Category Archives: 31 Days (October 2011)

{Day 24} To Know the End

When it comes to our {God given} callings, we tend to want to know the end. the goal. the final destination. the exactly-how-this-is-going-to-play-out end.

But where did we ever get the impression that we should expect such knowledge?

Abraham didn’t know the end when he was told to go.

Joseph didn’t know the end when he was sold into slavery.

Peter didn’t know the end when he was asked to drop his nets and follow.

Paul didn’t know the end when he was blinded on the road to Damascus.

So perhaps by not knowing the end – by simply taking the next step by faith and by simply trusting the One who calls – we are better able to experience the preparation for the end that is sure to be found on the journey.

After all, what would happen if we did know the end? We would likely think of every possible shortcut to just get there already … yet again believing the lie that we determine the best direction and that we know the best path.

And so we continue on the journey by faith. obediently following. one step at a time. trusting in the One who calls.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

For by it the people of old received their commendation.”

– Hebrews 11:1-2 (ESV)

  

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{Day 23} Be Still

Tonight, on this Sunday, in the midst of a series in which we attempt to better understand our {God given} callings, though my post comes to you late, take a moment…

To forget about your calling.

To be still before the Lord with a settled heart and a quiet spirit.

To know with absolute assurance that He is God.

To trust in His sovereign goodness and graciousness.

“Be still, and know that I am God…”

– Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

{Day 22} Quiet Passionate Insistence

“Remove the thought from your mind of expecting God to come to force you or to plead with you. When our Lord called His disciples, He did it without irresistible pressure from the outside. The quiet, yet passionate, insistence of His ‘Follow Me’ was spoken to men whose every sense was receptive.”

– Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

{Day 21} “I Was No Prophet”

“Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, ‘I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ Now therefore hear the word of the Lord.'”

– Amos 7:14-16 (ESV)

Amos received a call from the Lord to be a prophet.

But not because he was looking for a call.

Amos was working in the field.

Serving the Lord in the small.

Honoring the Lord in the ordinary.

Seeking the Lord in the everyday.

{Day 20} Love God. Love People.

I first “felt called” (and yes, that is exactly how I would have said it) to missions in sixth grade. I was 12, I was growing in my faith, moving beyond understanding Christ only as my Savior to also experiencing the fullness of Christ as my Lord, I was beginning to develop a strong love for Scripture, I desired to share Christ with others, and I had just come across a short-term summer mission trip with a reputable missions organization.

The timing seemed perfect, and I was certain that the Lord had provided this specific opportunity for me to witness and minister to others – that this was part of THE call for my life, a stepping stone to a potential life on the mission field – and I really wanted to go.

Only one problem. My parents said “no”. With good reason, of course. I was 12. The trip was to a country in South America (my top three choices would have been listed on the application, though I also distinctly remember wanting to serve on the trip to the Dominican Republic). Although the missions organization was fairly well known, my parents weren’t very familiar with it. And the trip was about $1300.

I was hurt and angry because (in my 12 year old mind) my parents’ decision seemed completely irrational…not to mention they were standing in the way of God’s call, right? (Don’t worry, Mom, I now see the wisdom in that decision.) Eventually, I decided one roadblock wouldn’t be the end to my God-given call, so I kept praying about it (which I think my parents actually recommended) – all the while desperately seeking to do God’s will – and asked the Lord to confirm this call to missions.

While not going into great detail (at least not yet), in some way or another, I have been attempting to discern and/or confirm this calling ever since. I’ve been fascinated by those in Scripture who received clear and obvious calls, I’ve been interested in hearing stories of those around me who are certain of their calls, and I’ve repeatedly asked the Lord where and how He is leading. . .for the better part of 15 years.

And while He’s always been faithful to provide the next step in HIS time (which is rarely the same as MY time), it seems that much of what I’ve encountered over the years has been roadblock after roadblock. Every time I’ve thought “this is IT”, something has been in the way.

But although I haven’t always recognized it, thinking back to some of those times when my call (to a ministry organization, to a particular mission trip, to a specific person, to a life of service) has seemed most certain, there have always been two consistent factors that compelled me to the call in the first place and gripped me to the core:

Love God. Love People.

When it comes to understanding my call – whether that’s to pursue mission work vocationally at some point or not, whether all those roadblocks are a “no” or a “not yet” – maybe that’s enough. For now.

Sometimes discerning, understanding, and pursuing a {God given} call seems complicated and unknown. But when that call is stripped of the peripheral issues – the details, the worries, the plans, the fears – what’s left is simple and familiar.

“Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.'”

Mark 12:29-31 (ESV – emphasis added)

{Day 19} Greek Cafes & Knowing Christ

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers”

Romans 8:29 (ESV – emphasis added)

As many of you know, this summer I spent almost three weeks traveling through Greece for a class on Paul’s New Testament Letters. While there were several highlights of the trip (many of which I have already recounted here through words and photos), and my time of both academic and Biblical study was incredible, one of my sweetest memories from the trip had nothing to do with Paul or his letters.

One Sunday afternoon after visiting the ancient Agora in Athens, rather than heading directly back to our hotel before dinner, seven of us decided to take a long(er) and leisurely stroll back through the Plaka area (the shopping district) in hopes of finding an outdoor cafe where we could have some coffee (Greece has the most amazing freddo cappucinos!) and fellowship for a couple of hours. As this is a typical afternoon occurrence in Greek culture, we had no trouble finding the perfect spot similar to the one in the photo above (though that particular cafe is on the Island of Mykonos).

We had the best time just sitting around a couple of tables, relaxing with a cold coffee beverage in hand, sharing stories, engaging in easy conversation, even sitting in (albeit brief) moments of silence, and getting to know one another better. No agenda, no planned format, no pressure … just precious time together.

And when it comes to discerning our {God given} callings, our approach should be similar.

Before we can even begin to understand the details and specifics of our call, we must take the time to simply sit with Christ. To Know Him … closely, personally, intimately … through worship, Scripture, prayer, conversation, and time.

Not just that 15 minutes of a brief devotional and prayer we {sometimes} manage to squeeze in sort of time. Rather that sitting at a Greek cafe in the middle of the afternoon just to Know Him more sort of time … in order to be conformed to His likeness … in order to reflect His glory.

Because the more we know Christ, while it’s not that the specifics of our call don’t matter, they tend to fade into the background of His Gracious Sovereignty. He is before all and over all. And once again, our focus is drawn away from self – from our own call – and we position ourselves to listen, to be ready, and to be used.

For the sake of THE call … the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

{Day 18} A Call to … Sugar Cookies?

**i originally posted this recipe for “Big Soft Sugar Cookie Cakes” on 3.15.11, and it actually has little nothing to do with callings, but i’ve been traveling for business for the past couple of days, i’m exhausted, these cookies have totally been calling to me (ha!), and who says we can’t take a one day break from the series anyways, right? considering our {God Given} callings will resume tomorrow…**

Any post that begins with a title like that and a picture of rainbow sprinkles can NOT be bad, right?

Especially when it’s followed by an announcement like this:

Sunday (March 13th) marked this here blog’s first anniversary!

In honor of the occasion, I celebrated by making a batch of these amazing sugar cookies that I used to make all. the. time. in college, but for some reason haven’t made in over four years.

And then in good slacker blogger fashion, I promptly got busy with life and failed to post about either the blog’s milestone or the cookie recipe.

But.

I can assure you that the recipe for these cookies was worth the “belated anniversary post” wait.

When I made these cookies in college and took them into work, one of my managers tried to convince me to go into the cookie-making business and sell them at the mall (maybe I missed my calling. . .), and when I made them on Sunday, B may have used the words “fluffy clouds” to describe their goodness.

Because, yes, they really are that good!

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

2 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

5 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 can vanilla frosting (I use whipped white frosting)

Rainbow sprinkles

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar, then beat in eggs and vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Stir into the sugar mixture alternately with the milk.
  3. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets (space at least 3 inches apart so cookies have plenty of room to spread).
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until light brown.
  5. Remove from cookies sheets to cool on wire racks.
  6. When completely cool, frost the cookies and decorate with rainbow sprinkles.