Sports vs. Martyrs

I was listening to a Jordan Peterson interview on youtube and the guy interviewing him was some kind of ex-sports star I guess.  They were talking about how kids look up to athletes, in the way they train themselves, and this was a good way to understand life.  Because being an athlete is super admirable.

So, yeah, that was weird.   I think some athletics are pretty cool – I like watching dance, synchronized swimming, gymnastics, and I lift weights.  (No, not “girl” weights.)  But that’s not “admirable”.  It’s a cool thing you can do with your body and I’m happy you can do it.  But I don’t look up to athletes as human beings.   I don’t feel like an athlete is superior to me.   That’s never even occurred to me.   No disrespect, just no particular reverence.

The people who inspire reflexive respect in me are people who have amazing character – whose souls are pure.   I grew up reading Corrie Ten Boom, I don’t even know how many times I’ve read the Hiding Place.   It wasn’t hiding the Jews that impressed me most.  It was the bit at the end.  It’s after the war.  Ms.  Ten Boom is giving a speech about forgiveness.   And one of the guards at the shower room in the concentration camp comes up and asks to shake her hand.   And she *does*.   That … THAT is the kind of person I want to be when I grow up.

But Peterson is right about the larger application.  If you want to be that kind of person, it can’t start in the moment of trial.   You have to practice and practice your whole life long.  You have to make a million small decisions to get there, you have to know WHY you do what you do, and you have to have total commitment to that “why”.

Athletes are fine and dandy… but I don’t admire them.  Martyrs though.  People who give their lives totally over to commitment to Christ?  For them I have respect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

……….

Since my last post was about my pastor, I’ll update you.  The board of elders told him that he needed to take a month off to heal.  Right now he has water around his heart and lungs, hopefully he’ll have something done about that… in other words, the dialysis isn’t going super terrific.

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Poured Out

I have so much respect for our head pastor.   This is a little bit about him and more about the walk of sanctification and the way we become more and more transparent as we grow closer to Jesus.

Once in a very long while in the church body, you meet a person with a discernible aura that displays the presence of the Holy Spirit.    Usually this person is older – the walk of sanctification, the way we walk ever closer to Jesus and are conformed to His image takes a lot of time and a lot of pain.   Not always, but usually.   That aura makes you sit up and take notice, and it begets respect.

If you think of us as lanterns on a hill, and all our “stuff” in this flesh, the old nature, as glop on the lantern, the more that gets cleared off, the more clearly the light shines.   This is one of the things I care about – getting the glop cleared off my own lantern, and helping women clean up theirs.   We need our lives to be a witness.   Our alignment with God needs to be crystal clear.   There’s a lot of stuff that can glop up a lantern.  Some of it we think is good, some of it we know is bad.  It’s glop anyway.

It’s important that we shine out.  The world is dark.  We need to be lights.  We don’t need to be about us, we need to show off Jesus.   Every one of us has a facet of Him that we’ve been particularly given to show, we need to get after it.   No.  We need to get ourselves out of the way and let Him do His work through us.  It’s not us who shine – it’s Him.

But anyway.  I ramble.  It’s … you’ve met them.  The special ones.  The ones who have been shined up.   And it is a blessing to be near them, because you’re reminded of Jesus.  Plain and simple, the presence is felt.

Pastor Mike has always had the aura of love.  You know that man loves you.  He has a strong gift of shepherding, and he cares deeply for his flock.    It’s always been this way.   He’s been through the Refiner’s Fire a few times… and this latest bout.  DUDE.

So, he’d been out for almost three months.  His kidneys gave out on him.  (The doctors are continually surprised by his insistence on breathing, this isn’t weird).   He went in and out of hospital a few times over the course of those months.  He had a pulmonary embolism at one point.   Lost 25lb.  (In the above pic, he’s 94lb).  He was hoping to do dialysis through the intestine, so he could be mobile, but he’s not big enough (and has had too many gut surgeries) to sustain the liters of liquid around his waist, so now he’s doing regular dialysis 5x/wk.

So, you know, they took out the gut tube on Thursday.  He thought they’d just yank it out – no, it was proper surgery, anesthetic and all.  That didn’t stop  him preaching tonight.  Nor will it stop him tomorrow, two services.   They put up a chair last week (when he came back initially).  This week he looked at it, informed us that it was his parachute, put there on the insistence of his wife and a few others, and that he wasn’t using it, unless he fell down, in which case we could pick him up and put him in it.

This, my friends, is what you call “being poured out to the Lord”.

You don’t see it much now.  Maybe you never did.  But these are the people that you stand for, that you curtsy to (or bow).   The emotion of respect is usually very mild.  Not in these cases.   It is almost overwhelming, the amount of respect I feel for my pastor right now.  HE COULD STAY HOME.  He probably should stay home.  No one would blame him.  Not a single person.

I don’t know what the next months will bring, but I know I’m watching God at work.  And the thing is – you always are watching Him work.  It’s a miracle that any of us draw breath.  But when you’re with someone like Pastor Mike, you KNOW it.

Not everyone who has the aura of holiness is like Pastor Mike, hanging on a miracle thread.

But when you’re with any of them, any of the ones who really SHINE for God, you can feel something more than ordinary.

Our world is full of mud and lies and garbage.    We don’t have much that’s real.   Too many of our “holy” men are about as holy as what I use to fertilize my rosebushes.   But that doesn’t mean it’s not out there.

Someday……….. maybe, that can be me.  I think that it’s okay to want to be one of the lights.  Not all of them are in as much pain as Pastor Mike.  We’re all SUPPOSED to be lights.  It’s a dark world, folks.

Get out of the way so God can shine.

Pretty Much Every Woman

Once upon a time, we were trying to let women and men be treated as equals.   I’m of two minds about that… I can see benefits and costs to either route.   Not gonna rabbit-trail there right now.

In this once-upon land, it was understood that among the decent people in the world, there were nasty predators.   It was further understood that one was self-responsible for figuring out what to do about said nasty predators.  SHOULD one have to do something?  No.  But regardless – you deal with the cards as dealt.

I was taught…

  • That my body was MY body, and anyone touching my body without my consent should be treated to my wrath on full blast.   Screaming and making a scene won’t get rid of the crazy guy who is going to knock you down and take it, but *will* scare off the casual opportunist.   (And there are a lot of casual opportunists out there).
  • Similarly, any man who made inappropriate comments should be frozen solid where he stood.   There should never be any question about whether or not those comments were acceptable.
  • Dignity > opportunity, always.
  • Leaving a bad situation is always a good idea.
  • Don’t go back to a man’s apartment/hotel room/sleeping area alone if you’re not interested in being intimate.
  • Never walk to your car alone at night if you have an option not to do so.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.   In the parking lot at noon, I still have my carkeys held in my hand in such a way to use them…
  • Don’t go anywhere, as a regular routine, where you can’t be seen when you’re alone.  If you like to jog in the wee hours of the morning, buy a dog.  A big dog.
  • Getting drunk with strangers or near strangers is stupid.
  • If you’re grabbed, do your darndest to do *damage* – go for eyes, throat, personals, the arch of the foot, kidneys.  Then run.   Screaming “fire”.
  • If you’re down and you’re not getting back up, at *that* point you stop fighting.  Puke.  Pee.  Get his skin under your fingernails.  Talk reasonably and rationally, remind him that you’re a human.
  • If you have to rip your own arm off in order not to get taken away, your arm is an acceptable sacrifice.  DO NOT let someone take you elsewhere, you’re not coming back alive.  Worth it to fight to the death.  If you find yourself elsewhere, any sacrifice to get out of there, as soon as physically possible, is worth it.
  • If it happens – call the police as soon as you are free.  Don’t shower, don’t so much as wash your hands.   Get that evidence and prosecute.   You have every right to justice.

I wasn’t taught, but I found out through experience:

  • Any guy as an escort is better than any two girls.   But better a girl-group than alone.
  • Jerks who come on really strong can’t be dissuaded politely.  You have to get impolite (which may ricochet) or leave.   There’s no other way, short of appealing to authority.
  • Dressing inappropriately will get you worse attention, but real jerks?  It doesn’t matter.   I have been leered at in full Christian Matron wear.
  • There’s always that one guy who can look at you in ways that make you require a shower afterwards.  No, this doesn’t have to do with attractiveness.  It has to do with what he did with his eyeballs.  Ew.
  • Crazy dudes don’t care, but a lot of the lowlife scum who are trying to scare you are just trying to scare you.  Doing a very little bit to stand up for yourself will keep their hands off of you.   Yes, it’s a power trip.
  • Standing up for yourself and having self-respect and knowing your boundaries will save you a lot of tears.
  • Drinking is best done at home.
  • A man who is not instinctively protective of me is a man with whom I am not safe, and should not be trusted.
  • Most men are pretty awesome.

 

See, if we want to be treated like grown-ups, even if all concerned understand that we’re more vulnerable to attack than men are, we have to take responsibility insofar as it is possible to do so.   We have to not be stupid about things and be ready to stand up for our right not to be molested.

None of this should be interpreted as applying to children – children who are hurt are a whole different ball game.   But if women want to not be treated like children, then we have to act like adults.

Oh.  And #metoo?  Yeah.  Well, no one has ever raped me.  But I’ve been grabbed by a stranger, I’ve been frightened, I’ve been patted by someone I found out later was a rapist… and *most* of my female friends have gotten a lot worse.  Most.Of.Them.  I don’t want to start a march, it’s useless.   The good men weren’t going to do anything inappropriate in the first place, and the predators don’t care about words.  I won’t tar good men – who consistently protect me and act with great courtesy at all times – just because bad men exist.   Bad women exist too.   Humans, not very nice creatures.

What was the point of all this?  Just that yeah – every woman I know has been “harassed” or worse.   And that self-respect is a much better place to start fixing things than pointing fingers at innocents.

Forging Ahead: Promises Kept

I am a forger-ahead.   I like to think and plan and plan and think and if I can’t figure out how to break into the nut one way, I’ll turn it over and hit it from the other side.    The World’s advice to be the captain of your own destiny, to leverage every connection you have… all of that falls on very fertile ground when it falls in my ears.

Separate from that, I have a message I need to get out.  It’s important, and it’s my job.  “For such a time as this”.

In the meantime, I need to start earning some money.  The season of my staying at home has ended.  It’s been good.   I look at the “fruit” and am pleased.   But now what?

I DON’T KNOW.

I don’t like not knowing.  See paragraph 1.  I can’t plan and poke and prod if I don’t know where I’m going.   And darnit.  I do know where I want to end up.  But how to get there from here?   I tried MY way.   It’s not like it was horrible, but it didn’t work all that well either.  (Clients, turns out you can’t form them from thin air).

What do I know?

  • I know God’s got this.  I know this absolutely.  God’s got this.  I’ll have a job when I need one.  It will be right.  It will be enough.
  • I know I have to do the thing I’ve been tasked with.  It won’t go away.  If I start talking about it, people slap me with fish until I agree to start writing again.
  • I know that I don’t know how to say all the things I need to say, and that I need to say them in a way that’s real, raw, true, clear, and hits home – hard.
  • I know God will speak through me, if I let Him.  I know I’m going to have to let go of my own thoughts, and my own ways.  I’m going to have to take risks, and stop being quite so “nice”.   I have to face my fears.

All my study, all my reading – you know what I learned?   In the Bible, while God consistently teaches that sensible planning for the future is part of one’s daily tasks, that’s not how great things happen.   Yes, a wise man counts his coins before building a castle… but equally, only a fool places his faith in the full granary he just completed – it’s Christ alone in Whom we are instructed to have faith.

The passage of Scripture that I am returned to, again and again, is when Peter stepped out on the waves to walk to Jesus.   Peter walked on water too – until he took his eyes off of our Lord.  When we have faith in ourselves, in our ways, in our abilities, we fail.  When Esther prayed and fasted for three days before speaking to King Ahasuerus she knew she was going to have to work in God’s strength, not her own.   She’d been queen for five years – she knew what happened to those who walked in on the king without permission.   She went in faith.

When we step forward in faith, we are not stepping forward in our own strength, in our own abilities, or in our own ideas.  We are surrendering to obedience in God.  It is a surrender, to trust that totally.

I don’t know how that’s going to operate in my life.  You know, starting MONDAY.   But I know in Whom I trust, and I know that He’s sufficient.

Voyeurism

It seems like most of modern life can be thought of as voyeuristic.   We watch from outside, consuming – not participating.

I was thinking about this in regards to my quest to return Beauty to its rightful place, and realized that it’s not just Beauty.  It’s everything.  It’s food.  It’s relationships, it’s song, dance, story.    If we can make “It” into something that an expert can do perfectly, we’ll give over that part of our lives to the expert and retreat to the shadows.

That specialization might be okay, if we lived in small ponds where each of us could be a big fish in his or her own right.   Known for our cupcakes or our style or our friendship… but that’s not how we live.  We are in the global pond, and there are only a few who can be the “best” in any one venue.  And so we retreat, make ourselves smaller and smaller.

And then we don’t take thought about how we want to live our lives – truly live them – as part of the world, interacting, intersecting, visible, worthy, interesting.  We make of our hearts a shadow place, and only look outward, to the Other.

Life is not meant to be lived from the outside, peeking through the screen at the “real people”.  We are all real people, and it’s past time for us to start treating ourselves that way.

Obedience vs. Forging Ahead

Can anyone tell me someone from the Bible who is praised for forging ahead on their own?  Certainly, in general terms we’re told to get on with our daily work and have common sense.  But I want a specific person from the Bible who pre-planned….. I can’t think of one.

What IS praised is obedience.   When you hear the Call, you obey it.  God makes the provision for His plans – you show up.   I was going to say “instant obedience”, and that is the ideal.  But God is amazing, and He puts up with a good bit of, “is that really You, God?” “Are You really sure you want me? Because I suck” from His creations.

So, anyone – got anything?  I’m putting 2 and 2 together over here, and I’d appreciate correction if I’m off base.

Esther and Waiting

Great teaching today at mentoring group… and God took the bit and slammed it home.

We’re so often in times of waiting.  Faith grows, maturity grows, in those times of waiting.   But as consumers of Christian literature, even as readers of the Bible, we see the stories of those who have gone before us as a whole – we don’t sit with them in the weeds.

Like Esther.  You read the story, it’s only a few chapters – less than a page between “gets taken” and “becomes queen”.  But look at it from her perspective.

You’re hanging out, doing your thing, and the knock on the door comes.  “The king has proclaimed that all pretty virgins are to report to the palace forthwith.  This means you”.  No one ever talks about what Esther was thinking that day… what kind of person she was.  She was a human, so she had dreams, plans for her future, plans for tomorrow.   And KERPOOF.  Gone.

And what a nice place she ends up in.  Not.   A bunch of strange women who are all – whether they want to be or not – in competition with one another.   You have to have lived through junior high to imagine how fun that was… -shudder-  The last thing she was told is to not let anyone know that she’s an Israelite.   Great.  No traditions, nothing.

And she sits.  And sits.  And sits.   Six months for the herbal prep and another six months getting pretty.   They probably learned court etiquette and the basic bits of how to be a pleasant concubine (dance, instrument, conversation, storytelling?) but otherwise… sitting.   The most likely result is that your one night with the king will result in being put in the second harem for the rest of your life, to be brought out maybe once in a year.   No children unless you get lucky, just life in a box.  A meaningless, boring existence.

So, how does Esther feel for that year?  Does she feel the weight of significance, as she’s about to save her people and change history?  No.  Because she didn’t know that was what she was there for.

How many times do we feel like that?  We’re waiting, and waiting, and waiting… we know we’re going to be used, because we know God doesn’t waste anything and we’re willing.  But for what?  And we’re BORED.  We live in this world, this world that tells us that we should be actualizing our potential every single second.  And we look around with our physical eyes, and we’re not.

We’re not doing anything, we’re just sitting.

It takes faith to sit and wait when it’s waiting time.   It takes a connection to the eternal.  A faith that God will return the years that the locust has stolen.

But we never talk about that, never talk about the waiting time.  We only talk about the journey of faith in the whole, from above, the part where you see the Big Moment.   Faith is about more than the Big Moment – it’s about all the other moments that got us there.