Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Middle Schooler, Mark Twain, and The Seahawks walk into a weekend....

Things I've learneed from hanging out with middle school girls, Mark Twain, and Russell Wilson:

1) Middle School Girls are very different from middle school boys, but they still have the middle school sense of humor (aka: potty humor)

2) When planning a camp it's always a good idea to know the complete outline of what your speaker will be speaking on. If you don't, you'll end up playing defense instead of rejoicing in the victory. 

3) If you start to feel a cold coming on as you head up the mountain it will surely turn into a full-fledged chest and head cold by the end of the late-night/early-morning and go-go-go weekend. 

3a) Said cold will linger until you are able to catch up on sleep..........six weeks later. 

4) No matter what my brain thinks, I am NOT a 20-something any longer! 

5) Mark Twain has a wicked funny sense of humor, but he really missed the mark on getting to know God. 

6) Hal Holbrook must really have a hard time in the mornings when he's getting ready to go. I mean, he's played Mark Twain for 60 years! When he looks in the mirror I wonder if he has to look at the calendar to figure out which one he is at that time. 

7) No matter how many times the director says it wouldn't be a bad thing for you to leave camp in the middle and run back into town to see Mark Twain (a bucket list item for YEARS), it is never a good idea to leave camp in the middle and come back. (see item #2)

8) Being the parent of a 6th grader is really hard when 8th grade lives intersect. There's a lot of difference between 10/11 and 13/14!

9) Prayer changes things.

10) God is never surprised, but we sure are!

11) Innocence is a beautiful character trait.

12) My husband is a really great guy to hang out with, and sitting at a sushi bar is the best. 

13) Middle Schoolers in general have a lot more hurt than my generation did at the same age. There's something seriously wrong with that. 

14) There are legions of thoughts running around in my head about the reasons why we have failed our children, but, like the demons in the man Jesus healed, they aren't really doing much good or making much sense right now. 

15) If you ever have the opportunity to attend a show in a really old theater, do it. The architecture is to be admired and appreciated just as much as the show. 

16) My love for the Word of God, and desire to share it with (and ignite a spark for) people of all ages is bigger than ever. (see #13)

17) Christian athletes are cool. 

18) Adults who are willing to work with Middle Schoolers and share Christ with them are even cooler. 

19) Watching the Super Bowl with friends who like the same team is great - much more fun than last year when we were cheering against each other. 

20) No matter what play the Seahawks call in the last two minutes to lose the game....I will always be a proud Seahawks 12th Woman!

Monday, February 9, 2015

In The Heart of the FREE

"...come to me when you're weary and I'll give you hope when you're hurting."
Jamie Grace sings this in my ear as I sit in Starbucks sipping on my venti single shot honey latte', and it's exactly what I needed to hear! My oldest son is at a Heart Change Workshop right now  (you may remember I wrote about my youngest son's Heart Change experience HERE), and it is day 2 of the workshop. We look at Freedom today... 

The problem with freedom? It doesn't come easy, and it's not handed over without giving up what we cling to. We cling to our ideas of who we should be, how we should act, what we should think and what others will think of us. In doing "all the right things" we find that we are put into more and more bondage and pain. We don't find freedom to be ourselves by trying to act differently or by dressing differently. We won't find freedom in doing it "the way it's supposed to be done" according to some self-help guru looking to gain fame and fortune with their bestseller. We won't find freedom until we realize that freedom isn't free. Freedom requires something of us.

Freedom requires us to take our eyes off ourselves.

Freedom requires us to realize what freedom is and what freedom isn't. 

Freedom is not the ability to say whatever I want under the guise of free speech.
Freedom is not the ability to make a choice as to where I live or what work I do.
Freedom is not the ability to vote for whomever it is I want to lead our city, county, state or country.
Freedom is not the ability to marry whomever I want to marry and raise my children the way we want to raise them.

You may be shaking your head....yes, those things are all the outcomes of national freedoms and the laws we live under. However, do you really understand TRUE freedom?

True freedom is knowing you are exactly who you are supposed to be because you know the very One Who created you.
True freedom is knowing you are not the sum of what you do or what you have done, but that you ARE...because the Creator loves you.
True freedom is knowing you don't have to fit in to be accepted.
True freedom is knowing those people who call you names, refuse to listen to your heart, or put you down because you're not like them are the very same people you were put on earth to love and lead to true freedom.
True freedom is knowing you don't have to fight for your freedom....you have to accept it.

Accepting it. Man! Isn't that the hardest part? Yesterday I wrote about accepting the blessings of someone else (you can read there HERE ). Today I'm faced with accepting freedom. I think there's a theme here, and I see the need to encourage all of us to get to know the heart of our Savior so we can learn to understand the need to accept HIS gift to us - complete and utter freedom.

Throughout this workshop my son will be fighting for his personal freedom...his changed heart...and many will be standing in the gap praying for him and the others who will be walking into battle for their own hearts. Is that what's missing in our relationships? The people who are standing in the gap for us? Are you standing in the gap for anyone?

First, let's figure out where that phrase came from - to "stand in the gap." It comes from Ezekiel 22:30 where it says, "I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one." God was looking for someone righteous. He was looking about the land and searching for someone who was crying out to HIM in the midst of a society that sounds, terrifyingly, much like ours. He was looking....seeking...searching for anyone who was willing to stand up to the injustices of their time.

He found no one.

Matthew Henry says in his full commentary, "Sin makes a gap in the hedge of protection that is about (around) a people at which good things run out from them and evil things pour in upon them, a gap by which God enters to destroy them...When God is coming forth against a sinful people to destroy them He expects some to intercede for them (to stand in the gap) and enquires if there is but one that does; so much is it His desire and delight to show mercy. If there be but a man that stands in the gap, as Abraham for Sodom, He will discover him and be pleased with him." (parentheses mine)

So today, I stand in the gap for those fighting for their freedom - their true freedom. Will you join me? Who needs you to stand in the gap for them? Who needs you to cry out to God in their favor and pray His mercy and redemption on them? Martin Luther has this great quote that cuts me to the quick when I think about praying. He said, "I have so much to do today I must spend three hours in prayer."  Dr. Chuck Swindoll shared the story in a recent broadcast of his daily message on "Insight for Living" of a man he knew who set aside the best three hours of his day to spend in prayer. I remember, too, hearing a well-respected Bible leader back in my days of working in radio (I can't even try to remember who it was who said it - some days the teaching ran together and the voices all sounded the same to me,,  if you made me guess I'd say it was Bill Bright) who said, when asked how he could possibly pray for so many people each day (his prayer list was substantial and prayed over daily) that he remembered WHO he was praying to. He knew God knew all going on with each person just by name. So, he said that throughout the day as a person came to mind he simply lifted them up to God as he went about his duties. In doing so he prayed without ceasing and stood in the gap for many, many people who needed those prayers. Just this past weekend a friend and fellow middle school small group leader shared with me how one night he was really struggling with *what* to pray for a certain person. As he struggled he heard God say, "stop talking. Just say the name and rest in Me." (I've paraphrased) That very night, after he shared this with me, I had the opportunity to put this prayer tactic to the test, so to speak. One of my girls was such a burden on my heart and I had no idea how to pray for her. I simply laid in bed and said her name....and held her up to the throne of grace with confidence. The peace that came was immediate. 

There's so much more that could be said for standing in the gap! From the honor found in the Jewish community when they say, "I'll say your name." They are meaning that they won't forget - they will bring honor to the person and say their name. 

What a beautiful option we have to stand in the gap for those who are fighting for their freedom! Stand in the gap today....pray without ceasing...say their name...and rest in this: 

Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!
Psalm 116:2

True Freedom.....who do you know who needs you to stand in their gap so they will find it?