Friday, August 29, 2014

Like a Salmon...

who swam up the waterfall & found out the others had moved on.

no, that's not it...

that's it.

  A weariness that saps you of all your strength down to your marrow. Do you ever get that weariness that wants to just stop the world, the news, all of social media, people talking, people rushing about, no one listening?

 A tiredness that is about to burst from the inside and leave you void of the desire to want to scream about it all. In actuality, you know the problem is not just other people avoiding doing what the Bible commands, but it is also you avoiding doing what the Bible commands. 

 Energy drained from fighting against the crowds swimming with the current, eyes poised on the waterfall before you, and you leap with all the force of your faith over and over again. Then there you are and that second of realizing success in a tremendous feat vanishes because the current is stronger, weightier at the top of a waterfall. The massive drive to pour everything over the edge is overwhelming. You must be fully engaged to push against it and slowly move forward. How easy it would be to just give in, let go, drift. 

 but God...
and so you swim on with rejoicing in your heart that you are not alone, it is not hopeless, you will make it. You will be in the presence of God one day and it is a sweet refreshing for the journey ahead.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Refusing to Repaint Worldly Boundary Lines

  Feeling the hurt and suffering with someone does not necessitate one going through the exact trial or injustice. Many people comprehend being hurt by someone who should have never hurt us. We are called to bear another's burdens but not sinfully. Hope is what we have to give as Christians and love is the vehicle we use to dispense it. Each moment in a person's life does mold and shape them uniquely and we cannot fully grasp the depth of work that is done to that person but we can walk next to them, bolster them up with our arms wrapped around them, and ears listening to their story.

  "Race" is such an adulterated word. The world wants to define people by color and, as Believers in Christ, we should refuse to dip even a toe in that pool. Maybe I am naive but did not God create one race?  Human Genesis 1:27. This in no way means that we blindly watch or discount injustices to others. On the contrary, it should make us stand up all the more.

 Injustice is not color blind though. Barriers between people because of differences is a scheme the world likes to use.  It is easy to lump people together by skin color, just as it is easy to make divisions between poor and rich, disabled and not disabled, men and women, old and young, fat and skinny. Did Jesus not come and erase the barriers? Galatians 3:28
 Do Christians really need to participate in  childish and ignorant systems such as these? Do we need to continue to replace boundaries that Christ took up? Clearly, Jesus showed us a different way and called us to a higher standard not based on looks. Boundaries, through Christian eyes, are this and this alone - one who follows Christ and one who does not. What action does this boundary require of us? 

 It is time to stand right now. Let's not delude ourselves thinking that we can write about our outrage and all the reasons why we cannot fully understand the problem because it makes us look better and more empathetic. The problem was started in the world by how we look so our response should not be in the look category but in the act category. 

 Let's move in ways that confounds the world. Let's see the image of God  in people. When it is abused, mistreated, neglected, and unloved, churches should be the first to act. Let's rejoice as we erase boundaries between people by seeing them become part of the Body. Let's get in the game and exercise the mercy and grace that was poured on us without thought of the outside person because the only other race in this world is the one we are supposed to be running for Christ.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Churches and Their Perfect Match

 Like many Friday mornings, I sat in the dark watching out the window. Usually, the sky is covered under its blanket of night when my husband gets up for work on Fridays so after I make the coffee and put something out resembling food for him, I wait. Slowly the sun slides in breaking open the darkness and starts the cycle of chores. Country living necessitates having good visibility when you venture out where the wild things are creeping.

 But today, I just sat. Restless animals started rustling but I did not budge. The sun was screaming at my eyeballs and I remained unmoved. My thoughts tried to wrangle why my heart was rebelling against this new day and it hit me. About this time a year ago, I did not just sit, I picked up and moved from my church. It was hard, very hard but it was right and that has been made even more obvious during this year. Spiritually, I have grown leaps and bounds. Hard to believe, I know.

 Now I get it. The picture of the church as a Body makes so much sense. I understand better than I ever could about leaders being shepherds and how we  submit to that leadership. That is why it is so important to find a church that is committed to following the Bible. The leadership will have to answer for how well the sheep are doing. This makes me a little hesitant. Do I want to do that to a new church that is just gaining strength to stand on its own? A young leadership? They are going to have to know me and the other sheep are going to have to love me. That's a lot to ask. If there was a site to match believers to churches, I would be in trouble. 

Sheep-Harmony Profile

 Looking for a few more sheep? Try this little piggy:
People tell me that I have a good personality
- 3 previous sheepfolds
- Lives with goats
- Financial contribution is limited
- Feet are prone to stumbling and jumping in muddy puddles sometimes wallowing in them
- Eye problems, leak consistently and lose focus easily
- Likes reading, walking, and debating anything. 
- Loves baby sheep, studying, natural health, and chocolate
- Dislikes cotton candy teaching, intermingling with others because of fear, & the mall
- Desires to glorify God

 Kidding aside, it is time to refocus. Churches are full of sheep with all kinds of maladies and no one can claim to be the worst without forgetting the work Christ has done at the moment of salvation. That being said, He has called us to be in a Body and outfits us with talents and abilities to suit that Body. It is a commitment, it is part of a covenant, and, yes, it is serious. We should not break fellowship with a Body without serious prayer and consideration. If you leaving your church does not cause at least a ripple, something is wrong. A Body cannot lose parts without feeling it and the part cannot separate from a Body without starting to die off spiritually. 

 Once you leave, find a church that is solid. Is the congregation growing (I don't mean numerically)? How does the leadership handle Scripture? What is the focus of the worship time? How does the leadership handle sin/issues? How does each member handle sin/issues? Do they know and care for one another?

 Seems like there is a theme in those questions, doesn't it?  And, no, I did not forget questions about programs. A church should  be focused on God and His Word. How they deal with sin speaks a lot about how well they know and obey Scripture and that speaks a lot about what they think about God's holiness.

 Which, by the way, is something that each of us should examine in ourselves so that we are beneficial to the Body. Get God's holiness right and it is difficult to get doctrine, living, and serving wrong.

- Psalm 99
The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! 
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he!
The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; 
you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. 
Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!

Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who
called upon his name. They called to the Lord, and he answered them.

In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies
and the statute that he gave them.

O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings.

Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain;
for the Lord our God is holy!