Monthly Archives: April 2012

Amendment One: WWJD?

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I cannot express how much I don’t want to write this blog. I hate politics. I find it as useless to talk about as I do religion. It’s complicated and messy and opinionated… It makes my skin crawl.

Amendment One

I’ve been ignoring the “debate” among my friends on Facebook because (in my opinion) the Facebook isn’t the right forum for intelligent discussion. Pontificating? Absolutely, but not an actual sharing of ideas.  Oh, and it’s a great tool to wound others.

So, in this vein, I was recently reading a friend’s FB status on Amendment One. She gave her opinion and encouraged her friends to do some research regarding it. For those not in the know, Amendment One would change the North Carolina state constitution by defining what a “valid” domestic union in North Carolina would be. It reads:

Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.

You can imagine the heated, emotional response this is causing. And this post is NOT about how you should vote, it is however, beloved, about how you should act.

Back to my friends’ Facebook.

It exploded in downright meanness. NOT my friend’s intention by the way. An openly gay friend of hers spoke out of his pain regarding this issue, what it’s like to not be able to be wed his partner; then a Christian friend of hers said, “Who is this person and why are you associating with him?” And that was just the beginning of the opinions and 3-sentence proclamations. I however was more caught by the attitudes behind the words. I was so hurt for the friend of my friend—his pain is real—and I am pissed off at the cruel words of my Christian brothers and sisters. This meanness is not WWJD!

Dear ones, please hear me. The point I want to make about Christians taking a “stand” on issues is that while it maybe important, Jesus clearly said, “They will know you are Mine by your love” NOT your ability to take a stand.

Truth in love, brothers and sisters… Truth in love requires relationship, by the way, it means getting messy and dealing with “stuff” for the long term. And so many of us would rather live by lawn signs and bumper stickers, by 3-sentence proclamations and voter’s ballots.

Please, beloved, be very careful when thrusting your Christian beliefs on the non-Christian. The mandates and instruction in the scriptures are to the CHURCH not society as a whole, remember that… Jesus wants to change individuals (starting with His followers) who will impact their society for good and healing, not change laws to force others to comply.

So, Amendment One, what would Jesus do? He’d tell my friend’s friend that He loves him and his partner and He desires relationship with them both. He’d tell my Christian sister who said, “Who is this person and why are you associating with him?” that “that person” is a loved human being that He died for, just like her, and that “associating with him” is what He has called His followers to do.  And He’d tell my friend that how she loves is more important to Him than how she votes. (But I know she already knows that)

Jesus doesn’t give us a “how to” regarding politics (other than give to Caeser what is his and to pray for those in political leadership). Not all Christians are Republicans or conservative or live in a democracy for that matter. However, He is crystal clear regarding how to treat others: the branches are to reflect the Vine.

So as we go forward, remember this: We love because He first loved us… 1 John 4: 19.

I look forward to your comments.

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My iPhone & The Pearl of Great Price

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My iPhone & The Pearl of Great Price

I have an iPhone. Yay. My friends of the Mac way are shocked when they hear this because I never use it. I use if for work calls and that’s it. I’ve gotten 6 texts on it and 2 of those were wrong numbers. A guy named Chaz is still waiting for me to “hit him up 4 Friday”, bless his heart.

Now, I’ll be honest I kinda brag that I don’t use my iPhone. As a PC girl and overall brat, this shouldn’t really surprise anyone. I’m resistant to this phone because it intimidates me and I don’t want to take the time to learn it. Besides, my old phone, the one I’ve had forever—I know its ins and outs. My old phone is more comfortable to deal with.

As I was praying about this (yes, I prayed about my phone, don’t judge me), Jesus quietly reminded me that He often gets treated like my iPhone.

Look, He has to work with what I give Him, and sometimes, it ain’t a lot…

You have what some consider a pearl in that phone and you treat it like an unwanted rock. You keep it around because you have to and you know you’d be in trouble if you didn’t use it but you don’t really want to know all that can it do to make your life better.

A pearl, really?

The parable of the pearl of great price is in Matthew 13:44. Basically a merchant finds this “pearl of great price” and once he does, he sells everything he has to purchase it. The pearl, as I have been taught, is Jesus, walking in relationship with Him, etc. and we are the merchant who gives up everything to have Him. But what if the merchant bought the pearl and then threw it in a drawer?

A lot of people treat Jesus in the same way. He’s “fire insurance” or He’s left over from those Catholic school days. He’s the occasional (or every, for some) Sunday morning. He’s Christmas and Easter. He’s to be used when we need Him—in sickness or worry or fear we give Him a call but other than that, we keep Him in a drawer until we need Him again.

Hear me: He is always there even if we treat Him like my unwanted iPhone. And He always continues to listen, love and answer us who call upon Him because it His nature to do so. He doesn’t say, “I’m being neglected (or used)! I’m outta here!” It’s not His way. He is always for us and is always waiting to go deeper. I would challenge you however if you have found yourself treating Jesus like an accessory, to be used when you see fit, perhaps it’s time to view Him as a necessity.

Too, He understands that using the “old phone” is easy (you know, calling those old patterns of behavior, the easy fixes, etc.) in our flesh but He has deeper healing and richer experiences than those old ways. And He knows that His ways take some learning, that it takes time for us know all the stuff He can bring into our lives. But, beloved, He is so willing to go through the tutorial with you.

Ok, I’ve killed this metaphor. And I apologize if it doesn’t make sense—it was like a light bulb went on for me! But what do you think?

BTW if you want to do some deeper reading on that parable, I found a study by Dave Edmonds that turns the traditional teaching on its head and I kinda dig it. Check it out: The Pearl of Great Price.

When Your Child Calls

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“Mom…”

Whether they are 3 or 7 or 17, when you hear your name being called from another room, you move. And 9 times out of 10 you know based on the child, the tone and time of day if your name is going to be followed by a tantrum or vomit. Thankfully, I just got a request for coffee this morning.

As a parent, I can tell instantly by that “Mom…” what my darlings need: What happened? Who hurt you? Get to the toilet!

I also know what it’s like when they don’t call my name and turn to someone/something else for comfort or help. It pisses me off. Especially if what they turn to is completely inadequate to do the job.

When my son was younger he was bullied by some older boys (who also wanted to play with him… I never did understand that). One day, as I watched him get off the bus and brushed-past by these two nit-wits I saw the anger rise through his little body. He was so angry, so frustrated that he was in tears by the time he hit the door.

I was ready with my words of comfort and loving hugs and kisses but instead he came inside, dropped his back pack at my feet and fell on the dog bed next to our sleeping boxer, Belle.

“Buddy, come here and talk to me.”

“No,” he announced and snuggled up to a stinky, sleeping dog.

Damn dog.

The Apple and The Tree

How often though have I fallen on the dog (or a cupcake or an unhealthy relationship) to meet my needs instead of uttering my Father’s name? He whispers constantly, “Come here and talk to Me.” And sometimes I do but sometimes I don’t. And still, He waits for me to come to Him. He never complains that I smell of dog (or cupcakes); He just listens, guides, and helps me get cleaned up…

If my kids know that when they call, this fallible, broken human being they know as Mom will come, how much more should I know that my loving, holy, trustworthy Father will come when I call?

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12

This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:2-3

Babies & Dog Bites: Thoughts on Being Specific in Prayer

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Babies & Dog Bites: Thoughts on Being Specific in Prayer

Yesterday was one of my dear friends’ birthday. Her birthday always makes me smile because, well I love her, and two it always reminds me of how specific God can be. Many years ago she called me one day and said she needed prayer. She and her husband were in the midst of adopting another child and she said she needed some confirmation that this adoption would go through well. Of all of her adoptions this one had the most uncertainties in it: we weren’t even sure if birth mom’s due date was correct… So, I prayed that God would begin to send baby things to my friend. You know, formula packets, baby magazines, diapers—all those things new or soon-to-be moms magically get in the mail as baby approaches. Our specific prayer: send baby things, Jesus.

A couple of days later, she called me. We had already talked earlier that day and it was a little late so I was a little worried when I picked up the phone. “What’s wrong?”

“We’re on our way to the hospital. She had the baby and wants us there now to sign papers and everything.”

Silence.

“Well, we prayed for baby things,” she said.

“Um, I didn’t think He’d actually send the baby…” My shock-filled statement made us both laugh.

And it was her birthday.

Once, my sister called me frantic. Her oldest son had been gone for at least 3 weeks. We had no idea where he was and she was just sick with worry and frustration (and anger, to be honest). We prayed for his safe return but I also prayed that God would do whatever it takes to bring that boy home. “Seriously, Lord, if it takes a dog bite to bring him down, do what you have to…”

My sister called me a few days later. She was at the hospital. Her son had been pursued by police and instead of stopping; he tried to escape by jumping over a fence. The officer happened to be a part of the K-9 patrol. He let his dog go and my nephew was caught and bit by the dog.

As I entered the hospital, my sister was just shaking her head at me and my nephew was screaming at the top of his lungs how this was all my fault.

Now, I share these things with you NOT to brag about how awesome I am as a prayer (because I just ask; God is the one who does the work)—I’m sharing this with you to remind you to be specific when you pray.

I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!

If you have kids or have ever seen the movie A Christmas Story, you know that being specific is essential to getting what you want. When we ask our darlings what they want, they never say, “Toys” or “Games” or “Whatever” unless they are teenagers and that is a whole other blog. Anyway, kids want to give specifics and we as parents want specifics. I ache to know every detail of my kids’ desires, hurts, joys, and frustrations and I desperately want them to tell me how I can help them.

Now, remember, God isn’t a genie in a bottle or a mall Santa whose purpose is to give you everything your fickle human heart desires. This is about communicating in a relationship. When we are specific to the ones we love it shows confidence in our relationship; it tells them they are “worthy” to know our thoughts/desires/needs and that we trust them to guard or keep or do what we ask.

Do you know why I shared the examples above? My friend and my sister now have stories of how much God is in the details of their lives simply because I prayed specifically and He in His goodness moved. And I have a reminder that God listens to me.

Today, be specific with God. Yes, He knows what you need and want but like any parent, He desires to hear about it from you. To talk you through what’s going on—because sometimes we want things that will shoot our eye out. Too, ask Him to be specific with you. He has things He’d like to entrust to you, too, you know. Do you know that? People He wants you to love, adventures He wants to take you on… You are always on His mind, beloved. Talk to Him.

“On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.” Psalm 138:3

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!…Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139: 17-18, 23-24

Don’t you know who I am?

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Don’t you know who I am?

I am the 4th of 5 kids. I’m the youngest girl. And the age difference between the youngest of the 3 older ones and I is about 8 years. I am an odd cross between spoiled youngest and bossy eldest (my “little brother” is 4 years younger than me). It’s awesome and it made me a bit….precocious as a child. (Shocker, I know).

My older brother and sisters were in high school when I was in grade school and when I was bullied (which happened often with one boy in particular) I’d always pull the “don’t you know who I am?” card. My siblings were popular and well-loved by their high school counterparts. And many of my classmates had siblings who knew (or knew of) my brother and sisters.

And then one day I got caught running my mouth off to the Mean Boy that my brother would “teach you a lesson” and my brother said (in front of the Mean Boy who was bullying me), “No. I’m not going to fight your fight.” I was totally abandoned. Two things happened that day–my bully and I would quickly come to odds (blows) because he knew I was unprotected and I never trusted my big brother would “be there” for me if I needed him. Ever. Again.

Now, there are those that would say I learned a valuable lesson that day: not to run my mouth (if you’ve met me, you know that lesson didn’t stick) and to fight my own battles. What I learned was not to trust.

Then I moved in with my dad. And tough little me met my tough (tender-hearted) protector. My dad ALWAYS kept me safe. I knew that he would never abandon me (even if I deserved it) and I knew that there wasn’t anyone who could defeat him. He commanded the presence of a room by just walking into it.

Knowing these 2 sides of trust has really helped me in my spiritual life. I am strong-willed and tend to want to do things on my own but when I walk in the truth that “…we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) I realize I need my Defender.

God reminds us constantly throughout scripture who He is because He does not want us fighting our own battles! God expects me, one, to know who my Father is and what He is capable of, and, two, to look at the Enemy of My Soul and say, Oh yeah, don’t you know who my Dad is? I have no power in my flesh to defeat him, but God’s already won these battles. The devil just needs to be reminded.

If you are facing a fight or a situation that is leaving you feeling weak and defeated, please KNOW that your God loves you and is strong enough to fight your battle and loving enough to bind your wounds. He is your Armor; trust Him.

Easter from Peter’s Point of View

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Walking into Holy Week means a lot (or a little) to each of us individually. I will be honest, I have never done a deep meditation during this week—I read the accounts and I pray but for some reason Easter has a tendency to creep up on me (Christmas does this too). When I finally realize it’s time to prepare, it’s already Maundy Thursday and I find myself more concerned about finding a ham than contemplating the passion of the Christ.

However, I am in good company. Easter snuck up on Peter, too.

We actually don’t meet Peter right away. His journey with Jesus actually begins with his brother, Andrew, a disciple of John the Baptist. JB says to two of his disciples that Jesus is the way, the True Teacher and Lamb of God.  So, Andrew spends the day with Jesus and at the end of it, the first thing he does is find his brother, Simon (Peter), and tell him that he has found the Christ. Now in my mind, I see Peter give his brother a raised eyebrow of “uh huh” over the fishing nets he’s putting away. But, Peter goes and checks out Jesus for himself. And Simon encounters the Christ and is renamed Peter; he is among the first to recognize and openly declare that Jesus is the Christ.

Over the next three years of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Peter would walk on water with Jesus, see his mother in law healed and saved from death. He would be rebuked for the stupid things he said and did and praised for his great faith. He would witness countless miracles of healing and be considered one Jesus’ closest friends.

At their final dinner together, Jesus washes all of the disciples’ feet—the job of a slave. Peter protests at this “unworthy” act and when Jesus points out this act of service would make Peter clean, Peter (as was his nature) swings to the opposite side and says, “Not just my feet, but all of me, too…” Jesus gently says all he needs is feet washed. Later at dinner, Jesus announces that He is to be betrayed by one of them. And (wisely?) they all ask, “Is it me?” But Peter also proclaims, “Even if I it causes me my death, I will never betray you!” And Jesus gently tells him that before the night is over, Peter will deny Him not once, but three different times.

And then Peter finds himself in a garden…

Peter has just watched (and fallen asleep while) the Savior prays, begs, for the burden of the cross to pass from Him—but Jesus says, “Not my will but Yours” and yields to the Father’s plan for man’s reconciliation back to Him.

Then, things get bad. Roman soldiers in the charge of religious leaders following a former friend turned betrayer come to take Jesus away. Peter, again as is nature, over-reacts, grabs a sword and cuts off a dude’s ear. And as is HIS nature, Jesus, rebukes Peter in truth (He had told them repeatedly this would happen) and heals the servant’s ear.

The disciples scatter. Jesus is left alone. And Peter, he lurks in shadows watching Him be lead to His torture and death.

And then things get really bad.  Peter, the rock Jesus said He would build His church on, crumbles under the questioning of such powerful people as a bunch of strangers and a slave girl.

I don't know this man

He denies Jesus three times and as a cock crows, everything he knows about himself, all that he gave up and sacrificed over the last three years…all that he wanted his faith life to be about was crushed. So he ran away.

This Easter I’m reminded of the times I have run away because the truth of God—who He is, how He does things, His plan that I don’t fully understand—sneaks up on me. And I shouldn’t be surprised; like the disciples, I often get warned about what’s coming. I just don’t listen.

Now we know how it all ends but Peter didn’t. He was in the midst of a massive crisis. This comforts me. I don’t know the end of my story either but watching Peter’s failure (and restoration) reminds me that nothing separates us from Him. Nothing. Jesus is triumphant in all things. It may not come in the way I want but it does come.

This Easter, regardless of what your past says remember what God’s word says:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-40

And this is my prayer for all of us:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:16-21