25 April 2011

Question (s) of the Day

Is the need for affirmation really a need? Is it a sinful desire to want affirmation? What kind of affirmation is good and what kind of affirmation is sinful? Paul seemed to affirm the actions of some of the folks in the churches he wrote, while not mincing words when confrontation was in order. Do we need the occasional atta'boy or atta' girl to keep us motivated to do right?

Does the need increase or decrease as one grows older? Where should single people find words of affirmation? In Scripture alone? Does or should the gift of encouragement include giving words of affirmation to people not likely to receive them anywhere else?

Does anyone even give rip? Just asking.

24 April 2011

The Preeminence of Christ in Colossians

As so many celebrate His resurrection, I thought I would list what I learned in my reading of Colossians. It seemed fitting.

  • He is the visible image of God (Col 1:15)
  • He is agent of creation (Col 1:16)
  • He is the Sustainer (Col 1:17)
  • He is the Head of the Church (Col 1:18)
  • He pleases the Father (Col 1:19-20)
  • He reconciles us through His death (Col 1:21-22)
  • He lives in us as our glory of hope (Col 1:27)
  • He is the source of all treasures (Col 2:2-3)
  • The world and its philosophies will not conform to Him so we should guard against them (Col 2:8)
  • We are alive in Him (Col 2:11-13)
  • We are saved from legalism and ritualism by Him (Col 2:16-23)
  • He is our life (Col 3:3)
  • Because of Him, we can avoid immorality and serve Him as by being blessings to others. (Col 3:5-14)
  • We have the responsibility to know Him through the Scriptures and to counsel one another with the Word, demonstrate our gratitude to him by doing all things as in His name (Col 3:16-17)

22 April 2011

40 Day 40 Minute Challenge Day 10- Evil and the Internet

Yesterday there was a spot on the news about death threats being made to Rebecca Black, the young woman with the viral music video, Friday. I was blissfully unaware of 13 year old Rebecca until recently. Her music video, mostly an engineered compilation of an annoying but maddeningly catchy song, has more detractors than admirers. I don't have a problem with folks in either camp, except of course the ones that have issued death threats and said hateful things to her because they don't like her music. I have huge issues with that sort of behavior and even bigger issues with the journalists who are trying to make behavior like this some sort of news worthy event. Why? Because most of the anonymous people who would say horrible things to a teenager like the horrified reactions they are getting. Especially when they are not being called out as the feckless cowards they really are.

Back in my day if you didn't like a song, you turned off the radio. If I don't like something on the television, radio or internet, I employ that principle to this day. It gives me a wondrous feeling of power. Poof! Be gone! But somehow things have changed. Somehow people have developed the mistaken idea that when they get on the internet they have the right to be entertained in a manner they appreciate. If not, they can post anonymous hateful responses. What the heck has happened to our ability to think?

I hear people say all the time that technology has surpassed our ability to cope with the consequences of all this instant communication and access. Uh... no... that's not the problem. Although it is just like us to try and blame something or someone else for our failings. Which is certainly not a new strategy since Adam tried to foist the blame on God and Eve by telling the Almighty, "It was that woman You gave me." The problem with the world wide web isn't a lack of legislation, protocols or regulations for it... it's the loose nuts at their keyboards. We need the former to be able to control the latter.

This generation is not the first generation to forget their place and responsibility in creation and to the Creator. Judges, the book I read today, tells us that the folks there were doing what was right in their own eyes-which caused them all manner of grief. That's been true for every unregenerate person after the fall. The sad part is the number of professing Christians who behave this way as well. Christians who seem to blindly accept the mores of their culture without questioning if they are ethical- or are in agreement with Scripture, are just as likely to post the most hateful things in comments and blogs as anyone else. Sometimes they use fewer expletives or insert the ubiquitous "no harm- no foul" smiley face. You know, the one that lets you say whatever you like and absolve yourself of responsibility for it by using the universal symbol for "just kidding." I am totally guilty of doing that. Let's get real. It is my sinful heart that causes me to say truly unkind things, not my computer's connection to the web. Sidebar: There is a huge difference between being unkind and disagreeing with or confronting someone for their words or behavior... although it is possible confront someone in an unkind manner.

When I was working in public safety one of the things I learned about working with people over the radio was that it was exponentially easier to detest someone you have never seen. I made it a point to get to see and spend time with those men and woman I didn't much care for and it always made it easier for me to cut them some slack. So sure, the anonymity of the web makes it easier for people to draw attention to the hateful, mean and ignorant jerks they are, but the internet is not causal. It is not evil. People are not more evil than they used to be....but they are more ignorant of their predilections for evil. Including professing Christians, I am sorry to say.

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Mark 9:50 "Salt is good,but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."

21 April 2011

40 Day 40 Minute Challenge Days 8-9 Failing Forward.... Still

I won't even pretend that I tried to keep my challenge to myself yesterday. I thought about sleep all day long. I am still sleepy.

Today I was headed out the door to run some errands and I heard that pesky voice of my inner monologue asking if my errands were of more import than sitting with the Lord. Even I couldn't answer yes to that one. I put down the list of things I need to do, picked up my bible and sat down at the kitchen table. Today I read Psalm 119. The thing that struck me is how often the psalmist begs God to keep him on the right path. Maybe I need to beseech more and blog less in order to get this discipline I seek. Lord knows trying to do both would be like me trying to walk and chew gum.

Still working on it, that's the important part. Usually two failures would mean I quit. Heck, one failure is enough to facilitate my giving up.

So... What if Moses had Facebook?

19 April 2011

40 Day 40 Minute Challenge Days 5-7 Failing Forward

Confession: I have failed, but not epically.

I have a new computer. It is smarter than I am, which admittedly doesn't take much. I was unable to get it out of the box let alone up and running Sunday, hence no blogging. I wasn't feeling so great but I did get myself to the kitchen table and make myself read and pray. I felt so bad physically that it's hard to say what benefit I received, except that I did it. I read I Timothy and two chapters of Proverbs. What stuck in my mind after reading was Paul telling us the law is good when used lawfully. It made me think of the United States and what we're going through these days.

Failed to get to the table on day 6. I failed at just about every endeavor yesterday. Know what I learned? If you fail, get back to it and don't beat yourself up. Repentance is not about punishing yourself or talking smack to yourself about yourself. If I started some self-flagellation, self-condemnation or similar silliness, I would have dreaded the thought of returning for fear of failing again. Ever do that to yourself? Fear failure so much that you don't get back up and dust yourself off when you stumble or fall? I even tell myself things like "You knew you weren't going to be successful." Or remind myself of hurtful things that were said to me as a child. "Didn't everyone tell you you were no damned good? Weren't you told you would never amount to anything?" I have the tendency to want to be prefect in the things I attempt... immediately. Like my desire to build discipline was achieved the first nanosecond I decided to sit at the table and start the journey. To make matters worse, I immediately cease and desist when I can't be perfect. As you can imagine that strategy doesn't offer much hope for accomplishments.

I got myself back to the table today. I confessed my sins, prayed for my church, my pastor, my family and some friends. Seeking forgiveness for my sins could take up 40 minutes with little or no trouble at all. I almost called it good there but thought I would be cheating so I read II Timothy and some more Proverbs. God is very clever. Of course I read II Timothy where we have the lovely verse that reminds us that God gives those who are His a spirit of discipline...and... that He is faithful to preserve what we entrust to Him. You cannot win unless you play by the rules. If I am going to achieve the discipline I seek, I am going to have to trust Him to fulfill the desire. That's the rule of faith vs works. I trust that He will preserve me in accordance to His word, which means that I will have a spirit of discipline NOT because I get up and fulfill the 40 day 40 minute challenge flawlessly, but because God said it. That settles it. Not my works but His grace, even in this.

16 April 2011

40 Days 40 Minutes Day 4- Let My People Sleep!

I am exhausted. So exhausted that I actually got a new computer and am too tired to set it up. However, I wanted to let you guys know that I managed day 4. I was up early, my roomie was home and I wasn't certain how that would work for me as I have been reading aloud in the kitchen. Well, our ever faithful Father had me up and at 'em hours before my roomie awoke. Funny how that happened, huh? Coincidence? Not hardly. You have no idea how badly I wanted to go back to bed. It was all Him, or I would have.

Today's read was II Thessalonians and a couple chapters of Proverbs. I love the book of Proverbs. It contains some great counsel. When I worked in law enforcement I had Proverbs 17:15 on my locker at work. I am so tired I cannot keep my eyes open so I will leave you with this. I am four days closer to building a good habit in my life. Praise God! It may not sound like much to you but for me it is a record.

Proverbs 17:15
15 He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.

15 April 2011

Scala Sancta and the 40 Day 40 Minute Challenge Day 3

I wanted to give up 40 minutes of my morning like I wanted to climb the steps of the Scala Sancta on my knees after uncooked grits had been sprinkled on them. I even tried to convince myself based on my lack of want to that sitting down with my bible and doing the challenge would be about as fruitful as performing that ritual or purchasing indulgences. That's how I start rationalizing, neglect discipline and go back to what is comfortable....that life is all about what I want to do and when I want to do it. Next I tried to convince myself that I have some great stuff to listen to and some books about biblical counseling that I could substitute. Somebody must be praying for my success. I relented.

Yesterday my pastor decided to tease me about going "Rick Warren" on him. Rick Warren is *so* not on my radar. I had forgotten completely about his 40 day plans for purpose etc. I wonder if pastor will read this and tease me about advocating plenary indulgences? He knows me far better than that but I am sure the title of my post will catch his eye. Anyway, I want to assure everyone this is merely a personal journey to build discipline, no formula or gimmick and I am blogging it to keep myself honest. I doubt I will gain readers, but I do believe I can achieve the discipline and that is a greater benefit. Not that readers aren't a good thing and again, not that I couldn't use some company along the way.

Today I read Colossians and I Thessalonians. Something that stuck with me from Colossians was that real wealth is wisdom and knowledge. Wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. When we truly understand God's mystery, Christ Himself, we have assurance. Wealth and confidence from a biblical perspective have little to do with how the world defines them. Sadly, many churches out there are being led to believe that indications of wealth that the world recognizes are what Christians should aspire to.... blab it and grab it theology is pervasive.

Reading I Thessalonians 1:9 made me wonder if picking up a clay idol and destroying it was exponentially easier than what we have to deal with- invisible idols. Sure there are folks who have shrines in their homes that truly recognize them as such, but what about all the folks who have no idea they are worshiping things because they don't recognize them as gods? Our lives are full of things. Do I recognize my smart phone as an idol? My television? My computer? Are they? They sure can be. Was it easier to throw away a lump of clay or stone fetishes and turn to God? If you knew you wouldn't have to sacrifice your child to Molech or some other god, could you be easily persuaded to honor Jehovah? Did these people have a greater sense of relief than we do to be free of their old gods?

I certainly have more questions than answers. Again, it is much easier once you get started than it is to come to the table and start. Totally worth it. The time does go by quicker than I thought it would. I'm benefiting even if I don't want to admit it.

14 April 2011

40 Days 40 Minutes Day 2 : It's Apostible

This morning it wasn't difficult to herd myself over to the table to begin day two of the 40 day 40 minute challenge. My roommate left for work, I jumped into the shower to freshen up my body and my mind, went into the kitchen, dispensed some French roast from the Keurig and sat down at the kitchen table to begin. I had been praying for a bit when I remembered I hadn't set the timer on the nuke box. Now I had a dilemma. Get up and set the timer or stay and keep going with some uninterrupted worship?

It isn't that I want to be legalistic about this endeavor that made me get up and set the timer, it's that I know myself too well. Close enough is good enough is too often my mentality. I could see myself whittling down that 40 minutes to less than a minute in just a couple of days, maybe a week. It was the right decision for me.

I found myself asking God some things today that I hadn't realized bug me. Spring is here in Kentucky and I look forward to several events that mark its arrival. I love walking out in my yard and seeing the bright yellow dandelions. I live in a meadow so my 'lawn' is not the coiffed and manicured lawn coveted in California. I don't care for the dandelion allergy but visually, they are stunning. I also have wild violets that grow between the blades of bluegrass. Tiny and mistakenly fragile looking, I joyfully anticipate them each year. Today as I prayed I heard birds singing, smelled the lilacs that are blooming and found myself asking God if it was OK for me to love being here as much as I do. Am I sinfully attached?

I confessed to Him that I have no real concept of heaven. I know the circumstances in this world can be dark and horrible but His creation is absolutely stunning. There are so many things I want to see. The northern lights are at the top of my list. But- is it OK for me not to be ready to leave this place? I can think of many reasons to want to check out, but they are all people related. Is it possible to cultivate a true longing for heaven, to want to be with Christ and at the same time be enamored with this world? Not things of this world but the world itself? Is it possible to teach me to long for heaven without making my life a series of trials and heartache? I am not asking for exemption from them, Lord knows I have had a few. I do know that they bring me closer to Him and deepen my faith. Is it possible to long for heaven without them?

Today I read Ephesians and Philippians aloud. I don't know why I am reading aloud, it just seems like a good idea. I was having one of those days where my words tumble together or out of order and spoonerisms occur. The harder I tried to read the words correctly, the more I sounded like I was doing an impression of Jody Foster in the movie Nell. "Apostible" is my favorite new word creation. I said it over and over. It cracked me up- though I now fear singing "Nothing is Apostible when you put your trust in God. " I hope God gets as good a laugh at me when I do this as I do. My friend, James, had me read some books aloud for him and listened to them while out riding his bicycle. He told me he laughed so hard at some of my 'trouth moubles" he nearly crashed... some of those were intentional but I confess, there were many that weren't. I used to worry that I was developing Alzheimer's or something but I know now that it's a clear sign I need to inject myself with B-12. When I get all muddled and fuzzy like that the results are often fun but I am grateful to know that with some B-12 I can return to my "nearly normal" state.

Day two ended with me ignoring the timer beeping at me. It's way OK with me to go over my time budget, but I cannot allow myself to go under. I got up refreshed, happy and headed for the bathroom to get some B-12 in me, singing as I went "Nothing is Apostible when you put your trust in God" then morphed into "to dream the Apostible dream" and ended with "It's Apostible, tell the sun to leave the sky it's just Apostible!" I don't expect all the days to be this easy, or fun. I am glad today was.

Isaiah 65:17-18
17 "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.
18 "But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem {for} rejoicing, and her people {for} gladness.

2 Peter 3:13
13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

13 April 2011

40 Days 40 Minutes Day 1

It was blissfully easy for me to get up, get out of bed and begin the first day of my odyssey into discipline. If you believe what I just wrote, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I will sell you; cheap. I wondered yesterday if I mightn't be wrong about this adventure being more than my semi-annual attempt to purge my guilt glands. Several hours after I had posted my blog, I was on to bigger and better things... not really but it's so danged easy to be convinced other stuff is more important.

First of all, all that had gone wrong the day before yesterday had been made right after I had posted my self-challenge. Once I did the ridiculously happy dance and praised God over and over again for His mercifully removing two very major stressors from my life and replacing them with major blessings... I found my suspicious Sicilian nature got the better of me. "Oh, nice going God! I probably would have forgotten all about my attempts to regain my spiritual disciplines now that I am in "happy-happy, joy-joy" mode. How sneaky of you to keep me awake, have me go through all those things and then make public my self-challenge before you fixed these problems!" My initial responses almost always fail the godly response test. And no, I don't think God took care of those problems for me because I did something. I think He blesses me despite what I say and do or I wouldn't be so blessed.

Eventually I did forget about my plan. I went to bed later than I had intended but thought because of the lack of sleep that I received the night before I would fall asleep and stay that way. Uh... not so much. I was awake by 5 something and my first thought was, "Oh no, He's going to wake me up to do this discipline thing early." Why is it that a professing believer such as myself has to be brought to worship kicking and screaming? I felt exactly like a child who had been told to clean her room instead of play or like I used to feel when I was sent to bed at 8:30 and Star Trek came on at 9:00. For crying out loud! I have the honor and benefit of boldly coming before the throne of Almighty God and I go visit my dentist with more enthusiasm. That made me feel like scum. I was so convicted. I got up and headed to the coffee. "Lord, how about I have coffee, some food, feed the dogs, let the roomie get off to work and then it will be quiet and I will be conscious?" Hey, coffee and food are legitimate distractions....aren't they?

About a half hour after my roomie had been out of the house she called me to tell me some good news, she has received a #1 ranking at her job. Great! Oh, what time is it? Speaking of #1 .... I better go put the outgoing mail in the box... pay some bills.... let the dogs out... oops! "OK, Lord let me just finish those things and I am all yours.

Thirty minutes later I was hunting for a pad of paper, turning off the television, shushing the dogs and almost getting sucked into doing several more 'just one more' things. Pulled up short by my conscience, I set the timer on the nuke box to 42 minutes got my bible, a notebook and sat down with a final glance to the timer to make sure my preparations hadn't impinged on God's time.

Now for the good part. It was way easier once I got going than it was to get going. I started to pray and found myself in tears in no time. Good tears. The kind God catches in a bottle and keeps for us. After praying I read Galatians. I read it out loud and didn't stop until I had read the whole epistle. Galatians was exactly the book I needed to read. I am going to be doing some presentations on biblical counseling and Galatians is a great book to find wise counsel. It felt sort of strange at first not to have commentaries and other reference materials out. Kind of like I forgot something important. Maybe I should call this the "The Naked Bible Study" or something else that would sound catchy to people. Just kidding.

The point I want to make as I close is that it was good once I got going. It was refreshing. No, I didn't read the epistle and immediately have deeply moving experiences and insights. I did see a potential correlation between the Galatians wanting to return to the Law because they didn't fully grasp all that was theirs in Christ and the way many believers want to hang tightly to a medical model as their explanation for their miseries versus their sin being a more likely causal factor. That is just a cursory observation though. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Galatians 1:3-5
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ,
4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
5 to whom {be} the glory forevermore. Amen.

12 April 2011

The 40 Days 40 Minutes Challenge

Every story begins somewhere. The prelude, the happening and the debriefing all have their genesis. I have been getting ready to write this for years but last night at about 2am I woke up knowing that today would be the day. Initially I thought I woke up because I was in physical pain, so I took inventory as soon as I was aware of my various body parts. Yup, parts of me were painful. I hobbled to the bathroom to take some meds and hobbled back into bed.

Soon it was 3am. I was still awake and still unable to get comfortable. I got up again and went back to the bathroom for the next round of medications, surprised that the first round hadn't knocked me out. I have a very low tolerance for drugs and normally drool on myself after taking prescription strength ibuprofen. I dislike starting my day on drugs so I try not to take anything unless absolutely necessary during the wee hours of the morning. By the time it was 4:30am I was willing to take the remaining regimen of chemicals available to me and did. Oddly, I was still coherent, or at least I felt like I was still coherent. Ever talk to a drunk? They are under the misguided belief that they are OK-fine too.

As I tried to evaluate my cognitive abilities and decide if I should just get up and start my day or try to get a little bit of sleep... I had one of my more honest moments and said, "You know what, Lord? If I start praying I will fall asleep in no time. What is it about me that I can't pray for 40 seconds without taking 40 winks?" That thought led to, "And what's so special about the number 40 to You?" I went through the list of events that happened over 40 days or 40 years and wondered if I should go through my concordance and count how many times "forty" is listed. I laughed at myself because I know I lack the discipline it takes to actually do that. That's when I remembered something my friend Carla Rolfe had said to me when I asked her to help me with something and had lamented to her that I lack discipline. She said she could help me everything but the discipline part, discipline being something you have to do on your own. That's some of the most profound wisdom ever given to me. The more I thought about it, the more profound it seemed.

Suddenly I had this stupid thought in my head that for the next 40 days my primary focus is going to be on the dreaded big D, Discipline. I call it a stupid thought not because it is unwise but because that's what you call things you don't like when you're an immature spoiled brat like me. I found the very idea annoying and I was pretty certain that if I could just fall asleep for a bit I would have some sleep induced amnesia. No such luck. When I got up this morning I was singing the "I can't hear you, I'm not even listening" song. That generally works for me when the pressure is coming from without, but the Holy Spirit lives within. His voice is one voice I do not want to shut out as the consequences for my soul would be too dire. Perhaps some coffee and the morning news would sufficiently divert my attention? The caffeine gave clarity to the idea. Drat!

I am beginning to see that this isn't my normal semi-annual 60 second attempt to find discipline. As a matter of fact, I usually feel good about my semi-annual 60 second attempts to do the right thing. It assuages my guilt. It's my dose of antibiotic to reduce the infection in my guilt glands. I don't feel good about this at all. I feel like it's going to hurt a bit. God's not letting up on me. To drive home His point I found myself writing a confession to a young woman I used to mentor. She contacted me telling me she was guiding a young woman through one of the books she and I did together and commented that the world was still an attraction to her new friend. I found myself writing this: Heck, sometimes I love my life so much I forget that it doesn't belong to me, or complain about my circumstances so much I forget that they were designed for me. The pull of finite earthly treasures and our flesh is strong. Like trying to defy gravity while wearing lead! No match for God of course but the pull feels like it!

While I was writing that I was thinking that the lack of discipline makes the pull of the flesh seem stronger than it really is. It weights our soul down. I hate it when I say or write something that convicts me. Obviously God is not going to let me off the hook and so, for the next 40 days I am going to be writing about my quest for discipline. I intend to be brutally honest about my resistance to it and whatever happens along the way. Being disciplined is akin to making me do math. I despise math.

I want to be clear about what I will and will not be doing. I am not going to try to fix every area of my life that is tarnished by my lack of discipline, not in the next 40 days at least. The list of trouble I have because of being undisciplined is far too long. Also, I am not on a quest to become Religious Rosemarie. This is not an attempt to be legalistic about "devotions." This is about the need I have to build some personal spiritual discipline that is congruent with and accurately reflects my profession of faith. I am giving 40 minutes of my day, deliberately and with particular focus to worshiping my God. I don't think that this is some sort of magic formula for success as a Christian. I would venture to say I spend at least triple that much time or more now reading Christian books, or listening to online sermons or reading Christian blogs. That's not the sort of thing I am talking about. I am talking about 40 minutes of full attention paid to Almighty God. No computer, no iPod, no television, no Christian book or Jesus junk. His Word, the Holy Spirit and me-nothing and no one else allowed. (Though I will share what happens afterward.)

I would love to hear from other Christian women who find they have the same problem with being disciplined in their spiritual lives or have substituted all the peripherals I mentioned above for the real deal; mistaking the clues and treasure maps for the real treasure. Frankly, I could use the company on the journey. If you are a failed "Susie Spiritual" like me and want to do something about it, contact me. I promise, I am not the sweet cheerleader type. I also promise no recriminations, no clucking tongues, no patting you on your hand and saying "there, there now" just a chance to be real and the encouragement to repent and begin again anew.

Lamentations 3:21-26
21 This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
22 The LORD'S lovingkindnesss indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.
23 {They} are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.
26 {It is} good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD.

09 April 2011

Powerful Pauses

Today I feel particularly lazy. It's not difficult for me to feel lazy. I can go the the litany of medical reasons that sap my energy and come up with plausible excuses. Not just plausible excuses, genuine reasons. I am exhausted today, not just lazy. I have had two cups of caffeinated coffee and am working on the energy to go make a third which may do the trick or complicate my day by making my guts fight back. My life has a lot of pauses in it. Pausing for energy. Pausing to reconsider choices. Pausing to breathe.

Pauses are wonderful things. In acting we learned that pauses are uncomfortable for the actor but give the audience a chance to feel and consider what they have heard and seen. They convey discomfort, regret, sorrow, arrogance, disgust any number of situations can be related to in a pause. Think of the power of a pause in music. Just when you think it is over, right when your soul is begging for relief the pause nearly kills you and then the note you are looking for come crashing in and you know it's going to be just as you imagined it. Anticipation is birthed in pauses.

A theology geek friend said something the other day about not being a fan of Jonathan Edwards and John Piper. Two of my favorite theologians, not that I agree with all the write. I read what my friend had to say about Edwards preaching law and not the gospel. My initial response to his opinion was to blow a virtual raspberry at him. I planned to debate with him the merits of his comment and suddenly, for reasons I can't tell you, I stopped to see why he'd said what he did. He was in a conversation with someone else and I didn't have the luxury of knowing the details of that conversation. That's not the reason I am writing, the object of this rant is that I paused to consider his point. Something amazing happened when I did that. Did pausing change my mind about Edwards and Piper? Not hardly. The amazing part is I didn't die for want of telling him all the reasons he was wrong. My brain didn't explode as it categorized the errors and assumptions. My heart didn't stop. Pausing didn't injure me at all.

Instead of getting into the debate, I picked up some reading material and read what Edwards had to say about the gospel. I read this:

"It is the honor of Christ to save the greatest sinners, when they come to Him, as it is the honor of a physician that he cures the most desperate diseases or wounds. Therefore, no doubt, Christ will be willing to save the greatest sinners, if they come to Him."

Yeah, I am OK with liking Edwards and OK if someone else doesn't. I should pause more often.

Rom 1:16-17
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
17 For in it {the} righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous {man} shall live by faith."

Heb 4:12
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.

08 April 2011

Virtually Anything to Connect....

I watched this video and so many things jumped into my mind. Listen to the conclusions the speaker, Eric Whitacre, has to say about the human need to connect, using any method possible. Our hearts do long to be connected. We want to be known and to know others. We want fellowship. Without it, we get a little crazy and are willing to compromise our own safety and integrity to manufacture a sense of being connected, even if it is false.

07 April 2011

The Map is not the Territory

Recently I had an email exchange with a sister in Christ. She said something that reminded me of a lesson I learned 35 or more years ago in a semantics class. My instructor tried her level best to impress upon us that words have meaning; they are the maps we use to convey ideas, emotions and experiences but maps are not the territory. A map may tell you that the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 10 miles wide and a mile deep and you can understand the meaning of every word but- until you stand on the rim and see it for yourself . You only think you get it. Even pictures cannot do it justice. That's one reason we have so much trouble communicating. Your map and my map may or may not have the same features and legends. Think of the color yellow. While you may be thinking lemon yellow, I may be thinking butter yellow. And my concept of butter yellow may be butter with food coloring added while yours may not. You may not know that they add food coloring to butter.

Our language is both evolving and devolving. If you don't believe me try reading something written just a hundred years ago and consider how many terms and phrases seem completely alien to you not because of cultural and technological changes but because we stopped caring about the specificity of meaning. We are more likely to say that someone is poor rather than choose a word that explains what type of poor they are. Are they impoverished and not impecunious or penurious? LOL used to mean "Little Old Lady" and now few people would think anything but Laughing Out Loud when they see those letters. But let us not be fooled into believing that words mean whatever the reader decides they should mean.

I hang out with people who debate ideas and meanings. Sometimes it wearies me. It requires me to work much harder at conveying my thoughts than I want to, though I understand the value and importance of clear, honest communication; especially with regard to the search for truth. Getting to truth as it defines itself is the point, but as my friend so wisely pointed out, it is possible to work so hard at reading the map that you miss the treasure. The need to have the right doctrine or ideas about God is only the road map. The treasure is repentance, reconciliation and relationship with the Lover of our souls.

That's it for my ramblings today. I need a nap.

John 1:17
17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

John 14:6
6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

06 April 2011

Introducing Jake and Cayton

Back when I worked at a Christian college, I had the joy of adopting several students. These students have been major blessings and encouragements to me. It has been wonderful to see them mature in the Lord, have families, buy homes and begin ministries. I want to introduce you to one of my adopted sons, Jake Heath and his wife Cayton. I stole this off of their blog and I didn't even ask permission. I hope they will forgive me. I am betting they will. I haven't had the chance to spend a lot of time with Cayton, but I am hoping that will change once the two of them move across country and are closer to me. Jake loves her, she loves him and together they love the Lord. That makes her special to me. Jake I have had the pleasure of spending lots of time with and look forward to spending much more if the Lord wills.

My young friend Jake was in my office one day while I happened to be chatting to my sister either by email or on the phone, I don't remember which. She was trying to talk me into moving from California to Kentucky. Jake, the kind of person who likes to work and help folks, said that he would drive me across country because among his many talents, he is a truck driver. Little did he know that a couple of months later I would ask him if he would do just that. He took a week off work and drove a 26' Uhaul truck 2600 miles across country in the dead of winter. He also helped to coordinate help to load the truck.... in the snow... and I am not just trying to be funny. It snowed while we loaded all my belongings. We had an amazing adventure with lots of stories to tell. I really hated to put him on a airplane to head back to California. He's just that likable.

Jake and Cayton are being called to be missionaries with MMS Aviation. They are raising money for their support and I would love it if you would pray for them. If you had a few bucks you could send them each month, that would be great too. You see, Jake is the sort of young man who graduated college and went straight to work to pay off student loans. He knew what he wanted to do and has worked hard to get there. He found the love of his life and wanted to be debt free before they married. He's wise beyond his years, works harder than most, is goal oriented and wants to help missionaries get where they are going by working on the planes that get them there. He's never had to depend on other people to fill his coffers so this is a new experience and a new way to trust in Almighty God to provide.

Jake and Cayton are at a point where Jake needs to quit work, find their final bit of support and start making their way across country. Please pray for them. They are leaving family, friends and the comforts of having work- to go out and ask for support. Pray that they make the transition with the courage and faith only Christ can give. Pray for their wisdom and opportunities to share their hearts and vision for their ministries. If the Lord leads you to support them in ministry, you can do that on the MMS Aviation page here. I really covet your prayers for them, that they would serve to His honor and glory and not grow discouraged as they ask for support in this lean economy.