Tall Glass of Water

I made step number one in parching my thirsts:  I went to an arts festival and out to a nice restaurant.  The waiter was excellent at keeping our water glasses very full, and my coffee.  Which was awesome because it was this fabulous dark, thick Italian stuff and I knew I needed it to drive home.  He just kept bringing it and bringing it.  They were little cups, but I think I drank five.

But I had to make the first step…I had to come to the restaurant.  I had to order the coffee.  I had to empty the cup so it could be refilled.

Jesus knows we are thirsty.  He knows we need to feel needed, loved, whole, filled.  He wants to be that waiter that refills the glass/cup even if it is still three quarters full.  We just have to show up.  We just have to order…make that move.

My step one is complete in my thirsting for art.  I need to figure out what other steps I am going to take.  And I am inviting Jesus on every step so He can keep me on the right track to being filled.

 

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Thirsty Like Parched Land

Last week I had someone request several pieces for a VBS theme they are doing.  This week I will share them with you.  Each one is a verse that includes the word thirst.  I am not sure what they are doing with each verse, but they got me thinking about thirsting and wanting.

Oh summer.  I don’t know how to deal with you this year!  After so many years of being so busy I could barely think, I have hours each day that have no plans.  Hours.  I don’t know what to do with myself.  With all this time on my hands I am thirsting for deeper conversations.  Deeper studies.  I feel like I am in a parched desert for this kind of interaction.  I am not in any classes for school or church.  I am not writing any kind of curriculum, speeches, etc.  I am not in a book club.  I need to get out there and do something!

But so far, I am just standing there like a cactus, reaching out my arms, waiting for someone else to bring what my soul thirsts for. I don’t think that is going to happen.  I think I am going to have to make an effort to fix this on my own.  Sometimes we have to accept the offers God puts out there…sometimes we have to look for them, or even just recognize them.  And then we have to do something with them.  I am sure I am surrounded by options.  I just need to move toward them.

 

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Accountable

We are accountable for everything we say and do.  Every little thing.  We might think we are doing awesome and keeping all the laws, but here is the thing:  we are human, so we can’t.  We are going to screw up.  We are going to need to ask God for forgiveness.  We are going to need to lean into Him.  We are going to need to ask Him for what we want; unconditional love and acceptance and eternal life.

And the blessing is He will give it to us when we are accountable.  He will do what we really want and need because what He really wants is for us to come closer to Him.  He wants us to tell Him everything.  The highs the lows the needs the wants the worries the exultations.  All of it.  He wants it all.  He wants each one of us.

Oh, how I love knowing that I am that wanted!  How about you?  Doesn’t it feel good?  Doesn’t it make you want to be accountable?

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Judges

And this is the other half of doing what God wants.  Not only do we need to follow His rules, but we are not to make distinctions with others.  Man, this is hard.  I fully admit, I get critical of people who do not live up to what they say they are going to do, of not living up to those top ten rules.  Drives me crazy.  I like most people, the ones I don’t tend to be self-serving.

But it is not my call.

It is God’s.

He says I still need to do what He asks…and that is:  don’t judge, treat them the same.  Even when I want to judge the heck out of them.

If I want people not to judge me, I can’t judge them.  Right?

Isn’t that what God says and wants?  What we want?

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Ephesians

I can’t say it better than God himself…I love the Message version of this passage:

1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

3-4 Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.

You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.

6-7 Don’t let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don’t even hang around people like that.

8-10 You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.

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No add-ons

At the restaurant of God there are no add-ons, no a la carte for what He wants from us.  He made this clear to the Israelites when He gave them the 10 commandments through Moses and Aaron.  I mean the top ten are pretty clear and pretty darn good at covering everything:

That list is pretty definitive.  I can see why God commanded them not to even try adding to them and not to take away anything.  Because He worded them perfectly too.  He didn’t need to nit-pick.  He knew these simple rules would last eons.  He knew these would apply to all people, all situations.

And Jesus came to reinforce that these are the only expectations of God.  Not a bunch of rules humans decide need to be added or subtracted to define our purposes.  Nope.

What GOD ORDERS.  These are what we need to do each day.

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What God Wants

I think I heard this in a sermon…or a devotion, not sure which.  But no matter who the thought came from it is dead on.  We sure have expectations for God and we have a tendency as humans to want it now.  Sort of like a drive thru:  we pull up to the menu and speak into the little box, “Yeah, hi?  I want a serving of forgiveness…make it extra large…for that thing I did.  Put a side of {my desire} in.  Extra crispy just the way I like it.  And hmmmm, let’s see, go ahead and add this other stuff just because I don’t really care how it affects others, but it is what I want.  Yeah,  Thanks.  Free right?”  And we pull up to the next window and expect it immediately.

That is not how God works.  People look at the Bible…He makes EVERYBODY wait.  He makes sure that everyone is on page with Him first.  And most of the time He gives us what we need not what we want.

I am the first person to admit I am guilty of this.  I am sooooooo not patient.

What if the table turned.  What if Jesus pulled up to our drive thru?

“Hello child!  I am so glad to see you working!  I would love for you to spread love and encouragement today.  I think you should turn to your co-worker right now and tell them.  Yes, do it.  Oh that made me so pleased!  Okay, what do I want to order?  Oh yes, I want you to be honest.  I want you to share with others.  Just give it all away.  That’s right…just hand it out.  Hmmm, let’s see we better super size that loving thing.  Can never have too much!  That comes with the forgiveness and understanding automatically right? That is definitely what I want you to cook up child.  Okay, I will meet you at the next window, I would love for that to happen right now, but I am super patient, I will wait for you.  We have LOTS of time.”

Could we answer Him?  Could we fill His order?

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Our Conquerer

While we are in our own little space waiting for what we want, God is out there getting stuff done.  Conquerering.  Going after one heart at a time and using them to bring our deliverance, our forgiveness, our belonging.  He uses everyone born of Him…and He designed a heck of a lot of people.  That should be a lot of conquests.  That should be a winning season record.

But those transgressions get in the way.  Our neediness gets in the way.  Our unwillingness to trust and  change and listen to the whisperings of the Spirit.  Just imagine what God made us capable of!  What could you conquer in His name today?

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Refined Faith

And this is the best part of admitting our neediness, admitting our transgressions, and putting them through the fire of constant cleaning and testing–we come out on the other side refined.  With a strong faith that is developed and will carry us through the waiting.

REFINED:  with impurities or unwanted elements having been removed by processing.  Purified, processed, treated, cultivated, cultured, polished, developed, improved in precise and subtle ways.

So many synonyms and ways to say it.  I like thinking of it as polished–just like the cleaning I wrote about yesterday.  Just like a beautiful stone or metal.  We can choose to be dull, or bright and shiny–something that entices other people, that draws them in, that is a beacon–which is exactly what God calls us to be.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Transgressions

Do you ever feel heavy from your transgressions?  You know you aren’t doing what you should, you are slipping up constantly, and you are not doing a good job of turning it around.  It is right there in your face, right in front of you, and still you do it.  It may be something big, it may be something little.  But no matter what it is there.  Kind of like that pile of stones Jesus threw in the sea…but piled up in front of you because you can’t let Him have them yet.

But the first step is acknowledging them.  Saying it.  Jesus…I know what I did wrong.  I know I need to get back on track.  I know I am needy.  I know I need you to deliver me.  I know I am really bad at waiting.

And letting Him throw those stones in to the sea.  Let go.  Let HIM have them all.  Then we find the rest and lightness we need.

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Soul cleaning

I heard this in a sermon this spring–not sure which church.  But I liked it.  Because it is true.  Just because we are Christians–whether it has been since childhood or yesterday–does not mean we are done cleaning our souls.

Much like a house, you can do an amazing deep spring clean.  The whole thing is dust free, sparkling, smelling good, spotless.  And within a week–it needs touch ups.  A regular schedule of straightening up, taking out the clutter and garbage, and disinfecting is the best defense.

Anyone who thinks they are not the same way is wrong.  Every human needs a good cleaning outside and in every day.  We have to take a good hard look at the smudges and ask God to help us wipe them away.  Some are more stubborn and are going to need a good scrub–maybe even a soak–until that stain disappears.  This is one of the reasons I love weekly communion–especially with a really nasty wafer and wine that burns on the way down.  It is like a soul cleaning each week.  But we can do it without communion, we can do it in prayer, we can confess those transgressions daily and ask God for that deliverance every hour if we need to.

Think on your soul cleaning schedule today..does it need revision?

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Needy and waiting

Do you ever feel especially poor and needy of spirit?  Sometimes we just get worn down.

Do you ever wish God would not delay with that deliverance?  It feels like you have been waiting for eternity.  For real.  We are a needy people.  Can you imagine all the petitions to God over the centuries for deliverance? But the reality is, God has been waiting for eternity.  Can you imagine the waiting God has done for His creations to turn back to Him? To repent?  To accept His love?  To accept deliverance?  Kind of puts it in perspective doesn’t it.

Sometimes we have to wait our turn.  Our deliverance might depend on a whole domino effect of answered prayers to a whole bunch of people waiting. Sometimes we have to realize our deliverance already happened, we just have to accept it.

 

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Heart Treasures

So simply said Jesus.  Well done.

Make a list today of all of your heart treasures.  Pray over it.  Be in thanksgiving for your heart treasure.  Celebrate them.

And know that when you reach heaven they will stay with you, and yet not even be important. For the joy of the treasure in Christ will overwhelm you and fill you to bursting.  It will glow with a majesty we cannot fathom.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Treasures

I do love me some shopping.  I love the hunt more than the stuff I bring home.  I think that is why I like garage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores so much.  Because I am not super attached to most of the things in my home.  There are of course a few things.  And I do get annoyed when I break an art piece or lose a special earring from an art fair.   But, in the end, it is all just stuff.  Momentary.

And I think this verse is part of the reason why.  It has always had an impact on me.

We can enjoy the things we have, we can support artisans and designers and the retail world (we do need those jobs).  The difference is not attaching too much importance to those items.  Not worshiping them.  Not making them what defines us.

For we are defined by so much more than what we own.

 

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Dandelions

The dandelions are out in full force this spring.  We have two choices on how to deal with them:  spray the heck out of them and hope they disappear from our lawns OR embrace their gorgeous sunny yellow heads.  I took the second graders outside and showed them how to split the stem down the middle, soak it in water, and get a super tight spiral curl.  Their awe and giggling was so worth it…they ran over the lawn picking stems, looking for the longest and thickest to get the best results.  It was the best 15 minutes of my day.

We choose, don’t we, how we perceive our days?  How we look at our life.

I think this verse is telling us that we need to enjoy this life, enjoy not the material things, but all the things that fill our hearts.

I think it is reminding us that this life isn’t all there is, we have so much more to look forward to in the afterlife. That will fill our hearts even more.

This life is like a dandelion, a fleeting flower that will eventually float on a breeze…but the memories of that joy and lightness can stay with us forever.

What do you think?

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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