Sunday, January 23, 2011

More Bicycle Messages

You know I had a thought that I was going to write more bicycle metaphors and maybe people might get tired of my bicycle metaphors; then I remembered that I started writing this blog to process through things that happen in my life and to talk about what God shows me. It just happens that people read what I write, but the readers are really not the point.

I just went for a bike ride and let me tell you it is colder than I thought it was, especially with shorts on. Before I left, I asked God to speak to me and give me a heart to hear the message He wanted to give me.

I think that God can speak to us all throughout the day in all that we do if we are open to hear what he wants to say to us. If we are looking and listening, He is speaking all the time. He may use a person, a sign, a song, nature, a thought we have about something. He speaks in all sorts of ways and all the time; our job is just to be open to hear what He has to say.

So anyway, I left with the intention of riding and listening. The first of the ride was pretty difficult. As I said, I really didn't know it was as cold as it was when I took off. I was going on the assumption that it was comparable to yesterday when I went and rode. It was beautiful on my ride yesterday. Today, on the other hand, it was 46 degrees. The wind was blowing against me which makes the ride difficult in several ways. The wind is built in resistance plus as the gust come up on me they are so, so, so cold, biting cold. So as I rode I was asking hey what do you want to say to me. I did take the opportunity to think about people that don't have a warm home to go to. As cold as I was, I knew that I would be returning to me home where I would take a scalding hot bath. So I tried to think about people who don't have that and feel some compassion for them. I have been homeless. I spent time in Missouri homeless in the winter. I ended up spending several days on the side of the highway in the snow with my toes frozen to my socks. The only reprieve was sneaking into the truck stop until we would get kicked out again. No one would pick us up. It was miserable. I definitely feel for people who are homeless in the cold. However, I don't think I feel enough compassion or I would do more to help people in that situation. Sometimes its easy to be grateful for what I have and take it for granted so that I don't reach out to others.

That was a little bit of a rabbit trail. So, I was struggling with my ride, wondering if I had lost my mind when I went out on my bike in the cold. I was peddling and asking what do you want to say to me out here in this cold. There is something about riding my bike that is like a release from everything going on. I feel like I am flying; its a break from everything. My mind gets really quiet; I talk to Jesus and listen. No message, nothing really but struggle and freezing cold. I reminded myself that as much as the wind was blowing against me the chances were I would have a really great tale wind going home. I got to the end of the trail and turned around. Sure enough, the tail wind came up behind me and blew. And as it blew I flew. There is really nothing else like the feeling of riding with the wind behind you; it is literally like flying to me. I was so excited; I had to stupidest grin on my face. Though I had the wind at my back, I was not coasting with the wind either. I peddled as hard as I could with the wind helping me along. That equated to really flying. Then the message came. Hey, you see what happens when you put all that you have into it and I add the wind; you can go so much faster. The wind could have blown me home and made my effort to go along be much less. But with the wind at my back and all my effort combined, I made such faster progress. God gave me the muscles to peddle and helped me train them so they are strong, but when He added the wind the increase was exponential. Just like He gave me a lot of gifts and talents. The word says that "the gifts and callings of God are without repentance". He gives good gifts to us all. He doesn't just give gifts to those who would believe. He endows all if His created with gifts. However, when we walk with Him and love him, when we abide in Him and realize that He abides in us, then our gifts are combines with His Spirit. That puts us on a totally different playing field. Our talents with His Spirit makes an out of this world combination. I grinned like some kind of cracked out fool peddling my legs off. I must have been some kind of sight. I guess it doesn't take much to make me a happy grinning person. It was fun. Thanks Jesus; You're the bomb!!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Thoughts on New Years

First of all, let me apologize ahead of time to the people who don't like my heavy posts. This is not a jolly New Years resolution type of posts. I am feeling pretty heavy about some things. But Matthew 5:4 says "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." I feel overwhelmed with the the tremendous need in the world and the apathetic, complacent, paralyzed state that much of the western world seems to be in. The same state that I have spend most of my life in. We have so so so much in this country and we consume so much of it on our lusts. Many people don't really know about so much of the need. Others don't want to hear it. For whatever reason, God made me a pretty serious, very literal and concrete person. I would rather watch a documentary that informs me about me injustice or need than watch something that will entertain me or make me laugh. I would rather read a book that convicts me than read some fictional tale. I am not saying that either of the other two options are wrong or that I am better b/c of my preferences. It is just how I am. I am full of so much information about really terrible injustices in the world. I find small talk to be so frustrating. I go to parties and gathering and listen to the talk. I don't follow it; I don't find it interesting. I want to turn the conversation to things that really matter. I want get people to think about how many people are dying while we sit and chat about frivolities. I want to pray or talk about the word of God. My husband jokingly told me the other day, "You can bring a room down like no one else I know. Dawn's party pooper service." Don't get him wrong; he wasn't being mean. He was just talking about how I really prefer to talk about really heavy issues. I want to tell people about things they don't know. I am sorry if it makes people sad. Good!! Maybe it will make people sad enough to step out of apathy and do something. We can effect change one little step; one person at a time.

I am not sure these thoughts are even coming across very cohesively. I hope I am conveying what I am trying to convey.

I feel like my blog may need to take a directional turn. I understand that people may not want to read about some of the subjects I want to write about, but I need to try and get the message out. I have been reading some books that are really rocking my world. I just finished "The Red Letters: Living a faith that bleeds" is about the AIDS crisis and how our response to it has been pretty minimal. Now I am reading "Radical"; it is really rocking my world. Anyone who really knows me knows I read pretty voraciously and they are not usually upbeat type books. These have really spoken to me and come at a time where I am really doing a lot of soul searching anyway. I feel like we need to wake up. God's people need to hear the cries of the oppressed, the orphans, the widows, and the slaves. There are movements and people that are making many moves toward changing things. But we have so much progress to make still. I feel like Dorothy; the curtain has been pulled up on the wizard; he is a lie. I want to pull the curtain up to show everyone the American dream is a lie that we have bought into. It's like the matrix. All this stuff serves to distract us from the fact the we aren't really living at all. We are missing the point. We are not living out the gospel. We are not seeking first the Kingdom and His righteousness. The Gospel and the American Dream are diametrically opposed to one another. If we continue to try to reshape the Gospel into our version of gospel we will hear "depart from me, for I never knew you" at the end of time. We are building structures that will not make it through the test of fire. We are building huge alters worshiping the temporal. The Gospel is not about going to heaven when we die; it's about living the kingdom now. It's about giving everything we have to Him to do with as He pleases. It's about loving, and loving and loving so much it hurts and makes us look like fools. It's not about being Second; it's about being last. Putting everyone else ahead of ourselves. It's about not worrying about whether someone might take advantage of us or if they deserve our love or help, b/c we don't deserve anything we have. Everything we have has been given to us and we don't deserve ANY of it. That is not an easy Gospel. It is not a pleasant Gospel, but it is the Gospel none the less. I personally don't live out that Gospel everyday, but I am searching and seeking freedom to live that way. I struggle and fail over and over again, but I am seeking Him b/c I want to love like He loves. He has been gracious enough to open my eyes and cause me to begin to ask questions about what we have accepted as okay and our culture. It is not okay. I will not keep quiet about it any more. I will answer to call to be the party pooper. I will tell people that things they don't want to hear. B/c some will hear what I say and turn. Are we spending ourselves on things that matter or are we spending ourselves and our resources on things that will be destroyed by moth and rust, or stolen by robbers? Are we allowing our true riches to be stolen away for things that don't matter. We are like children who give up pearls for costume jewelry b/c it shines more than the pearls.

As I walked through Costco shopping for groceries, today, I almost began to weep looking around. We have warehouse after warehouse filled with food, clothes, water, whatever we could desire when thousands a day die from starvation, thirst and preventable disease. I just can't continue to pretend like I understand our way of life at all. I have questioned so much for so long. It runs deep in my heart. Why do we spend so much on entertainment, more clothes we don't need, more and more and more. We keep acquiring. Yet, most of us still feel empty and purposeless. Could that be because we haven't been given all that we have to consume it on stuff for ourselves? Could it be that fulfillment comes from giving everything we have away, from trusting that if we give it all away, that Jesus will take care of our needs. Seriously, He doesn't want a corner of our lives. He wants all of our lives. He wants all of our heart, all of our resources, all of our abilities and talents. ALL of it, not part of it.

In light of all this I have been asking myself some very serious questions. I feel very called to care for orphans overseas. I don't know how; I don't know when; maybe I am just crazy, but I feel it so deep in myself. I know that time is not yet, b/c my husband has not caught the fire that burns in my bones, yet. This obviously means we are not ready, yet. When he says, "It's time." I will know it is time. Only God can change him and makes him to want to leave it all and go. If I am called, though, He is called. When the time comes, He will burn with it, too. Meanwhile he keeps me from impulsively jumping into something we are not ready for. But, onto the questions...

If I can't have my juicer and my celery juice, would I still go? If I can't make my green smoothies, would I still go? If I have to live without my treadmill, would I still go? If I had to go without my veggies, would I go? What if I had to eat meat to survive, would I go then? The conclusion I reached is yes, to all of the above. I would go and learn to live a totally new way. I would give it all up. I am willing to sacrifice for the sake of the need. I want put tangibility to my faith. I don't want to just talk about what I believe. I want to give my all for what I believe. I want my life to reflect the grace and glory of God. I want to love those who have no one to love them.

There is so much desperate need out there.

Below are some really interesting links to check out. There are so many ways to make a difference.

Did you know that for 40 cents a day, a person suffering with HIV be put on ARV therapy that will put the virus to sleep. 40 cents a day. I spend more than that on Stephens gum. Watch the Lazarus Effect; it's only about 30 minutes long, but it is really a great picture of the home ARV therapy has given. Red Campaign video

World Vision has a wide price range of gifts that can be given.

The Five for 50 campaign gives some really great small steps to make a difference with the AIDS crisis.

Drawn from Water is an amazing organization that rescues "Mingi" children from being put to death. They bring them into an orphanage to raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Here is the sponsorship page to sponsor one of these precious children.

These are few places I would like to direct you to start trying to make a difference. I will probably post more as we go along and as I figure out exactly the direction that the Lord would have me take this blog.