Friday, March 27, 2009

The Prodigal Sons

This was actually a devotional sent to me by my mom and I've heard a similar message, spoken by my pastor, on this topic of the other son in the prodigal son story in the Bible.

Today's Truth
"For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found,' so they began to celebrate" (NIV).

Perhaps one of the most memorable and heart touching stories of grace and forgiveness is recorded in Luke chapter fifteen. It's what we've come to know as the story of the Prodigal son. This young man demanded his inheritance while his father was still alive, spent it all on riotous living, and found himself dirty, destitute, and despairing. As despicable as pigs were to Jews, this young man took a job taking care of pigs and eating their food just to stay alive. Then he had an epiphany. He came to his senses.
"How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death. I will set out and go back to my father and say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father (Luke 15:17-20).'"
And where was his father? He was panning the horizon, hoping for a sign that his boy might return home. While "he was still a long way off," the father spotted his son on the horizon. Filled with compassion, he picked up the edges of his robe and ran. He didn't wait for his son to come to him, grovel at his feet, and beg for forgiveness. No, as soon as the father caught a glimpse of his son, he dashed toward his boy, smothered him with kisses, and welcomed him home.
If you remember, not everyone was happy when the prodigal son returned. His big brother resented the fact that he got another chance. And you know what? There will be those who resent the fact that we get another chance as well.
"Big brother won't mind if you come back as long as you hang your head and wear your shame. But when God has the audacity to give you a little dignity back and you dare lift your radiant face to heaven in liberated praise, big brother may be appalled! Pride can't celebrate with a prodigal-come-home. Folks who won't celebrate are still kidding themselves into thinking they did something right to be loved by their Father." (Beth Moore, When Godly People do Ungodly Things, (Nashville, TN: Lifeway Press, 2003), p. 145.)
I say, let him be appalled. Nothing makes some people angrier than grace. Big brother is invited to the party too, and it's his decision whether or not he wants to join in the celebration. I'm just glad he's not the one in charge.

I feel forever indebted to grace in my life, yet Jesus already paid that price.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Far from God

I'm not sure if any of you have felt this way before but as I have become more intimate in my relationship with God, it becomes more obvious when I feel distant from Him or can't feel His presence.

For the last two weeks, I have felt very distant from God. I felt distracted when I prayed. I didn't really have anything I wanted to talk about or pray about. I wasn't getting anything out of the messages at Church, or really even the music. I recognized that this was going on and began to pray that God would draw near to me, as I was having a hard time drawing near to Him. Still...nothing. I finally gave up and almost stopped caring, confused as to why this was happening. Did I do something wrong? Is God mad at me? Is there something I need to confess? Is He trying to tell me something?

I talked with Nate about it a few days ago and he prayed with me and recommended that I read the Psalms. Where David (a man after God's own heart) is crying out to God, asking Him why He isn't answering David when he calls out to Him. If David, a man after God's own heart, feels far from God at times, will we not feel the same at some point?

I ignored Nate's recommendation. Until this morning. I opened Psalms up to chapter 13. This is what it says:

Psalms 13: How Long O Lord?

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep
the sleep of death, lest my enemies say, "I have prevailed over him,"
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice
in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation! I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me! Wow...this moved me. My mind is flooded with the many many many ways the Lord has dealt bountifully with me. With my marriage. With my children. With my relationships. With my ACL family. He has dealt bountifully with me. His love for me is steadfast!

I am at my desk at work crying while writing this. My co-workers are going to call the "mad-house" to come pick me up. (Lord, please don't let that happen.)

Let this be a reminder that when God's voice falls silent in our lives, He has gone nowhere. He is still right there. Pick up your Bible, read it, meditate on the ways he has dealt bountifully with you and thank Him.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nails for Christ

Nate and I met with a couple last night at Thunderbird Coffee, our home away from home. They have started a non-profit called Nails for Christ and met with us to tell us what they were about, how they got started and how we could help. I left very excited.

I'll try not to butcher the story of how they got started but my attention span during our meeting was short lived, due to Ava climbing all over me.

It started out with Heather Cain's father, who, three years ago built a house for a family in Puerto Penasco. The next year, his daughter Heather and her husband Ryan, joined him. This last Christmas, her whole family(15 of them), spent their Christmas in Puerto Penasco building a house for a family in need. They are taking a group in May to do a build and another group in August. The Navarro's are going to be part of the group going in August!

What they need at this point is obviously financial contributions and volunteers. Nate and I are so excited to be a part! We have so many ideas of how to help them raise money. Nate wants to throw a benefit concert and we also plan on having a party at our house to introduce people to the organization and also to help raise money.

Please watch the slideshow and let me know if you have any interest in giving or volunteering.

More on this later as we start to learn more about the organization and get ready to go help in August!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Coming Out of the Cage of Guilt

The passage today was good for me to read...considering there are many times I think back to mistakes and sinful behavior I've given in to and think that I'm not qualified to be doing things "in the name of God". There are people in this world who probably think that is a complete insult to God himself. Nate and I have actually had people tell us we are not qualified for ministry. Understandably so. However, God says something different.

"The moment we confess our sin to God, our sin is forgiven and forgotten. But for most of us, it is far easier to accept God's forgiveness than to forgive ourselves. Why? Because we can forgive, but unlike God, we cannot forget. If we don't allow the grace of God to saturate and sanctify our sinful memories, we continue to experience false guilt over confessed sin. We become so fixated on past mistakes that we forfeit future opportunities. We mistakenly think our mistakes disqualify us from being used by God. And our feelings of guilt become the cage that keeps us from chasing the Wild Goose.

Whether you are experiencing true guilt that is a by-product of unconfessed sin or false guilt that is the by-product of confessed sin, both forms of guilt dull your spiritual sense of adventure. And you won't be able to chase the Wild Goose until you get past your guilty feelings. The good news is that there is forgiveness and freedom because of what Christ accomplished on the cross. And if you receive His grace, it will not only recondition your spiritual reflexes, it will transform your life."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Another Passage Captured Me...

Chapter 2: Goose Bumps


Nehemiah mourned and wept when finding out that the Jews, brought out of captivity from Babylon, were in huge trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem had been torn down and the gates destroyed by fires. They were defenseless against their enemies. Nehemiah was extremely unqualified to do anything to help them.

"Nehemiah had no architectural training on his transcript and no construction experience on his resume. And as far as we know, he had never even been to Jerusalem. He was severely unqualified to pursue this passion. A cupbearer rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem is pretty laughable when you think about it. Most God-ordained passions are.

It was about as laughable as a farmer named Noah building an ark, a shepherd named David fighting a Philistine giant, or a murderer named Paul writing the second half of the New Testament.

When it comes to doing the will of God, God-ordained passions are far more important than any human qualification we can bring to the table. In fact, God often uses us at our point of greatest incompetence. That way He gets all the credit."

Bear with me here...this is long.

I received this book in the mail yesterday from a dear friend for my birthday. I started reading it today and already love it. I am only on the first chapter and I expect that there will be many more entries as I continue to read but this one really struck me today. It's long...but great.

Chapter 1: Yawning Angels


"I love the church. I bleed the church. And I'm not saying that the way the church cages people is intentional. In fact, it may be well intentioned. But too often we take people out of their natural habitat and try to tame them in the name of Christ. We try to remove the risk. We try to remove the danger. We try to remove the struggle. And what we end up with is a caged Christian.

Deep down inside, all of us long for more. Sure, the tamed part of us grows accustomed to the safety of the cage. But the untamed part longs for some danger, some challenge, some adventure. And at some point in our spiritual journey, the cage no longer satisfies. We have a primal longing to be uncaged. And the cage opens when we recognize that Jesus died to make us dangerous.

Praying for protection is fine. I pray for a hedge of protection around my three children all the time. You probably pray that kind of prayer too. But when was the last time you asked God to make you dangerous?

I would like to think that when I pronounce the benediction at the end of our church services, I am sending dangerous people back into their natural habitat to wreak havoc on the Enemy.


Every once in a while, I have random thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere. Here's a thought that fired across my synapses not long ago: Do angels yawn?

I know it seems like an inane theological question, but I seriously wonder if angels have the capacity to get bored. More important, I wonder if some of us are living such safe lives that not only are we bored, but so are our guardian angels. If they could, would our guardian angels coax us out of our cage and beg us to give them something to do?

I think of Ana Luisa, who used her award mile to fly to India and sacrificially serve some of the poorest of the poor at a medical clinic. I think of Mike, who started a dangerous ministry in a dangerous place-a porn show in Las Vegas. I think of Adam, whose sensitivity to the Wild Goose resulted in a life-changing encounter on a mission trip half a world away. And I think of Becky, who made a conscious decision to endanger her own life by becoming part of the crusade against human trafficking.

Since when did it become safe to follow Christ? Maybe it's time to come out of the cage and live dangerously for the cause of Christ."

This was a challenging passage for me today as I have struggled with stepping out of my cage and living dangerously for the cause of Christ. Most of us are so comfortable living in our nice houses, wearing our nice clothes, reading our Bible every day, saying our prayers, titheing the correct amount to our Church. Is this really getting out of our cage and living dangerously for God?

I urge you to step out of the cage today. I'm not saying everyone has the gift of being missional and needs to sell all of their posessions and move to Africa to do mission work. We all have different gifts. Are you using yours? Take in a foster child. Adopt a child that has no home. Lead a small group. Feed the homeless. Cook dinner for someone in need. Help someone pay a bill. Grab a coffee with someone who probably doesn't have anyone in their life wanting to get coffee with them. Give away clothes. Visit a homeless shelter and love on those people. Take Easter treats to a Retirement Center close by and give them away to the residents. Sponsor a child from Compassion International. Write them letters, send them care packages and love them because Jesus loves you.

I think God asks us to step out of our comfort zones and actually DO something to glorify Him.

How are you stepping out of your cage today? I know I have a lot to think about as I don't step out of mine near enough!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Birthday

This is not an announcement that it's my birthday. It's about a few thoughts I had today, on my birthday.

I thought back this morning on so many of my past birthdays. I can remember my birthdays all the way back to like middle school. I was thinking about different things that were important to me on each birthday.

I'm sure in middle school I was concerned about being popular and having cute clothes and worrying about what boys liked me, hoping that at least a few did. I remember thinking I was super cool because I was part of the "elite" class...the cheerleaders. I remember it being SO important that people like me, think I'm pretty and think I'm popular.

In high school a lot of that was still important to me but I was also very concerned with my "social life". I was, I'm sure, at every party anyone at Temple High School had. I loved the feeling that sometimes I might have been the "life of the party". It gave me comfort and security. (a false comfort and security).

I have had some really great, fun birthdays, filled with people that I love and that love me. I have also had some rough birthdays. Today I feel blessed to have had both.

The things that are important to me now are so key in life. My family, my amazing husband and beautifully sweet daughters, my friends (so many that I have had since even elementary school), my Church family, my City Group, my beliefs, my job, my co-workers and absolutely most of growing relationship with Jesus. I am thankful for today. I am thankful for every birthday that I get to get up, be with my family and try to live my life to glorify Christ.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Matthew 10

This morning,Nate and I read Matthew 10 together. There was one passage that really stood out to me and led me into a day of prayer that I would "lose my life" for God's sake and in turn, really truly find it. Lose my life in a sense that I lose what part of my life I find comfort and security and value in that is not from God.

The passage was this...Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.