31 August 2008

Something to Think About

Suddenly I find myself dripping with sorrow. I feel torrents of grief and despair threatening to break through my pitiful levies of faith. And yet, absolutely nothing is wrong. At first I felt like I was a vector for unpleasantness. Now I feel... unsettled?.... depress....? crazy.....? faithless? Yes, that's it. I feel faithless.

I am reading Thomas Watson's "All Things for Good." Watson is one of my favorite Puritan authors. I read this line this morning and I have been thinking about ever since, "Dejection in the godly arises from a double spring: either because their inward comforts are darkened our their outward comforts are disturbed."

26 August 2008

Character Flaws, Sin and Remediation

I have been thinking about my last post in which I offered to talk about how having a job has shown or magnified my character flaws. Before I do though, I want to distinguish between character flaws and sin. My character flaws predispose me to sin in certain areas more readily than in others. Indulging in my character flaws is sinful. Entertaining the idea of indulging my character flaws is sinful. They are the weaknesses in me where my flesh makes itself known by screaming, "You know you want to!!"

Too often I hear Christians lamenting that they "make mistakes" or are victims of their genetic make-up and intimate that they should, therefore, be excused from culpability for being prone to certain activities. Our cultural dependence on a medical model to define our behavior has given many what they see as a plausible excuse for sin. I don't see that caveat in the Word. For Christians, the Word is always our standard. It is the standard by which all will be judged. Can you imagine facing our Lord and saying, "Wait! I am not a heretic, I just have eisegesis and contextual discrimination disorder!"

One of the main benefits of my having a job has nothing to do with being able to pay my bills, although I am thankful for the opportunity to get out of debt. For over ten years the majority of the people in my life, outside of my family, have been Christians. As my unbelieving youngest girl would say, "Hard-core, actually live like they are Christians, Christians." Whether they are in my 'real' life or they are my cyber-siblings who only get to make occasional guest appearances into my 'real' life, the believers I associate with are the 'real deal'. I now find myself in the company of folks who are either culturally Christian, or Jewish or unbelievers. The combination of being around people, working in a job that requires a high level of customer service, learning all the ins and outs of a new field and being a flawed woman have been interesting for me to say the least. It has served to show me I am not all that- rather I am pretty ordinary with a heavy dose of crazing in my character.

I am lazy. I want to find the quickest way to accomplish a task and get it out of my realm of responsibility. This flaw makes it difficult to want to do it the right way, go through all the steps and take the extra time to insure no one else will have to come behind me and clean up my loose ends.

I am impatient. I don 't want to hear the whole story. I just want to hear the bottom line. Tell me what I have asked you, in the order I have asked you. This flaw makes me sound like a Field Marshall or um... bossy. I can be terse and entirely unfriendly if you make me spend a moment longer than I want to on your problem- and I don't want to spend any time fixing your errors, thank you very much.

I am a snob. I don't care to have my cubicle neighbor instruct me on all things Jewish. My neighbor cannot seem to understand that I have been to college and studied theology at a master's level. Additionally, they cannot seem to grasp that it is inappropriate to discuss religion at work or I would be evangelizing them. Do you detect my air of snobbery and pride? I am annoyed with my cubicle neighbor instead of seeing this as a great opportunity to dialog (after work) about the Messiah they are waiting for being the Christ I serve. No wonder God hates our pride so much. It is harmful to us and to others.

I am prone to fear man more than God. This revelation would surprise most people who know me because I appear to be quite fearless in most areas of my life. Bring on the trials and tribulations, I know how to do that stuff, or rather, I know how to depend on God to carry me through it. The fear I am talking about is the insidious sort that masquerades as wanting to fit in with your co-workers. What's wrong with that? You begin to sound and act like them more than you sound and act like Christ. It begins with a legitimate desire to not come off as 'holier than thou' but ends with not acting like you're holy at all.

And so there you have it, the short list of my besetting sins and a few of the character flaws that lead me into trouble. There are many more, I assure you. It isn't enough for me to list them and share them with you. I am responsible for them. I need to plead for forgiveness and remediation. Mercifully, the God I worship has provided a Mediator and Remediator for me.

Leviticus 20:8
8 'And you shall keep My statutes and practice them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you.

Hebrews 10:10
10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Galatians 5:17-26
17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

Psalm 31:23-24
23 O love the LORD, all you His godly ones! The LORD preserves the faithful, and fully recompenses the proud doer.24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.

Proverbs 29:23
23 A man's pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.

3 For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.(NAS)

24 August 2008

Taking Inventory

Now that I have a job and interact with folks at least 5 days a week, I am noticing things about myself. It's sort of amazing what having to share space and time with people who really don't give a rip about you beyond the courtesies exchanged among employees will show you. It's also enlightening to see how I can care about touching the lives of people I will never see and how some of the folks that call me I don't much care about at all. All based on some gut level reaction that happens over some fiber optic cables.

I am very fortunate that I work with a great group of people. They don't really know me let alone love me, but they tolerate me well enough. There are a few rough spots. I hear the complaints one worker has with another worker and once the person who took me into their confidence goes on to the next cubicle, I know it is something that I have done incorrectly or a question I have asked on a procedure that is being ridiculed. I have also noticed that folks will stop talking bad about a co-worker with you if you don't participate in the belittling gossip. It doesn't take a self-righteous sounding rebuke.

As for me, I have some major character flaws are becoming apparent. That will be the subject of another post. Working for a living is exhausting.

21 August 2008

Finding Humor in Discombobulation

I jumped with a both feet from my Psalm 139 day into a day of ambivalence and deep thoughts that go nowhere. I would say it was a day of sheer profundity but I never quite got to the profound part. When you feel strongly both ways about something you generally spin your wheels and get nowhere. I visited nowhere a lot today.

I wish I could tell you the nature of my dilemma. Truth is, I am not in quandary over anything in particular. Today just seems to feel like I am taking a multiple-guess test for which I have not studied. I could speculate that yesterday was preparation for today but I don't feel prepared at all. I keep telling myself feelings lie and I must live in what is, not what might have been, or could be if I would just connect the dots appropriately. I need someone to number the dots so I can connect them and see the picture. Remember those from when you were a kid? I hated those things, they were lame. Anyway, back to me. I am thoroughly discombobulated and in desperate need for someone to come and combobulate me. Does anyone out there have the gift of combobulation?

One of the thoughts I had was how patently unfair it is that choices you make when you are 14 come back and haunt you when you are 50. There isn't a pro-rata formula for consequences. There should be. I was taking a call today from someone who spoke Spanish. Now, I know enough Spanish to tell someone to "Come out with your hands up!" There are times knowing that might come in handy, but as I haven't worked in any aspect of law enforcement for 15 years and haven't needed it to use that bit of Spanish once in all that time, it probably is worthless information. Almost as worthless as the 7 years of French I took. What was I thinking? Why did I take French? Can someone remind me why I thought it was a good idea? Can I have a do over? Or now that I am 50 something, can I get the consequences pro-rated? "Well, Rosemarie, we note that you made the hare-brained decision in junior high to study French instead of Spanish. Since we do not share a border with France and the French Canadians aren't leaving Toronto and crossing the border in hordes to live here, that decision is normally a 50 point deduction. However, since you were 13 and had zero adult guidance, we will pro rate that and that will leave you with a 40 point deficit." HA! I wish. I also wish that studying French for a total of 7 years was the biggest mistake I have made with my life. It doesn't even register on the Richter scale of mistakes made and it certainly doesn't register close to the areas of sinful choices I have made.

The older I get the longer the list of things I wish I hadn't done or had known more about before I did them, becomes. On one hand I know that everything in my life has come to me first from God's hand. Nothing bypasses Him before it's mine. So all the ditzy mistakes and sinful choices have combined to make me who I am and God's timing is perfect. On the other hand my inner monologue is screaming, "Why oh why did you choose to do it that way?? Were you outside of your head???" No, not outside of it, but certainly not using the parts that matter. Ever feel like you should have "Postage Due" stamped on your forehead? Or perhaps a declaration that says, "No moving parts." You know, one hat lights up with the doctor takes a light and looks in your ear thus helping him or her diagnose the problem promptly.

I do see God's hand on every aspect of my life. I can't hide myself from Him. Wherever I go, He is there already. It is fruitless to speculate or attempt to negotiate around that, to try to wish away consequences. I am just a mental midget with too much time on my hands and not enough sense to spend it wisely, considering the things that are.

Perhaps it's sleep deprivation or the new allergy medications? I feel like I am playing "A Beautiful Mind- The Home Edition." Just kidding. Do you see those people?

20 August 2008

A Psalm 139 Kind of Day

Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?

Ever have a day where everywhere you turn you are bumping into reminders of God's providence? Of His mercy? His steadfast faithfulness? Ever have a series of events remind you who has paid the mortgage on your soul? Not only that but the circumstances that remind you can hardly be called serendipitous. It's providence and you know it. All the dots connect in a way that can only lead you to shout, "Coincidence, Thy Name is God!"

Yesterday was just such a day for me. Each blog I read, each book I picked up, each chore I attempted, each song I heard on the radio... all of them, the entire lot spoke to my heart in such a way that my soul could not ignore the messages God was sending me. His faithfulness to me is not in any way dependent upon my ability to worship Him properly. There are no contingencies. I can do nothing to provoke a favorable response from God. God will always act in accordance with his character and to achieve his perfect will. I don't get to manipulate or impress Him. I cannot dazzle Him with my obedience nor make Him beholding to me in even the slightest capacity. I may fool many by my actions, appearance and facades, but with insight more keen than any fictitious super hero, God sees me for exactly who I am and knows exactly what I am up to. Yet, in His mercy... he has seen fit to save me.

I haven't always appreciated the reminders of God's omnipotence. I don't remember exactly where and when the reminders changed from antagonizing to encouraging. It's not like bad theology is excised from you in one fell swoop. No, our sanctification is a process and set on a time line known only by our Creator.

I saw this video on Steve Camp's blog. It had a huge impact on me during my Psalm 139 kind of day. Watch it. I hope it does the same for you.

19 August 2008

Thoughts on Civil Forum

Thanks to a blog I found, I was finally able to sit and watch the entirety of the Civil Forum held at Saddleback Church. In my previous post titled, "Out of Touch" I questioned who elected Pastor Rick Warren to speak for Evangelicals. Frankly, that opinion hasn't changed. And while I still think his "Purpose Driven" philosophy is entirely too man-centered. I think he did a great job in posing questions to Senators Obama and McCain. (Obama won my coin toss to see whose name would type first this time.)

The questions were indicative of the issues being faced by the general public. Warren posed them fairly and without bias. He is an affable fellow and offers a quick laugh and smile that surely would land him on the top of your list for favorite dinner guests. It did appear that he genuinely likes both the presidential hopefuls, but he seems the sort that appears to genuinely like everyone.

While we are speaking of being genuine, I genuinely hope that Warren will hold similar forums with other candidates over other issues- not because he represents my faith or worldview, but because he did a good job posing decent questions. I learned things about both candidates and having heard their responses am more certain of my vote.

16 August 2008

Words of Wisdom on Words

I know I tell you all that I love my church. I am such a blessed woman to have been placed in such a fellowship. I also know that a lot of my posts have to do about the importance of words. Scott, a younger man and associate pastor at my church, preached an outstanding sermon on why words matter. Scott's heart is first and foremost for his God and Savior, which makes him wise beyond his years. I recommend his sermon wholeheartedly.

As a completely random side note, it's sort of fun to be able to refer to a pastor as a 'younger man.' I sometimes think being in my 50's is going to be the most empowering time of my life. Of course, I am hoping I get to say the same thing about my 60's.

Out of Touch

Training is over and our new office opens on Monday. My schedule will be changing and I am hoping it will soon change again to allow me to attend church on Sundays. I am grateful that sermons from my church are available on-line and I will still get to hear the sermons and learn from the pastors. I really hope that my work schedule changes quickly.

Working certainly has kept me out of touch. Once I am more confident in my abilities there and I have settled into my schedule I am hoping I will be able to catch up with things. I am missing a lot now and while I don't want my hours of boredom back, I would like to stay current with events. Imagine my surprise to start reading online this morning and finding that Rick Warren will be interviewing presidential hopefuls, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama. (I flipped a coin just like Warren to see whose name I would type first.)

OK, I just have to say it. When did Rick Warren become the spokesperson for "Evangelicals?" Or does the ability to use brilliant marketing tactics to propel your purpose driven books also launch your career as spokesperson for Christians everywhere? Before I go much further, I want to lay out some ground rule facts. Yes I have read his book The Purpose Driven Life and yes there are some good and godly principles in it. As I recall I liked the first sentence, "It's not about you." After that, I had some problems with his material. Not all of it, but enough of it that I wouldn't recommend it. Warren's focus on things like self-esteem and fulfilling un-met needs or anything beyond worshiping Almighty God are among reasons I cannot recommend the book. Warren tries to balance between some fictional place of "It's not about you" and "You are going to find your purpose." If it's not about me, why am I worried about meeting my un-met needs or finding purpose in the first place?

Yes, you did see me say the marketing tactics used to promote the book were brilliant. I mean it too. It did sell lots of books without dumping money into advertising. Using the vernacular of today, the book went viral. It took off just like Amway did in the 70's & 80's. That doesn't make it theologically sound or above criticism. Nor should it make Warren the spokesperson for Christians. Now, do I think that getting McCain and Obama together in this format is brilliant? Sure I do. But if the people behind the marketing of The Purpose Driven Life had been less brilliant at their jobs, what would commend Pastor Warren to the position of interviewing presidential hopefuls? Does fame and celebrity count for enough? Does an unholy melding of popular psychological terms and poorly exegeted scripture make him a spokesperson for Christians or a Christian worldview?

Not that I have a ton of readers here on my blog, but I can imagine there will be those who are Warren supporters. I do not know the man personally. I only know him by what he has written and by seeing him on television. I am not trying to say he is the devil incarnate, a pagan or that he dresses funny. While I do criticize his book and question if the book hadn't gone viral if either McCain or Obama would so much as return a phone call from him, that does not mean I wish him ill or want to defame him. (Yes I know Warren has called both men his friends. How and when did those friendships begin? Before or after Warren's fame?)

And finally, yes I am interested in the results of the interview regardless of Warren's qualifications in conducting it. I do hope that it will be enlightening. I trust God in this matter, I believe in the absolute sovereignty of God. No man, not even a purpose driven one can usurp that.

Here are some links to read about the event in case you've been under a rock or working like me.

12 August 2008

This Just In.......

I passed the test that I have been studying for- thanks be to God! I am grateful for those of you who prayed for me. I passed the test by the grace of God and the skin of my teeth. Your prayers for me were the difference, I know it. I am sitting here sipping Pellegrino in celebration.

In the midst of my elation I am also on the ragged edge- but not in a bad way. I have so many things going on in my life just now that I am in a constant state of kinetic energy. Ever been like that? Sort of worn out and frazzled, but in a good way. If I lose my balance at all, stuff may come crashing to the floor but for the nonce, it's all good.

God's timing, because it is always perfect, never ceases to amaze me. My sister's life is full of taking care of her dad. I know she has been very mindful that I had hours of free time that were threatening to choke the life out of me as they morphed into hours of boredom and self-pity. She doesn't have to worry about me and can focus on her dad. Coincidence? I think not.

Speaking of unlikely coincidences (read providence) I have been assigned a work cubicle that is everything I did not want it to be. It is the first cubicle by the window so I have extremes of hot and cold. The sun bakes me and I am certain the snow will make it cold. It's also in the first row by the front door where the smokers all congregate and the smell is..... atrocious..... and I get to have it come wafting to me every time someone opens the door. And it is right next to someone who chatters. Bless her heart she is lonely for conversation and I *so* get that. She is a transplant to Kentucky and has lots of experiences in her past that she is sorting through. She is a nice woman. She is a giver. She is distracting me to the point of tears. She is also Jewish and thinks I should be too. She has had some bad experiences with "Christians" and I get to hear about them all. I don't mind that so much. I really don't mind her except that I don't like chatting when I am working.

Coincidences? I think not. I don't presume to know the mind of God but if I were a betting woman I would say she is in my life to teach me to share space and time with someone. She told me she was a conservative, practicing Jew. I said, "So, where do you make your sacrifices?" Now she says she is "Neo-Orthodox." I say she is probably next to me to hear the gospel. Coincidence Thy name is God. As for the comfort of my cubicle, somebody had to get it and why not me? Especially seeing as how I talk about the dangers of being single and never having to compromise and always getting what I want.

So as thanksgiving and praise goes up for one prayer answered, (passing the test), more prayers go out for me to mind my tongue and my patience. I have someone who is watching my commitment to Christ. Yikes! That thought is scary. Sometimes trying to bridle the flesh and rein it in feels like trying to hold back the tides. How good it is to remember, I don't fight for a victory, I fight from a victory. (I John 4:4)

Proverbs 21:31
The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the LORD.

Ps 20:5

We will sing for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.

Prov 16:9

The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.

Prov 19:21

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but the counsel of the LORD, it will stand.

Lam 3:37-38
37 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded {it} 38 {Is it} not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth?

Ps 21:13

Be Thou exalted, O LORD, in Thy strength; we will sing and praise Thy power.(NAS)

09 August 2008

Two More Noteworthy T's

A couple nights ago I had the opportunity to check in with my buddy, Carla. This working for a living thing that I am doing now is getting in the way of my time on-line with some wonderful friends. Carla is a cyber-sibling extraordinaire! I have told you all before that she is one of those Proverbs 31 types; wife, mom to seven, grandmother to one, homeschooler, blogger, webmaster, businesswoman, author...... getting the picture? The only thing the Proverbs 31 woman had over on Carla was some servants to get the housework done.

In the midst of her other official roles Carla has been doing things like encouraging me to write. Ok, so she isn't perfect! She's getting there! She has also been a good sounding board. We share struggles. She and I are very different women. I am more of a Proverbs 32 woman who accomplishes very little and gripes about it a lot. We have had some similar difficult experiences and so we share some common struggles. It is really a gift when God gives you someone who understands your struggles and knows when you speak of them that you aren't looking for a pat on the head and a quick, "There, there."

For example, I told Carla that I was a mess and needed to quit being brave and be a broken little girl. However, I really struggle with allowing myself to be broken while not allowing myself to become bitter. Carla understood exactly what I was saying. For those who are reading that don't get it, here's the best I can describe it. The freedom we have to lay down the facades and be real by acknowledging that everything is not OK is a dangerous freedom for me. Though I have good reason to be broken, when I allow myself the vulnerability to express that pain, I can quickly go from 'being real' to throwing a pity party for myself. While it is perfectly proper to be honest about the pain and disappointments of a life tainted by sin, it is not appropriate to be miffed at God for His providence.

A right heart attitude is precariously balanced and easily tipped from one extreme to another. A believer's life is a balancing act with Christ as the fulcrum. When we allow our minds to focus on anything but the sufficiency of Christ, we are bound to lose our balance and fall into sin. So for me, telling God of my disappointments is fine as long as I don't let my mind wander and focus on what I want that I don't have. When my thoughts lean that way, my disappointment and sorrow needs to be redirected to the reality that God's providence is good. The T that's important here is for thoughts. Taking every thought captive includes the habitual thoughts we have that lead us toward bitterness, anger, depression and melancholy.

Now, my friend Carla would be a great friend just for understanding what I meant when I said I struggled with being broken without being bitter, but she became an extraordinary friend and sister in Christ when she added some encouragement. Carla gave me a linked me to her blog archives and a post she did about counting blessings. You can find it here. She knew that I needed to redirect my thoughts and she knew exactly where I needed to park them. The second T is for thankfulness. It is hard to worry about what God isn't putting in your life when you are grateful what He has given you.

2 Corinthians 10:5 {We are} destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and {we are} taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

Romans 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Psalm 10:4 The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek {Him.} All his thoughts are, "There is no God."

Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Psalm 50:14"Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High;

Psalm 107:21-22
21 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! 22 Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing

Hebrews 13:15-16
15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. 16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (NAS)

06 August 2008

Investing Your T's

In my previous post on the 5 T's; Time, Talk, Trust, Transparency and Touch, I intimated that they could strengthen or destroy relationships. I want to clarify what I mean by that statement. Investing your 5 T's in the right relationships will strengthen them. Investing your 5T's in the wrong relationships will destroy or weaken your right relationships.

Our time here is finite. As believers we have an infinite time to spend in the presence of our God, worshiping and adoring Him but we have no assurance that we will be able to spend our eternity in fellowship with those we love whenever we want to. Sure, our saved loved ones will be in heaven with us, but who says they will want to spend time with us when they can be worshiping Jesus and spending time in His presence? Whatever fellowship we have with one another in heaven will be sweet, but it pales in comparison to being in fellowship with our Lord and our God.

So, with our limited resources of T's we must invest them wisely. We must see them as the commodity they are and be generous with the right people at the right time. It is very easy to become immersed in a problematic relationship. Most Christians who fall into adultery don't set out to go there. They start out investing their T's in the wrong account and end up bankrupting themselves in sin. What merciful providence we have in a God who forgives sin and will refill our accounts.

Of course the one constant in our lives should be our investment of our 5T's in our worship. I have heard it said that there is a word for prayer that gives the idea of reaching out and stroking the very face of God. I wish I had the ability to confirm that. I like the idea of my prayer touching God's face in a tender and comforting way. When I first heard this, I thought of how babies reach out and touch the ones they trust while they are being held. You know how they snuggle in right under your chin, make a big, deep sigh and quietly stroke or hang onto you as the relax themselves to the point of sleep? What a beautiful picture that is and how I long to consider myself as a child in the arms of my Father.

Alas, priorities shift and now that I am working I find it more difficult to find time to write. I miss it. I miss reading blogs daily too. I am hoping once training and testing is complete, I will be able to invest more time in doing both.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--2 A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build up.4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.5 A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing.6 A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep, and a time to throw away.7 A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; a time to be silent, and a time to speak.8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.9 What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils?10 I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.(NAS)

04 August 2008

When Real Life Happens

Today at my new job a woman came back from a break distraught. Someone asked her if she was OK and her response took my breath away. "My 24 year old son has just been diagnosed with cancer. No, I am not OK." The woman next to her reached over and hugged her and another woman asked, "Is there anything I can do?" Between sobs the woman said, "Can you give him a body without cancer? He has no job and no insurance, can you give him that?"

The woman who offered the hug before just held her tighter and tears silently streamed down her cheeks. One mom to another, one grandmother to another they just cried. I was across the room and suddenly wanted to hug her too, but kept my seat because I knew she was barely hanging on and too much kindness would undo her. She still had to face the day and drive home. So I did my crying for her tonight and I will pray for her and her son.

Words are important but sometimes crying with someone is better than words. I wanted to talk more about the T's I wrote about in my last post but that will have to wait. Right now a woman that a few short days ago I didn't know existed needs me to beseech the Father on behalf of her son and her family.

02 August 2008

5 Terrible T's

The very best thing about us is often the very worst thing about us, depending on how we apply it. My tenacity is stubbornness when misapplied. The gift of helps can label you a godsend or be seen as the gift of enablement or 'buttinski' if you employ it on your own terms. We are capable of the very best and the very worst all at once. When it comes to relationships there are five things that will help you build or destroy those you love. I call them the Terrible T's. There are 5 T's that will strengthen relationships or lead to the big T of Temptation.

Time. Our first T begins when we start sharing our time with others. We all share time with people. We share time with our co-workers, our grocery store cashiers, the people who do our hair, the dentist, doctor, family... you share time with many folks and in many ways. Sharing time with someone is not a bad or evil thing, in fact it can be a wonderful blessing. The more time you spend with someone the more likely you will be to find yourself using the next four T's.

Talk. When we spend time with people we talk to them. Very few of us will spend more than a few minutes with someone and say nothing. Even taking into account that many are shy and would rather say as little as possible, we still talk. We are communicative beings. We will eventually exchange a verbal pleasantry even if that's all we do. Talking isn't evil, but we do need to monitor what we say to whom and how we say it.

Trust. If we spend enough time with someone and if they have talked enough that we are able to be at ease with them, we begin to trust them. The more pleasantries are exchanged and the more we find similarities between us when we talk the more we relax and the less guarded we become. Trust is certainly not a bad thing. Our problems usually arise because we have developed trust that is blind to the danger of sharing too much, too soon and with the wrong person.

Transparency. When we spend time talking and developing trust we are less likely to be guarded. We expose our inner thoughts and most vulnerable secrets. Transparency feels good when you trust the person you are spending time with. Transparency certainly isn't a bad thing as long as we keep in mind who we are allowing to see us so intimately.

Touch. Most people need to be touched. We crave it because it is a good thing. Even folks who have been abused and are fearful of being touched will tell you that safe touch, safe hugs are like the balm of Gilead to a battered soul. Touching can be completely benign and yet, there is an intimacy that occurs with even the purest touch. We turn to people and not God for this physical touch, often looking for Christ with skin on.

Intimacy drives our needs and we find it when we employ Time, Talk, Trust, Transparency and Touch. We must always be cautious of our flesh creeping in. Usually Christians can recite the Fruit of the Spirit, but can they identify the Fruit of the Flesh that are listed just a few verses above? (Galatians 5: 19-21). There are more warnings in Scripture about our flesh leading us away from God than there are warnings for Satan, enemy of our souls. Why? Because we so easily forget that we are tainted with sin. We take natural and good drives like the drive we have for intimacy and we distort them, trying to fill them in a worldly way. The true intimacy our souls seek is intimacy with God and that is ours in Christ alone.

Psalm 63:8 My soul clings to Thee; Thy right hand upholds me.

Psalm 73:25 Whom have I in heaven {but Thee} And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth.

Isaiah 26:9 At night my soul longs for Thee, indeed, my spirit within me seeks Thee diligently; for when the earth experiences Thy judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness

2 Chronicles 31:21 And every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered.

Isa 26:9 At night my soul longs for Thee, indeed, my spirit within me seeks Thee diligently; for when the earth experiences Thy judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

Deuteronomy 4:4 "But you who held fast to the LORD your God are alive today, every one of you.

Psalm 119:116 Sustain me according to Thy word, that I may live; and do not let me be ashamed of my hope.