Monthly Archives: October 2009

You Little Rascal, You!

Little_Rascals

The following statements came across my computer screen via @rascaltweets today. I don’t know the gentleman personally, but he followed me on Twitter so I did the polite thing and followed him back. That sounds kinda strange. How exactly is it possible to  follow someone who’s following you? Only in Twitter-Land. That and maybe time travel. But now I understand why people who don’t Tweet look at me funny (well, one of the many reasons they look at me funny). They just don’t understand the lingo. Bless their hearts!

Anyhoo…back to the important part. These are some things Chris Brady tweeted today.

A Rascal is any individual who has the character to be a character.

A Rascal is someone who makes a difference by being different.

A Rascal doesn’t follow the herd; but he or she does protect it.

A Rascal is an original character; one who can’t be classified, minimized, silenced, or enslaved.

Rascals are rebels WITH a cause.

Do these statements describe anyone you know? Several people came to my mind – IMMEDIATELY.

After reading over them several times I realized all of those statements were true of the greatest character who ever lived. Go ahead, I know you want to re-read them. I’ll wait.

Now, don’t you agree? Couldn’t all of those statements be used to describe Jesus and His earthly ministry? (If you didn’t take the opportunity to read them before, you’re doing it now, aren’t you?)

I absolutely LOVE Rascals! They don’t always make life easier, but they do make it richer!

So, who are the rascals in your life?

Are you a rascal?

Do you want to be?

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How To Fail Successfully

Failure and Success

The only true failure is the failure to try.

So, this thought popped in my head the other morning. I’m trying to decide if I agree with it or not. I wonder where it came from. Did I hear someone say it? Did I read it somewhere? I can’t for the life of me remember. If it was you, chime in and take credit. If you read or heard it too, please remind me of the origin.

What do you think? Is it accurate to say the only way to fail for sure is to not try at all? To successfully fail, just don’t try?

Does it mean even when things don’t go according to plan that we still enjoy some level of success just because we made an attempt?

I’ve been trying to figure out what God says about the subject. From what I can tell God’s word talks more about what we “should do” than it does about what we “shouldn’t do”. We are told to: love, serve, tell, baptize, teach, encourage, build up, pray for, feed, clothe, and care for others (just to name a few). If we don’t at least try to do these things then we fail to be God’s hands and feet. We fail to bring His kingdom to earth. We fail to obey His greatest command.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to find my name on God’s Fail List. Which brings us to another issue. I don’t believe we can just go off willy-nilly and dive into meaningless, busy activity and slap God’s name on it in the disclaimer line. I’m reminded of a verse I read in the book of Acts last week.   

“…For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5: 38-39)

Anything I try to do in my own strength will be for nothing. But when God is in it, even if the outcome is not what I expect, then failure is not necessarily the result. God’s purpose isn’t always able to be  measured by human standards but sometimes it’s more about the journey. It’s about what happens in our hearts. It’s what brings us closer to Him.

So the little poem we all learned as kids, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” may be pretty accurate. Just be sure you’re using God’s definition of success and not the world’s.

Just keep trying, just keep trying… (chanted to the tune of Dory’s “Just keep swimming…” ) You’re welcome…

Child-like Not Child-ish…

childlike faith

I know this little eight year old girl, let’s call her “Alice”. Alice lives life wide open. She loves big and deep. Alice’s mom and I have had many conversations about how Alice just “gets people”. She knows what hurts them and wants to make it better. She realizes what makes people happy and is bound and determined to pull that off for them. Alice knows how to use her words, written and spoken, and her actions to soothe, heal, and minister to those who need it. Alice reminds me of two things from God’s word.

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 (NIV)

And…

“Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.’” Matthew 16:17 (NIV)

We could substitute “Alice’ for “Simon son of Jonah” because the insight this little girl has certainly comes from her heavenly Father.

I heard someone say about Alice, “I hope she never loses her heart for people.” Of course it was an adult that made the statement because adults know how people and just life in general can pound on our hearts, leaving wounds and scars for us to deal with.

So I want to encourage you to pray for your kids and their hearts. Shoot, pray for all the kids you know. There’s no such thing as too much prayer. And heaven knows kids today need all the help they can get!

But also, I encourage you to get in touch with your inner child. Go back and read Matthew 18:3 again. I think part of becoming like little children could be knowing how to listen. Really listen. As adults we are more accustomed to speaking, not listening. We don’t hear our Father speak because we never shut up long enough for His words to get through. However, with childlike anticipation we should learn to sit quietly and hear God’s voice. I have a feeling we’ll find ourselves less likely to carry on a one-sided gripe session or rattle off a wish list as long as our arm when we begin to hear what God is speaking into our lives.

What Does God Sound Like?

mail

People ask me a lot “How do you know when God is speaking to you?” I usually respond with, “That’s a very good question.” You know when someone answers a question like that they usually don’t have a very good answer for the very good question.

It’s hard to explain something like this. I usually start by telling them how God loves to repeat Himself to me. I figure since His favorite number is three that’s why He tends to tell me everything three times before I hear it. For example, I’ll get a “word” from God in my inbox via my Verse of the Day subscription. Then I may run across the same verse in a homework session of my current bible study (if it’s a good day and I actually get around to the homework!). And then, ding-a-ling, ring the bell, our pastor uses that very same reference in his Sunday morning message! At this point I usually go, “Duh, I think God’s trying to tell me something.” The light bulb goes on and I discover understanding. It’s a beautiful thing.

But that’s not the only way God speaks. Sometimes it’s more direct. Like a gentle bolt of lightning. You just know it’s God because only He can make lightning gentle, right?

About a year ago God laid a verse of scripture on my heart in a big and heavy way. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I guess I was taught as a child or maybe I just assumed that this was like a recipe for getting wishes granted from God. But notice what happens if you look at it from a different angle. What if God actually gives you the desires He wants for your heart when you delight in Him? Well, that became my constant prayer. “God, please place the desires in my heart that will bring You glory and bring me closer to You in the process. Help me become the person You created me to be.” It was at that point the desire to write began to take root in my heart. At first I struggled with it as I wondered where it came from. (Isn’t that just like us? I mean we ask God for something and when we get it we wonder where it came from? What’s up with that?)

Finally it dawned on me that God was giving me a desire for my heart and I needed to act on it. So, ta-da – this blog was born. Kind of. I’m still trying to get comfortable with this hat I’m apparently wearing now. Thanks for being so patient with me.

One day when God spoke, He sounded like Nicklas. Nicklas is the man who cleans our church building. We love Nicklas, which by the way is his last name, not his first name. It seems that in Haiti, where he was born, that’s the way they do it. We don’t argue, we just call him Nicklas. We’ve formed a friendship, Nicklas and I. I make him coffee and he lets me know when it’s time to order more toilet paper. We also have some deep theological discussions. We talk about how people (we) tend to go into debt because we don’t have the patience to wait for God’s timing. And how it’s sometimes hard to understand exactly what God meant when He said we are to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” But he really stopped me in my tracks one day about a month ago.

I was sitting at my desk, working away (yes, I do that from time to time). Nicklas was just about to start cleaning the carpets down our hallway and he stopped to ask me if I had a moment. I almost said I was really busy, but something  about the look on his face got my attention. What he told me next made me glad I was sitting down. He said, “You know, Ms. Cindy, God speaks to us all the time. He speaks in different ways.” I agreed with him. Then he said, “Well, I think God wants me to tell you something.” I mentally rolled my eyes (just a little) because I’ve had people tell me that before and what they had to say was most certainly not from God. But I let him continue, “He wants me to tell you that you have a good heart.” Okay, I can accept that. How sweet of him to deliver such a nice message. But he had more to say. Nicklas repeated, “You have a good heart. And God says He can give you desires for your heart. But you don’t ask Him for enough.” I think I stopped breathing for a minute. How in the world would Nicklas know about that? Truth is he couldn’t. God really did give him a message for me. I smiled at Nicklas and thanked him for being obedient and passing along that marvelous word! Then I told him how God had already invited me to ask Him for those desires and I had failed to continue asking. I acknowledged to him there was no way he could have known how much those words meant to me. How they would spark a fire in my heart again. He just smiled and told me he sure was glad because he hadn’t really wanted to deliver the message. In fact he suggested to God that He tell me Himself! And God told him, no, it was his job this time. We both got a chuckle out of it, and I have my suspicions that God was probably smiling too.

So, I’m back to asking God daily for those desires for my heart and Nicklas is back to delivering messages about toilet paper and hand towels. Now I’m telling you, don’t be surprised when you get God-messages from unexpected sources.

P.S. Click here for an example of a message delivered from an extremely unusual source. (pay special attention to verses 21 through 31)