Category Archives: Ambassadors

Arrow Not Shield

“When we think we are in control of the results, rather than called to be obedient as we release the results to God, we will experience guilt, tension, and discouragement”. – Dee Brestin, “Idol Lies”

My main spiritual gift is exhortation.  I’m God’s little cheerleader – the friend that will come alongside you and encourage you to do whatever it is that you need to do, the one who always has the optimistic lookout, the one who will smile while she kicks you in the rear.   I do that unofficially, I’m going to start doing that officially soon (finally found the right people to connect with at church… mentorship program here I come).  I enjoy being who God made me.

But it is VERY easy for me to fall into thinking that I have some control over the outcome.  I don’t!  Even when I’m working with someone hand-in-hand for years at a go, I don’t have control.  When I start believing that I control the results, and that the results have something to do with *me*… well, I get discouraged.  (It’s always the reverse of your best gift that is your worst sin – I’ve swallowed despair’s lies a time or two, to my shame).

I’ve been in a period of mostly short-term missions, where I’ve been learning to open myself up to just bringing a little of God’s light where ever He points me.  And thus He’s taught me to be an arrow.  Fly swift, straight, obedient to His direction. Do what I’m supposed to do, say what I’m told to say, pray and love and embrace and encourage.  God gave me the gift of love – I love easily and naturally.   It makes exhortation easy – I love very nearly everyone, so naturally I want their best.  It’s not like I can help it.  :p

But love makes me protective.  And I am not supposed to protect.  I got hit with that 2×4 today while doing my study.  I’ve been burdened with unforgiveness for someone who hurt someone I love for decades – I kept willing to forgive, doing the work, praying… and finally it broke today.  I was using that unforgiveness, that old hurt, to hold “strong” so that I could protect.   (Pretty sad source of strength, oh well).

But the Lord is her shield.  Not me.  The Lord is MY shield.  And all my loved ones – if they belong to God, they’re shielded by Him.  He never asked me to stand in His place – that’s His job. I need to let go.    He is the avenger of blood, He is justice, He will protect.  Not me.  Never have I been asked to do these things – I wasn’t made for that.  

To be who God called me to be, I need to be able to give my very best and then leave the results to Him.   To open my hands and to trust in the God who loves more than I could ever imagine loving.   I need to keep my eyes open to opportunities to do right – I’m being challenged to really step up in maturity – but I don’t have to carry the weight of the results.  Not my burden.   I’m just an arrow – I have to drop the burdens so that I can fly whereever the Lord chooses to send me.

So… time to fly!

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Otherworldly Thinking

In this world, we’re told to:  Make our own destinies.  Take action.  Steer the course for our lives.  We’re told that we *should* control our situations, our surroundings.

It’s very counter-cultural to be willing to cast all cares aside and trust utterly in God.  And it’s *not easy*.  It should be.  But it is an otherworldly way of thinking, and it is a battle.  Ah, yes.  We’re supposed to take every thought captive.  But those captives can make quite a noise behind their prison walls….

I want to be something I’m not yet.  I want to be like that hermit on the hill who trusts God to bring him food and drink, sunshine and rain, joy and meaning.  I want to soar effortlessly along, flying on wings of faith.

“I want” is always a problem, is it not?  🙂  Are we humans ever satisfied? Satisfied with ourselves, satisfied with our surroundings?

I look at myself and I am displeased.  I make the mark, “Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect” and I fall short.  (Duh).   And I grit my teeth and shove hard on that prison door, leaning on it to hold it closed.   Instead I should be holding this verse to heart…

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Instead of holding the prison door with my strength, perhaps I should take those thoughts captive so I can hand the string over to Christ and have done.  Not burying the worries, but surrendering them.  Surrendering them over and over again – as often as they come up.  Talking things out with Him, not just confessing anxiety.

Not every moment of life can be easy.  For me, being patient in a time of change is terribly difficult.   It doesn’t have to be easy, it doesn’t have to look easy.   Because I have hope.  Hope not in the change, but hope in Christ, that whatever comes will be beautiful.   All this *will* pass………………

It’s positively otherworldly, to let it go and not try to hang on and steer.

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. 🙂

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.

Oikos

Cool thing my church is doing……….

We all made a list of our 8-15 closest non-Christian (or drifted) friends and family members.  We’re to pray for them **every day** and pray for opportunity to witness/invite them to church.

Instead of the somewhat daunting list on my refrigerator (which is – even though very long – still incomplete) of people in need of the Lord, I have a list I can deal with.

We’re hearing good things already… and I’d like to encourage all my Christian readers to make a short list and join me.  This is something we can all do.

No one knows exactly how the whole, “Pray ’em into the Kingdom” vs. free will thing works.  But I don’t – really don’t – want to have anyone I know and love be able to quote this poem to me someday.  No one.  Yeah, this gets me every time.

(by DJ Higgins, snagged from the internet ruthlessly)

My friend, I stand in judgment now
And feel that you’re to blame somehow
While on this earth I walked with you day by day
And never did you point the way
You knew the Lord in truth and glory
But never did you tell the story
My knowledge then was very dim
You could have led me safe to him
Though we lived together here on earth
You never told me of your second birth
And now I stand this day condemned
Because you failed to mention him
You taught me many things, that’s true
I called you friend and trusted you
But now I learned, now it’s too late
You could have kept me from this fate
We walked by day and talked by night
And yet you showed me not the light
You let me live, love and die
And all the while you knew I’d never live on high
Yes, I called you friend in life
And trusted you in joy and strife
Yet in coming to this end
I see you really weren’t my friend