Tag Archives: witness

Churched Christianity

24 Mar

This happened several days ago. She told me I was getting old. For certain things in life… Most of my friends in the workplace and at university were/are older than I. I am older than her by a year. Everyone in the course last year that I want to join next year was four years older than I, at least. I say these things not to defend myself. My first reaction – like yours – was to wince and nod. It was to accept the constraints. I do think I am getting old. And I know with another part of me that that is untrue. There is a difference between realism and this willingness to believe the least of yourself. But it hurt to hear it because most other people outside of church do not think so. Most of my friends don’t normally share this view either!

But I have a pretty convenient system of half-forgiving things and forgetting about them – I mean things interfere less with your to-do list that way. I don’t know if ‘forgiving’ is the right word or if there is such a thing as half-forgiveness either 😉 I mean, what I did was basically be ungracious in my own mind.

I simply decided to think this friend was perhaps not as mature as I was, had different definitions about culture and society than I did, had different constraints on what it was to be a woman and different ideas about “having life and having it to the full”. ← That’s all. All beautiful things to have, and all rather easy for me to think and not remember this little commandment.

Ah but look at the new NIV’s rendition of this, which sometimes – some very few times in my life – does make sense.

I think it does especially for people who are used to considering themselves below everyone else, less than average, less than ideal, not anyone’s idea of beautiful… So many women I know do this. I know some men do too, but I don’t know enough who will tell me to say ‘so many men’ 😉 We forget how much God has planned for us and we cut ourselves short. We imagine we’re incomplete without that house or that car or that husband.

We accept the constraints that people give us.

What is horrible about all this is that nowhere does it grow as much as it does in the church. We live in accordance with the church, not God.

We worry about how ‘churched’ we look and are. Our witness fails to be about God’s calling on our lives.

NO – I was not equating a husband, a car and a house but I am trying to point out that we do equate them. To often. As if everything in life is about planned acquisition, the next step, moving on, the natural stages.

Who gave us natural stages? Not God. Not really. Isaac was born well beyond natural, people laughed at Noah’s idea of building a home, Eli’s sons didn’t pick up on the whole dynastic paradigm of churches today… they went pretty wrong and God saw it, unlike our churches… Jonathan would rather have put his life in danger, let God’s purposes be fulfilled than be his father’s son. David chose to follow God out of the expected life of Jesse’s son, out of his sheep and his music, to building up a nation that needed it.

In my generally three-cornered conversations, this was one of the times I managed to stop and listen to God and to be honest with my friend. To be more gracious. Oh – that does not come naturally for yours truly as it does for her friends 🙂 ! Sigh. I told her we were only too old/frumpy/inadequate/whatever other excuse for some ‘Christians’ – it was the saddest thing I had to say. She agreed. Because, of course, it’s not ‘good’ to want more, it’s not ‘good’ to want to change the world, it’s not ‘good’ to be loud about poverty and homelessness and illiteracy and oppression, and it’s not ‘good’ to be discontent with wrong and injustice… Oh, discontent is sin… of course.

Think again. Pray. Again.

These ideas we have about a person’s possibility in the world – they come from a limited idea of what God can do.

You know that willingness to believe the least of yourself? It sounds to God like you’re believing the least of Him. And He’s fighting for you because he thinks

you

are

wonderful.

Stat.

Tienen tu color

13 Mar

Church today was one of those days.

You knowwhen your heart is all scrunched up and hurting because you recognise – thud thud thud BOOM BOOM BOOM – this is the voice you love. Every time I come into his presence and feel the whisper of his love, his arms, his voice – the vulnerability gets me.

HE made HIMSELF vulnerable to us. Forever. You know, once you’ve stripped away your defenses, everyone always knows they’re defenses, nothing else… Ever had someone hurt you really badly? Only the people you love can really do that… unfortunately! And the pain lasts! Unless – unless you have then opened up yourself to the other person. Completely. And they have to you. And you’ve talked about it. And then the love lasts…

On the cross, Jesus bore all our pain. Sometimes familiar words become innocuous… Jesus. felt. all. our. pain. All that was then and would be now. Emotional, mental, physical – wrenching pain in the foreknowledge of which he prayed in agony in that garden. Alone. And we kept hurting him. And in that pain, as he was dying, as he was being fully human, more human than any of us could be, he was opening up his space as God. The veil tore.

And we saw into the holy of holies. The heart of a God who loved us enough to die for us, to give us his dearest, most precious relationship – so he could have ours. The heart of a God who hurt under all the sin of our making, whose glory physically could not hold the sickness of sin. The heart of a God which we now could see – everyone could see if they wanted to look.

Putting that veil back there now is kinda pointless. There is power in knowledge.

And he was giving that power to us – to know that that was how much he loved us.

This is the God I want to follow. I want nothing outside of his will, or his glory. Nothing outside of him. His will for my life, for my career, for my relationships… for the things he knows I need I cannot put in words or don’t even know of. I want his glory to come rest on what has been in my life, what is and whatever will be. And intentionally, I want to make my life about him, in the fullest sense.

We shortchange God’s purposes for us and think to be ‘good’ is what he wants us to be, to be churched, to be ‘regular’ or even to be faithful… YES, oh yes, he does want that… But he wants so much more. He wants the riches of the nations, the hidden treasures, the purpose He set us apart for before we were born, the glory of the Lord, the honour of His name in our lives.

He doesn’t want much but he wants everything – He wants us. Don’t make this my prayer. It isn’t – although God knows I need it… But I’m telling you this, so you can nod and smile and join me in giving him this.

I want my thoughts, and hopes, and dreams, and desires to be his. For people, to somehow hear his voice in my words – to see when I mess up, and to see his grace. To want to seek him, to see him. I know that I am unworthy, except for him. I want him to be my all. The fragrance of Christ in me, the stamp of the Spirit dwelling in me and moving out through me. Even. me.

Esas palabras del cantador, Jesus Adrian Romero, expresan mis sentimientos maravillosamente:

Todos mis anelos tienen tu color
tienen el latido de tu corazon,
yo no quiero nada sin tu direccion

Todos mis anelos son de ti señor
tienen tu cadencia, tienen tu pasion,
no me importa nada solo tu favor.

Obedience (again)

27 Feb

I read this today over at (in)courage. Always a blessing.

Hurthle cells are mostly benign, but until they’re removed it’s impossible to know.

It’s about a type of cancer that I hadn’t heard about either, like the author – but what’s interesting to me, outside of the thrust of that post, is that one sentence.

How many things in my life are ‘probably’ benign? How many things do I allow to fester because I think they might go away, they won’t cause harm – not really? Sometimes ‘good’ is an enemy of the ‘best’. These are cancerous cells – they need to be removed. Sometimes we flirt with danger, not because we like it but because we think it won’t touch us.

This obedience is also obedience but it takes a lot of work on our parts too.

 

Lord, help me to throw out the little cells that may not be bad but are not good either. Those things that do not give you glory, and I assume are harmless. Those things that seem to have no purpose and therefore seem to work no wrong. Father, help me to be wholly yours. Take away the pain in the pruning. Take away the desires for the things, people, interactions and life that aren’t in your perfect will, that do not seek to give you glory and are not what You want for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Expect love

4 Feb

I write as I learn, and as I hear. Like anybody else, I suppose.

I used to have a dog called Misty. I’ve written about her before. Ah, Misty was a beautiful German Shepherd, with the friendliest grin and mischievous eyes.

She was very loyal to my father, and she bullied me because, of course, I was Little Sister. Her name for me – and this is true! – was ‘Yawooooo’. A sharp yelp-like Ya with a howl, which I have transcribed here ‘wooooo’. Er – best I could do, peeps! But truly, she would stand outside the house and call for me whenever she wanted to go upstairs to play or when she wanted to be let out of her kennel and had been put in, in the first place, by the parents. She knew I’d take her side.

She was lovely, naughty, mean, generous, loyal, amusing and intelligent. All the things a good healthy, growing dog should be – right?

I love dogs. I have had so many in my life so far and they have each been an indispensable part of the family. But I also love them for the lessons I learned from them. God always uses examples. I mean, get a load of all those parables! 😀 But jokes apart, every time the Lord wanted to teach me something as a child and often now, he would point to something around me and teach me in baby steps. Hey, what can I say, I’m slow!

Misty, although pretty familiar with the house and the sofas too, had a leash and a collar that we tied to the gate on her kennel, as an alternative to shutting her up. We rarely ever did need to shut her up. This only occurred when (annoying-in-my-childhood-world) visitors screamed and ran at the sight of a dog. Yes, where I grew up, dogs weren’t common to most households and some people – er – flipped. Then, or when we needed to keep two or three dogs out of each other’s food bowls so we wouldn’t see any fur fly when they got catty.

When we did tie her to her leash, she wasn’t very miffed about it. She took it like a good dog. Still, what has always stayed with me, more than ten years after Misty went, is the way she reacted to being free.

When one of the family undid the clasp on her leash, Misty would still sit in her kennel. Patient in the area of her captivity. She had this quirk of having to sniff the end of the leash, as it hung from a particular spot on the gate. She knew the circumference of her bondage well. And she would sit there, as if she didn’t know she was free. The thing is no one ever tried to loose her surreptitiously like some prank we were playing on her. I distinctly remember afternoons when I, teasing this creature of habit as dogs are wont to be, would say to her ‘Go, Misty, go! I untied you, go!’ And she’d good-humouredly thump her huge, shaggy tail and sit on the edge of her kennel. Waiting. And look at me as if to say ‘Who’re you kidding, missy?’ She had to sniff the end of her rope every now and then to remind herself that freedom had come. She had to keep going back to the thing that kept her in captivity so she could tell herself she was free.

Like me. Sometimes. I keep having to remind myself that I am free. I forget that God has forgiven me, forgotten my sin. I rehash. Oh, I rehash. Over and over again, as if I have not taken his deliverance seriously. As if I am denying the sacrifice on the cross that gave me life. The sacrifice was sufficient. It has swallowed my sin, my shame. It is gone, it is finished! But I forget so often. I act more righteous than God, I wait to see proof of my deliverance, my redemption, I doubt myself and expect me to fall.

My dog now is called Tassi. Well, one of my dogs now! She is a little Dachshund – see a German pattern emerging here? Yeah, I don’t know what that is about. Our other dogs have been a Dobermann, an Alsatian-Great Dane mix (er, also German and, in fact, sometimes called German Mastiff), several other Dachshunds, and a Pomeranian-Cocker Spaniel mix (phew, we got one half of a different nationality in!) Definitely something there to investigate! The German dog inclinations of the Writeroo family. Although… I have always wanted a Bassett Hound…

But, I digress.

Tassi is short for Pocahontas, which means ‘playful girl’. She is a playful princess, indeed! She was, in many ways, a Writeroo dog. I carried her home, and she slept in my shirt sleeves and lost herself in my laundry and cried under my bed every night, as a puppy. She’ll eat the bread I give her without butter. She’s a spoilt miss though and won’t take unbuttered bread from anyone else. She is very loving, loves pampering, purrs like a cat, keeps imagining she’s preggers and plonks herself on your feet inconveniently. She’ll go to sleep the moment you pick her up in your arms. She sometimes snores.

puppy dog cute cute dog dachshund black dachshund

The thing that broke my heart – in a very good way – about the Tass when she was getting puppy-trained was this…

One afternoon, she bit me pretty hard. We were rolling about on the floor having a romp. She bit my fingers – not too painfully – and ran away, playfully daring me to get her. While I was encouraging her gnawing at the bone I held, and gripping my hand… she knew, by this time, that a hard nip through the skin was not in order. Having suffered this a couple of times, and needing to show the dog what she could and couldn’t do, I gave her a tiny rap with two fingers on her back. It must have hurt. It wasn’t more than what I would do to swat a mosquito away, but I was stern and she knew from my tone that I was not pleased.

Tassi squirmed from the gentle rebuke and came running back to burrow her head with its too-long ears in my waiting lap.

loyalty trust trust trust

Coming up for the cuddle she knows she's gonna get!

She made me cry. I picked her up and held her close and thought about what God wants from us. How do your children react when they are disciplined by you? Do they trust you to come back to you with the problem? That’s exactly what God’s father-heart longs for. For a repentant child to come back expecting grace. Expecting justice, but knowing the love that is constant already.

trust trust faith God is good lessons

Expect forgiveness. Expect redemption. Expect grace. Expect the God you know. Expect love – don’t you know it by now? He is your father.

Know his love. He knows you, he singled you out and loves you crazily. Trust him today. Remember your love for him. Remember your trust.

I’m in love!

4 Feb

This is from a devotional I wrote in November, ’08.

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. John 7:38

Don’t you just know it when people are in love? They hold hands, they seek each other in a crowd, they keep wanting to tell each other the precious things they’ve stored up for the other because they know s/he’ll want to hear! And doesn’t it feel like everything should be different?

It’s the same with Jesus… Is that news to us? His relationship with you is the greatest love story ever! He died so he could have you. And when we accept Jesus, our lives show it.

That is actually a promise. His Spirit will flow out of us if we let him control our lives. If he fills our hearts and minds, people cannot help but see it. Let’s not be discouraged about whether our witness to God is making a difference but rather let’s be aware of the One we love every moment. And then our witness will make a difference. Jesus said *whoever* believed in Him would be an overflow of His thirst-quenching Spirit to others. God wants you and no one else in the place HE put you in to testify for Him.

%d bloggers like this: