Archive | August, 2013

Life on the Open Road Requires Some Time in the Garage!

28 Aug

“Sitting in the garage won’t make you a car,

and going to church won’t make you a Christian.”


This is a popular quote I’ve seen posted all over facebook and used in different devotionals lately.  I tried to track down who originally said it, but it was attributed to so many people I wasn’t comfortable assigning an author.  So give credit to whomever it was you heard it from first and know that it did not originate in the mind of Marilyn Biddinger.  I’m not that clever.

As clever as it is, there’s something about those words that have made my heart a little uncomfortable each time I have read it.  I think I get the point —simply parking in a pew will not transform you into something you are not. But I sometimes wonder if as the Body, in a very sincere and good-hearted effort to distance ourselves from empty religion, we’ve gone too far and cast the meeting together of the Body of Christ as an unnecessary part of Kingdom life. An optional part of our relationship with Jesus.   If we have, we’ve unintentionally done ourselves and a watching world a huge disservice.

Please don’t hear me promoting empty church attendance as a way of doing life with our Savior.  But . . . the person sitting in that pew is much more likely to hear the Truth preached there than sitting on their couch every Sunday.  And since it is the Word of God that comes with the promise (Isaiah 55:11) it seems to me that we should encourage them to come park in that pew and find a little shelter from the elements outside any day of the week.  And, at what other time will a person who just wants to be good for goodness sake or do the right thing because it’s just the right thing to do, have a chance to be loved on by so many who have LOVE living inside them.

Doing life with the family of God, even though it can be a messy business, is absolutely essential to having a full and complete relationship with Jesus.  It’s where we have the opportunity to live life the most excellent way and where the world sees believers do life differently.  If it wasn’t essential why would the Apostle Paul tell us not to give up meeting with one another as some have done and why would the New Testament spend so much time telling us how to relate to one another.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some,

but encouraging one another,

and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34

 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Romans 12:10

Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits. Romans 12:16  (Sometimes I just have to go with the Amplified because it drives it home and leaves me no wiggle room.)

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Ephesians 4:2

These are just a few of the one anothers.  And guess what?  To do the “one anothers” there has to be others.  It’s the others that God often uses to change and refine us.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

It’s true that sitting in the garage won’t make you a car.  It won’t make you a car because that wasn’t what you were created to be.  I don’t think even a car would be content with just sitting in the garage all the time if it could choose.  And if it could talk, I think it might say something like “Hey, put some fuel in my tank, put the top down,  let’s go for a drive.”  That car would be itching to fulfill its purpose. Never leaving the garage wouldn’t even be an option.  It would ache to get out on the open road and do what it was made to do.  So while the purpose of that car is life on the open road, running 24/7 without coming back to the garage for a little rest and respite just isn’t going to cut it.  The road grime would build-up, the windshield would be smeared, and the fuel gauge would soon hit empty.  Balance is required for that car to do its job.  Even though it rightfully calls that garage home, it simply can’t do what it was it was created to do if it spends all its time just sitting there.  But . . . it can’t fulfill its purpose if it spends all its time on the road either.

Isn’t it the same for we who are called to be members of the Body of Christ?  You were created to complete the Body, to edify the Body, to encourage the Body and they were created to do the same for you.

 For as in one body we have many members,

and the members do not all have the same function,

so we, though many, are one body in Christ,

and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:4-5

We need one another to wipe away the road grime, help clean the windshield, and fill our tanks.  It’s what we were created to do – love one another. Sometimes it’s good to be on the road alone and just let the Spirit blow your hair back.  Other times, you need to look over and see another driver headed the same direction.  It encourages the heart and spurs the soul to know we aren’t alone.  God gives us other road warriors to strengthen us and help us navigate all the twists and turns life throws at us.  We can’t dismiss the benefits of fellowship and meeting with the body of Christ.  The Truth won’t allows us to. Sisters, if we do we will miss out on the fullness of the abundant life God has planned for us. And so will those who long to see us.  I’m speaking from experience on this one.  Brett and I haven’t had the opportunity to physically enter our Church and worship with our Body in over a year.  As much as we enjoy having Believers here in our home, there’s just nothing like joining together with hands raised high and coming before the Throne with one voice.

And as for the one who pulls into their appointed parking space each Sunday . . . Well, do you remember the last time you met a whole slew of cars on their way to a classic car show?  The smile just creeps across your face as you meet car after car.   Shined and polished.  Buffed and beautiful.  You get all anxious waiting to see what the next one might look like and you start chatting with everyone else in the car about how awesome all those cars are as they keep rolling past you. Even if you aren’t a car enthusiast, there’s just something about seeing those cars, one right after another, that grabs your attention.   And when they arrive at their destination and they’re all lined up for the world to see, it is simply spectacular.

Spend a few minutes wandering among those beauties and you’ll soon be hearing story after story from their owners.  “Yeah, she was a wreck when I got her, but look at her now!”  “You wouldn’t have believed the shape she was in!”  Pretty soon your attention isn’t on the car anymore.  Nope.  Pretty soon, your focus is on the owner.  The one who poured all those blood, sweat, and tears into making that car what is today.  Same for us.

When Love congregates all in one place, it grabs people’s attention.  When we share the truth of the wrecks we were and let the Glory of the One who poured His Blood, Sweat, and Tears into us do the talking – well, Girlfriend, we are beautiful.  So you pull out onto that highway with the top down and the engine roaring the Good News, but don’t you forget that time in the garage is necessary.  And Sister, when we all line up, shined and polished, doing what we were created to do – we are absolutely spectacular.


We are Wrapped in His “Thereness”

24 Aug

What if we believed, to our core, that God is always with us?  Not in some abstract way, but in the reach out and touch Him kind of way.  What if His “Thereness” was our reality and we, the ordinary, understood the very real, very tangible Presence of the Extraordinary?   Imagine truly grasping the ever-Presence that is the I AM.

His Word is clear.  He is with us – ALWAYS.  He will not leave us or forsake us.  Just as surely as every person we cross paths with today, God is there.  So what if, rather than having that be a concept we know, it was a reality we lived?  What if?

Part of “what if” for me would probably include keeping a much closer watch over the words that fall out of my mouth.  I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t allow them to just “fall out” but would take great care to fill them with grace so the King at my side would be proud to call me friend.

  • He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.  Proverbs 22:11

And I probably would use my time more wisely than I normally do.  I can’t imagine frittering away the hours watching HGTV, rooting for the House Hunters to pick the home that stayed in their budget, if I really grabbed a hold of the truth that God is sitting with me on the couch.  I have to wonder if He might be thinking that I was squandering the day He had entrusted to me very foolishly.  Given all He has accomplished, it’s hard for me to picture Him as content just idling away the hours with no purpose.  Yes, part of my “what if” would definitely include a wiser use of my time so His Majesty might delight in me.

  • A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful servant arouses his fury.  Proverbs 14:35

Those are just a couple of the observable “what if” changes. The real “what ifs” would take place on the inside because I cannot fathom subjecting my HOLY God to some of the thoughts that fly through my mind.  Would I really feel jealous of anyone else in the world and stomp my foot about what they have that I don’t, if I realized the WHO that I am blessed with? What in the world could be of greater value than Him?  Would I honestly usurp His right to judge by silently evaluating the actions of others if I actually believed that the One and Only Lawgiver was there?  I could go on listing the things I struggle with and posing the questions about how they might change, but for me, and maybe for you too, all the questions boil down to just one:

Would we change if we believed in His absolute “Thereness”?

I am convinced that for all of us the answer is absolutely YES!  I have moments when I am acutely aware of His Presence and I’m certain you do too.  Times when the facts and the feelings of our faith converge and our souls fall into a holy hush that whispers, “He is here.”  We don’t try to negotiate the agenda of the day; we follow the still, small, Voice wherever and to whomever He leads.  We stride with confidence knowing that every step is falling inside the well-worn footprints of our Holy Trailblazer.  And we are unafraid because we are certain of His all-encompassing Love surrounding us on every side.  That’s the Truth of Him you know?  The I AM is present.

He leads the way knocking down the obstacles and challenges that rise up before you.

  • I will go before you and will level the mountains – Isaiah 45:2

He stands firmly on your right and on your left setting your feet on solid ground and lifting your eyes toward Him.

  • But you, God, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, you lift my head high. – Psalm 3:3

And the Lord Himself has promised you Sweet One, that He has your back.

  • Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. – Isaiah 58:8

That is the real-time, real-world truth of it. He goes before us. He is on every side. And His glory is our rear guard.  We are, without a doubt, wrapped in His “Thereness.”  No part of our faith journey escapes His attention or His affection.  And while we may be limited to simply glimpsing glory for now, His vision toward us is totally unobstructed.  His love for us is unconstrained.  And His “Thereness” is unchanging.  Sisters, we may long for the day when see the truth of our circumstances clearly, but in the meantime, I pray we will embrace the reality of our here and now because He is Here and He is Good.

We don’t yet see things clearly.

We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.

But it won’t be long before the weather clears

and the sun shines bright!

We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us,

knowing him directly just as he knows us!

1 Corinthians 13:12, The MSG

The Message:  The goal of The Message is to engage people in the reading process and help them understand what they read. This is not a study Bible, but rather “”a reading Bible.”” The verse numbers, which are not in the original documents, have been left out of the print version to facilitate easy and enjoyable reading. The original books of the Bible were not written in formal language. The Message tries to recapture the Word in the words we use today.

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