scripture


prodigal daughter Someone recently asked me what my greatest fear is. Immediately I knew…

“That my life will not matter. That I will waste it.”

This is my greatest fear because I am routinely tripped up by habits and patterns of defeat.  I have allowed old lies to quench the fresh power of the Gospel in my heart and mind. Why can’t I just believe God and obey?
I’ve been an easy mark for the enemy. I don’t put up much of a fight. He knows my wounds and knows there are STILL parts of my heart that are not whole.

A little over a year ago I was in the Middle East serving alongside godly men and women who have given their lives in service to the Gospel. During that trip, an attack on some of our team members was evident and I was not prepared (spiritually) for my personal assault. A bitter root had grown in my heart and I foolishly did not rip it out the minute it took hold. One morning, around 3 a.m. I awoke to a familiar sound. It was different this time – I truly felt the enemy “singing” over me and it penetrated my soul. He was taunting me.  I never really talked about it or prayed about it -but I should have.

God knew where I was about to go- He knew my failures before I knew them. Yet in His GRACE He planned an escape route, deep healing, new purpose, godly guidance, financial provision and specific scripture – all in a matter of days – all waiting for me on the other side. Fully restored, fully cleansed and fully forgiven. I only had to reach out and take it! Jesus had already paid my debt and I am in awe.

I am still in the midst of this battle but I am praying the armor – fighting again and praying for WHOLENESS. Pray for me that God will not let me waste this experience. I am determined to stop living in defeat. But I (obviously) cannot do it in my own power. I have tried and I have failed and failed and failed…You’d think I would get the hint by now!

But I am HOPEFUL! Trust me…I have cause to be full of hope because of what I am learning about myself and what God’s word promises. I want FREEDOM!!!!

“Don’t be afraid that your life will end,
be afraid that it will never begin.”

Grace Hansen

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chronicles-of-narnia-prince-caspian-aslan-and-edmundDo you remember this scene in Disney’s “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”? The one when Aslan brings Edmund back to camp and his siblings see him for the first time since his betrayal? Aslan and Edmund are seen talking by themselves in the distance, alone. When Aslan brings him back to face his brother and sisters he says,

“Here is your brother and there’s no need to talk about what’s in the past.”

As another blogger points out, Alsan did not excuse his behavior but did not condemn him either. We are led to believe that Edmund repented of his actions to Alsan (Jesus). Once forgiven by Jesus there is no need for any mention of it again by Christian brothers and sisters. That’s is what forgiveness and restoration is. So why is it that we as Christians seem so intent on making the sinner suffer even when forgiven and restored by God?

My thoughts :

1.We Are Afraid

We are creatures filled with fear and anxiety. If a person betrays us once they could do it again and we live in terror of this. The most frequent command Jesus spoke was, “Do not fear.” He knew because of our sin we will live in fear because our sin separates us from the assurance and comfort of God. As Beth Moore says, “We are not born brave and He knows it.”

2.We Need To Control

When others let us down it is almost impossible for a human to grant trust to that person again apart from God’s help. But honestly, giving trust to someone is always risk. Because our frail emotions are so inextricably tied to the actions of others we only extend trust if we get something in return. Ideally, trust and love should be given by the Christian with no expectation of anything in exchange. If we are filled with Christ we need nothing else from others. This is a lofty goal but is what Jesus taught – impossible to live out apart from the Spirit of God in us.

edmund-eats-white-witchs-food3.We Are Idolaters

So often we find our worth or reason for life in who someone else is rather that who we are in Christ. When they let us down we no longer know who we are. We lose our identity. Our leaders, our family, our bible teachers…all people – not gods. What would you do if the Christian teacher you most admire revealed moral failure? Would you feel betrayed by that person or by God?

5.We Are Hypocrites

We immediately distance ourselves from and gossip about those who have moral failure all the while ignoring  the planks in our own eyes. We measure sin for sin and at the end of the day feel better about our private sins when others’ are made public. We convince ourselves we are “not as bad as that guy!” Whew!

6. We Gravitate Toward the Law

No matter how much we talk about Grace we don’t live it out. When tested, our checklisted-boundary-filled-guidelined-clean and tidy lives have no room for deviations by others. Rules are safer than the messy life of those that love the bleeding and broken. If we live as Christ taught us to, we are guaranteed to be hurt by those we love. 100% chance of getting our heart broken. Yet, the precious gift is the power God gives us to leave our safe lives and get dirty with those would will betray us and still have the capacity to extend unmerited, scandalous grace. “They will know you by how you love each other.” “Forgive others as you have been forgiven.”

Your thoughts?

dd_narnia

beggar

 I Haven’t Blogged in a While

 …’cause I really didn’t have  anything extraordinary to share. Life is really good and I am grateful. I am about  to be a first-time aunt and my sis and her  husband are finally back in the ‘ham. I  would love to have amazing things to constantly blog about but I don’t. It seems false for me to force it so I haven’t.

 But Today is a New Day

 …and I have something to share 🙂 I have recently been introduced to the writings of  Brennan Manning and he is challenging me  in ways I cannot yet articulate. (but there will be forthcoming posts soon!) Below is something fantastic and raw and I had to share it with you!

Excerpt from Ruthless Trust

“Sensing that if I bare my soul I will be abandonded by my friends and ridiculed by my enemies, I remain in hiding, borrowing from the cosmetic kit to put on my pretty face. I veil my unstated distrust behind a cheerful countenence, mask my fears behind sanguine pretense, and

present a false self that is mostly admirable, mildly prepossessing and superficially happy.

Later, I hate myself for my flagrant dishonesty. Who can I turn to?

In what may be the most stunning sentence in the entire Bible, Jesus says, “I call you my friend.

Raw honesty with Jesus about our doubts and anxieties, our lust and laziness, our shabby prayer life and stale religiosity, our mixed motives and divided hearts is the risk we take in the certainity or being acceptible and being accepted.

It is the full and mature expression of invincible trust.

Jesus is the friend who will never fail, the faithful one who will never be lacking in fidelity, even when people are unfaithful to Him, the stranger to self-hatred who estranges us from self-hatred.” 

Brennan Manning  “Ruthless Trust”
pp. 102-103

My Thoughts

I find myself hiding from God because of my own self-disillusionment. I think, “I’ve been a believer for 7 years! I should be “better” than I was when He first saved me, right?”

So I see myself as a failure, the condemnation sinks in and I hide. It is no better when the church I love so much reinforces my beliefs about what my failures mean:

I am weak
I am lazy 
I am an immature Christian
I should have “this” under control by now
I am not plugged in at church
I am not in a Sunday School class
My quiet times aren’t regular enough
I am not filled with enough of God’s spirit
I have not memorized enough scripture
I am not enough
I am not enough 

And when those who have put me on a pedestal see glimpses of my imperfections they in turn become disillusioned. They get angry. Their own fears rise up that if their preachers, teachers, leaders, elders, deacons, small group leaders and other pedestal-dwellers aren’t doing any better than they are then there is no hope for them either. I represent what they fear the most.

So we all end up hiding. We all end up far from communion with God because we believe He is keeping an account of all of our failures. This is the LIE that keeps us from Him, isn’t it? But there is hope in the TRUTH of the the gospel that calls all imperfect, haggard sinners to come and drink daily from the river of life. The Life-Giver who does not hate us as we hate ourselves says, “Come, all you who are weary…” 

The Lies I Learned in Church

I believed that I could come to Jesus initially as a ragamuffin but, later had to come as a Pharasee. After a undertmined amount of time had passed I was no longer allowed to come to Him as the messed up girl he rescued. I had to put on the appropriate clothes, speak appropriate “Christineese”, attend all of the appropriate church events (on time), serve in all of the appropraite ministries that complement my gifts and talents, please all of the appropriate people, meet all of their expectations and

just
sin
less.

The Poverty of My Soul

This, I am finding is a bunch of crap.

I ‘ve been miserable and I am tired of it! I want the freedom to live as a beggar EVERYDAY! I can play the role I was given when I entered the church, be clean on the outside and still be full of dead men’s bones-or I can come as a little child to the lap of Jesus -no matter how much mud covers me.

I am beginning a journey of learning what actually pleases God and not what pleases man. I apologize in advance-I am going to make some of you mad in the process. But I love you 🙂

My hope is that the outcome of authentic Christianity will be a richer prayer life and communion with God and that the overflow of this will be pleasing to him, joyful for me and attractive to a lost world.

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Jesus
Mark 12:28-29 

I was listening to a James MacDonald Sermon yesterday on the radio.

He was talking about how he always thought that when scripture says, “Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.”  it meant that once unbelievers see Jesus they will be like, “Oh, I see now and He was there all the time and I never saw Him.”

Pastor James went on to say, “It’s not like that at all! Just like in their life on earth they denied Christ and never repented or recognized Him as God neither will they when He returns. Unbelievers will be forced to their knees; they will not go down willingly.” That’s why there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, because in life that is what they were doing…gnashing their teeth, rejecting God. They will remain in that state for eternity-eternally rejecting God.

I haven’t searched the scriptures about it yet, and I am not sure I agree but I thought it was interesting. I had never heard that take on it before.

I am learning all sorts of things about Middle Eastern culture. As one author put it,

“The Bible is not a Western book. Yes it is Pan-Cultural and the truths apply to all peoples, but the origins, stories and forms are eastern.” 

“A Muslim’s Heart” by Edward Hoskins

It is fascinating! The more I learn the more I realize the biases through which I have been internalizing scripture. In the Bible, when people’s reactions don’t add up I tend to skip over certain passages. I often do not understand the way some people react and it puzzles me. Reactions that seem cryptic to me are now making more sense as I learn about about the Eastern mentality. 

Punctuality 
For example, in Eastern society punctuality is not important. If I had dinner plans with a friend across town and an unexpected guest dropped by my house, it would be rude to leave the unexpected guest! So even if I was 3 hours late, the friend I was meeting across town would not be offended and would even assume that I had had an unexpected guest drop by!

Being late is (to me) the ultimate insult. It’s like saying, “You weren’t important enough to be on time for.” However, in Eastern cultures they believe “only servants arrive on time. Being 15 to 30 minutes late is actually preferred.” 

Honor
For a Muslim, honor or “saving face” is everything. “It is more important than logic, truth and life itself.”
Sin is not taken as seriously as in the West. While Westerners view sin as an internal, moral failure, those in the East view sin as wrong but not as bad as getting caught in the sin!

One Biblical example is when Moses is giving his farewell address to the Israelites in Deu 3: 23-26. He says,

“At that time I pleaded with the LORD : “O Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.” But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.”

Two other times in Deuteronomy Moses puts the blame on the Israelites and not in himself. In Eastern cultures, blame-shifting is an art. 

Hospitality
If you visit a friend’s home and admire something they own they feel obligated to give it to you!
If I take home leftovers in a container I must replace it with some other food when I return it. 

Sencerity
Repitition is very important in the East. (Just like when Jesus and the Lord repeat things three times throughout scripture.) If I say something once it means I don’t really mean it and I am just being polite. I have to repeat something at least two or three times to be taken seriously! 

In the East, if someone invites me over to their house and they only ask once then they really don’t want me to come. It would be very rude for me to stop by.

I am not in any way insinuating that Western culture is better. I write about this only to share what I am learning and hopefully to better understand my new friends. To people in the Middle East we seem cold and unfriendly. It is strange to them that we do not smile at strangers or invite them to our homes for a meal. They are extremely loyal to extended family and to be alone is completely foreign to them. Of course you would want to live close to as many members of your family for as long as you can! In the West we tend to only be very close to our nuclear families and only see extended family on holidays.

I have much to learn…
(Most of what I have shared can be found in the aforementioned book by Hoskins.) 

 

 

I saw Prince Caspian Wednesday night with Amber. I know you expect me to say it was a good movie and of course it was…but it was more. It was medicine.

I saw myself in every scene.
I saw God’s word richly played out, stirring my cold heart.
I “saw” the Holy Spirit and Joy.
I heard Jesus and I longed for Him.
I heard satan and his familiar seductions.

Every time I heard that roar in the distance I, like Lucy wanted to chase and pursue the One who pursued me.
How I longed for Him not to remain in the shadows of the Narnian woods but to come, to heal and to protect me! Oh how brave she must have felt with Him at her side!!

I could only hold back my tears until I was alone at home.

How I long to see your face King Jesus! To hear Your voice like a thousand rushing waters, to see your eyes like all the fires of the Sun! One day…A kingdom, a Bride, holy priests and our High Priest on our white horses…I could dream of it all day 🙂

 

“Stop weeping, behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome…and they sang a new song…”

Revelation 5:5 & 9

“Aslan is on the move.”
-The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

I saw this short but fascinating article about Alexander Cruden on Desiring God’s website. An Interesting story of the man who wrote the first complete concordance of the King James Bible (by himself in his spare time!)

The concordance was first published in 1737 and there are currently 18 different versions available today.

Apparently, the guy was quite a nut and thank God for him! 777,746 words later this good, insane concordance maker created a tool invaluable to all Bible students (including me) wanting to search the depths of God’s rich word.

“Beware of belittling God’s crooked sticks. With them he may write the message that that makes a thousand people glad.”

-John Piper

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