A Tree

Psalm 1

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

This week was rough for me.  I expected SCOTUS to do exactly what they did, so when it all rolled down, I was truly surprised by my grief.

I knew, intellectually, that this World didn’t love us – but I was unprepared for the number of people who said, “if you don’t celebrate this, you’re a bigot and … ”  Ouch.  Insults aren’t stones, but they still hurt when they land.

It’s like … we were besties with the World for a long time.  We changed for them (too much).  They changed for us a little.  We kept hoping they’d change for good, we made excuses – and we sure did like the goodies that we scored when we were at their house.  The fights have been raging for years now, we knew the day they told us to lose their phone number was coming fast… but it still hurt.  We’ve pretended for a long time that we could “win” at the World’s game and at God’s, that a life offered to the Lord could be a life without sacrifice.  Absurd, even to read – but true.  And who among us doesn’t want to have their cake and eat it too?

Thing is, we never were supposed to be yoked with the World, not in any way.  We’re supposed to be light and salt, not a part of this World or its system.   We weren’t supposed to sink our roots into the World, we were supposed to sink our roots into the Lord.  So, this week the roots sneaking over to the World got snapped off.  It hurt.  We’re in shock. The closer we were to the World, the more we hurt.

But this can be good for us.  We can react to this, not with anger, not with hate, not with vengeance, but with revival.  We can get with the Lord and go deeper, and produce the fruit that He told us was the result of His Spirit, and nothing less.  We will do that by associating more closely with other Christians, and creating/restoring community, and leaning on one another, as parts of the Body are supposed to.

And the World will see the fruit.

If they hate us, let them hate us.  But let us hate us for Who we serve, not for sin.  Let the Light shine on, and let us be known, once again, for the Love that we have for one another.

1 Peter 4:14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed,because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

A people day

Sometimes I think I write so much about what I believe that it’s hard to see where I am…

Today was a people day.  I have some sewing projects I’d really like to work on, and I finally got my weekly chores backed into a corner and tamed down around Tuesday, then Wednesday promised to take my daughter to the movies, and then today… today could have been a things day, but it was a people day.

First I had to take the dog to the vet.  Which isn’t all that people, except I always chat to the receptionists.  Anyway, it needed doing.  You’re responsible for living things in your care.

Then I had to go to TRU for a present for my daughter to take to a bday party tomorrow, and to two grocery stores.  Daughter and I did those errands together, so we had some nice time.  I got a lot of 11yo girl enthusing.

Husband asked me to check in on the new neighbors and I ended up chatting with her for a good long while.  Nice, fellow Christian and fellow seamstress.

Then son came back from a camping trip with my folks.  Went to folks’ house to pick him up, chatted with them a few.

Then it was time to take my daughter to swimming lessons.  We got there, she slammed her finger in the car door, we came back home and iced (and Advil’d) her up.

Dinner.  Husband came home, I sat with him while he watched some TV.  “How things work” for Alaska.  Alaska seems more sane than the lower 48 right about now…

And that was my day.  It’s nearly 9 pm now… I’m not going to the sewing cave, I don’t sew when I’m tired, I mess it up.

Some days you’d really like to be a Martha, but you’re a Mary because that’s just what needs doing.  People are so much more important than things, I don’t mind.  But I’d sure like to have something to show for my day…

I’m not going to pretend to be what I’m not.

I’m not going to pretend that watching the insanity that our country has been wallowing in, especially the last few years, doesn’t baffle me.  One minute I’m ready to head to the hills (literally) and the next minute I figure there’s no reason to raise an eyebrow because clowns took up throwing pies.   What do you expect from clowns, anyway?

And I’m not going to pretend that I really don’t want to go to bed right now because I need to hit CF at the crack of dawn.  Or that I’d rather not, but that pesky Marying comes in again – scheduling conflict if I don’t get my fuzzy tail out of bed bright and early.

Next Mary task?  Calling in the cats and putting out my husband’s clothes for tomorrow.  G’night all.  :)

The Obligations of Wealth

Do you know what worries me?

What worries me is that I might not be using the myriad gifts that God has given me as well as I ought to use them.

I worry that my words weren’t the right words, so that lost friend I was *trying* to reach was instead pushed farther away from the Kingdom.

I worry that I’m not representing God properly.

See, I’m rich.  Oh, I’m not talking about pocketbooks, though I think anyone with a roof over their head and hot meals on the table needs some self-examination if they don’t see their own financial blessings.  But I’m rich in the raw materials of life.

D’you know.. my parents are still married?  To each other!  And my grandparents stayed married until death did them part!  Not a one of my aunts and uncles has ever been divorced, nor any of my cousins.  (I know, it’s getting scary).  I personally am married to my high-school sweetheart, and we’ll be celebrating 20 years next month.   Oh, and his parents were married until death parted them, too.

Let’s talk the riches of faith… I have a Greek/English NT on my bookshelf that belonged to my grandmother.   One of my uncles is noted for his gift of personal evangelism, and his wife is basically the nicest person on the planet, not to mention a prayer warrior beyond compare.  The other side of my family isn’t as intense, but past the time when my father’s father could read much of anything else, he had a well-thumbed Bible by his side.  I spent my childhood in the church, worked through AWANA (all that memorization!)… and somehow, every time my church went through a pastor transition, I was somewhere else.  You want to talk about protection?  Provision?  Provision!  I found my current church at the gym – one of the elders’ wives used to work out next to me every morning.

And me?  Oh, I’ve got my bumps and bruises that life’s brought to me, but hey – one of my gifts is counsel.  They ain’t nothin’.  I’ve heard stories.  You know, it took me decades to stop feeling survivor guilt.  Why am *I* so special, that I shouldn’t have my fair share of horror?  I guess maybe so other folks know it’s possible… someone told me that once, that until she met me, she thought every family treated their kids the way her people treated her.

I have *no* excuses.  Absolutely none.  And I wonder, and wonder… am I doing enough?  Am I a good enough witness?  What am I doing with all this wealth?

So, yes.  It matters to me.  It matters to me that not a day goes by that I don’t offer encouragement to *someone*, that I don’t give a compliment, that I don’t try to give a smile, that I don’t stand up and say, “I am a Christian!” when people try to dis my Lord.

I don’t think I am doing enough, honestly.  But I know that if I don’t wake up every morning and offer my day to the Lord, I’m never going to have the slightest chance to hit that mark.

That’s pretty much my life’s mission, to be a blessing.  ‘Cause I love y’all, and because I want to show the world how wonderful Jesus is.  Isn’t that the point?  I’ve already got so much, I wish I could share more of the most important stuff.

What’s your mission?

Three Ships: Stealing a Metaphor

I’ve been struggling over this post for some time, but it won’t go away.  Finally this metaphor popped into my head, something I’d read that just gelled for me.  So I’m stealing it – I think this will be a familiar passage for most of my readers.

In Mere Christianity, CS Lewis compares the three parts of morality to ships in a navy.

“The voyage will be a success only, in the first place, if the ships do not collide and get in one another’s way; and, secondly, if each ship is seaworthy and has her engines in good order. …. Thirdly, with the general purpose of human life as a whole: what man was made for:  what course the whole fleet ought to be on…”

I feel like much of the conservative writing that I read emphasizes the first priority – social order.  We should set up society so This and That are the Way Things Go.  Generally speaking, I don’t disagree with the This and Thats… I’m conservative and Christian myself, and my morality is, thus, Biblically based.   I would be delighted to live in a society full of believers, and daydream about it from time to time.

But my contention is that society is now full of (to steal Lewis’ metaphor) ships that are so badly damaged that they can’t sail, or captained by folks who think that steering around in circles is the best fun.   And if they run into someone else and damage things?  Well, c’est la vie and someone else should fix the mess.

And Lewis has reminded me, some of the reason that we have folks using their ships to do donuts on the high seas is that we don’t have a common goal.   This fleet isn’t going in a common direction.

How can we have a common direction when we have two fleets?  One sails for our King, the other sails for the ruler of this world.  And half of the latter fleet flies a false flag, pretending to be on our King’s business.   It is even further confusing because while their ruler is our enemy, they themselves are not – and our goal is not to sink their ships but to convert them to the rulership of our King.

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

I am a woman, and I belong to a church that emphasizes individual relations to Christ.  What I posit is that if we would obey 1 Peter 3, and start running our own ships properly, and then sail them according to His direction, we would find that much of the second problem – ships running into other ships – would sort itself out.

1 Peter 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.  …. 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.

To put it more bluntly, if our relationship with Christ is right and tight, if we love Him and keep His commandments (John 14:15) , then our cities and counties and states will be better places to live in, and to raise families.  Our lives will be more beautiful, and our hearts will be filled with His light.  And then, since we are on course and not sinking, our ultimate mission becomes easier.  And the more of us that *are* right and tight with our Lord, the more of us who are concerned with our personal walks with God, the more folks will see how we sail.  Not with words, but with actions.  And then, does our Lord not return this century, maybe we can get society back on an even keel.

We can’t force the other fleet to sail the way we want them to, but we can get them into our fleet, help repair the damage of past folly, and instruct them in the ways of our King.  In so doing, our King’s fleet becomes larger, stronger, and everyone’s lives become better.

The change starts within.

Avoiding Ugliness

A stumbling block on my road to being the Christian that God wants me to be is involving myself in messes that don’t belong to me.  I just love to fix things, to make people happy, to bring solace, to counsel, to explain, to make right… and when I see things out of order, unhappy people, people who think ill of me or my ChristFamily, I get all kerfuffled.

Focusing on God increases my faith, focusing on this world encourages despair.

God doesn’t want me to stop counseling, to stop bringing solace, to stop speaking for Him – but it is so easy to forget that I do so in His power, and not my own.

Luke 12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

In the same vein, it is God who makes the appointments for me to use the gifts He’s given me, it is He who directs whatever part of His body I happen to be.  My job is to be available to His will, and to do the things that are set before me.

And I have noticed that a good and solid way to set myself up to stumble spectacularly is to dwell on ugliness.   This world is so ugly.  And *I can’t fix it*.

I can bring solace to my husband or a friend or a neighbor.  I can teach my mentee, and counsel a sister in Christ.  But I can’t unravel the horrors this world has to offer.  That’s why I stay off blogs where there’s a lot of bitterness and anger.  I can’t fix it!   I can’t do a single thing to make things better, and it distresses me.  And that distress, in turn, makes me less effective – because it takes my focus off of God, smashes my joy, and encourages me to think about how I *would* fix it, if I could, which I can’t.

My distress encourages me to rely on my own strength, at least in my mind.  Because I am no longer minding the business that God gives me to mind, I receive no aid – and why should I?  Imaginary paladining.  -rolls eyes-

God is faithful to help me do the things He asks me to do.  I clean the messes that He allows in *my* life, but I can’t do anything about messes in lives not even tangentially related to my own.  God gave me a soft heart, and I’d fix those messes if I could… but I’m not God and I can’t.

So you’ll forgive me, if I avoid ugliness.  I have my proper work to do, and spending time winding myself up doesn’t get that work done, doesn’t get anyone anywhere.  In fact, I think it prevents me on focusing on one area of service where I could do more, which is in prayer.   If there is ever anything I can do for any of the Family, let me know… I love to help. But if not, I’ll keep my eyes on my own paper, and keep trying to be a little light in a very dark world.

Through the Looking Glass

What’s a girl to do, when she’s been tossed through the Looking Glass?  That’s a question that all of us are asking ourselves lately, as we look around our world and shake our heads in disbelief.  If you explained half of what’s going on in the news lately to a 5yo, they would scoff.

What makes things worse is that the inhabitants of this world insist that everything is right and normal and proper.  Trying to communicate to them is an exercise in futility – at least in aggregate.

A lot of Christians believe that the duty of the Church is to perfect the world, to force the secular outside to conform to our norms and morals.  I respect that, because I would much rather live in a world where normal was normal again.  (And yes, I vote my conscience every chance I get).

But I don’t think this is the season for that – and I think we’re going about it all wrong.   We’re trying to be a team, and get our team to win.  But the Bible doesn’t describe Christendom as a team, the Word describes us as a *family* – a family full of adoptees, each and every one of us.  Families often do become more influential and start running things, but that’s not the first concern *of* a family.

The family of Christ in particular is charged with disseminating the Gospel and creating disciples.  In other words, we’re supposed to tell people how awesome our Father is, and invite them to join us.  We want more members of the family!

And that means individuals working with individuals, because families grow one person at a time.

What do you suppose would happen to our influence if every member of our family acted like they wanted to do the Father proud?  What do you suppose would happen to our influence, if every member of our family started treating non-family members as potential siblings, not as enemies?  What do you suppose would happen if all the family stopped expecting those who aren’t members of the family to act like family members?

This world is swallowing insanity after insanity with a speed that leaves anyone who looks at it nauseous.  But this world doesn’t have the Truth.  How can they know any truth without The Truth?  Are they protected against “strong delusion” without the Shield?  No.  No.  They’re to be pitied, they’re to be helped.  And there is *no* help, no solution that doesn’t start with Jesus.   We, the family, no longer have the luxury of believing that nice is enough.  It’s not.

I don’t think anyone can argue – we’re through the Looking Glass.  So, now what?  We can’t go back, we can only go forward.  What are we going to do with the lives He has given us?

How many can we bring the Truth to, before we go Home?

Family of Christ: Fellowship

Pastor Mike was preaching from the fourth chapter of the book of Acts tonight.  The sermon title was, “Smooth seas don’t make skillful sailors”… and he spent some time talking about persecution.

I have a somewhat romanticized idea about persecution and martyrdom because I’ve never seen it with my own eyes.  You read about the suffering of the martyrs, and how nobly they went to their deaths, and you think to yourself, “ah – even their captors must have respected them”.  This view is enhanced when you hear, years later, that one of their captors comes to Christ.  Ah, how noble!

But is it really like that?

How many more people are calling them names, talking behind their backs, treating them with contempt?  How often do they drag home at the end of the day, bearing the weight of misunderstanding and squashed hopes?  Hindsight is 20-20… in hindsight we see the kind word that changed the stranger’s day and thus their life.  Living in that moment, it’s the futility of explaining the love of God to people who don’t want Him, of being ridiculed, of being belittled.  How do they bear up?  How do we?

How do we, indeed, manage to live this Christian life?

Of course the first source is our Lord Himself.  But the next source is our fellow Christian, in whom the Spirit of God also dwells.

What a privilege we have, to be part of this body of Christ!  To reach out to our siblings and ask for prayer, to speak words of encouragement, to be healed, to worship together in Spirit and in Truth.  We each carry God in our hearts, and I am lately being drawn to the beauty of our family.

Each one of my siblings in Christ has something to teach me – because they all bear Christ in their hearts.  Each one of my siblings in Christ has something to bless me with.  Each one of my siblings in Christ is someone to love.  We are given this family so that we can support one another through the rough times, and through the smooth.   We should be praying together and bouying one another up.

I am delighted when I bop over into one of my siblings blogs and am blessed with insight.  I am honored when I am asked to pray.  I wish I could express to you, my beloved siblings, how much joy and love and appreciation I have for you all – how your existence brightens my life.

We are given this family as a GIFT, as a blessing – and this drawing together as a family is what will get us through the dark times, when they come.

Yes, this is where I start hugging everyone and telling you how much I love you.  Y’all just have to work with it.  Crazy Californian Jesus Freaks.  ;)  I only wish I could share the emotion itself.  So beautiful.  I am so very *grateful* for this blessing.

Thanks all!