You're probably wondering about the daughter Isabella loves to clean-she comes by it honestly. I am a shameless clean freak. One morning I was working away in the kitchen while she had the mop I'd left out overnight to dry. And I look over to check on her and my then-7-month-old son, and say the five words I never thought I'd say as a parent, "Isabella, don't mop your brother!" He didn't mind, and she just wanted to make sure he was sparkly. So welcome to my world!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stealing from my pastor

Photo from

The idea for this post, of course! Yesterday my pastor spoke from Jeremiah 17:5-8 on "Why Worldview Matters." (You can listen to the whole sermon at and search for it among the archives.) Great stuff! Then again, Pastor Brian is an amazing preacher, one who doesn't shy away from the tough stuff. I digress...
The text focuses on two world views: man-centered and God-centered. Nothing I don't already know, but it was the fleshing out of it that hit me. Here's the description of man-centered:

"Thus says the Lord: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.'" (v5-6, ESV, emphasis mine) Yikes! Let me break it down.

Cursed-this means put away from God, separated from Him. There is no way I can follow my own path, and still be on God's. It's one way or the other.
Trusting in man-oh, how many times have I done this? How many frustration-filled days have I dropped into bed at night, weary and tearful, all because I trusted in myself and what I thought was a good idea?
Makes flesh his strength-I was just now struck by the word "makes." On my own path, I try to make myself strong, I try to force the issue, as if just by trying harder I might do a better job. This is so counter to what God says that it's laughable that I fall into this trap of satan. I need only look to II Corinthians 12:9 to hear that God's strength is made perfect in weakness. It's not something I can fabricate-it's something I can tap into from the God of the whole universe. I usually don't ask because I am trusting in myself (see above paragraph!).
Turns away from the Lord-again, the idea of two paths. I can't do things for myself and God. No man can serve two masters! I know this refers to money, but it's a foundational truth found throughout the New Testament: if I follow Christ, I can't follow anyone else (self included).
The rest of the phrases are just sad: shrub in the desert, no good, parched, wilderness, uninhabited, salt land. Doing on my own is just that: ON MY OWN. Alone in the dryness, no help, just weakness, alone, never satisfied, never refreshed. Why do I think this is a good idea??

And then.

Oh, happy verses 7 and 8! They read like this:
"'Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.'"
And in reading this I realize it's another set of verses I want to add to my list. (See here for full list: ) Let's pull this one apart:
Blessed-to bless, to kneel, to be adored, to praise, to salute. I would much rather be in this category! Close to God and causing Him to be pleased.
Trust in the Lord, trust is the Lord-Obviously I trust in the Lord, but there are days when my attitude, my "I can handle it!" mindset is really saying, "God, I don't trust You to handle it, so I'll do it myself." How sinful. How pitiful when it's pulled out into the daylight. Pulls to mind Proverbs 3:5-6 about not leaning on my own understanding. My understanding is flawed because I can't see the whole situation, the eventual outcome. God should be my trust.
Water, stream: The key is plugging into the Source! Sure, in my head I know this, but it goes back to asking a simple question: Is this me-centered or God-centered?
Does not fear, is not anxious-Yes, there will be hard times-heat and drought-but because of the roots fed from the stream, those aren't an issue. When I spend my time being fed by God and strengthened by Him, the days are much less difficult. They will rarely be "easy"-but they will be manageable.
Remain green, bear fruit-The time spent with God and choosing a God-centered day provides nourishment and results. The man-centered path leads nowhere except the uninhabited (apart from God), salty land. But! Oh, happy word! But remaining in the Vine (which requires choosing to plug into the Vine first!) from John 15:5 (my first memorized verse of the year!) leads to fruit.

Adding it all up: there was a lot to chew on, and I'll probably still meditate on this for a while. Pastor Brian gave us an application. For one day, carry around a pad of paper and write down every decision I make. Ask of that decision: Is it me-centered or God-centered?
Now, as a mom, I was hit between the eyes with this one. I won't lie-I'm an inconsistent disciplinarian. I know this will bite me in the butt, and I know I should deal with it right away, but the lazy part of me thinks, "I don't want to go in there and be the bad guy...again! Maybe they'll just stop on their own." Stupid, I know. I've even blogged about Isaiah's parenting advice, but in the heat of the moment, I'd rather avoid the whole issue. Enter this sermon, this word from God Himself: am I being me-centered or God-centered? I know the answer, of course. I am choosing my own laziness above my children's well-being and proper raising. I am choosing to be cursed instead of blessed (oh, my mind is zipping to Proverbs 31:28 where her children rise up and call her blessed!). So, the plan for today: dig deep roots. Such up water from the Stream (of living water!) and choose a God-centered parenting role.
This holds true for anything we face though and we can do a quick check of our actions. Facebook before spending time in the word: me-centered or God-centered? Not responding to that email from a friend who needs help: me-centered or God-centered? Stewing over that thing that my spouse always does/never does and "punishing" him or her because of it: me-centered or God-centered?
May you have a God-centered day!

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