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Archive for the ‘thoughts on Christianity’ Category

We were swimming in large pool. I thought I was going to be teaching Cohen to swim, but as it turned out, he was already a great swimmer. He dove to the bottom of the pool effortlessly and swam down on the floor like no one I had ever seen. He looks like a guppy, I thought to myself with a smile. I then noticed that the pool had no deep end- it was all deep. My feet couldn’t touch the bottom. Co was under water longer than I thought he could be, but again he labored without noticeable effort. Then I saw him struggling as he rocketed to the surface of the water. He didn’t realize he was out of air until the last second. I held him and then he dove back under, I did my best to stay above him as he swam deep to the bottom of the pool, knowing it was likely he’d again not recognize when it was time to come up for air. He zig zagged from here to there; I struggled to keep up. Then he swam right into a volleyball game happening on the other side of the enormous pool. I panicked. He bumped into legs and feet, but kept on going. I could barely make my way through the sea of bodies. The volleyball smacked down beside me.

Saturday morning I woke up to this dream. The images were as vivid as a movie, thanks to the pregnancy hormones which often make dreaming seem as real as being awake.

Some years ago I attended a Sara Groves concert with my sister and my parents. She had just released her album, The Other Side of Something. I listened as she talked about the inspiration for the songs coming almost entirely from a struggle she’d had with the Lord over her two sons. Though she was herself ready to take on whatever God asked of her, the thought that her children might suffer was unsteadying. She talked about searching the Scriptures for assurance that her children would be protected, but time after time only discovered that it was most likely that they would be hurt and maimed by life, the sin of others, their own sin and times, possibly even God. Those gut wrenching 11 songs were written as she fought these realities, finally making peace with the sovereignty and goodness of God.

Though I wasn’t a parent at the time – or even a married woman- her words resonated with me and some seven years later are still with me.

Cohen turned four last Friday… unbelievable. When you have a baby everyone tells you to enjoy it because it goes fast, but they tell you this when you’re in newborn land and days run into each other, filled with sleeplessness and feedings and dirty diapers. It is hard to believe them then, but one day you turn around a six months or a year has passed and all the little things you thought you’d never forget are starting to get fuzzy in the files of your memory.

When he woke up in our caboose cabin that morning (I will post photos at some point- so cute! an old caboose converted to a cabin in Hocking Hills) he hopped into bed with us. I had only moments earlier hopped into bed with David (the caboose only had single beds), not sure I’d even fit with my burgeoning belly. With Cohen added to the mix, we were very snug little bugs. In keeping with my mom’s tradition, I told him about the day he was born… about waking up early in the morning not feeling “right”, about how I mopped the floor and then drove myself to the hospital… about that terrifying and wonderful moment when the nurse checked me and said, “well we’re having a baby today!”… and about the moment when I heard his cry, saw his face and learned he was (as I had suspected) a boy. He ate it up. I felt like it was so near I could almost relive it for a moment myself.

The Spring does something to Cohen. This is the first year I have been able to them together enough to understand some of it. Change is a hallmark of Spring… new buds, new life, new length of days, new warmth in the air. For us, the last few Aprils have meant even more change than what naturally occurs. Three years ago, Cohen was turning one. We had his birthday on a tour bus. Though the events of how and why and what exactly have been stripped from my remembrance, there was a feeling that the marriage was salvageable and that we might be a family. A week later, the veneer on that hope cracked and began its slow 8 month crumble. His second birthday rounded out a month of changes: papers filed, a move from our own place to live with my parents, a full time job for me. Last year, he turned three weeks after the divorce was final (not that it meant any real changes to his everyday life) and we entered a new season that foreshadowed what would soon be our new reality.

There are a lot of things Cohen doesn’t know. But there are a lot of things he does know that I wish to God he didn’t. He often surprises me with his words and insight and understanding. This is a double edged sword. A friend recently encouraged me to ask Cohen about a particular circumstance to explore what he was aware of. So I did. I asked. I sat and listened as he explained a series of contexts and implications. I felt shock and sadness. Shocked at the sheer vastness of what he had gleaned from whispered conversations and words that had never been explained to him. Sad that the words had ever touched his ears, sadder still that the contexts even exist.

This year on his birthday, things are as settled as they have ever been for us. There is some unfinished business on the near horizon but by and large there is peace and calm. Some days I think Co can feel the loose ends as much as I can, though he knows little of the situation that lies ahead. We pushed it out of all our guts for a few days of birthday camping and hiking and togetherness. Cohen seemed light as a feather, giddy and full of life. David and I spoke briefly about times that this isn’t true. We sat by the smoldering campfire with cups of coffee while Co launched his hot wheels off the picnic table ramp into the woods.

I thank God for the changes that this year has brought our family… for stability and a home and expansion, for the new life inside of me, for David. I look forward with expectation to the changes that are still unfolding and are finally soon coming.

Being a parent is not for the faint of heart. Though Sara’s words in that concert struck a chord with me so long ago, I am only now intimately acquainted with the experiences of which she spoke. I know now what it is to struggle with God over your child’s well being. And, thank you Jesus, I know now what it is to find that your child is the hands of One who knows and sees and cares and is ABLE.

Sunday morning as I woke up, I remembered the dream from the morning before. David was still breathing evenly beside me. I had joked about Cohen being a guppy and the oddity of the dream the day before, but in the calm Sunday morning light, I started to see it for what it was… a tiny fear that I cannot protect him all the time had blossomed and bloomed into the silly images, as my subconscious tried to find a way to work it out. I laid there for awhile with that thought stirring until the Lord reminded me of the other side of the equation.

Two of the biggest blows in my life have come in August. August 2007 I uncovered something that turned my world upside down. And two summers later in August 2009 I learned that a horrible blow had come to my son’s life. That weeks that followed were a blur of tears and helplessness and fear. I was away overnight to do a training and I was woken early in the morning by a text from Pastor Ricks, encouraging me to read through a portion of the Psalms. I got up and did so. In those early morning hours the Lord broke my heart and allowed what had been pent up behind the flood gates to all come out. I repeated the words of Psalmist, capturing them as my own. At one point the Lord said to me that Cohen would grow strong even in his youth and then the Lord gave me the picture from Psalm 1 of the tree planted by the streams of water, whose leaf never withered and whose every endeavor prospered. I read it aloud again and again, placing my son’s name into the text, believing in my heart that it was all true of my then toddler and his future.

Though fear may want to grip my heart in these next couple of weeks, I have determined to believe God. I am determined to instead let my heart cling to His unfailing words. May God arise and His every enemy be beaten!

Even before I pregnant, David and I had felt strongly about a particular name for a son. The middle name has been a whole other story… the list of could-be middle names is still quite long and very undecided. I was going over them this morning, thinking about their meanings. The first name we’ve chosen means “eagle”. I felt like the Lord was reminding me of Isaiah 40 and naming our child with that picture of overcoming just seems right. When I named Cohen, I just liked the name. Cohen Reid. I fit; it sounded right. David loves the meaning of names and when we were first reconnecting he said something powerful about Cohen’s. Cohen is Hebrew for priest and while Reid actually means “red”, David said that Cohen was a “priest among the reeds”, referring to Moses.

Moses had some wounds, flaws, set backs. He hadn’t been unscathed by life, but he was called of God to be a deliverer to his people. This morning and in the weeks that lie ahead of us, I am nurturing these images of my son…not only is to be solid, unwavering, steady, well fed, prosperous.. but he is also purposed to be a leader and deliverer.

Whether or not my subconscious can work it all out, I know my God is more than able to accomplish all that He has begun.

So thank you God for this rainy Monday that You have breathed life into and for a season to hold fast and believe You. We covet your prayers for our family and our faith as we eagerly await the unfolding of what God has called into being. Thank you, friends

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You know how it is when you are on the internet working on one thing and then you click on this link that leads to that link that leads you somewhere you probably should not be. Well I started to read something that simultaneously made my blood boil on my own behalf and crushed my heart for my son… and then I stopped reading; clicked it all off; closed the laptop.

I sat for awhile, creating in my mind thinly veiled tweet after thinly veiled tweet. How to say it without actually saying it in 140 characters or less.

Then somewhere in the midst of the angst I only feel when I disobey God’s command to keep my eyes on Him alone, the Spirit conquered over the whining and fist-raising nature of my flesh. I felt my weak inward groans gathering real strength from the Presence of my Salvation. Jesus, always save me from my desire to be my own defender!

If you’ve ever had to really crucify your flesh and die a deeper death than at times feels possible, then you know it requires more than spiritual awareness and wishful thinking. The only thing that works for me to stay free once Truth has made me free, is to entirely refocus my heart. If Jesus enables me to conquer the longing of my flesh and then I don’t quickly get myself in worship and thinking about all He is and all He has done, I will easily be taken back over.

David has been the last in our family to get the flu so he nibbled on dinner and then headed to bed early, stocking cap on so he can “cook out the germs”. Cohen and I cuddled the evening away. He’s been very emotional today. We sat across the kitchen table this evening having the kind of grown up discussion no parent should ever have to navigate with their 3 year old. His little chin never really stopped quivering and he needed a fairly permanent spot on my diminishing lap for the remainder of the evening. Now he’s fast asleep on the couch adjacent to me, covered with his favorite Superman sheet. (We’re sleeping downstairs, containing the nasty flu bug to the second floor-we don’t want to do more than one round of it!)

All of that to say, I am now awake and alone with my thoughts. Wouldn’t the Enemy just love to tempt me! Sometimes I more tangibly experience the war Paul described in Galatians 5:17 when he wrote, “the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another”. This raw truth is foundational evidence for Paul’s plea one verse before, “But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).”

Oh how the Enemy would love for me strangle me with angry thoughts and drag me back to the kind of brooding that feasts on itself and is never satiated! How he would love plant words in my mind and get me to feel the defeat that is rightly only his! And if he couldn’t coerce me into outright rebellion, he’d settle for my unplugging and watching something mind numbing on Netflix…

So instead of giving him an inch to do his work of killing/stealing/destroying, I am going to rehearse the innate Goodness of the Lord and how His faithfulness has undergirded my life and made it overflow with His abundance.

Tonight I got to hold my precious son on my lap while he fell asleep (after claiming he’d forgotten how to 🙂 ) I rubbed his back and watched his almond shaped eyes slowly close, the smile on his face fade into ease of sleep, and his breathing become deep and even. The Lord continues to remind me of the promises He has undeniably spoken about Cohen’s providential life. He will be like a tree planted by streams of waterHe will be whole and solid and unwavering. Though many arrows have been aimed in his direction, I can see how the Lord is already making good on His promise to reroute any weapon intended for my his life. On paper, the account and happenings of his life shouldn’t add up to a well adjusted little boy, but it does. On paper, the account and happenings of his life shouldn’t add up to a little boy who effortlessly taps into the things of God, but he does.

Superbowl Sunday this year, Cohen and I were driving to our home from my parents’ at half time. “Mom, I wish God was real,” Cohen said with a sigh.

“Honey, He IS real,” I assured him, knowing that line between real and not real is blurry for children who want to believe in Santa and Spiderman.

“Then, why can’t He come out of the clouds so I can see Him?” he asked bluntly. We talked about how God is everywhere with us and not just in the clouds and how we can feel Him and talk to Him and hear Him even though we can’t see Him with our eyes or touch Him with our hands. I wasn’t sure if Co would be able to follow the conversation, but as usual, his childlike understanding of God humbled me.

“When I talk to God, why can’t I hear Him, Mom? How do I talk to Him and hear Him?” I did my best to explain how God can speak to our hearts and how we can know its Him.

“Mom, I want to talk to God in my heart. How does He get in there?” asked my wide-eyed preschooler. So we talked about that and I refocused the rear view mirror to look at him. He understood. I pulled over and prayed with Cohen as he told Jesus he wanted to talk to Him forever and that He could come in.

It was an indescribable moment. While I choked back tears, Cohen called Grandma and David to tell them about how Jesus was living in his heart. He got it.

Faithfulness, friends… that’s God working ALL things together for Good.

Last year at this time, I was one day past the final divorce decree. I was living with my parents, still unemployed after being laid off 5 months before, wondering how in the world I would get my house livable for Cohen and I. The Lord asked me to give Him a season of my time. I had no idea all that He was working out for me! Sometimes I feel like Job- getting back multiple times more what had been lost…

Tonight I am sitting in that very livable house that is getting an addition this spring and a porch and privacy fence for our comfort. In this space, I have everything I need and many things I have just wanted. I have a job that allows me to fulfill a lifetime longing to work with young moms. I am close to paying off all of the debt the divorce left me with. My refrigerator is full. We have two working cars parked in the driveway. When bills come, I open them without anxiety because I know I can pay them. The Lord has by His unmatched power delivered me from depression, anxiety and bitterness. In my womb, fluttering and flipping and kicking all day is my second son, who is big and healthy and strong. I once thought I might never have the pleasure of bringing another child into the world or giving Cohen a sibling, but not even a year later, that is happening.

Upstairs asleep is my husband, the kind of man I wish every woman could share their life with. David exemplifies to me in big and in small ways, what God meant when He drew the parallel of a bride and Bridegroom to help us understand His love. Every day I encounter David’s unbending kindness and his joyful pursuit of me and I learn. I learn more of who Jesus is and how He feels about me and just how much I really do love Him because He first loved me. I have now the marriage I could have only dreamt about. I have a husband who, without fanfare, loves Jesus and lives righteously.

Abundance. Overflow. Fullness.

And best of all? I hear the Lord speaking to and influencing my person in much the same simple way I explained it to Co in the car that day. He whispers and stills any fear of what will be. He reminds me of what He’s already said. He breaks my heart with worship while I am in the car or folding laundry. His correction reminds me that I am His. Like a daily baptism, He helps me to identify my own deaths to His sacrifice and the resurrection of my spirit man with His overcoming. He reminds me that to obey is sweeter than to sacrifice. He renews, revives, restores… He continues to breath new life into what was.

Jesus, You are Good and Your love endures FOREVER.

Tonight, may my thoughts meditations on You be unshakable…immovable…undistractable…

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Sometimes we don’t need any further proof than our dreams to know that our mind is trying to work something out. Some weeks ago now, I woke with a headache and realized my pillow was wet and that I was crying. Trying not to wake my sleeping family, I hurried to the bathroom, turned on the light and the fan, and sat down on the foot stool Cohen uses to brush his teeth. As the backdrop and the characters and the story line washed in waves back over my awareness, the tears continued to stream down my face.

I couldn’t stop.

I heaved and my shoulders shook and I felt a sense of loss so deeply it felt like it was pouring out of bottomless well in my soul.

Twenty or thirty minutes later I turned the light and the fan off and shuffled my way back to bed in the dark. Quietly crawling under the covers, my sweet husband pulled me to himself and a few minutes later whispered, “Are you crying? Are you okay?” It was only then that I realized I was doing the same thing I have seen Cohen do more than a time or two… the tears were gone, but I was breathing the rhythm of the sob and still sniffling and choking. I told David I had a sad dream so he held me close and I cried for awhile longer until my breathing evened out and I fell back to sleep.

Never one to shy away from something real, over breakfast David enquired about the dream. I told him it was silly. That he wouldn’t understand how it was even a sad dream. That I didn’t want to talk about it. He gave me that look that said he’d ask again and he has… a few times.

The thunderstorm this morning woke me on and off between midnight and the wee hours of the morning . At three I realized tornado sirens were whining and shouting just above the sound of the wind whipping the world outside our bedroom window. I convinced David we should all go downstairs as hale pelted the windows. He fell immediately back to sleep on one couch, while I checked the weather online. As luck would have it, the storm was downgraded shortly after our move so then we all shuffled back upstairs and into bed. Again, as if on cue, he was immediately back to his gentle snoring and I was lying awake on our bed, listening to the storm and feeling the baby do somersaults in my middle. And I was thinking. Thinking about that dream and about a trending topic on twitter from a week ago that I had plummeted my emotions back to that somehow not quite purged well.

I had seen the topic repeated over and over for about a day. Friends I actually know and well-known people I don’t alike we tweeting and retweeting a link. I watched it on and off, wondering if I should click or not. Eventually I took a deep breath, moved my arrow to the shortened group of letters that would take me to a website I wasn’t sure I was ready to see…. and I clicked. I told myself that I was a big girl and I could handle it. [That’s my go-to mantra when emotional panic tries to take my avoidance land]

The professionally done website had the colors and feel I would have anticipated. Beautiful art was well placed and caught my eye (adda boy, marketing). I read a little about the project everyone was raving over and couldn’t help my smile to myself. It was a good idea. I even felt myself hoping for it and wanting to love it.

I had almost decided to retweet it myself, when at the bottom of the page a photo caught my eye. A head shot. Eyes, hair, smile, glasses. I felt like the wind had been sucked out of my sail; that all the air had been knocked out of my lungs. Warm tears sprung from the corners of my eyes.

I shut the computer.

During the beginning of the separation we did counseling with a pastor and friend that I have long respected and loved. I would drive to Michigan four hours each way every other week or so for these gut wrenching, long into the night, bare your soul kind of sessions. At the time I felt like it was the right thing to do and even now I don’t regret the effort. I even think it could’ve really helped under different circumstances. That is to say, it certainly wasn’t for lack of insight or wisdom or guidance on the pastor’s part. After one of those sessions, while discussing my at times harsh reactions, he said something that stuck with me:

“Kate, you’re like a dog who has been drug behind a truck for miles and has old bruises and open wounds and cuts and is generally rubbed raw. It is understandable, but sometimes then when someone reaches out with no intent to harm, it still hurts. And like a torn up animal, you’re bound to bite back.” [a lot of paraphrasing- he was more eloquent than I]

The imagery wasn’t flowery, but he was right.

And while I am happy to report the open wounds have healed and the gaping holes have been sewn back together and there is notably less flinching and biting on my part. But the old bruises? Well you know how a bruise can be… even when the colors have faded from a deep purple to a barely noticeable yellow, it often still hurts for awhile when directly touched.

There was a gathering- a camp meeting, a church service, retreat or something of the like. Someone who taught me to love the Bible when I was still a young adult was to be speaking. This person took me aside and gave me some Scriptures and asked if I would mind reading them during the service. I eagerly turned to the passage and began reading and rehearsing it, not wanting to disappoint the speaker. Even more so, I wanted to impress this person who for so long has been a hero of mine. The passage was hard- one of those with a million tongue-tying names and places. I stepped outside the main entrance doors to try to pronounce them to see what sounded right. Singing began inside but by the time I slipped in, preaching had begun. I tip-toed to the outer edge of an aisle near the front and stood, waiting to read. The speaker looked at me… a first like there was annoyance at my being late and possibly a distraction… and then when it registered to the person that I was waiting for something, a strange look came over his face. A look that said he didn’t know what I was waiting for… a look of questioning. He had forgotten. Even in the dream, I could feel my face flush with color and shame. He had forgotten. I wasn’t needed. It occurred to me that the passage had already been read, either by the speaker or someone he had randomly and quickly chosen from the audience, totally unaware that I had taken his asking as a privilege. He was unaware that I had been practicing in the hallway, glad to be a part of what was happening. What I had taken as special and important, was really a task for anyone. While I had felt I had an intricate role, it was one effortlessly filled by anyone. Though I had felt weaved in, I was really forgotten.

In the dream, once all eyes had drifted questioning off of me and back onto the stage and the speaker, I quickly and quietly and unnoticed made my way back into the hallway just in time to explode into the very same heaving sobs I awoke with.

Cohen now says “that hurt my heart” when he’s unhappy with something. Most of the time what hurts his heart is that I won’t let him eat snacks for breakfast or stay up past his bedtime, but other times he hits the nail right on the head. It might be a childish expression- a cliche one even- but sometimes there’s just no better way to say it.

Wasn’t there a book called “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”? And then some other book that followed with a title something like “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People”? or something like that? I think a better title yet might be “When Good People Hurt Good People” or how about just “When People Hurt People”. That would probably cover it.

One of the deepest deaths I have had to die to survive the separation and the divorce was to give up the notion of explaining myself or vindicating myself or talking it out with everyone… not just the people I loved and wanted to understand, but the people I have never met who sent emails or commented in the most well-meaning way about what they could never know.

I still remember one life-changing spring day in 2009 right before I filed the paperwork. I got a call that I was going to get a call from someone important in our life. I was prepped to know that this important person wanted to know what was really going on. Seeing as I had only ever had one or two conversations of pleasantries with this person, I was shook at my core.

Thank God I had enough sense in the moment to call Pastor. I talked a mile a minute explaining this implication and that detail and how it all intertwined our life and friends and business. I am sure I barely came up for air. Pastor listened and when he could get a word in edgewise, he wisely said “Don’t say anything.”

I must’ve misheard.

“Don’t say anything.”

What? I had been for an hour rehearsing how I would explain the last four years of my life and how things had come to be as they were and where things were at right then and don’t forget- what I thought should happen- you know, just in case that important someone wanted my extra two cents.

Pastor talked about David and Saul and how David wouldn’t cut off Saul’s head even when he had the chance and even when no one else understood why he wouldn’t and even when he was justified and even when David had been right and Saul had been wrong. My heart ached in a way I don’t think it ever had before as the Lord pulled back my justifications and showed me the real thoughts and intentions of my heart…

I had wanted to vindicate myself. I had wanted to be right. I wanted this important person to know what had been done and what I had tried. I wanted him to know how I had been treated. I wanted him to take up my case, to be angry for and with me…
…. and there was a part of me that hoped he wouldn’t keep it a secret.

The ugliness of it all was startling to me. And that ache I had never before known? Now I know its the feeling of the death of my rights and my need to protect myself. And you know what? It hurts.

I was reminded of that day and the very short conversation with the very important person when I learned what it meant to obey God against my strong urges and what it means to entrust myself [my heart, my hurts, my reputation] to One who is ABLE to repay righteously on my behalf and to make me the head and not the tail. Sunday at church Pastor was preaching about Peter’s attempt to walk on the water to Jesus and how Jesus caught him and how in the book of Jude the writer amplifies that reality for us all by saying,

” Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]–“

… and somewhere in the message the Spirit had Pastor rabbit trail into offense and self-protection and that nasty old urge in humanity to avenge ourselves. The Lord just cannot let us avenge ourselves- He can’t! Because in our fallen state we cannot vindicate ourselves without dressing ourselves in the very same wickedness we had started out to expose. We cannot avenge wrongs to our children without first convincing ourselves that we’re on the same level as God- able to see it all, able to judge and the jury, able to maintain holiness and yet correct in love. We just can’t. Pastor was talking about teachers and kids and grades, but those of us whose children have been wounded and maimed, it goes to a whole different level… and here comes that now-familiar ache.

As he continued to speak, my thoughts drifted. The movies of my life played back. And I had to ask myself, do I really trust God to repay righteously? Not just for me, but for those I love? Do I trust Him to make the calls that would be hard for me and rest in His all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerfulness? Or am I sometimes tempted to be like Jonah, okay with God as long as He judges as I would?

It is not a popular passage to preach from a pulpit, but it was alluded to and it cut, dividing up soul and spirit just as Word should. Paul, speaking to the church at Corinth in his first letter, puts them in their place for taking each other to court. He points out in the first six and half verses how wrong this is for a brother or sister to do to one another- not to mention how it looks to the unbelieving outside of the Church! But then in the latter half of verse seven, he comes around the corner for the KO [Knock Out, for those of you who don’t have family members into kickboxing]…

“Why not rather let yourselves suffer wrong and be deprived of what is your due? Why not rather be cheated (defrauded and robbed)?”

Why not? Why not instead of biting and fighting and being offended and sowing seeds of bitterness, why not? Why not just allow yourself to suffer a little? to be cheated? or misunderstood? or talked about? or left out? or lied on? Why prefer our own rights over the kingdom?

Feel that dying yet, friends? After making the case that preferring one’s self over true unadulterated righteousness is itself wrong doing and unrighteousness and a defrauding another Paul goes on to boldly say,

“Do you not know that the unrighteous and the wrongdoerst will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived (misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality, Nor cheats (swindlers and thieves), nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God.

And such some of you were [once].”

He adds the one who lives a lifestyle self preservation and self preference to a long list of persons Christians are always quick to remember aren’t making the cut.

And such were some of us, right? But now (read all of chapter 6 -so good) we have been washed and consecrated and set apart for something and Someone better.

So… people hurt people. And really good, God loving and God serving people sometimes hurt other good, God loving and God serving people. And sometimes good people who love God make bad decisions for the wrong reasons. I know I sure have and I am betting if we had a blind survey, so have most of you.

A wise friend of mine once told me about how her child had been treated unfairly by someone and how her natural knee-jerk reaction was to want to similarly hurt and alienate the other adult’s child. Ugly, right? Thankfully this woman loves God and is more prone to fall on her face than to satisfy the desire of her flesh. You know what God told her to do? He told her to bless the other child. And not in a small way. She obeyed and reported to me that her heart had never been freer. I tucked that truth into my back pocket, knowing I would need it.

As I have been writing (you know this is my therapy, right? 🙂 you are all cheaper than counseling) and working out my soul’s salvation on this little corner of the world wide web, the sun has been slowly rising on the morning. What was dark and stormy and loud and commanding has now lulled itself into stillness, bathing everything in that cool, blue morning light.

The bruises are still there, yellowed with time and occasionally screaming with the searing pain of being touched too directly… but time is a gift of clarity and healing. If it is true that only those you love can really wound you, then I’d be a liar not to admit the love and fondness that exists somewhere near the foundation of the awkwardness and brokenness that can come from being in storm with other people, is still very present.

David and I saw the movie “The Grace Card” last evening with friends from church. At the crux of the story is this old worn piece of paper tucked into a Bible that said: “I will pray for you every day. I will forgive you and ask you to forgive me. I will love you and be your friend always.” It was a token of affection and a mending heart written to a slave owner from a young slave he had set free.

The Lord is reminding me this morning that I would rather suffer a little hurt, be bruised, misunderstood and even in some cases defrauded than to try any brother or sister in the court of public opinion or in the judge and jury of my own mixed motives. Good people sometimes hurt good people. Sometimes it is a wrong done and sometimes it is lack of information and others is just the stinging loss of closeness when a hard, depleting thing has concluded into an uncomfortable wedge between parties. It doesn’t really matter in the scheme of our little vapors of life unless we make it a hill for our trust in God to die on.

This morning the hurt is dull, but present. Smoldering underneath the decay of what dying has come and is coming, I sense new life about to spring up. I think we call that hope. So, this morning I am freeing my heart again of something that has been weighing it down in recent weeks. I choose the kingdom over being right. I choose love over bitterness. I choose God’s refining of me over my nitpicking and whining about others. I choose to forgive, even if no one asks for it. And I choose to bless and not curse.

And you know what? I am going not going to just wish that project well, I am going to sow some of myself and what I have into it because I love that person with the eyes and smile and the hair and the glasses and he is my brother.

Friends- above all else, guard your heart! for it is the well spring of life! What will you choose to let go of today?

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One Sound

My name was called and I fell into line quickly, purposefully. Many were in front of me, I could feel it powerfully through all of my senses, though I could only see two or three with my eyes. The pace was ambitious and required all of my attention just to stay in step. We were making short order of long, dimly lit corridors. There were no sounds beyond the sound of our steps, a soft marching in perfect unison.

A distraction. I don’t even know what it was, but I looked to my left for one short moment and when my eyes fell forward again I could see no one.

Panic. I raced further down the hallway, just sure in a few strides I would catch sight of the one I had been following, but… no one. The corridor was so empty it was impossible to think anyone had been there at all.

Then I saw them: three doors. I opened one and started down it, everywhere I looked there were doors. I ran back and tried another… doors and doors and doors far as the eye could see. Behind the last door lie the same fate. I pushed back the tears, determined to find them. I had to find them. I started at the three doors, chose the one on the left and continued choosing doors until I was faced with the truth that I had become a rat in a maze and I had no idea where to go next.

Crumpled to the floor, I began to lament. After a time of crying about being alone and lost and out of rank, my words began to be about the Lord. About His goodness and my wretchedness. About His Knowledge and my lack. About His Strength and my weakness.

I heard a Voice say, “Now you sound like the Sea”

With my face to the floor, I saw nothing but darkness. I saw nothing of how it happened. But within an instant of my confession, my surroundings were transformed. I looked up to find myself within a large glass crystal. Each side of the many sides were outlined in gold, and I could see through it.

For just a moment I could see that the crystal was suspended just above a sheer flat face of rock so high up I could not see what was below- it was just too far. I no more than looked down and the crystal began to plummet downward almost as if control had been lost over whatever pulley system had been keeping it suspended. Wildly, the crystal crashed into what turned out to be the ocean. Waves nearly as tall as the crystal had once been, it seemed, washed over the crystal, foaming and alive. They crashed into the rock, reverberating and causing the crystal to move to their rhythm. From inside I could see the deepest blue of the ocean and the mile of white that topped and moved it all. It was breath taking I could not find fear in my heart- only awe. The sound was indescribable and deafening, like I had found myself in the belly of the waters, suddenly aware of all that goes on beneath the surface.

The reflection of a roaring lion. It made me jump. It was inside the crystal, it had to be, but where was it? I looked around and saw nothing. But in front of me, the reflection paced back and forth, roaring. Why could I not hear the roar? Then I realized the roaring sound was the same sound as the rushing waters of the ocean, they were one in the same, indistinguishable from one another.

A moment later my mouth fell open, almost without my consent, though I would have glad given it. Line after line of psalms I have known fell out of my mouth effortlessly. I am not sure how I even knew that’s what I was saying because the sound of my voice was the synonymous with the ocean and the roaring of the lion. I could sense the words somehow, though with my ears I could only hear One Sound.

Something in me knew implicitly that I had smelled the ocean before, that that’s where I had been heading, though I had not known it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I woke up at 4:45, breathless, this dream fresh in my mind. I kept thinking that I wanted to remember it, that I felt I should get up and write it down.

But I fell back asleep… and then I dreamed that I saw my sweet friend Brittany Nye and I began to tell her the dream, as if rehearsing it over and over so as not to forget. At the end of telling her, we were both in tears and for a moment I could see myself as if I were a bird flying feet above my own head. I was radiant. Not like, the Beast in Beauty in the Beast with sunshine shooting out fingers and toes, but almost like my the skin of my face looked radioactive, it was glowing so intensely. I was telling Britt, “I am not the same. I am not the same.”

Those words rang in my head as I woke up and saw the clock blinking 5:55.

I felt compelled. I jumped out of bed, came downstairs and began typing.

In the history of blogging, I am quite sure I have written a blog like this or felt so certain that I had to write something RIGHT NOW. I often remember my dreams, but I have never had a dream like that….so I will resist the urge to feel silly about sharing a dream in blog land.

Happy Sunday morning, my friends. May the Spirit of God visit you powerfully today!

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I am going to blame the Holidays on my recent like of blogging, but truth be told Busyness and Tiredness and The Full Moon should also somehow share a bit of the blame. I will say this is my first morning in weeks of actually being able to pry my tired carcass out of bed when the alarm has gone off. So I am up like a quiet little church mouse in my sleepy house, trying to figure out what I do when I have two hours to myself in the morning and there is no laundry or dishes to catch up on (thanks to my hubby!)…. oh, that’s right! I blog!

Last Saturday we headed to Wauseon to visit David’s parents. It was Paul’s birthday so the trip was a mixture of Hey It’s Your Birthday! and Sorry We Didn’t See You on Thanksgiving and Go Bucks! Beat Michigan! David’s youngest brother, Tim, spent the night Friday so he could ride with us. He and David stayed up for awhile having man talk and I put Cohen to bed and took myself to bed too (told you I am blaming Tiredness 🙂 ) We got up early and after a short coffee visit with my friend Miss Kate, we loaded up the car and got on the road. Somewhere between Bellefontaine and Findlay, Cohen’s story-telling (which is HYSTERICAL- video coming) died down to mumbling and then his little head hung and his eyes closed and the mini-man snoring began. David and Tim were in the front seats, solving all the worlds issues via business planning and I dug out a book from my canvas messenger bag.

I am a sucker for memoirs, right? I love a well told story, but how much better if it is a true story? Remember, I am the one who said I wish instead of commentaries, the Church had a collection of stories of how people struggled and overcame… people and the twists and turns of their lives intrigue me. So I’ve had this memoir sitting on my shelf for awhile now. With the title “Leaving Church” I was expecting to read about a disenchanted someone who walked away from faith. I have always been curious about what causes a person to come to church or leave it… you know- what goes into that decision for a lot of folks? So imagine my surprise when the first chapter let me know that the book was really going to the memories and stories and thoughts of a female priest in the Episcopalian church. I am nearly done now, some four days later, and I am still not sure how she’s “leaving church” but none the less, I am enjoying the ride.

About a year after I first started this blog in 2005, I got an email from a girl whose parents/youth leader didn’t want her to read my blog anymore because they felt I recommended books that were too far out on the fringes of Christianity. At the time, they used a certain term to describe what “fringes” specifically they meant, but rather than get into that now, let’s just say we don’t all agree on what are the outlying areas. I said it then and I still believe now that it is important to read lots of things- not only the things you already know you agree with. By reading something that challenges your own perceptions or ideas, you benefit by being stretched, being made to think, being brought to a place to ask God to help you understand, and maybe occasionally finding out you weren’t as right as you thought. Christians don’t have to be so threatened by unfamiliarity- the Truth is easily found by a pure-hearted Seeker.

So, now I am stepping off my soapbox and saying that while I don’t agree with all of the writer’s perceptions, the book is a worthwhile read… provocative, compassionate and beautifully crafted.

David always has a black pen stuck in his shirt somewhere- it is a certain kind of pen, the ink writes smoothly and smears easily if you don’t give it a minute to dry. He’d know the exact name; of course I don’t. I leaned up from the backseat, “Babe, can you hand me your pen?” He fished around inside his sweatshirt for a minute, producing the very professional looking pen. His eyebrows raised in the rearview mirror, but I could see the smile gaining momentum across his face from where I sat. “Quit it,” I teased, knowing he was going to tease me about not running off with his pen. [to date, I have misplaced or taken possession of at least 4 of his special pens 🙂 ]

With four smooth, deeply saturated black lines I made a box around a paragraph early on in the book. For good measure, I made each point of the box a star. I wasn’t sure how much more I would be highlighting and I didn’t want to forget to revisit the passage.

The writer had been in ministry for some time, but had not yet become a full fledged priest in the church. Having served as a deacon and filled other roles, she had not been assigned any telling attire such that she could serve in the church and then go about the rest of her week without officially been recognized as “clergy”. So, when she did get ordained as a priest some years later, the thought of wearing the infamous collar and even the sight of it, was unnerving to her.

“…When I was a little girl riding in the backseat of my family station wagon to visit my relatives in south Georgia, I remember looking out the window to see men in black-and-white pajamas working in the fields. “Why are those men dressed like that?” I asked my mother. Turning around in her seat, she explained that they were state prisoners, who were dressed like that because the uniform made them easier to see. If they tried to escape, she said, then the guards could find them quicker, and if they showed up at a farmhouse looking for good, then the people who lived there would know to call the police. “See how they stand out?”

…Looking in the bathroom mirror twenty-five years later, I could see how I was going to stand out too. For good or ill, I two would have a hard time escaping. As my beloved priest had told me in seminary, being ordained is not about serving God perfectly but about serving God visibly, allowing other people to learn whatever they can from watching you rise and fall. “You probably won’t be much worse than other people,” he said, “and you certainly won’t be any better, but you will have to let people look at you. You will have to let them see you as you are.”

Although certainly all leaders should be a good example of how to follow Jesus, I like the thought that there is something sacred about visibly following Jesus even when it is not perfect. In a much smaller way, I guess that is what I hope for this tiny space in the world wide web where I record recipes, mommy stories, fears, and victories. I hope that when you take a “look” into my very good, but often ho-hum life you “see” me as I am… my strengths and my failings alike. I hope you “see” what it looks like for me to follow Jesus, imperfectly but honestly. And I hope that for you too- that in the space of your life, you are a visible, living picture of what is means to be a little Christ.

Well Cohen is up and wanting breakfast, but before I sign off, I wanted to remind you THE GREAT ORNAMENT EXCHANGE closes DECEMBER 3rd!

Picture post from Thanksgiving coming- how was your Thanksgiving?!?!

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Bedtime prayers at our house sound something like this:

“Thank you God for Mommy and Daddy and Wam-maw and Wam-paw and.. [fill in all other family members names]…” Then his tightly shut eyes barely open as he scans the room, “…and for suns [his ceiling light is a sun] and blankets and water [in his Thomas the Train sippy cup] and Thomas! and ears and hair and toes and jammies and motorcycles [he has one painted on his wall]…

–[short break from praying] “Hey, Mom! Can we have a motorcycle? a real one? please?” [he and David fist bump and then say “oh man” when I tell them for the millionth time ‘no’ because motorcycles are too unsafe]–

“….and for boats and trains and elephants [he has a stuffed one in his room] and pennies and books…”

This goes on until it starts to get uber silly and he is no longer praying and is just putting off closing his eyes. “That’s it, Cohen. Wrap it up.”

“oookkkkaaaayyy. Thank you God. The End” [we should teach him to say “amen” but its just too cute to correct]

Come to think of it, dinner prayers aren’t that different except he thanks God for everything in the kitchen and dining room at his eye level instead of the items in his bedroom. There have been points when I wondered if it was a little “too silly”— whatever that is, right? But most of the time I am glad to have a little one who thanks God for everything that comes into his mind (or crosses his line of sight). Heck, I’d even like to take credit as if I were the one modeling such a thankful-for-everything response, but to tell the truth there’s more convicting going on then being patted on the back.

I was sitting at work today and my phone buzzed from atop the room divider, which is the only place I get service. It was a text from a number I didn’t recognize asking if I could talk. I wrote back and asked who it was. A second later the phone buzzed again and there was a name, first and last.

I drew a blank. Immediately feeling guilty for not being able to place the name of someone who I knew well enough to have my cell number, I started wracking my brain… work? no, not a client or even past client… church? no… family? certainly not… david’s family? no? no… college friend now married? don’t think so.. facebook friend? I logged on. No, not a facebook friend.

I drove around and did my appointments in the second half of the day and then finally had to admit I had no idea who this woman was and send an apology laden text. When I didn’t hear back in 30 minutes, I was just sure I had really blown it. Some friend of mine is reeling and feeling stupid because I am apparently having an awful brain fart, I thought, feeling sick to my stomach.

My phone buzzed (naturally) when I couldn’t answer it. I was talking to a young mom about her son’s frustration biting and what she could do (you know, besides scream and yell and hit him). The visit came to a close and I went to my car and opened my phone.

“This is ______. Your mom gave me your number. Sorry. Hope its ok. Do I have the right person?”

Instantly it all came together. Mom works in another county as a consultant on difficult cases. She told me about this young mother dealing with domestic violence. The facts came pouring back to me… 4 kids, a stalking ex, mom’s a new(er) Christian, financial struggles, custody issues… Mom had asked me at least a month ago if it was okay to give her my number so we could talk. I had agreed but she never called. And she had a new number so the one I had saved under “_____ {mom’s friend}” didn’t help. I texted back and we made plans to after Cohen had gone to bed.

I listened as she shared her situation, some of which Mom had already told me. She told me about her kids and her ex and her fear. My heart was in my throat. I did my best to share my life and things I have learned… a lot of which are things I wished I had learned sooner or submitted to more quickly.

All facts aside, the bulk of what she had to say was that she’s terrified about mostly things she cannot control and that she’s wondered about God in the process. If she’s praying for this or that (which admittedly seemed like reasonable requests, humanly speaking), then why isn’t God listening? I mean, its one thing to be frustrated about not getting a raise or that cute boy to notice you and whole OTHER thing to be worried for your safety and the well-being of your children. And at the heart of the matter, the real question is: can she really trust Him? to hear? to listen? to act? She’s not sleeping or eating or enjoying anything. Fear and anxiety are like that. I can say that because I have known all too well how the Enemy works as hard as he can to steal, kill, destroy…

I warned her to be careful how she thinks and even how she prays. If you hear yourself praying all the time about all the not-good that is taking place, then inside of you that part that faith that grows in response to hearing will gain strength in the fears and disappointments and not in the Goodness that is God. This does not make us ostriches burying our heads in the sand, pretending nothing not-good has happened.. nope. But instead we must acknowledge the facts and then bypass them to get to the Truth. The facts are the facts, but Truth is a person... not an angry, vindictive God waiting to punish us for our failings but a passionate, rescuing, loving God. So we bypass the circumstances and begin to (out loud) exult God for being Who He is… and not only will He inhabit those praises and become to us what He has always been***, but our faith will gain strength in Him instead of our fear.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? And even easy if you’re not in a press of some kind, coming up for air and trying to stay afloat. It is harder when the facts seem so big and daunting and the world feels like it is caving in.

I knew she didn’t want to say it, so I said it for her. “Sometimes it is hard to know how to pray something good about God, isn’t it? Sometimes it is hard to know what to be thankful for..” Her sigh on the other end of the line told me she intimately knew what I meant.

I thought about Co’s bedtime prayers and started rattling off things she could be thankful for, right down to breath in her lungs and a cell phone to make phone calls and the fact that her children are safe tonight and that for a year they’ve not lived with an abusive person. It wasn’t long before she was chiming in… thanking God for the protection they’ve had so far. And guess what? While she was thanking Him for protecting them for the last year, it occurred to her that He really has protected them and that there is already a precedent set to ask for Him to continue … bingo!

So tonight, David and I are lying in bed and my heart is spilling over. Thank you God for the precious little boy peacefully asleep in the next room and a husband who arrived home safe in the rain and a warm house and for being loved and for friends and photographs that make me smile and even thank you for everything You have brought me through thus far that allows me to have late night conversations with women so I can tell them what You are like when the bottom drops out (and yes, english majors, I know that’s a serious run-on sentence, but God doesn’t care about grammar *grin*)

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

*** It occurred to me while typing this that God really does become to us what He’s always been… even thinking about Jesus. In the letter to the Colossian church, Paul writes that Jesus was “exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]; “. Jesus put on the clothing of humanity and came to earth so that we could experience God in a tangible way. It wasn’t that God wasn’t already all of the things that Jesus demonstrated- ! He just knew we needed to experience it for ourselves. So it is safe to say that God is in the business of showing Himself to be all that He already is… for our sakes. Good news, isn’t it?

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I told you a few days ago about David’s comment that we are all “children of God” and my insistence that we’re not all actually children. I didn’t develop the idea much past telling you what we’d each said at the kitchen table during a discussion about sex offenders in our neighborhood.

My longtime blog friend, Beth, was good to point that out.
[side note: have you all noticed how MANY friends I have named Beth? or Bethany? whew.. it must get confusing for you readers. even my 3 yr old calls every Beth by first and last name to keep them straight.]

So, is there a difference between being a creation of God and a child of God? or is it all one in the same?
In my early-morning-still-waking-up-mind I am thinking the world wide web a classroom and imagine asking you all to raise your hand to identify with either:
yes, there is a difference
or no, there is not.

It would be fun- we could have some old school Bible study/question and answer/prove your case with the Word stuff. 🙂

Are we all Creations of God? [let’s start here]

God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. [Gen 1:26-27]

Can I just pause for a second to tell you all how much I love having my books close and accessible again?!?!? I pulled out my gigantic word study tool and found that the word for image in this verse is “tselem” meaning a phantom, a replica, and representative figure and the word for likeness is “demuth” which can be translated as resemblance, similitude; model, pattern or shape.

From round one of God and man, it is firmly established that mankind has been formed and patterned after a triune God, meant to be His representative figure on the earth.

Is then all of mankind also children of God?

That is the next logical question, right? If we’re all modeled after God, then doesn’t that automatically make us His children?

Do any of you remember doing Venn Diagrams in math class? I kind of feel like teasing this out is like similar to one.. if all children of God are also creations of God then are all creations of God then also children of God?

Who does the Bible say a child of God is?

the peacemakers
those who have received Him & believed on His Name
those who are led by the Spirit of God
those who are in Christ Jesus by way of faith
those who are like Christ
those who do right and who love their brother and sister
those who love God and carry out His commands

It is not an exhaustive list, but lens is starting to get focused, I hope.

While doing some research this morning, something interesting occurred to me. And maybe its plain to everyone else and I am just being slow on the uptake (that happens). But I couldn’t help but find it interesting that the the Bible seems to imply that it might not be readily obvious who is and who is not a child of God. Paul says it like this in Romans 8:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us! For [even the whole] creation (all nature) waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God’s sons to be made known [waits for the revealing, the disclosing of their sonship]

John doesn’t mince any words in helping believers draw distinctions and understand who has been born of God and who has been born of the enemy: (but he still felt the need to help us understand, which says the issue might’ve needed some clarification)

“By this it is made clear who take their nature from God and are His children and who take their nature from the devil and are his children: no one who does not practice righteousness [who does not conform to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action] is of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother (his fellow believer in Christ).”

John also is careful to exhort the believer and remind them how they know they are children of God…

“SEE WHAT [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are!”

So sonship isn’t always obvious and readily apparent, even to those who know Christ. Creation is groaning and waiting for the day when all is made plain. Those who have been born of God and whose lives have been drawn from His will be revealed to be like Him and the glory He has conferred in us will be seen. And those who have been born of the devil will be shown for who they really are. And that’s good news all around, isn’t it? It is reassuring to know we’re not the only ones who need reminded, “isn’t God’s love outlandish?!?! That He would call us His Children???? staggering.. but that IS who we are!”? Isn’t it a relief to have a way to measure what makes a child a child of God? I love how blunt John is… children of God love each other and obey, those who don’t love each other and don’t obey God are not His. Period.

This is also relief for those who have been hurt by a deceptive person or someone with ill motives. We always want others to see it; to “get” it, don’t we? We want to be justified in the eyes of men. We want it to be like an episode of Scooby Doo and we want to be the ones pulling off the mask and saying, “ah ha! I knew it was the hotel owner all along!”

The good news is this: the day is soon coming when the veil will be pulled back and all things and people and motivations will be viewed for what they are.
The good-news-that-might-seem-like-bad-news is this: You don’t get to be the revealer. [That only seems like bad news until you consider that the Revealer is going to be Jesus and it is His sheer Presence that is going to burn away all the pretenses.]

Now, let me say this one important thing before we move on…judge nothing before its time and do not judge another man’s servant. There is a place- and even a responsibility of a believer to judge and test statements, to settle disputes, and to deal with their own body of believers. Oh and did you know we will judge angels? Its in the Bible [another post for another day] So let’s not get weighed down by the world’s idea of what it means to be tolerant and politically correct and not step on anyone’s toes, ok?….

….BUT let’s keep at the forefront of our mind that with the same measure we evaluate others, we will be evaluated. And let’s not forget that the primary reason John spells out who are and who are not the children of God is so that we can take a fine toothed comb to our own lives and work out our own salvation with fear and trembling… [I was going to link to that verse in Philippians, but I love how the Amplified version states it:]

“…work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ).”

So its good to know that every person who has ever lived or will live was shaped in the likeness of God; made to be an image bearer and a clue here on the earth about who God is… and its sad, but important to know that just being born with that purpose does not mean you are a child of God. Sure, it sounds nice… at least on the surface. The world wants the category to be expanded to include everyone, but then when you start considering what what born of God means…

–time out, I never went into that (and its important for understandings sake)–

The connotation of the word “children” used in the passages I have highlighted means to bring forth, to bear, to produce… more like how a plant reproduces itself from a seed and less like a mother giving birth. What is the difference, you ask? Well, we all know that children bear the likeness of their parents, right? I’d love to be able to blame some of Cohen’s constant talking and questions and antsy nature on someone else, but alas, the genetics don’t lie. Still, parents don’t have complete control over how a child turns out. Children are not clones… there is a likeness, but not a reproduction of the original. Does that make sense? On the other hand, when I plant corn in my garden, the seed of the corn has the exact material needed to reproduce an exact replica: another corn plant. Everything needed to make more stalks and kernels and roots- its all in that seed and given the chance, it will make a clone that will go on to do exactly what the last corn planted did as long as it is given the opportunity.

So while we’re made in the image and likeness of God– all of us- we’re not born of Him the way we were born of our mothers. We won’t get some of His qualities and then grow up and apart from Him, gaining more and more independence from Him as we grow, becoming a separate person with a separate life. Not if we’re children in the spiritual sense. No, if we’re His children then more and more Christ is formed in us and He unfolds more and more into our lives. I like to think of it like the scene in Beauty and the Beast when the Beast’s fingers and toes start shooting out light and then the old self breaks away and reveals he is an entirely different person, unrecognizable as his former self. So should it be with those of us who are the children of God. Rather than becoming more and more independent and forming our own way of being like God, we should be transformed so that who we are becomes nearly indistinguishable from Who He Is.

So considering that that is what it means to be born of God and to be His child and considering the evil that is in the world.. what would that say of God if we were all His children? If we were all His children, regardless of our hearts and the behaviors that flow from them, how could God be Good and not Evil? If the exact replication of His seed was both good and evil, then He would also have to be good and evil. And, friends, we know that He is altogether Holy.

Have we all been made in the image and likeness of God, born with the potential to reflect Him here on the earth? Yes.
Are we all His children? No.

That second answer brings us a lot of questions we will soon address. But in the meantime, the vital question for you to ask is this:
I am a child of God? How do I measure up against the description the Bible gives?

Remember someday we will all stand before the throne of a Holy God and give an accounting for our lives and guess what? The believers are getting judged first. And its not like when you first got saved, where that one cry of “save me!” wiped the whole slate clean, either. That’s salvation. But then there’s the walking in it… which is a relationship between you and God. And that one time of repenting wiped away the past, but the things that happen after that needed to be confessed and healed. You are still saved…right? My Mom tells this awful story about being little and lying in her bed at night and trying to confess every little thing so if she died in her sleep she wouldn’t go to hell… I am not talking about that.

I am just saying that if the believers are going to give an accounting for their lives and everyone is going to be rewarded according to their deeds (not that the deeds saved them, you understand), then what are we going to give an accounting for? Hmm… our lives. What we say. What we do. What we think. Who we are.
Everything that has been confessed and dealt with, Jesus has thrown into the Sea of Forgetfulness… forever. It will never be mentioned. Isn’t that one of the best parts of the Good News? But the things that are not dealt with here, will be dealt with there. And won’t be a matter of hell or heaven as much as a matter of making all things redeemed. But I’d just rather do it here, wouldn’t you? so that God doesn’t have to bring anything negative up at that throne? So He can just say “well done, good and faithful servant”? So while it is still called today I think I’d just rather work out my own salvation now.. examining myself with distrust and serious caution, being tender toward my conscience, being on the lookout for temptation, and timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ… wouldn’t you?

So, get alone and get real with yourself… are you a child of God?

**We’ll delve into the responsibilities of a child in the next post and why being a grace junkie cannot be part of the equation. And then we’re going to move on to dealing with grace junkies and raising kids who honor the God of all Grace**

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