Archive for the “Routine” Category

God created each of us uniquely – we’re all wired differently. When life causes those wires to get twisted, things inside us begin to go haywire. A few days and we’re just a little out of sorts. A week or two and satan is there at our side ready to capture us with temptations to return to old sinful patterns or try new ones. I’m sure you’ve been there. Too much work, too many crises, too much isolation or too little adventure and you’re ready to jump at change.

Usually that change isn’t following God. Yes, God can bring us to a state of holy discontent which launches us into a new ministry or new level of intimacy with Him. A holy discontent isn’t the same as a life that has gone haywire.

Whether we like to admit it or not, it is routine (which sometimes become tradition) which grounds us, and it is that grounding that we need when our wires get jumbled.

This morning, I returned to my Saturday morning pattern of sitting in my reclining chair alone with God. For a number of years, I have reserved my Saturday mornings for time with God. It was His idea – He began waking me up early on the only day of the week I could sleep in. And I love to sleep in. At first I was frustrated every week when I awoke early no matter what time I went to bed Friday night. Eventually I remembered one of my life rules – if something out of the ordinary happens repeatedly and it’s not sin, it must be God! It’s not rocket science, but sometimes I’m a bit slow at recognizing the hand of God.

So I started getting up when God woke me and going to my reclining chair, sitting, reading, writing and praying. It had become such a special time each week.

Then life got really crazy. I remained consistent with reading and praying throughout the week, but I missed my Saturday mornings with God.

This morning, after taking the dog for a walk, I am back in my reclining chair with my laptop. Ahhhh….I feel grounded in a way I haven’t for a couple of months. Simply being here, reading, writing, and praying has calmed me in a way I’ve been missing. That’s what grounding is. It takes the negative sparks of energy and dissipates them. Ahhhhh…..

My daily reading and prayer ground me, but they are more of a maintenance level grounding. My Saturday mornings are my reboot and refresh level grounding.

Each of us is grounded by many things throughout the day. Here’s just a few of things other than Bible reading and prayer that ground me throughout the day:

  • I like to stir my tea. Most people stir their coffee or tea or hot chocolate once and then take the spoon out and drink their tea. I leave my spoon in and before I take each sip I stir my tea. The motion of stirring the tea is very calming for me.
  • I pause to kiss my husband and tell him how important he is to me.
  • I stop what I’m doing and evaluate my to-do list and schedule. That causes my husband stress. It grounds me.
  • I take a dance break when a great song comes on the radio at work. (Fortunately, I am not subjecting coworkers to my dancing. Typically I am working alone or with my husband in our basement office.)

How about you? What is it that grounds you? Perhaps a date with your husband or dinner as a family are things that calm your world. Maybe it’s reading a good book before bed or exercising or cooking or cleaning. (Man, I wish cleaning calmed me. It doesn’t.) Maybe it’s snuggling with your children at night or sitting on the porch in the morning with your Bible and coffee. It’s important to take time to do the things that bring calm into your life.

It’s critically important that connecting with God be a part of your grounding. There are a number of ways to do that:

  • Read your Bible and pray daily. This daily connection with God, even if it is shorter on some days than on others, keeps you grounded on a regular basis. It needs to be enhanced by those weekly, more intense times with Him, but it provides a minimal safety net when life goes crazy. If I had not maintained this pattern over the past few months of craziness, I can’t imagine how off-kilter I would be today.
  • Meet with God’s people regularly – go to church! Some think that attending a regular Bible study is a substitute for church. I would caution against that. There are few Bible studies that provide the corporate worship experience that a church gathering does. That experience includes worshiping together with other believers and being inspired and instructed through His Word. Each one of those activities are part of our grounding with God. Each provides a different interaction with Him. Most Bible studies provide fellowship and study, lacking intimate worship and inspiration.
  • Enjoy a weekly Sabbath. God created and commanded the Sabbath for many reasons, but one of them is as a gift to His children – a gift of time set aside to reconnect with Him – to become fully grounded before facing the world for another week. Read more about the Sabbath and the joy of keeping it in my series of blogs that start with this one.

For me, the above three activities are non-negotiable for staying grounded in God. Do I miss reading my Bible some days? Yes. Do I miss church some weeks? Yes. Do enjoy a weekly Sabbath every week? No. I’m not perfect in anything yet. Still, I protect each of those activities pretty fiercely, committing to them even when it’s inconvenient or I just plain don’t feel like it. Because God is faithful and will meet us when we make the sacrifice to meet with Him.

So, friends, I ask again: what is it that grounds you? Is God in the mix? Does He play a prominent enough role in your grounding routines? Let me encourage you to find those things that ground you, and especially those things that connect you to God, and make them part of your routine. Then fiercely guard those routines. Because life without grounding isn’t pretty or fun!

Symptoms that you need more grounding:

  • Impatience – When I’m in the car and all the drivers around me seem to be out to get me or determined to make me late, I need more grounding.
  • Quick to become annoyed or angry – When clients call with routine inquires and I get annoyed, I need more grounding.
  • Always tired – When everything seems a chore because I’m just so tired, I need more grounding. (You might think it’s sleep that I need – it is – and when I’m well grounded, I sleep well.)
  • Lacking in creativity – When I have no solutions to the challenges of life, I need more grounding. It means I’m just going through the emotions and grounding dissipates the negative energy and infuses us with positive energy. Positive energy brings creativity.
  • Seeking escape – When all I can think about is getting away or vegging in front of the television after work, I need more grounding. Grounding is our escape and takes away the need for an escape.
  • Always making excuses – That’s called sin. “The woman you gave me caused me to do it.” Those were Adam’s words to God after he also ate the fruit of the tree. He was blaming both his wife and God with that single statement. When I am well grounded, I am able to call sin “sin.” I am able to confess my sin to God and others and enjoy forgiveness and freedom.

If you looked at this list of symptoms and recognize that you experience many of them (and perhaps made excuses for why you experience them), you need more grounding in your life. Yes, your life is hectic and crazy; and yes, there may be others in your life that impact your ability to develop your grounding routines. But God – those magically inspiring words – but God can change that when you ground yourself and your life in Him. Find those grounding patterns, create those grounding patterns, and fiercely protect them.

You will be honoring God and He will honor you. You will begin to experience the peace that surpasses all understanding. Perhaps not tomorrow – because some of us need a major rewiring before we can become grounded – but God can and will do it! He’s that creative with solutions and He’s that good!

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Pair of Dolphins KissingLet me give you some insight into our typical schedule. Three or four days a week my husband works second shift at the job God has graciously provided to pay our health insurance. I work fulltime in our home-based business during the normal work day (and beyond). So I am in the office by 8am, but because he doesn’t get to bed until about 2am several nights a week, Phil doesn’t come in until 9 or 10am.

This morning, I was busy working – in the middle of writing something – having a full thought in my head that I was trying to rapidly get on paper (well, screen actually). I also had a second thought in my mind that I desperately didn’t want to lose – it was firmly planted as the next task, but if I didn’t get to it soon, I was afraid it would wilt before blossoming.

That’s when my husband came into the office. He didn’t follow his normal routine – going to his desk and cheerfully say “Morning, Beeb!” (now you know our favorite term of endearment for one another). Instead, he came to my desk, pulled up a chair and came in for a kiss.

Now I love my husband dearly and I love his kisses…but I REALLY wanted to get these thoughts down…kisses could wait, but could my thoughts? Yet I felt prompted, yes, I believe by the Holy Spirit, to turn away from my keyboard and give my full attention to my husband. Praise God that I was obedient to that prompting. My husband greeted me with a very tender kiss followed by professions of his undying love. It wasn’t a peck, and it wasn’t passionate – it was soft and gentle, letting me know that I am a treasured woman. Wow!

And the Holy Spirit turned it into a teachable moment.

§ Giving and receiving love and affection from my husband is more important than getting the next thought on paper or the next task done.

§ God can use moments to change our lives. How long was my “interruption” this morning? Not long. Yet my day is changed. And I know Phil’s day is changed. In the front of my mind is the tender moment we shared and the knowledge that I am very special to him. Moments that can change days can change our lives.

§ God is my Husband. He has given me an earthly husband not only for my joy, but also as an illustration – an earthly picture/experience – of my relationship with Him. He wants to surprise me with tender moments that can change my day and my life. I could have said to Phil “I’m in the middle of something” when he pulled up a chair this morning. I would have missed out. I can say the same thing to God – “Lord, I need to finish this thought before I pay attention to You.” And it will be my loss – I will miss the opportunity to experience God’s love, His grace, His wisdom – all things He wants to shower upon me. I will miss the moments with God that can change my life.

Lord, thank you for lessons that come out of tender kisses. Thank you for my husband, who loves me and who gives me glimpses of Your love and care for me. Help me to be tender toward You and toward him – even when I’m in the middle of some seemingly urgent task.

Husbands and Wives

1In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over 2by observing your pure and reverent lives. 3Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God….

7In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

8Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 9Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.
1 Peter 3:1-4, 7-9 (NLT)

Gentlemen – Kiss your wives tenderly. Love her.

Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Proverbs 5:18 (NLT)

Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.
Colossians 3:19 (NLT)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Ephesians 5:25 (NIV)

Ladies – Love your husbands passionately. Read Song of Solomon in a modern translation and love your husband as the young woman loves her bridegroom. And resist the urge to nag.

2Kiss me and kiss me again, for your love is sweeter than wine. 3How fragrant your cologne; your name is like its spreading fragrance. No wonder all the young women love you!
Song of Songs 1:2-3 (NLT)

A quarrelsome [or nagging] wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day.
Proverbs 27:15 (NLT)

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“New Beginnings” – that’s the phrase that God has planted in my heart today.

I’ll be preaching at a nursing home tomorrow and all week I thought the message would be about God having a purpose for our lives – it doesn’t matter if we are 35 or 55 or 85, if we are still on this earth, God has a purpose for us. It’s a good message to deliver to residents of nursing homes who often wonder if God has forgotten them. Throughout the week the message wasn’t really coming together, although I had confidence that God would pull it together before I needed it.

Simultaneously Phil had been meditating about a message around the theme of “you’re never too old to learn new things.” He had been considering the passage in Joshua 14 about Caleb’s enthusiasm for going to battle to win new territory for himself and his family when he was 85 years old. After our discussion, we thought we might do a tag-team sermon in which I talked about purpose and then Phil dispelled the notion that they might be too old for a new purpose in life.

But as I said, this morning, the phrase “new beginnings” won’t leave my mind, and I’ve spent the last three hours or so writing about it. Now, at 1:30 in the afternoon, I’m not sure what I have for my message tomorrow and a blog today, and what I’m to do about this new beginnings sermon that is still rough around the edges!

So I am setting the sermon aside for now (it seems to be wandering and when that happens, I know it’s become more me than God, so time to let it simmer a bit more), but want to share a few musings with you that have come out of all this. I’m sure you’ll read much more about it in future blogs, but for today, here are some random “new beginnings” thoughts:

  • I am so thankful that our God is a God of new beginnings. One of the reasons my sermon is wandering is because I am finding more and more passages that support my main points, and each passage is exciting and worthy of exploration.
  • “New beginnings” is a nice little phrase that really means “things are going to change.” While I would not have characterized my younger life this way, as I grow older, resisting change seems more natural than embracing it. And that’s a nice little phrase that really means I really want things to stay the same. Change comes too fast and I am more easily overwhelmed by it. Yet it is the new things that bring freshness to our lives. If we allow them, it is also these new things that bring fun, adventure and a sense of achievement to our lives.
  • There are both specific times when we are “made new” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and there is the continual renewing in Christ (Romans 12:2). Both are wonderful. Both give us a hope and ensure our future.
  • If we don’t embrace that newness, we miss much of what Christ has for us. I don’t want to miss the wonderful plans God has for me. That means I need to actively resist the urge to resist new things.

I guess one way to conclude my musings is with the old adage “The only constant is change.” In doing so, I researched the quote.

  • It is originally attributed to Heraclitus of Ephesus, a Greek philosopher living about 500 BC. Obviously, change isn’t a new thing!
  • Heraclitus was quoted by and expanded upon by the American science fiction writer Isaac Asimov:

The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.
— Isaac Asimov (American professor of biochemisty, science fiction writer, 1920-1992)

Asimov was not a believer, but his quote has special meaning for those of us who are – because we know what the world is now (we live in it), but we know so much more about what the world will be. And that’s the secret to enjoying the change that is about to happen.

Friends, if we are to enjoy and to thrive, if we are to have joy in our walk with Christ, we must embrace the word “new”…and that requires embracing the word “change.” If you’re a person who resists change or doesn’t like change…it’s time to change. Meditate on the firm foundation we have in Christ and the unchanging nature of the God we serve to give you the courage to embrace the new you He wants to develop in 2011.

If you would like to join one of our Living Life on Purpose groups – meeting together monthly with other believers to help one another embrace all God hash for us – be sure to e-mail me this week –

In the meantime, readers…
I pray God’s richest blessings for you and your family in 2011. May you know Him in a way you never have before. May you experience an intimacy with Him that you have never experienced. May you align your life with His perfect plan in a way it has never been aligned before. May Christ’s love shine in and through you each day.

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A business contact ask this question in a survey:

Relating to ‘blogging’ – tell me one thing that would enhance the way you presently take your message to the customer. What is it right now that you can’t do, or aren’t doing, that would totally motivate you and bring your customers closer?

My answer came pretty quickly because I’ve been thinking about it for awhile:

I would like to have the equipment, software and knowledge/capability to do web videos well. I’d like to add greeting, motivational, teaching and “how to” videos to my company website and my ministry blog.

As I typed the last word of my answer, I realized that it wasn’t really the true answer. So I added this as a second paragraph:

That’s the practical answer – the real answer is probably the time to learn and implement it!

And when I typed the last word to that answer…God spoke to me. He whispered into my mind what we’ve heard over and over again –

“You make time for those things you consider most important. What are you choosing to make time for?”

Yes, I’ve heard it many times, but hearing it from God carries a little more weight (yeah, like a LOT more weight!).

This was not a condemnation, it was a gentle reminder. I serve a God who allows me ample time for rest (in fact He’d like me to take a whole day out of every seven to rest, enjoy His presence and His creation – but that’s another blog). He’s not a relentless task master. He wants me to live purposefully, choosing to spend my time wisely. Yet I easily fall into letting the urgent overtake the important.

Falling a step further, I develop the mindset that accepts the premise that I am too busy to do _____________ (fill in the blank with the pressure of unfulfilled tasks and dreams). Holding to that premise brings unnecessary pressure and irresponsible relief.

The Burden of Busy-ness
Living under the belief that I am too busy for _____________ brings with it a condemnation, a heaviness, and ultimately a weariness. There are so many things I want to do, but I am too busy to do them. The mindset says I am always too busy…so I quit adding fun and adventure to my calendar or list of things to do. It might be a business adventure, an adventure with God, or fun with family and friends – they all fall into the pit of “I’m too busy.” So my life becomes smaller – full of doing more of the same things because there’s surely  no time to add new and different things.

Science teaches us that emotional experiences (both positive and negative) release norepinephrine into our brains which enhances our brains’ ability to make connections – in other words, adventures make us smarter!  But when I’m too busy for an adventure, my world shrinks and shrinks and shrinks – physically, emotionally and eventually mentally. Pretty soon I’m too tired and too depressed to think of anything fun and adventurous to do.

The Convenient Excuse of Busy-ness
Conversely, living under the belief that I am too busy for _____________ also carries with it the constantly available and convenient excuse that releases me from any new obligations. When “I’m too busy” becomes my automatic response, I not only pass up the opportunities for adventures, I also pass up the opportunities to serve others – especially when it would be inconvenient to do so. They fly by without me intentionally giving them consideration. I become the priest or Levite who walked by the man who had been beaten and left half dead instead of being the good Samaritan who spent some of his time and money to help the man (Luke 10:30-37). The priest and Levite, perhaps because they were too caught up in their own lives, missed the opportunity to be the hands of Jesus extended to the man. I miss opportunities to be Christ to those people God puts in my life when “I’m too busy” is my constant thought companion. And my life becomes smaller in the process.

A Full Life
My life is never bigger and fuller than when I am fulfilling God’s purposes for me on this earth. When I own the perspective that I am always too busy, I miss those purposes and my life becomes wearisome. Today’s question on a business survey – or rather my response to it – reminded me that I don’t want to live out of the “I don’t have time for that” mantra. Beginning today, I am hoping to change my thought patterns to consider opportunities and reject or accept them based on God’s plans, not my schedule. I hope to strike the phrase “I’m too busy” from my mental responses and replace it with “Yes, let’s do it!” or “That sounds great, but it’s not God’s best for me right now.”

I think Moses faced the same challenge. He is the writer of Psalm 90. Here’s verse 12 in two different translations:

Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12 (NIV)

Teach us to make the most of our time,
so that we may grow in wisdom.

Psalm 90:12 (NLT)

That’s my prayer today. Lord – teach me to make the most of my time so that I might grow in wisdom. Remove the “I’m too busy” perspective, the “I don’t have time” drag on my life and replace it with a sense of adventure, discovering Your purposes for each day and pursuing them with an undivided heart.

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Phil (my husband) and I are in the midst of what we’re calling our personal/spiritual/business/ministry strategic planning retreat. Yeah, it’s a mouthful, but we’re (or at least I’m) feeling a bit overwhelmed and “fractured” lately. I know it’s not how God wants me to feel. So we set aside a few days to seek the Lord for each area of our life – to determine how He wants us to move forward and/or what He wants us to weed out. Unfortunately, the retreat is falling during a time when Phil’s not feeling well and it has been interrupted by times of extreme “mal-ness” and a number of medical tests. I keep reminding myself that God knows the schedule and He will accomplish His will during this time for us. Maybe we’ll need another retreat in a few weeks and if that’s the case, He’ll provide the time and venue. Or perhaps we’ll accomplish all we need to accomplish despite the interruptions. I’m leaving it up to him and refusing to stress about it.

Anyway (all that was an aside, really), on our first morning, after a good time of worship we started by writing all the various areas of our life on sheets of paper – one said “Us” (referring to our life together and our relationship); another said “family” (referring to our extended family); we included sheets for our church, our various secular jobs/businesses and our various ministries (including Apprehending Grace Ministries). We then began to make notes on each sheet of paper about that area of our lives. Some pages only had a more detailed description of what that area encompassed, some had dreams for that area of our life, some just had a task list. Then we prayed over the sheets of paper and it was time to take a break. Later in the day I typed the information into my laptop.

The next morning while Phil was having a stress test, I began to look at the information and realized that for one of the areas we had identified:

  • dreams & visions
  • issues & challenges
  • tasks
  • questions
  • other comments

That seemed like a good approach, so I began to organize the comments under the other areas into these categories. What I found was revealing – it wasn’t something I didn’t know and probably hadn’t acknowledged at some point, but still, seeing it on paper was revealing: There are some areas of our lives for which we have no dreams or vision – they are simply “obligations.” I was grieved when I realized this. I don’t want my life to be about obligations; I want it to be about pursuing dreams and visions. Phil doesn’t want his life to be about obligations; he wants it to be about pursuing dreams and visions. I’m guessing you don’t want your life to be about obligations, but about dreams and visions. And I’m guessing that most of us have areas where we have no vision. In those areas of obligation, we just do what we have to do. Yet I believe that is not how God wants us to live. If He has put an area of responsibility into my life, He has a vision for what He wants me to do in that area. Even if it’s an area that I’d call an obligation.

Finally, this morning we pulled the lists out again and we began to look at those areas in which we have no dreams. First we realized that we do, indeed, have some dreams for them – they had simply been hidden under the mountain of obligation and everyday challenges. We had allowed frustrations and disappointments to obscure the dreams and visions. Secondly, we asked God to give us dreams and vision where we lacked them and to strengthen the dreams and visions we have. We prayed and are going to continue to pray for God’s vision for our lives in these areas. He has started to reveal some vision and we are believing for stronger vision in the future. Additionally, we’re going to continue to put those visions in front of us and pray into those visions. I am getting excited about how we will approach those areas as they change in our minds and spirits from obligations to areas where we purposefully live out the vision God has given us.

Throughout this process, one song and one verse have been running through my mind. First the song. “He’s Real” was written by Russell Fragal and recorded by Hillsongs in 1995.

I got dreams, turn them into plans
Too big for human hands
Trust Him you’ll see
He’s got all the power you need!

I want to make plans that are greater than me – because quite frankly, any plans I make that I can achieve without the Lord aren’t really worth achieving. I want a life spent pursuing God’s best – and that means living His plans, not mine.

And then there’s the verse. Do you know where I’m going? I’m going to Proverbs 29:18a. Here it is in several different translations:

Where there is no vision, the people perish (KJV)

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint (NIV)

Where there is no prophecy, the people cast off restraint (NRSV)

As I look at my sheets of paper – the various areas of my life – I find that those areas where I have little or no vision are floundering – they are dying a slow death. Further, they are the areas where I am most undisciplined – I have cast off restraints. Lacking vision leads to lacking purpose, which leads to lacking discipline.

Socrates said:

The unexamined life is not worth living.

We’ve found that to be true this week as we’ve pursued some life planning. Give it a try. I thought I needed to set aside three days for it. It turns out that I learned a lot in about five hours spread out over three days. And I’m expecting great rewards from it.

I pray God’s blessing on your time of planning. May He reveal His plans and purposes, dreams and visions to you for all areas of your life.

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I’ve just been reading in Leviticus about all the offerings the Israelites were to offer to God and what (finally) struck me is that in every case, they use the word “offering.” It might have been a peace offering or a guilt offering or some other kind of offering, but they were always an “offering.” They may have been required offerings, but they were still offerings. That is, the Lord required these offerings as a way for them to receive forgiveness (albeit temporary forgiveness) for their sins or show their devotion to Him. And yet, they are called “offerings.”

What began to sink in was the attitude of humility that the word “offering” carries with it. An offering is something given in hopes that it will be accepted – the husband-to-be offers his hand in marriage to the woman in hopes that she will say “yes” or an offending co-worker brings a cup of coffee or donut in hopes that relationships can be restored and peace can returned to the office. An apology is an offering – it is given in humility and in the hopes that it will be accepted. The attitude of the heart in each case is humility and hopefulness. Of course with hopefulness there is anticipation of good things to come.

When I read in Leviticus 5 that a person is to bring a lamb or a goat, but if he cannot afford that he can bring two young doves or pigeons, and if he cannot afford that he is to bring a tenth of an ephah of fine flour, I am ashamed to admit that the thought that ran across my brain was “who’s to say what he can afford?” Immediately the Lord whispered in my ear – “It’s a heart issue.” In other words, our hearts ought to be so devoted to God and so sorry for our sin that we desire to bring the very best and most we can. It’s not a “how little can we get away with to make up for our sins?” Rather, it’s how much can I offer to the Lord to show Him how sorry I am and how much I love Him?

And that brought me to the question – “How do you view your offerings?” Are they obligations, or are they opportunities to express your love to God? Do you give them as a part of your Sunday morning routine, or with an attitude of humility? When you write out your check or search for the money in your wallet, is it just something you do out of duty, or is an act of worship? Don’t get me wrong. Obedience is a good thing. Bring your tithes into the storehouse (Malachi 3:10). But obedience that is not done with the right heart is its own form of rebellion. Think of the child who spits out his apology in obedience to his parent’s command. The child was being “obedient”, but not making a sincere offering from his heart. No, in his heart there was rebellion – “I’ll say I’m sorry, but I won’t mean it. So there!”

I doubt that you make your offerings with the same blatant attitude as that child, but I know that there are times when I unthinkingly offend God by giving my offerings with a heart that isn’t fully “in the moment” (that is, I’m not even thinking about it, I’m just on autopilot) or has a hidden agenda of expectations from God instead of humble anticipation of His acceptance of my offer. When we are “in the moment” and our attitude is humble anticipation, imagine the joy we can receive when we know that our offer has been accepted!

Scripture teaches that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). That doesn’t mean He loves the giver who is a cheerful person. That means he loves it when we give with a cheerful attitude – and that means we are in the moment – purposefully thinking about what we’re doing and doing it cheerfully.

Lord, forgive me for all the times I have spent the offering time on Sunday morning reading the bulletin instead of making my offering to You in humility and joy. Forgive me for the times I write out my check out of obligation instead of with joyful anticipation of bringing joy to the One I love the most.

The Offering God Gave
Notice that it was in this same attitude that God gave His offering – with His whole heart and in humble anticipation of the joy to come when His offering would be accepted by men and women. That offering, of course, was His Son Jesus, whom God gave as the sacrificial lamb – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Do you see that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament system of sacrifices and offerings? That He is our sacrificial lamb, offered once for all?

Unlike the other high priests, [Jesus] does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
                Hebrews 7:27 (NIV)

The question is “will you accept His offering?” It is an offering consistent with those we’ve read about in Leviticus, but of such a higher degree that it issues in a new covenant. The new covenant holds the promise of an eternal inheritance – life forever more – even for those who have not kept the old covenant.

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
                Hebrews 9:13-15 (NIV)

Should you have any doubt, let me be clear. God is calling you. He is calling you to serve the living God. He is calling you in love.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
                1 John 4:9-10 (NIV)

Will you accept his offering? What will you offer back to him in response?

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I’ve spent almost the last hour looking for a quote. It’s a really good quote, but I can’t find it. So I’m going to paraphrase it…”The best thing for a dull mind is to break up the routine.” Now that’s not original, The original was much more eloquent. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who said it, either. I’m guessing A.W. Tozer or C.S. Lewis. Oh well please pretend it’s eloquent and properly cited. (If anyone can find the real quote, I’d be much abliged to you if you were to pass the info on to me.)

Everyone…yes, EVERYONE, has a routine that provides structure to their lives. For some, the routine is easily recognizable and looks (from the outside) very constricting. For others, it may appear that there’s nothing but haphazardness about someone’s life…but upon close inspection, one will find a routine, even if it’s only the routine of sleeping and waking with an obvious eschewing of any routine in between. Even the eschewing of routine is a form of routine that provides structure to the person’s life.

I’ve been thinking a lot about routine lately because Phil has a new job and it’s messing with our routines. It’s a part time job — 20 hours a week — but different hours every week and at least so far it’s been constantly changing. We’re told that it will repeat, but in the 2 months he’s been there that’s not proven to be the case. This new non-routine has caused many of the things that have defined who we are as a couple no longer exist. I’m sure that sounds overstated, but it’s certainly how it feels. (I guess this is where I lecture myself on truth vs. perceptions — perception is NOT reality — truth is reality…but that’s a topic for another blog.) You see, as a couple, we had routines related to when we woke up, when we ate, when we worked, when we played and when we “talked about our day.” Now that’s all jumbled up.

Phil’s new job isn’t the only thing prompting these wonderings about routine. When my dad died, I felt as if all of my internal structures has been shattered. It both made sense and it made no sense. It made no sense because I hadn’t actually depended on Dad for anything over the past 20 years or more (except perhaps the occasional advice…which I usually didn’t follow anyway). Yet it made sense because something that had been truth for 51 years, suddenly, on the first day of my 52nd year of life was no longer true. My dad had existed, had been alive…now he isn’t. And truth isn’t supposed to change. And the internal structure that had existed because of that fact had been shattered. Weird.

So I’m meditating a bit on the subject of “routine.” Routine provides structure for our lives. Yet occasionally it must be jumbled up a bit to bring us out of the slumber it nurtures. A.W. Tozer recognized this when he wrote “Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth” (The Pursuit of God: p. 17).

Undoubtedly, God is a God of routine and structure. He created a world with day and night, high tide and low tide, summer and winter. Yet He recognizes our sinful tendency to not appreciate that which we have and to become self-absorbed when we’re not absorbed with something greater than ourselves. So He built into our lives seasons that jumble up the routines — seasons of mourning and seaons of joy, seasons of success and seasons of failure.

We like to pretend that we should always be at the top of our game, or at least nearing the top with the top just another step or two ahead of us. But that’s not consistent with Scripture — either the teaching or the experience documented in Scripture. “To everything there is a season” Ecclesiastes tells us. Part of “everything” is joy AND sadness, success AND failure.
Enough rambling! Suffice it to say that God has been jumbling my routines. From what I read in other blogs and from what I hear talking to others, I’m not alone. Here’s to God doing NEW things in our lives — yours and mine. May we all be open to them.

Comment by dansdesk
Good thoughts! I’m not saying this about you but I wonder how often God shakes up my routine because it’s a “bad” routine!
Thursday July 19, 2007 – 04:16pm (EDT)

Response by Sandyhov
I’m absolutely positive (for me, not you) that it’s sometimes shaken because it’s a “bad” routine. This current shaking is a prime example. There were many reasons for Phil taking the part-time job at the hospital, but part of it was that we just came to a point where after almost 20 years in business it was a bit unhealthy for Phil & I to be working together at Data Designs as we were. We needed more outside interaction. He needed to be around people more. Yes, God’s shaking is scary but good.
Monday July 30, 2007 – 09:21pm (EDT)

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