Thursday, August 9, 2012

What We Ignored About the Chik-Fil-A...Thing

I had lunch with my mom today, and God love her, she is the wisest, silliest woman I know. We laughed over her story about forgetting a close family friend's name. And caught up on family news. And then of course talked about things that have been important to us in the last couple weeks.

I did not participate in any way with the Chik-Fil-A...thing. I wanted to think and be rational and not jump into a misguided protest. And after talking to Mom, I'm glad I didn't.

I have a lot of GLBT friends. And I love each of them dearly. Their friendship is partly responsible for forming the woman I am today. And I would never dream of hurting them.

So all this controversy over supporting or boycotting a Christian organization has confused me a little, because that's not the point. Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matthew 22:37-40)

I didn't see a lot of love going on - of God or of neighbors. And then Mom pointed out another verse that I'm familiar with but had never read the way she did: "[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Mom said, "That doesn't say, 'All you dirty sinners get saved and then I'll fix everything.' It says if MY people who are called by MY name will HUMBLE themSELVES and pray and seek My face and turn from THEIR wicked ways, then I will hear. He's talking to Christians."

And she's right! The church - the body of Christ - we're proud! We're full of our own goodness and our support of ridiculous campaigns. And all around us, the world is groaning with sickness, poverty, and pain.

What makes my heart heavy, though, is this: God still hasn't gotten our attention. We still have not humbled ourselves before Him and begged His forgiveness for our shiny arrogance. And the body of Christ is suffering for it. A sweet young couple's first baby is stillborn. A gentle, loving mother of four girls is dying of cancer. A brave wife is struggling with illness. A new husband is fighting to make a living.

Brothers and sisters, if ever it were time, the time is now. We cannot defy God and defy His Word and expect Him to bless us. The church is as sinful as the world - we struggle to tell them apart. Father! Forgive us!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Stripping Down

My small group recently found a post about Melissa Jenna's 40 day makeup fast. They thought it'd be healthy for us to do one, too (I missed the discussion - I'm sure there were many better reasons). And I admit, I thought: Pssh, I only wear eyeliner and mascara. This'll be easy.

It's not.

I didn't realize how insecure I was about blond eyelashes. I feel blind without mascara. It makes me remember playing Helen Keller in 7th grade - foundation, blush, lipstick, eyebrow color, even a little eyeshadow - no mascara. That's how you make a girl look blind. And this morning (even though I know they weren't) I was sure the construction guys next to our apartment were laughing at that funny looking girl. 

I'm not kidding! The thought went through my head, "They can't see my eyes - they're laughing at me."

God help me. What a wretched, pitiful little thought! You made me the way that I am - in Your image! Let me never forget that no matter how I feel about it, my form echoes Your divine one.

So, after my deep-seated insecurities surfaced, I started wondering what else might need to be removed to steer my eyes toward Jesus. I'm pretty sure Facebook and Twitter oughta go. (Hate that, but...until I can get it down to checking 2 times a day or less, something needs to change.) I decided to consciously reduce my portion sizes. (I'm not starving myself - I just eat more than is healthy because I like to eat). And I want to exercise purposefully and regularly.

After a year of marriage and three apartment moves, Dave and I have stripped our "stuff" and "clutter" down to a minimum. Though I'm sure there's more stuff we could strip away. And we're both feeling like it's time to strip spiritually and in our lifestyle.

Here's to stripping! And naked faces. I'm praying for a naked heart, too.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

There is no high road.

I started reading Romans (again) this week, and out of curiosity, looked up chapter 2 in "The Message" paraphrase. Boy, did they take a clear and stinging tone with it. I have to wonder if Paul intended it to be that blunt.

But at the same time, it does give a little clarity into the modern nuances of the passage. Check it out:

1 Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors.2 But God isn't so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you've done.
3 You didn't think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard?4 Or did you think that because he's such a nice God, he'd let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he's not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.
5 You're not getting by with anything. Every refusal and avoidance of God adds fuel to the fire. The day is coming when it's going to blaze hot and high, God's fiery and righteous judgment.6 Make no mistake: In the end you get what's coming to you -7 Real Life for those who work on God's side,8 but to those who insist on getting their own way and take the path of least resistance, Fire!
9 If you go against the grain, you get splinters, regardless of which neighborhood you're from, what your parents taught you, what schools you attended.10 But if you embrace the way God does things, there are wonderful payoffs, again without regard to where you are from or how you were brought up.11 Being a Jew won't give you an automatic stamp of approval. God pays no attention to what others say (or what you think) about you. He makes up his own mind.

It's been a while since I've had the desire to read Scripture, but my heart is thirsty and craves truth. Dave and I had a wonderful afternoon Sunday talking with a friend over things that were deeper and more mysterious than we know. And from that, I'm just aching for more. I miss school for that reason, I think: the challenge to think and think beyond where you've thought before. So Romans ought to kickstart some thinking. At least, I'm praying that it does.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sometimes I wish I was a princess...

It's funny - I've always had a wild, surging longing inside me that becomes palpable when I read certain authors or stories. It's a longing to be noble, heroic, magical; a longing to outwit evil men and to rescue the small ones who cannot help themselves.

Mom read John Eldredge's "Wild at Heart" to us years ago, and it resonated deeply with my brothers and with me. I've felt this restlessness for something more all my life. And this morning, Oswald Chambers talks about it, too.

"If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all noble things are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty of it does not make us faint and cave in, it rouses us up to overcome...
"Thank God He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a glad thing, but it is also a heroic, holy thing. It tests us for all we are worth. Jesus is bringing many "sons" unto glory, and God will not shield us from the requirements of a son. God's grace turns out men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not milk sops. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live the noble life of a disciple of Jesus in actual things. It is always necessary to make an effort to be noble." (My Utmost for His Highest, July 7)

I'm always amazed beyond words when God becomes more to me through difficult circumstances. I should work on that - He says all throughout the Bible that (essentially) He is with us in the fire, He is living and active, and we have no reason to fear. But I always fear. And that is the root of my downfall.

A recent instance: Dave and I are moving to an apartment, and we were worried about the timing of giving notice in our current situation and signing a lease for the new one. As we went to look at the apartment, I prayed, "Lord, You have smoothed our paths, providing exactly what we need as we need it every time. I ask that You continue in Your faithfulness and make our next step clear." And the girl at the apartment offered to hold it for us so that we got the apartment without overlapping timelines or having to move in one week!

But I wonder: If I kept that mindset, that my God provides and my God is always ready to blow our tiny minds, wouldn't I live a grander, more noble and adventurous life? Wouldn't there be more taking on the enemy and more rescuing the helpless?

Monday, June 20, 2011

From whom every family derives its name.

Dave and I were married 2 weeks ago in a beautiful ceremony performed by our counselor. Hayne read Ephesians 3 to us, and it turns out that several well-wishers penned it in their cards, too. I hadn't read it in the context of a marriage before, but now - as a wife - I believe I'll come back to it over and over:

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted andgrounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think,according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In my absence...

I'm getting married in 4 days.

And the lessons I've learned over the past six months with Dave (much less the past three weeks) are invaluable and too many to recount.

Most recently, we learned to say we're sorry, and to say it fast. We were each trying to help the other and ended up missing the kindness each intended. 

So pardon me if I disappear for a while. I'll be back. I promise!

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." -Apostle Paul

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Where are the still waters? I need them!

I've fallen into that trap again - the one where I start to feel comfortable and in control of my life. Where I let my desperate need for God fall to the side, become less desperate. Where I get frustrated easily and nothing seems to go the way I want it to.

And then factor in an upcoming marriage. We're not even married yet, and I'm learning so much. Dave is my spiritual thermometer. When my heart is not right with my Father, the relationship Dave and I are building gets prickly, and there are tears and angry words and disharmony.

This morning, I was reading Oswald (surprise!) who simply asked, "Why do we doubt God? He has proven Himself. We have no room to fear." And then I was lead to James 3: 
"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness."

Looking on at my life, you wouldn't see these characteristics, you wouldn't feel the quiet assurance these verses emanate. Inside my heart there is a clear awareness of this lack of peace, and my heart literally quails at the thought. I am desperate for confidence in my Father that sings, "All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well." It's there. I've seen the effects of trusting God with everything. It's just in hiding, weakened by my selfish desires and sinful nature.

Father, draw me into Your heart. Renew my thirst, my desperation, for You.