Sunday, December 30, 2007

new years resolutions

i attended our new church gateway this morning. have you ever had it happen where you go to church and you think that the person speaking is talking directly to you? you actually think that they wrote their message just so you could hear it? well that's what happened to me today.

i know that everyone else probably had something similar on their minds seeing as today is the 2nd to the last day of the year. as the year comes to a close you kind of get nostalgic and you think ahead to the upcoming year. you think about your accomplishments and failures. you bring to mind your resolutions from last year that fell off the radar before january even came to a close. you think about who you are and who you'd like to be...

at least that's what i've been thinking about these past few days.

i guess since i officially quit my job and as we close in on 6 weeks here in austin it's beginning to sink in that we're not just on vacation, i've been ruminating about my purpose. why am i here? on earth, but more specifically in texas. i'm away from most of my friends and all of my family (except for dave and jonah) and i'm really really starting to miss them. i ache just to hang out with some familiar people. my family, my best friend. it's lonely down here. i mean, don't get me wrong, i love dave's family, but i also miss the folks back home. and as i watch jonah grow up a little more every day i'm sad that they're missing out on those everyday moments, too.

on top of that i've also been struggling with "who i am hates who i've been", and by who i've "been" i mean last week, yesterday, this morning even. i have this saying about hard times: "they can either make you bitter or better". it's a choice. i don't want to be a bitter person. bitterness is ugly. bitterness is not loving. bitterness leads to regrets. and the fact is i just don't really love the person i've been lately. i'm not spending the time with God that i should. i'm allowing petty things to make me bitter. it's all just... yuck! i don't like it. not one bit!

so anyway, today's message really hit home for me. it was the story of the woman at the well from john 4:4-29. (you can listen to the message here if you're interested).

so. new years resolutions. will my life actually be better if i make and keep them. why do i make them anyway?

the woman at the well was a samaritan, a half-breed, half jew, half asserian. an outcast. not only that but she had a bad reputation... married 5 times and now "with" a man who wasn't her husband. which made her an outcast of the outcasts.

so there she was... at the well... at noon. everyone else came for their water in the morning before the sun was straight overhead. but this outcast would rather endure the blazing glare of the sun, rather than those of the other villagers.

enter jesus. he asks the woman for a drink. shock. jesus was a jew. jews don't associate with samaritans. she protests "you are a jew and i am a samaritan woman. how can you ask me for a drink?"

jesus answered her, "if you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." "sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. where can you get this living water? are you greater than our father jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?" jesus answered, "everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. indeed, the water i give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."(john 4:10-14)

the awesome thing about jesus is that he doesn't start spouting religion at this woman. instead he pursues her heart. living water? that's interesting, she thinks. where would i get this living water? no more trips to this stinkin' well. no more having to go into public and try to avoid the whispers of the other villagers. that sure would make my life easier.

the woman said to him, "sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." (john 4:15)

so now you're saying "what does this have to do with new years resolutions?" well here it is. i have been making my lists (mentally)... about who i am not. things i want to change. things i want to do. the person i want to be. once these things are accomplished and i become this perfect person my life will be easier. (::cough:: yeah right ::cough::)

just like to woman at the well, i want jesus' "living water" in order to make my life easier. i want the magic pill. just like this woman it's really about self-condemnation, people-pleasing, and other selfish motives.

jesus created me. the person i am. the characteristics i have. he created them all. he delights in me. just as i am. and jesus' motives are not necessarily to make my life easier, but to help me to become a part of the bigger picture... his picture. it's fine to try to be a better person, but we have to examine our motives. am i letting God lead? or am i trying to take the wheel by making my lists and missing the adventures he has for me?

God is the living water. he'll provide. he treasures you. gives you worth. peace. and joy.

part of me thinks i want to be this great person and do these great things in order to please God. it's true. i do want to please him. but a lot of it is about me and my selfish motives.

jesus tells the woman: "a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." the woman said, "i know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. when he comes, he will explain everything to us." then Jesus declared, "i who speak to you am he." (john 4:23-26)

worship is about a soul approaching God in spirit and in truth.

after hearing what jesus had to say the woman went to find the other villagers. she told them "this man told me everything about me". she left off... and he still loves me. see she had been looking for love in all the wrong places (bad. i know.) the ironic thing was that in the beginning of the story she was all about getting the water. it was the reason she was at the well and her whole conversation with jesus revolved around it. but when she left to tell the villagers about this supposed messiah she left her water jar. that's a really small detail with huge implications.

so as i make my resolutions this year i'm going to meditate on this...

cs lewis talked about primary wants and secondary wants. he said that if we focus on primary wants we'll get our secondary wants in the process. if however we only focus on our secondary wants we will get neither.

matthew says something similar is chapter 6, verse 33: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

if i seek jesus first my "lists" will take care of themselves. it's just like the fact that i can try all i want to be a good person, but unless i let jesus change me from the inside i will fail. if i pursue holiness i will be made holy.

i love the way God works. as i finished this note here's the song that came on...

david crowder band - "oh praise him"

turn your gaze
to Heaven and raise
a joyous noise
oh the sound of
salvation come
the sound of rescued ones
and all this for a king
angels join to sing
'all for Christ our king!'

how infinite and sweet
this love so rescuing
oh how infinitely sweet
this great love<
that has redeemed
as one, we sing...

He is Holy

i love that song!

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