faith adventures

Hexagons, IF, and Faith Adventures

This weekend was the IF:Gathering, and like the previous two years, leading an IF:Local in my city kind of took over my life.  I know that sounds like a bad thing, but it really isn't.  I love serving my city and the women in my small church that get to attend our big event in this way.

This year's IF:Gathering decor was full of the hexagon pattern.  It became so much a part of my life, as I built big hexagon art for the stage and stamped programs and table runners, that my son was convinced it was my favorite thing.  Like this SAT analogy:  my son Gabe is to Star Wars as mom is to hexagons.  Monday was my birthday, and at the dinner table, Gabe wanted to know why everyone in the family hadn't drawn me a hexagon picture.

The truth is that Gabe isn't wrong.  I have been a little in love with the hexagon shape for a while.  I even used hexagons in my writing when I wrote my eBook Faith Adventures last year.

I want to share the chapter with my hexagon scripture analogy.  Here it is, my chapter on the Great Commission.  Enjoy:


GREAT COMMISSION

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
— Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

When my father-in-law was on his deathbed, I was pregnant with my youngest son Gabe.  The hospital had us put on paper scrubs and gloves because Don had developed a virus.  All garbed up, I went into that room to say goodbye to this man who had been such a huge part of my life.  What do you say?  I’ll tell you what we said.  “I love you.”  He was very weak, but we knew what was important.  We both wanted to make sure we knew that there was nothing but love between us.

Last words are important.

The words Jesus gave us before He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father, those words are crucial.  We call those words, the Great Commission.

These words are our parting instructions and our biggest job as the church.

There are a lot of action words in this command.  Sometimes we can get bogged down on just one of them.  

This is not unlike when I ask my son to do multiple chores at once.  Sometimes his ears hear only one command.  I'll say, “Take these dishes to the sink, rinse them off, take the trash out from the kitchen and from the bathrooms, and put new trash bags in.”  Ninety-nine percent of the time, what happens is the dishes are sitting on the counter not rinsed off and the trash is in the dumpster, but there is no trash bag in any of the trash cans.

It isn't because my son is a bad, disobedient kid.  It's because our kid ears don't always input information in.  (Unless it has to do with cheat codes to video games.  Then our kids become Rain Man all of the sudden.  Unfortunately, there are no Rain Man powers for our dishes.  Just once, I'd like my son to walk up and tell me, “There are 32 clean dishes put up in the cabinet, and I put 8 cups, 5 plates, 9 forks, 2 bowls, 6 spoons, and one knife in the dishwasher that I added soap to and started.”  If that happened, I might faint.)

I know about this kid ear problem because I remember having it.  My parents would give me instructions, but I would be busy being glued to a tv set watching something like Small Wonder or Pee Wee's Playhouse.  I wouldn't hear one word.

The genius comic strip writer Charles Schulz nailed it when he coined the adult to kid, “Mwa-Mwa-Mwa” muted trombone sound.

As we look at all the verbs in the Great Commission, let's try our best to not tune out any of the command.  He tells us to go, make, baptize, and teach.

The second thing that my human immaturity sees as I look at that list, is time.  I start to think what a long term project this sounds like Jesus is calling us to do.

But we aren't alone in this endeavor.

Jesus promised to send a helper, the Holy Spirit, to never leave us and to dwell with us.  The greek word Jesus actually used was parakletos which means “comforter” or “counselor.”

My brother-in-law Donnie Lane often points out that we get our word for parrot from the same greek word parakletos.  The same way a parrot would sit on its owner's shoulder and come along for his day of pirating or whatever else parrot owners do, the Holy Spirit comes along side us while we live this life of faith adventuring.

In my kids' home school co-op, this amazing, creative mom planned a whole class math and science that involved a weekly bubble station.  I was unsure of how we were going to play with bubbles all year long and learn math and science, but I was excited about it.

Guess what.  I did learn something.  One lesson in particular stuck with me.  We learned about bee hives by playing with bubbles.

I had always kind of wondered why and how bees make their hives into those perfect little hexagons, but I had never been curious enough to research it.

Maybe my kid brain thought bees could count to six, and that they liked making little line patterns with their wax.

Hexagons are actually a naturally occurring shape in nature that forms with flexible circles are pressed into each other.

In the bubble station we did this experiment.  We took two 10” x 12” pieces of plexiglass that were fashioned together with an inch gap between them.  Then we took a plastic straw and blew bubbles to fill the space in between the plexiglass.

As the space filled up with bubbles and room became precious, the packed in bubbles pressed against other bubbles and began to become hexagon shaped instead of circles.  Each circle was pressed against six other circles, and the slight pressure of competing for space formed a side, which means that each bubble had six sides.

The bubbles naturally did this as they existed within the group of bubbles.

As the church, we are in community together trying to fulfill this Great Commission that Jesus left us with.

As we gently press into each other, we form one united thing, His church.  As we work together, sharing the space God gives us to do His work, we all become shaped a little different.  We all become a little more like Him.

As we look into a beautifully formed beehive with hexagons brimming with sweet honey, I think that is a picture of what His church can be.

I pray we press into our place in His Church and appreciate the sweetness of unity.

The command of the Great Commission is a little less overwhelming when I know I have the Holy Spirt and my fellow believers working together to accomplish it.

Lord, help us to feel the importance of your command in the Great Commission.  Help us to constantly see ways we can do every verb in that command: go, make, baptize, teach.  Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to help us, comfort us, and counsel us.  Give us ears to hear His promptings.  Lord, help us to remember that you have made us Your temple.  Help us to be unified with other believers so that we can be the one church, one, body, one bride that you intend us to be.  Help us to have grace and love as sweet as honey towards our fellow church members.  We long to work together to accomplish your commission.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

 

Reflection:

  1. Which verb in the Great Commission have you put the most focus on?  What would it look like to concentrate on actively follow through with Jesus' whole command?
  2. How has the Holy Spirit been a helper to you in the past?  Has he ever helped you as you made disciples?
  3. Have you thought of the global church as one item, like one beehive, before?  How can you bring more unity to your local church and/or the global church?
  4. How have other Christians pressed into you and caused you to look a little more like Jesus?
  5. Read the Great Commission again.  What is the Holy Spirit prompting you to do right now, this week?

The following chapter was an excerpt of the eBook Faith Adventures by Jennifer L. Lane.  It can be purchased on Amazon for just $2.99.


I loved singing this with our IF:Local, IF:Amarillo, this weekend.

Word of the Year: Confidence

This week I posted that I was having trouble deciding on a word for 2017.  I made a cute, helpful worksheet for you and I to use in deciding on our word.  (Just subscribe, and I'll email it to you.)

Well, my worksheet worked.  I picked a word using my worksheet this morning, and I'm thrilled.

My word is confidence.

It's beautiful because it has two meanings that fit perfectly with the two big themes I see emerging for my life this year.  Let me explain.

First is this definition:

Confidence (n) 1. belief that one can rely on someone (GOD); firm trust

There are so many things that God is doing that I have no control over.  

We are in the process of raising $27,000 to proceed with an adoption of a little boy who is 8,000 miles away, who we've never met.  We have so little control over whether or not this adoption happens, but we are putting every bit of energy we can spare into making it happen.  We have 1/3 of the money we need so far, and we are filling out more paperwork and grants.  We are planning fundraisers and doing everything we can to adopt our little "A."  It is ultimately up to God.  He is going to have to provide financially, emotionally, and spiritually for this adoption to happen.  At any moment, the Ethiopian government or the regional government where he is from or the United States government could stop this adoption for whatever reason.  At any moment, our health or financial situation could change and put a halt to this adoption.  At any moment, a number of things that I can't even think of could stop this adoption.  I am going to have to trust and trust hard on the God who called us to adoption years ago.  We have been faithful to His call, and He is always faithful, more faithful than I could even imagine.  I will need to have confidence in Him or I might lose all my marbles this year.

I have other things in my life that are going to require trusting the Lord.  I've got a daughter graduating high school and going off to college this year.  No big deal.  I'm not freaking out about it at all.  Yeah right!

The second definition of confidence is this.

Confidence (n) 2. Feeling of self-assurance from one’s appreciation of one’s abilities or qualities.

There are a couple things I wrote down for things that make me come alive.  I wrote teaching about Jesus and writing.  These are things that God has gifted me to do, and if I don't have confidence in my ability to do them (because of His strength), then I won't be able to try all the things that I want to try this year.

I had a dream the other night that I was getting up to teach a room full of women.  I was so terrified and so moved to be authentic in my talk that I cried all my make up off, frantically searched for my Bible, and then got up to teach.  It was the most frightening and exhilarating dreams I've had in years.  When I finally began my talk, it all came together.  I could have woke up from that dream, got up to a podium, and gave that speech.  I know exactly what I would say because God has been building this message in my heart for years.

This dream may never come true, but I'm going to keep on writing and teaching just like it is going to happen tomorrow.

What about you?  Have you chosen your word for 2017?  Do you have dreams and struggles coming up this year and need some focus?  Comment below!  Sign up to receive my worksheet by email if you need a little help finding your word.

Some verses about confidence.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
— Philipians 1:6 ESV
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
— 1 John 5:14 ESV
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
— Hebrews 4:16 ESV
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
— Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

A song for you today.