well, friend...i must admit, i often wonder where you are? sounds weird, maybe, but i know where i am, but not you, friend. in fact, i have no clue where you are reading this from. i often sit and wonder about the people who read my blog. are you tucked away somewhere in the middle of nowhere in an igloo in alaska? or are you reading on your laptop, sitting out on your balcony with the killer view in southern california? or...are you all texans? (goodness gracious, i hope so!) he he he! i'm totally kidding (pretty much)...just a little texas humor, people. calm down. and i guess, if you don't mind (and even if you do:) go ahead and allow me a little "wiggle room" here to include any other texas-pride tidbits i may decide to grace you with. i mean no disprespect...ok, maybe i should say, i mean "not a lot"... of disrespect, really. it's just one of those "texas things", and i think my fellow texas would agree that it's just hard to explain...right y'all? :)
i have lived in the fine state of texas for my entire life. proud of it, too, i must say. the people here are friendly. the drama is less. the weather will keep you on your toes. and the scenery can flat take your breath away sometimes...whether it is staring with your jaw-dropped at the sight of a sunset as far as your eye can see in every direction with colors i swear God creates just for us here. :) ...or the rolling hills of wildflowers so bright, you'd think they were spray painted on, when no one was lookin'...or even the grandeur of miles of piney woods, so pretty and so tall, it reminds you of how they were here first and you, friend, are just briefly visiting.
over the years, i think that texans have gotten kind of a bad "rap" for being too cocky about their heritage. but, i'm not sure if cocky is the right word or not. i do, however happen to love a t-shirt that my big brother gave me a few years ago...it has a map of the united states on it, all colored in completely black...then the state of texas is brought out to look a little bigger that it is (shocker!) and it's colored in red, white, and blue with a big star and stripes. and then there is a big red, white, and blue arrow pointing to it that says in bold, gigantic letters... "TEXAS"...and then there is a little itty-bitty black arrow pointing to the rest of the USA that says...."whatever". (insert a "he, he, he" from my fellow texans) and well...ok, maybe cocky sometimes is the right word. sometimes.
there are a quite a few things that "outsiders" have to get used to when they (finally get to:) move here.
first of all, we are huggers. it is in our blood. yes, we give high fives. and yes we will shake your hand and give you our Word (which actually means somethin' down here!), but overall, chances are, we're gonna hug ya. we'll hug you when we meet you. we'll hug you when you say something funny. we'll hug you when you are excited or nervous, devastated or elated, too. and then when it's time to go, we'll hug you when you have to leave...and chances are, we're gonna get up and walk you to the door, too. it goes back to southern hospitality and the plain ol' friendliness of our fine countrymen. (now, for the record, this would be an opportune time to mention that we really are the only state that has ever been its own country. but, i ain't braggin'...i'm just sayin' is all) but, for some reason this hugging thing kinda freaks northerners out a bit. i have a sweet friend from boston who lives here now (thank God!:) who asked me once, "why do you hug me every single time you see me? you act like we haven't seen each other in weeks! i just saw you yesterday! you texans are always all up in people's personal space." yes, ma'am, that sounds 'bout right. we don't have "personal space" here. don't need it. we got enough space outside, so we're good.
somethin' else you'll discover pretty quick is that we are friendly. i know i touched on this a bit before...but it goes beyond just giving you a hug. we talk a lot to anyone and everyone, anywhere, and at any time. doesn't really matter if we know you or not. in fact, i'm not sure if i've ever ridden in an elevator with a stranger and not either found out how their day was, what they do for a living, or simply commented on the weather or complimented their wardrobe choice. again, this freaks "foreigners" out. it is called "makin' conversation", people. it ain't hard. that's right, even a yank can do it if they try. :)
but, the one thing that really gets people is...the weather here. the weather in texas is about as dependable as a toddler who's asked to hold the rings at an outdoor, black-tie, evening wedding. you just never know what's going to happen...ever. this for sure freaks out people once they (finally get to:) move here. this week, for instance has been one of "those weeks" that makes you just laugh out loud and say "ya gotta love livin' in texas!" as i type, we are nearing the end of the month of january. a month that is, typically-at least for most areas, in the middle of winter. but those areas are the ones that have this freaky thing called "four seasons". i can't be sure but i think that it goes somethin' like...cool and breezy with green everywhere...and then pretty warm...then cooler and brisk with somethin' called "fall colors" in their trees, whatever that means...and lastly, pretty darn cold. i think that's how it goes, at least. but, not here. not in texas. we have, instead...about to be hot...then much stinkin' hotter...then, just s little bit less hot...and lastly, about to be hot again. those are our "four seasons". and our trees really only have two colors...green and dead.
three days ago, my three kiddos were playing outside in the 78 degree weather, in their short-sleeved t-shirts. in fact, my baby girl found her way to the sprinkler (that's right all of you from the north, i said the sprinkler, and yes it is still january) that my husband was using to water our trees. she got flat soaking wet. and she loved it! and now...just three days later, when i look outside, do i see that beautiful sunny weather we just got to bask in the other day? nope. we have five inches of snow on the ground and the wind chill is negative 1 degrees. negative 1, people. does the thermometer even really go negative, i ask?? (insert laugh from all the folks in minnesota...i think they got five feet! i cannot even fathom snow taller than me. why do you people live there anyway?)
so why in the world have i rambled on (and on and on) about all this. (i know, i know, sometimes ya just never know with me) where is my clever little spiritual point? well, this time, it has honestly been a tough pill to swallow. (this, coming from someone who's swallowed 20-30 pills a day for months, ya know...but, not no more, thank you God!) all this weather change has really gotten me thinking though...hot then cold, cold then hot....c'mon make up your stinkin' mind or pick somewhere in the middle for cryin' out loud! and ooohh, friend...a certain Scripture sure did come to my mind right then. wanna guess which one? c'mon you know you do.....
(c'mon the suspense is killing you, ain't it!?!) :)
revelation 3:15-16 "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth."
were you right? well, good. there's no prize though. sorry.
whew. i remember the exact day i heard this for the first time. i was in high school at a young life Bible study, and one of my best friend's dad was leading the study about the book of revelation. i didn't know anything about that book, well, except that it was the last one in the Bible. that's it. but, ohhh ron bosher did. and he told us. now, just to give you a fair picture...i feel inclined to tell you that ron, my lifelong friend's dad is a big man. yes, i was only nine years old when i met him, and all grown-ups seem big then, but that's not what i mean. i don't mean he is kinda tall and sorta stout. i mean ron is a big man. he played football at the finest college in our fine state, texas tech. (go tech!) he stands about 6 foot 5, and i'm not sure how much he weighs, but i am sure it is more than me. (yes, even now, thanks to steroid weight gain!) :) ron shakes your hand like he means it and afterwards, when you glance at the sheer size of his hands, you realize why you have no feeling left in your pinky finger. ron's voice resonates. when he speaks, you listen. end of story. but, before you get the wrong idea... ron is a very kind-hearted man. he is honest and funny and the man makes me look flat out shy. but...ya see, ron has a weakness....ron is married to sally...his high school sweetheart. sweet sally stands about 5 foot 2...maybe. but, it doesn't matter her size...one look from her, one sweet little sentence in their own little cute language, and ron's cheeks blush and he becomes just a big ol' teddy bear. just about the sweetest thing you'd ever see. but, not on this particular night. on this night he was telling us the Truth. and i must confess...when ron spoke about the book of revelation...it took on a whole.new.meaning.
so, here we were at the wise age of 16, being challenged by ron. we said we were Christians. we claimed to follow Jesus. but, were we really? he told us to make up our minds. because being this superficial, inch-deep, wishy washy, can't stick up to our friends because it's too "hard" kind of "Christian" made God want to puke.
so, fast forward x-number of years :) and here i am. gotta love the weather. gotta love livin' in texas. hot then cold. cool then warm...sunny with a chance of sleet...it's all over the place. these crazy last few days have brought to mind some things i have been thinking about a lot these last few months. about this exact verse, actually. it a pretty bold one. and ya know what... i think i'm ok with that, friend! are you?
let me share how i've been faced with a few Truths lately that have hit me so hard and so square in the face, you'd think good ol' ron was smackin' them right at me full force.
a few weeks ago, one of our beloved former pastors at our church came in town to visit. well, he came to visit..and to preach. and preach he did. you gotta love pastor dustin. (check out his awesome church at www.mosaicgc.com) the man doesn't sugar coat this whole thing for you. or for me. or for himself. he came with a message to all us "Christians"...are we really all in? it is so easy to get comfy, he said, in our trendy little church bubble. "we get so cozy in our same little cushy chair at church, our butt makes a nice little imprint when we are so good to show up week after week, and we actually stop thinking Jesus is doing us a favor and we start thinking we're doing Him one."
i would say that he ain't luke warm, wouldn't you? yep...sounds pretty hot to me.
for the last few months, our home group has been reading a pretty incredible book by mark batterson, called "in a pit with a lion on a snowy day". i know the title is a bit odd, but read it and you'll understand. i mean it - go get the book. seriously. i am not a reader. i never recommend books because i rarely read books. but, friend...this one might flat change your life. i know it's changed mine. and a sweet friend of mine's. the title is based on a man of the Bible i would almost guarantee you have never heard of...ready?? it's.......Benaiah. i know you're thinkin'... Bena-what!?! yep...that one isn't on the top ten most popular boy's names of 2011, with jacob and elijah, was it? nope. but the man was so brave and bold, he actually chased a lion. you read that right, he chased a lion. (see 2 samuel 23)
a couple quotes from the book that really got me...
"you can do nothing wrong, and still do nothing right." ya, i get this one. i've thought these thoughts...haven't you?!? "but, we go to church."....."we tithe what we are supposed to. most of the time."....."we don't curse, watch porn, get drunk, or do drugs...c'mon.".....i can't help but be reminded that the Pharisees didn't do any of that stuff either. i'm just sayin'.
"lion chasers know God is bigger and more powerful than any problem they face in this world. they thrive in the toughest circumstances because they know that impossible odds set the stage for amazing miracles. That is how God reveals his glory - and how he blesses you in ways you never could have imagined." ok friend, i have lived this one these last months and months. i faced a big problem. well, to be completely transparent, i emotionally and mentally ran kicking and screaming from my huge problem for a loooong time and then, with God's help, i faced it. then, friend, i chased it. and He has already blessed me more in the last two months than i can even find words to tell you...and you know anything about me, it's that i don't lack for words.
"maybe a relationship with God doesn't simplify our lives. Maybe it complicates our lives in ways that it should be complicated...because sin surely complicates our lives in ways that they shouldn't be complicated." so true. so.very.true. but, not so very easy. but, seriously, friend, when did we get the idea in our little-bitty brains that our lives here on this earth are supposed to be easy. they aren't. get over it. not sure about you, but i would take difficult with God than easy without Him, that is for darn sure. it is easy to be selfish. it is easy to be superficial. it is easy to be materialistic. it is easy to turn a blind eye to those that are hurting. it is easy to sit on your pew each week and do nothing. it is easy to be like my "texas" shirt...bringing yourself out to be bigger than you really are...it is easy to make this time that you have on this earth...all...about...you.
"The last time I checked the parable of talents, the reward for good work was more work." that's right, good and faithful servant...the dudes who did the right thing...the ones who used what Jesus had given them in the way that most honored Him...they didn't get a free ride. they didn't win the lottery. they didn't get their mortgage paid off. shoot - they didn't even get a brand new mini-van. (yep, that one is for me.) they got more work. period.
"The only regrets we will have at the end of our lives will be that we didn't seek God more or seek God sooner. That's it." enough said, there friend. what could i possible add to that?
trust me, after reading this book, i can almost feel the heat from this Biblical giant being so on fire. and for the record, i am sure God would rather you be hot too...but, with a nice, steady flame...the kind of flame others can gain warmth from. not a blast of a huge roaring fire that burns out when morning comes and it ain't fun anymore.
as i was researching for this post, i came across a man who wrote a book that, to be honest, i'm a little scared to read. his two minute video post for the book is unbelievable. literally, it is hard to believe. but, only cause i'm not sure i want to, not because it isn't TruthFULL. (since my last technological attempt on my blog didn't work, i will just tell you to please take a minute now and go to youtube and search for "radical by david platt". then sit tight. we'll be here when you get back.)
david platt says in his book titled "radical"....
“I don’t think God will ever say, ‘I wish you would have kept more for yourself.’” sigh. and so True.
"God beckons storm clouds, and they come. He tells the wind to blow and the rain to fall, and they obey immediately. He speaks to the mountains, 'You go there," and he says to the seas, 'You stop here,' and they do it. Everything in all creation responds in obedience to the Creator...until we get to you and me. We have the audacity to look God in the face and say, 'No.'"
i'm sweating now from this heat.
(sigh) sweet friend, i'm not a fire and brimstone kind of gal. really, i'm not. maybe that is what i have sort of dreaded posting this. oh gee, i hope people still like me. i hope i don't offend anyone. but, then i'm reminded of these words i read in the lion chaser book (thanks, Holy Spirit!) when he recalls a time when he, too, didn't speak up for Christ. he realized "so, instead of offending this woman, i offended the holy Spirit." whoa. i felt that one. so, i keep typing. in love, i type. but, in Truth, i type too. like me or not. and like mark says in the book "aren't you tired of Christians being known more for what they are against than what they are for?" my answer is an emphatic....yes!! this, friend, is what i am for. what are you for? is it you, or is it Jesus? cause it ain't both. either way....be for it. be all in. or be all out. your choice. but, keep in mind...this wishy washy-inch deep-in between-luke warm junk makes God wanna puke.
and for the record, as i type now, the wind chill outside is negative 6 degrees. negative six, people. that is pretty stinkin' cold. oh how i pray that is not what you choose. last night, when tucking in my oldest kiddo...the one i wrote about in the post titled "what do you mean the weatherman's wrong?"...he's been waiting for snow for months. literally, months. he says right before he went to sleep, "mama, i'm tired of all the cold. i'm ready for the hot weather again and for swimming outside." it's been freezing cold for three days. that's it, three days. if you choose cold. i pray it is only for a short while. i'll be waiting for you by the pool...