Friday, August 22, 2014

The balancing act

       Let's see how writing a post while falling asleep goes. I may have to fix it later so it makes sense! Here we go! 

So much of what we do is balancing. Or at least we try to balance a lot in life. Food; portion and type. Family; correction and compliments. Time; work and home. Life; have to's and want to's. The past; mercy and justice. And on and on it goes. Finding and maintaining balance is more difficult in some areas than in others, but it's all a struggle. 
   
       Now while you ponder those for a minute let me tell you something that I've been wrestling with. Just hang tight with me, it'll tie in. 

       When did the church become so inward focused?  When did we start to think that people had to check off a list of requirements before being involved?  When did we forget that Christ sat and dined with sinners? Why do we take "misson trips" to another city but don't reach out to our own? When did the church become a business? My questions are endless. 

We've lost touch with search and rescue. The misson of the church seems to be turning into seek and destroy. We've lost the ability to love people to Christ. Beating someone with a bible doesn't work, trust me, I've been on both ends. 

I really believe that the church is having "relationship issues" with God. Who's fault is it? Well....he's perfect...so that doesn't leave many choices, does it? Do we really have a relationship? We know rules and regulations inside and out and some are purely tradition that we've etched into law. When did we turn a place of meeting into a temple? Have we become Pharisees? Do we know about God, but not KNOW God? 
       So many times we sit and judge and wag our heads at those seeking God. Pure God, not what we've made him. They come and sit in service feeling akward and heavy, hoping to see people (heaven forbid) full of joy in worship. Not looking at their phones, continually checking the clock or singing like their voices are weighed by thick mud. Praying to catch a glimpse of grace and mercy from Gods people.

We love to let Satan get the best of us, don't we? He keeps us busy focused on the politics and details. I frankly don't care if you have instruments or not. Or if you pray sitting, standing, or kneeling. Or if you have a power point or use hymnals. We cannot see the forest for the trees and are losing the battle because of it. Can we compromise truth? Not an option. But God be praised, it is possible to present truth in love. Without judgmental glances and upward tilted noses. 

        When was the last time we decided to go sit and visit with the people we felt weren't up to "the standard"? God sent his son for everyone didn't he? We were all lost at some point, and many of us keep getting lost. Yet, we cannot bring ourselves to reach out. Why? Now, don't get your knickers in a twist. I'm not expecting us to spend every moment of every day standing on a street corner with a mega phone. I'm just asking you to get your hands dirty. Learn to love people as they are; flawed creatures, seeking mercy. If we can't love people as they are, then we can't love ourselves, because we are all flawed, are we not? Anyone out there want to cast the first stone? 

        Now this is where it ties in. I want a relationship with my creator (see post before last for more on this). I want to know, love, and praise him with everything that I am. BUT, I don't want to ignore the reverence that is due. I dare not stuff God in a cute box to carry in my pocket. No. I want to be in awe of His Majesty and holiness as much as I want to be held in his arms. I don't want the church to make Christ so human that he's no longer God. I don't dilute what he is with false labels and expectations. Holiness is something our culture is quickly losing understanding of. But I don't want him to be untouchable as only God and not any part human. So untouchable that I may as well not try to reach out to Him. It is a very delicate and difficult thing to balance.

      Most of my life I've been fed a steady diet of fire and brimstone. I've been fed impossible standards that left me wondering why I even tried. Grace and mercy were only for the worthy. You had to prequalify to recieve hope. I learned to fear God, but feared Him so much that I didn't know how to love Him. We can show both reverence and love. 

      Then we have the other end of things where God is only love and fluff. It is not so, friends. God is a jealous, powerful, unchanging God, and he has the power to condemn our souls. We can't even fathom his power. 

      You see how we must wrestle with this? How we must seek to balance? We need to focus inward to keep the church strong, but not so much that we forget our main purpose is to reach out. We need to be in the trenches with people when they are in a battle so we can help them out. Not sitting on the sidelines listing all the reasons they are there because of their own doing, or how they will figure it out on their own. Wouldn't it be sad if Christ did that to us? 
   
    We also need to find a place where we can love God, and still fear his Holiness. What's more, is we need to do this without compromising the truth. 

        Right now, I am one who is seeking. I am in the deep trenches and trying to survive. It is a lonely place. People look at me from afar and spin tales of "what went wrong".  I make mistakes, and continually need Gods grace. I'm trying. 

       Don't lose heart. There is hope for us all. Salvation is not unattainable. We can correct our corse, and learn to love the way Christ loves. We can stop the petty bickering and focus on what God wants us to focus on. We can open our doors and be examples of truth in love. We are not alone in these efforts. God knows we are not perfect, yet we seem to think everyone should be. He expects us to try, and not give up. The only perfection we achieve is by accepting the blood of Christ in baptisim  and letting Him wash us daily.  Gods grace perfects us.

     Together, let's look around us to help the hurting. Let's get our hands dirty and make ourselves uncomfortable. Nobody is beyond hope, not even me. 
 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Our critics

You know, it's funny how often I think about my blog, but how little I write in it. An idea comes to me, and I want to write about it, but dismiss it as not "blog worthy".  We are our harshest critics, are we not? 

      Right now my daughter is learning this sad truth. When we see it in those we love, it looks so much more menacing. She is 12, her body is changing, her thoughts are evolving. And in a world prolifically portraying unrealistic expectations, it will lead to a skewed reality. Even as an adult, I have to constantly remind myself that images are altered and most of what we see simply isn't true. Sometimes, I wish we lived in a world with no mirrors. Girls spend precious time in front of them criticizing the beauty that God himself formed to be them. 

It's an epidemic. I even find myself caught up in the sad side of being critical of people! We are much too easily decieved, and ensnared. 

Sitting in the church foyer I hear women discussing their dissatisfaction with their bodies. We must stop. We have to set an example. We have to learn to love our bodies if we are to teach girls to love theirs. You know as well as I do that we can talk until we are blue in the face....but if we don't BELIEVE what we teach....it is all for not. 

I've actually started seeing a counselor for my body/food issues as well as past problems. I'm trying to seek help to get fixed. It's a big, scary step. But in my heart I know it will not only help myself, but my family as well. We try to fix everyone around us, but it's often too uncomfortable to work on our own issues. For the longest time, I felt it was selfish to work on my problems. What I've come to realize is it is actually the opposite. Working on my problems better equips me to handle other problems, and help others, in ways that weren't possible before. 

      My prayer for my daughter, and all girls, is that they may see themselves as God sees them. As something priceless, beautiful....loved. That is my prayer for all of us. 

      Once I went to a ladies retreat where the speaker talked about how much it bothered her when her "roots" showed and how she didn't want to even go to an even because of it. She did say she ended up going and felt silly for it. What have we become? 

      Ladies, let us shed this vanity. Let us wrap ourselves in the light of our Lord and let His true beauty be ours. 

       Now, don't go crazy on me, and tell me we are supposed to become Amish-like. In a way though, I think they have something right. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look nice. But it is a fine line we walk between wanting to look nice and making our bodies our god. Do we spend more time on our physical bodies, than on our soul? Let's step back and look around us. 

     If you are reading this, know that I am praying for you. It's a long fight, and we are all in it together.