Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My Way or the Highway?

Molly, my good friend and sister in the Lord, wrote a comment I'd like to respond to. She wrote (emphasis mine),

"You said, 'Asking how far away from those commandments I can get betrays a fundamental gap in my understanding of the Good News itself.'

Now I totally agree with this. Buuuut, I don't think that's what Christians like Lamott are doing. See, I think that if they thought GOD was anti-abortion, then they'd be anti-abortion, etc. The issue is, they think God's okay with abortion, homosexuality, etc.

So it's really not an issue of Lordship, in my opinion, but one of comprehending Who God Is and being able to see Him in the Scriptures unclouded by cultural preconcieved ideas and norms.

The liberal thinks that abortion IS the compassionate, kind, loving thing to do. The liberal thinks that being completely accepting of gay/lesbian/bi/whatever IS the compassionate, kind, loving thing to do. From their lens, YOU are the one who is really missing God's heart for humanity.

So then the question kind of comes down to things like,

'If they don't see things my way, yet claim Jesus Christ as Saviour, are they still a Christian?'

Can someone be a Christian and still have some really confused ideas about life, culture, politics, etc, all because they've yet to really take their preconcieved ideas and conceptions to God--or maybe because God has yet to bring those things up to them?

Can someone be a Christian and yet have a long way to go when it comes to becoming mature in the Lord, wise in His ways?

Can someone be a Christian and have so much garbage and baggage to work through that it takes the Holy Spirit a looooooooong time before He can even GET to the abortion issue (or maybe He'll never get to it at all, there's so much other stuff in the way)?"

Moll, I see the "what this boils down to" as the place we disagree. You wrote, "If they don't see things my way, yet claim Jesus Christ as Saviour, are they still a Christian?"

I'm not talking about anyone seeing things my way, nor am I saying that everyone has to be immediately sanctified, thinking and acting perfectly (not gonna happen!). It's not "my" way, though: it's God's way. Of course I understand there are debatable things--often on these blogs we discuss those things. But I don't see how, for example, homosexuality is one of those things given the text we have as the Word of God. Not if you want to be honest with that text.

Now, how the reality of what the Scriptures say about homosexuality translates into our actions toward those who are practicing that sin is often the rub. Let me be really clear that I would never advocate treating anyone without compassion and gentleness. It's detestable when that happens, and obviously, it's not God's heart. But treating them with love includes the truth--it doesn't exclude it. That's where I differ with those who want to say, "God's okay with what you're doing!"

Liberal Christians want to paint conservatives as harsh and unloving, and themselves as compassionate and gracious--but at the expense of what the Bible actually says. God is not okay with abortion or homosexuality, period.

Do I think God brings things up to people on His timeline? Yes--some things. Some things He brings up right away. (For example, I knew right away after coming to Christ that I should not fornicate or curse anymore, and that abortion was wrong. Then I fumbled towards holiness, something I am still doing). I don't presume to know His timeline on that for each individual--but I do know that He does get around to showing them the truth as they follow Him. From my experience with discipling others and watching people grow in Christ, it doesn't take too long for the Holy Spirit to show them God's heart.

"From their lens, YOU are the one who is really missing God's heart for humanity."

See, but they're wrong. I am not saying that out of arrogance (believe me!), but out of confidence in God's Word.

Knowing you as I do, I know we are really not too far off on this. And I don't think Lamott is a brand new believer...some things I've been reading make me think she's into syncretism. God's not. I'm not saying she's not a Christian--I don't know. Don't know her stuff, don't know her. But in the end, those who do God's will, those who hold to the commandments (which Jesus said shows we love Him) will be saved. I pray that anyone who wants to follow Jesus will DO so. He knows what He's shown them and what He hasn't (makes Him the perfect judge, right?).

I think what we may be missing each other on is the timeline aspect. Please don't think that I'm some kind of drill sergeant discipler, or that I think God is. ("You better get it right NOW, Soldier! Drop and give me TWENTY!") I've experienced His patience and kind leadership firsthand (and still am). But sooner or later, He does bring up these big issues, and that's really what I am talking about. Some people choose to rebel and basically pretend He hasn't shown them what He has--as well as what He has revealed clearly in His Word. Everyone doesn't obey when they hear Him.

Monday, October 24, 2005

How Far Can I Go?

Rachel posted some thoughts last week that sprang from her reading of Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. It's a wonderful, thoughtful post in which Rachel wonders aloud about Lamott's Christianity. While she's careful about declaring Lamott to be a Christian or not, what she knows of Lamott's beliefs makes her think about what it means to call yourself a Christian. Rachel writes (emphasis mine),

Lamott did have a life-changing 'salvation experience.' She knew about Jesus, knew who He is, resisted Him for a long time, and finally decided (in a rather non-conventional way ;) to let him into her heart and her life. Many, many of the things she says about her life from that point on are sound and Biblical -- in the aforementioned poignant, honest, dark, bleak, uplifting, raw, sweet, heartfelt, real way. That said, Lamott is a social liberal. She's ardently pro-abortion. Now, personally, that sets my teeth on edge, and makes me angry. Honestly, however, I have never related my anti-abortion stance to my Christian beliefs. Yes, there are verses in Scripture that indicate that God sees unborn people as just that -- people -- and that He made them and is concerned for their well-being (take Jeremiah 1:5 for example), but I have been anti-abortion since I was a child, long before I was a Christian, and hence I don't tend to connect the two nearly as often as other people (on both sides of the issue) do....So does Anne Lamott's position on abortion mean that I should not see her as a believer in Jesus? I am less inclined to think so than other Christians are, but the possibility definitely exists....

Lamott also describes (in a scene I loved, where two Christians of violently different temperaments, who annoy the hell out of each other, are able to find community simply in the fact that they love the same Jesus -- one of my favorite moments in the book) a well-known series of Christian novels as "homophobic", among other derogatory terms, some of which I definitely agree with. Now, it's entirely possible that Lamott was referring to something in the books (I personally remember nothing like this, but then I didn't find the books particularly memorable and will never re-read them) that treats homosexual people unkindly, and that she believes the Bible where it says that homosexuality itself is wrong (which doesn't mean that we are allowed to treat the people who practice it unkindly, any more than we are allowed to treat any other sinners -- that's everyone -- unkindly merely because they are in fact sinners). Or it could mean that she thinks those of us who believe that part of the Bible are intolerant, backward nutcases, which is generally the case when people are throwing the word "homophobic" around in the context of Christianity. If the latter is the case (and again, without knowing a lot more about Anne Lamott than I do, it's impossible for me to know) then this is where I have to ask myself: Where is the line? How much of Jesus' teaching and the message of the Bible can you disregard and still follow Jesus?

It's that last question I'm interested in, based on everything Rachel wrote. Her post is titled "This entry really isn't about Anne Lamott," so I hope any Lamott fans out there understand we're not attacking her at all. This question is one that all disciples have to deal with at some point as they wrestle with obedience to God and struggle with temptations from the world, the flesh and the devil. What follows are my thoughts on the subject, which started out as a comment on Rachel's site, but quickly mushroomed into a post size. (Is it me, or do tons of posts start out as comments?)

The question Rachel poses, in the way she poses it, is a tough one. I think we won't know the whole answer until we see Jesus face to face. Maybe in this case, the answer is far less important than the question itself. Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is all about surrender to the Lord, repentance, cleansing, new life. I see all of those things as incompatible with an attitude that is seeking to toe the line: what can I disregard? What can I flout and still "make it"? How little can I follow God and still be in the family? It speaks volumes about the heart (again, not talking about Lamott here, but both theoretically and with a view to our own hearts and lives).

For all practical purposes, the question becomes boiled down to how we live our lives and how we disciple others--how we teach them to live. One of the things Ryan and I teach disciples is not to have an attitude of "how much can I get away with and still be a Christian (or go to heaven, or whatever)?" You are either embracing Biblical teaching and listening to the Holy Spirit, or you are resisting both. Yes, holy living is a process, and none of us have arrived or even got where we are right now overnight. But I have always found the Lord to be quite clear about things like abortion and homosexuality, both in His Word and in His communication to my heart.

Frankly, I think that passion for God and liberal stances on issues like abortion and homosexuality are mutually exclusive. The Word tells us that if we love God, we will obey His commandments, and that those commandments are not burdensome, but are a delight. We can argue with the Creator of the Universe, or we can surrender to Him and seek to learn His ways and to know Him.

John 14:15
If you love Me, you will obey my commandments.

Ps 1:1-2
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

Ps 119:24
Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

Ps 40:8
I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.

Matt 11:28-30
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Asking how far away from those commandments I can get betrays a fundamental gap in my understanding of the Good News itself. The Son of God died--poured out powerful and precious blood--so that I could be freed from the power of sin and death. Why would I want to walk the line between death and life? Why not have the abundant life found in walking with God? When I am running from Him, I feel like I am suffocating: my heart feels like a stone within me, my throat closes and my mind is numbed. No thanks--not the way I want to live. Rebellion against the Lord is walking death. When we argue with the Lord about His Word (which is what people are doing who belittle/reject clear Biblical teaching about murder or homosexuality), it's rebellion against Him, and it won't lead to life. We would do better to ask the Lord to show us His ways and change our stubborn hearts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Speaking the Common Language

Ed has a great post about sports as men's common language. He notes how easy it is for him to talk man-to-man about sports...

There are a lot of men who won't give me the time of day when it comes to 'any of that God stuff,' but if I want to discuss the race last Sunday or the best NFL defense ever (the 1985 Bears, if you must know), then these guys will act like my long-lost relatives. It's a comfort thing. It's non-threatening. It becomes a common language.

...and he questions why Christianity cannot also be a common language:

But people shy away from talking about their faith or lack thereof. I think part of it could be the lack of one vital piece of equipment -- a scoreboard. It isn't obvious enough who the 'winners' are. The Christians don't look different enough. We don't intrigue the unbelievers. Our lives don't show the joy we supposedly feel inside. Far too often, there is no proof that we're any better off for showing up in a church building every Sunday morning. We know we're saved, we know we are filled by the Holy Spirit, we know we are to be serving our Master, but our actions make us look like the people who live for material gain and instant pleasure.

Sports is a common language for men. We assume that the other guy has at least a passing interest in sports, but we can't assume that the other person has any kind of interest or even tolerance for Christianity. Christianity isn't a common language because most people rarely see it practiced.


Really, can you argue with that?

I'll expound upon it: not only are the non-Christians baffled by the lack of difference in us, but Christians are baffled, too. We ask ourselves (and discuss with others) these questions all the time: how different must I/can I be? How should I be different? Will the difference alienate unbelievers? Is the difference supposed to be total, all-consuming, and sub-cultural, so that someone can tell I am a Christian by looking at me (in much the same way Westerners can plainly see that someone is a Muslim from the Middle East)? Or is the difference enacted in stealth mode, with the Christian--a foreigner in this land--in disguise as a regular citizen?

I don't have all the answers, beyond a few certainties I do have:

1. We are foreigners. That's going to show up somehow, somewhere in our lives and in our relationships. To use Ed's analogy, Christianity is not the common language because everyone doesn't speak it. I have to remind myself of this often, when I feel like I am from another planet than my non-Christian friend or relative. Our worldviews--our understanding of love, of justice and mercy, of creation, of being--are usually totally different. It's not unlike people from two different countries: we are alike in our humanity, but our patterns of thought, our cultural bases of understanding, our roots are different. And that shows up in the difficulties we'll probably encounter just trying to have a conversation.

2. I know where some of my boundaries lie, that is, where I may NOT behave as a regular citizen, and where I am bound to the laws of my homeland. Citizens of the New Jerusalem do not get drunk every night like half of this college town. Citizens of the New Jerusalem do not put evil things before their eyes to entertain themselves. You get my drift. Many of the things that I don't do because of my citizenship elsewhere separate me culturally (for the sake of this analogy) from people who don't know the Lord. The commandments presented in Scripture for me to love--the ones that are written on my heart by the Holy Spirit--separate me from the world.

3. If someone looking at my life sees NO difference between me and anyone else in the world, I have a problem. I need to search the Scriptures, examine my heart, and ask the Lord why I am not standing out at all. What choices am I making? What do I do with my free time? Is anything stealing my joy? Why? Usually the answers are apparent, and we just don't feel like dealing with them (talking to myself here, guys).

It is really important, though, to realize that we're all originally from the same place, ultimately; we were born in the same Garden. There is a universal language that speaks to everyone because we are made in the image of God: love. Now, I am among the first to remind everyone that Love is not some mushy feeling; it's not 'nice' all the time. Love speaks truth and may wound ("faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy" Prov 27:6), but it's for the good of the hearer, not his destruction.

When Ed approaches a skittish man in church and talks with him about the baseball game, I would argue that it's a dialect of the Common Language. Now, as Ed gets to know this guy better, is he going to only talk about sports? No--as their relationship grows, and the man sees Ed's heart and senses his care for him, and as their rapport grows over seemingly insignificant things like baseball, his heart will open up enough to feel safe talking about his questions and beliefs about God. The Common Language is necessary to teach the language of New Jerusalem. It's the foundation of it--you can't learn to speak in the Kingdom of God if you don't know it.

Monday, October 17, 2005

What Kristen Needs

I apologize to those of you who hate memes. I do hope that you realize I only meme the REALLY funny things, though. Right? ...Right?

Anyway, Kirstin's was funny, and Rachel had me literally in tears with laughter. And SHE got it from Thicket Dweller. So blame them.

I'll let Rachel explain the meme:

"Here's the drill: You google '[your name] needs', except of course that you replace [your name] with, well, your name. Then you look at the search results, and you laugh. (You might want to turn on the 'Family filter' or whatever it is that Google calls that. Because there are apparently some people out there who think you need stuff that, uh, you don't need. Or at least, you probably don't want to read about needing it on the Internet.)"

Here are my top ten. You should do this with your name--it's hilarious.

1. First off, Kristen needs to die.
Isn't that a little harsh?

2. Kristen needs 24-hour-a-day aid.
It's true. Between my clumsiness and propensity to lose things, I am a basket case...

3. Kristen needs to wash her socks because she will need them on Sunday morning when she runs the Columbus marathon with her father.
Um, yeah. I have plenty of clean socks, thanks.

4. Kristen needs to settle down. Yes, she was right about needing a plan, but screaming won't help.
I am trying to manage my anger more constructively. Give me time.

5. Kristen needs to go home with whatever she needs to make up for the past six years of obviously horrible "care".
That's RIGHT. I need to go home with several pounds of dark chocolate, new books, a deluxe Yahtzee game, and new shoes. And see that you take better care of me in the future!

6. Kristen needs to harvest phage today, where she did not have time to do so the day before.
Well, I was really busy.

7. Kristen needs friends right now and 'cease and desist' orders run contrary to our community of Kristen Friends.
I like that...'our community of Kristen Friends.' Are you in the community of Kristen Friends? Doesn't that sound culty?

8. "Kristen needs a little break. I'm gonna get her some wine and she'll be able to talk in a bit."
Obviously spoken by a Kristen Friend.

9. I still think Kristen needs to deal with her propensity to meddle in other people’s lives.
Not a Kristen Friend.

And this one is for Rachel, because apparently all my memes have some connection to her:
10. Rachel comes up tops in her grey crops, Kristen needs to re-think the top (maybe she should take a look at our safari chic examples?).
I don't know what they are talking about...I am the epitome of safari chic. They can't be talking about me.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Perhaps This Is Appropriate

My first blogging anniversary is coming up (close to yours, eh, Kim?), so I thought it timely when Carol tagged me for a meme you've probably seen around lately.

My instructions:

1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it)
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

Here it is, in all its glory:

"'The truths' of all of these 'varied faiths'...no."

I was talking about something Bush said--and it was so early in my blogging that I didn't link to whatever article I was talking about! *blush*

Anyway, he said,

"That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people....When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner 'Freedom Now' – they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled."


He stated that

A)Truth is found in both the Bible and the Koran (and other faiths!), and
B)Our founders declared "a new order of the ages."

If you're familiar with New Age style and diction, then it's enough said already. If you're not, you should be, and I recommend learning more about New Age beliefs and the occult from a Christian perspective. I really recommend this video as a primer, as well as resources from Jeremiah Films. Also, Berit Kjos has an invaluable website that I highly recommend for discernment-related topics such as this.

I won't go into all of the implications this may have. I believe in praying for our authorities; we are exhorted to do so in the Bible. But that doesn't mean our eyes are squeezed shut to the reality of our leaders' words and beliefs. We must be "as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves," reading between the lines and seeking to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

I don't usually tag people for memes, but I'd love to hear about your answers. So if you'd like, either post a trackback here if you blog it, or leave a comment and tell us what your 23rd post's fifth sentence was and why you wrote it!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Hating Your Flesh

My new friend Ali (here's a great post of hers) got me thinking. We were discussing a popular Christian book and its encouragement to the reader to accept themselves. One study question asks the reader, "What areas of my personality, background, and appearance do I need to accept?"

Well...is that really an issue? Or is this book delivering a red herring?

Let's ask Paul. Here he is talking about husbands and wives, but what he's saying is applicable to this discussion:

Eph 5:28-30
So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.

I know this goes against the beloved tenets of pop psychology, but I believe that no one really hates himself. I believe it because God says so.

No one ever hated his own flesh. He may be obsessed with himself, or he may be outright selfISH, but he doesn't really hate himself--even if it appears to the world that he does. Self-awareness and self-absorption are always players, whether the pattern is self-destructive or self-aggrandizing.

Don't get me wrong. I realize Paul is saying men should love and cherish their wives as part of themselves. But people constantly quote Eph 5 to justify a focus on self that I think is unwarranted from Scripture.

Here's something else to consider when Dr. Phil or Oprah give you tips on how to love yourself:

2 Tim 3:1-5
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these.

Being a lover of self is actually a wicked characteristic. I know that in the times I struggle inwardly the most, I can see upon reflection that I have been focusing on myself rather than on the Lord. My eyes slip from Him and His Word, and look down on ME. As a result, my vision is skewed; I obsess over whatever good or bad points the enemy (or my own flesh) can direct me to. I forget--too easily--about the Lord, about the Blood of my Messiah, about forgiveness. The bottom line is that nothing is right again until my focus is on HIM and not MYSELF.

Hatred of self is a deception. The solution to self-obsession is to be renewed daily in Christ, and to regard one another as more important than ourselves.

Phil 2:1-4
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

We are to run the race to win. Does the athlete look at the ground the whole time, or at the finish line? This has everything to do with this discussion of selfishness vs. focusing on God. Notice the connection: it takes discipline and self-control to run the race to win. Love of self is one of the greatest weaknesses humans have that the enemy seeks to use against us. The Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it" (Gen 4:6-7).

1 Cor 9:24-27
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

To go back to the actual question posed in the book: what parts of myself do I need to "accept"? The answer is not in SELF-acceptance, but in losing yourself in Jesus Christ. Hide under His wings, look at Him. Seek His kingdom, and all these things will be added unto you. Don't eat that deceptive red herring. You can accept anything about yourself all day long, but it doesn't make the bottom-line problems and issues go away. A metric ton of acceptance will never amount to a thimbleful of the blood of Christ.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ten Not-So-Dark Secrets about Me (Okay, Some Are a Little Dark)

I've prepared myself for the embarrassment to follow. I saw this over at Rachel's.

1. I like smooth jazz. Ugh—even the term is embarrassing. But it’s true: I’ve liked Grover Washington, Jr., for a long time. Michael McDonald stands forgiven in my sight for all the bad R&B reprises. (Michael, if you’re reading this, please go back to your Steely Dan backup roots! Go back to “What a Fool Believes!”). I like “Stone Groove” by Boney James and Joe Sample. When I was in LA I listened to “The Wave.” I confess!

2. I drive a truck. For some reason this surprises people. Ford: Like a ROCK!

3. I really, really like girl things. If there weren’t more pressing and important tasks at hand in life, I could watch makeover shows, shop, and examine shoes until the cows come home. Fortunately, though, the Lord has given me better things to do. Most of the time. He made me a woman, and it is good.

4. I skipped school regularly in high school. One time my best friend Meg and I drove (in my car) to my house, where we planned to hang out while my parents were at work. The garage door opened…and there was my father, standing by his car. I thought I was B-U-S-T-E-D, but why not go for the gold? “Dad,” I gulped, “Mme Porto [my French teacher] sent us home to get our field trip money. Today is the last day we can turn it in.” Yep, total lie. Dad bought it, and Meg and I went to the mall with my newfound riches. (Yes, I have already confessed this to Mom and Dad.)

5. The only instrument I can play is the piano. The only song I can play is “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Unless you count the kazoo. I have an amazing repertoire for the kazoo.

6. I once sent my photo and a letter to River Phoenix.

7. This one’s for Rachel: I say “ouch” when I step on other people’s feet. Yeah...it’s happened more than once.

8. As a senior in high school I took several AP classes. After my AP Biology test, Meg, our friend Heather and I stole my father’s Wild Turkey whiskey and drank probably a thimbleful each (it was NASTY) to “celebrate.” To make it look like none was gone, I filled the bottle back to the top with water. (Yes, Dad knew. He told me that a lot later, though.)

9. I was absent when everyone learned how to tell time in second grade. Let’s just say I prefer digital watches.

10. I am a pretty classic klutz. I am constantly stumbling over something, dropping food on myself, you name it.

Hmmm...many of these are from my high school era. Guess I don't have many secrets anymore.

Friday, October 07, 2005

So, I'm Sick.

I am sick. It's not the I'm-barfing-and-about-to-die sick, just the tired-and-loopy-with-sore-throat sick. It's the best kind of ill to be: everything slows down, and you can't run around doing all the things you usually do; you just want to sit or lie down and read or watch Jane Austen movies. Well, that is what I do, anyway.

When I am sick like this, I usually make grand plans in my mind about what I am going to do when I get better: I am going to practice sewing; I am going to read more; I am going to clean the whole house in a day; I am going to exercise very regularly and stop slacking; I'm going to paint a picture. It's like my mind has all the energy my body usually does, but it's trapped in a sloth's body.

Then I get tired from thinking so much.

As a child it was torture for me to be set down for a nap. I hated it. I wanted to get up and be with Mom, to do whatever she was doing, and have fun. Who wants to nap, I wondered? Why waste time?

And even now, I chomp at the bit when forced to slow down for a few days.

Maybe this time when I get well I can do one or two of the things I dreamed about while sick!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Rhema, and Being Cut to the Heart

Since my last update was probably a bit of a downer, I wanted to let you all know that I am on the mend spiritually. I have a thirst for God's Word again--I am excited to sit down with it every day. I feel like a disciple, a learner, again, thanks to Him.

Rhema is a Greek word meaning "that which is or has been uttered by the living voice." Perhaps it's my background talking, but when I think of rhema I think of what a commenter mentioned at Kim's:

God'll grab ya by the throat just when you think you're only looking up how something was said.

Indeed! I'll be reading something I've read many times, and WHAM!, God shows me something I hadn't thought of before, or convicts my heart, or touches me deeply. That is one of the most awesome experiential things about reading the Bible.

Something like that occurred the other day while I was reading Acts 2:

Acts 2:22-36
"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know--this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him,

"'I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.'

Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

"'The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.'

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."

It hit me as I read that, really hit me, how it must have felt for those Jews to hear that Messiah, the One everyone had been waiting and looking for, had been put to death. What despair they must have felt at that moment! What would God do to them, they might have wondered, if they killed the very Messiah He had promised them? How could this situation be redeemed?

Acts 2:37
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"

And then the amazing, amazing part. I am without words to describe such a God:

Acts 2:38-41
And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

No wonder there were so many who repented that day! I am so thankful to worship a God who would not only NOT REJECT the people He had chosen after they killed His Son, but would redeem them and give them a gift of unquantifiable value.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Full of Interesting Questions

That describes Kim The Upward Call. She posted a really interesting one for feedback yesterday, and I'd love to know what more people have to say about it:

"Over the years, what is the greatest lesson you've learned about bible study? I don't mean lessons from specific portions of scripture, but about the very act of the study itself."

Visit her and let her know--because I want to know!

We discuss Biblical issues quite a bit here, but haven't touched on the act of Bible study as often, I think. Thanks for another thought-provoking post, Kim.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Thinking Toolbox Posted by Picasa

The Thinking Toolbox: A Review

I can heartily recommend The Thinking Toolbox: Thirty-Five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills for your family. The book, authored by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn, follows the success of The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Six Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning.

The lessons in Thinking Toolbox are obviously meant for children or young adults, but that's not to say that adults have nothing to gain from reading the book, and ideally, participating in the lessons with their children. I plan to use it with mine, if I am so blessed. :)

There are many areas of life for which modern academia has left children--students--woefully unprepared: two that leap rapidly to mind are domestic concerns (the "basics" required to live a successful adult life) and critical thinking skills. As valiantly as many classroom teachers try to instill the latter in their charges, they don't stand much of a chance against the wiles of media culture. At least that's what I perceive. I don't see many teens or young adults applying critical thinking tools to, say, television programming or their favorite music. It's directed at them with calculated precision, and any "how to think" lessons taught in a period or two at school just don't hold a candle to the video and audio onslaught of sensuality, rebellion, and irreverence that's before them at the click of a button.

The Thinking Toolbox is aptly named. And children aren't the only ones who might learn something! It is never a waste of time to examine how and why we believe what we do, how we formulate opinions and arguments, and how to discern a faulty argument when we hear one.

(This book was provided to me by Mind and Media. I was not paid anything for this review.)