Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tough Questions

"Asking the tough questions" is a phrase you hear alot now days. Overuse can rob us from the ability to really ask the tough questions. I know some people who prefer not to deal with that kind of thing and then I know people, like me, who seem to thrive on it. Someplace in between those two extremes is probably the healthiest spot!

However last night during our Wednesday evening worship experience, we were celebrating the Lord's supper by taking bread and grape juice and sitting together at tables talking, laughing, sharing and partaking. It was real and felt so "in the moment." It was an experiential way of remembering Jesus. A little later we were discussing and journalling about two questions that had been assigned and one of them resonated with me more than usual. It is still bouncing off the walls of my heart and mind. The question was something like this, "imagine what your life would be like if Jesus had not died and risen." I know you have heard that 100 times. Like me, you probably even have a pat answer. But for some reason last night I was stretched to journal some thoughts about who I would be without Jesus. My actions, my thoughts, my behaviors, my responses.....It was not a pretty site.

I felt further convicted that there are days when the ugliness of my heart still seem so overwhelming and that is with all the shaping that God has done and continues to do in me.
Can you even imagine yourself untouched by the Potter?

Laying aside the pat answers, have you really thought about what the "Christless" version of yourself looks like. How that version would act and speak and live? Think about it for a while and then give thanks. Worship Him in praise and shout out, How Great is Our God!

Monday, August 20, 2007

God and Money

I heard a sermon yesterday that I am having a hard time with. You know the feeling when you disagree with what you are hearing and your life experiences back up your feelings but you can't necessarily prove your position? Or is it just me?

The statement was made, "God's intention, his heart is to bless you financially." There was a lot of other very good material in the lesson, but I got stuck on this one and just couldn't move passed it. I disagree. I think God's intention and heart is to shape us and that is usually a blessing but I think it has little to do with financial blessing. I think God's heart is to bless us and that usually lands up looking very different to "financially bless us."

Some of the most faithful, God-hearted people I know are poor and live in conditions that are deplorable in Africa or other areas. Have they somehow not "earned blessings" from God. I don't think so. I know that Old Testament scripture refers to God blessing our store houses and multiplying our fields etc. but Jesus seems to present such a different picture in his ministry. He talks at lengh about giving up stuff, leaving security, how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom etc. He always seems to land on the side of the poor and call the rest of us to a life of "stufflessness."

The idea of God wanting to bless us financially just seems so "Joel Osteen-ish" and that scares me. My life experiences testify to the idea that real discipleship usually costs us something, and the reward is usually a more abundant faith journey, which has little to do with anything financial.

I may be missing something crucial here, so weigh in and help me as I struggle with this.

You know you live in Amarillo when you keep dreaming of exotic locations...

Frank was wondering after my Dubai post what the other 16 dreamy destinations were on my list, and so here it is.

Santorini, Greece
Rome, Milan, Naples, Florence, Venice, Turin, Bologna, Perugina,: Italy
Tuscany, Italy
Bordeaux, France
Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth & Sydney:Australia
Wellington & Auckland: New Zealand
Canary Islands
Hamburg and Heidelberg: Germany
Any Caribbean spot you pick.......I'm always up for a beach vacation!!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dubai, UAE and other travel dreams...

About 20 years ago I was fascinated with Singapore. Don't get me wrong, I would still love to visit Singapore. However, my newest destination fascination is Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
About 8 years ago or so it became a hot destination for South Africans to visit. It is a shopping mecca with great hotels and resorts and lots of other interesting things.

Last night I happened to watch a show on Discovery called Really Big Things. It was incredible. They focused on a new resort development that Georgio Armani has designed. It is going to be the tallest structure in the world at over 135 floors. It is going to include hotel rooms, condos, restaurants, pools, gyms, a mall etc. They also showed an indoor ski facility called Ski Dubai. It is the largest indoor ski resort anywhere - along with chalet type buildings, hot chocolate cafes etc. Excess, wealth, and materialism seem to rule the day.

I am not sure why this country is so intriguing to me, perhaps it is the fact that it situated along the northeast coast of the United Arab Emirates and in the desert. I think it is the way it has literally sprung up as a tourist destination in an area not usually known for tourism. Overall I think it is the fact that it seems to bust wide open any presuppositions one might have about a country in this region, or an economy in this region, or facilities, infra-structure or any other measurable quality one might choose to weigh.

After some reading about the area, it appears like the largely expatriate work force lives in less than stellar conditions. Construction crews run 24/7 in this burgeoning economy and so it has become a magnet for poor laborers who are desperate to earn some money to send back to family. Isn't it true that anytime a few are making billions, there are a trail of people being overused and mistreated.

David and I would spend our last dollars on travel and pre-kids, while still in South Africa, we did that often :-). My list of places to go steadily increases and I think I am adding Dubai to it. So who knows, if I live another 35 years and we take one trip every two years, we could get to number 17 on my list....yikes, I had better move it further up and bump one of those other destinations farther down.