My Heart's Home

January 30, 2011

Thank God for Twigs

Filed under: Prayer — My Heart's Home @ 9:55 pm

Sitting in the pew I feel uncomfortable. My heart, not my tush. It’s the lukewarm sermon. I hate the lukewarm sermon. Why? Because I always feel lukewarm when I hear it. I know it’s time to turn the heat up a notch or two and I’m resistant.

“So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Rev. 3:16.

My heart cries, “Lord, please don’t count me among those spewed!”

This was me a few years ago.

Ever sink into a tepid bath? Doesn’t soothe aching muscles. Ever gulp a fountain’s warmth? Doesn’t quench a  parched tongue.

I know what lukewarm is when I don’t want it to be and it’s not soothing. Not quenching. Not satisfying.

It’s like trying to squeeze into my size 6 Calvin Kleins :

un-com-for-table!

A few glances around my home and you’ll realize I’m all about comfort. My chairs, my bed, my clothes, my shoes all scream comfort. Even my freezer is stocked with a myriad of boldly-colored ice cream treats in various shapes and sizes, all there to bring me comfort no matter what the season, hot or cold.

Ice cream comfort.

I scream comfort.

However, too much comfort breeds complacency. Maybe that’s why mama bird fills her nest with twigs, to encourage her young to scorn the nest, spread wings and soar.

Somehow, this chick’s wings became clipped. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years and my Bible remained closed.

~ Gasp ~

My token prayers—mostly before meals—became fewer, infrequent, non-existent. I started to become irritable, inpatient, intolerant with absolute strangers and those I absolutely loved.  My daily actions became like coffee beans—daily grind—guided not by the Holy Spirit, but by my feelings, emotions, moods. Not good.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23.

I was fruitless. Not entirely, but mostly. Mary Janes grew heels climbing Sunday School steps, yet somewhere a little girl got lost along the way. Maybe too much catechism? Too much coddling? Too much comfort?

Ugh. Lukewarm.

I don’t want to “do” church, “do” Christian, “do” lukewarm. I want to “be” church, “be” Christian, “be” on fire. Not just Sunday, but 24/7.

Time to turn the dial, blow those embers, fan those flames.

Time for heels to start kicking and wings to soar.

Time to bear some: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Time to thank God for twigs.

Click to hear Keith Green’s song: “Make My Life A Prayer to You.”

John 14:16-17: “And I will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”

The word “comforter” means “one to run to our side and pick us up.”

Lord, hold me so close that I never stop hearing your heartbeat.

 


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January 20, 2011

Artificial Trees

Filed under: Christmas — My Heart's Home @ 12:29 am

I admit I’m a procrastinator. It’s mid-January and our Christmas tree is still up. Makes sense, considering it was mid-December before it took center stage.

Sitting all comfy cozy with a cup of cocoa in hand, I gaze at its overall beauty then focus on details. My eyes dart from a dangling icicle to a snow-tipped pinecone. Crimson and golden balls reflecting stringed lights’ glow catch my attention next—each strategically placed upon five-year-old limbs (and a few that weren’t by five-year-old limbs).

I smile. I stare. I reflect.

Christmas trees are a lot like people.

They come in all shapes and sizes, colors and scents, gussied-up or plain, high or low maintenance, artificial and real.

I prefer maintenance-free, pre-lit, towering, full-bodied, no annual fee artificial. No chopping, no hauling, no sap, no stringing, no watering, no shedding, no allergies, no disposing. But your average, run-of-the-mill, clearance aisle, garage sale, grandma’s attic hand-me-down spruce, fir or evergreen won’t do. I’ve had my share of those. If it’s destined to join our family, tickle our first home’s ceiling and outgrow my son’s childhood, I prefer to invest in the best. So I bought mine from Balsam Hill, the crème de la crème crop of artificial trees. Good enough to grace the sets of Oprah Winfrey, Rachel Ray and Ellen DeGeneres; fill the lobbies of fine hotels and embassies around the world; and stand tall in Macy’s famous Santaland exhibit in New York City. Their ultra-realistic branches can fool even the savviest TV host into commenting about the “live” trees on set.

I dupe people, too. Burn a Yankee evergreen-scented candle for greater impact and guests are none the wiser.

But no matter how genuine my Balsam Hill tree looks, smells, and feels—it’s still fake. Visitors might be hoodwinked, but I know the truth: crafted artisans molded the lifelike needles from plastic. Not God-made nature’s way, but man-made factory style.

Christmas trees are a lot like Christians.

According to a recent survey, about 75% of American adults consider themselves Christ followers.

I frown. I gaze. I ponder.

I guess we’re good at looking the part, playing the role and quoting the lines. We wear our Sunday best blouse to match our Sunday school smile. We light up when we’re recognized, praised, affirmed for some unselfish act we’ve done in Jesus’ name, yet we take that same name in vain the rest of the week when pastors, elders and congregants are beyond earshot.

We warm pews, toss tithes, whisper prayers, shout hallelujahs, sing hymns, raise palms, shake hands, bow heads, bend knees, break bread, drink wine. By all appearances we look genuine, real and authentic. Yet beyond the façade, charade and smokescreen—when our Sunday best hangs in darkened closets while our leather-bound Bibles collect dust on shelves—are we the corner barstool drunkard, the casino chasing charlatan, the sailor swearing sister, the spouse stealing adulterer, the child neglecting mother, the tax evading employee? We change our hairstyles, makeup and clothes daily, but do our hearts remain unmoved, unaltered and unchanged?

Like stringed lights on artificial trees?

 “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

January 5, 2011

One-Year Guarantee

Filed under: Faith — My Heart's Home @ 9:03 pm

Today I face another blank page.

Another blank day.

Another blank year.

All waiting to be filled. A new calendar, not yet penciled in, hangs nearby. I face the unknown with empty slates. That scary unknown. I don’t like not knowing what’s around that bend. So I rabidly ink in the blanks staring back at me with appointments, meetings, deadlines, parties, vacations, Bible studies… The moments I can foresee, manage and call the shots. The Control Freak in me breathes easier. At least for now.

Many latest-and-greatest gadgets sold this Christmas offered a One-Year Guarantee. What if our new year did? “This certificate guarantees each recipient will experience no pain, tears, broken heart, sickness, failure, bills…” Wow! That’s worth blasting celebratory fireworks New Years Eve.

But reality doesn’t work that way. So this worrywart’s only guarantee is:

My home will not be spit spot. I will yell at my son. I will frustrate my spouse. I will consume more calories, computer hours and cable channels than I should. I won’t measure up to all those mommy yardsticks reminding me I’m falling short every day. I won’t open my Bible, my wallet or heart as much as I should. I will fail. I guarantee it.

But I can also guarantee at years end I will be a better me. I’m certain because I will focus less on myself, my shortcomings and my failures and more on my Creator, whose mercies are new every morning—thankfully, not just once a year. There will be births, deaths; marriages, divorces; promotions, layoffs. More highs and lows than the stock market. Life will go on and earth will spin regardless of the lists, agendas and goals I set. Tides, temperatures and diapers will all change, but these truths will remain constant:

My Jesus and His promises.

With Him I can face all uncertainty with

courage, confidence and peace.

He will never fail you or me.

He’s our LIFETIME and ETERNAL warranty.

And that’s better than a One-Year Guarantee any day of the week.

————————————————————————————

Book I’m Reading: “The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You,” by John Ortberg.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done,”

Phil. 4:6

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes,” James 4:14

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9

 


 

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