Category Archives: Uncategorized

Gordian Knot

We try to figure out how we got in the mess we’re in right now, and as much as I enjoy playing with ideas, I think it tends to look a lot like this:

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credit patrick corrigan, found on google

Where’s the end of the string?  Do we look at culture, the loss of religion in school, marriage????  And if we unraveled things back a layer, wouldn’t we find another pile of knots to work on?  It’s not as if there weren’t serious societal problems 50 or 100 years ago.

Again, not that I’m not interested.  I do think it’s quite interesting, and fun to think about.

But ultimately, the solution isn’t in our untangling the knot.  The solution is in the sword.

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For now, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  If you want to get right, really right – get right with God and the rest will sort itself out in time.  If you want to fix the mess, make converts and disciple them and teach them to burn for the Lord and have lives that reflect His glory.  The ropes just fall away…

For soon, the sword borne by our Lord in conquest, when all will be set right and justice will return to our poor earth.

Talking about “we should unravel” … um.  The World has always been a Gordian knot.  Only the sword can solve this problem.

 

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Hands should not covet ears

At prayer meeting last night and one of the other ladies and I just went OFF on how beautiful the body of Christ is, especially when we’re all operating as we ought.  (We were talking about the spiritual gifts).

Thing is that we are a body.  We’re supposed to use the gifts that we’ve been given, thoroughly and in total submission to Christ.  We aren’t supposed to sigh heavily and envy someone else’s giftings, which is what a lot of us do.  Sure.  Pursue (in prayer) all the gifts.  But you still have a job to do.  What is it?  Do that.

My job is counsel.  People have been coming to me to tell me horrible things since I was just out of high school.   I didn’t ask for that job, people just started talking to me.  My gifts are necessary to do my job.  And the spiritual part of my gifts have grown over the years, as I’ve sought God.

Yes, I’ve been able to feel God’s presence since … always.  What that means is that sometimes when I’m counseling, I’ll think up something clever, and God will stuff a sock in my mouth and I don’t get to say my clever thought.   Or He’ll press me to say something I would really rather not say.    His felt presence is necessary to my work for Him.

Confession:  I’ve always wanted evangelism.  Always felt less because I couldn’t “seal the deal” no matter how hard I tried.  (I do evangelize, I don’t have the gift).  I grew up Baptist – if you’re a good Baptist, you make conversions!  And I didn’t.  I don’t.   My family is full of gifted evangelists.  I’m not one of them.

I think some of what feeds this envy is that we each see the need, right where we are.  I see the need for more folks to go out and love people.  (Oy.  Awkward things to ask for – the gift of love.  Now I can’t NOT love most people I spend any time with).  I see heart after heart in need of a friend to stand alongside them, pull them out of their shell a bit, and love on them.  I can’t do as much as I’d like.

And the evangelists go nuts seeing people not be told the gospel.  The helpers see the mess.  The healers see the sick.  The teachers see the ignorant.   We all pull at each other, begging for help!  And that doesn’t help the envy problem.  Now I don’t just see my lack, I see the problem *and* my lack.  Ugh.

But we’re not called to win the battle, we’re called to fight.   We’re not called to fix the problem, we’re called to get up and do our bit.

Did you get up today, did you do your bit?  Was that your bit to do?  Then stop worrying about what’s on someone else’s plate.   If you’re supposed to dig ditches, you get issued a shovel, and if you’re supposed to pound nails, you get issued a hammer.   That’s how this works.  We’re a body, we work together for Him.

Pre-determination/Free-Will

I’ve said before that I think the argument is a bit specious because God is outside of Time, but I had some thoughts that made this gel a bit better for me.

It is one of the attributes of God that He is Omniscient.  He cannot be ignorant of anything.

It is one of the attributes of Man that he was created with free will – freely to choose love and obedience or rebellion and alienation.

God cannot be ignorant of the choices that Man will make, regardless of when he makes them, much as we were known from the time before our conception.  But this does not mean He makes the choice for us, that we will love Him or not.  Love without choice is not love.

When the Bible speaks of pre-determination, it speaks of this knowing, not of God having taken the choice from Man.  If God was the One choosing, all would be saved.  He limits His power so that we can make the choice – but He does not limit His knowledge of what we will do.

And that amount of love staggers me.  To create, to love, to know all the while that some of the beloved would leave forever… simply for the sake of those who stay.   Flabbergasting.  I mean, face on the floor whimpering even to think of it, the pain that God must have.

Anyway.  I wanted to share and get it on paper so it wouldn’t bump around in my brain.

Beatific Vision

In response to Chris’ post about the beatific vision … this is a bit random because I have a lot of thoughts about a lot of bits of his post.

I don’t think “harps and big groups” sound fun either (although I do get high on worship from time to time).  But perhaps I listen to too much Chuck Missler, because I don’t think that Heaven will look at all like this reality, or anything we expect with mortal eyes.  And, technically, I think there might be a difference between paradise/Heaven (where all saints go upon death to be with the Lord) and the New Jerusalem, which is a physical place described in Revelation 21.   Is Heaven the same thing as “My Father’s house” mentioned in John 14, or is that New Jerusalem?

Anyway, we have 1000 years of Christ reigning on earth while we ???? in our eternal bodies before the New Jerusalem shows up.   When exactly are we going to judge angels?  I’d rather not, TBH, but if I’m gonna do that I doubt I’ll be strumming a harp simultaneously.  IMO, I think we do things at different times.  But I’m not exactly certain that we’ll perceive time in a linear fashion, especially once we hit the New Jerusalem.  And when does the Bema seat judgement happen?  Will judgement take place in a linear fashion?  Because every-word-out-of-everyone’s-mouth will take millennia, straight up.

Let’s not forget our eternal bodies.  We’re going to be able to “see Him as He is” because we’re going to “be like Him”.  And we know He can go through walls… as well as have a fish supper.   How many dimensions is Jesus in?  What will we be like?  I don’t think we can get a handle on it, I think we get tiny tastes.  Like the facets on a jewel… we know one little bit, but we don’t know the whole.

I think I’m good with “I don’t know what it’s going to be like, but it will be awesome”.  If I get my way, I have a post-death bucket list… places I’d like to go, natural wonders I’d like to see, and a whole lot of people I’d like to sit and really talk to, for years at a time.   I’d love to get to create in eternity – if I could make things for people and give them to them, that would be wonderful.   I’d like to do a lot of things.  I’m pretty sure God knows that…

One thing I can’t figure out in my head.  I know we’re not married in Heaven, but I don’t really understand myself as separate from my husband and that will be very weird.   How can I be in his presence and not his wife?  I can’t wrap my head around that at *all*.  (This is why, btw, divorce would be worse than death for me).  Just if we’re being honest.   I know God will sort it out, but from this end, I don’t get it.

Religious euphoria is something I have experienced, and it’s amazing (I have experienced it at the oddest times, like driving my car – it’s not a ‘worship’ thing necessarily).  The teeny taste I’ve had of it … well, if that’s what eternity tastes like, I won’t mind the crowds.  I’ll be needing a new body to stand more than a bit of it though, this one doesn’t have the carrying capacity.

And religious euphoria isn’t the same thing as the amazing feeling I get when I go to an afterglow service.  That’s the felt presence of the Holy Spirit.  Get that in corporate prayer meetings too.   Love that, can’t get enough.  I’m always surprised I’m not actually giving off light after a good prayer meeting.

Which doesn’t have much to do with my faith – I didn’t have any of that when I converted, nor has it been the momentum for the reason I have made any of the hard choices in my spiritual life.   It does make me a TERRIBLE apologist, since I always know God is there, it feels a little silly to ask if He’s there or not.  I try, but .. yeah.  It’s me just quoting research, to be a good apologist, you have to have looked for yourself.  I’ve put up my testimony, it sounds more like, “I realized I hadn’t prayed the sinner’s prayer, so I did.  I was four-ish” and then, “The Holy Spirit pushed me to get baptized.  So, I did.  I was six.”  I mean – that’s not feeling, there wasn’t an emotional swell, it was just, “I have to do this now”.  -shrug-

Most of my spiritual experiences have been like that.  The felt presence of God, staring at me until I did what I was supposed to do, frequently while I whined and cried and flailed about because I didn’t want to.

And this was all WAY too long for a comment, and I could go on about most of it.

Complaining and Thinking

Last night’s sermon was on Philippians 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing.  It was convicting and enlightening for me.  I’ve been low-energy and “bored” for a minute, and I haven’t been able to figure out why.  (I do love a good convicting sermon).

Some of the reason is the place I’m in right now – I’m doing a lot of process, and haven’t gotten to the result.  That can be wearing.

The other bit comes down to forgetting to stop and look around myself and see what’s here, and be thankful for it.  (Very helpful point: to stop complaining, start thanking).  I have produced change in life.  God has changed things in my life.  When am I going to sit down and appreciate where I am?  Um.

There’s the rub.  I’m so future oriented that I forget to just look around me.  I can’t celebrate my accomplishments or God’s grace in any but the most general of ways.  Like, I’m feeling frustrated that I haven’t got more sewing done – and I was hanging something up in the closet and looked… my husband has a whole row of shirts, made by my hands.   My daughter has a beautiful dress that I completed not two weeks ago.  And all *I* see is the clothing in my head that hasn’t appeared yet.

I constantly beat myself up about the things I haven’t done perfectly or haven’t done yet, and I just won’t look around and see what I got done.   This pattern of discontentment seeps into my prayer life, as there are always things to be prayed over… and I wonder, “when is God going to change this thing?”  I focus SO HARD on the things that aren’t “perfect” that I forget to enjoy the good stuff.

And there’s a lot of good stuff.  Even my crazy future-oriented “must change all the things” tendency has some benefits – I accomplish things.   I could be appreciative of that… I don’t have to beat myself up about everything!  Concept.

I guess the sermon and this note are timely, it being the week before Thanksgiving.

And now I have more things to work on…

I Timothy 6:6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.

 

Testimony: Idols and Readjustment

This is, in part, an apology to Scott.  You have no idea how much I respect that man – he’s willing to go forward, trying to do good, trying to create a good world for his children to grow up in – and mine, and yours.  He is true to his values, and he puts shoe leather out there, not just words.   That’s meaningful.  He wants good for not just his people, but all the people.  Meaningful.  Mad respect.

And I agree with some of his statements in the Halloween post.  Yes, if we had a homogeneous culture, many of our societal problems would be immediately reduced (I strongly disagree that race = culture).    I have theological problems with Halloween – but if Halloween would revert to the kind of thing it was when I was 5, I’d probably be a lot less squicked out by it.   And little kids in costumes are adorable.  His kids in costumes are adorable.  (I would like an alternate costume event, please – I can sew….).

Speaking of trying to create tradition from whole cloth, or take up someone else’s tradition – BTDT – pointless.  You have to have community to have tradition.   Homogeneous community – you have to have things in common.   You have to have connection, not convenience.   You have to have more than just your immediate family, or it gets awkward fast.

Scott.  You have no idea how much I get you.  I understand your hunger for that tradition, and may the Lord bless your efforts to give it to your children.   You are in pursuit of a good thing.

The truth on the ground in my life is a lot different, which is where the testimony starts.

Once upon a time, a long time ago… I spent a lot of time reading prophecy blogs and prepper newsletters.  I looked around me, and was immediately confronted with the fact that living where I do is ridiculous from a prepper aspect – we pipe our water in from the Colorado river!  There.Is.No.Water.Here.  So, at the point that our water supplies run out, we have to leave.  (Assuming our neighbors haven’t decided to raid us because they got thirsty).   Yes, of course we have food.  But should we have six months of food?  Nope.  Because there is no way we can store six months of water.

Also, I live on a highly undesirable street, which annoys me in a multitude of ways.  I could list them, but why?  I don’t like it here.   However, my home that I do not like is worth a lot of money, because lots of people want to live in SoCal.  Solution:  Let’s sell this house and move somewhere nice!   This property could buy somethin’ gooooood somewhere else…  Only, that wasn’t cool with my husband.  (He has this pesky point about there not being any work for him that pays more than a fraction of what he makes now where we’d like to relocate).  (Yes, we have a “when we win the lottery” plan that sounds a lot like Scott’s retirement plan.  Only there’s a forge.)

I can’t tell you how long I spent sitting on my butt pouting about that and looking up properties on United Country and daydreaming… years.  During the shakeup of everything else in my life, God made it absolutely clear that my attitude about moving somewhere sane was an idol.  Ripping that out and dragging it to the altar was *not fun*.  It hurt.

But shortly thereafter, I got confronted with a truth – am I here to do God’s will, or mine?  Comfortable and pleasant, that was not.  All my prophecy blogs did the job of convincing me that the Lord was coming back soon.  So, folks seem to think that you should get prepping… my attitude was different.  If the Owner is coming back, what should I be found doing, as a faithful steward?   Probably just staring at the sky isn’t too useful.   I don’t need to know the day and the hour – I need to get busy.

Things God’s given me, in this place I do not like:  A good charter school for my kids – it’s one of the best schools in the country.  A wonderful church, that people rave about (the love of God is palpable).  A nearby beach.  Good weather, mostly.  A gym, where I was able to take back my physical fitness – from walking with a stick to lifting heavy.   A great, stable job with amazing benefits for my husband.   Friends.  Family.   My home itself is comfortable, and we spend a lot of weekends making it even better.

I want to talk about my church for just a second, as that’s a major blessing.   Folks in the thread were talking about wanting a church where they knew the person next to them was really walking the walk, not just showing up.   I get that.  I don’t have that.

Our church is geared towards evangelism and loving on people.  We’re GOOD at loving on people.   If you talk to someone new at my church, that’s what you’ll hear.  That they didn’t believe how much love they were going to be hit with.   We’ll take you where ever you are in life.  Recovery ministries?  Check.  People with really ‘interesting’ histories?  Double-check.   But.  We give out the truth and we don’t budge.  So – you were doing dope yesterday?  K.  We have a ministry for that – but don’t be expecting anyone to say it’s okay for you to do it today.  You won’t be getting it.   Living with your boyfriend and want a pastor to marry you?  Forget it.  You’d best be moving out first, and then planning on staying out for a long time while you do marriage counselling.  Etc.  Anyone can show up, but you should hear the process to become a deacon!  Any leadership position anywhere in our church is a vetted process, even volunteering is vetted.  We’ll find you something to do – but if you’re best suited to cleaning up the parking lot on Saturday morning, guess what?  And do you know what this produces?  A church full of people who look like, “she who was forgiven much, loves much”.  It’s an AWESOME place to be.

It was more comfortable in my old church… everyone knew the unspoken rules.   Trad church.  Great music.  Everyone dressed nicely.   Everyone knew the parables, and who Jonah was.  And… when I went back, pregnant and my finger swollen out of my wedding rings, what I got was side-eye.  My old church is a quarter the size it was … it’s not the preaching, they’ve always had talented preachers.  All the trad churches in my areas are suffering.  The people there are pretty on the outside, but you can see the pastors getting ready to rip out their hair, because they ONLY want to be pretty on the outside.  They want to be seen-to-be-good.  They don’t want to get real.

My church does.  I’ve learned so much here.  The booklearning has been good, but the life-learning has been amazing.   I have been humbled, speaking to people with half my education… because they live out the Word, daily.  I have learned about the power of God.  My old church was cessationist.  Oh, my church now treats the gifts of the Spirit with tongs (folks get a little crazy pretty fast) but they expect them.  Daily.  Holy monkeys, people – the elders council won’t move until every member is in agreement, and the pastor is there because multiple people heard the audible word of God.  (Which is the ONLY way he’d have been called – his health is horrible).   Do you know what it’s like to go to a church that leans on the Holy Spirit?  -shakes head-  It’s wonderful.  And frequently somewhat crazy.  But in a good way.

The whole last 15 years of my life has done nothing except break up all my pretty ideas about a perfect life and replace that with a willingness to do good where I am.  I can’t be satisfied with paint on the outside of a sepulcher now.  I was, when I was a girl.  I would still like to be somewhere with fewer drug dealers and homeless people.    I would like to have the same cultural expectations, and the same language would be the bomb.  But whatever.  I am willing, at the end of the day, to say, “Not my will, but Yours be done”.   I have an amazing life… I *refuse* to be the person who says, “Give, Give” (Prov 30:15), even though my flesh would dearly like me to do so.    And you know, I’m getting to like this whole, “getting real, getting raw” stuff.  It’s GOOD.  And it keeps me low on the hypocrisy meter, which I have a tendency to set off.    I’m learning so much, every day.  The more I talk to people not-like-me, the more I learn.  It’s good.  So good.  I am blessed and growing and grateful.  If I’d lived the life I wanted to live, I wouldn’t have a tenth the spiritual blessing that I’ve received.  I am so blessed.  It’s hard, and it doesn’t look like I want it to look, and I’m not in control, which is irritating.  But God is.  And He’s righteous and just and faithful – and I choose to trust Him, even when I can’t say why and don’t have a clue where I’m going.

But yes, I’m still flesh, and if DH gets transferred to Idaho, I will be singing hallelujah choruses while I pack.   But I don’t expect that any time soon… so.

So, Scott.  Yes, you’re right.  You’re completely right.  Cultural homogeneity would reduce our social problems radically.  And that sure would be nice.  I don’t figure it’s too likely, but it sure would be nice.  May God bless you and your family, and keep you safe from all harm.

Perseverance in Prayer

Taking off of yesterday’s post, considering last night at prayer meeting….

Sometimes when I pray, the Holy Spirit shows up very obviously.  (No, not tongues – I just pray with a lot more power and a LOT more boldness than is “me”).   This happens often in corporate prayer, sometimes when I’m alone.   It is no more likely to happen when I’m fasting than when I’m not, and no more likely to show up when I’m emotional about the subject than when I’m not.  It just happens.  And when it does, it’s AMAZING.  Just… amazing.  It feels wonderful.  If every prayer time could be like that, that … yeah.  Addictive to the Nth.  I *wish* I could call that up – but I can’t.  It’s.Not.Me.

So, when that happens, especially since it’s not “me” doing the praying, I’ve considered the matter handled.  Why should I continue to pester God for something He’s given power to?  That seems rude.

And then I bang up against that parable.  And the way that Paul talked about his own prayer life.  And the admonition to “pray without ceasing”.  -sigh-  I read the story about Daniel, praying and fasting for 20+ days for Israel, and how although the angel was dispatched to chat with him on day 1, it took all that time (and prayer) to get the angel over to Daniel.  It’s very clear – persistent prayer is *important*.  I don’t get to leave off my prayer duties just because the power and passion showed up one day.  Even though I feel ridiculous, having wept on my floor of a Tuesday, just reading off the prayer request on a Wednesday.  My feelings don’t signify.

I find the working of the spiritual world very confusing.  Someone needs to print out a roadmap.  Wait.  No.  Then we go all controlling, which leads to occult stuff.  Yeah.  I know.  I get it.  Blindfolded in a room full of rattlesnakes, we don’t go bumping around.  Bah.  It’s still CONFUSING.  How do our prayers affect God’s sovereign will?   How does this work?????????

It’s all part of this weird lesson.  Patience isn’t just sitting here, waiting for God to do what He said He’d do.  It’s getting up and working toward those goals every day.  Hope and Faith and Trust work together, and Patience and Perseverance work together.   Yesterday was big stuff for me, I’d thought Patience was just sitting there, waiting and trusting and holding still.  But it’s not.  It’s moving forward, even when you’re not getting positive feedback.  Of COURSE it’s important to have prayed and fasted and gotten counsel before you start moving – oy!  If you’re not going to depend on constant happy signs, you’d best know what you’re about, and know that it’s Biblical.  This Christian life business isn’t as cotton candy easy as some folks make it look…

Some part of me doesn’t like this because it gives me too much power, and some part of me doesn’t like this because it relies too daringly upon hope.  I mean, it’s one thing to hope as you sit passively, looking out the window.  It’s another to trust God for the harvest while you’re out in the fields, with no backup plan.  Trusting God to make good out of what I put out there is a terrifying prospect.  Knowing (as I do) that some of that will be harvested in my life, but much may very well not be isn’t a very comfortable thought.  And if I don’t keep knocking, if I don’t keep working… then what I started might not ever come full circle?  No, it’s not a comfortable thought at all.

It’s a very Christian reality though.

1 Corinthians 1: 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wiseAnd the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Can we be real?  I don’t LIKE it when people think I’m a fool.  I don’t LIKE it when I’m condescended to.  “Oh, she’s so sweet…” I want to have something to show.  I want to have results, I want to have lots of results, and I want them *right now*.   Dude.  I care about my unsaved friends.  I want something to show them, so they can see God’s power in my life.  I want something different… but I’m not different.  I’m part of this culture and I want my stuff now, before they forget … before they write me off.  Before they write God off.   The stakes are so high…

I guess the stakes are too high for me to do this life stuff MY way, because God knows I don’t know what I’m doing.

So, persevering.  Lists.  Daily things.  Waiting on the Lord while out in the fields.  I guess… that’s life.  Ja?