Saturday, July 31, 2010
As Christians, we know that our relationship and our walk with Christ is any thing but dull. I believe that life comes to us in 3 forms; mountains, valleys, and plains. The mountaintop moments in our lives are of course when we have some great moment...whether that be with a job, personal relationship, or spiritual revelation. It is those mountaintop experiences that we want to hold on too, because we like the way we were feeling in those moments. These are the moments that we find it most easy to praise God, because His hand in our life is obvious. The valleys are those low moments that we do not want to talk about. These are the moments that we wish we could sweep under the rug and be back at the mountain. We find it difficult to praise God because we can't always see past the situation to know that He is in fact moving. The valley is usually a place that we knocked into, or placed there by some unforeseen circumstance or situation. The valley is the complete opposite of the mountain. And yet we know that the valley is a place that we can move from. It is a place that, though we don't want to be there, we can find a way out. Then there is the plain. For some people the plain of our life is more uncomfortable then the valley. For many, myself included, there are moments that I do not feel like I am living unless something is happening...be it good, or bad (mountain or valley). The reality is, the plain is the perfect place to be for deeper encounter with God.
The other day I was thinking about what I wanted for my birthday. How was this birthday going to be different from last year? After all, I am going to be 31...so this birthday has to start off big! The truth is, the more I sat and thought about it, the more I heard God's voice telling me to be still. How can you truly be still and know that He is God? Yes, I understand in our world that, stillness and a quiet attitude are rare. But think back to those moments where you were intentional about your quiet time, and focused on His word despite the screaming children in the background. Remember how you felt in that week or two weeks where you were pouring yourself into His word and He was pouring His spirit over you. Time alone with God, however you do it, is essential to our spiritual growth and maturity. Which brings me to these 31 days.
I will be honest with you and say, my quiet time is sparse at best. It has become easy for me to say that my schedule is so busy doing stuff for the Kingdom, that it has trumped my personal time with Him. But it wasn't just my job. I can say that my social time has become a factor in this as well. Especially when you consider Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc. As I was examining the things in my life, I realized that my passion to serve God and live in His will for my life is greater then any of this stuff in my life. And I had to be real with myself and say, "You know, It has been a while since I really heard from the Lord."
All the while, I have been having this feeling that something big is about to happen! Do you ever get that feeling? You can't plan it. You can't force it into being. As I was praying one night about these feelings, I heard God say to me "Ryan, its time to go deeper." For me that means, I am letting go of certain things that would distract me from His voice. For me, that means I need to learn to live in the plain of my life and be comfortable. So for the next 31 days I am giving up the following things:
-Facebook and twitter
-fasting one meal a day
-All TV except for news(it is hurricane season...I need to watch the weather)
What I need for people to understand is that I am not doing this fast as a way to get God to give me what I want or what I think I need. This is me, finding ways to live in the plains of my life and be attentive to his voice.
I appreciate your prayers as I walk this journey. I am praying that God's will would be done and that His voice rings loud and clear in my hear.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
There is so much we want to do and so many people we want to see and believe it or not 12 days may not be enough...but that is all that we have so we are making the most of it!
The first half of the trip was spent in the Oklahoma City area. I, of course, grew up in the city, so driving down all the familiar roads and highways brought back a lot of memories. We were able to go back to my home church, Midwest City Community Church of the Nazarene. I was asked to sing a couple of songs...and of course I was willing! It was great to see so many old friends. But I think the word 'friends' is a big understatement. As I was scanning the congregation, my mind was flooded with memories of these people who believed in me from day one. My heart was overwhelmed with feelings and reflections of these people who encouraged, support, prodded, guided and extended grace to me! I am forever indebted to this congregation and forever grateful to the Lord for leading us to this place.
In addition to our church family reunion, there was a mini Gage family reunion...with some of our extended family. Since I was raised as an only child, I am "blessed" to have many cousins, auntie's, uncle's, great auntie's & uncle's...you get the point. So we had a family day which was tons of fun and loaded with laughter. It is always fun to reminisce with my cousin because we are so close in age and we shared so many summer adventures. It is great to see how our own families are growing and shaping. Though we wish we could see each other more, it is nice to know we can stay connected through our technologies!
We were able to return to our Alma Mater, Southern Nazarene University to look around and maybe see some former professors. We were in luck as we ran into Dr. Reighard, my piano professor, friend, and all around funny man! We were in stitches, cracking up and sharing stories. Before we knew it, we had spent an hour and a half in his office...and that was our first stop on the visit. Needless to say, the tour was cut a little short! lol
The second half of the trip was spent in the rolling plains of Thomas Oklahoma. It is amazing to me how fast you forget the simple living of small town America. In fact, as I was walking one morning, I heard these ladies chatting about their day. When lady A was asked what was on her agenda, she replied "Nothin' really...just goin make jelly! That's enough" Then, of course, that started my obsession with Sandplum Jelly! Have you had it yet? Our son was in heaven in Thomas. The grandparents bought him one of those kiddie pools that we all had growing up! He even got creative and put the Little Tikes Plastic slide in there, as his own personal water slide. I cannot even count the number of hours he spent in that pool.
Another highlight of the trip came a random idea. Ashley I realized that we were not going to see everyone we wanted to see while we were in Oklahoma. So we planned a "Lunch with the Gages". So we placed the announcement on Facebook...thinking that we would have a few people join us. Well, we almost shut the place down with people. Okay, maybe I am stretching it a little but we were not planning to have over 30 people. It was so great to see so many faces. Many of them we have not seen since our wedding. So there was 7 years of catching up to do. In that moment, I was reminded of how God truly blesses your life with friendship and love. Our hearts were full that day...and our stomachs!
It is always great to return to the places where you began! The past provides a unique opportunity to praise the Lord for those moments in your life. At the same time, it provides you that same opportunity of praise for the plans He has for your future. I am extremely humbled and grateful for this time we shared. There are so many more stories to share, but I don't want bog down the blogging world. The finale of this series will be from the prospective of our son, Keller! You don't want to miss it!
Saturday, July 10, 2010
The next three entries will be devoted to our adventures in the great state of our beginnings. Be prepared to laugh, get a little misty eyed and do a double take. I am sure that there will be many stories to tell, so I will try to keep it brief. Here is a teaser:
Today was Extended Gage Family day! After our dinner-which had some really good food-we went to my great aunt's house! As we were turning down her street, you could hear the laughter of children. And as we drew closer to Aunt Lou's house, we could see my cousins playing in the street....on my aunt's hover rounds (notice the plural). Who would have thought a group of kids could have so much fun? That is until the batteries ran out!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Let it be said that I am extremely humbled and fortunate to be an American. We all know that we are blessed to have the freedoms that we have and to live as we do. I am very aware of the sacrifices that were made by the many men and women who have served in the Armed Forces-past and present.
Sometimes I feel that there are people in the world who blur the line between their political views and their spiritual calling. I think on days like today we have to be careful that worship remains focused on Him and not become worship of our country.
I confess to you that I some times struggle with how to balance my faith and my Christian convictions with my civic responsibilities and allegiance. How do we appropriately express our patriotism without giving the impression that our ultimate trust is in our government rather than in our God? Amazingly, my devotion time this morning lead me to Psalm 76. Take a moment and read it...for this psalm was helping me to see how God can be honored because of His work in our land.
As a worship leader, it is my responsibility, first and for most, to help lead people into a personal encounter with the Living God. So when it comes to holiday events, on Sundays-like today-though I want to respect the said event, I do not think it should be the reason why we are gathering together. Personally, What we did for our service today was a wonderful representation of who we are as Americans...but more importantly, as children of God. Today it was my responsibility to remind people that not only do we celebrate the freedom that we have to worship our Living God, but we celebrate the freedom we have gained by the sacrifices of Jesus Christ.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Ashley and I have made a better effort of holding each other accountable for what we are eating and for what activities we are doing. Moving forward has been our theme and if any of you follow us on twitter, you how these two words have become a standard in all that we are doing! One of the highlights of the month has been our epic return to Zumba class. Let me just say, that if you have never been in a zumba class, you need to go! Not only is it a great workout, but you can walk out with some great stories. I think my next blog series will be about our class.
Of course you have to understand that for any person wanting to lose weight, there is this small amount of vanity involved. I think we were a little more motivated to shed the pounds because of our upcoming trip to Oklahoma. But for me personally, the idea of living sloppy, like I have been, is just not appealing, and it is not who I am. And I know it is not who God called me to be. As I am working through this sloppy revelation, being appealing and attractive for the Kingdom takes on a whole new meaning. When I say these words, appealing and attractive, I don't mean it in the pretty christian people way. What I am trying to say is that, if I, personally, am going to do ministry for the Kingdom-and do it well- I have to be willing to tone up all areas of my life. It also means cleaning up the messes of life and refocusing on His will for me. It could me less time on Facebook and a fewer tweets. In my last entry, I talked about having this fear of succeeding. I think i was and at times still afraid, because God is going to require me to give up some things and maybe some people, that do not fall into his plan for my life. In our daily living, I know and believe that God reveals more and more of himself to us. Though his layers are vast and different, our response should always be the same...obedience.