The Cult of St. Hearthie

… or, “Trying to be more virtuous than you actually are”.

Having been dealing with some stuff lately that has caused me to head screeching back to the prayer closet*.  That’s all with the good.  But then I try to be *veryverygood* once I wander off on my own, and my best isn’t enough.

CS Lewis wrote about this – how until you came to the end of your best efforts, you couldn’t wave the white flag of surrender to God.

So.  I like to tease these things out to look at them, and this is what that tangle looked like:

– pulls pieces out-  Huh.  The difference between how I’d like to respond and how I actually am responding is pretty big.  But the distance between that and the response of perfect faith is vast.

  • My trying, on inspection, looks a lot more like burying than giving over.
  • I’m beating myself up over my lack of perfection.
  • I’m seeing physical effects (grinding my teeth in my sleep, knotted muscles) from my trying.

Two things.  I could use some coping mechanisms… that’s the human side (and I’m done pretending that I’m too good to use those when I need them).  But the big thing is that self-control has failed.  Therefore, I must turn to God-control.

I actually drifted off to nap thinking, “how do I do God-control”?  -snorts-

It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?  “How do I …” is just another way to ask *myself* to control *myself* – and then beat myself up for my failure.

So, when I woke up and laughed… I prayed the prayer, “God – I’m giving over control of my reactions to this situation.  I’ve done my best, and my best doesn’t cut it.  All yours.”

I’m sure I’ll have to use some coping mechanisms (and lots of prayer and self-reminder) to avoid struggling against His control.  And a sense of humor when I fail.

I’m done with the cult of St. Hearthie – I’m *not* perfect.

Anyway.  I figured this is a process we all go through, so I’m sharing it.  I don’t like to keep this stuff just for myself.  That encourages the cult too, IMO.

Off to do my devotions (time ran short this morning) and then I think I have an appointment with fuzzy puppy videos.  And then… we’ll see where we are.

 

 

*Yes, please pray.  No, don’t worry.  God’s got this – I have complete faith in that, I’m just not enjoying the process much.  Flesh wars against the spirit, y’know?  And no, I’m not going to tell  you about it.

Book Review: The Practice of the Presence of God

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence … I was given this book in the 1982 Whitaker House edition for Christmas by my father.  It has been “translated” into modern English and colloquialisms, which is normally a death-knell, but in this case – it worked.   The book itself is extremely short – it’s the size of my hand and only 93 pages long, including a short biography.

I found this book a great blessing, and I can but think that I will be turning to it often to remind myself to practice responding to the presence of the Lord in all times, concentrating myself on serving Him, and turning my mind and heart to loving Him.   The book consists largely of letters that Brother Lawrence wrote to his friends.  They are largely on the same topic, and though one could easily read the whole book in a sitting, I found myself reading a letter and putting the book down for a day or so while I digested.

I want to say that I dwell in this presence, but of course that’s ridiculous.  Sometimes in prayer I sit in the presence of God, and I bliss out.  But even for a few moments, I can feel the pressure of life calling me back – and my flesh, freaked out by the bliss, not in control, it yanks me back.  Soon enough I find myself back to “normal”, as Paul says – married women are concerned with the things of this world, not things of the Lord.

I regret that.  But this book reminds me that this blessing is something to strive for, a “discipline” to return to.  Nothing comes easily, even communion.  One day I will be in His presence for all of time… until then, any moment I can spend with the Lord is a jewel in itself, and should be appreciated as such.

So, I will try not to envy Brother Lawrence, but to learn from his example.  And I will refer back to this little collection of letters, certainly.

Highest recommendations.

Daily Witness: God is good

I was the recipient of a mild rebuke this New Year, as I prayed to see what God had to say to me… and He said, “so, where’s the faith?  Don’t you think I’ll take care of you, if you’re obeying Me?”

So, I wanted to remind myself of the ways He takes care of life and service.

Made some phone calls for the ride ministry at church today.  First call went off flawlessly – no fuss, no muss.  Sweet.  Next call, I just felt like I needed to call this lady back… and she was crying when she picked up the phone.

So we prayed a bit, and I let her talk and it was a blessing to minister to her.  She’s looking for a church home, and she’s hurting, and our church is really GOOD at ministering to the hurting.   That makes me happy.

If God hadn’t pushed me to call her, I wouldn’t have – I normally don’t call people back once they have my phone # (so many flakes) if they want a ride.  (Seriously – if I call you and say, “do you want a ride to church?” and you say, “yeah, I’ll think about it, maybe later” … I’m not going to bug you).  And obviously God’s timing for the phone call itself.

And instead of having to call all over tarnation for the ride for the other lady, God hooked that right up.  I was feeling guilty for not having hooked her up earlier, so that was just grace.

The third call was just a call, volunteer dude had gotten my email and not written me back.  Whatevs – I did get the pleasure of “hey, it didn’t go into the spam box!”  I worry about that.  I prefer email, but I worry about the Great Spam Box of Doom.  (Much like voicemail.  But then again – if you’re not going to call/email me back when I’m just putting you on the list, when I actually NEED you to contact me because I have someone who wants to get to church, how useful are you going to be?)

Have been having a few bumps and lumps on the personal side, and God gave some grace there, and I appreciate it.

It’s awkward sometimes to talk about the Providential stuff in our daily lives, and then we forget, because we don’t talk about it.   We forget to watch for it.  And then we miss out on joy.

When you start to look up and notice the cool stuff, you are struck by how God loves you – active verb – in everyday life.  And then you notice more, and that helps you love Him a bit more and it helps you focus on Him a bit more, and it just makes life an amazing place.

Every day is like this, every day has Providential blessing scattered all through it, God’s special gifts for each one of us.

I just wanted to share.

I just wanted to remember – God’s got this.

We need you

Just one of those God things, I’ve had this blog in the simmer pot in the back of my head, and when I grabbed a sermon to listen to this morning while I cleaned the kitchen and made breakfast, oh what to my wondering eyes do appear… but a vid full of Francis Chan (minus the reindeer) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxNZT0MtUeg talking about much the same thing.*

All of us have been given gifts.  We’re supposed to use them to build the family up.

But a lot of us get this into our heads, that somehow we aren’t strong enough or awesome enough to do the thing.  Someone else is better.  Stronger.  More faithful.  More in love with God.  Etc.

It’s a weird thing.  I know I have certain gifts, and I seek opportunities to use them.  It’s not that hard, I like using my gifts.   I actively enjoy using them.   I feel like I’m at a banquet and my friends are standing outside in the rain, even though they have an invitation – and I can’t get them to come inside and grab a plate.  What gives?  This blessing is for every member of the family of Christ!

Sometimes God uses me to say stuff or do stuff that’s tots on Him.  Because I watch for this – I can see where He has me pick up the phone on just the right day… or leave it on the charger.  I can see where He interrupts me when I’ve left what He had me to say and drifted off into my own stuff.   Because I’m watching for this, I get to participate in the joy that comes from watching God do His thing.  It blesses me, profoundly.

When I’m empty, I see how He arranges rest … usually *after* I thought I couldn’t hold out one more minute.

I have friends who speak God into my life, and they bless me.  I have friends with whom I can really be me – all of me, all the bits, not worried about scaring them off or freaking them out – and that blesses me and I need more of that.  I need kicking in the head to get me out of myself.   I need friendship, I need people who can take the time to get to know all the layers so I can be real.  It’s so much too easy for me to do the “acceptable” thing – I need people to call me on that.

We are a family.  Every single one of us has a profound gift from the Holy Spirit, and we’re meant to spend those gifts on one another.  Our meetings are meant to be a way that God touches us, using each other to be His hands and feet and mouth and heart.

I need YOU.  The family needs you.

And *you* don’t have to have the strength or the skill – God will provide.  It is an outflowing of the Holy Spirit.  Have you ever asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit (an extra portion, not the presence of the Spirit which comes at the time of salvation)?  Have you ever asked for your gifts, or to be shown what they are?  Have you ever said, “God, please use me today?”

Even if you’re not a crazy charismatic (with a seatbelt, lol)- what would it harm to ask?  I was raised Baptist, I wasn’t raised to this crazy stuff either.  I was leery.  But asking – it changes things.  Opportunities come.   Words come.  No one has to know that you asked.  You don’t have to use your outside voice, God can hear your thoughts.  It’s a step of faith.

Don’t you want to be used?  Don’t you want to be part of what God does today?  Of course you do.  Of course.  That urge is part of who you are in Christ.

You don’t have to be enough.  You aren’t.  That’s the joy – watching the Holy Spirit make your two loaves into enough to feed an army.

We are not all the same.  Not every man is a natural leader, not every woman is naturally gifted in counsel.  Not everyone is joyous in anonymous service.  Not everyone is gifted in speech, not everyone can work with their hands.  Not everyone has the same skillset.

This is intentional.  We are made to be interdependent.   We need *everyone*.  If nothing else, it helps to guard against pride – and don’t we all need help with that?  I do.

The only difference in the person who is being used and the one who is not is the willingness to *be* used.

 

1 Corinthians 12:Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance ofknowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,[e] yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

 

*Wireless headphones are my bestest buddies.  Being married to an IT dude/gamer has its advantages.  I have very good headphones, and I use them for listening to sermons/talks almost every day.  Makes housework go much more quickly – and I learn stuff.  Win/win.

Defining terms: From the combox

I know wiki isn’t the best.  But it’s better than nothing, and I’m writing this while waiting for it to be time to go to the gym.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molinism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arminianism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvinism

To state my own position, CS Lewis shows up and lights the way… paraphrased because it’s before 6am :)

“To know a man is going to do something is not to force him to do it”.

I believe God knows what I’m going to do, because God is outside of the dimension of Time, and He created Time.  He can’t not-know what I will choose.  But having created me to love Him, love must choose or it is not love.  Adam chose to disobey… we have always had a choice.

 

My testimony is my difficulty with apologetics

That sounds odd, yes?  But it’s true, and why 2016 is going to be a year of taking apologetics and the study of “why” more seriously and studiously.

I was saved (the longer I reflect upon this, the more grateful I am) when I was very young.  Yes, I was really saved.  The pastor of my church at the time personally examined me prior to baptism – he was very nice, but that was intimidating.   I wouldn’t have done it if I weren’t pushed by the Spirit.  Asking to be baptized was the only time I responded to an altar call for at least the first 35 years of my life.

So I’ve been in the family of God since I was old enough to realize that I should get that done.   I was given good teaching (church, Sunday School, AWANA) from the get-go.  God has never not been real to me.  I’ve never gone without His presence in my heart.

My rebellion, when it came, was much like rebelling against the strictures of beloved parents – it was because I thought I’d figured out a better way to do things, not because I was angry or wanted to cause a fuss.   And like loving parents who are letting you go your own way, while waiting for you to come home and be sensible… God was always there.  I didn’t always want to look at Him, because I knew I was in the wrong, but I never thought He didn’t exist or didn’t love me.

And eventually I came home.  And after coming home, I submitted my life to my Father, realizing at last that His rules were good and right, and that my good intentions were sending me straight to Hell.  There was no moment when He distanced Himself from me,  when I came home, He forgave me and put things right.  No moment without His truth, His presence.   Since then, I’ve turned more and more of my life over to Him (meaning, when I find a bit that isn’t submitted under a rock somewhere, I give it over), striven to serve Him, and grown closer to Him.

I can *always* feel God’s presence, all I have to do is look.

And that makes proving His existence to a skeptic really difficult.  The parts of the Bible that I study and think about are the instructions for living, or nifty bits of theology, or eschatology…. I have never needed proof that this whole thing is true.

So.  I’m going to be going through my Bible with a fine-toothed comb (and those page-points) and marking up proof texts for the JW and Mormon folks who come by wanting to debate.   And I’m going to look into some of the “why can you trust the Bible” things for skeptics… in the best sources I can, looking into it for myself.   I am too well-trained a scholar to be convinced by “this person told me so it’s good” – I can start with “this person” and then look up their source material myself, see what I think for myself.

I’m going to take my time and answer questions properly, really looking into the issues, not just finding a quick answer and being done, but going to the scary place of asking myself that question and looking for an answer that truly satisfies.   (Cassie, that + Christmas psychosis is what has happened to my answer to you on your blog – it deserves a proper bit of research and thought, not a sound bite).

I want to understand things for myself.  I expect this will be a bit uncomfortable at times… that’s okay.   I’m a big girl… and God never, never, NEVER leaves me.  Taking time to look at these questions from other angles will only make me better able to defend my faith.

And of course, I will pull all of you along for the ride.

Dominant Males

This goes out to Sarah’s Daughter and STMA.  Elspeth, I’m expecting your input.  Anyone else with an alpha-wolf hubs, feel free.

  1. My version of alpha is based on the one I live with, the one I’ve known and loved for the past 29 years.  YMMV.  It’s not exactly the same as the manosphere version.
  2. You are accountable to God for your actions and attitudes.  To Him be the glory.   We are *commanded* to certain actions and attitudes towards our husbands.  Since emotion is never legislated, that means that we’re talking about choices.   If life is giving you lemons right at the moment, that means that you respect the office even if the man is making you crazy.   Obedience in the face of difficulty is an honor, and it says a lot about your character.  Nothing written here is to be construed as a reason to disobey or disrespect your particular husband.  If you need help rummaging up respect for the man, there are tools to help you along, and I’d be happy to share those.
  3. People is people.  Don’t, please, categorize any human and leave them in a box, don’t “other” them and see them as something completely different from yourself.  It’s foolish.   Your husband is on his own path of sanctification, he’s got his own baggage, his own past, his own dreams.   He has to deal with God on his own, he has to make his own choices – just as you do.  We are all accountable to the Lord.  You can’t make anyone do anything.  Don’t try, it’s ugly and likely to backfire.   Let your husband be who he is.  This is written to help you understand him a bit better, hopefully.

The manosphere writes about alphas as the be-all, end-all way to be male.  It’s not.  Alphas are meant to be the leaders of packs, not just the leaders of their own households.  If everyone was supposed to be just as aggressive, just as possessive, it would be really hard to develop a team over the size of a household.  How much of a pack your male needs to lead will vary – some need to lead huge packs, some need to lead just a wife and children.  They tend to sort this out amongst themselves, and we should let them do this.   Your loyalty is to your man, end of story.

I have zero respect for most of the “alphas” I hear written about (usually enviously).  It’s a poor shepherd who eats fresh mutton every night – if you’re in the game for what you can get for yourself, you’re a menace, not a leader.  Rank hath its privileges – but it heavy is the head that wears the crown.  One goes with the other.

What makes a confident guy who has a backbone into an alpha, or a dominant?  Some of it definitely is that soupcon of aggression, the willingness to fight for his own.   Some of it is the need to control.

There is a huge difference between being dominant and being domineering.  Dominants want to protect the ones under their care, and make them the most they can be.  Domineers push the ones under them down in order to lift themselves up.   They act out of fear, out of wounded pride.

Dominants attract other males because of their leadership abilities – the other males want to be around them, want to join in teams with them, want to be part of the pack.   Domineers refuse to be around other men, because they are afraid those under their control will leave for greener pastures.

So, what do I know about dominant males?

  1. There is usually a reason that they developed dominance.   Charisma might have come easily to them in youth, but the “I must control/protect/provide” urge is something that is forged in need.
  2. They need to lead others.  It is not about pride (although they can often be prideful), it is a visceral need to provide/protect/control those around them – for their good.  They take the needs of their pack very seriously.  They spend time thinking about how to help their packmates, and they will go to great lengths to do so.
  3. Especially when young, putting family over pack can be… problematic.  A wife can feel the bite here.  This is something that can (and should) be pointed out to your dominant – that his priorities are out of whack.  Then you drop it.   (That’s what a good second-in-command DOES – she tells the Captain the consequences of his actions, then she lets him steer where he will, and deal with what comes).
  4. Let him deal.  Let him direct.  He doesn’t mind, he really doesn’t mind being in charge of all the things, and being the heavy.  This is something you can rest in, and once you rest in it, it’s lovely.  But take care of the tasks he’s set you – that matters to him, that he can trust you.
  5. Dominants are ridiculously strong.  They may expect you to be proportionally strong, and ask you to do more than you’re able to do, or handle more emotional strain than you’re capable of carrying.   This is, if anything, a sign of respect.   That’s fine… but you have to tell them when you’re at your limits.  You belong to them (dominants take ownership very seriously) and you are their problem.   This communication and the fallout are unpleasant for all involved (can I get an Amen, ladies?) but the cycle of doing your best while you’re crying inside and then snapping is worse.   BTDT, got the tshirt.  I’d prefer not to see anyone else wearing one, so just be honest.  Although in the face of a displeased dominant male, that’s not so easy, because…
  6. His anger is scary.  I’ve never had one millisecond’s concern that my husband would hurt a hair on my head, but that doesn’t mean I’m not scared of his anger.   There’s so *much* of it.  It’s so intense.
  7. They like honesty.  Loyalty.  Integrity.  “Like” is much too mild a word.  These are huge for them.
  8. Being linked to a charismatic male who instinctively protects means that you are constantly going to have to deal with women throwing themselves at him.  It gets old.  Real.Old.Real.Fast.   If you didn’t have anyone at your wedding in a black minidress and fishnets… well.  I have *stories*.   Learn to laugh at their hijinks.  He won’t mind telling you about them.
  9. Because he doesn’t lie, and he’s totally confident in himself.  So why wouldn’t he share that stuff?
  10. He wouldn’t have married you if he didn’t want you as a wife.  Line forms to the right… he had plenty of options.  He might be tough on you, especially before you sort that whole, “I’m can’t carry that” thing – but he *likes* you.  He wants your company.
  11. Don’t be bothered trying to act less than you are.  He’s stronger than you are – so be as strong as you can.  He’s more confident than you are.  Go ahead and be your best, he’ll put you to better use.  He’s totally fine with that, and he’s completely unthreatened by you.  You don’t have to play games.  See #7.  He *hates* games.   If he wanted a flibbertigibbet … see #8, he could get one.  Or two.
  12. You belong to him.  You know that in theory, he knows that in his gut.  Go with it, it’s pretty awesome.  And he takes his ownership very, very seriously.

 

So.  If you’re married to a dominant, alpha male kind of dude, the best thing you can do is be honest, obedient and loyal.  If you’re going through rough seas, you turn your eyes to the Lord.  (Well, have your eyes on the Lord all the time).   You can’t change any other human, but you *really* can’t change a dominant – don’t try, it makes him mad.  Pray.  Have faith.  Do what you’re supposed to do, be right with God, and let God sort things out.

A mature relationship with a dominant is incredible, you cannot imagine how cherished I am.    Then again, I’d make another man absolutely crazy, I’m not exactly Mistress Mellow.

Questions?  Els, Maea, chime in please.  (I would have written this earlier this week/sent it ’round to E, but I was sick, so I didn’t).