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In Your Presence, O God

I want to go where the rivers cannot overflow me
Where my feet are on a rock
I want to hide where the blazing fire cannot burn me
In Your presence, O God


Chorus:
In Your presence, that’s where I am strong
In Your presence, O Lord my God
In Your presence, that’s where I belong
Seeking Your face, touching Your grace
In the cleft of the rock
In Your presence, O God

I want to hide where the flood of evil cannot reach me
Where I’m covered by Your blood
I want to be where the schemes of darkness cannot touch me
In Your presence, O God

(repeat chorus)

Bridge:
You are my firm foundation
I trust in You all day long
I am Your child and Your servant
And You are my strength and my song
You’re my song

(Repeat chorus)

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“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3-4

“Wonder. Curiosity. Abandon. Playfulness. Listening. Passion. Celebration. Imagination. Spontaneity. Openness. Creativity. Children hold so little regard for status, title, or position and have so little of the things that consume the lives of adults, and yet they are filled with such joy.” A value of The Dwelling Place

I tend to be very child-like. (Childish too, at times. But that’s another topic. :-)) While the excitement of presents at Christmas has worn off, I still love the holiday. (More for what it stands for than anything else.) I still love playing in the rain and hide n’ seek and pillow fights and climbing trees. For me, this is one area of the Christian life that I don’t normally have to work too hard at. Which is a relief, because I have plenty of other areas that I have to constantly work on. But this is one that seems to be pretty natural.

For example, a couple of weeks ago I was in the kitchen getting water. There’s a window over our sink that looks out into the backyard and you can see the garden. I was looking at the wildflowers my mom planted when I noticed something. There was an itty-bitty bird flying among them. I realized that it was a humming bird. I ran into the living room to get Mikayla and show her. I was so excited. I had never seen one before, outside of books and Pocahontas. (Which, ironically, is what Mikayla was watching when I grabbed her. So I was able to say, “Look, it’s Flit!” :-)) I think was more excited about it than Mikayla. She was kinda like, “Yeah, cool.” But maybe she’s seen one before. I hadn’t realized just how tiny those birds are. It was no bigger than the flowers.

I’m not always child-like. There are days, even weeks, when I allow myself to become hard and cynical. I wonder how much I miss on those days. What beauty God could have showed me if I wasn’t wrapped up in my little world of bitterness. Or the days where I’m just too busy to “stop and consider God’s wonders”. Sometimes it’s something like that that snaps me out of it though. Sometimes all it takes is a little humming bird, doing what God created it to do, to remind me, “You are not the center of the universe, Lauren Michelle.” So the next time you see a humming bird, take a minute to marvel at this tiny example of God’s awesome creation that He has made you a part of!

Last Sunday, I got dragged to the college class. The plan had been to go to youth group and then go home. I have nothing against College Park but I consider The Dwelling Place my church. I am fulfilling my last week as a sponsor for CPC and then I’m not going to be attending very much. I want to give myself fully to helping Shane get started. So, when my friend Nicole said she had to go to the college class and asked me to go, I was more than reluctant. I’d been once and got nothing out of it. (I know, I know. Church isn’t about “meeting my needs”. But why go to a class that I can’t get anything out of?) But I decided to give it one more shot. I have become really cynical and started judging church stuff really quickly, so I figured I’d go one more time. That just sealed the deal for me.

I got there and everyone was friendly enough. Then we got started and had to go around and say our names and schools. Then some guy who looked to be our age got up to speak. I guess he had spoke the week before, b/c he was asking them questions about his last….sermon? The topic was evangelism. I knew right then that I was probably not going to agree with a lot of what he said but I tried to keep an open mind.

He has a couple of guys pass out this sheet called ‘The Gospel Grid’. This paper was what he said we had to go thru when evangelising someone. It had 7 “issues” and each issue had 2-5 points under it.
Issue #1: The existence and character of God
Issue #2: The purpose of man
Issue #3: The problem of sin
Issue #4: God’s hatred for sin
Issue #5: The justice of God
Issue #6: The person and work of Christ
Issue #7: Man’s response

Each issue had Bible verses to go with the points. There are three things wrong with this paper. One: good luck getting through this entire thing if we’re sticking with the “one hit, 30 second Jesus pitch” that we’ve reduced evangelism to. Two: what if the person doesn’t believe in the Bible? Your argument is then blown to crap. And three: I could be wrong but I’m almost positive he said that people have to agree to every single point before they can become saved. Things like God is personal. God is loving. God created man for Himself. Those things are all well and good. Eventually the evangelized person will have to learn this stuff. But all that before he chooses to follow Christ?

The speaker also hit on the point that all Catholics are going to Hell. The whole tone of the sermon was that we are right, they are wrong and we have nothing to learn from “those people”. I could be completely wrong and I may have missed what he was getting at. I’m certainly not above that. As I already stated, I’m too quick to judge “church people” as of late. But if that’s the case, he wasn’t communicating very clearly. Because I was listening for something I could agree with. But most of what I heard only made me angry.

So how did I keep from storming out or saying something that I would later have to apologize for? Well, other than the fact that I don’t want to be a drama queen :-), I kept reminding myself of these things.
“This is where he’s at in his walk. He’s only been saved 3 years.”
“It’s not entirely his fault. He’s simply parroting what we’ve all been taught since we were young.”
“Ultimately, we have the same goal.”
“Chill!” 😉

At the end, he wanted us to “evangelize each other”. I looked at Nicole and said, “Wanna get out of here? We can “evangelize” each other in the car.” We bolted for the door. Once in the car, we proceeded to “evangelize” each other. Did we tell about how and why we believe in Jesus? Did we go over the Gospel Grid? No. We talked. We deepened our friendship. We loved each other. Jesus said “Love God and love others.” Until we get that figured out, we don’t need to be shoving any Gospel Grid down other’s throats.

Donald Miller shares similar thoughts in his book ‘Blue Like Jazz’.

“(O)ne of the things I had to do after God provided a church for me was to let go of any bad attitude I had against the other churches I’d gone to. In the end, I was just different….It wasn’t that they were bad (or that The Dwelling Place has it completely right), they just didn’t do it for me. I read through the book of Ephesians…..and it seemed to me that Paul did not want Christians to fight one another. He seemed to care a great deal about this, so in my mind, I had to tell my heart to love the people at the churches I used to go to, the people who were different from me. This was entirely freeing because when I told my heart to do this, my heart did it, and now I think very fondly of those wacko Republican fundamentalists, and I know that they love me too, and I know that we will eat together, we will break bread together in heaven, and we will love each other so purely it will hurt because we are family in Christ.
So here is a step-by-step formula for how you, too, can go to church without getting angry:
*Pray that God will show you a church filled with people who share your interests and values.
*Go to the church God shows you.
*Don’t hold grudges against any other churchs. God loves those churches almost as much as He loves yours.”” 😉 (parentheses mine)

“….because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ….” Romans 8

I’ve been thinking about adoption a lot lately. Maybe it’s because we just had the 5-year anniversary of when we got Mikayla two Sundays ago. But even before that it seemed to be on my mind a lot.

I’m not adopted. I am (sometimes unfortunately 😉 the biological daughter of my parents. But I do have adoptive families. Families who have taken me in and treated me as a daughter. When I think about this, two spring to mind. First were the Mayes. It started with me going to their house after Jodi and I had spanish every Wednesday. Pretty soon she, Jeri and I were as close as sisters. To this day, they are the only family I truly let get away with calling me “Lala”. 🙂 Next were the Baileys. Little did I know when I was put in their small group where that relationship would go! They’ve taken me on trips, entrusted me with their children and even offered to let me live with them when my parents thought we were moving. Vicki became my unofficial mentor and if anything had happened to my dad before I got married, Brian would have walked me down the aisle. Then I went off to school. I grew up and these relationships changed. We’re still close and I still know I’m always welcome at both homes.  I am so grateful for these families. They’ve loved me, corrected me, encouraged me, and let me be a part of their lives.

What then, must it be like to know that you were chosen? It’s one thing to be in the family you were born into. But to know that someone chose you? Especially when you did nothing to deserve it. Mikayla couldn’t have done anything to earn our love. She wasn’t even on the same continent yet. But from the moment we received her picture and her name, we fell in love with her. I want her to be proud of her heritage. I hope we’re able to take her back to China one day and show her where she’s from. But I also want her to know that she is as much a part of this family as any of us. No matter what. That we chose her. That we loved her before she could even earn it. As if she would have had to. I’m hoping that she will better understand what it means for us to be adopted children of God. We didn’t earn it. We even threw it back in His face. But He still loved us and He still chose us.

I borrowed an idea from my friend Kels and wrote something for Mikayla. I want to print it out and frame it for her birthday. It’s entitled ‘Because She’s My Sister’.

She is five…..I am twenty.
But she’s my sister.

Her skin is caramel….My skin is white.
But she’s my sister.

Her eyes are brown….My eyes are blue.
But she’s my sister.

She wears princess pjs….I wear a tank top and shorts.
But she’s my sister.

She cries at the Easter Bunny….I don’t cry for anything.
But she’s my sister.

She likes Disney music…..I like Lauryn Hill.
But she’s my sister.

She wants to play with Barbies….I play with her.
Because she’s my sister.

She wants to read “just one book”…..I read it to her.
Because she’s my sister.

She wants to dance…..I dance with her.
Because she’s my sister.

She wants me to sit by her…..I sit by her.
Because she’s my sister.

She tells me she loves me……I tell her I love her too.
Because she’s my sister.

Blessing and courage to you!