Friday, July 31, 2009

Chosen First

I hated picking teams. I was never the fastest, most agile, or most popular. I was, however, almost always the one picked last, or so close to last that it fell under "doesn't really matter because we know you aren't useful anyway."

Some of y'all know what I mean.

It is a painful thing to be picked last. We often focus on the "last" part, but really, it is about our desire to be picked first. In our hearts, we want to be first at something, to be seen as acceptable and good. We don't want to simnply be allowed to play. We want to be wanted. We want to be the Chosen One.

One of the most commonly stolen truths is that we are the Chosen One.

John 15:16 says:

You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], He may give it to you. (Amplified version).

Let's talk about what this really means. It doesn't mean, "I am Jesus, and I died for the sins of the world, so you slipped in because I have to take you." That is the lie the enemy fed me for a LONG time. That isn't the meaning of the word "chosen".

"Chosen" is the Greek word eklegomai. It is a combination of words. Ek means "out of". Legos means "to call". Just from that, we can gather that we didn't call Jesus out of Heaven to us. Instead, He called us out of whatever mess, prison (mental, emotional, and spiritual), or brokenness we were in so we would go to Him. He picked us. This is what my Greek/Hebrew Study Bible says about the word: "The word denotes rather simply the act of selecting something, the naming of something as the object desired and hence expressing favor to the object chosen."

Take that in for a moment.

You were not stuck on Jesus' team because you had to go somewhere. He actively chose you because you are the one He desired, and the result is His favor toward you. He's going to do everything He can to make you look good because He's proud He chose you. You are the prize He wants to show off.

Now, let's talk about how He does that.

"I appointed you to go and bear fruit."

The word "appointed" actually means "to set, put, place, or lay down." Now, get this. You were not randomly stuck in a box or just any frame. Jesus picked you, and then He said, "I'm going to put you where you shine the best." He intentionally found the perfect place for you so that you can be successful, show His glory, and be a light in the darkness.

You are not the one demons see and smile about because they know you are an easy out. On the contrary, you have been put in the perfect place so that when you shine all of hell shudders because they know you are going to do great things.

You are not the one doled out because you have to go somewhere. You were chosen, by an omnipotent Lord who has picked the perfect place to show you off.

Do you choose to be bold enough to let Him?

Copyright 2009 Jerri Phillips
Monday, July 27, 2009

Gratitude 22--Praise in the Desert

Some days gratitude comes easy. Words of thanks spill from my mouth as an overflowing fountain. Other days I must dig for them as precious water in a desert, but even in the desert there are streams of nourishment, streams of healing, streams of promise. Today, I give praise for the streams.

1. A banner welcoming me home when I go away.

2. Rain in a miserably hot Texas July.

3. Journals to record the streams

4. Millie-to remind me if I have compassion for her when she is scared in a storm, how much more does my perfect Father have compassion on me.

(and sideways pictures to remind me that sometimes a different perspective can take the mundane to at least humorous, and a merry heart doth a body good)

5. A Rock to stand on that not only gives me solid footing but also a light for my path

6. A simple cup of coffee

7. My favorite pens--gifts for returning home from a writer's conference.

8. Perfect verses to keep me on my feet by reminding me of the power of being on my knees.
"But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more." ~ Psalm 71:13 (posted by Ann Voskamp today)


9. Text messages from friends holding up my arms

10. Chocolate cupcakes
11. CHEERios


12. Butterflies and Purple Zinnias
13. Morning Glories joyfully climbing in my garden on the oddest ladders. Could God be saying He has provided the way up...even if it isn't the elegant and prestine trellis that I tend to look for?
14. An umbrella ready to be used...but usually left behind because rain is good for the soul...
15. Reminders of the need for focus.
16. Not everything adds up the way I want it to, but that doesn't mean God's answers are wrong.


17. Tennis Shoes--to walk in the rain and dance in the streams...


18. God's faithfulness

19. Knowing the rain will come because He said it would...even when I can't see a cloud in the sky...

20. The sound of a thousand waters with every little rain drop.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Why I Unplug

Thursday night I turned off the computer and started screening phone calls. It was time to unplug...unwind...and really connect.

On Friday, Rob joined us for Fun Day at diving lessons. The last day of each session is a show off day where children show their parents all they've learned, and parents take a kazillion pictures. (Yes, we took our share.) When the skills have been demonstrated, the slides, diving boards, and splash zones are opened up for simple fun. It's a good day.


After that, we headed out to McCalister's for lunch and talk time. We talked about the various dives, the differences with all four divers, and goals for next session.



With tummies full, we headed back home where Robert took a bath and Rob finished up some work. Anna and I headed out to grab a back for my trip this week and some clip-on earrings for girls who don't like the idea of pierced ears. We ended up wandering several miles out of the way to a new shopping center with a luggage place and accessory store. Then we threw in several unplanned stops to check out books, clothes, and jewelry. I ended up with one book to take on the plane with me. Otherwise, we didn't get anything--except incredible time together that was spent sharing hearts, getting to know each other (important to do as ages change), and creating bonds.

That evening Rob and I made a quick trip to a computer store to pick up a laptop back, and we ended up getting a laptop, padfolio, and business card holder. We also got time to be still, talk about the coming week, where we feel life is going right now, how we want to handle some business opportunities, and how we can keep our family close in a world that can so easily keep us going in a dozen different directions.

That night, Rob and I played Rummikube while the children camped out in the sunroom. When it was lights out time, all was peaceful. And it felt good.

Yesterday (Saturday) came with a slow start to the day, a quick trip to pick up milk, and a hearty breakfast. Then came puppet time.



The children made puppets while Rob and I painted birdhouses. We talked, worked through puppet problems, laughed, and discussed the children's entrepenural ideas. Rob isn't one for arts and crafts. He isn't comofortable with mess or mayhem, and when the paint, rubber bands, styrofoam balls, scissors, and hot glue gun all come out at once, mess and mayhem are certain to ensue. Despite his aversion to chaos--even the controlled kind--he perservered because he loves his family, and for those priceless few hours, we were joined around a table of creativity that opened all possible worlds, all possible stories, all the safety and security of being loved and accepted that a family can offer. And people say utopia does not exist. Silly people.

Leaving the paint to dry, we headed to the kitchen where games and pizza made up another island, and no one gets kicked off. Instead, we all huddle together--cheering when things go well, encouraging when they don't, understanding that "just a game" can still be discouraging when being in last place is a consistent place to sit...

And then finding other games where winners and losers are shuffled, and the joy of first after being last too often brings smiles to one player and elicits shouts of triumpant as the others rejoice in the sweet victory, too, knowing it is sometimes more than a game. Sometimes it is the offering of hope that other "games" are not too big to win either.




When the fun winds down and we prepare for the night's events, laughter still echos off the walls. Shouts of remembered snippets of day's activities boom down the hall, and laughter erupts again. Responses bounce back as an echo...joy, security, love being heard again and again.

My mind thinks of two choirs rejoicing as the wall of Jerusalem is dedicated. One shouts praise. The other responds. Waves of worship washing over the people, crashing into each other, come back with power, washing away the "stuff", refreshing, calling to heaven, reaching a throne, moving the heart of a King.

Rejoicing with such exuberance that the sound of worship could be heard far away...into the relationship around them...into the daily decisions they made...into the destined descendants to come...

Amazing how much eternal sound can come from choosing to unplug and purposefully connect.
Sunday, July 12, 2009

Eventful Investing

Activities and events fill the squares of the calendar. Somewhere to go, and something to do...everyday. Often the motion only stops for brief stints at home to grab sustenance to keep us moving. Three weeks continue that way. Up early. Going hard. Asleep late.

Tomorrow promises to be a "blank" day, but my body wants to succumb to its fatigue...today. Now. Unfortunately, two things stand between me and my coveted bed: church and fireworks.

Church...necessary. Fireworks...negotiable...except they aren't.

Our family makes it a yearly jaunt to gather with hundreds or thousands of people, sit in lawn chairs, eat snacks, and stare upward into an inky black sky that explodes with the wonder of color and light. The children who used to find this terrifying now find it amazing, and we believe in feeding amazement.

But does it have to be fed this way...this year? One look at those faces answers me...yes. This year. Tonight. Now.

So after church we load up the van with lawn chairs, snacks, and family and head to a watching spot...and we watch. The children watch the fireworks. I watch the children. The smiles on their lips. The twinkle in their eyes. The contentment in their faces and body language.

Fireworks scribbled on the calendar as an event, but I know it is more. It is an investment. An investment into the lives of the young people God is growing in our home...into the lives of the children they will grow in theirs. It is not something we do, but something we speak. "You are worth the effort. You are valuable. You are my priority. I love you. I love to be with you. I may get tired, but not of you."

We return home, minds filled with fireworks, hearts filled with words unspoken, value deposited deeply...in silece...in actions that could have been dimissed as just another event. Instead, growing children chatter. Excitement flows into our living room with us. Faces glow, not with fireworks but with the warmth of being treasured.

Such is the return of purposed eventful investing.

Copyright Jerri Phillips 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009

"God, could You just tell me..."

Every so often--like A WHOLE LOT--I have one of those "God, if you could just tell me..." days. I'm curious. If God spoke in an audible voice to you today, what would you like to hear Him say? If you don't want to share with the group, please feel free to email me personally.

Just so I am not one of those people who ask the question but are too afraid to answer...

This morning when I sat down for my quiet time, I really just wanted to be enjoyed. Know the feeling? When you just want someone to enjoy you for your laugh, your quirky sense of humor, your fashion ocd-ness or your lack there of, all the things that make you who you are. That is how I wanted to be enjoyed today, and you know what? I know He does.

It wasn't an audible voice, but just a complete, unquestionable knowing, and I am overcome by His love.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009

True Identity--A Word for Believers

Monday night I was at my worship group, and the Lord gave me the following word for the body of Christ. I want to empasize this is not a word of correction for the lost, but for believers who believe the name Christian equals a life of comfort. It means a life of uncompromising commitment, and that is usually far from comfortable.

The word the Lord spoke to me--

My people are walking around proclaiming to be royalty, but acting like spoiled brats. They don't know how empty their bank accounts are. There is a false teaching that says being my child buys you certain rights and certain comforts, I never promised that. I promised me...

Without me, you are bankrupt. Do you want to live on the pocket change or on the fullness?

I AM the fullness. Fullness is about my being King, not your being princes or princesses. It is all about me. ALL about me. I AM the one you write your checks on. You call yourselves princes and princesses. When will you quit living in mental, emotional, and spiritual poverty by focusing on who you are? Focus on who I AM and everything you have been missing will be released from my storehouse. Then you will live in my richness and your fullness will be complete. If you want to be who you really are, you need to focus on who I really am.

Relevant

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"It's not the wind in our hair that makes us free. It's the movement of the Spirit, the growth of our invisible side." --Amber Haines

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My simple life plan: To live the kind of life that when asked, "If you could be anybody, who would you be?", I'd choose me.

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