Culture Shock

I’ve written a bit about this before – how conservative Christians are going through something akin to culture shock, because the larger culture is writing our static sense of morality as a failure to stand by the Christian values of love and kindness. It’s terribly painful, the more so when we know that it isn’t true. We aren’t always NICE – but we do actually do things for those less fortunate, so we’re probably kind and loving.

But why do they attack us? Why not the Amish or Mennonites, with whom we have 90% agreement on things Scriptural? Because the Amish are not a power. They’re quaint. Conservative Christians did hold a great deal of power, and people who say that they are Christians still do.

We are, as is everyone else alive, manipulated by the currents of society. We allowed ourselves to be shooed into one “team” – and social media has done one thing exceptionally well, and that’s reduced dialog between intelligent people to teams chanting fight songs. All of us – conservative and liberal, Christian, Pagan, Jew and Gentile… we’ve been reduced to teams.

The opposing team (or teams) sees us as a team to be deposed, a power (a dangerous, not-to-be-trusted power) to topple, an enemy to vanquish. If we are lucky, they merely wish to reeducate us.

And so we find ourselves, having lost the culture wars, being treated like any other fallen foe. We were expecting a frontal attack, we were the victims of a whisper campaign. Confused, upset, acting out… trying to win hearts that have been seduced away by bread and circuses.

But we have a way through. We can come together around the person of Jesus Christ. I might disagree with some of you about daily practice – but we can agree about who He is, what He does, and that He is in charge. We can circle up the wagons and worship our Lord together. We can hold each other up in prayer, we can encourage one another, we can strive to bless one another.

And then – then, with our hearts gladdened, we can remind each other that this is not our home… and that our enemies aren’t flesh and blood. Not one of those people who hates us so much is truly our enemy. They are all potential siblings in Christ, all potential members of our family. We have been given instructions for such a time as this – all we have to do is open our Bibles and read. And then love. Love those folks spitting in our faces. Love them and welcome them with open arms when they hear the Lord’s call.

Whether we believe that this is the time of the end, and soon our Lord will call us Home, or if we believe that this is just another time of trial to walk through, the Church as a whole *will* be on the other side of this change. We know that to be true. So let us stand firm.

We can see and deal with the stages of grief as the world hands us the black hats… but let us hold the regard of this world loosely. It was never *this* world that was made to love us, and we can never lose the Love we have been given.

Nothing may be “normal” again – normal doesn’t matter. God does.

Normalcy?

Is what we assume “normal” more cultural or more Biblical?

When we do (or don’t do) something because that’s just how it is, our actions or lack thereof come much more naturally. That’s why we as parents are so protective of what our kids consume via screen time and who our kids associate with. That’s why if you have friends who swear like sailors, soon enough you’ll be dropping F bombs too.

This is one of the reasons fellowship is so important, as is community. If you feel like “people do this” because “people do this” and your actions aren’t at all exceptional – they’re easy. When you’re the outlier, the lone wolf, conforming to whatever standard you’ve set for yourself becomes that much more difficult.

We say things like, “Did your mama raise you in a barn?” to people who fail to live up to our basic social expectations. But how do we intelligently question our expectations and align them with the Bible rather than with the surrounding culture – and how do we then support ourselves in said endeavor? And how do we help those around us do the same?

We find ourselves in a transitional time, culturally, especially those of us who are socially conservative. We were raised with certain expectations of behavior – niceness, courtesy, helpfulness… all of which align more-or-less with NT values. It becomes very easy to equate those Biblical values (kindness, gentleness, etc) with conservative values (girls wear pink, boys wear blue). However, equating the two does us a couple of disservices – it pushes away Christians who aren’t of our own culture, and it makes us easy targets for hypocrisy (is it more important that my son not wear nail polish, or is it more important that he obey lawful authority?)

The larger culture is moving rapidly to moral relativism, which is implicitly anti-Christian. So – knowing that we need to have ourselves reinforced by those around us – do we withdraw in order to create community? Do we attempt to create a community within the larger culture? Do we understand the difficulties we’re under and prayerfully dedicate ourselves to going it alone with God?

I can’t answer those questions for anyone except my own family… but I can bring this up, so that we can start questioning the ways we live our lives, checking ourselves against the Bible rather than Little House, and reminding all of us that we were chosen to live in such a time as this.

Question your assumptions. :)

Hide your light under a bushel – No!

We all have reasons to be joyful, we all have things that we can bring to the great buffet table of life, but modern culture either encourages us to bury our joys or magnify our smallest talents to the heights.  The Christian way is to make the best of what we’ve been given, accept that we were given it in the first place, and let it shine.

Enthusiasm and joy … sometimes I find myself hiding how excited I get about things, or about special opportunities that I’ve been given that I cannot share, because I don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings.   I hope you’ve enjoyed me bouncing at you about the fish – there were years I wouldn’t have done that, because not everyone lives on the coast of Southern California.

But what of it?  I didn’t move here, I was born here.   Nothing about Hearthrose is so awesome that she should get to see dolphins.  No, that was a *gift*.  And every time I see them, I can hardly hold in the delight.  I can’t teleport you to my side so that you can see them with me.  But I can tell you about it, and maybe you can share the joy?

Perhaps it’s merely selfish, but I’d dearly like to see everyone I know practice their God-given skills to the hilt.  We don’t need to compete with one another.  Competing only with ourselves, and dancing in the joy that comes with living in the light.    Stop hiding your light – and stop trying to get me to hide mine so I’m not “too much”.

Play with me!

If you feed them….

They will come!

I won’t PROMISE this will be the last aquatic post, but… I got to sort of swim with dolphins today.

The kids and I had just come in for a breather, because the waves had gotten big and rough. Standing on the beach, here comes a pair of dolphins, surfing right through the waves we’d just been in. And then another three!

Absolutely we waded out a few feet so we’d be in the water with them – but it was too rough to go out and say hi.

Regardless. COOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!

-SQUEE!-

FISH

I am excited about today… I feel hugely blessed.

I was at the pier to meet someone I only know via internet, wanted to say “hi” since she was in town… she just lost her husband. Go to the pier, drink a milkshake, you know the deal. I wasn’t too excited about it honestly.

And God threw a huge blessing my way. This many anchovies haven’t been seen of our waters in 30 years. http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2014/0709/Humongous-school-of-anchovies-swarmed-California-coastline for an article about this.

Now the rest of this is going to be photos of the anchovies… they were gone by the time we got done with our shakes.

I am bouncing bouncing BOUNCING and I’m sharing – even over here at HHH where I usually stay all philosophical. Because how many times do you see millions of fish?

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Freedom

Christians – anyone who has accepted the gift of salvation by faith through the sacrifice of Christ’s blood on the cross – are free.  Free of what?  We’re free of condemnation – we’re free of the weight of worrying about being “good enough” or “holy enough” – forever.

I am not holy or good in my self.  Nothing I can do can make me holy.  But Jesus died for me, washed me in His blood, and now I am holy – because He says so.  That’s all.  Nothing to do with me.

So, since I didn’t create my holiness, I don’t have to maintain my holiness.  I can’t de-maintain my holiness either.  (I can create grievous distance between myself and God, which has consequences, but that’s another essay).

What does that mean?  What does a free person do?

It means that because I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’m accepted – I can pour out my acceptance on those around me.  I don’t have to worry about if I am loved – I can pour out my love on those around me.  I can accept that Jesus is the Light of the world and that He is in me, and that therefore, I have Light to share.

A free person should be *busy* loving those around them, in other words.  Serve the Family of Christ, serve your neighbors, show God’s glory and truth to the world at large.  It’s ***so dark*** out there.   We have work to do.  And it is a delight.  It is JOY to be involved in the work of sharing God’s love.  The farther you go in this project, the more wonderful it is.  At first it’s uncomfortable – joy is uncool and being openly Christian is uncool too – but then you find that you start making differences in people’s lives, even small ones… and hooray!  And you see the changes Christ is making in your heart, and hallelujiah!  And even in the pain and the suffering that this world brings … you still have a joy-source.

We are His hands and His feet and His mouth in this world.  If we the Body – we should submit our bodies to His mastery and get busy showing others the way Home.

Rejoice in your freedom!

Control is an illusion

“Lord willing… “

Doing what we’re supposed to do is important.  But at the center of figuring out what we’re supposed to be doing is a relationship with God, because our to-do list can change at His whim.  If you’re given an opportunity to bless or serve someone in your daily life, and that blessing doesn’t interfere with your prime directives – bless.

We want guarantees in this life.  We want to think, “If I do x,y,z – I’ll get the result I’m after”.  Or , “If I avoid a, b, and q, I’ll be sure to keep my ……”  That’s just not reality.  Yes, usually our actions affect our results – God set His world up to reward righteousness and to ensure that we reap what we sow.  But not all rewards are temporal.

One of the hardest things to embrace is that we’re not in charge of other humans.  Humans have their own paths to travel – and we can do all the right things and still they can choose wrong.  It’s human nature.  Did not the Lord do all the right things, and do not we still choose wrongly?  How many people walk away from Him, He who is perfect?  And then we still beat ourselves up because we didn’t manage things so as to manage others.  Pshaw.  People aren’t manageable in full, and humans are fallen.

Jeremiah 2:5 Thus says the Lord,“What injustice did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and became empty?

Perhaps you’re supposed to show virtue under fire.  Is the fire fair?  Nope.  But your job is to stand strong.  Or maybe your job is to be used to give someone else a chance to be a blessing (we all hate that – we all hate being the object of charity, we’d rather be givers).  Are those things fun?  No.  So we decide that since we aren’t temporally comfortable, that we should change our situation.

Maybe we just need to lean harder on the Lord.

None of us want to remember that we’re on this earth to show God’s glory, not our own.  That we were made and placed for “such a time as this” – whatever that is.  Are we the whisper of kindness that changes a heart?  Is our grace under pressure showing someone else what that looks like?

Life is a journey, and our path is set by our Father in heaven.  Each season of our lives has value.  Pain can be turned into fine jewels… if we give it to Him.  We *have* to let Him guide us and not be so darned independent.  What a blessing it is to know that we *can’t* do what He’s given us to do – that all we can manage is to let God work through us.  But can we manage that… we can do anything.

I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
can do all things through Him who strengthens me.