Monday, August 21, 2006

In Your Boat

The last day or so I've been feeling really beaten down and discouraged.  One of my friends actually said my writing was depressing.  That is not what I'm about, so I was sought out ways to adjust my thinking.

I can across this great story in Luke 5 about about Peter and disciples when they were out fishing.  They had worked a long, hard night to no avail and were exhausted and ready to head in.  Jesus asked them to throw their nets out one more time. When they did they pulled in so many fish they almost sank their boat!  In a flash there efforts paid off and they had more rewards than they were ready to receive.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to have that kind of success.  I struggle to remember that I am truly blessed.  Whining about my petty problems, stressing over stupid stuff.  Keeping my eye on the prize reminds me that there is so much worse than how I have it.  Of course, my self-centeredness doesn't stop me from wanting the kind of abundant reward that Peter was given.  A huge heaping helping of success to feel encouraged about.  As I read about this, there were some specific take-aways I noticed in how Peter set himself up to be blessed in such abundance.

First, he asked Jesus onto his boat.  We know that Jesus waits for our invitation, He stands at the door of our life and knocks.  He wants to be with us in our boat, but we have to ask Him to join us.

Secondly, expect the miracle while in the boat.  Christ works within our situations, within our trials.  He doesn't just remove us from them.  While we are still in the boat, He works His will to bless us.  This isn't particularly doing the impossible, but about a change that is most needed.  Usually a big part of that change is within our lives.

Lastly you have to be honest with Him, and follow His guidance.  Being honest is essential to receiving grace.  Without honesty there can be no growth.  Without growth we miss the biggest part of those changes that will become our miracle.  Jesus tells Peter to cast his nets in deep water; so too do we need to dig deep within us to find our confession and confront our need for change.  When we know what needs be done, we must pursue it steadfastly, unerringly, and boldly.

When we tire of the race, when we feel beat down from the change, then we do it all again. Invite him into the boat, expect the miracle in the boat, be honest and follow His guidance.  His sufficiency will supply.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Choice of Time

This morning I woke up with a choice.  Actually, I went to sleep with a choice hanging over my head. This evening there is a worship concert that I've been wanting to attend.  A worship group that I've been hoping to see for a couple of years (yes, years!) is finally touring the US and I have an opportunity to go worship with them.  Okay, I know it sounds like another concert.  That's part of where choice comes in.

Firstly, I'm busy with work. Aren't we always? My head flip flops between the importance of a few more minutes I might be able to accomplish something with the joy of recreating.  This is all tied in with my concern that if I leave work early, what will people think? Am I setting a bad example?  Will my client think I'm not "putting in the time"?  It's only a few minutes, and it's not like I don't work a ton anyway.  Surely they can understand, right?

On the other hand, this is more than a concert to me.  It is an opportunity to worship.  Something I treat as precious and valuable. Should the perceptions from work, or any of that even matter?  If my faith means as much to me, shouldn't I sacrifice anything to keep it healthy?  Obviously, that is subjective argument.  No more so than the arguments for work/life balance, getting enough sleep, or eating your vegetables.

Anyone who knows me would agree that I have a pretty solid work ethic.  This is solely thanks to my remarkable parents.  At first blush, this seems to be coupled in my angst about maintaining my work ethic.  Juliet Schor writes about this topic in Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure.  Since its release there have been numerous other studies that speak on this same topic, but one thing is sure.  We are working harder and longer.  My own life is no exception.

What was needed to shake me up this morning was to take a point from Mary and just be quiet and listen.  My spiritual health, my mental health, these are non-negotiable.  What sacrifices those, must be sacrificed.

I guess I know my choice.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hillsong United

One of my most favorite worship groups, Hillsong United, is on tour in the US!

This is great news for anyone who wants to experience what it is like to worship to high-energy, faith-filled music alongside fellow believers.

Find more about the concert schedule here.