Flood My Soul

Wrench my soul free from thirts

For lower things, frivolous thrills, wrench my soul

Flood my soul, ‘whelming fount

Abundantly fill with passionate fire, flood my soul

Keep my days for your glory

Secure my heart for your ways

I cling to you, oh Lord of all, strong Deliverer

All my life is yours

Surrender everything I am to you, my only hope

All my life is yours

Stir my soul, boundless Light

To humbly display your radiant love,  stir my soul

Keep my days for your glory

Secure my heart for your ways

I cling to you, oh Lord of all, strong Deliverer

All my life is yours

Surrender everything I am to you, my only hope

All my life is yours

Set my gaze to the Kingdom

Ignite my love for your name

I cling to you, oh Lord of all, strong Deliverer

All my life is yours

Surrender everything I am to you, my only hope

All my life is yours

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CrossFit as a Religion?

I stumbled upon this blog that compares CrossFit to Church. I think you should read it. It makes some very valuable points that church-goers can strive to provide while they are at church. Personally, I can use these are food for thought as I go to church on Sunday nights and how to be more welcoming. It’s easy at crossfit, let’s make it easy at church too.

Wisdom is knowledge applied correctly

The sermon this week was over Job, technically Job 1:1-22 but Kevin did a pretty good job covering the whole book.

There were several “unusual” aspects of the sermon this week – Kevin apologized at the beginning for being too passionate, Kevin lied at the beginning of his story, and I left with more questions than answers. All of these unusuals are good things for my understanding and relationship with God. My questions are below, listen to the sermon and let me know your thoughts…

  • Is suffering anything but not having the answers? Or not having perspective?
  • What do you do when you don’t have the answers?
  • How do we encounter God in the midst of our suffering? You need a relational encounter with the God of the universe.
  • What view of God shapes how you fill in the blanks?
  • We think that knowing “why” is sufficient but we need God. Job asks “why” and is answered by “who.”
  • How do you trust God in the midst of suffering? By celebrating community and rejoicing that in the fact that Jesus saves.
  • At the end of the day all you have is God – is that sufficient for you?

I have so much to learn about God. Some of it He will reveal to me and some He will wait until we get to heaven. I do know that God uses suffering for the good of His Kingdom. Always. Every time. You can count on it. You can believe in it.

5 P’s

Wednesday night was my first member meeting at church. It was a wonderful time to celebrate as a family of faith what has been accomplished with our building fund to date and to worship with God.

Kevin, one of our elders, said he has been praying for us using 5 P’s and encouraged us to do the same.

  • Plain – Lord, please come into my life in all the plain, mundane places. Please capture my heart while I’m brushing my teeth, preparing a document, walking to the car. Help me to search for you in the dark corners and wide open spaces of my life.
  • Pneumatic – God, please empower me. Fill me with the Holy Spirit. Help me to be like pneumatic equipment, always ready to fire for you in an instant to make a positive difference.
  • Passionate – I want to be passionate about you Lord in all that I do. People should see your face reflected in my actions. Father, please take over my desires and passions for other things and turn them to you.
  • Pleading – Lord help me to be a Christian that prays at every chance I get. Help me to understand the moments when I should be praying.
  • Plodding – Help us to trod the path you have before us, Lord. Help us to continue doing things as you would have us to fulfill your purpose.

 

Haiti

I promised to tell you about my membership interview at Redeemer Fellowship here in Kansas City. If you’re ever in the area and need some food for your soul, you should come in for service. (They also post the sermons each Sunday if you never find yourself in KC and need some spiritual healing too). This church has changed my life in ways only God can orchestrate and I am beyond thankful.

A year or so ago I was in a downward spiral of selfishness and bad habits. My friend (turned roommate) Rachel invited me to go to this church that she loves. I put her off for several months before I gave in and I’ve been there every Sunday I’m in KC since! I thank God daily for putting her in my life. I quickly signed up for the membership class, called Redeemer DNA, to figure out if I wanted to join a church again. I had struggled, and ultimately let myself blame God for actions of a church in Austin and had been using that as the perfect excuse to do whatever I wanted to…

Part of joining Redeemer is taking the class, another part is donating your time and talents so I began to read scripture during worship services. I love to speak to large groups of people, although I prefer to wing-it and not have anything rehearsed. I actually get nervous before reading when I have to say things correctly and even more nervous if the audience knows that I’m supposed to be saying. I find myself leaning on God to be able to make it to the front of the church without tripping and then pronouncing everything correctly without squeaking. It’s been a wonderful learning opportunity for me when I didn’t think it was really going to be.

The final part of the membership process is the membership interview with one of the pastors. “Membership interview” is really the wrong terminology but the english language (language in general) is inadequate to describe this situation. “Pastor meet-and-greet” gets closer to actuality but passes the cheesy line as well….This is not an interview because there is no judgement on if you get to be a member or not, no right or wrong answers. This is a conversation between you and pastor about what you believe in and where you stand in your life. They want to be able to call you by name on Sunday morning. They want to understand what you are struggling with so they can respond to it. They want to make connections and point you in directions of growth.

My growth came from a couple different directions during the course of this conversation. I was talking about how I’m feeling restless and how I’ve been praying for God to send me in his direction in regards to physically where I’m living, and not about living with Rachel or in an apartment or something else, but rather about what city and state and country I should be living in. We delved into the discussion about how I move around to avoid conflict and deep emotional connections with people – it’s easier to move than to tell someone why I don’t like what they are doing. I’ve been working on this but still have this sense of restlessness.

I then focused on trying to balance my work and my life and my faith. I compartmentalize events and escape them by going to work. If I don’t want to deal with something then I simply have to go to work and deal with something else. I have more control with work. I’m now balancing (most of the time) my work demands and creating space in my life for God to work.

All this space has left me with a restlessness on how to fill it. I’ve thought about joining another ministry team at church but just haven’t had one speak to me yet. Evan (my pastor) asked if I had ever thought about going to Haiti with the church for a mission trip. I quickly blurted two (ridiculous) responses: “I don’t like hugging babies, it’s not my thing” and “I question the effectiveness of doing short term mission trips because they tend to validate the goer and not the receivers.”

Evan smiled, got thoughtful, and told me to pray about it before explaining that this trip was to figure out how the church can me more productive in a long-term relationship with the Haiti Orphan Project. He suggested I consider going because of the leadership skills I have and that it was not all about hugging babies.

So I prayed.

And then I signed up to go on the trip. I leave April 30th and come back May 6th.

This is about glorifying God, loving children, and helping develop opportunities for other people in the church to do the same. This is not about me. This is not about my comfort zone. This is about hugging children because they do not have anyone else to hug. This is about learning how other people spend their lives. This is about listening to God work and move in my life and the world. If I pray for an answer and don’t like the one He gives me, I cannot keep praying for answers.

I ask that you pray for this trip. Please pray for safe travels, open hearts and minds, resilient stomachs, and for this to touch and move hundreds of people to action.

Ah! Here we are again – it’s been a week since I last posted and so much has happened.

I’ll start with my disastrous week at CrossFit. I went on Monday morning at we did overhead squats and burpees. I actually love both of those things even though I am exhausted when I’m done with them every time. My back is not stretchy enough to facilitate  the lowest overhead squats you’ve ever seen (or anything close to them) but I feel accomplished with making marked improvements every time. My back was so sore Monday afternoon that I actually left work early to come home and lay down.

Gospel Community is Monday nights and I spent mine in all sorts of contorted positions trying to pay attention to the other ladies in the group. I even offered up my hurting back onto the prayer list. I am quite picky as to which moments in my life make their way onto the prayer list since I know I will be expected to talk about them weekly for the next six months or so. My mother is also a very private person and has taught me to keep up appearances of togetherness to others, especially church-going others. However, I couldn’t sit down comfortably so I figured multiple prayers were far better than just my own.

I awoke Tuesday morning to no pain in my back and was thanking God all day. Work was pretty slow but I’m between big projects right now and the little ones I am working on are taking less and less time and focus. Tuesday night is also game night. We played fishbowl which is always fun. Everyone writes three phrases, things, people, places, etc on three pieces of paper and puts them in the bowl. The first round is catch phrase, the second is charades  the third is only one word and the fourth is sounds. Your team is trying to guess as many of the words as possible in each round. The team with the most points at the end of the fourth round is the winner.

I am always fascinated by the choices people make to put on their cards and my the associations the mind makes with those words for you to remember the correct guesses. It’s been refreshing to be making friends from our church after nine months of not knowing anybody except the people we walked in with. It’s also fun to be around a group of people that do not feel the need to go to the bar every night for a good time. My Kiewit days still hold some scars of that…

Wednesday morning I decided to go back to CrossFit. I was feeling really good and want to be back into working out on a regular basis. (I also need to start running again since my next half marathon is less than a month away…). The WOD was power snatches and double unders – two activities I’m working on getting better. The third double under I was trying to complete after time had started generates a shearing pain in my left shoulder that radiated down my arm to my fingers and proceeded to leave my left arm numb. I dropped the jump rope and held my arm for the duration of the WOD. I was committed to not crying at the box and that was all I could manage to do.

I ended up at my roomie’s chiropractor in Lee’s Summit. Dr. Joe is amazing!! I found out that I have a 10 degree curvature in my back (T1-T5) and that my neck is too straight which has been applying pressure to the muscles in my shoulders for my entire life. These things, combined with how I sleep, has caused my vertebrae to twist which allows my ribs to dislocate/un-align. Wednesday morning, I dislocated on rib and managed to pinch a nerve in my shoulder when it slide out of place which is what caused all the pain. So good news/bad news – the pinched nerve and sliding ribs are fixable, the curved back and straight neck are manageable but not curable.

I started my treatments of decompression therapy, e-stems and adjustments last week. My shoulder is still sore but not painful (thank God!!). I will continue to go to the chiropractor three times a week for the next month or two and then we’ll see…

Wednesday afternoon, Thursday and Friday I basically spent on my couch with a bag of ice under my shoulder. It means I should be working right now to make up some hours but I’m probably going to just take PTO.

Friday night people from church went out dancing to celebrate Paula’s birthday. I went but wore an arm splint so no one would grab my left arm and pull (that’s still very painful) and I didn’t jump or dance that much. I was a little afraid to mess up the work the doctor had already done. Plus I was pretty tired, as that was the most time I had been vertical in three days!

Yesterday I had my membership interview at Redeemer so I am officially a member of the church now!! YAY!! I’ll make another post about it but it went very well. It’s emotionally draining to talk about your problems and relationship with Christ for two hours but it was very beneficial and I’ve been thinking quite a bit about it since.

I followed that up by helping with the Special Olympics Swim Meet for several hours before succumbing to the comforts of my couch to watch it snow all evening. That’s right – I said snow! It’s the end of March and we just got 6-10 inches on the ground last night.

Snow March 2013

Current Events

Lately I’ve been pretty down on myself, more specifically on my body image. I’ve been working really hard to loose weight with my thyroid condition. Progress has been pretty good until about 6 weeks ago. I try not to freak out when a pound or two show up on the scale but in the last 6 weeks I’ve gained 10…time to talk to the doctor…again…

In the meantime, I’ve re-focused on eating clean and working out. So yesterday was a workout marathon in response to my work trip to Baton Rouge Louisiana where I ate cajun food (and lots of it!) for two days.

Sidebar: the work trip went well. I travelled with someone I hadn’t travelled with before which is always challenging. My project manager and the corporate quality manager went with me to kick-off a section of work for this project. So far, so good on this scope of work. A trip to Bergeron’s for the Avery Special, Louisiana Lagniappe for crawfish cakes, crab cakes, red wine, louisanne black drum and then Zataran’s Kitchen for sausage and chicken jambalaya made for some good eatin’!

Typically when I get home from travelling I just want to sit on my couch, by myself, and clean out the DVR or go to sleep in my own bed. However, my roommate is pretty good about not letting me do that alone. Friday night she suggested we go out with people she has met at church.

I had a great time! We went to Denim and Diamonds, a country line dancing bar north of the river. I’ve never seen so many line dances to so many different songs before and I’m from Texas!! It was awesome to meet new people and spend time dancing, it had been 2 years since I’d gone line dancing.

So Saturday morning, I went to bootcamp at 9:30am to celebrate one of my ol’ ladies turning 51. She asked that we all come and see where she has started working as a personal trainer. She kicked our butts!

Bootcamp Workout: 40 min AMRAP of 20 reps each exercise

  • Straddle box jumps
  • Overhead squats
  • Kettleball Swings
  • Tricep curlbacks
  • Burpee Push-ups

I finished 4.5 rounds. The couple beers the night before were not as inclined to be working out as I was…

CrossFit came at 11am

WOD: Grace – 30 clean and jerks – 4:18 with 55#

Finisher: 2 min front squats 55# – 18 reps

I was pretty gased from the burpees earlier but I’m satisfied with my workout. Grace is one of my favorite hero workouts – much better than Fran haha

I got my haircut and then went over to LifeTime Fitness in Lenexa. I used to be a member there with a personal trainer. When I started my new job, I quit the gym because it is so expensive and so far out of the way from the rest of my “new” life. I still keep up with my personal trainer. He had picked up my race information and shirt for me when he was Austin since I couldn’t run because of my ears. He gave me a pass to workout with him since I drove over to pick up my race stuff.

It was great to see him, even for just two minutes. I did 100 reverse crunches with a 6# medicine ball between my legs and then 30 pull-ups. I practices some clean and jerks with  some back squats. At this point, my legs and low back were done so I went downstairs to sit in the hot tub (the real reason I wanted a pass to the gym). Unfortunately, there was a thunderstorm with lightening so they had closed the pools. I went home and little disappointed, and very sore…

The plan for last night was to go to sleep early but after taking a 3 hour nap, I went over to Blue Moose to meet my ol’ lady to celebrate but I went to the wrong location. I didn’t feel like making the 100 block trip south to the right restaurant so I went over to the house of some people I met Friday night to eat dinner and talk. Originally, we were going to play games but we were all pretty tired and just hung out. It was awesome to talk about the Bible, creationism vs evolution, CS Lewis, Orthodox Jews, and country line dancing with some amazing people. I’m blessed to be meeting great people! 🙂

Spiritual Gifts

1 Corinthians 12 :4-11

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, bu the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds fo tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each on individually as he wills.”

Spiritual gifts are not abilities. Spiritual gifts are opportunities to minister that are appointed by the Spirit of God and empowered by the Spirit of God, for the ministry of the Spirit of God and to unify the body of Christ which is the Church.

Unlike the spiritual gifts tests we take much like personality tests for work and potential career paths, spiritual gifts are from the Holy Spirit whom dwells within us and means that we are never alone. These tests are not helpful because they are not Biblical and in fact, they constrict us to think that we only have one spiritual gift. It proves us with an excuse to not act when the Holy Spirit provides us an opportunity to.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 1 Corinthians 12:28-31, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4:20-11 all list spiritual gifts but they are actually ministries and roles, not gifts in the sense that we think about gifts. In fact, the Greek word that translates into “gifts” is used 17 times in the New Testament (16 times by Paul) but never means ability. It is always used to mean “that which is freely bestowed or given.” Like a present.

These lists also provide a huge amount of diversity and in this diversity we find needs that connect us to each other. In the body of Christ, we cannot function by ourselves. Only the Spirit of God can unite the Church (1 Corinthians 12: 27).

So what to do?

  • Stop asking “where can I use my gift” and start asking “where is God pointing me to a need in the Church to serve?”
  • Pray for clarity. Pray to understan the needs of the body. Pray for the Holy Spirit to equip you in God’s time of opportunity.
  • Serve. Serve someone. Sever someplace. Serve somehow.
  • Make some friends. Have community. Work thru the awkward times of first introductions to really develop relationships with people.

Mark 10:45

This sermon was very interesting to me because I have never made the straight connection between opportunities and my spiritual gifts before. God only gives you the gifts you need for the situations He is calling you into.

For more discussion on this sermon please visit http://www.reedemerkansascity.org to listen to the whole sermon.

Unity thru Holy Communion

1 Corinthians 11:17-24

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of Godby humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together.34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

And when I come I will give further directions.

Unity at the table is a result of unity in the table (Jesus Christ). We celebrate communion each week at Redeemer Fellowship because we need that much help and remembrance.

Verses 18-19 discuss how the church at Corinth liked the divisions that were created based on class, communion location, and communion time. They liked the divisions, just like us, because it allows the self-righteous to be recognized.

Verses 20-22 highlight the class divisions between all the members.

When you are divided in faith, you miss the entire point of how God brings everyone together. You can eat the supper but you cannot celebrate it because you do not understand the meal.

Galatians 3:26-19 discusses Jesus coming to reconcile people to God in order to create a family. Revelation 19:6-9 discussed this family being fully redeemed with one voice declaring God as Lord and celebrating in an eternal wedding party. Anything you pursue for unity will only divide you unless you are pursuing Jesus. This is also portrayed in verse 26.

At Redeemer we have tribal divisions (instead of obvious class divisions) that include social justice, age, sex, gender, marital status, children status, a holiness people (based on James 1:27), anti-commitment people (those who leave right after communion and show up late for service), people who hold out forgiveness towards others.

Verses 33-34 discuss Paul’s instructions for how to unify people at the table and make the meal about Jesus. Wait for one another, eat at home, remove the class issues.

Please visit Redeemer Fellowship online to listen to the whole sermon. It’s a good one. Pretty specific to our congregation but with wide applications.

Holy Communion

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

The sermon tonight was about Holy Communion. My roommate and I attended church at Redeemer Fellowship (www.redeemerkansascity.org) with a couple of mutual friends. It was one of those friends’ first time in a church (not on Christmas or Easter) in almost 10 years! I was nervous when we first got there but thankfully God calmed my heart so I could focus on what Kevin was preaching.

Kevin talked about how the different denominations within Christianity act out these passages from the Catholics who think the bread and wine are literally Jesus’ body to the Lutherans who think Jesus is the presence around the sacraments, to us, who know this is just bread and wine from the grocery store but that we are symbolically acting out Jesus’ love and commitment to us. Communion links the one unique sacrifice of Jesus on the cross with God’s promise to come again as often as we celebrate communion (which is every week at Redeemer).

Kevin also discussed the juice vs. wine debate. I had never really thought about this discussion too much before but apparently this is an American and recent struggle. A Methodist minister named Thomas Welch started making juice to offer his congregation during the prohibition era. Thomas later left the faith to become the well known juice maker of Welch’s juice and a dentist (moral judgement to you – he sold sugary drinks for kids and then side-lined fixing those same teeth). Redeemer has used juice in the past because they did not want to be a stumbling block for those struggling with alcoholism but tonight announced that we will have wine (and juice) sine that is what Jesus chose to bless – two of the most common elements available at that time.

Jesus taught us about communion during the passover meal. A meal that was full of ceremony and important steps to ensure that your family was passed over by the spirit during the plagues of Egypt (the last of these killing the first born sons of the family). Instead of progressing the meal as usual, Jesus took the bread and cup and told the disciples that it was actual him that they were celebrating – not the slaughtering of a four-legged lamb. Imagine celebrating Christmas each year and then one year when you’re in your mid-20s, having a family friend tell you that the holiday is actually all about them. This is basically what Jesus was doing when he taught the disciples communion for the first time.

I am sure glad that they got it right. There are lots of aspects of the Christian faith that require belief and actions of us to demonstrate God’s love to the rest of the world but communion is one action that God gave to us to tangibly act out our faith. Every time we eat the bread and drink from the cup we are renewing our faith in the promise that Jesus will come again and that his death more than covered up our sins before God.

The four of us went out to dinner after the service and discussed different aspects of the message and our upbringings. It was nice to have an open conversation about differences within denominations. The food at Aladdin’s is always worth the trip too!

I also stopped by Starbucks and had a quick cup of coffee with a lady from the church. I have decided to join the Scripture Reading ministry team. She gave me some basic training and got to know me before taking down my schedule for the next couple months. Hopefully I’ll be able to start impacting the worship experience at Redeemer pretty soon!