What's the last biography or non-fiction book you've read? Was it any good?

I read George Washington's Secret Six:  The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager whilst sitting in the waiting rooms at the surgery center as my older son had his knee repaired.  It was a quick read...I read all of it before he got to his room...but very enlightening.  I'd never really heard the whole Benedict Arnold story (yup, those six civilian spies were key players), and many of the American Revolution stories that I learned in history class looked a little different coming from a non-textbook perspective.  I'd recommend it.

3. Garlic-friend or foe? What's your favorite dish made with garlic?

I like garlic as a flavoring amongst other flavors; not so much by itself. My favorite garlic-heavy dish is a soup that we call 'Chicken Fajita Soup' or 'Mexican Chicken Soup'...I've posted the recipe before.

4. Several Spring flower festivals happen in the US during the month of April. Of those listed, which would you most like to see in person...The Skagit Tulip Festival in Skagit Washington, The Dogwood Arts Festival in Knoxville Tennessee, The North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington North Carolina or the Daffodil Festival Weekend on Nantucket Island, Massachussets?

I like flowers as much as the next person, but not as Main Attractions.  As trimmings around the edges...fine.  So I'd probably pick the Dogwood Festival in Knoxville, since I'm at least a little familiar with that area and I can mix in some arts-and-crafts stuff down towards Gatlinburg and maybe wander through a bit of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

5. How do you choose which blogs to read?  What is something that will make you stop and read every time? Something that makes you say, 'eh, think I'll skip this one and move on to the next'?

That's a really hard question to answer; I've wondered myself what makes me stop and read ... or add a blog to my reader list.  Mostly because I want to incorporate that 'something' into my blog, which is virtually invisible in the blogging world and only has about 10 regular visitors.  Obviously, I haven't identified it yet, but I think it has something to do with recognizing a kindred spirit.

Skipping blogs is's a topic that isn't near and dear to my heart, or one that is a repeat of other blogs I've read, or one that takes an angry or a condescending tone towards anyone.

6. April is National Mathematics Education Month so tell us, when did you last use math?

LOL...  I wanted to write computer programs, but the computer science program at the local college required so  much math that it was silly not to just take the extra three courses and get a double major.  So, yeah, I'm a math major.  And I used math just yesterday to compute a tip at a restaurant.  Probably used it today, too, but I'm too lazy at the moment to review the day to see where.

7. In honor of the A-Z challenge kicking off on April 1...choose one word beginning with the letter A to describe your yesterday.

Adamant.  I decided that it was TIME to do something about the creeping scales and waistline...and had to turn down some incredibly tempting Gigi's cupcakes in order to stick to my resolve.  But I did it...and walked 2 1/2 miles in the evening to boot.  First steps and all that.

8. Insert your own random thought here. 

It's hard to know when to speak up and when to shut up...I wish I were better at determining that...