doing math God's way

Listening to the radio this morning I caught a message from Ron Hutchcraft about "downsizing". He related it to the story of Gideon being called to come against the Midianite army of 132,000 that consistently plundered Israel's harvest year after year. First arguing that he was not qualified for the job [we all know what God thinks about that, right?], he eventually gathered 32,000 men for his army. God's answer...

You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, 'Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.' [Judges 7:2-3]

God says 32,000 men is TOO MANY. Outnumbered 4 to 1 and that's TOO MANY. Why? Because God knows if victory came with 32,000 Israel would be tempted to boast. So with this statement, 22,000 leave the army... and guess what God says...

There are still too many!

And so he FURTHER prunes back the army until there are only 300 men left. THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A MINUTE! And Gideon is supposed to go against an army of 32,000. So the Lord tells him that if he is afraid, to do a little spy-mission type eavesdropping, and in doing so God encourages him. They do as the Lord called, and sure enough, the Midianites are defeated. And in such a way that NO ONE could deny the power of God.

Because that's the way God does math. You want to do more? Become less (John 3:30). You want to live a life of great abundance? [abundance of the lasting nature] Sacrifice.

My friend Christy has blogged lately about pruning. And I can't stop thinking about the definition she posted:
Prune 1. To cut off or remove dead or living parts or branches of (a plant, for example) to improve shape or growth. 2. To remove or cut out as superfluous. 3. To reduce: prune a budget. To remove what is superfluous or undesirable.

See, in the first definition, it says that pruning is a process of removing dead or living parts to improve shape or growth. In Gideon's army the first 22,000 to be pruned were fearful and would have been little help in battle, that is, they were dead. But the second 9,700 to be pruned were not fearful, they were living, yet they still needed to go so that God could show His glory.

My beautiful church family has been going through some [okay, a lot of] pruning lately. I have long since been frustrated with the apathetic church- and by that I don't mean FBC in particular, but the universal church- and this is going to sound terrible, but it didn't hurt that much when those just going through the motions were pruned away.

But when God's pruning didn't stop there, it started to hurt. When he began to prune away some of the living branches, I mourned. I cry as I type this because those individuals who have been called into another house of worship are my brothers and sisters, and I miss them. I ache for their presence. With my mouth I have professed "It will be okay" and "God has a plan in this" in my heart I couldn't help but wonder what in the WORLD is He doing to us? I KNOW THE PLANS He has for FBC, plans for a HOPE and a FUTURE, so how in the world does this play into it??? What is going on! God what are you doing!

Just like Gideon must have said when he looked out at an army, reduced from a respectable 32,000 to a skeleton 300.

But God knew His plans. He had to make them less, so that their reliance on Him would be COMPLETE. He had to make them less so that He could do MORE. As I pray for my Body, I keep hearing the Lord saying "Do more with less", but now I think I get it.

Just as Christy points out, pruning hurts. It's embarrassing, and humiliating, and painful. But when the gardener is our God, who loves us enough to do whatever it takes to make us into His image, it is worth it. Because when we are less, He is more, when we are weak, He is strong, when we can't, He can... and then He gets the glory. My big, big God gets the chance to show off and the world gets the chance to see what can happen when we FULLY trust and rely on Him.

I'm still going to miss seeing those faces on Sunday morning. And I still have to remind myself weekly that it's not a numbers game... but hearing the story of Gideon encouraged me because it reminded me that God's math so often works to the inverse of human reasoning. So as He continues to refine and prune us, I will continue to praise the hand that is at work... for I know that He is about to pour out over this Body like we have never seen or experienced before, and am I ever ready!!!


my man, clive staples

If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. -c.s. lewis


Walk the Line

As Jim flipped through the channels today, he stumbled on the end of the movie Walk the Line. I hear it's a good movie, but all I've seen of it are the ten minutes we caught today. And as He seems to be doing to me a lot lately, God spoke. Johnny Cash was apparently meeting with some sort of record execs (they had suits on and looked official at least) about a show he wanted to record at a prison. They were obviously not big fans of the idea, and were trying to talk him out of it. This guy was explaining to Johnny (I scribbled this down quickly, so it probably isn't an exact quote)... "Your fans are good folks, Johnny, Christians... they don't want to hear you singing to a bunch of murderers and theives in a prison, tryin' to cheer them up".

Johnny's response...
"Then they aren't Christians".


There are a lot of people in this world, specifically in this country, that call themselves Christian but have never done one single, solitary thing to demonstrate a life led by Christ. In fact, there are a lot of church-goers who would sit in judgement just as this record exec predicted. But Jesus tells us to go to the prisons, to the needy, to the widows and orphans. He tells us that if we love Him, we will feed His sheep. That if we love Him, we will love our brothers. That if we love Him, we will be radically changed, a new creation, peculiar.

To be honest, I have too much going on in my mind and my heart right now to adequately communicate the whisperings of my Creator. I have written and rewritten this post. I want to share. I want to tell you about it. I want to challenge my brothers and sisters in the same way I've been challenged. But my words aren't working... In the words of Elvis... I'm all shook up.

It's a good thing. A God thing. He's calling us to change, church. And I'm excited.


100th post!

This is officially my 100th blog post! Not bad for someone who can't seem to remain focused on any one hobby or project for longer than 30 seconds!

Thanks for those of you who take the time to read the wild ramblings of a little girl seeking after the heart of her beautiful Creator. Thank you for your encouraging words. For your love and support during the hard times. Thank you for allowing me to be real. To be me.

God is doing some AMAZING things. He's calling us into deeper relationship, and I look forward to sharing the mighty works of His hands! Stay tuned, blogerotsky... 'cause God's about to move this place!

Praising Him!


granite countertops

I have a confession to make. I love HGTV. I love it. I love Spice Up My Kitchen, Divine Designs, House Hunters, Property Virgins, Designed to Sell, My Big Amazing Renovation... at any given time you can catch me watching one of these shows- or one like it- dreaming dreams of new cabinets and wood flooring, granite countertops and spa-like bathrooms. Aaaaaah. That's living the dream, isn't it?

And then I look around my little house and am smacked in the forehead with reality. Tali and Zach crammed into a bedroom barely big enough for one. A bathroom with vintage 1970's sink, bathtub, and sink in a color of yellow that would make even perky Genevieve a little nauseous. A kitchen so small that Jim and I can barely stand at the sink and stove (which are across the room from each other) without bumping butts. Oh how I dream of a Big, Amazing Renovation of my own. How I would love to knock out half a wall between my kitchen and dining room in order to achieve the "open floor plan" sought by all on House Hunters. How we dream of adding on another bedroom, so Tali and Zach can have their own space. In fact, I spent a good bit of time talking about these exact dreams with some of my beautiful church family on Wednesday.

We want nice things. And if you're honest, you probably want nice things too.

But then, last Thursday, I was happily listening to the radio, giving almost no thought to what was being said. In fact I'm not even sure of the context of this comment- but it smacked me in the forehead with an entirely different reality.

Some sort of montage was playing. Snips and clips from the radio program over the past year. And this guy was saying "I don't need $5000 granite countertops to cut my tomato on".

The radio show host (who probably has granite countertops) laughed... the caller went on "Just think how much support that money would be for a missionary overseas?" and then my mind continued... or the needy family at my kids' school, or the family at church that can't seem to catch a break, or a crisis pregnancy center... That's a lot of money, folks.

This is probably going to sound ridiculous. Maybe it is. But I have not been able to shake this man's words from my head. "I don't need $5000 granite countertops to cut my tomato on". How many times have my hubby and I watched these home improvement shows together, critiquing their choices of stone, cabinets, and hardware? Applauding their choice of stainless steel appliances over slick black designs? Dreaming of a day we would own a kitchen like that of our own? Wanting shiny and new things, things I could be proud of.

what a spoiled brat i am.

If I am really honest, we have what we need. We have a kitchen. And a bathroom. And places to sleep, eat, and rest. We have luxuries that are just that- luxuries. Game systems, dvd players, televisions, computers. We have heat and air conditioning, electricity and running water.

Somewhere in the world there is someone sleeping on a dirt floor. A child going hungry. A mother dying because she can't get the antibiotic she needs (the same antibiotic I just threw away because Zach didn't finish his prescription last time). Places where indoor plumbing is unheard of. And I am whining because my toilet is yellow.

How hung up have we become on things in this country! THINGS. When the money we spend on those things could feed a starving family. I know that it sounds cliche, but I am asking you to take a moment and really, really think about that... when was the last time you went hungry (and I don't mean "too busy to eat" hungry but I have no food hungry). We don't know what it's like. We can't remember. This scripture was on my day planner for today:

When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the LORD, who rescued you from the land of Egypt. [Deut 6:11-12]

God is delivering His people into the Promised Land. He has rescued them from slavery and brought them through the desert. It's the moment they have waited for... entering the land of milk and honey... but God knows the risk. He knows the wicked heart and short memory of man, so He reminds them [us]... when you've eaten your fill, don't forget me.

I believe that God wants us to have what we need. But we've become gluttonous Christians, haven't we? We don't want to stop with our fill, we want to eat until our stomachs hurt. We want to put our Jesus Fish on the back of a nice, shiny car. We want to live in a home where we can easily entertain our church friends, and show off our pretty things. We want to go to a church that is "modern" and "fresh". We want to wear cute clothes. Carry fancy hand bags. We want master baths, dual sinks, please. We want to cut our tomatoes on a granite countertop. But what of the money we spend on this stuff? The money that would be left over if we really stopped when we have "had our fill"... what else could God use it for if we would allow Him? What could He accomplish if we were really willing to sacrifice for His Kingdom?

Oh friends, I write this as someone as gluttonous as all the rest. If you happen to have granite countertops, don't think I'm talking to you. This one's all for me. I have things that I want [insert iPod touch here], and things that I will probably eventually buy that I don't need. But what would happen if I really let the Lord take hold of my finances and use them for HIS will? What if as a Body we all did the same? What if our churches stopped looking around at the physical work that needs done and see the spiritual repairs that are so much more important? My pastor, Seth, is quoted as saying during a mission meeting "Well, if we are going to go broke I don't see any better way to do it than feeding God's children."

That's the mind we need to have. That's the heart change I need. Meeting the needs of His people rather than the desires of this spoiled brat.

God has delivered us, church! He has freed us from the chains of sin and death. He has given us the gift of eternal life! What's that worth? How much are we willing to sacrifice out of love and obedience to the one who sacrificed EVERYTHING for us? Are we willing to give "til it hurts". Are we willing to offer our abundance to the least of these? Are we willing to meet His children at their point of need? To be His hands and feet? To acknowlege that none of this is ours in the first place? To stop worrying about whether or not something is "dated" and instead worry about how it could be used for His kingdom? To stop being ashamed by my little, dissheveled, mess of a house and instead realize that this home can be used for ministry? It's a challenge, church. The question is, are we up for it?

Are we willing to worry more about the tomato... about the need... than we do the granite countertop?? Are we?