Saturday, January 10, 2009

The angel of the Piper

Well, I can't decide how to react. You won't be surprised to hear that John Piper is one of my heroes of the faith. After all, I'm about to start a study of one of his books. I listen to him, read his stuff, have driven miles to hear him talk many it. So, I guess it's good to be reminded that he's just a guy...a guy who wears red pants, really large jackets and makes sure the edges are perfect. Hilarious.

Walking partners

Thursday after Bible study some great women asked me to join them for lunch. Not that big of a deal, though I don't do it often because we've got school work waiting on us at home. What made it special is they are women I've been walking this journey with for 10 years but don't see so much now. You know how that is, right? These were the women I talked to every other day at least. The women whose children mine played with. The women I cried with, complained to, prayed with...who listened...laughed...hugged...helped. Just walking together through this life.

But the kids grow up and start school. Jobs are begun. One goes back to college. One becomes an aide at her elementary school. We still attend church together, but that's 3,000 people. Gets hard to see each other much less catch up. You still love each other. Still smile when you see them. Rejoice at the big stuff. Call over the hurts. But not the day to day stuff.

Then Thursday I saw them across the room after the study and they made their way over to exclaim that they're crashing another friend's house and I need to come. Too good to pass, I admit it...I wanted to see Angela freak out at all of us showing up unannounced! Yes. I'm that friend. And yes, she did. Kept cutting me looks that told me how much I'd be hearing about it later. Fun, fun, fun. Truthfully, though, Angela loves people so (though she'd like a little heads up from me next time!), she was very glad everyone came over.

As I sit here now, I was reflecting on how easy it was to be together. How different everything is around us and how much the same it is when we all sit together. We caught up on the various issues which have moved from potty training and spanking vs. timeout to college plans, teen attitudes, dating and cars...and whether the gray hair should be left alone or colored! (I still can't decide what I'll do when that hits...can't really see the hair coloring making the budget!) And we talked about what it's like when God starts you over on that road when you least expect it! Yikes.

They know me. They know what I'm like, what I like and what will set me off. They know my fears and my struggles and what to ask that hits right at my heart. They remind me of former days and how much Christ has taught me. They encourage me, challenge me and poke fun of me all at the same time. They are still working hard to honor the Lord. They are still pressing on to serve their King. They still love their husbands, bless their children and do good where they go. Isn't that such grace?

So, we sat for a couple of hours...talking, eating, monitoring little ones (okay, a couple of them are younger than me), probing, questioning, advising, encouraging, and laughing, laughing, laughing. Though only Angela has remained as a daily presence (for which I am so grateful...), I am overwhelmed by the grace of friends. They remind me that I'm not alone. That this body was given to make sure we all get there. Their faces reflect my Savior's...their words spur me on in the race...their joy makes my heart glad...their sorrow makes me more aware of everything outside of myself. But most of all, they remind me that we are all in this together. What a treasure it is not to walk alone.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Listening to this Jesus music

Over at 22 Words, Abraham Piper asked for music that most people probably haven't heard of but you really like...well, this is what the Ransleben's are listening to right now so I posted it in the comments section. Probably a little surprising to most people, but these two videos will show you why we are fans...

Noise, hurry and crowds

A woman named Lynn was my Bible study leader years ago. Her two boys were 8 years or so above my oldest. I was grateful to sit under her teaching, but more grateful for the time she spent encouraging me and guiding me in life stuff. One of the things she would tell me often came from my whining about my busy, hurried, constant-movement life. Three young girls...homeschooling with a toddler and infant on each hip. Not able to shower without one crying out...or better even, pulling the shower curtain aside to ask me if they could have the candy they'd already have smeared on the corners of their mouths. And the worst shower moment...

Mama, I helped her.
Who, baby? Who did you help?
Brennan, Mama. I helped her.

That's great, Aisley. Thank you for helping your sister.
Quick prayer while dripping water across the carpet: Please, God. Please let her be okay.
Rush to the crib to find various toys stacked around and on baby Brennan to "help" her stop crying. And there she is grinning...until she sees me and wants up NOW.

Okay, where was I? Lynn...that's right. Thank you. I'd be moaning about my life and standing amazed that she had all day, every weekday to herself. Boys to school and she'd be back home alone. Can you imagine what I could get done in that time? Things like...thinking whole thoughts...beginning and ending a meal during the same sitting...a phone call that wasn't interrupted by my saying: Don't interrupt Mama when she's on the phone (followed each time by a small voice saying: okay, Mama, but can I...). I wasn't looking to scrapbook, start a home business or write a novel. I just wanted to cook with both hands.

Lynn would look at me with understanding and sympathy, but would then reply with a strange, strange thought. It only gets harder, she'd say. Right, I'd sneer deep inside. But she meant it. She'd tell me that the older the boys got and the more she was able to do, the less she devoted of her time to God. It was easier and easier to claim more and more for herself. When she needed a minute, had to fight to get a minute with God, it was actually easier to sit before Him. Now that she could do it anytime, it became the thing she could put off doing. She could always do that later. She realized that the easier her life got, the less she needed God. I think at that moment what went through my head was...whatever, Lynn.

This all came back as I read a blog posting called Silence some days ago. It was written by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church. As sometimes happens, God's brought it back to mind over and over. It contains so much that's convicting as it speaks to my life as much as his, but this little paragraph stuck out to me...
In that moment, God deeply convicted me that I was addicted to the false trinity of our day, the gods known as Noise, Hurry, and Crowds. I remembered the words of missionary martyr Jim Elliot, who said, “I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds . . . Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.”
There were so many days where I truly valued silence. The true peace of sitting, quietly waiting for God. That's because it was therefore precious. But even though I still homeschool and thus I'm still not alone much, I get silence more often in my life. Now I can slow I can be alone...and guess what? Lynn was right. Need drove me to value Him. Ease never will. Time that stretches leaves a hole that my flesh longs to fill with nothing.

What needs to change isn't the addition of more little ones here (Please, no. I'll wait on grandkids.). It's an understanding of my need for God. An understanding of my continual dependence. A deeper understanding of my inability and an increasing devaluing of my competence. I need to see Christ as far superior to my own understanding. I need to need Him. Christ did. He depended on Him. Pulled away to be quiet before Him. Looked to Him in times of crisis and when things were going well. How much more so do I?

Will you take a quick moment right now to pray with me? That we would value rest less than we value rest in Him. That we would esteem Him more than our own understanding. That we by His grace would seek Him...would see Him...would therefore be changed by Him into His likeness. That silence would not be to feed us, but to feed our souls on the God of the Universe. That we would humble ourselves and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways...that we may be saved. Please, Jesus. For Your Name. Amen.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Out of the closet

Sounds worse than it is. Promise. All I'm doing is admitting that I'm pulling for the Florida Gators to win tonight's championship. But to some of my more ardent GA Bulldog friends...well, let's just say, it's possible that they might be more sympathetic to the other use of "out of the closet" than this one.

I know that the SEC takes rivalry to an all new level. Most of them can't believe that Texas fans will pull for other Texas schools when they play outside the conference. John and Nathan can't even stay in a Florida town without counting the minutes until they go home.

But, come on, guys. Tim Tebow.

Please. He loves the Lord. He serves the poor. He mentors kids in the inner city. He even serves in prisons and talks about Christ wherever he's got a minute. Don't believe me? Read this. You'll see what I mean. Even that columnist who writes for ESPN says this:
It truly would be a shame to submit to cynicism and not fully appreciate the gift of Tebow -- the way he plays football with an unquenchable passion, and the way he approaches life with even greater ardor. If you think he hits linebackers hard on fourth-and-1, that's nothing compared to the way he tackles his higher calling to spread the word. In this one instance, what looks too good to be true really is true.
His passion for spreading the word is higher than his passion for sports? I mean, come on. Can't you just this once lay aside your hatred for all things Florida and root for a guy who represents Christ so well? Just this once? You can do it. I know you can.

(Besides, what do you want me to do? Root for Oklahoma?! Please. I don't think so. Jesus only asks so much of us.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

If you're in the area

I wanted to give you all a heads up about what studies I'm thinking about teaching this Spring.

Kick off for the Spring Bible study at TBC begins this Thursday morning at 9am. We'll meet in the chapel and then break into our groups which will be in the same classroom as last year (Rm. 213, I think). If you didn't join us last semester, it's okay. We begin a brand new book this week that will cover more women of the Bible. We'd love to have you join us if you can in the mornings.

For those that can't make the Thursday morning time, I'm going to be starting a study on Tuesday nights beginning Jan. 20 from 7-9pm. I hope to have us meet for 7 weeks and then see what everyone's schedule looks like to begin another study right after. (Since I'll have Cassie graduating, I have no idea what the late Spring will look like!) My husband has graciously allowed me to have this at our house if we need to, but if you can host it let me know. I can flex on the time if we have it somewhere else, but 7-9pm works best for Wayne and the girls here.

For this study, we'll work through Piper's book When I Don't Desire God. It's a straightforward look at what we all wish weren't true...we don't desire God like we know we should. We don't pray. We don't read His Word. And worst of all, we go day after day with only a vague understanding of why we don't. This book is hard hitting, but oh, so practical. We'll watch a short video each week and then cover the discussion questions. The book is available for order from Desiring God ($8.96) and Amazon ($11.19), as well as Lifeway.

Please let me know if you're planning to do either option. It would help me to make plans for setting up each study. Well, that's it! I'm excited to get started and am working hard on your homework (keep the groaning down, please). Love you all...Kim