A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
When a random thought is not random at all, it's a zapping of the Spirit.
..So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:7-11
While going about a few errands this week, it struck me. Pow! Jesus does not say to the woman, "throw the stones back at your accusers." He let the weight of conviction speak to them in the silent spaces between words. The woman had no stage for defense. No excuse or justification. And though her sin was being used as a cover for their plotting hearts, she was no better than her accusers. We, the redeemed, do not shout "love" by repaying evil with evil. Because there is enough evil to go around and around and around.
What are all the ways we are called to show love to each other as the church, the family of God? It isn't just the service or ministries we participate in. Not just the meals to the hungry and house-ridden. Nor just comfort to the hurting. But in the obedience to his word. All of it. Through the empowering of the Holy Spirit, turning the other cheek and loving our enemy. Laying low under the covering of the Christ. Leaving our pound of flesh where it belongs. How does our undeserved forgiveness and trust in an all-powerful God shine if we get into a stone-throwing contest? Be humbling, all the time, humbling. Because we are all humbled before Him. None of us can stand in His presence. In fact, the passage from John 13 comes after Jesus washed his disciples feet and tells them, "For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.."(vs. 15) He demonstrated meekness and love. He is the king! He is washing their dirty, dirty feet. For those of us who are not the perfect son of God, to whom much GRACE has been given, much GRACE is expected. When all my feistiness and snark and haughtiness come bubbling up this week, I'll remember, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." At least, I know the Holy Spirit will remind me.
Love the Lord by loving His children. All of them. And they will know.
Of course, there's so much more truth to be found in John 13. Go read the whole thing here.
“[Repentance] means unlearning all the self-conceit and self -will that we have been training ourselves into... It means killing part of yourself, under-going a kind of death.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
As the ripping apart of the dual-souled man, should anything else be expectable?
choosing every day,
sometimes every hour
choosing not to anesthetize
praying all the way through panic attacks
fighting fear with Truth
waiting on the Lord and
waiting on the Lord and
waiting on the Lord
one foot in front of the other
choosing to walk in obedience
choosing love for God over love for self
hard, hard, hard
Spirit-checking your motives with every thought and every breathe
sorrow and submission
handing out grace upon grace
listening for when to speak and when to be silent
handing God your desire for control
stumbling and getting back up
new eyes, new love
choosing faith through the uncertainty
choosing to trust God with all the what-if's
choosing His will over yours
choosing His word over your emotions
remembering Christ's love for us
resting under God's covering
thanking God for his relentless pursuit
"But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." James 4:6-10
A few recommendations to ride along with:
Sometimes the dead do speak to us. Check out The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson here.
And you really should buy The Story of Our Lives. Near-perfection from The Violet Burning. Get it here.
Want a listen first? Click here for a Change of Heart.
And a sermon speaking to God's grace, love, and all the "yets" and "buts"? Listen here. Seriously good stuff.
Eyes closed, ears open.
I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God." @johnpiper
Do we sometimes rely on faulty armour? Ooh, ooh. Me. I do! Or, at least, I have. What would some of yours be made of?
Of course, there are things we do not want to do. Ways we do not want to break God's heart or those of others in our sphere. But maybe we think we're safe from some because of perceived outside factors that keep us "moral" instead of total dependence on The Holy Spirit and the whole armour of God.
Here are a few potential "nevers" and their swords of cardboard.
Never would I commit adultery (easy one, because I'm unattractive. i'll never be tested on this)
Never would I murder anyone (wishing a heart attack or praying a car off the road doesn't count)
Never would I starve myself (because I lack self control and obsess over food)
Never would I become bulimic (because I can't make myself throw up)
Never would I commit suicide. Who would do something so selfish? (again, easy, before you've understood how one could let these thoughts in. besides, it could hurt, right?)
Never would I steal (i've been Poor, but never destitute. and i might get caught and be embarressed)
Never would I.............................................see where I'm going here? What could you add to this list?
We are to be strong in God's mighty power. Not posturing in our own. That WILL give out.
The belt of truth gets replaced with one of "I know it all". You may, but do you live out of it?
A breastplate of righteousness. Not a moving target of emotional reasoning.
The gospel of peace leading our feet. Not the gospel of no one being mad at me.
A shield of faith should never give to one of self-reliance.
The sword of the Spirit is not just head-knowledge.
All of our insufficient armor WILL fail
WILL give out
WILL leave us wide open for attack
WILL cause us to fall
It gives a false sense of security while the enemy sees all the holes and weaknesses and makes plans accordingly. We're thinking, "I'm good. I've got this". You may just long enough to be taken totally by surprise. Make sure your armour is His. Check it daily. Looks for the cracks. Duct tape ain't gonna cut it, peeps. Every time a "never" leaves your mouth, you are probably saying, "God, I don't need your covering on this one. I'm better than that.I am not THAT kind of sinner."
I don't speak from experience, by the way. I'm totally better than that.
The Spirit must be allowed to notify you of those places that are truly unguarded. Be honest about where your moral strength is streaming from. Also, about where our sin starts. It seeds in our own heart. It must be cut off from the inside, not blocked from without. You may only be blocking the sword of the Spirit from penetrating your heart. Not the smartest plan, Fern.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and,as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10-20
Because Humpty Dumpty can't always be put back together.
As always, I'm preaching at the biggest sinner I know. Me.
And be very careful about saying "never".
I did not want to leave the house today.
I do not want to go to the beach tomorrow.
I live and die by numbers.
Numbers on my scale. The number on my jeans. The number of meals I ate today. The number of miles I didn't run to burn off those meals. Number of Ding-Dongs I now want to eat because I'm depressed and give up.
What I Wore Wednesday? Torture.
Bored yet? Me too.
Instead of readying my heart and mind for worship on Sunday, I want to hide under the heap of clothes I've changed in and out of for an hour. I would keep from fellowship with the body because I want mine to disappear. I'd love to hide when I'm feeling hideous. But I would also be hiding from encouragement, love, worship, laughter, and correction. Here's the kicker. Most already know just how hideous I am anyway. It's oozing from my heart. Try and starve that out. Good luck!
In fighting obsessive thoughts, there are certain phrases that need to be cut out of everyday speech. Habits so engrained, they've become normal in so many conversations with other sisters. Replying to any compliment (okay, every "Hi, how are you?") with, "Ugh, I need to lose poundage " or "Are you kidding, look at my (fill in the blank with list of perceived flaws)." Ever notice how much we do this?
On and on and on. Nauseating.
Spirit killing. Temple killing. I can attest to that.
As our great God is stripping away all that hinders me, his armor is what I should be clothed in. It fits every time. Someday, I pray, that will be all others see and all I focus on. How beautiful. How freeing.
So, I'm trying to stop these words from taking away the refreshment that should be offered instead. Replacing them with words of grace. Let's feed each other the good stuff. Be energized for the better things God wants us to do.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things
This book is helpful even when I don't want to be helped.
The Road to Ensenada by Lyle Lovett because Lyle is the man!
Here we go again.
God, can I just hide now? Give me back the ability to clam up. Wire my jaw.
But He pulled a reverse-Zechariah on me.
Introversion is screaming at me, "Get back here. Shut up! Shut up! You can't put the lid back on, Pandora."
She is sending shockwaves throughout my nervous system.
I hate this. I hate this. I hate this.
Giving honest answers is draining. And humiliating. And so not me.
Eve, pass the fig leaves. Let me rebuild my suit of motherhood, wifedom, discipleship, friendship, vocation, and, well, identity from them. Pretty it all up, because it's too much to stand out here exposed. I want to be that low-maintenance queen of the introverts again. All dolled up in works and pride. And frustration and futility.
God has made his own covering.
And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Genesis 3:21
One that I have no credit in.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
Because it's not about me. It's about Christ and his righteousness.
..for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:23-25
"the gospel sets me free to let you see me at my worst"
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6
Finishing up with a listen to more goodness just added to my music library. Particularly "When I Survey the Wonderous Cross"
Michael Roe and the 77's
Just maybe my next post will be cotton candy fluff. Like, "what i wore wednesday", yeah?
I don't know what it says about me that my spiritual musings often spring from media consumption. Speaking in song and TV catch-phrases. So here's a question to let roll around in your brain.
After watching 'The Adjustment Bureau' last night, thoughts about God's sovereignty and our free will restarted their little dance in my head. This is a subject that goes round and round in there like a Ferris wheel. Are they like Ebony and Ivory? Too many metaphors? Is this just my lazy excuse for a post?
How do we reconcile these two? Working to rest in the tension, I welcome your thoughts and discussion.
Personality-wise, I tend toward the fatalistic. Not spiritually healthy when this attitude leads to frustration and throwing up of the hands. Here are some questions to bounce around.
Inevitability of the path for life. Marriage, kids, job,location, salvation, etc.....
Why does life feel like so much course correction?
Does God really want what's best for us?
What is that, exactly?
How do these seemingly opposed realities interact?
What does scripture say about these?
Are we really just inside the "Stopover in a Small Town" episode of the Twilight Zone?
Asked in the humility of my limited human brain trusting in my Creator, even if He is too much to comprehend at times. I look forward to hearing from all of you who smarter, wiser, and more experienced than I. If nothing else, it helps get those brain cells up and running. And should draw us closer to God and each other.
So, it's actually possible to be prideful and snotty when God has allowed total humility to rain down on your life. How can that little monster still have life when I'm the biggest sinner in the room? Seriously, girl! Do we need to go down the list of ways I have been ungracious to others?
A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,
but a just weight is his delight.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:1-2
It's not only that differing measures are used for my sins and others, it's also between the others, themselves. Love and understanding is given to some and other select few have no grace, whatsoever. Larger transgressions seem to get a pass with those I like.....or from whom I have received forgiveness. Relatively small things are pocketed away for those I have contempt for. And probably have a portion of that contempt because of something they have against me. Or because I am intimidated by them in some way. They can do no right. This leads to lack of prayer for God's love in the form of grace, mercy, and refinement to come into their lives. I do not love my enemies. I sit here on a mountain of treasured love from God's people and want to withhold it from a select few. As my beautiful counselor said to me this week, "I think you still have some humbling coming your way."
Thing is, my eyes have been opened to the ways I have judged motives and hearts. Affecting and preventing relationships. Some of them with potential to divide within our church body. Many of those, I am getting the privilege to know better. As fellow humans. With messes and scars and joy and lessons to pass along.
And though I undoubtedly deserve it, no one has ripped me to shreds.
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”Luke 18:9-14
We are all the tax collector and the Pharisee. The prodigal son and the older brother (see Luke 15). Sometimes,in the same breath. God, help me see all that I want to hide. And grow me in your wisdom. And love. And love. And love.
Writing soundtrack for today
Rip Her to Shreds-Blondie
The Pure in Heart-The Foxglove Hunt
“Frodo gave a cry, and there he was, fallen upon his knees at the chasm's edge. But Gollum, dancing like a mad thing, held aloft the ring, a finger still thrust within its circle.” J.R.R. Tolkein The Return of The King
It's a curious thing, idol worship. It can leave me gutted, splayed on the floor, grasping for air in my cesspool of regret and shame and still wanting to grope around in fear that it will really be gone. Like Frodo, it sickens my heart, the weight of it crushes my lungs, but I want to take it out and hold it. Guard it. Manage it. Treasure it. All the while, staring at my heart-sick future as Gollum.
I really want to be faithful, steady, humble Samwise, instead. Not this proud, enslaved idolater.
Timothy Keller call our hearts "idol-factories". I know I feel like Lucy and Ethel working in the chocolate factory with those idols popping up until all hell breaks loose. One appears out of the number on my scale. Another in my closet. In my ear. At times, friends take on their form. And my boys. Morality, too. They pop up everywhere. Born of good things and bad. Smallish ones that are easy to hand over if gotten to in time. Or so small that they seem harmless. Large ones that are placed at God's feet only to grab them back. But they all keep focus off the sovereign Lord. If you've been one, forgive me for putting you on that pedestal instead of walking along side you as a sister in Christ.
And the precious. The one that calls to death. I don't find it necessary to name it here so that you may fill in the blank with your own. And it's changed in different phases of life. "You shall have NO other gods before me." Throw it down! I want to want to. Lord, do I need to be led through Mordor again? I can only do it on your strength. I thought I could and should do it on my own strength, but that is a lie. My only real strength is found in you. Burn this pride away. Change my eyes to see what is. To see you as you are. To worship you only.
When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the Lord!” Jonah 2:7-9
God, help me trade in my idols for a crown.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Thank you to all my Sam Gamgees, Meriadoc Brandybucks, and Peregrin Tooks. Faithful in your love and sacrifice. And even you Smeagols, who are helping slay pride. That you're all here is a reminder of the true and faithful love of the only one whom I should worship.
i'm the evil one
sometimes the evil son
but the light goes through my door
-starflyer 59 through my door
So much more be stored in a carry-on than you'd think. And, somehow, with all that extra weight, TSA can't screen it out?
I didn't expect nemesis to hitch a ride to paradise. But she hid herself well somewhere between my sneaks and sunscreen. Oh, condemnation, you sneaky devil. Come to spoil the fun, eh? To kill any anticipated relief? And sink us all.
Now, it doesn't color everything. But some of those beautiful pics? I'm sure mine aren't the first not to tell the whole story. The tears and insomnia and fear behind some of them. All the spiritual tension. I wonder if I'll even dare to publish this.
The one person I have trusted and relied on over all others is the only one who terrifies me now. And I know this must be a place that God wants me in. For my mistrust of people spilled over onto Him. I could only trust me. Stood myself in his place. With a heart too deceitful and a flesh too weak to carry it off forever.
Condemnation breathes a little oxygen into the ember of terror until the licks of flames are saying.....
This is who you really are....
This is all of you.....
You are the real enemy.....
Laughter is gone.....
Joy is not yours to have......
You have to pay and you'll never be able to pay........
Accepting forgiveness? Selfish, selfish, selfish.
Penance, honey, penance.
And even Hawaii morphs into a place of panic and death.
But His light shines through. Eventually. After much spiraling and stubborn wrestling, and ....not trusting. He loves those around me enough to send lifelines.To extinguish those flames with gospel truth. To turn the focus back to Him and the work that He has already done and is now doing. No, you'll never be able to work for it. And you are so uncomfortable with that. Why resist the easier yolk? Quit trying to put the impossibly heavy one back on. Condemnation does't get to come back with you.
Repeat as many times as necessary.
Lay it down.
It is finished.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Romans 8:1( and I suggest reading all of chapter 7 and 8)
to be continued..