Neil - Changes and Growth

Growing and Discerning...After the Heart of God

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Refrigerator Faith

You know, just to start off with a random thought I heard today. How often do we in our lives have "a refrigerator Bible?" You know, the type of Bible where, ya know what, I know if I eat when I need it, I'll be fine. I know I'm supposed to feed from it every once in a while, not all the time, but just enough to tie me over until the next time?? I've been, AT BEST, this good many times in my life. Think about it. I bet MOST Christians have this type of a Bible, myself included. Then, when we finally do get to the refrigerator, what do we do? We open it up, we grab the leftover Stouffer's Lasagna(It's always better the 2nd day), we grab the cake...we grab the good stuff. We don't grab the raw liver, or the pig's feet, or the mayonnaise that has been in the fridge so long its beginning to grow fur. We grab what we know is good - what we know will satisfy us.

How many times do we do this in life? How many times do we do this with the Bible? We stick to what works. We look for the verses about love, and encouragement. We stick to the New Testament - why? Because its awesome stuff! We know it! we know God promises us these things, and we never get tired of hearing it. That's all great, it really is. I do it ALL the time. But what about the rest of the story? What about the chicken liver? what about that maynnaise? It's in the fridge for a reason right....Don't we owe it to ourselves, and to God, to see what it has to offer??

Now I am not of course suggesting we eat the mayonnaise with the fur - in fact, I hate all mayonnaise, but you get my point. I want to find out what it has to offer...I HAVE to find out what it has to offer, what the connections are. Sort of hit home yesterday doing some reading:

Gen. 45:4-8

"Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8 "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt."(from

Old Testament. The stuff we know, the stuff we rarely view as other than a story, but here's what jumped out at me. Joseph says here "It was not you who sent me here, but God." Josephs brothers, his flesh and blood, turned his back on him, or even worse, abandoned him, by selling him into slavery. And after all that time, when facing his brothers, what did he do? If you know my brother you know darn well what I'd do. I'd come out swining most likely - the Years of anger growing inside me(watering the 'wrong' parts of my life - see yesterday's post). But Joseph said "God did this to me, not you." What if we viewed everything every person does to us in our lives as God doing it to us? What if God said we let him down? What if God yelled at us for wrecking our car when we were teenagers? What if Jesus himself were the person we were holding resentment towards because of something they did to us 5 years ago? How crazy is that. I don't know about you, but for me, it would be gone in an instant. How could I ever be mad at Jesus for doing ANYTHING to me after all of the things I have done to him through my sin?
But that is essentially what it is. We always preach and know that God is in control:

"Everything in the heavens and the earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything...your hand controls power and might and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength" - 1 Chron 29:11-12

So this we know is true, so essentially isn't it God himself doing the things around us? Building us up, breaking us down? I am challenging myself to look at my life this way anytime I get sinful feelings towards circumstances around me. Rather than asking God "Why are you doing these horrible things to me Lord(or fill in the blank with the name of a...let us say brother =))" we can ask "Lord Break me so you can build me up again." It's really an amazingly intuitive way of thinking about circumstances around us...I hope that I can only have of the insight Joseph had, so I may recognize similar situations, no matter how minor they may seem.
Again, its not what I write on here which is important - it is the way I LIVE MY LIFE that is the most important...let me not forget this.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weeds vs. Fruit and a side of Chili

Okay...haven't done the online journals in a while, but now we're getting it back! I've been up and down lately, but the big change in my life is the recent assurance that change will be coming soon. I've been living in Kansas City for about 16 months now and the Lord has put it on my heart for the first time, as I knew would happen when I moved here, to start moving in new directions...I'm still not exactly sure what that means just yet, but I'm going to be patient and trusting in the process.

Gal. 5:19-26

"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. "
Anyways, VERY good message today at church. The pastor, Dan, is traveling to China to pick up his daughter that he is adopting...really nice story actually, but he recorded the message before leaving, which we watched on video. He began by starting with a story another leader within the church had told him. Let me set it up for you.
IT started with him feeling called in some way to "water everything green" in his yard. So day in, day out he would be watering everything in his back yard which was green. I found myself picturing the guy just standing in the back of his yard, with an estranged smile on his face...almost as if he was high, just smiling...hose running...And one day he was back watering with his cousin, and the cousin said:

"What are you doing?"

"Watering the plants." he replied.
"Uh...those aren't plants. Those are Weeds."
The leader then looked for a minute...and replied.

The connection is great. So many times in our lives we 'water' things - good and bad alike. The It is a VERY sensitive thing to do. If we spend time in prayer, and focusing on our spiritual life, we will grow. By doing devotionals, constantly making the right decisions, and spending time 'watering' these parts of our lives, growth is inevitable.
On the contrary...we can go the other way with this one. If we water the other parts of our lives, the sinful side of our nature, this will grow. I'm sure we can all relate to this - I know I can. IT always starts with (1) LITTLE sin. Then it just grows. Sometimes when I was in college i would make it a point, just as an example, to not drink any alcohol at certain points. My senior year I once went 40 days without drinking...which doesn't seem like much now, but back then it was. I was improving in my spiritual life every day.
But then I'd go out and have one beer, then two...and the next time three...and it would be a while before I realized I would be falling into the same patterns that got me to the point I was at in the first point. Now alcohol isn't really a big problem in my life...even if it was it isn't's always been controllable to me, but i feel many of us can relate to this story. In fact, just writing this makes me want to have a boulevard Wheat! It's a Kansas City Beer. I've had a 12 pack in my fridge for a good month and a half now...i always get too tired to have one and fall asleep!

Anyways, back to my point. When we water these "sinful" things in our lives - whether it be alcohol, or lying, or jealousy, they will grow inside of us. And the problem with watering? We can't water more than one thing at a time. So if we're spending our time watering the bad things in our lives, the good things will begin to die. The leader in the church our pastor was referring to looked around his yard to see the fruit and plants in the other parts of his yard dying...because he was focusing on the weeds. Everybody knows this is true...when we're growing in sin, our spirit will wither; however, if we water our spiritual lives - the 'fruit' -and continue to do so, the sin inside of us - the 'weeds' - will wither away....but if we ever decide to step on over, and 'water' the weeds again, they'll come right back.

So it is my prayer that we would spend our time focusing on the fruit in our lives - and watering the fruit, so the weeds and sin in our lives will die. Let this be continual.

Tomorrow I'll write my thoughts and response to it.
NOW on the lighter side of things...last night was AWESOME! My roommate and I attended a Chili cook-off at an Episcopal church- I ate a good pound of chili. There were TONS of different kinds of chilis, and we were testers...and ate more chili then I knew what to do with. Now if you know me at all you know how much I appreciate good food. I could DEFINITELY be a food critic - If God called me to do this i would be SO pumped - but...I know that's not my calling. Oh well...=)

We then went to the Plaza to watch the KU-Mizzou game, and loved seeing the Jayhawks come away with the win - just gotta hope they can get it done in March this time! They've had some bad luck in recent years.

Alright, NFL playoffs are on - and even though Da Bears are out, I still enjoy it... and I have a stouffer's Lasagna in the oven. Sunday is a great day =)
and I thought everybody would find it amusing that I went to add some pictures after writing this, and typed "weed" in a google search, and wouldn't ya know...What do you think came up??
It's actually called 'granny smokin the weed.'