Wednesday, March 11, 2009

revisiting adoration

I shouldn't be surprised really. It's happened so many times before. I am meditating or pondering on something or maybe even delighting in something and out of nowhere the subject comes up in another context. Maybe it's in an article I'm reading or a movie that shows up in my mailbox or a conversation with a friend. This time it was in my first week at my new job. In the first sermons I'm participating in as a part of my weekly service planning role. And it is spot-on, exactly what I was longing to learn from the Spirit. Through my friend and new boss, Pastor Craig Shields.

If you didn't read my first post on this inner discipline of adoration, this post will make more sense if you do. It's all about a passage in Job that almost made me quit aspiring toward the spiritual disciplines. Specifically the adoration one.

The Job passage without all the qualifiers about how God loves me, really and truly. About how God sent His Son Jesus to rescue me. About how much God wants relationship with me. About how God has forgiven my sins and given me a new name and made me a new person with exciting possibilities, dreams, passions and gifts. Not one word of that is listed in God's three-chapter long tirade against Job. God only talks about Himself and He has the audacity to be angry with Job. This same Job:
Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” (Job 1:8, NLT)
So Pastor Craig is preaching a four-week series titled The Fear of God. And guess what passage he digs into during week 2? Yep. I just can't get away from it!! But even before week 2, I am already convicted. The Spirit is answering prayer and delivering truth and conviction to the innermost part of me.

For example, you might remember this question from my journal excerpt: Where do I fit into the scheme of the universe You describe to Job? Listen to this statement Pastor Craig makes during week one of the series:
Most of us in our life have probably received a yearbook. What is the first thing you do when you get a yearbook? You look for your own picture, right? You're flipping through there asking Where am I? And it's great if there's an index because then you see all the page numbers you're on. We look for ourselves first. That's exactly what we do when we open the Bible. We start flipping through pages and we start looking for us. What does God say about me? How does He feel about me? How can He bless me today? How do I live my life? When the truth of the matter is that the Bible is not primarily about us. It's the revelation of God. It's about Him. We're second. He is revealing Himself to us in Scripture. (*note* P. Craig's yearbook analogy was from an author he was quoting, but I failed to get the name)

For me, this is the foundational issue with that Job passage. I am looking through the passage looking for my picture. Every other passage from the week I spent on the adoration theme had some sort of human interest element for me. Creation, New Jerusalem. Even the Isaiah passage on Day 1 of that week includes the most precious of reminders: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned. Nor shall the flame scorch you.

And 1 Peter 1:3-9: Because Jesus was raised from the dead we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in Heaven -- and the future starts now!

But Job? Job is all Father, Son and Spirit and His creation of the universe -- all parts of the universe except for me or us humans. This frightens me for reasons I am having a hard time articulating. Insignificance and insecurity sitting in an unnamed wound. Free me, Father, Son and Spirit that I may adore You fully.

*picture at the top* This is what google image brought up when I typed in Betelgeuse. The week we discussed God's glory in His creation we watched a video clip of Louie Giglio talking about our "star-breathing God". Pay attention to the size of this star in relation to the size of earth's orbit. Astounding.

Monday, March 09, 2009


March 9 I turned 38 years old. I'm not old enough to dread my birthdays...yet.
After the party my husband threw for me this year, I may look forward to every birthday.
From now until forever.
That is, if he throws the same party every year.
Ever since I saw this movie I've wanted to throw what we now call a Once party.
(I wrote about the movie here.)
Watch the movie.
Look for the scene in the middle of the movie where a ton of people squeeze into a Dublin flat, eat pasta, drink wine and ale, and sing for their supper.
This is the party I wanted to be at.
If I knew Tina Fey when I first saw the scene I would have said,
I want to go to there.
So, Brian threw me this party for my birthday.
My friends came and brought food and art.
They sang and read and danced and played and showed and shared beauty.
Beauty in original songs, favorite books, acapella tenors, Longfellow poetry, Virginia Woolf prose, Debussy and The Marriage of Figaro.
We cleared off the living room floor and danced the polka to "There Is No Beer in Heaven" and we admired handpainted miniatures, cross-stitch samples and photo-collages.
And homemade spaghetti sauce and rich, dry wine.
And, oh lord, the desserts!
Homemade strawberry cheesecake and a lush, like 32-layer chocolate trifle thing with crumbled up candy bars.
As my contribution I read this post.
And cried. Alot.
We told stories and laughed and ate and I wished it would never end.
So I'm not afraid of 38 and, if every birthday brings this much beauty, then
who cares about old age?

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow:
Since my birthday and St. Patrick's day fall a week apart I thought this sign on a downtown street in Boston celebrates both perfectly.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

mix tape day

i made you a mix tape of all my favorites this week!

Finding Tamara: I didn't lose a single pound this week, but that's not worrying me because it's really part of the whole plan. A few of you have asked, What is the plan? Well, it's a hybrid plan of menu planning and Curves work out and weight management phases. (Can you tell I'm a white, middle-aged mom? ) I'm alternating my calorie intake in order to keep my metabolism from sitting on its lazy butt. So this was a higher calorie week. It was Fat Tuesday after all!

Mostly I finally pushed through years of anger and shame that was showing up in the way I relate to food and exercise. I wanted to obey God with my eating, but that desire was being short-circuited by layers (and I mean that word quite literally) of shame, guilt and loneliness. Of course, those things didn't just show up in my eating habits.

And, while I'm not very superstitious, I find myself reluctant to talk too much about what's working for me. I've got a long way to go; you might say, a long obedience in the same direction. And like any other obedience I need people to walk with me. I'm so thankful for lots of encouragement from friends, family, my beautiful husband. And Tina. Thank you, Tina!

On Netflix: It seems that lately we've been all misses on our movie queue. Not much to recommend. Brian got me Lars and the Real Girl for Valentine's Day. If you haven't seen it yet, you should give it a try. I wrote about it a while back.

We've also been working our way through the TV series The West Wing. We forgot how much we liked that show. The writing is pretty excellent. The acting is decent and the characters are quirky, intelligent, and inspiring. It's a great release for Brian after a day of working in our little church's equivalent to the West Wing. Brian makes a pretty great Leo McGarry. Only, thank God, not an alcoholic. Or married to his job and divorced from his wife. But other than that...

Reading: The Alleluia! Series of the Institute for Worship Studies by Robert E. Webber
I've been pretty much immersed in this seven-book series. Actually the link I chose covers the entire bibliography for the Institute for Worship Studies (which I, under the influence of adult-onset OCD, would love to purchase and read every title!). I just couldn't quickly find a link for the specific series. And, in light of that impressive bibliography, I'm just reading the Cliff notes.

1. Learning to Worship With All Your Heart: A Study in the Biblical Foundations of Worship

2. Rediscovering the Missing Jewel: A Study of Worship through the Centuries

3. Renew Your Worship! A Study in the Blending of Traditional and Contemporary Worship

4. Enter His Courts with Praise: A Study of the Role of Music and the Arts in Worship

5. Rediscovering the Christian Feasts: A Study in the Services of the Christian Year

6. Encountering the Healing Power of God: A Study in the Sacred Actions of Worship

7. Empowered by the Holy Spirit: A Study in the Ministries of Worship

I am finishing up book 7 this week. I will be back with lots and lots and lots of thoughts. Aren't you excited?!?

Card and flowers from my friend Andrea on the week of my new job at Union Center Christian Church. She didn't even know daffodils are my favorite!

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