Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Right now I feel so crammed full of thoughts and ideas that have been brewing in my heart today that I actually feel as though I could burst... or scream for the frustration of not being able to pin them down and get them to take any identifiable shape. But I guess thoughts and ideas aren't subject to the laws of physics, and while they are fluid, they are not required to take the form of their container. Or maybe they have no container, and so they float free and scramble around in my head until I feel tangled in them.


There is one constant that keeps surfacing in the midst of all of the thought traffic blazing through my brain, though. Maybe not the easiest to explain, as it is also a bit difficult to pin down. But it keeps showing its face, so I thought it would be worth diving into a bit deeper. I think I can sum it up in one sentence.

Christianity is plagued with catch phrases and cliche's that fall on deaf ears.

Uggh! Does that sound awful? Well, maybe it might. But I still think it holds truth. I find that I've heard so many truths so many times said in so many similar ways that I, even as a believer and lover of Christ, don't listen as I should. The familiar phrases just roll off, without having any real impact. These elements of profound and life-changing TRUTH and sincerity have been packaged in pretty little one-liners and served up en mass to the point that we have become completely predictable to the world around us. How can we hope to impact others with the lives we've been given, if they already know what we will say, and how we will say it before we're ever given the chance?

If a person is seeking real answers to a problem, but they already know how you will answer, then why - WHY - would they bother to ask?

Truth can only change a person if it resonates. And it can only resonate if it is heard. And it can only be heard if the hearer has not been desensitized to the reality of the bit of truth being shared.

Does this make any sense?

In other words, we as a whole need to lose the pretty packaging, stop delivering things that are all neat and tidy and perfectly pulled together to a world that is tangled and chaotic and not-at-all put-together. How in this lifetime do we expect them to relate to that? At all? We need to drop the pretense and be willing to be genuine, unpolished, and maybe even a little raw and edgy.

Beautiful truths, like "Jesus died for our sins" and "God gave everything so that we could know and love Him," instead of being allowed to hold the depth and duality of being so complex and yet so simple, are whittled down to quickly-dismissed slogans.

And it drives me nuts!

And it winds its way through my random thoughts and intertwines with other thoughts like a big giant twisted up ball of yarn. This one idea - that we may have watered down the truth to be received as little more than slogans and rote answers - touches and impacts so many layers of the way we are intended to live a Christian life. We are in danger of eroding the impact of the very reality and completeness of God and all He has done for us, thus weakening our greatest weapon in the battle that rages.

Give it some thought. And at least be wary of one-liners?.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Life Support

I had this random thought one night about a month or so ago. I dismissed it at first as just one of those weird little blips of oddness that tend to run through my head, but it keeps popping up in my thoughts every now and then, so I'm thinking there's something more to it.

So here was my weird thought...

Arsenic. Antibiotics. Vitamins. Life Support.

See, I told you I'm random. :)

Arsenic - There are some who see God as arsenic - poison to their lifestyle, and something to be avoided at all cost. Stay away. Steer clear. Definitely do not ingest.

Antibiotics - Some will allow some measure of God in their lives, but they wait until they are desperately ill and in need of a quick fix. Then they take God like an antibiotic, hoping He will get their lives back on track so that they can move on with life as usual. Antibiotic users take their medicine only long enough to feel better. It is not a long-term, regular part of life. Once the desired effects have been achieved, the antibiotics are discontinued until otherwise needed.

Vitamins - Vitamins are a daily, or almost-daily, part of life. Those who take vitamins tend to do so on a regular basis. They do so because they recognize that taking those vitamins makes them healthier, stronger overall. It is a habit that must be formed and maintained. It can, however, be abandoned if the individual should forget or run out of time. There will be time later to take the vitamins. It probably won't matter much if one should miss a day or two, or maybe even a week or two, of vitamins. Life goes on, although perhaps with slightly less energy and umph.

Life Support - One who relies on life support relies on it whole-heartedly. There is no survival apart from life support. It is vital for maintaining all aspects of life. An individual surrendered to life support cannot, for even a moment, set it aside as a matter of convenience or time. That life support cannot be separated from the individual, nor the individual from the life support. It is complete and total reliance on. It is remaining. It is permanent. It is always. Constant. Complete.

I've been thinking about this.

I want to be a Life Support Christian.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011



Isn't it fun?!

Most of the time I enjoy parenting. I love the playing around times, the laughing times, the proud moments, the snuggles and bedtime hugs and kisses. There is so much to love about being a mom.

What I do not LOVE so much - at least what I have difficulty enjoying - are all the hard times. The times when the kids are disrespectful, disobedient, difficult (ever notice that lots of 'trouble' words start with 'D'?... just an observation).

Several times in the past few weeks, after tucking the kids in for bed and going on about my business (aka... enjoying the peace and quiet of the house and sitting down to take a breath), I have caught Sebastian out of bed. Sometimes he's in Meagan's room. Sometimes in Isaac's. Sometimes just playing around in the bathroom or the hallway. But never where he should be, which is in his bed.

The first time he told me, "I was telling Meagan goodnight. I forgot to." Sweet... how do you argue with that?

Second time: "I just had to tell Isaac something." A little weak... go to bed.

Third time: He didn't say anything, just ran as fast as he could back to his bed, hoping I didn't notice. Um, nice try kid. I noticed.

You get the picture. So tonight as I was tucking him in, the last thing I said to him before I turned out the lights was... you guessed it... 'STAY IN BED.' He said okay. He promised.

Five minutes later I came up to get my phone that I had left laying in the hallway, and I saw a dark figure scurry from the dark bathroom into the dark bedroom across the hall. So, I flipped on his bedroom light and asked him to explain himself. Why was he out of bed? He lay there looking back at me with nothing to say. I turned off his CD player, which is a bed time privilege that he lost for the night, turned off the light, told him to STAY, and left the room.

It had been my intention to leave it at that. He would get the point, know he had done wrong, etc. But apparently God had other plans...

A few minutes later, as I walked back up the stairs to get ready for bed, I made a sudden and clear decision to make a detour into Sebastian's room. I sat down on his bed and spoke very plainly to him. I told him that some day he would want freedom to do certain things - go with his friends to a movie or a game, etc - and the only way that Lucas and I will be able to allow him to do those things is if we feel that we can trust him - if we believe he will make good choices, do what is right because it is right, do what he says he will do, be where he says he will be, and so on. I asked him if he thought his behavior tonight showed me that I could trust him or not trust him. His answer was absolutely the right one. He knew.

I asked him if he KNEW that he was wrong by being out of bed. YES. Yet he chose to do it anyway? YES. Why? (No response.) Then very clearly, a verse in Deuteronomy (30:19) came to mind: I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore, choose life that you and your descendants may live.

I explained to him that good decisions lead to good things in your life. When we choose to do things the way God has designed for us to do them, then we reap the rewards of those choices. We have life, peace, joy, and every good thing that God gives us. Those are the rewards for doing what is right. When we choose to behave in contrast to God's ways, we are choosing to heap up negative rewards in our lives: fear, anger, uncertainty, anxiety, and even death. Not good stuff.

In kid terms, we have a choice in everything we do. We can choose to do what we FEEL like doing, or we can choose to do what is RIGHT - because it it right. Not because it's fun, or it's easy, or it's what everyone else is doing. Because it is the right thing to do. It is our choice. And what we choose determines the direction our life will go.

I was sure to tell him that I was not angry, and that I had already forgiven him. I was simply sad and disappointed that he had made a poor choice. I told him, I have forgiven you. It's over this time. The next chance you get, you can choose to make the right choice. Then I left the room to let him sleep.

As I sat and thought of it afterward, I couldn't help but be in awe of God and His infinite wisdom. What I was going to leave 'as-is,' He was intent on using to teach my child and to use the teaching moment to mold and shape him into the man he is becoming. I love that about God. I love that even when I am clueless, He is an amazing parent.

I'm just glad I listened. I guess tonight, that was my choice.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Head vs. Heart

Matthew 11:25 (Amplified Bible) - At that time Jesus began to say, I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth [and I acknowledge openly and joyfully to Your honor], that You have hidden these things from the wise and clever and learned, and revealed them to babies [to the childish, untaught, and unskilled].

As I sat and read this verse this morning, I had a moment of realization. I don't know if I will be able to adequately put it into words to convey my thoughts, but I'll try.

My first response to this verse... "What a strange prayer."

Very spiritual, aren't I?

What strikes me here is that Jesus is praying. Which means He is talking directly to the Father. And He says He is joyfully acknowledging and honoring God. He is JOYFUL.

Next thing that strikes me... About what? What is here to make Jesus so joyful? Because to me it just seems like another verse in the Bible that tells us how God uses ordinary people who don't think they know everything to do His will and impact the lives of others. To me, this was just another verse in the Bible. But I realized that to Jesus, this was cause for worship.

Clearly there's a disconnect between my head (what I am reading and understanding) and my heart (my response to the information). Because I did not feel even a bit worshipful when I read, 'You have hidden these things from the wise and clever and learned, and revealed them to babies.' But if Jesus feels worshipful, then maybe I'm missing something.

True, this moment was a teaching opportunity for Jesus. It was a chance to openly make a statement that revealed some aspect of the Father to those who were with Him and to those of us who would later read this. Yes, that's true. But there were plenty of times when Jesus simply took the opportunity to teach and used it as a teaching moment. He just talked... to the people. In this moment, He was so moved and overjoyed and inspired that He was moved to speak directly to the Father about it. He would not have put on a prayer for show simply as a teaching technique. His prayer would never have been void of truth or intimate connection with the Father. This was more than just teaching. This was a prayer.

I realize for myself that I often read with my head - to gain knowledge and understanding - when the truest and deepest understanding and knowing comes when I read and listen with my heart, with an intimacy and connection with God by His Holy Spirit.

I'm about to share some strange truth about myself. Maybe I'm the only person who has ever felt like this or had these thoughts. But I doubt it. Here goes...

Many times in my life I have wondered at human 'feelings.' Because often I don't really FEEL anything. As a child, and throughout my adolescence, I heard and said 'I love you,' and I really believe that I LOVE those to whom I was speaking. But I didn't FEEL anything. I guess partly because love isn't simply a feeling. Often it's an action and a choice and a decision we make. It is more of an active response than a feeling response in many situations. Yet, while love is an action and not a passive feeling, I doubt that God loves completely void of feeling. I imagine that God's love is overwhelming and all-consuming. It defines Him. He IS love. I am not love. I am not often overwhelmed by it. Or consumed by it. In fact, quite the opposite.

Joy is another example of this. Yes, I know I am joyful. I'm not mopey. I'm not angry. But I don't think I have ever really tapped into the fullness of joy. Outside of a few circumstantial moments, it has rarely ever swept over me in such a wave as to fill me up and flood me. I acknowledge joy as an element of my life. Yes. But God's Word says that His joy is to be my strength. Rarely am I so consumed with joy that I feel strengthened by it.

Please don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that I ought to be driven by how I 'feel.' Not at all. Rather, I believe my heart to be in need of an awakening, and I am certain that I am not alone in this. I know that I do not live each day with my heart fully opened up. Many times I don't even follow Jesus with my heart as much as with my head. I KNOW what the right thing is to do, and so I do it. Not altogether bad. But I want to be MOVED by it. I want to enjoy it. I want to love it. I want to be flooded by it. I want to know the fullness of all that Jesus has died to make available to me.

Oddly enough (or not so much), after reading this verse in Matthew and thinking about my own life, my own heart condition, God led me instantly to Revelation 3, verse 1.

...I know your record and what you are doing; you are supposed to be alive, but [in reality] you are dead. Rouse yourselves and keep awake, and strengthen and invigorate what remains and is on the point of dying; for I have not found a thing that you have done [any work of yours] meeting the requirements of My God or perfect in His sight. So call to mind the lessons you received and heard; continually lay them to heart and obey them, and repent. In case you will not rouse yourselves and keep awake and watch, I will come upon you like a thief, and you will not know or suspect at what hour I will come. (Rev. 3:1-3, Amplified)

"Call to mind the lessons you received and heard; continually lay them to heart and obey..." This is a matter of getting information from your head to your heart. This is a matter of obeying and following God with your heart rather than with your head. Head knowledge is only useful to us if we can transfer it from our heads to our hearts. And according to this passage in Revelation, it seems to be our own responsibility to stir up or hearts and make this transfer from head to heart. We are responsible for living with ALL that we are, and not just the cerebral part. Following Christ is all about the heart. It is NOT about what we know or what works we can do. It is about the condition of our heart and the motivation behind the actions we take.

And so I realize that those words, seemingly directed to some obscure church in Revelation 3, are meant for us - for me. Today.

It is my most sincere prayer that God would help me through this process and teach me daily to live each moment fully opened up to Him, all that He is and all He has made available to me. Life is wasted to some capacity if it is not lived completely. And I don't want to waste my life, especially considering all that He can do with it if I will give it ALL to Him.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What We Want to Know

How do you know the condition of your soul? At the end of this life will your eternal destination be heaven? Hell? How do you know if you have been forgiven? If you have been granted salvation? How do you know if you will be taken up to heaven at the end of this age, or left behind to suffer the greatest tribulation man will ever know? Is there any way to know for sure? If you've prayed for salvation once, do you have to do it again? If you've asked for forgiveness, are you forgiven?

It seems like sometimes there are more questions than certainties. We (we humans? we in the western culture? I don't know if it's our nature or our culture that drives this need, but "we"...) seem to have a desire that almost borders on a need to KNOW what God will do, how, when, why. We want definitive answers that are clear-cut and laid right out there for us. We don't want to have to look for them. We don't want to have to work for them. Basically, we just want the answers given to us.

But a large part of this life we have been given is designed to be centered around learning - SEEKING, WAITING, TRUSTING, DEPENDING ON - God and His ways. Our dependence on Him to lead us and guide us through this life creates in us a humility of spirit that is absolutely necessary to keep our selfishness and pride at bay. It is not that He does not want us to have answers. He has given us a whole BOOK of answers. He simply desires that we take the time and put forth the effort to search for them, and in doing so, seek and find Him.

When we are active in our relationship with Him - as we take the time to sit and read the Bible, as we take time to pray - a wonderful process plays out. Our understanding and knowledge of Him (not head knowledge that can be spouted off by memory, but heartfelt knowledge that stirs the very deepest emotions and affections) will begin to grow and develop. We become more and more aware of Him - His nature, His character, His personality, His passions and desires. We become more and more willing to open ourselves up to Him, to let Him into those closed off places that we have tucked away out of sight. We become more willing to let Him work things out in us, and we become more cooperative, less resistant to His correction and discipline.

It is through this process that He refines us, shapes us and molds us more and more into His likeness. And it is through this process that we absolutely fall in love with Him in a way that cannot be described in words. Ultimately, it is this process that gives us the security and the peace of knowing what we have no other way of knowing. Because of our relationship with Him, we are able to KNOW that our salvation is secured; know that our sins have been forgiven; know that we are covered by grace; know that we are seen and loved and favored by the King of everything; KNOW that our eternity will be spent with Him.

It is ONLY through a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus that we have this security of knowing. It is in relationship with Him that we have the grace to make mistakes, ask forgiveness, and try again. Here we are able to learn to daily crucify those things that would hinder us from the perfect plan and design that God has for our lives. It is ALL about the condition of our hearts - the genuineness of our belief in Him, our desire to know Him, our willingness to put in the effort and to do the things He has asked of us (obedience). The Bible makes it clear that God is absolutely concerned with the heart of a person. A heart in love with God can only be found in a man or woman who is in relationship with God. There is no other way. Relationship is the absolute key to knowing.
These are just my thoughts on things related to my daily walk with God. I've always been a journal-keeper, and this is the area that demands most of the space in every journal I've ever kept. This is my passion, and I hope that by sharing my thoughts on the things I'm going through, I might be able to bless you in some way. Enjoy.