Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mix it ALL Up!

Well, after such an inspirational gathering of leaders a few weeks back I have had to think and evaluate what am I doing here and am I really here for God? I've had some time to reflect and truly repent and I'd like to share that with you.

The idea of repenting can be taken very seriously or it can be taken very frivolously. As one who attempts to imitate Christ, I lean toward the level of serious. I had a real self-evaluation recently and many conversations with God to figure out what did I need to repent of exactly. For I believed that because we weren't getting quite the desired result (grown kingdom) out of our work for God that I must have lead others astray somehow. I've been confused and eager to discover my pitfalls and shortcomings in hopes that this process is less maddening ;-)

So after talking with my husband and reading (the bible!) and praying I've come to the conclusion that I need to repent for not treating the children as I believe I should be treating them. I mean to say that I believe they are the most important task God hands to us. I believe children are vital to the growth of the kingdom and I believe they are too often overlooked, put aside or seen as a group of 'not yets'. I have dreams and visions of adults and children living as a unified species. Enjoying, learning and leaning on each other as a way of life. All my dreams and desires, my thoughts and blogs, my conversations and yet I am not living it to the fullest.

Sure our family has the blessing of my being able to stay home with our children, I home school them, we work to teach them about life lessons of work, responsibility, goal setting and achievement, financial direction, good and bad decision making, the reality of consequences and so many other things. But I'm not living this dream and I'm pretty sure because I'm not doing it, that if anyone else (in this house) is trying to live the dream, I'm squashing it.

I must then, acknowledge my repentance isn't just for the children I come in contact with and the adults I come in contact with through my ministries, (though they all benefit as well) no, it is for my own children. God has given me three amazing people to help shape and safely guide to adulthood where they will be released into the "Wilds of America" (and beyond?) and I have taken them for granted. I have failed to allow them to be the joy to myself (and maybe even to others) that God has created them to be. I've allowed my hurts, frustrations and exhaustion to affect how I see them. I've allowed Satan to distract me, and in some ways use me to torment them. And I am SO ready to repent now that I recognize what has been going on.

See someone said in our group of leaders that they are always told they are doing a wonderful job and receive lots of praise (too much maybe) from others in how they parent and stay involved in their children's lives. But this person said they need me to encourage them and to challenge them to do it even better. I see that and I think, "wow! yeah, we can do it better!" ...we may be doing it good, maybe even better than others, but we certainly have leaps and bounds to reach our potential. I mean, what kind of mother does God want me to be??!! I've never asked myself that question before. (!!)

More than a week ago we did this really cool lesson as a group during our worship gathering where I measured out a group of ingredients and put them in separate bowls. I then took each bowl, identified the contents and sent the bowl around the room for everyone to taste. Some things like sugar and chocolate chips tasted great! Other things likes vanilla extract and baking soda tasted awful!!! When we tasted the contents of the bowl we were to draw a parallel of something in our lives that is similar to that (we used a list or a drawing). At the end of tasting everything we had a page full of great and not so great things. Alone, some of these things we can handle (or eat pounds of!) and others we can't even bear to put into our mouths (eggs!!!). But if we rely on God and allow Him to take ALL of the ingredients and work his magic (dump all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a large wooden spoon) we get something that is wonderfully irresistible... COOKIE DOUGH!!!

I see this lesson and how it applies to my ministry, my dream and my reality and I see how if I allow God to be in control and mix up ALL the ingredients, even the ones I think are too gross to include (butter or baking powder anyone?) then He can do something amazing, but only if I give Him EVERYTHING! See cookie dough won't work if any one of the ingredients is missing. It might still be edible and may even taste pretty good, but it won't have all the perfect wonderfulness that is cookie dough. Only if I let Him work with me and through me is there then cookie dough, and not just a tiny bit of dough but enough for everyone. It is then I can live my dream which fulfills my ministry and is my reality.

What an awesome God we have!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Worshiping with Children

Well friends,

Our gathering went well. It was smaller than originally expected but wonderful none-the-less.

After our dinner, I had markers and poster boards available and gave a very nonsensical explanation of my previous post and then had the crowd break into three groups that included both adults and children and watched the fun unfold!

First, you should know that sitting and coloring and talking about Jesus in this brainstorming session where young and old were intermingled was definitely a worship experience! Second, you should know that the children taught the adults SO much about being joyful. The joy of childhood, the happiness of being together, it was truly amazing to watch.... never before have I seen grown ups giggle and be so incredibly impressed and emotionally touched when sitting in a circle and worshiping. The children brought an awesomeness that none of us were fully prepared for. Third, the list of ideas for how to worship is long and exciting. I hope our participants and our at home readers are ready to try some of these things.

How can we worship God?
  • Obey our parents (and authority figures)
  • Be with our family
  • Love others
  • Sing
  • Show kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, love, joy, patience and peace
  • Pray to God
  • Help the Poor
  • Read the Bible
  • Be enthusiastic about Jesus and others
  • Share things like food
  • Encourage others
  • Be a friend
  • Be generous
  • Stay joyful
  • Talk to God
  • Imagine things that God does and has (like God having a pool to go swimming in). 
  • Being creative and telling stories about worshiping God (having mom in a space ship on her way to see God, having the child in the family bow down to God, having our family members who haven't decided to follow Jesus with all of their being asking questions and being curious about Christ, etc.)  
  • Stay Determined to follow Christ
  • Help other people
  • Give something God has given you to someone else
  • When we work together without fighting we worship God
  • When we show others love
  • Doing what God says
  • Letting the Lord lead you through
  • Giving thanks to God
  • Forgiving others
WOW! This is a great list and is SO diverse and flexible that almost anything you do, with the right intentions and focused heart is considered worship! So get working, see how much of your life (the whole thing???) can turn into a worship experience. Wouldn't that just be an awesome thing to share with others and an amazing legacy to leave behind??

A life of worship, that's powerful, that's obedience, that's WORSHIP!

P.S. Just because you don't have young children around you doesn't mean you can't implement these ideas into your worship experience!

Friday, November 2, 2012

What Does it Mean to Worship?

What Does it Mean to Worship? What About to Worship as a family?

The term worship is a heavy and complicated word. It has so many definitions and uses that when someone tries to sum it up or identify it there is usually great debate on whether the example is thorough enough to include all the variations and interpretations of the word. Famous theologians have argued and debated about the meaning and the proper forms and uses of the word worship and modern day bloggers whose education and discipling status is unknown offer a multitude of explanations and/or examples. All of this information however, just complicates the the question, 'What does it mean to worship as a family'?

To save everyone some heart ache, I'm going to define worship in the simplest of terms that I (a non-theologian) is capable of. I believe that worshiping is when you show people you love Jesus with your words and actions, affecting the world around us for the better. And to do that as a family means we do that together. We do not exclude anyone (especially the children).

We've been reading Mark the last two weeks as a church and as a family and in Mark 10:13-16 my bible says this:

The Little Children and Jesus

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

So I look at this and I think a few things. First, I've heard this before, in most of the gospels I believe (of which our church and family has read all of in the last 4 or 5 months). Second, the familiarity of this passage doesn't make it less puzzling. I've always felt, when reading this passage, we are missing something... but I've never been able to put my finger on what. Was it a call to be child-like? That is an easy desire to fall into, but that has just never seemed quite right.

No, today when I read this passage I noticed this:

The Little Children and Jesus

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

 WHOA!!! There it is. The thing that I've been looking for in this passage. The answer to my question, "what am I missing here, I don't get it?" Well, now I get it.

Us, the grown ups, the ones in charge, the dignified people, with our rules and expectations and our outstanding ability to complicate everything... we are to get out of the way! Stop hindering the children and allow them to come to Jesus. Allow His blessings to flow and be abundant in their lives.

Of course, this is another one of those easier said, than done type of things, but I personally think that phrase is a cop-out. It's an excuse to not change or improve. A reason to feel good about being convicted but do nothing different and let's just all hope that the arrow of guidance we shoot in the dark rooms in which these children live, growing up in this world, hits them. The statistical chances of success in that scenario probably justifies the decline of Christ like disciple making individuals in our world today.

So how do we worship as a family?? We work together to impact the world around us for the better. I believe that children are amazing at impacting the world, naturals! They can bring both joy and destruction in mere seconds and some have the special talent of going between the two extremes while making pit stops between the two in just a few minutes. The reality is, we have been told to get out of the way! So let's get them involved and take some cues from them, "because the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Our exercise for the evening is to brainstorm (using markers and poster board). We will come up with ideas on how we as families can impact the world around us through the following avenues:

 Generosity       Thanksgiving         Encouragement                Enthusiasmm           Kindness         Obedience         Respect               Reliability 

p.s. for those of you that might be interested in our discoverings, i do in tend to post our findings.