Thursday, August 5, 2010

Imperfect as ever

Here I am again--back at the alter of the god of being understood and appreciated. (you wouldn't know about that, because it's one of the many blogs of the past few months that hasn't made it out of my notebook and onto my computer).

I hear the accusations again: "Maybe you're not even dancing with God--maybe you're out there all by yourself. (p.s. Every one's staring at you...and you look ridiculous).

But I am not alone. Even if I'm getting it wrong and I'm stepping all over God's toes. Even if I'm trying to lead GOD, and every one's laughing at the presumptuousness of that foolishness. Even then, He has not left me or forsaken me. He is out there--on the dance floor--claiming me as His--2 left feet and all. He delights in me and sings over me. He hates that I have to feel this way, but He knows what it will produce in me, so He is strong enough and loving enough to let me go through it. He doesn't show me visions of real suffering, and tell me to "snap out of it!". He looks at me in my awkward stages and sees the woman He has created me to be.

He loves me. He redeems me. And that is better than the praise, acceptance, and glowing reports of a thousand fickle men.

"When I don't fit in and I don't feel like I belong anywhere
When I don't measure up too much in this life,
I'm a treasure in the arms of Christ."
(Sanctus Real, Forgiven)

I've missed you all. Shall we dance?:]

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Real (Toxic) Housewives of NYC...

I gave in. After telling myself, "You do not want to watch these women be mean to each other for another second!", in a moment of weakness, when nothing else was on 900 some-odd channels, I watched it-The Real Housewives of New York City.

It was truly the train wreck you know you shouldn't allow yourself to absorb, but curiosity insists on staring at-with raised eyebrows and open mouth.

First of all, there is no occasion with these women where a confrontation is inappropriate. There is no offense too small to be harbored and held for later--as a weapon of surprise attack. Secondly, there is nothing these women won't say about each other--behind their backs--even though there is (or because there is (?)) a camera stuck in their faces. And, thirdly, their proudest statements are like tossed aside photos of the truth, in favor of the dark confusing negative. (OK, that would have been a really good analogy a few years back before the whole world went, not only are there no negatives lying around in old photo envelopes, but some people don't ever even take their digital pics off the memory one I know personally.)

Here are some of the gems from the show: (not exact exact quotes, because I didn't write it all down, but it is as close as memory will serve-maybe even a little nicer than the actual quotes).

"L"-"I can't believe she said that to her face! I mean who does that? Sure talk to other people...sure subtle whispers...but to say it right to her face?!"

"J" - "I kept her hurtful message so I could play it back to myself whenever I started to feel weak". (as in, I could feel myself just wanting to get over it, but I fed my hurt and rage instead)

And, from the housewife who's being featured in Playboy, as she broaches the subject with her 2 young daughters:

"K" - "Girls, what do you think about mom being in Playboy?"

"Well," the one daughter responds, "with clothes on, yes, without, no. Case closed."
And the other: "You mean showing your weirdness for the camera?"

But later, when asked what her young daughters thought of her posing, she smiled and said:

"Oh, I talked to them about it, they're really excited!"

One of the Playboy mom's friends bragged to the other housewives enthusiastically saying:

"Well, every woman's dream of being in Playboy is actually becoming a reality for Kelly, here!" All smiles and endorsement. But once she's alone and speaking just to the camera...(oh- and the world), she was suddenly conflicted: "I don't know how I feel about her posing for Playboy...I mean she has 2 small children..."

And finally, in her own defense, Kelly, the Playboy mom, explains:

"It's not like I'm being photographed nude...I'm being photographed nude for the most famous book in the world!" (Hello!)

I don't know why my head is still spinning from it. It's reality TV. It's not a self help show, or even a serious documentary. It's art poking and prodding at life until it shows it's most prickliest, ugliest, self-absorbed-survivalist head.

And it's not that these women are the worst women ever. It's that they are like wounded animals--caught in a trap attempting to chew each others legs off in order to hopefully get out alive. (All the while wearing designer clothes, having their roots done, being spray tanned, and smiling like they're having the time of their lives.)

Anyone of us could do what they're doing...think what they're thinking. It's a dog eat dog world out there...if you decide to be one of the dogs. And we've all done it:

  • Talked about somebody who hurt us, instead of going to them in truth and love and letting them know we were hurt.

  • Enjoyed the drama of being wronged, and kept our hurt and anger alive, when we could have just gotten over it.

  • Heard what we wanted to hear--regardless of what was actually said.

  • Publicly acted thrilled for someone and privately criticized them.

  • Redefined our situation with no allegiance whatsoever to reality and truth.

It takes so little to fall into that trap. All you really have to do is forget that there are 2 masters vying for your allegiance. One who has come only to steal, and kill, and destroy. And One who has come to give life, and life to the full. One has the keys to free you from the trap--the other set it for you, and is cheering wildly as you bite and devour one another.

So. It is up to you, and it is up to me. It can only be a dog-eat-dog world, if we decide to be dogs...(females, that goes double for us!). What if we decide to grow up in Christ instead? What if we decide to "do unto others as we would have them do unto us"? What if Love ruled the day?

Now that would be a better day.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

my own worst enemy

"As I was walking past the stair,
I saw a man who wasn't there.
I saw that man again today.
I wish that man would go away."
I don't know who that little poem was written by...(Ogden Nash?), but I think-past the silliness of it-I can see a very real issue. The things that slow us down in this life, the things that keep us from moving forward, are sometimes only imagined. They are figments that loom in our heads, but nevertheless have power. But the power they have is only the power we are willing to give them.
In case you hadn't noticed I have been AWOL from this whole blogging thing. [anybody still out there who didn't give up on me completely?] Ironically, I have disappeared in the aftermath of an amazingly inspiring writer's conference. Something tells me it wasn't supposed to have that effect. But as with so many things, the longer I stayed away, the more impossible and daunting my return seemed. To top it off, I lay here sick today, watching endless episodes of America's Next Top Model. Not exactly the inspiration you need, to resume a spiritually probing self this blog has come to be for me.
I guess the question is...what is this blog for you? Is it worth my continuing to share my vulnerabilities, my struggles, and my epiphanies? The man in the stair says it is not. He says I should just lay here half sick, and leave my blog half done...he says no one will notice or care. He tells me that each day that passes since the writer's conference, that I don't DO something big with my writing, is simply an indictment on who I am and who I never will be.
It doesn't take any believer very long to recognize who the man in the stair ultimately is. Yes-he is the very real enemy. But even so, that does not change the fact that the power he has over me is still only the power I choose to give him. Yes, I see him day after day, standing there in the stairway trying to block heaven. And yes he is quite the subtle yet relentless source of accusation. But aren't I-in fact-my own worst enemy for giving him power when I know full well he has been defeated? Why should I waste time wishing he wasn't there, (a constant source of snide rebuke), when I am really the one with the power to make him go?
I will pray Paul's prayer in Ephesians for myself:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the glorious Father, may give me the spirit of wisdom and
revelation, so that I may know Him better. I pray also that
the eyes of my heart may be enlightened in order that I may
know the hope to which He has called me...and the
incomparably great power for me-who believes.
That power is like the working of His mighty strength,
which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead
and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all
rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title
that can be given, not only in the present age but
in the age to come.
(Eph. 1:17-21)
The man in the stair can stare all he wants, but he has no real power over me. May I never forget that. I will acknowledge his presence-because his presence is very real-but I will do a little staring of my own. And it won't be at him. I will keep my eyes fixed on the one who made my overcoming possible. "I will set my eyes not on what is seen"...a sick girl losing her Saturday as she lays sapped of physical energy on the couch..."but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Cor.4:18). God has eternal stuff for me, and whatever that looks like, I'm gonna take it, and no man in the stair is going to be able to keep me from it!
And so, I will lay here a little bit longer and wait to feel better. But you know something? I can see the stairs from here, and they are completely empty...(for now). It's amazing what a little resisting will do to clear the stairs;)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow day epiphany (epiphanies can be L...O...N...G )

I love snow days because everyone is forced to stay in (for the most part). I love that-as dysfunctional as my family can be-we are all confined to this tall skinny townhouse, and I can feed them yummy comfort foods, and I know where everybody is...and I love it the most when the snow is still falling and no one knows when it will stop...and we just might be stuck in this small world for a very long time.

I like this small world because, with less and less options, the activities are more and more predictable. We will eat the same bonding (fattening) foods, we will watch the same movies-especially if the satellite signal is affected. The options get fewer and fewer, and the "unity" gets keener and keener.

But once the snow stops falling, the restless natives scatter, and you see the unity was really only a figment of the narrowing options available.

I apparently like narrowing options. There is something reassuring about us all proceeding in this controlled limited atmosphere. It is as filling and as comforting as the banana pancakes, the white chili, and the fried ice cream we consumed. But it is likely just as unhealthy.

I have been hearing a lot of mixed messages lately and, as you might have guessed, I don't like mixed messages. Way too many avenues leading who-knows-where, far from home, no doubt. And the opportunity to get lost in it all is a scary thing.

Fortunately, I decided a while back that I would make no decisions based on fear. So today-now that the snow stopped falling-I decided to stop watching the seeming conflicting messages pile up in my periphery, and look them each straight in the eye.

I didn't know where it would take me, and I worried that it would isolate me-from everyone. But I decided to trust The One who leads me and is with me always, and to set my fear aside, hold onto Him, and see where we ended up-together.

I started with the message from my "Perspectives" class...a study I'm hoping will give me God's heart for His world. So far-and I've only had 3 classes-the message is God deserves the praise of the nations and I should unapologetically spread the word.

Then there's my dear friend Oswald Chambers (author of My Utmost for His Highest), who tells me I am to be a proclaimer of the gospel of God, above all else. I know, I know, not too conflicting so far...

But then there's my blogging friend, Glennon, who has such a beautiful aroma of Jesus on her, and who lives to love God and love people, but refuses to draw any lines in the sand-even where the Bible does.

And finally there's Dr.K, who conveyed to me that I make some people feel "put upon" when I talk to them the same way I talk to believers in Jesus...which really rocked my world-and not in the good way-because that was something I thought I was doing right...(being myself with everyone). It sure seemed to simplify life.

And so, it would seem, I have the challenge of unapologetically proclaiming the gospel, while drawing no lines in the sand and squelching the talkative-believer-in-me who makes other people feel "put upon".

But are the messages really as mixed as they seem? Is the only hope I have of them all sitting down at the same table and behaving themselves, limited to the forced isolation of the rare snow day? Or could each of them come together in such a way as to broaden my horizons without compromising any of them?

I'd have to look and think and read and pray on that one.

First, I remembered my friend Letha. I had tried for years to get Letha to come to church with me. She was willing to be my friend-though we really didn't do that much together-but she showed no interest whatsoever in church. I finally gave up completely. Which sounds bad, but in my discouragement, I said to God, I'm gonna get together with Letha for lunch one day a week, and I'm going to determine not to give her any advice no matter what she says. (And let me tell you, she could say some things that were screaming for advice). I remember biting my tongue and just asking her, "so, what are you going to do about that?" As I look back on it now, I can almost hear God breathing a sigh of relief..."Finally! I was wondering what would make that girl just shut up and listen for a change..." (I said almost). But a funny thing ended up happening as I sat there week after week without a spoken opinion on everything I had an unspoken opinion on-which was everything. Letha started coming to church. Hmm...

Dr. K had suggested I might be afraid of other people's beliefs-which I quickly dismissed-but that it would be more endearing to cultivate a true interest in what others believe, and how they arrived at those beliefs. He suggested that I be more open and flexible...not I know what is right, but I want to know what you are thinking. That seemed to fit with the Letha experiment. And so I continued to ponder...

Shortly after these thoughts entered my mind, I stumbled upon an Internet article by David Wood, entitled: Hungry Homeless and jobless in Haiti. It seemed I wouldn't have to wait too long to see what some people were thinking about Christianity, and unfortunately it would be no mystery as to how they had arrived at those opinions. The article was insightful, about the plight the Haitians find themselves in, but the comments that followed were up close and personal for someone like me (and you, if you call yourself a Christian). They went disturbingly like this:

Vanleys: "Their only hope is Jesus Christ Himself! Instead of building a bullet train in parts of America, for the poor here, let's feed some families in need there. That's what the Lord would do. Bullet train, what a joke this guy is. Oh he's my president, but he's far from what he could or should be."

Emily29388: "If Jesus is gonna save'em all, I have to wonder why Jesus let them all get in this fix to start with. Oh yeah, he works in mysterious ways his miracles to perform. Mysterious indeed.

Vanleys: "America is next! You mark my words--gay marriage, abortion, gays mocking Christ on Easter out in San Francisco every year, and now our president banning Christian Day of Prayer. Folks, I got news for ya, 9/11 and Katrina were just icebreakers for what's to come."

bpd9227: " worship a god who wreaks havoc and destruction on those its supposed to love? And what of the Christians killed in the many disasters...they accepted Christ, and yet they still suffered...why don't you fly down to Haiti yourself and help those people? Isn't that what Jesus would do? You big phoney!

Hammerofmac: "Jesus, what is he waiting for, an invitation? Let him go and help-they need it. But I think Americans need the help more--and I don't mean in food and water."

Wow. Those are some harsh criticisms of Jesus...but can you blame them? All they've seen of Him is what the loudest of us have shown them. For once, (maybe because I've been ruminating on all these mixed messages), I wasn't offended by their genuine-if insulting-
feelings. Their anger made perfect sense to me. We're called to proclaim the gospel unapologetically, but does that really look anything like Vanley's initial comment for earthquake crushed Haiti, "Their only hope is Jesus Christ Himself!"?

I don't know about that, but I do know this: nobody can tell me much of anything when I am hungry, thirsty, tired, in pain, or uncomfortable. It seems like, in this situation, words about Jesus are for another time. Maybe a time when they are asked for. And what would ever make the people of Haiti ask for words about Jesus? How about when we're acting so much like Him, they either have to ask us what makes us so different, (if they've never heard of Him), or, if we're related to Him (if they have).

When Vanley goes on to get political and complain about the president, I don't think that comment will draw out any interested questions about Jesus. I think that will just get chalked up to one more whiny American who naively thinks everything would be running smoothly, if only their guy would've gotten in. I won't even get into Vanley threatening America with God's wrath, or the fact that somewhere along the line bpd9227 got the idea that Christians aren't supposed to have any disasters. It all adds up to one big question: "Why does God let us speak for him at all?".

It seems like the problem of Christianity today might just be too many words and not enough action to back them up-or even to be invited to speak. The words of St. Francis of Assisi ring loud and poignant here: "Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words."

I include myself in the masses of well meaning Christians who have devoted themselves to study, but have opened their mouths on a study break and-quite unintentionally-hurt those around them with their enlightened ideas. And when I start living like my God is as worthy and amazing and compassionate and powerful as He is-and when I get that He wants to show that through my life and words-but not through my wordy instruction of how life after redemption is supposed to look-maybe then I will be a part of the solution, and not just an accidental part of the problem.

I think God just may be using all the mixed messages to bring me one step closer to Him. A step in which He does not become smaller and more controllable (like my snow day world), but bigger and more complex, and more amazing. And while I do not believe that all paths lead to Heaven/God, I do believe that God, in His love for all humans, devises ways to intersect with those paths...if only His people would stop setting up road blocks at those very intersections.
We've got to stop blocking the way and let them get close enough to see the beauty of the creator-somewhere past our imposing platforms-and seek Him under the shelter of the cross and decide for themselves. Do you really think if they got that close to Him they could so easily walk away?

God looks on the human condition at its worst and is not repulsed by people, but is longing to redeem them. The further we get from our own moment of clarity, however, the less tolerant and loving we are toward those who are still awaiting their moment in the Son. We feel we have arrived-when we have not. What we have is redemption. What we have to offer is not the definition of "cleaned up", but the invitation of introduction to our Redeemer. Our part is to make the introduction. To pray. To answer questions asked. To remain available and to watch the redemption process unfold-never with a critical eye-but in amazement of God's impeccable timing, and loving precision that results in redemption-and, ultimately, more introductions.

The snow is beautiful, but there is a big world out there, full of ideas and spiritual journeys that need to be genuinely (and not fearfully) listened to-really heard in the context of relationship-lifting Jesus up with every opportunity we get. Let's leave our pat answers inside our tall skinny townhouses and brave the elements together. "And surely", Jesus says, "I am with you to the very end of the age" that's comfort food.

one last thought...I am just naive enough to think this beautiful snow day epiphany will be beautiful to everyone, but realistically it will not. And so, if I must offend, may I offend my brother in Christ, who has the grace and the Spirit available to him, to get over it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

no frills friday

Are you ready to be offered? The question posed by Oswald this morning, in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest.
"Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of
your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all."
(Phil. 2:17)
"Suppose God wants to teach you to say, 'I know how to be abased'
are you ready to be offered up like that? Are you ready to be not so much
as a drop in the bucket-to be so hopelessly insignificant that you are never
thought of again in connection with the life you served?"
(Oct. 5th devo.)
Lord, I am learning that this is Your story. I'm learning more and more that this is not about me. I'm learning that everything that comes to us in this life, (good, bad, strength, weakness), are all assets to you. So, no matter what you have for me-be it seen by many, or completely unnoticed-I want it.
I know it is your will that I do Kingdom work. And I know-as I try to be obedient to you-You will give me the work that was prepared in advance for me to do. I am honored to be a part of Your story. I pray that whatever I am given to do, I will do it "in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ".
In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"There's got to be a morning after"

After yesterday (see After. Shock. Therapy) I was counting on Oswald (author of My Utmost for his Highest) to hit the nail on the head for me today-in my God's time. To give me what I needed. And clearly I needed comfort and hand holding. (OK, not Oswald's strong suit, but a girl can dream, right?)

Instead I got:

"Saul, Saul, why persecuteth thou me?''
(Acts 26:14)
"Am I set on my own way for God?
Obstinacy and self will always stab Jesus Christ...
When the knowledge comes that it is Jesus whom we
have been is the most
crushing revelation there could be."
(My utmost, Jan.28)
So no one-including Oswald-will give me what I think I need...
Hugs. Reassurances. An explanation of how I could have tried my best, and this is how it all was received?
All I want is unconditional love when I am at my ugliest, is that too much to ask?
What hope do I have if my best is hurting Jesus? (along with everyone else I live with)
And even though I recognize that the answer that is loudest in my head comes from a source that hates me, I still listen. "Check out." "You're done." "You are only making matters worse..."
"Oh, if you only had a river you could skate away on."

I want out. I want out. I want out. I close my eyes, and these are the only words I hear. They are my quite empty hope. I am, without a doubt, listening to the father of lies. And, as usual, his counterfeit offer is deceivingly appealing. He is the author of the mantra:
"There is only one answer-it's not a good one-but it is the only one."
Red flags wave as my head pounds. Where is the truth here? Where is the answer from the Lover of my soul? I'll have to intentionally stop listening to the loud-overly-eager-hater/liar, if I'm going to start listening to the still-small-loving-forgiving-wisdom-filled voice of truth. goes...
The enemy wants me to focus inward. To analyze my every thought and hurt. To sit here and wait for someone to come along and scoop me up and distract me from this quite unappealing revelation of self. (either that, or have myself put to sleep)
But God wants me to face it. Look it full in the face and acknowledge it:

My best efforts are CRAP.
(and so are yours, btw)

I think maybe after you've been a Christian for as long as I have, the thought creeps in that, now that I am redeemed, my best efforts are godly...untainted. That, since I attempt to devote myself to knowing God and loving and helping other people, I am no longer a part of the problem. But I am. And if my best efforts could change that, then Jesus would not have needed to die on that cross. And survival of the spiritual fittest would be the gateway to heaven.

But Jesus is the gate. And not to keep us out, but to stand guard over us, when that wolf has his sites set on our furry little hides.
My eyes needed opened to the ugly fact that, somewhat like Paul, my spiritual zest had taken a wrong turn. (fortunately mine didn't involve tracking down those who I considered spiritually errant and literally killing them) But people were getting hurt, namely the ones I love the most.

Bottom line-the world is broken and I am an ongoing contributor to that. I am fragile and clumsy (a really bad combo) and I live among the fragile and clumsy. We will hurt each other along the way-even when we are trying our darnedest not to.

"We imagine we understand where the other person is,
until God gives us a dose of the plague of our own hearts.
There are whole tracts of stubbornness and ignorance
to be revealed by the Holy Spirit in each one of us,
and it can only be done when Jesus gets us alone."
(Oswald, My Utmost, Jan.)

Where does the hope come from then? The same place as always. At the cross.

"Where the wrongs we have done
and the wrongs done to us
have been nailed to a tree
there on the cross."

May I never again forget the perfect work of the cross.

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord"(Gal. 6:14)
May , "I consider everything else a loss compared..." to the cross (Phil 3:8)
May I, "resolve to know nothing except Christ and Him crucified"(1 Cor. 2:2)

So...the glimpse of me that the enemy intended to take me out with, my Daddy-God intended to strengthen and grow me with. But even if "What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger", no matter how strong I get, I will not fall for the enemies flattery. (with the intention of puffing me up, so that he can do the honors of deflating me later) I will instead remember:

"Little ones to Him belong,
they are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me..."

Yes, Jesus loves you. He loves all of our weak little furry/mangy hides.
All I want is unconditional love when I am at my ugliest. Is that too much to ask?
No-thankfully-it is not.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

after. shock. therapy.

broken. scared. small. unworthy and unwise.
accidentally toxic. broken...beyond repair.
Take it back. I take it back.
Everything. All of it. Make it right.
But I can't.
It's a horrible revelation that leaves me anesthetized-but still feeling everything.
C a t a t o n i c
What's wrong with me?! (I put the exclamation point because it looks like there should be one-but I'm too weighed down to exert myself to exclaim anything.)
Who can fix me...this? (Don't say God. You always say God-and they are sick of it.)
I don't know what to do with myself. Scratch. Start over. Be someone else.
Someone who doesn't have strong feelings. Someone who keeps her big fat mouth shut. Someone who closes her eyes, and doesn't have to open them again.
Someone who can stop crying.

What can you do with me God? I know you're there. I know you knew I'd be exactly here exactly now. And as unpopular as my-apparently unyielding and pervasive-views on you are,
I can't pretend that I have anything besides You. The fact is: I am Yours. It doesn't matter who doesn't like it, and who's sick of hearing it. You are stuck with me. (if it's OK to say that)

And why did I stop crying just now? Is it because I stopped being true to my feelings (whatever that means) and started writing what I thought I should. I don't know. I don't know anything anymore.

God, What can You do with someone who suddenly doesn't know a blessed thing?

Friday, January 22, 2010

"27 Dresses"?...Really?

I stayed up late last night engrossed in a movie that is mediocre at best. A movie that-the first time I watched it-I thought was silly and so-so and not worth my time.

Why? Who's in charge here? I don't even follow my own rules!

Meanwhile...there is something I am really trying to hear from God. Something that is eating at me. I just don't know the best way to handle this situation. I wonder why God will not just tell me what to do. I am eager to do it-whatever it is.

I have to ask myself, "Is there something between me and God?" I am so tired today, (thank you "27 Dresses"). I don't know what to think about the feelings I'm having. But I can tell you, I'm not having peace right now. I have quit my obsession with all things "********"but does it still hold a place in my heart that it's not supposed to? I'm not thinking about it...I have definitely distanced myself from it...But is it enough? I don't really want to think about it or talk about it-to God-because I really don't want to hear "You can't...". It's such a small thing, on the one hand, but it says something BIG. It says I don't trust God. It says I'm holding back. It says: "I'm in charge".

Today, Oswald said, in "My Utmost for His Highest",

"Does He (God) find me recalling the time when I did not care for
anything but Himself?
Am I there now...?"
You have only to look back to my Dec. 26 entry (slow fade) to answer that question. I am still trying to get back to where I was. But maybe I cannot go backwards. Maybe I have to look around to where I am now, and honestly assess the situation. And maybe, as Oswald goes on to say, it needs to involve shame and humiliation.
"If as I recall what God remembers about me,
I find He is not what He used to be to me,
let it produce shame and humiliation,
because that shame will bring the godly sorrow
that works repentance."
We are so politically correct in our thinking that this sounds downright wrong. "Shame? Humiliation? Just say 'no'!" There are even verses of scripture that seem to imply the same message. One of my favorites--and for good reason:
"There is therefore now no condemnation
for those that are in Christ Jesus."
How true that is! I am not condemned. But I am human. I still fall. And sometimes I even wallow. And I still kid myself about sin. And when I am finally at the place (miserable) where I am ready to look at it--just because the blood of Jesus covers it, is no excuse for numbness to it--I need to feel the pain of my "reign". And that's what it is, a reign. And so I ask, "Who's in charge?" Me. Apparently. Who gets the final say? Me. Apparently. Who has subconsciously created and sat on her own cardboard throne? Again...that would be me.
And why? Because I am so wise? Because I'm full of better ideas? because I'm trustworthy? Because I've never let myself down before? Please. Haven't I learned by now what a hot mess I am? My little substitute kingdom is not only ultimately opposed to God--it's opposed to itself! I don't even listen to me! Queen Lisa knew a bedtime of midnight was imperative to a good night's sleep last night, and so she wrote out the edict. But then, subject Lisa-who never was too good at taking orders-promptly opposed her own lordship. And for what? "27 Dresses"? Really?
In Jeremiah, the prophet says of God's people: "You do not even know how to blush".
Blushing: An outward show of one's own personal shame and humiliation. Blushing...I think we may have forgotten how to do it. Our culture celebrates the idea of no regrets--no matter how obvious the infraction. We say:
"I can't regret what made me who I am."
Yes you can! Jane, you ignorant slut--at least be wise enough to have regrets.
I must call all my little divisions (all my free radicals) out. I must corral them before the one True Throne that has never once been threatened by my microscopic coup...and I must give them all what they deserve. Death.
They don't love me. They don't have my best at heart. I am a fool if I listen, for even one more second, to their schizophrenic demands. Feel it, ponder it, let my cheeks turn red, until there is godly sorrow. Then comes repentance. And then I will hear clearly again.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Name of Bob"

A couple of years ago the street that I live on lost it's best man. His name was Bob, and everyone would tell you, Bob was the heart and soul of the street. He was the guy who was always calling out a greeting anytime you left your house, or returned home. He was the one offering to let you borrow any tool he had--and I think he had every tool there was to have. He was the connection-really-for the whole street. Just about everyone could trace back their introductions to everyone else--through Bob. When Bob had his heart attack, everyone of us felt it. And when he died, he left a permanent hole in the connection on our street. We all said we wanted to be more like that Bob wasn't there to be himself.

Oswald Chambers, in his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, says:

"Identification with the death of Jesus Christ means identification
with Him, to the death of everything that was never in Him."
(Dec. 8, devotional)

A funny thing happened after Bob died. I didn't mean to say it--at first--but I found myself, without thinking about it, saying: "name of Bob". It would just kind of pop out, anytime someone was about to do something on our street, that Bob would never have done. For example, we live on a one way street, and it's easier, when you live close to the "exiting" end, to cut corners, and just quickly shoot in-going the wrong way-to get to your driveway. No harm done. But once Bob wasn't around anymore, as our shining example, I found myself not wanting to "go the wrong way" even for a few seconds. So, when I say to my husband, just before he goes the wrong way down our one way street, "name of Bob", what I'm really saying is, "Let's honor Bob, by not doing anything Bob would not have done in our neighborhood." In that phrase, I am saying, "he was right, and I want to be more like Bob."

Sometimes it feels like the phrase "in the name of Jesus" has come to mean, "now you have to give it to me"...or maybe simply, "Here's the authority by which I ask for this". It just has me wondering, has the phrase lost some of its meaning over the years?

Of course there is every reason to recognize that-as the Bible says-there is power in that name which is above every name. But I think we would do well to consider that there might have been a more organic utterance of that phrase as well. One that calls on us to identify with who Jesus was-as He walked this earth-and to put to death in ourselves "everything that was never in Him."

So, when we are tempted to...

put ourselves first-("name of Jesus")

hold a grudge-("name of Jesus")

withhold love-("name of Jesus")

turn a blind eye-("name of Jesus")

go the wrong way-("name of Jesus")
whisper it to yourself...and what you'll really be saying is:
"I want to honor Jesus by not doing anything He would not have done in this life".
You're saying:
Jesus was right~beautiful~perfect~Son-of-God~Savior...
and I want to be more like Him.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Right now, before I officially "launch", (blog lingo), while I can look over and see 5 faces, ("followers", more blog lingo)...I feel I should let you know what you're in for, here. I'm gonna sometimes look semi-formal in the way I post--and I'm gonna sometimes be casual Friday. And I don't wanna give you whiplash or anything, so I just thought a warning might be in order.'s some casual Friday for ya:

Can I make a confession?

I'm an "all or nothing" girl, and I'm about to "All" myself to death...and the sad thing is, it ends up looking a lot like nothing.
Get up early. Go to bed early. Eat right. Pray while on the elliptical. Have time with God...(which is really getting out of control). I'm presently reading all of the following-every morning:
  • "My Utmost for His Highest"
  • "The Love Dare"
  • The Bible
  • "Crazy Love"

And I want to read them all. But then again, what impact can I expect when I'm reading in so many different directions? I find myself-an hour and a half later-unable to focus on any one thing I've been studying, and now the day is getting away from me-again.

Just to give you an idea--I've had to repeat day 2 of "The Love Dare" 4 times now, cause I can't seem to get through a day without saying something negative to my husband. (And I've told him about it, and sort of blamed him for it--nice huh?) Ya think I might be missing the point?!

It's not like I'm a hopeless mess-but it is like I'm a mess.

The enemy would love me to drown in all of the All. To give up, to be hopeless, and amount to nothing. But that's just not an option. I've got to get this A.D.D. girl-who is all over the place-back to the place where I am simply His.

Yours, God. I gotta tell you, I don't know how to do it. There are so many good things I want to do and be, but all my running ahead has me running in circles. And it makes me dizzy...and I might throw up.

But you know how you always feel a little better after you throw up? Sure there's that bad taste in your mouth, but the offensive stuff has been evacuated...and the quiet empty-for-now-hope-that-doesn't-happen-again feeling, at least has the word "hope" in it.

Settle me down, Lord. Walk ahead of me and set the pace. Redeem this mess.

I'm just gonna hold on with my eyes shut. I'm gonna remember that there is therefore now no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus. And I am in Christ Jesus. And I can remember that with my eyes shut. I'm gonna stop putting my hope in the All-that ends up looking a lot like nothing-and put my hope in the one I'm holding onto.

"All Those who put their hope in Him will never be put to shame."

And when I open my eyes back up, He will be my All, and there is no shame in that.