Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day Two: Secret Sins

Initially when I read this day's devotional, I was taken aback.

Yes, we all have our skeletons in the closet.

However, I need to stop thinking that there are sins that are somehow "greater" than others. The secret sins we keep feel like somehow they are "worse" than others, but God tells us in his Word:
"The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die." http://bible.com/59/ezk.18.20-21.esv
By this reasoning, anyone who is less than perfect is condemned. None of us are exempt from this. We have all failed many times in our lives. We've all lied, taken things that weren't ours, looked at someone with lust (or gone further than that). Even the "smallest" thing is sinful. How many times I have failed to be perfect! Every moment of every day! So the way to live, judging by this passage, is to keep all of God's commands. There's no way I can do that...

Thanks be to God that Jesus lived perfectly and atoned for me (and all of you)! His perfection is put over me! He died, once for all! To bear the sins of the whole world, secret or otherwise, must have been horrific. It breaks my heart and makes me joyful and thankful at the same time.

We know that others can't see the secret sins in our heart, but God knows they're there. As the saying goes, confession is good for the soul. Find a trusted Christian friend or pastor with whom to share your sins. Absolution (being declared forgiven by God) is the salve that covers our sinful wounds. The forgiveness that we are given by God gives us a joy like none other.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. http://bible.com/59/gal.6.1-2.esv 
Lord, help us to confess our sins, secret or otherwise, to you! Help us bear each other's burdens and support each other on our Christian walk. Thank you for taking our sin upon yourself on the cross. Help us share the joy of your forgiveness with all around us. In Your Name, Amen!

Until next time,

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day One: Rest

Day One's devotion reminded us that God took a day to rest after his work of Creation. It is important for us also to make time to rest.

I read this devotion for the first time last Wednesday, right after I wrote the introductory post. My plan was to meditate on the post during the day on Thursday, and then write my thoughts on Thursday night.

My schedule for Thursday included getting to school around 7:45am, teaching till 3:30, after school duties from 4-7pm, choir rehearsal from 7-8, and then to a concert at 8-10.

I have been having a rough January. I felt like my spark was missing, I didn't have any desire to come to work, people annoyed me without doing anything, and I was generally in a funk.

I awoke last Thursday and felt rested. I felt like I was in a good mood for the first time in more than a month.

I made it through the day, through rehearsals, and went to the concert. I saw a relative I hadn't seen in years (who was performing), and the conductor of the concert spoke in his program notes about the effectiveness of music healing the weary soul. I know that God had a plan for me to be at that concert. The music was well done, the energy was wonderful.

I got in my car to go home, and my phone alerted me to the fact I had a message. My best friend's father had passed away unexpectedly.

Suddenly, the emotional high I had been on for the day was gone. All I wanted to do was go home, hug my husband, and cry. This man had been like a second father to me. He was caring, he was compassionate, I credit him for some of my nerdy interests (because he passed them on to his daughter, and she enlightened me)! (Also, my husband has been out of state visiting his family for the few days, so I haven't been able to get that hug I've needed. Today, he'll be home.) I know he is enjoying the Crown of Heaven, but those that he left behind will miss this influential man.

God is infinite in power. He has infinite strength. Cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you. I've gone about my business the last few days in sort of a haze, recognizing that the time we get on this earth is finite. Yet, if we can reach others through Christ, we know that we will all see each other again in heaven.

I know that I need to make the choice to rest. It's okay if the house is messy, it's okay if there is some work left undone at the end of the day. I need to choose to take care of myself and rest, otherwise I will not be able to serve the best I am able.

Please, take a moment to tell your family you love them. You never know when God will choose to bring you home.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

30 Days of "Beating Burnout"

I'm not one to normally air my grievances to the world. Really, I'm not.

I have my trusted circle that puts up with me when I'm feeling especially cranky or down.

Lately, I've been wondering if there's been more than that.

My name is Rachel, and I work at a church. Short of giving you all the major details, I am a teacher at a school run by a church.

And I'm tired.

So, so tired.

Tired enough to think that there might be something really wrong with me.

I spend a lot of time at work. Any teacher can tell you that in no way can we work from bell to bell. Personally, I arrive a reasonable amount of time before the students arrive, but I stay to work for hours after the students leave.

I attempt to take things home, but the papers usually stay in my bag since I'd rather spend time with my husband.

And in being a wife, being a teacher who's well organized, keeping up with paperwork, adequately performing all the other duties required of me... I have failed epically. I stress over it, I make myself sick with worry, I don't get enough sleep, and I don't keep myself healthy.

A few years ago, I read the book "Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic." I've suggested it to people I've worked with. I've even lent my copy to people in hopes that it will have an impact. (Not sure if that person ever read the book or not.)

The author of the above book, Anne Marie Miller (formerly Anne Jackson), has a new 30-day devotional called "Beating Burnout," which I plan to read for the next 30 days. If you'd like, feel free to read her blog post that told the world about the book.

My goals for reading this are to renew my relationship with God, with whom I am (admittedly) not spending enough time. He needs to come first in my life, and unless that relationship is primary, all the other roles that I am Called to perform will suffer.

If you'd like to come on this journey with me, I'd love to hear your comments and thoughts on each devotion. Day One starts tomorrow!