Sunday, May 20, 2007
This is a cake! Laurie made this birthday cake for one of our son's who just turned 5. She got the idea from Family Fun magazine. It looked even better in person. People thought it was a real treasure chest. It was delicious. In case it was not clear our son wanted a pirate party. We did not like the idea of honoring something evil like pirates so we made up a story in which the kids wanted to reach pirates for Jesus so they had to dress like pirates and do "pirate-like" things in order to reach them. It worked.
James 5:16 - Therefore, (AO)confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be (AP)healed (AQ)The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
I was thinking of this passage recently and noticed in myself a man-centered tendency in which I interpret this verse to mean that somehow the "righteous man" is the key, the powerholder, as if he has the power. But as soon as I think that I also think it sounds crazy, for the power must come from God. As I was trying to reconcile this a story came to mind...
There once was a father and a son who loved each other very much. One would not be wrong to describe them as delighting in each other. They were together all the time. Whatever the father said to do the son obeyed. The son spent so much time with his father that he began to know what the father wanted in most situations and would act accordingly. When he went against his father, he felt awful and would run to his father crying. His father always forgave his son and restored the joy to their relationship.
The father was very wealthy and very generous and the son often asked him for things. Sometimes the father said yes and sometimes he said no. As the boy grew he saw more and more how wise his father was. He often thanked his father for the times he had given no as an answer to one of the boy's requests. When he was older the boy received less no's because he had learned from his father what was good for him and what was not. He asked less and less often for the things of which he knew his father would not approve; he had learned he was happier not having them.
The boy had brothers and sisters, and he amazed them. They did not know what made him so special. It seemed like everything he asked their father for, he received. They did not get the same results. Many of them assumed it was because he never "messed up". They figured there must be something about not "messing up" that gives one special privileges, and so they worked hard to not mess up. They were frustrated more often than not. The boy tried to tell them that it was not about his righteousness, but about being with the father, but most of them could not understand what he was saying.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
This is another one at the C's house as the haze in the background is towards downtown LA and the mountains behind. I tried to set up a hummingbird feeder in our backyard, but I never had the success that the C's do so I have to take pictures at their place. They really are fascinating birds and wonderful pictures of God's amazing creativity.
I would like to get back to my original idea in creating this blog, which was to force the discipline of reviewing my week and recognizing Jesus in it. I do not know if that will happen at this point as life will be a bit crazy over the next few weeks as we prepare to move to Turkey, but it is a goal. And on that note, I have no problem seeing a significant aspect of this week.
I took the GMAT on Friday. I did not know how I would do and was quite anxious that I would not do well. I studied intensely for about a month, but saw little improvement on the practice tests I took. In fact, it seemed like I only got worse each time. I was not able to finish any of the four practice tests I took in the allotted time. I did end up doing well on the real test, though, as Jesus clearly helped me through it. Many times during the three and a half hour test, I prayed for help and wisdom, for clarity and focus, and Jesus helped me. That is by natur a subjective statement, but I know it is true, and it does not really matter what others think about it.
But that is not my focus here. The deeper issue had to do with what the chance of failure revealed in me. As I was preparing for the test, I often pictured myself finishing the test and either doing well or doing poorly. This daydreaming revealed much about the foundation of my life. When I pictured myself doing poorly, I was embarrassed and tried to think of ways to justify it or excuse it. I tried to think through how I would report it to others and what I would say. I could see myself devising little ways to manipulate it so that I still "looked" okay. At the same time, when I pictured myself doing well, I struggled with the pride and arrogance that would come. I would be happy with myself and feel more worthy and better than others which would make me feel ashamed.
This whole process was a grace of God to reveal some deep level lies/thought patterns that I use to define myself in relation to those around me. Jesus is not enough. I need Jesus and to be smart. I need Jesus and to be smarter than others. In fact, to be totally honest, there is a part of me that tells me that I don't even need Jesus; I just need to be smart (I could actually plug in a number of characteristics here, but the test brought out intelligence so that is my focus here.)
In the past this would have lead me to doubt and discouragement, but God has helped me to see this as a grace. I pray that He will search my heart and reveal my sin and lead me to Jesus (Psalm 139:23-24), so I should not be surprised when He does it. It is painful, and it is good. So I was able to repent and move forward. I was able to recognize it and give it to God and let Him take care of it and change me in His way. This is a step towards the freedom that I so long for in Christ. Repentance is good news. I am slowly learning how true this is.