Let Me Be Clear…

If I have not accurately said it before, let me attempt to do so now: what I want is Jesus.

I want Yeshua. All of him. All of who he is. All of what he means. All of how he loves.

I don’t want your interpretation of him. I don’t want MY interpretation of him. I don’t want my pastor’s interpretation or my husband’s or the pope’s.

I want him.

What does that mean?

For me that means questioning everything. I question what I’ve always believed, what I’ve always been taught, I question what I professed to believe 5 minutes ago. Because being open to being wrong is the only way I’m going to find Jesus. I will always question and wonder and ask why. How else will I find him?

There are a lot of questions out there. He has the answers. I can study the Bible until I’m blind, listen to sermons until I’m deaf, pray until I’m hoarse. But I won’t find him completely in those things. Not completely. He is and is not in the Bible. He is and is not in those sermons. He is and is not in those prayers. He is so much more. Because he is alive. He is dynamic and complex and wild.

And he loves beyond a measure I can understand.

Yes, God created the world to be a certain way. I will agree with that. But what that way is? I have yet to know for certain.

All I know with any real positivity, is that Jesus is love. And I don’t understand what love is. But I want to.

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When God speaks to you through Ricky Bobby…

sphe-talladega_nights_2006-Full-Image_GalleryBackground-en-US-1484000554780._RI_SX940_Movies speak to me.  They have since I was a kid.  It’s really just stories in general, but being a visual thinker, movies and television have always had a huge impact on me.  In fact, when I write my own stories, I’m generally just trying to describe the pictures playing out in my head.  So it’s no longer a surprise to me when I receive revelation while watching a movie.

Even one as stupid as Talladega Nights.

Don’t get me wrong, I laughed my hiney off watching this movie tonight.  I needed to laugh.  It’s been a rough few days for me.  I try extra hard not to be, but I’m a very dramatic llama sometimes.  And as the meme says, “sumbody dun brokt” me.  Or rather a small army of “sumbodies”.  drama llama

I’ve been experiencing different forms of rejection from people I love for a while now.  And, even though I need to build a bridge and get over it (thank you Hannah Montana), it still hits me where it hurts and makes me eyes choke out tears.

Tonight, watching Ricky Bobby pray to “baby Jesus” over and over again did my heart a giant world of good.  If I can do it somewhat succinctly, I want to try to explain why.

Without going into too much detail (or any really), let’s just say that some people don’t agree with some things I believe and I don’t agree with some things they believe.  I think that pretty much sums up all arguments, ever, over all of time.  But you get the idea.

The real problem (at least for me) is that I worry that what I believe affects my relationship with God.  I really want to follow Jesus.  I want to be one of the scruffy, common, uneducated disciples traipsing around the desert with Jesus, breaking all the rules and changing the world.  I live in fear of being a Pharisee, thinking myself righteous and holy while in actuality living a life of selfishness and pride.  I live in fear of being so self-deluded that I believe I walk among the righteous, when in fact I am walking straight into the gaping maw of Hell.

But this is flawed thinking.

This kind of thinking is changing the beautiful words of Jesus from:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:35

To:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if your theology is perfect and you have interpreted my words precisely.

John 13:35

How often I have quoted John 13:35!  I love this beautiful verse.  I have tried to live by it.  But I fail.  Oh how I fail!  I stop measuring my discipleship by love and start measuring it by my theological prowess.  And let’s be honest, I don’t have much TP (theological prowess) to begin with.

I’m not the only one.  A lot of us measure our worth as disciples by our understanding of scripture and how well we follow the “rules” as we understand them.  We read our bibles, devotionals, listen to sermons, read books to further our understanding of the “rules” God has “set out” in His word.  We each develop a new set of commandments that we live by based on what we have learned over the years.

And then we become deeply devoted to these commandments.  So devoted that we begin to fear for our loved ones who don’t adhere to these commandments.  Even if our loved ones are doing their very best to follow Jesus in the only ways they know how.  Even if our loved ones are as deeply in love with Jesus and committed to Him as we are, just doing things differently.  We’re afraid that loving Jesus and desperately trying to follow him isn’t enough.  Because, as we established above, we’ve changed the definition of disciple unwittingly from love to knowledge.

I’m not saying all this because I’m judging the people who’ve hurt me.  I’m saying all this from my own personal experience.  I’ve done all of this.  I’ve changed the meaning of discipleship from love to knowledge.  I’ve been afraid that loving Jesus and trying to follow him isn’t enough.  I’ve made my own set of commandments and judged others for not living by them.  Over and over and over and over and over…

As I grow and change and evolve, so too do my “commandments”.  They must change because my understanding of scripture has changed, my vision of Jesus and God has changed, so my commandments must change too.  And the cycle begins all over again as I judge others by my new set of rules.

ughUgh.  I’m getting tired just thinking about it.  It’s so terribly boring and pharisaical.

And that’s it right there.

Watching Ricky Bobby pray his ridiculous and completely hysterical prayers tonight, I realized that we’re all just trying to follow God the only way we know how, well those of us who are trying to follow Him anyway.

And I realized what a hypocrite I am, what a Pharisee.

What I realized is that anyone can be a Pharisee – conservative or liberal.  A Pharisee is just someone who believes that perfect adherence to a set of rules makes you holy and righteous and definitely holier than those who don’t perfectly adhere to those rules.  The rules actually aren’t the important part, it’s how well you adhere to them that matters.

Dang.  Mind explosions.

I was a big, weepy mess before we watched Talladega Nights.  I honestly didn’t think it would cheer me up.  The world was completely ending.  (I’m a dramatic llama, remember?)  And I really didn’t expect to have a huge revelation that would lead me to shift my thinking in a major way.  But it did.

Thanks, Ricky Bobby, for helping me to remember that we’re all just trying to follow Jesus in the best way we know how (those of us trying to follow Jesus anyway).  NONE OF US WILL EVER GET IT PERFECTLY RIGHT.  But if we are truly His disciples we will endeavor to love one another.  That is how we will know we are His disciples, by our love for one another, not by our perfect execution of our interpretation of scripture.

People have hurt me, rejected me because we don’t necessarily believe the same things, but that’s ok.  They’re just trying to follow Jesus the best way they know how.  I can love them even if we don’t agree.  I can love them even if they don’t love me.  Well, I don’t know if I can but I know I can try.

#gofast

 

You beautiful creation, you, let’s abide

You are a unique, one-of-a-kind creation, made in God’s image, carefully hand crafted by God himself in your mother’s womb. He programmed your DNA, wrote your software, designed your hardware and made sure that you wouldn’t be like anyone who has ever existed. He knows how many hairs are on your head right now and how many you lost in the shower this morning. He knows the name your parents gave you, the one you secretly call yourself and even the one you don’t know about that he alone calls you. He knows when you took your first breath and when you’ll breathe your last.

You are a unique, one-of-a-kind creation.

< Insert Sarcasm Here >

And now that you’re a part of God’s family, we’d like to show you what it looks like to be a unique, one-of-a-kind creation, hand-crafted by God. You see, he likes his unique creations to all look unique in the same way. There are rules, standards, protocols.

I know that we told you that God loves you just the way you are, and he does, please don’t get us wrong, but now that you’ve accepted that love, we believe you should strive to look and act the way that we do, according to how we’ve interpreted the Bible. Yes, we know that others who call themselves Christians have interpreted the Bible in different ways, and we believe they love Jesus, they are just misguided, bless them. There is only one way to interpret scripture and we’ll teach you how.

What about grace, you say? You have grace, it’s a free gift from God, it absolves you of all past sins. But now that you’re a Christian, don’t you think you should try to quit sinning and live like Jesus and the apostles? They are the example we were meant to follow and we are the body of Christ, meaning we represent Jesus here on earth. If we don’t strive to live good lives, how can we expect God to bless us and insure our place in heaven? After all, everything we do on earth is getting tallied up to decide how many jewels are in our heavenly crown and how big our mansion will be. Don’t you want to hear Jesus say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant?”


Oh beloved… Remember your first love.

2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

Revelation 2:2-5

Do you remember when you eagerly sat at the feet of Jesus because your heart was a puddle and you knew only he could restore you? Do you remember when you absorbed teaching like a sponge and prayed for anything that moved or breathed and the first note of a worship song could bring you to tears before anyone started singing? Do you remember yourself before you woke one day to the knowledge that you were learned and scholarly and knew more about the Bible and God than your peers? Do you remember when you still believed we were all unique, one-of-a-kind creations, hand crafted by God?

When did we stop believing God made us unique and start believing there is a pattern, a mold, that we must fit to be a “real” Christian? When did we start measuring our faith, not by our love, but by our knowledge and righteousness? If God truly made us unique, doesn’t that mean that someone else might live out their faith a little differently than you? Should we keep judging ourselves by the standards Paul laid out nearly two thousand years ago in a different world and culture? Women should not teach, slaves should obey their masters… Have we learned nothing?

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:1-5

If you are a branch, you cannot prune yourself. The vine grower/dresser does the pruning. If you are a branch, you cannot prune another branch. The vine dresser does it. Only God does the pruning… Let me say that again for those in the back… ONLY GOD DOES THE PRUNING. It is not up to us what gets pruned from ourselves or from anyone else. We must simply abide.

It is the simplest and yet hardest thing to do: abide. But to grow, to really grow, that is what you must do. Get your eyes off the other branches and focusing on growing.

1 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

Matthew 7:1-5

Beloved…

I am shamefully and woefully guilty of this. But my deepest desire is to go back to the beginning, find my first love, sit at his feet and simply abide.

Unique, one-of-a-kind, beautiful beloved… will you abide alongside me?

He fights for me…

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Exodus 14:14

All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.

1 Samuel 17:47

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12

All of my life in Christ, I have been taught this: Our fight is not with people.  Our battle is with spiritual forces who are out to piss in our cheerios.  The battle belongs to God and he will fight for us.

This is true.

All these things are true.

And maybe I’m just a twisted sister, but I’ve always added an addendum: God will fight for me, if I’m in the right and have done everything right according to scripture.

And I obsess over this.

If I am in a disagreement with someone, if someone is angry with me or if I even suspect someone is angry with me, I obsess over every detail of the situation.  After all, God will only back me up if I’m right, right?

Hard to believe as it is, sometimes I don’t see eye to eye with other Christians.  This happens for multiple reasons ranging from “I’m a prideful monster” to “they’re a festering anus.”  When you’re at war with someone who is not one of your sisters or brothers in Christ, *sarcasm* obviously God will be on your side because you’re on his side and that other person is a hell-bound, sin-baby.  But whose side does God take when your war is with someone who is ALSO on God’s side?

Eenie, meenie, miney, mo.  Catch a brother by the toe.  If he repents, let him go.

How does God choose whose side to take when he fights for us?  The bible says he’s gonna fight for us.  So which one of us does he fight for?  Obvi, he chooses the brethren or sistren who is the most righteous and who is clearly the most biblically and scripturally right.  This is why it’s SOOOOO important to be caught up on doctrine, really know your B-I-B-L-E (that’s the book for me), and practice your theological knowledge prowess at all potlucks, life groups, family gatherings that include sinful relatives, and times when you trap a newcomer in that inescapable corner in the foyer at church.

false

That was sarcasm.

THOSE WERE BAD IDEAS.

Here’s the truth that was revealed to me as I walked into Walmart to buy strawberries:

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Wait for it…

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God is on BOTH of our sides. *GASP!*

Even if we’re wrong.  *DOUBLE GASP!*

And….

We’re probably both wrong.  *GASP GASP GASP!!!*

Also….

He’s on the side of the evil, hell-loving sinner we are hypothetically in a fight with too. *A LOT OF GASPS!*

Ok.  No more gasping.  I’m getting winded.

Brennan Manning said this:

img_2890

While I’m stewing in my tower of self-righteousness, secure in my ability to live rightly better than everyone else, God is loving me.  And he’s loving the person I’m fighting with in my mind and heart.  And he’s fighting for me.  And he’s fighting for them too.  And he’s fighting for the sin-babies too.

God fights my battles for me whether I’m right or wrong.  Whether I’m righteous or sinful.  Whether I love him or not.

He’s not fighting against the person I believe so clearly deserves to feel ashamed and repentant.  He’s fighting against the spiritual forces whizzing in my cheerios.  He’s fighting against my selfishness, pride, greed, gluttony, and hate.  He’s battling the forces that want his children to tear each other apart limb from limb.  He’s battling the forces that want to keep his creation, his beloved ones, in the dark.

His fight is with the withered foliage and dead branches.  He’s pruning me.  He’s pruning you.

So.

(I say as I slowly spin around to face you in my opulent, plush, faux-leather [cruelty free, baby] desk chair, my large, Persian cat purring loudly, relaxed but not asleep, my fingers pressed together lightly in steeple formation under my chin.)

This idea changes things.  For me, at least.

Now when I’m hurt, wounded, depressed, angry, scared, instead of taking comfort in the fact that I did everything right and can stand before God with a clear conscience, I will take comfort in the fact that I even if I did everything wrong, I can stand before God, secure in the knowledge of his love, secure knowing he’s fighting for me.

And that person… my sister, my brother… the “sinner”… God is fighting for them too and he loves them too.  We’re all, ALL OF US, in the same boat.  The love boat.  He loves us all the same.  And he’s fighting for all of us the same.

I don’t have much more to say.  I could quote a bunch of scripture but honestly I’m too lazy.

let me sum up.jpg

God is fighting for you BUT NOT BECAUSE YOU’RE RIGHT AND THEY’RE WRONG.  He’s fighting for you because he loves you.  Even if you’re a festering anus or a prideful monster.  He loves us as we are and not as we should be.  Because no one is as they should be.  He’s fighting cheerio-pissing-in spiritual forces and he’s fighting your own pride and sinful nature, pruning you.  He’s fighting darkness NOT PEOPLE.

I don’t know, but that’s pretty comforting to me.

Thanks for reading.  Peace out, prideful monsters. XOXOX

The heart is a fragile thing 


A heart is a fragile thing. It has four chambers: one to fill with sorrow, one with love, one with longing and one, secrets. 
And like an old home, we store our old things in the chambers, things we cannot bear to throw away. We wander from chamber to chamber, holding these things in our hands, letting them soak into us, feeling every fear, pain, joy, cheer and grief until it overwhelms. 

Sometimes we stay too long in a chamber and we can’t seem to find our way out again. The fragile walls of the chamber squeeze in around us, suffocating us, paralysing us. We wallow in our sorrow too long and our skin becomes pruny, hanging from us like the droopy jowls of a basset hound. We love too deeply and the sting of unrequited feelings burns us until we become numb. We sink into longing until the ache tightens our chest becoming a corset, leaving us gasping for air. Our secrets isolate us in a tower of our own making and our own destruction. 

The heart is a fragile thing, and a prison.

And in my life I’ve only ever known one who can release me from my prison, who can stop the walls from collapsing around me. Holy Spirit. He alone can ease suffering. He alone can reinforce the walls of the four chambers to keep them from falling in around us. 

““The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.””

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:1-3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The heart is a fragile thing, but it doesn’t have to be a prison. It can be a temple, a place of divine contemplation. Instead of sorrow, joy. Instead of being broken by love, we are renewed by it. Instead of longing unfulfilled, we are content beyond measure. Instead of secrets to isolate, honesty to open us. 

These are Holy Spirit’s doings. 

My only job: when my heart becomes a prison I must remember who liberates me. 

The heart is a fragile thing, but I’ve given it to the one who restores all things. 

I’m 103 and other musings plus another gold nugget from Oswald Chambers


Mr. Chambers does it again. This. I NEEDED to read this. It is just another huge confirmation that the decision Nick and I recently made for our family was the right thing for us. 

It would be hard for me to explain why this meant so much to me without telling you a lot of our personal history and I don’t think I want to do that… But it is still an amazing read for any Christian. 

If you don’t own a copy of My Utmost for His Highest, I highly recommend getting one or downloading the phone app or having both the book and the phone app, like me. Be forewarned, however, there is more than one version. The original version written in the early 1900’s (1911-1917) and an updated version that puts Mr. Chambers old timey speech into more modern language. I personally prefer the original old timey one because I think the way Mr. Chambers phrases things is poetic and makes me think. Also, I’m secretly 103 and kindly request that you get off my lawn, you dang kids. 

Anyway… go read it. HashtagGoodStuff