Sunday, September 12, 2010

No confidence in the flesh

I often like to look at myself with two different lenses.  One is looking at my flesh: my abilities, my talents, my security in myself, my personality.  The list goes on and on.  When I remember how I used to feel when I walked into a room, or was faced with an uncertain situation.  How I would rather blend into the wallpaper than be noticed.

Then, I like to look at myself through God's lens.  Christ. Although I am on a journey where more of me disappears, a curious thing happens: more of who I was created to be shines through.  And even as Christ abounds more out of me, more of me abounds too. Very curious. Oh, and something else happens that defies human logic: you become more confident in what God can do through you!  You start to think you can do anything- that NOTHING can stand in your way.  Not because you yourself are so amazing, but because you start believing that Jesus is amazing.  And what He can (and will) do through you!  
With man everything is impossible, but with God all things are possible !!!!!!!

Paul was very aware of this marvelous occurrence and wrote about it in Philippians, Chapter 3:
"2Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; 3for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,4although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.7But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ"

Paul was pretty incredible, highly educated, respected, excellent at keeping the Law.  A very impressive resume of accomplishments, but it pales pathetically in comparison to Christ.  As do mine.

In worship today, a line in a song hit me so hard: "I am undone."  That is how I feel when I put no confidence in my flesh.  I am undone, and yet so much more that I have ever been on my own.  All I have ever been without Jesus is rubbish.  But all I can be with Him...there is no limit.  How thankful I am that this isn't about me!!!  What a retched state that would be!  But it is not about me.  Everything is Jesus.  And I am beautifully undone.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A rose by any other name...

"What's in a name? 
That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
-Shakespeare {Romeo and Juliet}

I am completely fascinated by the many names used to describe Jesus or our relationship with him. Master, redeemer, friend, husband, savior. These are names we have heard in church, if we have spent any time there. But there are also more obscure, however interesting names that he is called. One that has come to my attention lately is "rose of Sharon" mentioned in Song of Solomon.

"I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys." Song of Solomon 2:1

In the front of my brother's house there are two large, what look like bushes, on either side of the walk. You have to pass through these plants to reach the front door. I am always apprehensive between the months of April and September to do this, however. The plants are constantly buzzing, surrounded by bees of every kind. Beautiful butterflies float by, and I have even seen a hummingbird or two. I never thought much of this for the several years they have lived at their house, and I have visited, trying to slip by undetected to all flying creatures.

While visiting Tennessee last month, and arriving at my brother's house, with my parents, I remarked on how these plants were especially busy with insects. My mom says casually, "That is a rose of Sharon." 
I will never look at them the same...

After doing some research on 'rose of Sharon' it has been consistently stated that the plant is, "vigorous and durable".  That it will grow in full or partial sun, and that it will grow in nearly all kinds of soil.  It is an effective hedge, and even flowers in the summer months, when most shrubs no longer bloom.  It can be transplanted with little trouble and are considered a "butterfly bush" from the attraction of their flowers.

No, Jesus is not a plant.  Jesus is infinitely more interesting, amazing and powerful than a plant.  However, he even refers to himself as a vine...

 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing"
John 15:5 

So just as the bees and butterflies go to the rose of Sharon for nectar. 
We abide in the vine and are fed.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Jesus Freak

What would people think when they hear that I'm a Jesus Freak?
What will people do when they find that it's true?
I don't really care if they label me a Jesus Freak.
There is no disguising the truth.
-DC Talk

There are so many times I feel like just a visitor in this world. Like I belong somewhere else, and I am navigating through this foreign world trying to reach the place I am made for.

I see God in everything. I see him in the enormity of the planets and their endless imperfection, to the complexity of a tiny feather. I see his work when I watch nature shows with the sole purpose of disproving his existence. He is an extravagant creator, incredible thinker, and his imagination is unmatched. I pour myself over scriptures and marvel at the depth and intricacy of his plan for humanity. I long to be with him. He is my everything, I am in love.

I am reminded of a quote:

"We are all fools in love."
-Charlotte Lucas (Pride & Prejudice)

But this love goes beyond foolishness. This does not compare to earthly romance. No man could ever live up to what is obtained from this God-relationship, none should even try. My heart is secure, intact, never to be broken by this perfect Being that has moved heaven and earth to never leave me. I think of the martyrs and the inspiration I get from reading about them. Those that caught the vision of this love so deeply that they would die for it. Jesus Freaks indeed. This is more than a whimsy emotion. It is a knowing. A revelation you can hardly explain to anyone that has yet to experience it.

And if Jesus felt like an outsider, why do we think it will be different for us?
"He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him."
John 1:10

Not to say there are not wonderful pleasures obtained in this most foreign of worlds. When I look into my children's eyes, I am overwhelmed. And Josh, my perfect partner in this alien planet. How thankful I am that God has given me an accomplice in this crazy adventure. I may even say that he rivals me as a Jesus Freak. In his endless pursuit of Truth, no matter man's objections.

So, my final thought is this: that I love this planet, but I am not of it. I belong to a different kingdom. I am on loan. And how my heart longs to enter the blessed place that is free of fear, doubt, struggle and strife. Ahhh, my heart desires that! But until that day... Long live the Freak.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Welcome to the desert of the Numb

The biggest, or most felt emotion I have experienced through this adventure is numbness. Not depression, frustration, aggravation or any other negative emotion. Just being numb.

I don't even mean for it to happen. Survival mode kicks in- you revert directly to flesh and you don't indulge in pessimistic thoughts. You just start to shut down. You go through the motions of life. Cook food, clean things, bathe children, mechanically go through your day. But your passion gets sucked from you and before you know it, you don't care that you are numb. In fact it feels "normal"- comfortable.
No time or thought for romance or bonding with your children, you just want to have enough energy to finish the dishes.

I wonder, often, how Paul did it? How did he find himself in situations and sing? Singing to God does make me feel better. Praise is an escape from myself. But many times I instead grab a cookie.

Taking walks are so cathartic for me. I clear my mind, talk to God and listen to my quiet footsteps. I was talking to God about this numbness I allow myself sometimes to succumb to. And two very clear thoughts entered my mind:
1) Defense Mechanism. I use numbness as a way of coping with stress, anxiety, or lack of control.
2) Was a verse.
"He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." Matthew 13:22

the care of this world. Thorns. Spiritual novocaine.
Someone with a hard heart has a difficult time hearing the voice of God. So, right now God is speaking to me...but I am so concerned with the cable bill that I am not able to hear. And how do you get a hard heart? Slowly. With many defense mechanisms. A shallow "protection" of your heart. How foolish it all is. What are a few hardships and unexpected bumps in comparison to eternity? The very hope I have in overcoming the hardships are choked in the hardships.

A clever deception. Okay, devil...I am not going there with you. I desire a soft heart. I will focus on the spirit and not the flesh. Flesh is death. Spirit is life and peace. Oh yes, and I will sing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

If it quacks like a duck...

We have all heard this expression. It is a saying birthed from an admiration of common sense. Wisdom. I am a big fan of wisdom. I am a bit of a dreamer (don't hold a candle to Josh) but mostly I am a realist. Some of my favorites: "action leads to consequence", "Past behavior is an indication of future behavior", and above all, "if everyone else was jumping off a bridge- would you too?" {By the way, I have}. Now that I have filled your head with quips celebrating earthly wisdom, I am now going to throw a wrench in the mix. God.

But I must digress. Solomon was granted wisdom from God, and he went on to write Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Books dedicated to wisdom. And they are powerful. But as wise as Solomon was, he was not a regenerated man. The Holy Spirit could not rest in him indefinitely, because he was a sinful man. But you and I, we got it SO MUCH better. We have Jesus. Because of the rest the Holy Spirit found in Jesus (being that he was without sin and the perfect sacrifice) we are able to be in Christ. Therefore, when we are born again our spirit is made one with Christ.

"For even as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit." 1 Corin 12:12-13

So, if we are one with Christ in spirit and the Spirit knows all things...

"But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come." John 16:13

[Okay, so how amazing is that?! How much better we have it through Jesus than Solomon did! ] So now, back to my original point- the wrench (God). You are at a meeting, church event, conference, or just an everyday walk- you get a Word from God. Perhaps it is a vision, or a snapshot in your mind, maybe someone you know or a perfect stranger confirms something you have been thinking about. A prophet, a song, a sermon...or perhaps a knowing, or just a sentence you hear in your spirit. There are so many ways God gives us Words. But make no mistake, God is always speaking. And after this amazing experience, when you are still reeling from the emotion of it all- wisdom sets in. "That is crazy" "That is completely irresponsible" "I have kids to think about!" "What about (fill in the blank)" Again, I am a big fan of wisdom. But a Word is SO MUCH BETTER than wisdom. You can take scriptures, and godly wisdom and apply it to your circumstances and see what a great life you will lead.

OR you can temper that wisdom with Word and see the supernatural.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Storm 6/16/03

I wrote this in 2003, and just found it on an old computer. Although, my theology has changed- and in 2010 I believe we are supposed to stop the storm with our words...I am still amazed at how much of it applies to me now...however, thank God- the goal, now, is clear.

My heart is filled with pain. I feel so empty, like without destiny I am a shell. There is no goal, no direction, no clear path for me to follow. I know it will come; I have no doubt of that. But what do I do for now? It is like being frozen, like being on my death bed-but not yet passed onto the next realm. I want so badly to move on, but still I linger. Why is this happening? All I can do is wait, and tell myself to keep breathing, keep getting up each day to more disappointment. I don't want this to defeat me, this will not defeat me. My life has been too short for something so menial to defeat me. And if it's so menial, why am I so bent? How has this affected me so much?
Storm. What is a storm? It is something out of your control, something powerful, frightening. You never stop the storm, where would be the growth in that? You ask me to rise above it, to come out and walk on the water. I am so afraid, but I am sick of sitting in the boat. Sick of being tossed around by the wind. Sitting there in a lack of faith and hopelessness, not able to do anything but allow myself to be effected by the storm. I don't care what I see, and I don't care what I hear, I will get out of the boat, and obey your beckoning. And I will rise above this storm. I have beaten my flesh so that it cannot rise up against my spirit, however much it tries. Beautiful storm. It has allowed my spirit to be strong.