You Shall . . .

Try taking each one of the Ten Commandments and framing them as something to do instead of something not to do. Only two of the commandments do not use the word NOT anyway, the one about honoring the Sabbath and the one about honoring your parents. Refresh your memory on the other commandments here.

For example: “You shall not commit adultery.” What would be the DO of this commandment? If we aren’t supposed to commit adultery than what are we supposed to do? Love our spouse? Keep ourselves sexually pure? Interesting, huh? It kind of raises the stakes a little.

I think this might be part of what Jesus was doing when he said he came to fulfill the Law not abolish it. Remember, he summed up all these commandments by telling us to 1) love God and 2) love our neighbor. Do’s. Unfortunately, a lot of us think being a good Christian is more about what don’t do than about what we do. The reality is that just not murdering really isn’t enough anymore. Now Jesus expects us to love each other – even our enemies!

So what do we have to DO? Look at that list and make a new one. What will you DO today?

Why Birthdays are Awesome

birthday21. You get to see where you came from. I turned 34 on Friday and realized that I remember when my mother was 34 years old. But instead of making me depressed, I actually felt better. I mean, my mom is loving her life right now. Her kids are grown, her grandkids are cute, and she’s pursing her dream of writing professionally. At 34, I see I’ve got a lot to look forward to.

2. You get to see where your going. Dan was gone on my actual birthday. We celebrated the night before and  I made plans for a pizza/movie night with the kids. The funny thing was how the kids kept trying to make the night special. I didn’t have cake, so Jesse wanted to put candles in my dessert pizza. None of my gifts had been wrapped since Dan took me shopping and my mom gave me money. This didn’t seem right to Ada. She wrapped up a tube of lip gloss that was ALMOST full and threw in a small package of SweeTarts. At 34, I see I’ve got a lot to look forward to.

3. You get really fun stuff. Gold earrings (from Mom’s money) mean I can wear earrings again – I have very sensitive ears which translates to needing more than $10 to buy earrings! A stylish gray scarf, coordinating gray pants (think Audrey Hepburn), and a night out with my husband means I’m recharged and refreshed. 3/4 a tube of pink glitter lipgloss means I’m the best-loved 34 year-old in my house! : )

A Writing Game

Ever played the Seven Word Wisdom challenge? I read about it this week in some homework but found an old contest explaining the rules here.

For example, the author of a book on proper diet and nutrition writes, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

To play, you simply condense your wisdom into seven words using a 2-3-2 word sequence. Three short sentences. Here’s another one concerning food: “Eat pie. Very good pie. Not often.”

My challenge to you is to write a Seven Word Wisdom on the topic of fashion. Remember the mini-conference for teenage girls I mentioned earlier this week? Think of them as your audience and describe in seven words your philosophy on clothes and fashion.

Here’s my entry: Stay current. Keep it simple. Be modest.

Come on! Everyone play; I need the material!

Courting

dandrewMy husband’s younger brother visited this week, thrilling my children and giving my husband a longed for piece of home. It was actually his brothers that I met first. They won me over with their boyish sweetness and made everything super easy for Dan! His Dad and Mom and sister were pretty great, too; I knew them all before I knew Dan.

Last week one of my Bible College students referred to the time before she made solid decisions to live as a Christian as the time when Jesus courted her. That made a lot of sense to me. Do you remember those days before you actually made up your mind to associate yourself as God’s? How did Jesus court you?

For me, it was by showing me His family, the Church. I grew up in a wonderful Christian home and a great Bible believing church. My parents’ friends demonstrated lives of true faith in many different forms: as professionals, as missionaries, as ministers, and as everyday people just trying to do right. None of them were perfect, of course, but they loved me and they loved God and I knew that. It was like God was showing me how great this family could be if I wanted in.

Dan’s family did the same thing, wooing me with their affection for each other and their interest in me. Now Dan and I are hopefully building the same kind of culture in our home, a place where other people want to be.

It is an analogy I had never considered: the way God courts us. Can you think of anything that God did before you started living as a Christian that looking back you would consider an act of courtship? How did God win your heart?

Romans 12: 1-2

A friend of mine is putting together a fashion show for the teenage girls she works with this week. She is using this Scripture from The Message as her theme and I think it is great spiritual food for thought today. Unpacking this passage in this translation could keep me busy for weeks! I love the Bible.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

And also March Madness

I mentioned last year my love for Fantasy Football. For all the same reasons, I also love March Madness – the NCAA Tournament! This year my team, Missouri, actually is something to be proud of, but even when they are not, I love this season. Right now we are in the middle of the busiest four days of the tournament with games on TV almost every time you check. It is a good time for a Spring Break – lucky me.

I think, in part, my interest in writing is related to my interest in sports. When I was in middle school, my dad’s office used to get several magazine subscriptions sent to our house. He would later take them to his waiting room for patients to read. Sports Illustrated was one of those magazines, and I started flipping through its pages looking for pictures of teams I liked. What I found were stories – stories of people who happen to play sports. I especially learned to look forward to the very back page of the magazine. Rick Reilly wrote a short essay on the final page. He has to be one of the best writers ever. I probably ought to blame him for my interest in all kinds of sports and the people who play them.

I hope you enjoy your March Madness. Even if you don’t find the sport interesting, if you watch a game I think you can find a human interest story or two. And if the one on TV doesn’t work for you, maybe the best story is sitting in his recliner in front of that TV. Dad, brother, son – at least enjoy that story!

Significance

I am not consumed with success, but I am consumed with significance.

When the visiting preacher said these words, I typed them into my notes before pausing a moment to let their meaning have its effect. I’m surrounded by missionaries. Actually, most of the men and women around me would call themselves pastors or evangelists. It so happens that they live and minister in a country different than the one in which we sit. They are not Americans. They are Filipinos ministering to Filipinos. They are Egyptians ministering to Egyptians. They may not be the Western definition of missionary, but they are missionaries in the truest sense of the word.

travelingSitting among spiritual greatness like this I feel insignificant. My role here is to sing songs, lead worship. But every year I am the one being led. I open the song but feel my own emotions and voice moved to passion by the raised hands and sincere faces I see in front of me. I wonder what will be my significance?

Should I have made a drastic move like my Great-Aunt Lynnie so many years ago? Right out of high school she enrolled in nursing school. Missionary training followed. She spent 50 years in the mountains and jungles of Africa. She never married. Her mission board made her come back to America to retire at 80-something, but this was never home for her again. She was home in the Congo when the faithful men in remote villages took turns carrying her on their backs to visit the sick because her own legs had grown too old to carry her quickly. Is this significance?

Perhaps I am more like my Grandpa Nickerson. When he was a young man he asked God what he should do with his life. Should he go into the ministry? Perhaps support a missionary or a special project? God simply replied to my grandfather’s heart, “Be a good husband and father.” He did that. In a legacy that includes 4 children, 18 grandchildren, and too many great-grandchildren to count, not one of us has walked away from Christian traditions of faith. Not one. Is this significance?

What is your definition of significance? How will you know you have achieved it?