Monday, May 23, 2011

So be it

I didn't know what "amen" meant, or even really thought much about it, until I was in French class as an undergrad at UT. I don't remember why it came up but the professor mentioned that at the end of a prayer, you say, "Ainsi soit-il". I translated the French to English and figured out that ainsi soit-il means "so be it". (That, by the way, is what amen also means in English.)

I found it interesting that everytime we pray, we end by saying "so be it". We are affirming that this really is what we want.

Prayer is a very powerful tool for Christians. In Luke, chapter 11, Jesus tells us to ask for what we want or need and says we will receive. Now, I don't think we always get exactly what we pray for - the other part of that section from the 11th chapter of Luke states this: “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

God isn't going to give us things that are bad for us, just like we don't give our children things that are bad for them, even if they really, really want them.

So, while we pray for all sorts of things (from a cure for a dying family member to a parking space at the mall), are there things that we should be praying for?

I think the Lord's Prayer, as taught by Jesus to his disciples, is a good template for us. Jesus tells us we are to do the following:
1) See God as a heavenly father who cares for us
2) Desire God's will to be done above our own
3) Ask God to take care of our earthly needs (not wants - needs!)
4) Ask God for forgiveness and take care to forgive others
5) Ask God to protect us and give us the wisdom to make good choices
6) Remember that the world and everything in it belongs to God

When we pray like that, I think we can definitely say 'so be it' at the end of our prayers.


“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened." - Luke 11: 9-10


Monday, May 16, 2011

Home Sweet Home - 4

Returning home.... Going back to the place where you grew up is often a journey filled with emotion. As adults, most of us long at some point to return to that time when we were the ones being taken care of instead of being the ones doing the care.

I know that for me, sometimes I long to return to the days where I could sleep in and wake up to the sounds and smells of breakfast being cooked by someone else. To me, that feeling/memory represents the nurturing aspect of my childhood home.

Unfortunately, while we can return home physically, we can't really ever 'go home' to the place we knew as children. Time and space just doesn't stay the same. Places and people change and grow and nothing is quite what it used to be. Our parents, siblings, and friends (as well as children) all age at the same constant rate that we do. Returning home can sometimes make us a little melancholy. We want to be back in that place where we had limited worries and responsibilities but the simple fact of being an adult makes that impossible.

What we can do to fulfill that need to 'return home' is make sure that home (wherever it is - the place our parents/siblings/or spouse and children live) is a place where we feel known and still loved. God has given us opportunities to choose to love people who will love us back even when they really know us. We just have to choose wisely where we choose to love.

God, himself, can be our truest home, in the sense that home is where we feel truly loved and accepted. (side note - home is not a place where we are allowed to do whatever we want and not care about the consequences. Real love also comes with real boundaries.

Making a "home" is really a series of choices that we make for ourselves. Abraham Lincoln said that "People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." This from a man whose mother died when he was nine, whose wife suffered from mental illness, and who had three of his four children die in childhood (not to mention the stress and pressure of the American Civil War.) We may not be able to "return" home or have a perfect home, but we can choose how happy we will be in our current and future home. We have the power and ability to make changes in ourselves that will make us and those in our home happier. We have the power and ability to make our homes a better and more pleasant place to be - we just have to choose to do so.

Our homes really can be sweet, but it takes effort and practice to make them places of comfort and rest.


"My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest." Isaiah - 32:18


Monday, May 9, 2011

Home Sweet Home - 3

Belated Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there! Yesterday, Caz gave a very thought provoking sermon on God's call to women.

He talked about how women think they are supposed to fit into this ideal image of being a wife and mother and push to the back burner all the other ways we are gifted. Caz made some great points yesterday that women in the bible are in the Bible for the things they did while they were wives and mothers. Don't misunderstand - the impact that women have on their families is huge! But that impact is not necessarily equal the sum total of our lives.

God has gifted everyone (men and women alike)with wonderful talents and gifts. If we try to make our gifts fit into just one aspect of our lives, we are not only underestimating our abilities, we are possibly not acheiving the things that God wants us to do in this world.

If you are gifted as a teacher, your impact as a teacher is just as important as your impact at home. If you are gifted as a business owner, your impact on your workers and the people who you serve is just as important as the impact you have at home. Whatever you do outside the home (administrative assistant, a construction worker, a postal worker) is just as important as what you do inside the home. If your main calling right now is as a stay at home mom or dad, you still have the possibility of having an enormous impact outside your home.

All day long, no matter where we are, we have contact with other people - in our offices, at the store, at the fast-food counter, at school, with the families of our kid's friends - and we can make a positive impact in all of those encounters.

Who knows if God has planned your day so that when you stop at the gas station to fill your car's tank you can positively impact the life of someone who is there?

Our home life is very important. The kind of example we set for our families is important. The way that we live our life at home spills over into the world outside our home.

So remember that no matter what your main 'job' is, there is more to you than just that title and God has a plan to use you.


" Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." - Ephesians 3:20-21


Monday, May 2, 2011

Home Sweet Home - 2

Ah home, that idyllic place where we are unconditionally loved and always supported no matter what!

Wait a minute - does anyone really have a home like that? For most of us, memories of our childhood home is bittersweet. We have wonderful memories that give us warm fuzzies and then we have those memories that might not be so fuzzy. A lot of people find it difficult to look at their childhood, figure out the good and the bad, and then decide what to do with the bad. It can be messy and painful and many of us feel guilty for finding fault with our parents.

In the majority of cases (not all, but the majority), I think most parents really try to do the best they can with what they've got. Just like us, our parents were people with their own issues and stresses outside of their parenting role and they couldn't do the right or best thing all the time.

My Dad always said that in life, "you do the best you can at the time and then move on." I think he had a good point. Berating ourselves (or our parents) for bad parenting moments isn't really helpful for the future. Recognizing where we or our parents might have made better choices and learning from that recognition is helpful.

Guilt and anger are not productive emotions. They stifle us and cause us to simply spin our wheels. If we wallow in them too long, they become a way for us to avoid making necessary changes in our lives because they are good distractions. They make us feel like we are doing something, when in actuality, we are doing nothing.

Looking at our mistakes or our parent's mistakes, and then trying to find ways to correct those mistakes in the future is productive. Focusing on how we want to respond the next time our child is disrespectful ( or lies, or brings home a 'C') is much more likely to help us become better parents than focusing ad nauseum on our guilt over our last reaction. (Thinking forward instead of backward will probably also have a positive effect on your relationships with your parents, spouse and friends as well!)

Just as God forgives us when we confess our sins to Him, we need to forgive ourselves in areas where we have failed. We also need to free ourselves from the past by forgiving our parents for their failures. Part of growing up is seeing our parents as individuals with their own issues (just like us) rather than people who were put on earth solely to support us. Part of becoming a good parent, is recognizing that we are not going to do it right every time and that God (and our kids!) will keep giving us chances to practice.

We all have strengths and weaknesses - it is how God made us - and we will get to practice strengthening those weaknesses a lot. So ask God for help and when you have to respond in a weak area and try to see it as a challenge to be won rather than an automatic defeat. A little improvement goes a long way.


“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19