Planovers

index“Planovers.”

Someone across the table named what we were talking about: when you prepare enough food with a plan for the overage to supply later meals.

Planovers.

Sometimes we look in the frig to see what we can use for leftovers, but planovers are something different. They are more intentional.

I wonder how we can be just as intentional about our spiritual nourishment. What if we stopped worshiping, studying, or praying enough for the now, feasting for the moment but not investing in the future? Sure, we might pray for the future, but are we truly relinquishing the future, ready and willing to do exactly what is necessary in the here and now? Or are our prayers more about hopes and dreams that we continue to measure as we progress? We might worship in the present during weekend services yet wonder why we’re already spiritually exhausted on Monday afternoon. We might set aside blocks of time for study but we have difficulty remembering anything, or if we do remember, we compartmentalize it instead of applying it in our daily lives.

We feel like we just don’t have enough left over at times, but what if we planned an overage instead of just hoping for one? I know there are times we can (and should) only gather, hold, and use so much, like the Israelites and manna. But many other times, God gives us not what we need right now but something we can’t understand how we will need in the future. When we trust Him, rely on Him, and respond to Him well, even when we don’t understand, we have planovers, not because of our own planning but because of His.

And I am thankful.

 

The Difference Between Us and Them

259800a843d2b1dafa21b021b88e0ab2“So now, may my Lord’s power be magnified just as You have spoken: The Lord is slow to anger and rich in faithful love, forgiving wrongdoing and rebellion. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children to the third and fourth generation. Please pardon the wrongdoing of this people, in keeping with the greatness of Your faithful love, just as You have forgiven them from Egypt until now.” (Numbers 14:17-19)

We get reassurance from the promise that God “will not leave the guilty unpunished,” and we apply it to the “them” in our lives, often a “them” we categorize and distance ourselves from. It’s easier to make accusations from a distance. When we get close, we realize just how human people are. We see that we have much in common with “them.” Really, there is little difference between us and them. We are guilty, too.

We sometimes focus so much on the promise to punish the guilty that we forget the context of this promise, which also includes the reminder of God’s character of being slow to anger and rich in faithful love. Yes, God is just as much those things to “them” as He is just. He is just as much those things to “us” as He is just.

Also in these verses is a humble plea for God to pardon “their” wrongdoing, asking for forgiveness for “them.” It’s not a blaming, condemning plea. It’s not an assault on “them.” It’s a plea to God. There is no finger-pointing, declaring that YOU need God’s forgiveness. It’s having such compassion, gentleness, and mercy on people that we go to God on their behalf first and foremost, continually and confidently. We tear down the wall between us and them so that we stand and speak on their behalf.

 

 

What Notifications Do To A Prayer Life

When we grow accustomed to instant feedback and notifications, made possible by technology, we struggle to wait to hear from God.  We want instant feedback and answers. We want immediate approval and results. That’s not the way God works. As we get used to the immediacy technology affords, we begin to listen to and look for the constant input into our lives, and those voices begin to crowd out God’s.

We’d rather have something quick and inaccurate than use our patience to hear truth.

God has His own notifications, and they’re not usually instant. Sometimes they are. Sometimes they seem like a blinking light or alarming sound, but most of the time, God is quietly consistent and patient to respond to us. He wants us to be patient as we seek Him.

Praying isn’t about what we get from God; it’s about our relationship with Him. Are we willing to listen, pursue, seek, and wait? Or do we want God to fit into our timetables and schedules? What we see as urgent often isn’t, because what we learn through the process of waiting for and pursuing God is much more important to Him. He sees all of time and knows right now is important but is one moment that adds into many. It all matters, including how we respond to Him, demand of Him, and wait on Him.

Pray well.

Listen well.

Wait well.

 

I Love/Hate My Cell Phone

I have a love/hate relationship with my phone.

Setting all the convenient apps that help keep me organized aside, and even the social media that can keep me connected or distract me, my phone allows me to connect with the people I love, people I want to encourage, people who can help me find timely information, and so on.

When I was in college, living a state away from my parents and friends, I had to save up minutes to talk occasionally instead of instantly. It’s nice to now be able to reach out and connect anytime. It’s a bit like living side by side even when we’re not.

That’s why I love it.

And why I hate it.

Okay, hate is a bit of an exaggeration. Sometimes, it frustrates me. Sometimes, the expectations to answer and respond weigh on me. I’m glad to be available…and need a break at times. When my phones rings or vibrates, I’m faced with a choice of availability: Should I be available to the person who is contacting me or to the person sitting in front of me? Maybe I’m not actually with anyone, but I might be immersed in something important, and that is availability, too.

Availability isn’t just answering when someone calls. There’s more to it than that.

And when I’m honest with myself, I know I can take a break anytime I want. If there’s an emergency, people will find me. I’m not likely to turn off my phone, so someone will call back if they need me badly.

I walk away from my phone quite often. I have very few notifications turned on, and only one that makes a sound. The blinking light of alert really doesn’t alarm me or drive me crazy. I don’t have nomophobia (a fear of having no mobile phone)…at least in short intervals. I can wait quite a while before checking my phone, but not nearly as long as I’d last between calls to my parents years ago.

But times have changed. We have technology we didn’t have before, and it’s not going away. Staying in touch, being available, isn’t such a bad thing. It’s a good reminder that God is always available. He doesn’t reject our calls. He’s not screening His texts. He doesn’t block, unfollow, or report us. He’s ready, eagerly anticipating our contact. He wants to hear from us, whether it’s to share our day, frustration, doubt, or celebrations. But we have to let Him communicate, too. Our relationship with Him isn’t one-sided.

He’s available for you. Are you available for Him?

Choose well. Stay connected. Be present.

Everyday God: Get Some Rest

everydayBecause of the Games We Play with God, we’re digging into a new series this month to explore ways we can know God in the everyday of our lives. Today’s daily task? Get Some Rest!

Living in the everyday of God’s plan means living by his schedule and timing, and God is adamant about the balance of life. He tells us to work, and he tells us to rest. He set the example of intentional rest on the seventh day of Creation. Scripture is scattered with references of and commands to rest. We often excuse our own schedules and timelines, because we think we can keep things in balance. As if we can do a better job of balancing life than God can? (1) He created us, so he knows what we need. (2) He knows when we need what we need and how to best give it to us.

So, why oh why, do we not listen and forge ahead in our own strength, exhausting ourselves, then wondering why God is providing more strength and energy for us?

God didn’t create you to go, go, go and do, do, do. He created you to be. His plan is the best. It seems I have to learn that lesson over and over again. Sometimes I’m certain I have something completely figured out. I’m certain my way is the best, and in many cases, it works pretty well. Yet over time, the chinks in the wall I’ve built begin to crumble, and I realize I’ve done my own mortaring instead of letting God design, guide and provide. So, we do some clearing together and get back to the firm foundation and begin to build.

Yes, Lord, you’re way is best.

That includes rest. It’s in rest that we recuperate. It’s in rest that God restores us. It’s in rest that we have checks and balances, so instead of forging ahead and building the wall ourselves or creating and completing our own to-do lists, we’re quiet long enough to inquire, “Yes, Lord?” And when he answers, we can confidently proceed with “Yes, Lord!”

Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. (Matthew 11:28-29)

Everyday God: Watch the Story

everydayBecause of the Games We Play with God, we’re digging into a new series this month to explore ways we can know God in the everyday of our lives. Today’s daily task? Watch the Story!

I don’t hear many people talk about “their stories” very often anymore in the context of soap operas. I don’t know if soap operas have simply fallen out of vogue or if I’m running in non-soap opera circles. I know it’s not because people aren’t closely following television shows, because I see many posts when some shows air, especially when anticipated shows premiere. In early January of this year, I saw many posts about Downton Abbey, The Biggest Loser, and The Bachelor. Later this year, it will be Dancing with the Stars and (my favorite) So You Think You Can Dance. We certainly follow stories. Perhaps you’re more into the crime stories, news magazines, entertainment shows, or home improvement shows. You might like news programs, human interest stories, love stories, comedies, or sports. Even if you don’t watch television much, you mind be drawn to movies, internet sites, or books. You’re getting stories from somewhere.

The choices that you make about what you watch and in what stories you invest affect your life. I know, I know, so many people will respond with a flippant, “Really? Does it really matter all that much? I mean, it’s just entertainment!” I like entertainment, too! I enjoy going to a good movie (and eating buttered popcorn) or lazily watching a movie on a rainy afternoon; but I’m not naive enough to think the choices I make about my entertainment have no impact on me. The books I read, sites I visit, and shows I choose all influence me, because I let them into my mind and heart, as least for a brief window of my life. And then there’s the argument that as long as I enjoy it, it’s okay. After all, don’t I have the right to watch whatever I want?

Rights? Privileges? Well, we certainly have opportunities to choose. But just because we can choose something doesn’t mean we should. What should we choose and what should we avoid?

Know God.

What is drawing you into HIS story?

How is God weaving your story with your choices?

Know God today. Choose well.