The Glory of the Ordinary – Chosen on Purpose

Glory of the Ordinary

Have you ever wondered about your purpose in life? Maybe you look at your job, your kids, or your living situation and think, “Is there anything extraordinary about me? Or am I just ordinary?”

We’ve all had questions like those. We know God has a specific purpose for us, but sometimes it’s hard to see how God can use our ordinary lives to make a difference.

I bet that’s how some of the Levites felt too. We’re going to take a look through Numbers 3. I know what you’re thinking…Numbers? Really? But yes, even Numbers can teach us something about our purpose when we feel ‘ordinary.’

Numbers 3 lists the duties of the Levites. You might think this would be a coveted clan to be born into. But not all Levities were priests.

“Assign Levites to Aaron and his sons. They have been given from among all the people of Israel to serve as their assistants.”

Numbers 3:9

Yep.

They were ‘assistants.’ Plain, ordinary, assistants. They served in caring for the Tabernacle (vs. 25), the care of the sanctuary (vs. 28), the ark/table/lamp stand (vs. 31) and all the frames supporting the Tabernacle (vs. 36).

You might think they had a big job. Which is true, but I wonder if every one of them saw it that way. Think about the people in your church who vacuum the floors, clean the toilets, and take out the trash. They might feel as if they are doing ‘ordinary’ work. They might even feel more like ‘assistants’ to the pastor or other staff.

And the truth is, you might feel that way in your own life. But we are called to ‘step out of the ordinary.’ 1st Peter 2:9 says,

“…for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

1st Peter 2:9

We are all called to be a part of this Levitical tribe. And the best thing about being a part of this family is that God clearly states in Numbers 3:12, “The Levites belong to Me.” And that is nothing but extraordinary!

So when you feel ‘ordinary,’ remember that you are called with the purpose of showing God’s goodness to others. And that is no ordinary task!

Living for Later vs Living for Now

I remember when fall was just beginning last year. The leaves were turning colors and the air was crisp. We were just transitioning from September to October. Halloween items began creeping into store and in the back, the Christmas items had been set out too. I always found it a bit odd to bring out Christmas decorations so early. (And I, for one, love Christmas time.)

Now that the holidays are over, it’s barely January and the stores are decked out with Valentine’s Day gifts and some spring items as well. Why is it that we are always looking for the ‘next big thing?’ We have 8 people living in our home – my husband and our six children. None of us share a birthday month. That means, 8 months out of the year we are celebrating someone who made it through another year of life. And as soon as one celebration ends, we begin to look forward to the next.

But are we spending too much time looking at what’s ahead and forgetting to live in ‘today?’ Instead of living in the moment, why do we work and plan for the next big event or big adventure? Are we missing out on the day to day blessings because we’re too focused on the future?

I’m guilty of this. I also know there is nothing bad about planning and preparing for the future. But when our minds become so focused on what’s ahead instead of what’s right now, we can easily miss out on our own lives.

Let’s be mindful of today. How can you make the most out of your ‘now?’ Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer. All I can do is my best to try and stay in the moment, be thankful for the ‘now,’ while trusting God with my future.

What about you? How do you live for each day? Or, what holds you back from experiencing life as it’s happening instead of life as it will be? It’s the difference between ‘living’ and being ‘alive.’ Because I do believe there is a difference.

Food for thought.

The 2020 Vision

2020 Vision

As 2019 comes to a close, many of us will take the time to reflect on the past and prepare for the future. The New Year can bear an array of emotional feelings – excitement, joy, accomplishment, but also regret, remorse, or mournful. Whether you accomplished all your 2019 New Year’s Resolutions or none of them, how do we prepare our hearts, our homes, and our ministries for 2020? May I suggest, that we begin with a 2020 vision.

It doesn’t matter what your goals are for 2020. They may be personal, spiritual, physical – they may be within your home, your church, or another ministry; whatever the case, if you want to accomplish them – and I mean REALLY accomplish them, you need a ‘game plan.’ There are many websites and articles about how to accomplish specific goals, but this post isn’t about that.

How we do have a TRUE 2020 vision and accomplish almost any goal you set out to achieve? Might I suggest a 2020 vision, a path, dedicated entirely to the Lord? You will wake up tomorrow with (God willing) 365 days ahead of you in this New Year. That’s 365 chances to wake up and say, “Good Morning, Lord.” That’s 365 chances to make a difference – to finally make the change.

It doesn’t matter what your goals are for 2020. Invite the Lord into ALL of them. And make Him a priority. Do you want Joy in the 2020 season? The Bible says,

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2

Delight in the law of the Lord by meditating on it day and night. Let Him in on your goals, your secrets, and your desires. He will give you the strength to accomplish anything!

You can be sure of this:

The Lord set apart the godly for himself.

    The Lord will answer when I call to him

Psalm 4:3

What’s your vision for 2020? What goals do you want to achieve? Let me know in the comments below. And, as always, Live Life on Purpose!

Breaking Free: How to Stop Believing the Lies

In my last post, Legalism and Lies, I outlined specific lies we tend to believe about ourselves. How do we break free from those lies? We use the Bible. Let’s search for the truth behind the Gospel and stop believing what ‘culture’ tells us. Let’s break free from legalism.

The Lies We Believe

1. I don’t read my Bible everyday. I’m not good enough.

But the Bible doesn’t say that the ‘readers of the word’ will be redeemed. James 1:21-22 says receive the word with meekness – or gentleness – and be doers of the word. Yes, it’s good read our Bibles. But that doesn’t earn our way into Heaven. If we go through a season and find ourselves struggling… I’m not good enough. But the Jesus inside me is.

2. I watched an R rated movie…I’m not worthy of the Gospel

But if I decide in my heart to put on the robe of righteousness, Revelation 3:4 “they shall walk with him in white for they are worthy” then we become worthy – not because of anything I have or haven’t done. But because of what Jesus has already on the cross for me.

3. I said a bad word when I got angry. I’m not strong enough.

Psalm 46:1 God is our strength.

4. I’m scared to pray out loud. I’m not spiritual enough. 

But perfect love casts out fear. 

1 John 4:18

5. I get depressed and I don’t know why….

Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” — He can’t be near to the brokenhearted if our hearts aren’t broken

6. I can’t memorize these verses! I’m just not smart enough…

But I can do my best. And God sees and acknowledges that. That’s why Jesus simplified even the 10 commandments by breaking it down into: Love the Lord. Love your neighbors. I can remember that.

7. This is too hard …

2 Corinthians 12:9 God says, “I like it when you are weak. Because my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

His power is made perfect in your weakness. What is holding you back? Have you been living as a Pharisee? – putting all these conditions and locks on your heart because of your own thoughts about yourself or what you have to do? 

We don’t need all these ‘rules’ and ‘extra’ stuff for God to love us. He already does. It’s time to stop believing the lies and start searching for the truth in His Word.

Legalism and Lies: Part Two

In my last post, The Rise of the Pharisees and Legalism in the Church, I discussed how the Pharisees became so legalist in their viewpoint of the Old Testament Law that they actually pushed people away from following God. They simply made it too hard. But don’t we do the same thing today? What are the common lies we believe about the Gospel? About ourselves?

Extra Rules and Cultural Influences

What kind of cultural influences or ‘extra rules’ have we added which make following Christ seem more like a burden? Are we turning people away from the Gospel because we make it too hard? Are we shaming ourselves into believing we’re not good enough because we make it too hard?

I grew up with a legalistic view of the church. Here are some ‘rules’ that were given to me as a kid:

  1. You can’t eat lucky charms…because as Christians, we don’t believe in luck.
  2. We don’t watch 100 Dalmatians…because Cruella Devil’s name is spelled like devil.
  3. We don’t go to the movie theater…because we don’t want people to think we’re seeing something inappropriate. 

I grew up in a small town. When the movie, The Passion of Christ came out in 2004, the pastors in our church drove 30 minutes to a nearby bigger city just to see it – so no one from our congregation would see them and think they were seeing another film. They did not want to have the ‘appearance of evil.’ 

Just think for a moment about your own holiday traditions. How many family arguments begin over how we’re going to celebrate Christmas, or Easter? Times that are supposed to be celebrated as ‘Christian tradition’ quickly turn into disputes over trivial details. Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, A Christmas tree – wisemen on the manger scene…

Do you see how easy it is to lock God away and presume a cultural view of Christianity? Think about other cultures for a moment. America is known as a ‘Christian’ nation. When people in Asia, or Africa, or India, think about America, what do they see? If they were to Google ‘America’ – pictures related to Hollywood, Taylor Swift, Brittany Spears, Michael Jackson…think about the cultural movements happening today that would show up. 

From an outsider’s perspective, how is the culture of Christianity reflected in our nation? If you live in Asia and think ‘American = Christian’, would that bring your closer to the Gospel or push you further away? Let’s reverse it. 

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear ‘Iran? Iraq? Saudie Arabia? North Korea?’ Do their cultural norms reflect places and a people you would want to be associated with? Probably not. But here’s an interesting fact – Some of the countries, which send out the most missionaries per capita – meaning compared to the population – to spread a ‘Jesus following’ or a Christian message are South Korea, Mongolia, Palestine, and even China…in fact a 2012 study cited that America actually receives more missionaries than many other countries. 

People are coming TO America to try and make us Christian.    

The word ‘Christian’ is used 3 times in the Bible. And one of those uses was an insult. 

Paul is speaking with King Agrippa, pleading his case and the King said, “Do you think you can persuade ME to be a Christian?” It’s a challenge. 

But let’s take this down to a personal level. What happens when we push God away and presume a cultural and personal view of the Gospel? What keeps us from getting inside? We don’t want God to see our shame, or our guilt. If God is far from us, he can’t be touched by our own uncleanliness. You may have good intentions…so did the Pharisees. But what’s holding you back? 

Let’s think about the common viewpoints of Christian Culture. 

In order to be a good Christian, I must… 

  1. Read my Bible everyday …but what happens when we don’t? We’re shamed into thinking “I’m not good enough.” 
  2. …Never watch an R rated movie…maybe not even PG-13…..So what happens when I do? “I’m not worthy enough – I don’t deserve God” 
  3. …Never say a cuss word….so what happens the next time I bump my toe, or lose my temper, or just slip up?… “I’m not strong enough.”
  4. …Always volunteer to pray….. In fact, if I were to say “let’s pray” – what’s the first thing you would do? Even this is cultural. If I look around the room and say, “let’s pray” most of you would bow your head and close your eyes. I went to China in 2010 and when someone said ‘Let’s Pray’ there, everyone’s hands went up in the air. Is one way right, or wrong? No. But our culture might say so – Growing up, every time it was time to pray in Sunday School our teacher would shout ‘heads bowed, eyes closed, hands folded and in your lap.’ Then you would laugh at the kid who would tell on someone for having their eyes open during prayer – “Miss Morgan, Jaimie had her eyes open.”… how do you know? Did you see her?…If you don’t volunteer to pray you think… “I’m not spiritual enough.” 
  5. ..Memorize the the Bible…yes, the whole thing! “I’m just not smart enough.” 
  6. …Listen to Christian Music – ONLY – dress a certain way, walk a certain way, talk a certain way – Do this, don’t do that… “It’s too hard.” 
  7. …I must always be happy – Christians don’t get sad, or upset, or depressed…so when we do we think, “What’s wrong with me? God can’t see me like this? I am not enough” 

What lies do you believe about yourself? About God? About the Bible? 

We will always put our culture on the Bible. It’s how we relate to the stories and make it personal to us. It’s human nature. When we do this, or, at least when I do, I tend to reframe scripture to make it fit into a way that makes sense to me

Or, perhaps you tend to shy away from the Bible because it’s hard to understand. “I just  don’t get it.” So, we just skip the parts that are too complicated. 

We forget that we live in a different culture and therefore, we don’t have the same understanding of the Gospel – unless we begin to put ourselves in the cultural mindset of Jesus. That’s how we get down to the truth – and stop believing the lies. 

How do we fight those lies? Find out in my Next Blog Post! Questions or comments? Contact Me, or leave a comment below!

Slow Down…Be Still

It’s cliche. But life seems to go by so fast. All. The. Time. It doesn’t seem to stop. We keep going from one thing to the next with out room to breathe in between. But what happens when you’re forced to slow down? What happens when life makes you take a break? What could happen if we are simply STILL?

I was forced to slow down this week. An old back injury that creeps up every now and again flared up and I was left without the ability to carry out my normal routine. I wasn’t able to perform household chores. I wasn’t able to go to the gym. I was barely able to get out of bed most days.

At first, I was upset – that’s putting it nicely. I was frantic and thought I was going to go insane. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband and a great support system at home…and, after a few days of pouting and coming to the realization that I was going to take it easy whether I wanted to or not, I actually began enjoy the slower pace.

There is a reason why the Bible tell us to “Be still.”

Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

When we take time to slow down – to see what life really has to offer, we find that God is in control. And if we let Him control our schedules, our time, and our pace we just might find that life – in all it’s craziness – can be peaceful.

Why do we stress about our time, our money, our future, or even about today? Because we want to be in control. When we are still, we have the opportunity to KNOW God. If we focus on God, and not our schedules, we will see that He is God – and He’s got this.

Even in the midst of a busy schedule, take the time to Know God. Slow down – even for a minute. You’ll be glad you did!

Be Still and KNOW that I am GOD!