The Point of Radical Forgiveness

One of the toughest parts of Christian doctrine is the requirement that we forgive those who have sinned against us.  I could write out a big long thing about what forgiveness is and is not, but … not where I’m going.

It’s too easy, living in fleshsuits, to think of other humans as our true enemies.  But this is theologically flawed.

Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

People, humans, are all – ALL – potential siblings in Christ.  If they live, they have the opportunity to become redeemed.   It doesn’t matter how black their sins – they could repent, they could come to Christ.

There are two possibilities for all:

Either…

1) They choose not to repent, and will pay in Hell for all of eternity

OR

2) Jesus paid for their sins on the cross.  The sinless One was whipped nearly to death, spit upon, and crucified.  Debt – paid in full.

Forgiveness – even radical forgiveness – does NOT mean that justice is not served.  Radical forgiveness turns the justice utterly over to Christ.  It cuts the bonds and pain tying the one who has been sinned against to the one who has sinned.  The obedience pleases God.  It is a fit sacrifice – and anything less is black sin, for our Lord said also that they who would not forgive would not *be* forgiven.

And it allows repentance a foothold.  It returns the potential to the human who has done the harm.  It calls them back home to Christ, and what a witness!  How better to show forth God’s love and His reality than to do something utterly out of your fleshly power?  Jesus forgave.  I want to be like Jesus.

Don’t underestimate the power of obeying God past the place where you can see how it’s even possible.  All things are possible with God.  All things.

Even forgiveness.

How Marriage is Supposed to Work

Chapter 53 in “stuff that is obvious to me that is apparently no longer obvious because our society is sick and dying”:  How marriage is supposed to work.  (I thought everyone knew this, seriously – I’m a little disturbed that I have to type it).

When you become man & wife, you become a team.  You are yoked together, and you’re going somewhere.  Your spouse is now your closest family member, because at their hearts, families are teams.  Marriage isn’t meant to be dissolved – it’s meant to be a permanent team, two souls yoked together getting through life.

Life is rough!  Having a partner gets you through places you couldn’t get on your own!  Sometimes one partner will pull more weight, sometimes the other.  Once joined, you’re not meant to split apart.

But just because you’re yoked together doesn’t mean you have to do the same job.  If you say, “I want a family, I want a hugely successful career, I want a nice home, I want to be hospitable and available to my family…” well, those are hard things to combine, if one person is trying to do them or two people are trying to attack the same problem.  Traditionally, women took care of popping out the babies and minding them, men took care of getting the career business.  It doesn’t matter so much how you divvy up the labor – it matters a whole heck of a lot that you talk about it and then divvy it up and not snark at the other person because they’re not doing part of *your* job.  Maybe that’s how you start, and your husband has a work-place accident, and you bring home the bacon.  Life happens, people.  Your goal isn’t the short-term, “I exist to perform this task” – your goal is to get both of you across the finishline.

Marriage isn’t about getting “me” to where “I” want to be.  It’s about getting “us” to where “we” want to be.  That means sacrifice.  It also means communication.  While I’m *firmly* in the “husbands are in charge” camp… only a fool is going to want to boldly go along and ignore what’s going on on the other side of the yoke.  (For me, this means only a fool swallows what she really has to say because it might rock the boat – the captain needs this information.  My hesitation or discomfort when he’s expecting wholehearted cooperation could make a huge mess).  (Someone has to be in charge.  And that person needs information.  “We’re crossing into the fireswamp.  Thank you for telling me that you’re afraid.  This is how I’m going to ameliorate that.  But we’re still doing it, and this is what I need from you.”)

Because society is sick, and we’ve been constantly encouraged to put our own desires over the needs of others, we’ve lost the whole, “my spouse has my back” concept.   Hello, sin natures.   So … we make our children our “closest family” instead of our spouse.  Or our work group.  Or our online community.  Whatever.  We ask “how can we force this human to be trustworthy, what laws should we pass?” instead of “how can I avoid being unequally yoked with someone whose character is questionable at best?”

And we forget God.  Because God is to be closer to our hearts than even our spouses.  God is to be obeyed, even before our husbands.  God is the One who controls the circumstances of our lives, and He’s the one who gives us strength to get through the awful times.  If you place your faith in another human being, they will fail you.  Humans are mortal – the best character in the world might be housed in a frail body that breaks constantly.  The spouse you build your world around could be killed in a car accident tomorrow.   Stuff *happens* – and there are no guarantees.

If you want to have a good life, read the Instruction Book (Bible).  God has lots of rules for our good.  He tells us not to be unequally yoked with non-believers.  He tells us what virtue looks like at several stages in life.  He tells us how to raise our kids and manage our homes with wisdom.  So do that.  Do that, and remember that you have a blessing in your spouse, but at the end of the day, God is in control:  Not You.  Doing the right thing doesn’t mean you *will* get a reward, it makes you more likely to do so.  No guarantees – God might have a totally different plan for your life.

Marriage was one of God’s first gifts to humankind.  We’ve forgotten that.  We’ve forgotten so much of what it’s for.  We don’t give ourselves to our spouses, ready to truly become one in our hearts as well as in our flesh.  We’re so *selfish*.

But I’m here to tell you, after nearly 20 years married to my highschool sweetheart – and more mess, more insanity, and more awful blecky yuck than you’d believe, as well as more sweetness and delight and solace than I’d ever hoped for… marriage is a good thing.  A very good thing.

If you don’t want that good thing, that’s fine.  You don’t have to take it, and the Word says that single service to the Lord is better yet.  God Speed.  But if you do – remember to treat marriage as the blessing and merging that it was designed to be.  Become one.  And bring glory to God in all you do.  After all – THAT is the point of your existence.

Colossians 3:17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Go With the Flow

I’ve been writing about this a lot, I know that.  But I have a tendency to be such a micro-manager of life.  “Okay God – you’re going to send me five gallons of blueberries next week?  I’ll get right on researching recipes!”  It’s not like that’s totally a bad thing, but I will totally start obsessing, like I think I know what’s happening next week or next month or next year.

The Bible is clear about this.

Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know what a day may bring forth.

Isaiah 56:12 “Come,” they say, “let us get wine, and let us drink heavily of strong drink;
And tomorrow will be like today, only more so.”

Matthew 6:34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

James 4:13-15  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead,you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

It’s so easy to confuse due diligence in planning and obedience with fore-knowledge and control.  The Bible has a lot to say about wisdom – including sensible planning.  But the Bible isn’t just about being sensible, the Bible is a book which points us to God.  And God wants us to have faith in Him.  Radical faith, a faith that relies on His goodness and His plans.

I’m learning to pray and pray about what’s going on rather than asking God for a specific solution.   Just beginning to learn, – I so don’t have this down.  And as I do this, as I open myself to His solutions, and I learn to watch for the doors He opens for me.

And as I do that, life become so much more exciting.  It’s like there’s a happy surprise around each corner, a little gift in each moment of the day.  I learn to be more grateful, as I say thank you for the sustaining blessings that keep me up and moving.   I enjoy more.  And I stop micromanaging God.  “Oh, is *this* the solution You are bringing me to that problem?  Wow!  I’d never have thought of *that*!”

Yes.  God likes sensible, obedient children.  He also likes children that will follow Him wherever He leads.  The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  God *loves* crazy faith.  OT or NT… read your Word.  God wants this from us, from all of us.  Be ready for the crazy, out of left field solution… sometimes you just might find yourself fielding that ball.

Two Interesting Hours

Call it evangelical guilt if you will, but I feel like if someone opens the door to a conversation about God, that means that God put me in their life to witness to them.  This is not super comfy for me, as I’m about as interested in conflict as a plushy panda bear.   I do it anyway.  I mean, really – what are we on this planet for, except to spread the Word of God?

So.  We get a ton of Jehovah’s Witnesses on our block, and I always talk to them.  (Okay, mostly – sometimes I’m busy).  There’s a few that our family has developed a relationship with.  DH has a gentleman who comes calling every couple months of a Saturday, I have a lady that I see every month or so.

Theoretically, we’re comparing theological notes.  Everyone in the conversation knows we’re all trying for conversion, so it’s a little more …interesting… than that.

Today the lady came by, she wanted to talk about resurrection.  Cool.  I asked her what I thought was a simple question, and it took over two hours to get the answer.  Since I’m still processing (and coming down from the intensity) I’m going to spew on y’all.  Lucky you.

My question:  How do you get to your afterlife, and how is it determined who gets what?  (I know that the Witnesses don’t think that most of them go to Heaven, and they don’t believe in Hell, so).

The answer:  Righteous living – which includes telling people about the “kingdom”.  (Aka the millennial reign of Christ, living in which is as good as it gets for most of them in the afterlife).  You live righteously, as righteously as you can (and Jesus’ sacrifice covers what you can’t, but you have to try really hard until the day you die).  Some folks (the 144K) get to go to Heaven but mostly you don’t.  Death is soul-sleep, and if you’re not good enough for the afterlife, you just … don’t wake up.  **This is why they’re knocking on your doors.  If they don’t tell people about the kingdom, they don’t get to be part of it.

Interesting factiods:

  • The witnesses who don’t think they’re one of the 144K (I should have gotten details on this, but it was a rabbit trail) don’t take communion.  They observe it without partaking, and only once/year.
  • They don’t believe that God fore-knew that Adam and Eve would choose to sin.  Their millennium is the time to make God’s foiled plan come to fruition.  The lady was shocked and appalled at the idea that God could have known (because He is eternal and outside of time) what Adam and Eve would do without stopping them.  The words she used were “chose not to know”.  I know, you could throw a cat through that argument.
  • Only the 144K get spiritual bodies.  I read her the bit in 1 Cor about being sown flesh and raised spirit (which I want read at my funeral, btw) and … yeah.  Not impressed. Their model of resurrection is Lazarus.  (Who died again).
  • They believe that the reign of Christ will be a gradual return to the perfection of earth before the fall.  Not instantaneous, gradual… and that it will be their privilege to clean up the mess.

It was interesting.  And you can check this out with the next witnesses that knock on your door, because apparently something they are proud of is that they all will hold exactly the same doctrine, on even the smallest details.

I don’t really know why I’m on this assignment.  It’s interesting, but fairly depressing.

Personally, *I* am looking forward to Heaven, and I am absolutely sure I’m going there, and it doesn’t depend on little old **me**.  Can I get an Amen?

Stuff I teach my kids: Lines of Authority

Just one of those things… I guess I thought everyone did something like this, but I’m trying to remember that not everyone is me.

My husband is out of the house on the order of 12-14 hours, 5 days/wk.   We are -shock- not the same people, and we don’t have the same priorities.  So.  I run the house and the kids… but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to come in and “break” one of my rules.  This is how I deal.  This is how I have always dealt, and this is how we don’t have a big fuss about this in my house.  Again, I thought everyone did something like this, but apparently other people like confusion and discord.  Those things give me a headache, both literally and figuratively.

“Mommy is the boss of you (speaking to the kids).  Daddy is the boss of Mommy.  Therefore, whatever Daddy says, goes.”

So if something wasn’t allowed (or was) on Monday, and on Tuesday, after Daddy has made his feelings known, it is either now allowed or not allowed – that’s what I say.  This is how I keep the rules clear for the kids – nothing more confusing than rules that change – and how I teach them about authority.   It’s also a good example of obedience.

Oh, and it makes my life a lot simpler.

*Don’t be dorks.  If there is some factor, some information that my husband doesn’t know about and is relevant, I tell him.  I’m not a fluffball, there are usually reasons behind the ways I set things up.  But we do that privately!  And then he still makes the final decision, by which I abide.

I am not a man

I am a woman.  I am not superior to a man, nor am I a poor copy.  I’m something different.

So much of the war between the sexes seems predicated on the idea (frequently subconscious) that one sex or the other is inherently superior, that the way they go about doing things is better, that we should emulate this way-of-being.  (Insert your own examples – I don’t want to rabbit-trail).

And then we start divvying up lists of virtues and assigning sexes to them… strength is male, kindness is female.  Bravery is male, gentleness is female.  And then, having divvied them up, you get to start arguing about which list is better than the other list.  Better yet, you get to say, “but we are TOO …, see ’cause we do …” -rolls eyes-

Could we please stop?

The list of virtues in the Bible is for both men and women.  We manifest those virtues differently.  A woman’s bravery doesn’t look like a man’s – that makes her no less brave.  A man’s kindness doesn’t look like a woman’s – this makes him no less kind.  When we start playing this game, we’re playing into the enemy’s hands.   We end up singing pride or self-hate.  We aren’t building each other up in the faith, that’s for sure!

Our world is confused and full of untruths.  Stand up and be who God made you.  If God made you a man, be the best man you can be.  Don’t try to fake being something you aren’t.  If God made you a woman, don’t try to be someone you aren’t.  As my friend TxB was fond of saying, “Keep your eyes on your own paper”.

We want to remind people what women and men really are?  Well, best start living it unapologetically.  I like men, I appreciate them.  I don’t want to be a man.  If I tried, I’d be sure of failure.  I’m a woman… I can at least *try* to be a good woman.  I can give my all to being a good wife, a good mother, a good friend.  I can look up the verses in the Bible especially about women, and strive after those things.  I don’t think I’m a shining example of a woman of God… but unfortunately enough of the lights in this world are out that my poor little light is shining whether I feel worthy or not.

If we want to represent Truth incarnate, the first thing to do is stop beating around the bush about the truth of who *we* are.

I am not a man.  And that’s just fine with me.