Thursday, May 25, 2006

I was laying in bed the other night- praying, unable to sleep and had this revelation- which led to some repentance- the boohooing variety- about how arrogant I have been in the past in regard to prayer. I had wrong thinking that knowing Jesus gave me the right to go to God and demand what I want. I think I misconstrued that "boldly before the throne of grace" thing and I left out the grace part. We can come boldly- but with humility- if that makes sense. I guess I just keep thinking about what Randy Rowland said about churches that teach holding God to His promises- Randy said he didn't recommend that kind of thinking. God is sovereign. That stuck with me. I have had some teaching to that effect. And I realized that it's so presumptuous. And I realized that I have been presumptuous. God is sovereign. I keep coming back to the image of the parent with the whiny teenager going, "But you promised!" What good parent would give in to that?
I don't know- I am still trying to figure it all out. The more I seek, the more I see it's all about grace. Everything is grace. We went to see Les Mis last night at the 5th Ave Theatre. It was wonderful. As a play and as a story. I didn't realize how much God was in it. Les Mis was so much about grace- it blew my mind. It was so beautiful. The grace given to Valjean and that he proceeded to extend to others was gorgeous. And was he perfect? Hardly. A flawed human being walking in grace. It was...words fail me. But we are flawed humans walking in grace. How often do we extend it?
And I think- Jesus was grace- not making demands of His Father, but cooperating with His Father's will. "Not my will but Yours, Father." That is what Jesus wanted. And He had all the authority and power in the world. I think there have been times in my life- that I have been so proud and arrogant about being a christian- and I see the damage that arrogance does- to people, to the reputation of Christ- and I think- how awful to have been a part of that. And I was a part of that. I don't want to be a wimpy christian- but I don't want to be religious and militant either (and I have been both) I guess I am learning what the balance is. Sometimes, it feels like I am going crazy. I think the whole "good christian" thing is ingrained in me as a performance thing- and I don't pray enough, read enough, give enough, care enough, love enough.... and I don't know what to do about it- in my own strength- I just can't. So I am choosing to trust God. He knows who He created me to be. He will be faithful to walk me through this crisis of faith. I will do my best to be faithful to Him. And because of His almighty GRACE- I trust that it will all be alright in the end.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Grace in a busy world.

Grace. What is it? Heck if I know. But I am determined to find out. Philip Yancey's book, What's so Amazing about Grace? has some excellent examples of grace and some interesting commentary about how grace and christianity relate to each other. In theory- they reality...not so much. I am on a quest to get a handle and a revelation of grace. That is my goal- why? So that I can "share the love" if you will. How can I, as a christian, extend grace if I don't "get it?"
Salvation is grace. It's probably the best example there is. Jesus took all my crap on himself and paid the price for it. Wow. He wrote His name over mine for all the bad stuff I've ever done. That is AMAZING! He loved me at my most unlovable. Wow. And believe me, there were some VERY unlovable moments along the way. I guess in my quest for "truth," I discovered that truth, Jesus style, goes hand in hand with grace.
I am tired of "performance christianity" where every denomination has it's own set of spoken or unspoken rules of how to be a "good christian." Really- what the heck? The set of rules I come from includes: be at church every time the doors open; give more than your tithe and if you don't double your giving (at least) every year-you lack faith; get your nails done; wear trendy clothing; drink coffee; be "relevant" (I think I am too much of a geek to be "relevant"- I just want to be truthful and true to who God has created me to be) set aside a specific amount of time to spend with God every day to pray and read the word (seriously, what a way to set yourself up to fail) never question authority (even if there's something morally questionable happening)- if you question authority, it's rebellious and dishonors those God has placed above you...and the list goes on. Anyone who doesn't think this way- well, they may be christians, but obviously, they are on the JV team.
Sad to say- I really used to think that way. Seriously- my mind got so small. And God's grace is so very big. I think that's how grace disappears- you get busy trying to be good- even doing good things. Then- there is no room for grace in your life. I don't want to live that way. I have friends who are overwhelmed with their lives and if God wanted to talk to them, well, short of a burning bush, He couldn't get a word in edgewise. What I've realized is this. He is SOVEREIGN. He is ALMIGHTY. He is EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME and if we'd just be still- we'd recognize the grace that is all around us and in us. This is the longing of my heart. Jesus personified grace- and I am not giving up until I really have a revelation of what grace is. I'm done being busy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

In whose image?

I've been reading Gregory Maguire's Son of a Witch. Today I read a section of it that struck me as a profound comment on popular Christianity and trends that we see happening in churches...
"In our house, we profess to believe that the Unnamed God has made us in it's likeness and its image, and this should have enlarged us to be like the Unnamed God. I fear in the Emerald City, they have remade the Unnamed God in their image, and that has belittled and betrayed the deity. Can the Unnamed God be belittled, you ask. No, of course not. But the deity can go unrecognized, and return to mystery... The Unnamed God retreats into mystery, and is not especially localized in my heart, my dears. Nor in the Emporer's. The mystery is as equally in your heart as in mine, and in...the spirit of the trees and the...the music of water. That sort of thing. In the memory of our elders. In the hope for the newborn."
I don't think Emerald City is the only place with this problem. We have a tendency to try to make God more like us- to like the things we like, to approve of the thinking and behavior we approve of, to be religious like we are religious...and we've got it all wrong. There is a reason that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. I am thankful for that. And I am pursuing my quest to find out His ways and thoughts and walk it out the best way I know how.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Salvation vs. Embarrassment

This is a topic that I have been pondering this week. We went to church at Northwest Passage on Sunday night- I enjoyed myself immensely. The message was based on Romans 1- where Paul talks about how he is not ashamed of the gospel. The preacher went on to talk about that Paul didn't think of the gospel as "the good news" but as the person of Jesus Christ. The gospel wasn't an "it," it was a "He." I just thought that was interesting. I don't know that I have ever really thought about it from that perspective. It got me thinking, am I ashamed of the gospel? Are we as Christians ashamed of the gospel? Have we become too relevant for the gospel? I struggle with the self- centeredness of many churches and the quest for "their best life now." I have been reading and noticing that I am not the only one picking up on this. It's become more about us than it is about Jesus and what he instructed us to do. As we visit churches, the one thing I ask myself is this- does everything that is going on point back to Jesus? If it doesn't- if it points back to "self"...Houston, there is a problem. I think the reason churches hurt their "children" is they lose track of Jesus and who He is. When churches get more caught up in who they are instead of who He is- then the balance gets thrown off and people get hurt. I think it's the same on an individual level as well. Isn't it interesting that we don't need to be taught to be selfish? Why are we more interested in a gimmick or a theme or a program than we are in the true gospel- the person of Jesus Christ? If we truly know Him, and His love and His power- wow. The power of the person of Jesus Christ and our salvation- it is stronger than anything- but how often do we forget that? How often do we get caught up in programs and culture and being seeker sensitive? There are several questions like this that swirl in my mind. And I am tired of them swirling. It makes me tired. Tired of catchy slogans and programs and culture. all this noise is crowding out my knowledge of the gospel. I just want to know Jesus.
The preacher also talked about how Romans 1:17 talks about how the righteous live by faith. Righteous meaning right with God, live life abundantly and faith. And he said something in passing that really hit me- faith is trusting God...with EVERYTHING. Trusting Him with my life, the lives of those I love...trusting Him with the state of our unjust world. Trusting Him with His imperfect Bride that He loves so much- even though we don't understand why. It's a pretty big concept to wrap your brain around. I'm still wrapping....Well, my beloved husband is here...'tis time for groceries.