Friday, November 22, 2013

A Holy Space

“Suffering opens the holy space in your soul that will be filled only when you’re dancing with Me at My party.” –Larry Crabb in 66 LoveLetters

We want so much to be delivered from our suffering. We have believed that the ultimate goal is to be healed from every pain. We don’t understand why loved ones must die, often at a young age or in the prime of life.  We can’t see purpose in brokenness and seek above all else to get our brokenness fixed, sooner rather than later.

But what I hear God saying is that we need to learn to live in brokenness. That holy space that suffering opens up in us will only be filled when we reach heaven. That means we must walk this earth with a gaping hole in our spirits… an ache that never goes away… perhaps a sickness that doesn’t get healed… a relationship that doesn’t get restored… a problem the doesn’t get fixed.

This is not what we want to hear. We can’t see beyond life on planet earth. We desire the good life now. And we should pray for sicknesses to be healed, relationships to be restored and problems to be fixed, but that is not our main goal.

What is our main goal? To know God… to feel the ache… to desire Him above all else, even healing, restoration and fixed problems. Those things will be taken care of when we reach eternity. For now, they may or may not be. God wants, above all else, for us to know Him… to love Him… to desire Him more than we desire the good life on earth.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Yellow Flowers

Yellow Flowers, a set on Flickr.

And my last set of pics that I'm making available for purchase to help fund my mission trip. If you purchase a set (matching up an 8 x 10 with a couple of 4 x 6's or 5 x 7's) there is a discount! Leave me a comment if you're interested!

NYC and the Beach

NYC and the Beach, a set on Flickr.

More pics I'm offering for sale to help fund my mission trip. I love to match up an 8 x 10 with a couple of 5 x 7's to make a set.

Frosty Fall Morning

Frosty Fall Morning, a set on Flickr.

I love taking pictures... going for non-traditional angles, etc. I am not a professional, by far, but I am currently selling prints of some of my favorites. Raising money for my trip to the LA Dream Center next spring. Please leave me a comment if you would like to help out by purchasing a print or a set of prints!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Problem of Evil

Here are a few somewhat random thoughts that were stirred up in me this morning as I read my devotional on 2 Kings. They are thoughts about a topic that I avoid as much as possible—evil. What follows are harsh words for a recovering Polly Anna such as myself. But they are words I need to hear, ponder and act upon.

When I think about evil, I picture a cartoonish Satan, demons, hell, fire and brimstone. But what I read in my devotional this morning reminded me that an image of evil is as close as my bathroom mirror. Ouch!

Larry Crabb says, “Understand the lethal nature of the evil that is in My people (me) and tremble before its power to ruin your life.” He continues, “Evil… is the second strongest power in the universe… it is in the bloodstream of every human soul but one.” Yep, that includes me… and you.

“Evil is real and it is in you. Evil promises life and delivers death. It destroys everything worth living for.” I’ve witnessed this first hand. It is so tragic, so heartbreaking. And it can happen to any of us because as Larry Crabb says, “Evil unadmitted, unchecked, unforgiven and unchanged leads eventually to soul-shattering misery, always.”

We try to gloss over it, white wash it, explain it away. We excuse it, calling it insecurity and try to build self-esteem without dealing with the real issue of sin and evil. We even medicate it. But by denying it, excusing it, explaining it away and medicating it, evil continues to be, as Crabb says, unadmitted, unchecked, unforgiven and unchanged, leading to soul-shattering misery.

We promote ourselves over others whose sin seems worse than ours – even though we know that’s not possible. We act like the evil in others is not our problem. Instead, we try to use the sins of others to make us feel better about ourselves and look better in the eyes others. And again, it goes unadmitted, unchecked, unforgiven and unchanged, leading to soul-shattering misery.

I don’t know about you, but I am so weary of seeing soul-shattering misery! So what do we do?
1)   Recognize, admit, confess and seek forgiveness for the evil that is in me—daily.
2)   Lovingly confront the evil we see in others.
Number 2 is the more difficult one for me because I’m so afraid of offending or wrongly judging someone, which I have done so often. I think that’s why number 1 needs to happen first. I’ve got to get the log out of my own eye before I can even begin to recognize a splinter in someone else’s.

This Christian walk is sure messy. Relationships are messy… Even the one I have with the Lord… because I am messy, in fact, I’m a mess! But God still wants a relationship with me, and He’s gone to great lengths to prove that to me. So I will continue trudging on in my relationship with Him, allowing Him to show me the logs in my eyes, listening closely to His loving direction as He leads me to speak to someone about their splinters. Not because I want to judge or offend them, but because I love them and I don’t want the evil in them to go unadmitted, unchecked, unforgiven or unchanged, leading them to soul-shattering misery.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Conflict and Failure: Friends or Foes?

Larry Crabb asks the question, "We see conflict and failure as our enemies. How might these instead be the context for discerning the real enemy from which God seeks to free us?"

I have avoided conflict my whole life. Sorry, Duck Dynasty, I coined the phrase, "Happy, happy, happy" long before anyone knew you! I just want everyone to be happy and get along. I can't stand tension. Left to myself, I will flee any conflict long before I'll seek to resolve it. The tension makes me crazy, tongue-tied and illogical. I get sucked into rabbit trails and argue insignificant details as i lose sight of the real issue at hand.

I also avoid failure. I often give up on projects for fear of failure. I want to quit my job at almost every new sermon series for fear of failure. I have started many more things than I have completed, i.e. college degree programs. I can count at least seven that I started and zero that I have completed.

How can I sue all that, plus my feelings of failing at the most important job in the world (parenting) to discern the real enemy from which God wants to free me? Fear, Selfishness, Pride, Envy, Jealousy, Laziness, Food Addiction, Religiosity, In-authenticity: These things in me must die! God will stop at nothing in His quest to make me holy. He stopped at nothing on His part in leaving Heaven and allow humanity to brutalize Him. And He will stop at nothing on my part. Even to the point of seeming distant and uncaring. God loves me too much to coddle me. He is preparing me for eternity with Him.

Lord, forgive me for seeking the lesser blessings rather than seeking holiness. Forgive me for being angry with You for not being my "Giant Santa in the Sky" by giving me everything I think I need. I submit myself to Your loving discipline as You use conflict and failure in my life to free me from the things in my life that would separate me from You. Thank You that You desire to allow me into Your presence more than You desire to bestow temporary relief from conflict and failure.