Thursday, October 17, 2019

Long Flights, Sabbath & "Seated with Christ"....#takeyourseat


My father-in-love's favorite book, written by Watchman Nee, summarized the Apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Nee, a Chinese Bible Teacher, was arrested in 1952 on false charges, and imprisoned until his death in 1972. Penned while he languished inside a Chinese prison, "Sit, Walk, Stand" was, obviously, Nelson's go-to book. His copy was thoroughly underlined and so well-loved, with notes in the margins, that I had to purchase a fresh book off of Amazon.

(Two great books I've read as I've studied what it looks like to be "seated with Christ")

I certainly don't know why I hadn't invested the time to read it sooner.

The book is a jewel.

A rare treasure.

Simple, but profound.

Deep, but easy enough a new believer could pick up the concepts.

I've read and re-read it now several times.

It hit the mark in my soul, over and over again.

Spot on!

This is not a book report.

#####

Today, I begin my long series of flights to Tallinn, Estonia.


In a matter of days, I'll stand before a group of global workers (can't say the "m"-word, anymore), and share my stories of what it looks like to live hope to others around us who hopelessly can't envision a better tomorrow. In fact, some of these gals may find themselves in that very place.

We don't hear it often, but those who serve, often wear the biggest targets on their backs, and an unrelenting enemy never stops shooting his fiery darts their direction.


I know.

I've experienced those attacks.

#####

I've not been looking forward to the trip.

There's nothing glamorous about the travel-part.

However, this week, once again, I re-read "Sit, Walk, Stand," causing my perspective to change, and my appreciation for the journey to shift.

So, what does Nee offer up to make such a seismic alteration?

Simply this.

To my heart, these words resonated:

"Many Christians make the mistake of trying to walk (to go about living out the Christian life) in order to earn the right to sit. That is a reversal of the true order. Our natural reason says, "If we do not walk, how can we ever reach the goal? What can I possibly attain without effort? How can I ever get anywhere if I do not move?  

But Christianity is a paradoxical business.  If at the outset we try to do anything, we get nothing; if we seek to attain something, we miss everything.

Christianity
begins not with a big
DO, 
but with a big
DONE!"


I can not be on the run to Estonia (or on the fly), I must sit first.

Sit at the feet of my Jesus.

Sit in a position of rest.

Sit in the finished work of Jesus that allows Him to make all things ready for the ministry in Estonia.


To sit, in this case, is to Sabbath.


I think of Adam (not as in my son, Adam, but the first Adam).

This precious image-bearer was created on the sixth day.

That means Adam's first day was a Sabbath-day.

Adam didn't start by doing what he was purposed to do.

He started resting.


I needed to hear this from the Lord through Mr. Nee.

I have a whole lot of hours to Sabbath ahead of me today and into tomorrow.

I intend to rest with everything that is within me.

I'll cease striving.

My heart will seek to hear and to know God as He reveals Himself on the journey.

I'll worship more and worry none.

I'll surrender to what the Lord has in store, so that I will be fully AVAILABLE to be useful to Him when I arrive.

(Watchman Nee)

#####

I don't know about you.

Maybe you are working too hard to be the best Christian you can possibly be, spinning your spiritual wheels, burning the candle at both ends and really getting no where.

Take your seat!

Sabbath.

Rest.

Let God first work in you, before you begin to walk it out.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Introverted Problems, Comparison, and Being Seated....#takeyourseat


Being an introverted introvert, mingling is one of the most difficult requests made of me.


Before I ever attend a gathering filled with people I don't know, I rehearse questions to ask 1) for the purpose of letting someone else carry on the conversation, 2) because extroverted folks love to be asked about their story, and 3) because often I find some commonality that will help keep the conversation going and allow me a measure of contribution.

I've learned over the years how to become an extroverted-introvert in an extrovert-dominated world.


(my own little corner in my own little world)

I must be a fairly good actress, because most people are shocked to discover that solitude matters a great deal to me (probably more than it should).

Recently, I found myself "seated" at a table eating a meal with a group of women who all knew one another, and with whom I knew not a soul.


I have no one to blame, I picked the table.

There were, in fact, a total of four in a room of 150+ that I did know.

I could have easily gone and sat with those four.

I pulled up my big-girl-panties and sat down.


As I took my seat, I rehearsed my go-to-questions.

The conversation began to take off.

I learned A LOT about this group of gals.

They were extraordinary.

Gifted.

Skilled.

Purposed in places I couldn't imagine myself ever being qualified to work.

Not only serving in the workplace, but they out-did themselves on the Home-front, the Church-front, the Community-front.

Impressive!

As they shared their stories, I found myself "shrinking" in that seat.

If it's possible for a human to shrink, I managed.

An image crossed my mind from the movie, "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids."


Only it was a brief video version of "Jesus, I Shrunk the Speaker of this Retreat."

In a split second, I thought to myself, "Seriously, it's better that I never get to know who is in the groups of women where I go to speak. After all, most of them are more qualified than I am to do what I'm here to do."

The more humorous part of this little story is that I drove a long way to speak on what it looks like to be "seated in the heavenlies with Jesus."


I had zoned out of the conversation, albeit briefly, but had zeroed back in just in time to hear one of the women, look at me with tears glistening on her cheeks...

"I want you to know," she began, "what you are sharing this weekend is touching me deeply. I am always comparing myself to others at work, at church, in my community, and as a mom. In my mind, I always come up short. I am not enough. I needed the reminder that when I am 'seated with Christ' my identity is secure. Thank you!"


Oh dear, new friend. Thank you!

How is it possible that in the very midst of what we are purposed to do, the enemy can so spontaneously distract?

I'd have gotten there, eventually.

But, the Lord used this table full of dear, gracious women to get me back to my proper seat more rapidly.

When we are seated at the King-Table, there is no need for comparison. 

In that place, He has a unique purpose designed specifically for each one of us.

And, He has equipped us for the purpose to which He has called us.


For that time, and that place, we are His choice.

For other times, and other places, someone else may be His pick.

At the King-Table, there is no need for self-evaluation.

There is no need for self-consciousness.

Self-absorption.

Self-judgment.

Self-ANYTHING.

There is no need for any of this...because the King, with whom we are seated, has promised an abundant life for each of us (John 10:10).

There is no need for any of this...because the King, has unified us with a Kingdom mindset.


There is simply never a reason for comparison, because we are all "in it" for the Kingdom of the Sovereign King.

I don't completely understand it; I just know this understanding of where I'm seated transforms me and gives me a renewed sense of confidence.

This is timely.

In one week, I board another plane, for another retreat, to speak to another group of women who could all be standing in my place doing exactly what I'll be doing.

For this particular time and place, the Lord looked across the King-Table, pointed His finger at me, and said, "I choose you." 

If I'm chosen, I'm equipped.


If I'm equipped, then I'll be useful to the Master, and prepared for every good work.

And, this little introvert will be transformed into the extrovert she needs to be for this coming season.


#takeyourseat

Thursday, October 3, 2019

A Little Round Pen Instruction on Horseback....#takeyourseat in reverse


This is Tali.


Her full name is Talitha.

In Mark 5, Jesus heals Jairus' daughter.

Jairus was a big deal - he was the ruler of the local synagogue.

His daughter was sick, and nothing the family tried for a cure worked. So they came after Jesus.

On His way to Jairus' house, Jesus stops to speak with a woman who had touched the hem of his robe, and found herself cured from a twelve year "issue of blood" that had left her weak, miserable, and unclean.

In the meantime, Jairus' daughter, dies.

Those who came to inform Jairus told him to stop bothering the Teacher - after all, what can He do now?

Jesus tells Jairus, "Do not fear..."

He enters the house, takes the little girl by the hand and says to her, "Talitha cumi," which means, "Little girl arise!"


Talitha - "little girl."

Tali is just that...she's a little girl, 14 hands tall, just my size. 

I'm not the best rider (Bay calls me "intermediate," but I know better), and sometimes, Tali can get a little naughty.

When she does, my heart skips a few beats, and Jesus words echo down through the ages, "Do not fear."

This isn't a blog about fear, this is a blog about what I learned from Tali this week as I "sat with her..." not in heavenly places, but in a round pen.

This is our round pen:


The back story.

On Saturday, Bay and I took our two Tennessee Walkers up in the national forest behind our house. The last time we rode we'd seen a herd of elk, and listened as the bull bugled to his girls, then watched them skedaddle right out of view. It was breath-taking, and we hoped to repeat the scenario.

From the minute I had stepped into the stirrups, Tali seemed a bit "off."

I have those days.

She's never given me any issues (so I wasn't worried), but during the entire ride, she just wasn't her usual self.

She drug her feet.

She stumbled.

She lagged behind.

Nothing encouraged her to keep up...

I don't know what was wrong with her.

Maybe she was PMS.

Maybe she got her feelings hurt, when I climbed up on her back and got this horrible whiff and leaned over and whispered in her ear, "You stink! No, seriously, you smell really bad!"

Maybe our combined biorhythms were just a bit wonky.

Whatever it was...the ride was less than enjoyable, then got worse.

On our return home, Bay decided to see how Tali would respond if he went off in a different direction, out of sight, and I just took her on home.

Oh, brother!

(this is right where Tali prefers to be - me, as well - right behind Bay!)

She was having none of that...and I was determined I would win.

In all our rides, never has she behaved so poorly.

She threw her head.

She cried out.

She went in circles.

She backed up.

She peed.

She balked.

No way, would she move forward, and no way would I let her go the way she wanted to go (which was the way Bay and his Walker had gone). 

We were at an impasse.

Finally, Bay came back, wondering what was taking us so long to get down the mountain, at which point she was happy to follow behind him once again.


So, the next day we did a little round-pen-training.

The round pen has lots of good purposes. We put our horses in there when they need some extra TLC; when they need their shoes fitted; when they are sick and the vet needs to make a call; but it is best used for teaching, instructing, and training "in righteousness." 

The round pen is the Master's best tool for helping the horse submit. 

The bottom line - by the time the gentle instruction is over the horse comes quietly to the Master, and leans into him/her, head bowed, submissive and quiet.

After our round-pen-lesson, we went for an almost 2 hour ride, and she was super-horse. 

I couldn't have asked for a better horse. 

This is her I'm-sorry-face.


So, here's a leap...and yes, there is a point.

I got stuck this week on this verse of Scripture found in Psalm 54:4 (BSB):

Surely God is my helper, the Lord is the sustainer of my soul.

An aspect of God's character is His helpfulness. 

I understand what that looks like.

The Lord, my Master, wants to help me be the best version of what I can be. 

Yet another piece of the character-puzzle of my God is that He "sustains my soul."

The word in Hebrew is "samak," Literally it means to be at rest under the care of another...

In order for the Lord to help us, we have to allow Him to be the sustainer of our souls.

There has to be a trust, a surrender, that allows us to be at "rest" under and "lean into" His care.

He is the One and Only to whom we can fully submit, find quiet and peace for our souls.


Sometimes, just sometimes, we might get a little antsy...a little naughty...have an off day... 

Sometimes, just maybe, we need a little "seat in a round pen," doing some training with our Lord,  to remind us where we are seated, and with whom we are seated, and which of us is in control. 

But, I guarantee, I wasn't planning to take Tali anywhere that would put her in any danger. 

We were headed "home," for heaven's sake.

This day, for some reason, Tali simply had a "herd mentality" and wanted to be with her "tribe."

She wanted that above submission and obedience.  

We get that way, as well...

We forget the Lord has our best interests at heart...

We forget whom we are "seated with" and that He is leading us "safely" toward home...

...and I'm thinking the Lord knows when we need to be taken back to the round pen...so He can TRULY be our helper and the sustainer of our souls.

In this case: Take Your Seat (in reverse)!




Thursday, September 26, 2019

WHY I WANT THE BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE (and maybe, you, too)....#takeyourseat


Where I sit matters to me.

Where you sit matters to you.

We ALL want the best seats!

We want to see everything....clearly!

We want to be in-the-know.

We want the best-of-the-best.

Most times we pay dearly for these kinds of seats...



#####

During the years that Bay was playing basketball, I was given tickets to watch him play.

They were great seats.

Right behind the bench.


Not on the floor, but near enough you could see what was happening, smell the sweat, and hear the coach and players in conversation.

By virtue of my seats, I knew what was probably going to happen before it happened.

From time to time, I even had a sense that the coach had everything under control.

I rather felt like I was in the huddle of players, hearing how the life of the game would/should/could unfold.

Family sat in the seats on either side of me, as we were blessed with not just one ticket, but three.


Surrounding me were some of Bay’s biggest cheerleaders (in life and in the game).

As I mentioned, I sat in a great seat.

I didn’t pay for these seats, either.

It was a gift from the Phoenix Suns organization to me, as a player’s wife.

Nevertheless, I paid a costly price to sit there.

“Nerve-racking” - best description.

While I had family next to me, they were not all around me.


All around my seat were “armchair coaches.”

Even though they didn’t know the game as well as they thought they did (even I could tell this was true), they verbally, and as loud as possible, commanded the coaches to make certain decisions.

Then derided them when something went amiss on the floor.

The referees were ignorant, and everyone in the stadium (that seated around 7,000 in those days) could hear what miserable calls occurred down on the floor. Not only were they ignorant, but their eyesight came into question. My community definitely knew better how to call the fouls.

Their verbal barrage didn't just cover coaches and referees, but players, as well.

I remember clearly the night the man behind me yelled at my husband for missing a free throw.

At the top of his lungs, he said, "You'd think for $100,000 a year, you could at least make a free throw!!!!"


I stayed silent, but I wanted to say: "You try making a free throw with people like you in the stands, feeling the pressure of fans, coaches, your teammates, your family, and wanting to please everyone all-the-time."

I just hoped he didn't know who sat in front of him.

Obviously, these people in these seats around me paid the high cost to get this one opportunity...they longed to be heard and this gave them an edge over those seated in the nose-bleed-sections.

Place their pictures next to the word "obnoxious" in the dictionary.


#####

We are like this in life, as well.

We want to control the script.

We want to sit close enough to be heard.

We want to inform the "coach," spur him on to better decisions, give input at the table on how things should unfold here below.



Our thoughts center on just how we can manipulate every situation and keep the "coach" in-the-know as to what is the better play to call...and we judge the rightness and wrongness of all situations.

It's easy to do this as long as we stay seated below...

When we are "seated in the heavenlies," at the King-Table we have the best view, the ear of the "coach," and the KNOW that we don't understand the game of life as well as we thought we did.


We grasp the concept that our heavenly "coach" really is omniscient (all-knowing).

Our eyes are opened to how wrongly we judge Him (as if we have that right).

We comprehend that He's got everything planned out, and nothing will thwart that plan (not even our advice).

We see more clearly that what is happening here-in-the-now will all be sorted out in the there-and-the-then.

His character assures us that, indeed, He, faithfully, watches over and loves His own deeply (our good is always in His heartfelt decisions).


If we fail to "take our seat," we'll live fearful, fretting, anxious, discouraged, and uncertain in the face of life.

If our bodies and souls stay seated in the stadium of life, instead of seating our souls in heavenly places, and seeking the mind of Christ, life will be MISERABLE.

It's why the Lord God gifted us with a new seat right next to Him.


As we sit with Him, we get to know His heart.

As we sit with Him, we get a better view of what He's doing below.

As we sit with Him, we trust Him more.


We may not understand everything He's doing, but because we KNOW HIM BETTER, we grasp the truth that nothing ever touches us that is not a part of a bigger, better plan that will be for our good and, more importantly, HIS GLORY---

As we see how He has dealt with the past, we're assured the present and the future are all under His mighty hand---


Most of all, we catch just how much He loves us, and we know that while being seated in His presence, "no trial can disarm us, no sorrow can ever disturb us, no circumstance will cause us to fret."*

We will rest in the Joy of the Lord. 


(* I don't know who said this, I can't take credit....but it sure is truth!)

THANK YOU, ONCE MORE, TO THOSE WHO CONTRIBUTED SIT-PLACES HERE ON EARTH THAT MAKE GREAT PLACES TO RISE TO OUR HEAVENLY SEATS. 
Happy fall, y'all!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

You've Been Summoned....#takeyourseat


The past several weeks have somewhat drained me - not overwhelmingly, just a "tinge."

Just enough to sense:
1) the enemy tactically distracting me from my primary focus...
2) joy seeping slowly out of my soul...
3) weariness settling into my physical body...
4) a mental blockage...creativity waning...
5) and, lastly, a notion that I was struggling to be on the "same page" relationally with family and friends...


Since, before the mother-daughter retreat in New York, my schedule has been rather chaotic.

I've enjoyed every single minute of this full schedule:
* Exciting speaking opportunities
* Encouraging company
* Spirit-Present life-group meetings
* Intimate, vulnerable conversations over coffee with friends
* God-ordained counseling "sessions" (most of which happen over FaceTime or Skype)
* Prep time for upcoming retreats
*Normal day-to-day-routine


As with most husbands, mine noticed I've seemed a bit "off."

So, very early yesterday morning, on a spontaneous whim, Bay parked the truck in the front of the house with my paddle board loaded in the back, and simply said, "I think you need a morning on the lake."

Sigh.

It's been colder.

It's been rainy.

It's fall...doing what fall does best...preparing to let go of summer and move into winter.

There aren't many days left to be on the lake...if any!


So, even though my full day loomed ahead of me with a to-do-list that looked a bit like a grocery store receipt after I've shopped for our family of 25 coming to stay for a week (no they haven't come lately, it's just a comparison), I jumped at the chance to spend a peace-filled hour on the water.

The morning didn't exactly start as I'd hoped.

Half-way to my usual parking space, a truck hauling a road-grater pulled out in front of me. His eyes fixed on five elk grazing on the hill across from him, I don't think he even saw me. Fortunately, my eyes saw him. I course corrected to move to the side so he wouldn't hit me, and give him plenty of passing room. However, my truck slid on the wet grass as I slowly braked, pulling to the side.

Sigh.


Not even four-wheel-drive placed my vehicle back on the road.

I texted the husband.

Non-plussed, Bay jumped in the jeep, came, and rescued me.

I was ready to head home, thinking no way my shaky legs could stand on the water at this point.

However, I pressed forward.

After getting my SUP in the water and my dry bag on its tip, the board, paddle, and I shoved off into the crisp fall morning.

It was gorgeous - the lake still and quiet as could be ---- the mountains surrounding me stark and grand ---- just me, the fish jumping and the ducks bobbing.

About thirty-minutes into my glide across the lake, I heard a voice in my spirit whisper, "Sit still. Know me." 


Tempted to argue, I thought, "I'll just sit down on the inside if that is OK?"

No. It wasn't.

"Sit still."

"Be quiet."

"Cease working."

"Sit."

I sat.


Then this: "Look and see what the Lord has done..."

These words are God-words that He has spoken to me often in the midst of life-chaos.

Undoubtedly, they are as familiar as breathing to you, as well.

We find both mandates in the midst of Psalm 46 among other wonderful God-words.

I grabbed the devotional book in my dry bag and read the next psalm that followed Psalm 46:10.

Psalm 47 begins like this:

Clap your hands, all people!
Shout to God with cries of joy!
For the Lord Most High is awesome, 
A great King over all....

Joy is what I needed most, so as I sat, I began pondering all of God's mighty, creative hand in nature around me.


He is AWESOME!

He is a GREAT KING...a good God...ever present with me...and, His creation is a reminder of it all.

Instantly, praise and adoration filled my heart that a God so vast, so mysterious, so compassionate and full of steadfast love...would honor ME (small, insignificant ME) with such gifts...

...and, sporadically my soul began to fill with renewed joy.


These thoughts struck powerfully, and this is what I leave you with:

When we sit in God's Presence, no matter the place, and look closely, we will see Him all about us.

When we see Him, we can't help but sit in adoration -
there is no more proper response.



As we adore Him, He fills up what is lacking with JOY full and overflowing.

So full, we can't help but cry out (or just simply cry)!

Here's the end of it all....

TO SIT with the SAVIOR is SIMPLY a SUMMONS to JOY.

#takeyourseat


Feeling your joy seeping away?

Maybe it's completely depleted?

Maybe all is good and status-quo?

No matter, I'm here to remind you, it's always a good time to pull up your seat across from Jesus at the King-Table and get filled up, re-filled, or topped off.

#takeyourseat


P.S. Thanks again to all who have contributed "sit-spaces." It is my prayer all of you find your own perfect place for your body here on earth, even though you are already "raised up and seated in the heavenliness with Christ."