Monday, December 24, 2007

I identify with the stable!

The morning that children all over the world await arrived 8 hours ago in Europe.

Expectations are high. Excitement dances in the air. A bit of tension arises in kitchens all over the world. And a tree stands in homes decorated and delighted to be chosen as the tree to be admired through this blessed season.

And here, here in my little Wohnung, I too am feeling the stress, getting excited and have a Tannenbaum in the center of my living room. I live alone. I am here in this country alone. My children are all preparing for this season without me this year. It is our second time to be this far away from each other for this season. Last year I had a visitor. It was such a special time.

But this year. I am alone.

Being alone allows for a bit of sadness, a bit of crying, and even a bit of reminiscing that cannot go on while with family members, or while driving to be with childhood relationships. I try to look at this time as a time to refresh my mind, soul, and spirit on the purpose and reason we celebrate this season. Some moments - I have failed at this. I have wallowed in self-pity for a few hours, but thankfully those have come in small spurts. At this beginning of this week I was challenged by a dear friend and fellow blogger to read Philippians every day. That was such good preparation for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. (And here in Germany for Wednesday as well). I could relate to Paul being alone, feeling thankful for those that were sending support and for those there to encourage him, but most of all thankful to Jesus Christ and all He had done to change him and that God was continuing to change him and God WOULD ACCOMPLISH the change. (just relate not claim to be anything like)

So this morning I awoke refreshed and desiring to meditate on the simple and mystical birth of Christ. Are you aware that in Luke there is no mention of a stable in the scriptures that I can see. Yes, there is a reference to the manger and I can understand that fits in a stable. But I've been thinking about dwelling places lately and so the absence of mentioning a stable kind of stuck out at me in this passage.

I've never been to the Holy Land (I hope to go there someday). But from what I understand they have a spot that they claim as the place where Jesus was born. Interesting. On a night so long ago a lonely stable stood in Bethlehem. It sheltered the animals from the cold. No one would remember it to this day but for the fact that THE ALMIGHTY GOD lowered Himself from the heavens and in total humility entered the earthy, the dirty, the dingy, the tiny stable...

"although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Phil 2:6-8

...because there was no room for them in the inn.

May Christ dwell in me, and change me for now and ever more.

your mutating missionary

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

limping on this lane called life

called vs. driven
A theme I often return to.
A called person doesn't necessarily have it all together, but they are leaning on the One who does.
A driven person thinks they pretty much have everything all figured out and can tell anyone at anytime what they are doing wrong and how they should be doing things.

It is a scary reality to realize that people that consider themselves incredibly holy can actually simply be driven.

It is also a scary reality that I can never determine who is called and who is driven.

I can only check my own heart and bend my knee and cry out to the One and Only God to keep me in His place. To remain called doesn't mean that I have it all together, it means that mistakes will litter my life, it means that His Grace is sufficient, it means that I am not alone - no matter what it looks like, or feels like, it means He is my defender, it means He will protect my reputation. And when I have done something that I really believed was the right thing to do...
Well, it means that He loves right where I am. It means that He knows my heart.

And I beg HIM to protect me from the driven and draw me to the called.

your mutating missionary
treading cautiously
with a bit of a limp

Monday, December 10, 2007

discipline... how do you define it?

When I think of discipline I used to think of the following:
#1 being disciplined in my life i.e. punctual, orderly, fit, etc.
#2 teaching children how to behave appropriately
#3 reading my Bible every day and praying every day at the same time
#4 the military...
I desired, craved, sought, yearned for discipline - I think it is true that we all would like to order our lives out of chaos, teach our children how to function well in this world, and we need the military to follow orders!!!!!These are not bad things - they are good and necessary for a well-oiled community.

However, over ten years ago God brought a classic book across my path. Reading the book Spiritual Disciplines I came away with a much broader understanding of the word discipline. As my dear friend, 'Beloved Daughter' (see Journey Friend USA)oh that reminds me... i need to take time to add a few on that list ... oops... i digress.... DANG IT WHERE IS MY DISCIPLINE???????

Anyhoo back to the topic at hand... herding the rabbits...herding the rabbits....
I just read her blogspot this morning on the topic 'redefining discipline'

Spiritual discipline is so much deeper and more exciting and has more mystery than what I originally defined it as!!!!!!!! Spiritual discipline calls us to order our worlds so that we can experience God in a way that otherwise we might miss.

My friend explains it well on her blogspot entitled 'Redefining Discipline'
I think it is interesting that she wrote this blogspot on December 3 and I had just begun to re-read my book written by Richard Foster entitled Spiritual Disciplines on December 1... - this isn't the first time that God has brought this friend and I to the same topic at about the same time. Not the first time, not the only spiritual friend...WOW Isn't God great at building community. He does it thousands of miles apart. Living in His Body is an adventure of the spiritual side of life. He spreads His oil in this body/community!!!!!

"Discipline in the Christian life does indeed require effort, but it is an effort to reveal rather than to conquer. God always calls. To hear God's call and allow that call to guide our actions requires discipline in order to prevent ourselves from remaining or becoming spiritually deaf. There are so many activities distracting us that a serious effort is necessary if we are to become and remain sensitive to the divine presence in our lives." Quoted from Compassion see more from journey friend USA

mutating missionary

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Dancing with Failure

Ahh - the freshness of childhood
(fish tank in Chinese Restaurant)

7:00 am on my side of the ocean and 'SallySue Sun' has not poked her nose up yet.

Last evening she drifted below the horizon before 5:00 pm. I drug myself away from ‘Rafa’ my new musical companion (piano I purchased here in Germany) and stepped out into the brisk evening air, lights twinkling and dangling from barren trees, and excitement in the Weinachtzeit German air. The end of 2007 rapidly approaches.

As is my natural tendency this time of year, my thoughts are roaming over 2007. When that begins to happen, I roam over 2006, 2000, 1994, 1990… the years cascade across my thoughts and tickle my memories. Sitting in my local Chinese restaurant (below my apartment) I enjoy my first Christmas gift (a meal from my neighbor i.e. owner of said restaurant.)

As is also my natural tendency at this time of year, I begin to re-read the books that have become my staples over the years. These books always seem to re-establish me, remind me of my focus, and basically kick me back into shape. Ordering Your Private World by Gordon McDonald, Spiritual Disciplines by Richard Foster, and A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy.

So… last evening as I sat with my mentor, Gordon McDonald (not to be confused with the heavier and weightier George McDonald read) over a Chinese meal, I am reminded of my failures. If one was to list them… - oh Dear Sweet Jesus let’s not go there…

But God.

And within that one incomplete phrase lie the message I relish.

Morning finally breaks across the mountains of the Black Forest and I peer from my bedroom window; a smile begins its birth. Now it is a full-fledged belly-laugh. If one was of the mindset to title a life, my choice for the title of my life would be Dancing with Failure.

And yours?
Please share!!!
Your mutating, mutating, mutating missionary…