Saturday, January 29, 2011

give the reason...

Many of us have in our "living as New Creations" comes in the form of an inability to speak about what God has done/is doing in our lives.  I see this often in my teens, whose usual high decibel level drops significantly at the question, "What is God doing in your life?"  For whatever reason, we kind of approach the topic as this picture might suggest:
When we share something vulnerable about ourselves, it usually involves a risk.  This is just one of the tons of benefits of marriage that can fight the usual "ball and chain" metaphor.  Within marriage we find a safe covenant context for sharing a "living vulnerability".  But I'm not talking about marriage here today.
To share what God is doing in our lives involves putting ourselves "out there" in a way that we usually don't feel is guaranteed to produce great results.  Even in a faith setting, often Christians are quick to smile and love their neighbor, and less anxious to say "this past week, God has been working on my heart toward....".  We know that if we give a bit of ourselves away like this, we may not receive anything in return.

Lately in reading Neil Cole's "Cultivating a Life for God", I've not only been reminded of the importance of doing this for our own sake, but also for the sake of the living, breathing, transformational message of the gospel that has so much to offer TODAY, not to mention into the infinite.  Many of us have realized how much "getting people saved in order to avoid hell" kinda rubs us the wrong way.  We want to offer people more than that, but in my experience the conversations end there.  At least the "avoid hell" people are talking.

We need to be people who are not only transformed by, and experiencing the NEW LIFE of Jesus Christ in our life today - we must SPEAK OF IT.  Be involved in God's Kingdom-proclaiming/bringing work and share the stories with each other and with people who have yet to realize Christ as Lord!!  This is definitely worth "putting ourselves out there"...and not because of the line "Because Jesus put himself out there for you."....but because to keep God's bondage-breaking, sin-forgiving, new-life-offering presence to ourselves - seems sinful.

Are you different today because of Christ?  Tell someone.  Is God doing something in your heart and life right now?  Talk about it.  Do you desire God to move in your life in a new way?  Confess that desire, and pray with someone.

1 Peter 3:15 - "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,"

Step 1 from this verses seems to be "have hope".  Obviously this is the same source of hope for everyone, but the verse here doesn't say "say _____________" when people ask you the reason for the hope that you have.  Why not?  Because it's YOUR story.  What God has done/is doing in your life.

A good place to start may be asking the question - "What is the story I would tell someone else right now?"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mi Taqueria

          If you live in or near Decatur, IL - you NEED to try this place.  Her dad used to cook at/own the Korn Krib, and she's passionate about good food.  Her portions are huge, the food is always cooked AFTER you order it, and she uses ingredients that even the local "Mexican Restaurants" don't worry about providing.  It's located near the corner of Woodford and Mound road, in the shopping plaza, where the "White Hen" convenience store used to be.  In fact, it still looks like the old store, except for a few picnic tables in the middle and a couple large TV's.  They may worry about ambiance eventually - but for now the focus is on providing great authentic fresh Mexican food at a very nice price.

Open Mon-Sat, 11am-8pm  - 3715 N Woodford Street
217-521-5389
So here you go - support your local business!!!

They offer 3 different kinds of in-house made salsa's, fresh cilantro, and incredible Mexican cheese, as well as high-quality fresh corn and flour tortillas.

(Meats: Beef Tongue, Steak, Ground beef, Chicken, Marinated Pork, Chorizo)
Tacos - 1.95
Mexican Torta - 4.95
Kay's Torta - 4.95
Burrito (HUGE) - 5.95
Taco Salad - 5.95
Quesadilla (HUGE) - 5.95
Nachos - 5.95

Mini-Nachos - 1.75
Mini burrito - .99
Mini quesadilla - 2.95
Mini Taco Salad - 2.95
Cheese Quesadilla - 2.25
Beans - 1.75

Chicken Gizzards - 4.95
Chicken Livers - 4.95
Pork Tenderloin Sandwich - 4.95
Wings (8) - 5.95
Homemade Chips or Onion Rings added - 1.75

KIDS: (served w/beans or homemade chips) Taco - 2.95, Cheese Quesadilla - 2.95, Hot Dog - 3.25, Chicken Nuggets - 3.95

Drinks: Bottled Water - 1.00, Juices - 1.50, Bottled Soda - 1.75, Gatorade - 2.25

Daily Specials: Monday - Burrito's 4.50, Tuesday - .99 Ground beef tacos, Wednesday - Wings just .50 each, Thursday - Buy 2 tacos, get 1 free, Friday - Nachos 4.25, Saturday - Gizzards/Livers 3.50

TRY THEM TODAY!!!!!  SEND THIS LINK TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS!!! 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

expectations.

Quick sidenote:  I just realized I haven't blogged in like 2 weeks.  No complaints, so I'm not worried.  But in case you were wondering, I'm spending some of my free writing time working on some other stuff.  Stuff that I'd love to get published someday.  Pipedream or solid shot....who knows.  Enjoying it anyway, and one way or another, it'll be available eventually. :)  So if you notice me being silent blog-wise, you know why that might be.  Yell at me to post, and I probably will.

Been thinking lately about the story of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee who both went to pray, found in Luke 18.  The Pharisee thanks God that he's not wicked like other people.  The tax collector won't even look up, beats his breast, and prays for mercy - confessing his sinful and undeserving state.  Jesus tells his listeners that the tax collector goes home "justified" here.

Usually when we hear this story, it's a reminder that we need to approach God with more humility, recognizing our need for His mercy, etc.  It's true, even in our daily walk, those of us who have grown up in Church-life automatically "look down" on others bound by certain sins - usually without even realizing it. 

Recently, God's been using the same story in a new way.  I think those of us familiar with this story, may be experiencing lukewarm prayer-lives.  Wanting to model ourselves after the tax collector, we approach God with all the appropriate humility, and like the tax collector - "not even look up to heaven".  These words seem to speak of expectation.We pray, but who are we to ask something of God?  He'll choose whether or not to do it, and "your Will be done" is our "get out of expectation free" card.

But this story is open-ended.  We don't hear of the tax collector getting hit by a donkey cart on his way home.  He's not dead.  He went home justified.  Different.  The next time he approaches God in prayer, it is as a new person.  Not that he becomes like the Pharisee, but perhaps next time he will actually "look up" in expectation.  Still humbled before God, aware of his sinful estate, but also knowing He has been justified and stands in the presence of a God who invites His prayers.  Maybe that's a big "perhaps".  (I recognize that Jesus' story was not actually an illustration regarding prayer.)

But still...I believe, and have been reminded that God desires his people to be "of prayer".  Not in a way that brags "I prayed for ___ hours this past week."...but in a way that honestly says "Praying is like breathing or eating to me...it's necessary for my life."  For us to pray with expectation that we speak in the presence of a God who hears and is with us.  A God who's nature and will is New Life and transformation.

For us to be silent, with the expectation that the presence we are silent with, will respond where we give room.  May he continue to reveal how we should pray...and may we respond as people who are receiving His nature...