Monthly Archives: April 2014

Don’t brace for impact

Here’s one of my failings… I’m a curious monkey.  I always want to know, and when I know, I want to know *more*.  It doesn’t matter if it’s my business or not – I always want to know!!!  My friends are familiar with the phrase, “Tell me all about it – and give me the footnotes!”

God’s been working on me to trust Him ever more deeply, and He was working on me today.  There was something I wanted to dig into, ever so badly.  So I was hanging out the laundry just now and saying, “But why?  Why do I want to know this?”  “Because I do”.  “But why?”

And finally I sorted out that A) it’s a control thing – knowledge is power and B) knowledge gives me the illusion that I can brace for impact.  I can control my reactions, I can control my responses, I can be in charge!  Because obviously I am awesome and if I just think things through enough, and have enough information, I can totally make the right choices.  (eyeroll)

But God wants me to surf the waves of life, not try to control them.  He wants me to be available to Him.  Not on my own, because I am an inveterate peeler of loose paint – can’t leave well enough alone.   And so – I have to wait.  And learn patience.  And *trust Him* to put the right words in my mouth.

Not related to the curiosity above, I had a convo this morning that’s waited about twenty years.  Only got through half of what needed saying… but things that needed saying got said.  And I wouldn’t have expected it.  Didn’t expect to be wide awake while my house slept, with instructions from DH to leave them sleeping.  Didn’t expect that person to talk to me.  Didn’t expect to talk about the subject matter if we *did* talk.

How could I have braced for that impact?  I couldn’t have.  But I asked God this morning to use me however He liked, and I guess He did.  And as always, I’m up for more!  -laughs-  I hope God thinks I’m funny… someone should get some amusement out of me.

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Certainty and Frustration

I went off with my mom to see Heaven’s For Real, because she really wanted to see it.  I’m not giving you a movie review, fear not.  And I don’t have anything to say about the theological accuracy of said movie.   But it sparked something.

The little kid in the movie was *so certain* of his experience of Heaven, so matter-of-fact about it, while everyone around him went nuts.  I feel like a grown-up version of the kid all the time, only I’m frustrated.   I know absolutely that Jesus lives.  I talk to Him all the time.  That’s the business of praying without ceasing, you know?  YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO.   I get guidance.  I feel communion.  Not as much as I’d like or as intimate as I’d like, but… probably exactly as much as I’m really prepared for.  I know it’s me shying away, not Him.

I know He is.  I … know it.  I know it like I know breath and bone and light and dark.  I know it more than those things.  And yet, I am frustrated – because this central truth is something I seem to be not-very-good at conveying.  I try, occasionally, to become better at apologetics, and learn to argue folks into the Kingdom.  I’m not any good at it.  I’m not sure too many folks are prepared to be argued in anyhow.  At least, those God puts in my path are not.

I feel like someone who has been entrusted with a beautiful jewel, and all I want to do is share it.  But the others can’t see it……. can’t see Jesus’ beauty and His power and His love.  This *grieves* me.  I feel selfish.  If I were only given the words… perhaps I could tell them….

And then I realized – for all I love my friends, Jesus loves them more.  For the dim shadow of His Truth that I can see and ache to share, He knows more perfectly.  Those broken and bruised places I can only guess at?  He knows them intimately.  How His heart must break.  How He must weep with the desire to comfort them, to make them His own, to welcome them Home.  And yet they persist in staying out in the cold.  And I weep.  And my tears are as nothing to His.

Unlike Him, I am tied to Time, and I get frustrated and impatient.  Will my friend ever see the Truth?  How can I get this through?  What must I do?

Jesus might become angry or sad – but I don’t think He gets frustrated.  He is perfectly patient.  Some of that is that He knows the outcome, but more of it is His nature.  As I desire to become more like Him, I must give over my frustration and accept His patience.  I can grieve, I can rage, but frustration isn’t where I should be.  Perfect hope, perfect patience – that’s my goal.

Persistence.  Perseverance.  Prayer.  The weapons of the surrendered heart.

What does Christianity Bring to the Table?

What?  -everyone screeches to a halt-  Does Hearth not know the answer to that question?  Yes.  *I* know the answer to that question.  But your non-Christian neighbor does not.

We are still acting as if we are in the paradigm of the Christian West, where everyone knows the basics about our faith and has heard the gospel.  We act as if the people around us have only to be shocked into the truth of their situation, or argued into the Kingdom.  We still want to pretend that everyone can see our white hats.  But I don’t believe that’s the reality that we live in.

And the reason I don’t believe that’s our reality is that I talk to non-Christians.  They’re not looking at us as if we were the nice people.  I get told that I’m one of the few Christians my non-Christian friends will put up with all.the.time.  Biblical Christians of whatever stripe are increasingly perceived as mean and unloving – they don’t WANT to hear about our religion!

It’s not important what people think of me, but it is important what they think of Christ.  We live in the days of apostasy, where the Church is riddled with hypocrites, false teachers, wolves in shepherds’ clothing… and we’re trying to sell that?  No.  What we can show people is Christ in us.

It is vitally important that we do so.  That we get our lives sorted so that we can show Christ in our words and actions.  That we hold our heads high while we stand on the Word of God – and that we do so with love and gentleness and humility, knowing that *we* were once the ones who did not have the truth.

We have instructions for the days of apostasy, did you know that?  They get overlooked.  Book of Jude.

20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,   21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.  22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:   23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

1) Build yourself up in your holy faith.

2) Pray in the Holy Ghost.

3) Keep yourselves in the love of God.

4) Look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

5) Of some, have compassion – making a difference

6) Others, save with fear, pulling them out of the fire – hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.*

So – I am exhorting each and every one of you, my dear readers, to be serious about your Christian walk both within your heart and in the sight of the world.  I ask you to pray for opportunities to show Christ’s love and speak His truth and the Gospel.  I am asking you to have compassion on the people around you, just as Jesus had compassion on you.  And perhaps we can manage to pull a few folks out of the fire.  Please, let it be so.

Think eternally and put your hope in Heaven.  Let’s get the Word out.  Answer hard questions with soft voices.  Remember that humans are never your enemies, only blinded by deception.

And have hope!

Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Just keep going, doing what your God has called you to do, and have faith in the fruit that He will give.

* I stole this from Dr.  McGee – but he’s been dead since before I graduated HS, so I don’t suppose he’ll mind if I share the ideas.  Especially since it was on the radio on Saturday.  😉

The Ah-Ha Moment

Pastor Mike said he was praying for all of us to have an “Ah-Ha Moment” during Easter services this weekend.  Mine wasn’t particularly related to the sermon, but have it I did.   And it will explain why I write as I do.

The source of most of the worst sin in my life is fear.  Oh I’ve other sin, but I mean the stuff that I’m really *ashamed* of.  The stuff that even my best friend doesn’t know about.  That stuff.  The times when you do something you know is wrong – because you’re afraid of: someone finding out…. losing someone… being hated…failure… etc.  Deliberate, willful sin.   I need to make this not happen.  I need to make this better.  I need to have control!

Fear of God leads you to confess your failures and your mistakes and your missteps.  It leads you to grit your teeth and tell the truth in the face of a relationship that might end.  Fear of God means you stand up for what’s right, even if a sword’s to your neck…. or in your heart.  It’s a deliberate choice, to do what’s right and leave the consequences to God – no matter what.

And so I am working on a journey into bravery.  I wish I could say that I *didn’t* have to struggle with the little voice that says, “you could make this not-have-happened”, “just a little lie…”, “you don’t have to say anything *today*”… but I do.  I wrestle.  Sometimes I lose.   Less than I used to, but this is my battle.  To get to the place where the fear hits me and rolls over me and rolls away, while I stand firm in purpose, firm in my decision to obey God above all others, to please God in all things, to give glory to His name no matter what the cost.

At my aid, I have truth.  I know the cost of the lie, the lost opportunity, the wrong action.  I have experienced all of that – and I’ve tasted the sweet fruit of doing things right.  Sometimes.  😉  And as I learn to pray increasingly without ceasing (as we are commanded to do) I can feel the pain of sin, even tiny sins.  That separation in doing things my way instead of God, it’s starting to hurt.  Blessed hurt.  It teaches me to order my life so that the communion with God is uninterrupted.

To one day have that always uninterrupted.  To let Christ flow through me.  Oh, how I want it.

And so, I must face my fear – and spit in its face.

Trust: Abound with Grace

Philippians 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

In the Western Church, we get a lot of sermons about how we’re very rich (true) and that we should use our riches wisely (true).  And we hear about how it’s hard to be rich and still real with Christ (true) and… well… maybe it’s just me, but at the end of a decade or three of that, and you get a little freaked out about having more than enough.  Maybe a touch *guilty*.  Children starving, after all.  And I’m not saying that maybe we shouldn’t do a better job of sharing our wealth.  Not in the least.

But I *am* saying, that if God has given you generously, you should enjoy it.  No, I don’t mean get heavily into conspicuous consumption.  I mean – enjoy it!  Thank God for what He’s allowed you, and enjoy it.  Trust Him to provide for you.  Don’t curl up into a little ball and say, “well… here today, gone tomorrow”.  Enjoy the fact that your greater resources give you a chance for greater generosity.   God pours into you?  Pour right back out.

Sometimes we can get into this mindset where we don’t want to enjoy what God has given us, because He can take it away anytime He wants.  It gets to be a hoarding thing.  Hoarders stack up stuff because they’re afraid of disaster, they’re not being sensible, they’re AFRAID.  We’re not supposed to be in fear.  If God thinks your character could be improved by poverty, He can manage that, and your not-enjoying things now won’t stop Him.  He’s probably not staying His hand because He’s impressed by your humility, you know.  :p

And if you get a chance to do something awesome, enjoy the experience!  We’re not ascetics, we’re not Stoics, we’re CHRISTIANS.  That means that we’re allowed to enjoy stuff.  Not all the stuff…. but the right stuff?  We can enjoy *that* to the hilt.

(You totally realize I’m writing this to myself the night before a family trip to Disneyland, right?  That I totally guilted myself about, even though DH worked some mandatory OT and paid for it in advance and wants to have some fun for once and the kids are bored out of their little minds and ready to have some real *fun*… because it’s not the nearly-free thing we COULD do.  Because um.  Virtuous?   God is sooo thumping me on the nose.  He provided the means, the time, the ability, and I’ve been snorking around when I could be excited.  Sucking fear.  -shakes head-  You realize this whole blog is basically me writing to myself, right?  I figure maybe someone else out there needs to hear what I need to hear, so I share).

It’s that confusion that leads, in the words of CS Lewis, to a pretty woman pretending that she’s ugly, or a smart man pretending that he’s dumb, so as not to appear immodest.  Thinking about your resources as YOUR resources is what’s immodest!  And what leads to hoarding.  What belongs to you can be taken from you.  What belongs to God can be reallocated, but it still all belongs to God, you just got reassigned.

God is a good Father, and He enjoys giving good things to His children.  So *when He gives them*, we should enjoy them.  And when He gives us an opportunity to flourish without them?  We should enjoy that… maybe learning to lean on Him a little harder.  Open hands to receive and not grab – and not push away because we’re afraid that losing it again will hurt too much.

Either to abound or to be in want, to be content in whatever God brings our way.

Meaningless Sentence, Decoded

Something random that bugs me…. these days you hear a lot of people looking for a religion that fits them.  What?  So – the answer to “what is the purpose of life? and What happens when we die?” changes for each person?

I mean – you’re seriously saying that when you die, you’re going to reincarnate as a turtle – because that’s what you believe is going to happen, where Elsa will just poof into nonexistence because that’s what *she* believes will happen, and I’ll be in Heaven, because that’s what *I* believe is going to happen?

Really?

Because I’m totally good with you saying that you’re right and I’m wrong.  I’m even good with the theory that we’re both wrong – it’s logically possible, after all.  But we can’t both be right.

No, what you’re really saying is that it doesn’t matter all that much, because something nice is sure to happen and there’s no sense worrying about it.  Just do what feels good.  If that’s what you believe, please be honest and say so.  I’ll think that you’re wrong, but that’s okay.  You think that my Heaven and Hell are archaic – aka you think I’m wrong – too.

Or maybe you don’t think eternity is important.  I’m not sure how you can believe in eternity and not think it’s important.  That makes my head hurt.   Maybe you don’t reallllly believe in eternity, you believe in Heaven the way my kids used to believe in Santa Claus?  Something that would be nice if true but if not, whatever?  You’re not worried about coal in your stocking, at any rate.  Because if Santa is real, he gives gifts to all the children, even the naughty ones.  Or it wouldn’t be *Christmas*.

Erm.  God’s not Santa Claus.  He’s Justice incarnate.  Pretty much all religions believe that, although they vary about what is and is not just.

Arguing against fog is very nearly impossible.  And so that’s tonight’s random rant.  Pick a position, any position.  But please think it out and make it your own.   It *does* matter – and that’s why you have to start somewhere.  And that’s why I’m decoding the “well, just pick a religion that fits you” statement.  We pick religions because we believe that they give us the truth, not because they are comfy and fit our lifestyle.  That’s why you pick a sweatshirt, not a god.

Something is true.  I know what I believe to be true.  Do you?  Have you ever thought it through?

 

Scars Hurt

I was thinking this too …

You see the scars on my feet.  one of them still hurts when it gets poked.  Less than it did a couple of years ago, but still … not fun.

And I don’t think that’s all that weird.  The doctor reset my bones and did some nerve damage.  The second doctor fixed the nerve damage (and took the screws out of my foot) as much as he could, but nothing is perfect.  (The scars are also smaller than they were.  Yeah, they were worse).  So, I don’t wonder why my foot hurts when you poke it.

But there are parts of my heart that hurt when you poke them, and that always surprises me.  Because I’m a Christian, when healing happens, the memories and the pain go away?

The scar on my hand doesn’t hurt, but it’s ugly.  I try to keep it out of the light so it will (maybe?) be less apparent.  It’s less than a year old.  Maybe it will get better.  I’m ashamed of the ugly, and ashamed of how it got there (I was stupid and prideful, and I got exactly what I deserved for my carelessness).

I can walk pretty well these days.  When I get up in the morning, or after a busy day and then sitting, I still am stiff, and I limp.  But I get things warmed up and move around just fine.

I expect the wrong things from myself.  I expect painlessness, when I should shoot for vulnerability.   And oddly, that keeps me from healing all that I should.  You know, the doctors told me to wear steel-soled boots and super supportive footgear, but the best thing for my foot has been all the time I spend without any shoes at all.   After all, I learned in physical therapy that there was bad pain and good pain. You work through the good pain (or accept it as a job well done) and you stop dead when you hit bad pain.

The goal of transparency, of not trying to protect myself … those things will come when I learn to relax and accept where I am, instead of trying to make it not-have-been.  It is when I accept my weaknesses and confess them that they are healed – not when I pretend that they are not there.

….

this isn’t the most organized thing I’ve ever written, but it’s an extended comment on the last blog to myself, mostly… so I’m going to leave it as is.