Friday, February 3, 2017

I give my scared to Jesus.

In His Hands



It was a dark and stormy night.
No, really. With all respect to both Madeline L'Engle and Snoopy, it was truly windy and ominous that night and my five-year-old didn't welcome his bedtime. He was afraid the stormy sounds would be too scary to allow him to sleep.
I remembered something our pastor once said. First he reminded us about how big God is. Creator of all. Everything in His hands. Everything,including time. He created time and holds it in His hands. So that thing that's bothering you? The problem that's hanging over your head? You can put it in His hands. "Put it there in His hand," he told us, "set it right next to time."
I reminded my son that we, his family, were there. His brother was there in the room and Daddy and I just across the hall. Jesus right there with him. I told my little boy to imagine his "scared" like a stone in his hand. He could take that stone and put it right into God's hand. The same with his mad and his jealous and his embarrassed. Put it like a stone into His hand and He'll hold it for you.
Later that night my husband overheard him telling his brother,"I give my scared to Jesus."
What freedom.
You know what I love most about that? Jesus wants those things. He isn't put off by our weaknesses. He died for our sin and conquered our shortcomings with His resurrection and He wants us to give them to Him. And once surrendered they are entirely manageable in His hand.
My anxiety: spiky, corrosive, and clinging becomes a tiny pebble, cool and innocuous in His hand. My discouragement? My confusion? All of it completely manageable and un-intimidating when He is in control of it.
It's not about me. What a relief to say so. One of the many, many benefits of being His child is that my burdens are not mine to carry. He promised we would have trouble and He promised He was master of it. 

John 16:33  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 I can give my scared to Jesus. You can give your worry, your hurt your resentment to Him. When you do feel His peace wash over you as see your trouble grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Be True To Your School


I'm sure the man didn't intend to make me feel bad. It was my own fault and he had no way of knowing. My husband and I were waiting for our food at Wendy's and while I was collecting drinks and those little tubs of ketchup, an older man pointed at me and said the name of a city in Indiana.
"Terre Haute," he smiled.
He thought I'd been there because I was wearing a tee that boasted the name of a college I did not attend. I felt bad. I told him, no, I hadn't graduated from Indiana State, but Indiana Wesleyan. He was unfazed.
"Marion," he nodded.
He seemed concerned with nothing other than his geographical knowledge of institutes of higher education, but I still felt guilty. Dishonest. I love my school and I felt a little false wearing a shirt that implied I had gone somewhere else. I bought the shirt at a second hand place because I liked the fit. I wasn't losing sleep over it or anything, it just didn't feel honest.
link
The only IWU sweatshirt I have left is as old as graduation day and it's pretty ratty so I asked for some new shirts for Christmas. Now I save the Indiana State one for housework or painting and wear my new IWU ones when I go out. If anyone asks me about it I can tell them, yes, I graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University. Go Wildcats!
But here's the thing: All this silly tee shirt stuff made me realize that when I wear the name of my school I am a representative. It's like I tell my boys sometimes, "When people see you they think of Daddy and me. They think of Grandma and Grandpa. You're representing your family and you should honor your family."
So what does that say about my walk with Christ? If I wear a tee shirt that sports the  IWU logo I remind myself to behave in such a way that honors the school. Every day I am a daughter, wife, and mother and I need to conduct myself in a way that brings honor to my family.
Most of all I am follower of Christ. When I let Him down it's like I'm wearing someone else's tee shirt, pledging my allegiance
to someone other than Him.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Useless Weapons



I've been thinking a lot lately about the value people put on appearances. More to my point, I've been thinking a lot about the things people are willing to do to get what they want. Identity is important. Status...not so much. It's especially upsetting to me when it comes to believers. We're all sinners and every one of us has a sinful heart that wants to be selfish. But it seems that there are some who are more intentional about their disobedience. When it's not just a bad habit, but a strategy. 
Human beings have always used little tricks and gimmicks to get what they want. How about intimidation? Temper and abuse are effective tools for sending others scurrying out of one's way. On the other side of the spectrum is charm. It may be bogus, duplicitous, conditional, and totally insincere, but it achieves a dual payoff: getting one's way and stroking one's ego. The manipulations are probably endless. Whining, bribing, guilt-tripping, snubbing, flattering, and belittling. We humans have found ways of avoiding discomfort and accountability.
Like I said, there are payoffs to these acts of selfishness and dishonesty. But there is a huge downside. While it feels good in the moment, ill-gotten victories are cheap and temporary. But much, much graver, these tricks do not work on God.
A prominent atheist was once asked what he would do if he found himself face-to-face with the Creator he so vehemently denied. He said that he would ask Him, "Why did you take such pains to hide yourself?"
I  promise you that when he passed away in 1970, he met God and yet did not ask that question. All of our favorite little weapons that have been so effective in manipulating our brothers and sisters? We won't even think of trying them on God. Though I honestly believe that there are people who have this plan. 
God will not be intimidated by your anger. He will not cower at your temper. He will not wink at your sin because you're just so gosh-darn cute. He will not rush to soothe your whining or be abashed at your scolding. You will not out-think, out-talk, interrupt, or confuse Him. Neither will I. We won't even consider it when we stand before Him and His indescribable holiness and glory. Remember when Moses questioned God? Job? To put it mildly, they did not come out the victors of those conversations. Frankly, I think I would faint with terror if God said to me "Brace yourself like a man;I will question you, and you shall answer me." 
Remember that part near the middle of "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" when the four children are making plans with The Beavers? Edmond, having already been deceived and poisoned by the White Witch, asked a question. 


   "She won't turn him into stone, too?" said Edmond.
   "Lord love you, Son of Adam, what a simple thing to say!" answered Mr. Beaver with a great laugh. "Turn him into stone? If she can stand on her own two feet and look him in the face it'll be the most she can do and more than I expect of her."


Yes, Jadis had power. She was a witch who made it winter for over 100 years. "Always winter and never Christmas". She turned the beloved Mr. Tumnus, and many others, to stone. She had gained fear, respect, and in some cases even devotion from the Narnians. These temporary victories caused her to greatly overestimate her power. The White Witch (though she knew she was no match for Aslan, that Aslan had no match) still dared to challenge him. She lost. 

We, too, will lose if we dare to think that our ludicrous, petty, human weapons will silence God. We may feel we are a powerful, victorious Queen Jadis, turning people to stone if they get in our way, but don't be deceived. Standing on our own two feet and looking Him in the face is the most we will do and more than I expect of us. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Who Told You That You Were Naked?

Conviction and Condemnation

Last month I was listening to an interview on the radio. James Merritt was talking about his book "52 Weeks With Jesus". The interviewer, Lynne Ford, read an excerpt from his book and I've been thinking about it ever since. You can follow the link to hear the whole interview, but I'll paraphrase the excerpt here.

There was a group of tourists watching a flock of sheep. A man was chasing them where he wanted them to go and one of the people watching asked their guide why the shepherd was chasing the sheep from behind. Don't sheep follow their shepherd?
Yes they do, the guide told them. The person chasing the sheep wasn't the shepherd.
It was the butcher. Jesus leads. It's the devil who chases.

Notice that both motivate. Jesus asks us to go along with Him where He's already gone ahead of us, protecting, preparing, promising. The 23rd Psalm is crammed with practical allegory about the trusting relationship. Sheep trust their shepherd.

Then there's the enemy. He chases us from behind with fear, accusation, and discouragement. We don't move because we trust the devil we move because we fail to trust The Shepherd. We believe the lie just like Adam and Eve did.


1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” [see the subtle cynicism here? The ever-so-slight criticism of God? The devil knew what God really said. He wasn't asking a question, he was planting one in Eve's mind]

2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”

4“You will not certainly die,”[big, fat, filthy, LIE] the serpent said to the woman. 5“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, [very true] and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [he knows they don't understand the implications of "knowing". He knows that he's implied that God is holding out on them, that He's offered something less than His best. Not directly spoken, but another HUGE lie, nonetheless.]

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. [doesn't it just make your heart sick every time you read it?] She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. [Adam sitting silent is a topic for another day] 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. [They let the enemy chase them to their shame]

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”


Okay, so if you've hung in here with me though my little commentary, here's my point:
God is not the one who shames. He is not the one who scorns, or condemns.
The enemy does that.
Though he has nothing anywhere like Our Father's power* he is sneaky and efficient. He mixes up lies and the truth to trip you up. Your enemy will chase you toward sin and then try to make you feel like scum for failing.
If the voice whispering to your spirit is sneering at you in disgust you can bet your favorite hoodie that it's not Your Father, but your enemy.

So here's a practical example for you: You lost your temper and spoke harshly to a friend or family member. You know you hurt them and now you regret your words and your tone.

The enemy: You really messed up. They hate you now and you've done irreparable damage. Things like that are the reason [fill in the blank with an insecurity he's choosing to pick at, adding discouragement to guilt and shame]

The Father: Your words were spoken in anger. You know from My Word that it is not My hope for you to sin in your anger. I want better for my children. You must ask forgiveness of Me and your loved one. In the future, call on Me when you are frustrated. I will use these trials to make you more like Me.

So there's some really good news. You have total access to The One who loves you as if there's no one else to love. James 4;7 says "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
Because of Him you have authority over the enemy of your soul. At the Name of Jesus, he, the accuser,will be the one chased away.






*read: the devil is not God's opposite; God has no opposite. the devil is not God's nemesis, though he's love for us to think it. He's under no such delusion himself, but knows he is defeated and has no power other than what God allows him. Again, that's a topic for another day.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Blursings

The "Curse" of Our Gifts

This morning on facebook a relative posted a short video about the spiritual application of a pizza box. It's a two minute clip about how we as believers are vessels of Christ. Keep it in mind as you read this post because, as I'm sure you know, we cannot take credit for our gifts. James 1:17 reminds us that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
  A few years ago at church we all took a spiritual gifts test. The goal was to identify our strengths so we can utilize them for service. I found it super-interesting. A couple of people were asked to speak briefly about their results and they said something that resonated with me and I'm guessing you get it, too.
They said that they know it's a blessing, and they are thankful for their gifts, but sometimes their blessing felt like a curse. That's why I sometimes refer to these things, in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, as "blursings" because they feel like a combination of a blessing and a curse.
My friend has the gift of administration and she's amazing. Creative and organized, she is a master at making everything beautiful. Dozens of times I've heard people (myself included) say they wish they could just let her do whatever she wanted to makeover their homes. She likes things clean and organized and she's very very good at it.
But, for her, there's a downside. Disorder and mess bug her. Some people could overlook a messy bookshelf, but for my friend it would probably stress her out a little.
Then there's another lady. She spoke about one of her main gifts. The gift of mercy. Oh boy. When she said that this blessing sometimes felt like a curse I knew exactly where she was coming from because I have that one, too.
Compassion.
Several years ago I played "Truvy" in a stage production of "Steel Magnolias". When Shelby, regretting asking Truvy for a short haircut, begins to tear up, Truvy begs her to stop. "Oh sweetheart don't. Please don't cry or I will too. I have a strict policy that nobody cries alone in my presence."
Yep. I may not actually cry, but no one suffers in solitude if I'm around.
I'm glad I'm a compassionate person. But being compassionate means that there are times when my heart aches because of valleys I'm not actually walking through. If you are in the valley and need someone to hold your hand awhile, I'm your girl.
Don't misunderstand, I'm thankful for my gifts. Along with mercy, a couple of my other gifts are discernment and wisdom. I'm so grateful for them. I think if I had had a choice I would have picked those gifts.
But here's my point. I think that there's a reason there's some pain in the gift. What good is mercy all by myself, kept hidden? What good is wisdom if I don't share it?
Is a gift really a gift without some amount of sacrifice? Is it really worth anything if we don't grow, develop, and use it to bless others?
These gifts are meant to be manifold. Paul said in Acts "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
Haven't you noticed that sometimes the best way to lift your own spirit is to bless someone else?
Let's embrace the sacrifice. Like Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great."
Like when you knit, bake, clean, create, write, craft, or just give your time. When you sit and listen and let your presence chase away loneliness. The time you spend. The risk you take in being vulnerable, the inevitable hurt we invite when we love one another. It makes it sweeter, and richer, and more. The sacrifice of our "blursings"'is all part of the gift.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Literally


You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.



I am fighting a losing battle. Granted, I'm not fighting very hard. Just a few impassioned pleas on social media and a rant or two to family members who probably wish I'd shut up about it already. You know, the usual ways we try to save the world.
But my cause is a noble one. A brave and honorable rescue mission. Free the captive! Slay the dragon! Save the word literally! I'm talking about how everywhere we look, the word literally being used incorrectly or unnecessarily or both. "We literally died laughing." "I literally found it under the bed."
It's driving me bonkers.
 Part of the reason it bothers me so much is that I love words and generally don't like to hear them misused. People have taken to using the word literally for emphasis when that's not it's purpose at all. It's meant for clarity, not to add weight to something. This is a big deal to me and I was just sitting here thinking about why that is.
I think what bothers me is this: We can't just distort the truth to suit our wishes. Literally does not mean "really a whole lot-I mean it".  A couple of weeks ago when I said that the kids at church were "literally bouncing off the walls", I didn't mean they were extra super-duper hyper, I mean that they were so rowdy that I actually saw a kid ricochet off an actual wall.
I fear that one day the definition will bow to the abuse of the word and it will actually be changed in the dictionary.
But it's not right.
I could believe with every cell in my brain that the sun orbits the earth but it doesn't make it true. Even if all of us believed it, it would not make true an untrue thing. It would only make all of us wrong.
I'm talking about absolutes here, and I'm aware of their fading popularity in our world, but that's just the point. The world doesn't want standards? Our culture simply loathes accountability? Too bad. Truth remains. No amount of argument, condescension, ignorance, oblivion, or scorn will fade it.

Psalm 119:89 Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

 I'm choosing one simple verse to share. There are tons of passages in the Bible about this, but Psalm 119:89 is one perfect example. It doesn't need my help by trying to add any emphasis. Using a word in an improper way does not diminish the merit of the word. Disobeying The Word does not weaken it's sovereignty either.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Before and After

My Week in the Library


You probably have one of those places in your house, too. A messy catch-all where you throw stuff when you don't know where else to put it.
I won't tell you the whole long story, but last week I finally tunneled into "the cold room" and turned it into a tiny library. My boys will probably still call it the cold room, though.
Anyway, as you can probably guess, it was a lot of work. The boys helped a little, carrying books and throwing things away when I asked. I did the painting, though I'm not very good at it.
It took me over a week, I was exhausted at the end of every day, there are still a few things to do, and it was worth it all. Every sore muscle, every scraped knuckle, every wobble of the stepladder that momentarily convinced this very afraid-of-heights girl that she was going to fall to her death was worth the end result.
I bought "oops paint" at the hardware store and I love the colors. I got a set of chairs and matching ottoman at Karen's Treasures, and we have been enjoying our little reading room.
Last night my boys and I snuggled into our new-to-us chairs and I introduced them to Junie B. Jones.
The pictures don't really do it justice. Probably because I took them on my little pink, digital Sanyo. When my photographer friend comes to visit, maybe she'll take some better ones and I'll update you.
before
during

after
 Isn't it lovely? Last night after the boys went to bed, Keith and I sat in our little library and we decided it's the coziest room in the  house.

I'm planning on moving the clock to a different spot because I think it looks weird there, We still need to sort through the desk you can't really see here and we could use a little table to set a cup of tea, but it's mostly done. There is for sure room for more books!
But this is all for now. I will likely have more to say about it later. For now let's just enjoy the fun of before and after.