Rereading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning:
It remains a startling story to those who never understand that the men and women who are truly filled with light are those who have gazed deeply into the darkness of their imperfect existence…
The Good News means we can stop lying to ourselves. The sweet sound of amazing grace saves us from the necessity of self-deception. It keeps us from denying that though Christ was victorious, the battle with lust, greed, and pride still rages within us.
As a sinner who has been redeemed, I can acknowledge that I am often unloving, irritable, angry, and resentful to those closest to me. When I go to church I can leave my white hat at home and admit I have failed.
God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am. Because of this I don’t need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to Him. I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness…
To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.
“God blesses those who realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them…
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
~Jesus (Matt 5:2; 11:28-30 MSG)
O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
A Christmas Prayer by Max Lucado:
It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.
These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.
Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.
Recent search term:
having freckles means you can speak with God
(in your best Meredith Grey voice)
It’s good for a giggle,
I went to church this past Sunday and heard a fantastic sermon on favoritism in the Body.
Jesus is against it,
in case you didn’t know…
In Christ’s family there can be no division into
Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female.
Among us you are all equal.
Within the Body, NO DIVISIONS!!!
no division into Jew or non-Jew.
NO social or class standing:
no division into slave or free.
NO chauvenism or feminism:
no division into male or female.
NO favoritism because — get this, it’s really good — we are ALL His favorite.
Every last one of us.
With or withOUT freckles!
(I’m letting that one sink in… )
He loves me with my freckles.
He loves you without freckles.
You get to speak to Him NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE…
In Christ’s family we are all equal.
It’s an awesome thing to know we are all sons of God according to His promise.
Each of us stands equally as we are clothed in His righteousness.
No matter how you look…
No matter how much money you make…
And no matter your gender…
IN Christ, He listens to you.
In Christ, you’ve got God’s ear.
Speak to Him.
He loves you THE MOST!
You’re His favorite.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ
Have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek,
There is neither slave nor free man,
There is neither male nor female;
For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
And if you belong to Christ,
Then you are Abraham’s descendants,
Heirs according to promise.
To hear the complete sermon:
No Favoritism Here
He did the best he could with what he knew.
I remember when I first came to that realization about my dad.
In many ways he came from a privileged home, and yet, dysfunctional. One brother (my uncle) declares their mom was crazy. The sister says their dad was an alcoholic. My dad? He doesn’t talk much about his life as a kid, except for the terrorizing antics (from my perspective) with crickets and neighborhood girls. He does say he had a good childhood (I think that’s the privileged part speaking) and rarely remembers his dad being drunk, “Well, sure. There were times he spoke with a slur…” Mom, one of those neighborhood girls, recollects a mean lady living in Dad’s home. She doesn’t have many kind words for dear old grandma — aforementioned crazy lady. So, yeah. Dysfunctional fits the bill.
The short temper and sharp tongue make more sense when I remember “from whence he came.” Not that he had an excuse for his bad behavior, but, at least I caught a glimpse into his life. And in that picture, I realized how much better life was in our home than the one in which he was raised.
So, why didn’t that “ah-ha” moment translate into discernment for my marriage?
Instead of empathizing, over time, I grew complacent. I became frustrated with his constant countering. At times, his dismissiveness broke my heart. Yet, he was living a better life than the one in which he was raised. Of course he had “leftovers” from childhood… who doesn’t?
None of us come out of childhood unscathed. Some of us might paint a rosy picture, but, if we’re honest we’ll admit, we didn’t live long on this earth without suffering the effects of this sinful world. Many times those “effects” literally come at us from our parents. The sins of the fathers (and the mothers) truly are being visited upon the children.
I wish I had been more understanding. I needed to see how empathy was not something he understood. He was raised in a neglectful home. His parents weren’t old enough to be having children. Kids raising kids. Of course he didn’t learn unconditional love. Their motto: “Turn on anyone who turns on you.” Dog eat dog? YES! As one daughter explains, quoting Forest Gump, “Sometimes, I guess there just aren’t enough rocks.”
When life became unbearable for us, I did my dysfunctional thing. I went inward.
He did his dysfunctional thing and moved outward.
Neither of us moved toward the other, as we had been taught to do.
We moved to our “default” settings… And, now… years later… we’re divorced…
I sure wish I would’ve heard Lora when she tried to tell me why he wasn’t able to meet my needs.
But then, why did I expect it from him? And, why did I marry into the pain I thought I had escaped?
Also, why couldn’t I meet his needs? Did he marry into the same kind of pain he had hoped to escape?
It felt comfortable. The pain was comfortable.
I was used to being questioned… and the butt of jokes.
He was used to rescuing and caring for hurting people.
The results of masochism.
Search me, O God, and know my heart,
Try me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me…
We did the best we could?
What if we had chosen to do the best HE could…?
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Yes. It is true.
But, sometimes, even as Christians, we take the easy way out.
The sting of death seems to permeate my existence these days…
The death of a marriage.
The death of a friend.
The death of a family member.
I suppose, with all the grief, it only makes sense for me to spend time in 1 Corinthians 15 and the 23rd Psalm. You see, I homeschool my nieces and a nephew and death has hovered around them for a few months now. Their beloved uncle, Andrew, has been suffering from melanoma for about a year. He went home to be with our Lord early Friday morning. As with Gitz, Andrew was very young. Only 33.
I have always had a longing, a deep-seated desire, to be with Jesus. I’m not sure why, other than my love for Him. However, it could be the picture on the front of my childhood New Testament. Jesus is walking, holding hands, with many children — smiling — it appears He’s answering questions. As imagined at ten years of age, my mind takes me to the wonderful assurance of That Day when I will get to walk with Jesus. I will see Him face-to-face…on The Day He has fixed in His book. The faith of a child…
I believe that with my whole being.
I believe I will walk with Him.
He will call me Home when the time is complete.
When my days have been spent and the job I have to do on this earth is over.
I, too, will be with the Lord.
However, for now, I will continue to teach. I will ask my little family members to read the 23rd Psalm with me. I will describe Heaven in biblical terms. They will understand that a river flows from the throne of God with trees growing on either side. We will talk about the fruits that change every month and the leaves which are given for healing. We will imagine what our rooms will look like and what questions we may have for Jesus. And we will come to understand where our Hope lies.
Our hope is not in this world, this life, this existence.
Our hope is in another place and time.
We can endure this momentary light affliction:
The abuse of a world gone mad…
The results of sin run amuck…
We can endure, for as long as He determines.
We’ll go home.
- We’ll see Jesus.
Just like Gitz.
- Just like Andrew.
For we know…
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable….For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen,
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
My deepest condolences to Don, Esther, Pamela, Betty, Burton, Katie, Emily, Zachariah, William, and J.T. We have this assurance, we will see him again. And, for now and evermore, he is wholly complete. Thank you, Jesus.
Mourning Into Dancing…may she rest in peace. September 24, 2011…
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. ~ The Message – James 1:2-4
I think, for me, it has been about learning to want what He wants for me more than what I want for myself. It’s a tall order and I don’t say that flippantly. But my joy has truly come from Him finding His joy in me rather than me finding my joy in what I desire. It doesn’t mean I don’t long for different, it just means I find peace in fulfilling rather than understanding.
In the knowledge that this life isn’t about me, it’s about Him.
The thing I try to remind myself of, as I am without all the things that I wish I had to make me happy, is that my biggest need is Him. More than I need to be outside in the fresh air, more than I need to move without pain, more than I even need Dad… I need His will to be done in my life whether it is comfortable or not. There is not one thing that feels comfortable about my world right now, but I need Him more than I need to change my circumstances.
It’s still brutally hard. I have to remind myself of these facts every day. It doesn’t always come easily.
But it doesn’t make the truth any less true.
And the truth is that I can choose the joy.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And let endurance have its perfect result,
so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
Cry out to God,
“Deliver me, Most Merciful Father!”
He will come and save you.
That’s the promise.
Have you ever been rejected, pushed aside, or left alone?
I can’t think of anything more painful than to be left to defend for one’s self.
And yet, are we ever alone?
You’ve heard the aphorism: There are no atheists in foxholes.
In times of extreme distress, or fear, man is known to cry out to God.
“Please, save me!”
The times I’ve done this were when giving birth. But, the most difficult, the saddest moment was with the death of my second child.
I had a miscarriage in the 12th week of pregnancy. While at the doctor’s for a regular check-up, he could not find the heartbeat. It had been heard previously. The plans, the hopes, the dreams for our second child were well underway. We intended to have two babies very close together, and this would make them 15 months apart. To say we were elated — with God’s blessing us so closely from our first gift to our second — would be putting it mildly. But, when the news came of our baby’s death, we were devastated.
I’ve always been grateful to the doctor for not rushing a D&C. Some doctors will do that right away, in hopes of stopping the possibility of hemorraging. But, for some reason, my doctor was willing to let nature take its course. He let me know I would probably begin bleeding in the next 5 days, but not to worry, in most cases women only experience a heavier period than normal.
Those days were racked with grief. I remember wondering how Rox could speak without emotion when sharing the details of her miscarriage, so many years before. I knew this was death. And, I was in mourning.
As nature took its course, I experienced a complete delivery; my water broke and I delivered my tiny baby. I was weeping when the hemorraging began. As quickly as possible, we made it to the hospital to meet the same doctor who had delivered my healthy baby boy, only nine months before . . .
I was rushed into the ER. With agonizing pain from the contractions, and the loss of blood making it difficult for the nurse to find a vein, I began crying out to God, “Please, Jesus, help her find a vein!”
“This is too much to bear. Please, God, help me!”
The doctor patted my arm to let me know he was there. I asked why the pain was so much worse than a normal delivery. “Oh, it’s perception, I think,” he responded . . .
“You know the outcome is not going to be good.”
Thankfully, not many minutes past, the anesthesia took affect . . .
Thinking back on it now: my “go to” was God.
I knew the doctor couldn’t help me.
I knew my husband couldn’t make anything different.
I knew the end had come.
I needed God’s comfort.
I needed God’s words to engulf my mind.
I needed God’s assurance that He would be there…
That He would walk me through the valley of the shadow of death.
Today, with a twenty-year old memory, I find comfort once more.
Rejection from divorce is a most painful reality.
I am experiencing that reality, and it’s much like the shadow of the valley of death. The marriage is gone. And, I find myself mourning the loss of thirty years with the man I believed I would be with until death.
Jesus was rejected, too. He was rejected by men.
But, the rejected stone was The Living Stone.
So as you come to Him — a living stone rejected by men but chosen and priceless in God’s sight — you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ~1Peter 2:3-4
And He is using me, another rejected stone, to become a living stone.
A house built for Him.
To the praise of God through Jesus Christ, my Lord.
Who is your “go to?”
Do you know, when you are afraid, you can trust in Him?
“Nothing will deteriorate a relationship faster than denial.”
I found that quote in a book concerning disabilities. It hit me right between the eyes. I took the truth of it into my situation, forgetting all about the focus of the book. I asked myself these questions:
Do I have relationships that have deteriorated?
How have I been in denial concerning them?
Or, have they been in denial…?
Denial deteriorates our relationships.
Denial — the refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings.
Self-protection gone amuck.
A refusal to grant the truth of a statement.
Denial destroys relationship.
I can see places in my own life where denial has ruined relationship.
A refusal from me to acknowledge a painful reality.
A refusal from him to acknowledge my feelings.
A refusal from you to hear my thoughts…or vice versa…
A refusal to see truth from another’s perspective.
To choose not to hear another, because what I’m saying is more important.
To protect myself from others.
To NOT admit my own sin which has affected you.
A refusal to sacrifice my “rights” for yours.
“I refuse to see the situation as you see it.”
What does that do to the relationship?
It stops it.
It brings it up short.
Either, you must see for the both of you,
Or choose to overlook the other’s dismissal of you.
In either case you have denial — more lies — with which to deal.
I’ve learned through Celebrate Recovery to “own my stuff.”
I try not to put-off on others what I have done.
And, I try not to accept responsibility for what others have done to me.
It’s very hard, but necessary, to be honest with myself.
I desire to live in truth — not lies — any longer.
How ’bout you?
Purpose to see the truth.
Refuse to live in denial.
It will only kill relationship.
But exhort one another each day, as long as it is called “Today,” that none of you may become hardened by sin’s deception. ~Hebrews 3:13
May Your ear be attentive and Your eyes be open to hear the prayer of Your servant that I am praying to You today throughout both day and night on behalf of Your servants…I am confessing the sins…that we have committed against You – both I myself and my family have sinned. ~Nehemiah 1:6
When an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things (a past sin, even done in ignorance, which the individual has realized) he must confess how he has sinned. ~Leviticus 5:5 (italics mine)
The one who covers his transgressions will not prosper but whoever confesses them and forsakes them will find mercy. ~Proverbs 28:13
So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. ~James 5:16
Above all keep your love for one another fervent,
because love covers a multitude of sins.
~1 Peter 4:8
It is our fault.
Christians should be the most loving, caring, forgiving, gracious, merciful, and compassionate people on the earth.
If we truly believe in Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, the Messiah (Christ) who came to forgive the sins of the world and save us as His own…
…then we are to live as He preached.
Jesus preached Love.
It’s our fault if, when people think of Christians, they do not think of Love.
I watched a show on Shalom TV last night: Repentance. It struck me hard. It is a film documenting a movement of repentance in Germany which acknowledges 2,000 years of anti-Semitic Church history that culminated in the Holocaust. It features Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel.
After reading Night by Elie Wiesel years ago, I embarked on a study of his writings. Seeing his name in the description peaked my interest. Although I’m only 49 years old and have never been an anti-Semite, I felt compelled to ask God for forgiveness for my ancestors since I do have some German blood running through my veins.
I don’t really believe it works that way, that I can seek forgiveness for my ancestors. I do believe we will all stand individually and give an account for the deeds done in the flesh. However, I feel a deep grief over the 2000 years of Church history. I feel we have smeared Christ’s name by hateful acts of prejudice toward His people. And then, I think of all the other people we seem to snub, push aside, act as though we are better than…!!!
What’s wrong with us?
Do we really believe the words of Christ?
How is it we can be so hateful toward our fellow man and call ourselves Christians?
Christ came to save the lost,
To bind up the wounds of the broken,
To release the chains of the prisoner.
I could get on my soapbox and wax loooong about what we’ve done as Christians, but my point:
We need to apologize.
We need to apologize for the ugly distortion we have taught as Christ followers.
We need to apologize for the evil we’ve done in Christ’s name.
We need to love as He taught us to love the world.
We would not be here, we would not have any of our Christian teachings, if God did not choose the Jewish people through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are the People of the Book. They have kept the sacred text indisputably incorrupt (proven through the Dead Sea Scrolls) for thousands of years. Our Savior came through this people…and look what we have done in His name…
Please. Please, accept this heartfelt statement of repentance from one lone girl deep in the heart of Texas.
This act of contrition is not for the Jewish people only, but for all people who have seen and heard an ugly word or action done in the name of Christ.
Please, forgive us.
If you do not see us as a loving people, we are to blame.
It is our fault.
Our Savior didn’t teach us to act this way.