Sunday, August 24, 2014

His Story ~ Perspective

Have ever noticed how easily the whole scene changes when your perspective is just a little shifted? Eyes can play tricks on us. So can our minds and hearts. It can be so subtle and many times we don't even know. Our bias, our eyes, tells what we're supposed to see, what we should see. But what if that bias is wrong? What if the eyes are lying?


A few years ago I attempted to change perspectives, to look at things differently, to look at my faith differently. It was a nudge here and a new insight there. And then I felt whole philosophies of mine shift and then crumble. I suppose they weren't really my philosophies. It was someone else's eyes who had colored my view.

















 But suddenly I was aware I needed new lenses, a different glass, a new way to see. The old way was strange to me now, it just didn't make sense. The mirror was distorted, I saw all the flaws, the gaping holes. I had been given a better lense to see that was really there. And what I found, what I am finding, is breath taking.







I see a story so cohesive and so beautiful. The fun-house mirror version only paled in comparrison. I see a bride-groom redeeming His bride. I see Holy appointments and set apart dates to meet with His set apart people. I see poem and prose there only for my good, for all of our good. I see Him the same from the very beginning of time until this very moment and then all the way until forever. I see places where I struggled healed. I see understanding happening for the first time in myself, in my babes.

Always first the eyes...I read that somewhere. The gaze is what defines the life behind the eyes.

Is our life and faith colored by what we think it is? Who is really responsable for the perspective we hold. Go back to the beginning. Get all the light into focus. Make sure we are wearing the correct lenses. Begin again.

Never again do I want to grope through life.





{I've been telling bits and pieces of this Story. It's the story of My God and how He's nudged my heart to dive into deeper. There's no real order to the story. I'm just telling it as it comes, as He lays it on my heart. Read the other entries here if you'd like---His Story ~ Rockets, Riots and Returning His Story ~ Tisha B' Av;  His Story ~ My Story}.


glasses photo credit: gitikasaksena.com
Sunflower photo credit: unknown

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Change...















Five minute Friday...where some sweet writers write with a prompt for the love of it. Then we link up over at Kate's site and visit other FMFers, to say hello, to make a new friend.


Today it's


 













I never used to think I had a story. I wasn't one of those Christians who was the end of it all and had God's grace come and scoop me up and change my whole life. I just grew up going to church and having my mom tell me God loved me. I'm not complaining. I am so very thankful for my mother making sure I knew who God is. But, it was status quo. I was a Christian. I taught my kids to love God. I struggled. I wondered when I'd get my spiritual life right. I hardly ever really found time to read the bible. I was overwhelmed, over worked, under appreciated. I didn't even know how my life could change. God's grace did reach down and scoop me up but it wasn't as obvious as some of those great testimony stories you sometimes hear. Many people wouldn't even know. But I know. I know God spoke into my life and I almost chose not to listen. But His persistent grace (so often in the form of great discomfort and overwhelming pain that I knew something had to give) made me change. I have the story now. I changed from an over emotional angry person who couldn't handle my hormones or my life to a woman who knows Who is in control. I changed from a person whose heart was so broken and who grieved over what wasn't to a person who treasures what IS. He changed me from living status quo to living as His Beloved. But the change wasn't passive. It only came when I learned that following Him could never be a cognitive exercise. I changed. I changed what I did. And what I didn't do. I made a choice: the choice to follow Him, to change my misconceptions, comforts and traditions. He changed my heart so I could want to.

So I have a story now...I'm new. I'm different. I'm changed. 

Stop.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Birthdays, Justice, and How to LIVE

I turned 35 last week. And that's the first time I've seen that in print.  Age is strange. It's a label and an expectation. 35 years. Three and a half decades...I've learned some things. I've had some successes, some failures. I've grown. Birthdays have a way of making us think, looking back and planning ahead.

 Just this week I've learned a few amazing things, things I had forgotten or maybe I didn't really know.

Last weekend was a teary one for me. I spent time praying and crying for all the hurt that I've seen cross the screen over the last few weeks. Rockets and bombs still falling, the utter devastation and practical genocide of Iraqi Christians, the Revelations-type violence being perpetrated against people for their belief in Jesus . It's horrifying.

 I also cried for a friend, a sweet lovely woman who is an amazing example of steadfastness, a woman I met through a friend of a friend on Facebook. A women who, through social media, I've studied God's word with, learned with. A woman who was taken off of life support last Saturday evening and without a miracle the doctors expected her to die. I sat and I waited for news. I cried for her family, 2 young teens and her husband, the legacy she was leaving...Unwavering Faith. I cry and I wonder so often 'why do I get a birthday, a house where I tuck in my kids, to be here'. We were sharing the news online and then a mutual friend stopped us. She stopped the laments and the tears. She reminded us just what our lovely girl would have been doing right now, what our Father wants us doing right now. Links of this sweet women's writing were posted. Reminders of her Love for her God, of her unshakable belief popped up all over Facebook. We agreed to smile and pray and PRAISE our God for ALL of His ways.

It was a kind of revolution. The mood online and in real life had changed. The sharing and the outlooks became very different.

All because we stopped complaining and started praising.

And then the news that came was the she was breathing on her own. For on hour, then for two, then the whole night. We were ready to say goodbye and here she was (of course she was) breathing without the help of a vent. We continued to praise and sing and encourage in our hearts.

By Monday morning, she was still breathing. She had even been awake a few times.

And also on Monday morning, some sisters in this little Facebook group kept the trend going. We posted praise. We remembered our brothers and sisters suffering and dying for our God. And we didn't lament, but we encouraged. We remembered the way to Live. We again understood that the way to honor these people...persecuted believers and a sister so faithful dying of cancer, people who are using their last breaths to honor their God....was to honor the name of our God.

In all things and at all times we can LIVE what others are dying for.

art: katiebright.blogspot.com


Seek justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with your God.

Yes...The tears may come. We may mourn the losses but really we will count it all as JOY. If our God is for us then we can be against us?! Can anything separate us from His love??

Nothing can.

So as absolutely nauseating as it is to see those images and here the stories, we can still live. And living is the very best way to fight evil. Live well. Live Justice. Right where you are, in your home, at work. Show mercy in honor of those who've been shown none. Smile. Forgive. Walk with your God. Live for Him. Love for Him. Show the evil that it doesn't scare us. And we know how the story ends. 

Love wins.

So with birthdays and new seasons, and while tucking in my kids instead of worry or grief that I still get to, I'm praising. Praising for the chance to and asking that my time, my chances not be wasted.

And as I'm writing, my sweet friend is home with hospice and her family. I'm smiling as I think of her having a chance to see what we all said of her, what she inspired even on her hospital bed.

She inspired LIFE.


{Update: Just after I posted this, I got news of this sweet woman's death. She died at home with her family there. So still praising and praying for peace for her family, comfort for her husband and that her children will never forget their mother's unshakable faith}.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tell...


Another week, another five minute friday (on a Saturday)...writing for the love of it. Writing without edits or worries. We write. We link up. We encourage.

This week it's




Tell them now while you can.

Tell him how he's filled your heart, how he is made for courage and strength.

Tell her how she can be mighty and beautiful and do great things in her Father's kingdom.

Tell them who they are.

Tell them Whose they are.

Tell of all the wonders their Creator has done on their behalf.

Tell them of all the ways you love them.

Tell them of all the ways they are loved by Him.

Tell them why...

why you delight in them

why you look forward to each and every day with them

why even when days are so very hard you'd do it all again and again and again.

Don't wait for another time or another day. Not was of us is promised more time. Tell them when you have their ear. Tell them before the world's voice grows too loud. Tell them in the still hours before they drift to sleep. Tell them in the new sunlight of each day.

Tell them the Truth. Tell them each and every day. Lies will try to speak to them. Your Truth must be louder and more persistent. Don't worry about perfect words or perfect timing.

Tell them.





{This prompt was inspired by the news of Robbin William's death. It was a death self inflicted by a man drowned in sadness. The response to his suicide was such an explosion of love and admiration of him and his work on social media. The question became "what if he new of all this before. What if his fans told him sooner". We should allow it to be a lesson to tell those we love what we need to, what they need us to, while they are still with us.}

Come on over to Kate's place and join us...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

His Story ~ My Story

So I began sharing this story a couple weeks ago. It's the one that is asking to be told. It's been my jouney. It's changed my whole world. It's the story of me, of all of us, the story of now and of the future.

It's the story of who we are and Whose we are.

It's His Story.


Today I want to share the part of the story that tell where I am and how I got here.

How my faith and my family's faith has grown and changed.

How I humbly see that so many of us {myself very much included} have been so very wrong for so very long.

How the steps to unlearn and relearn have helped our roots grow deeper (and stronger).


I'll continue this story. His Story. This part is my tiny sliver of that story. My beginning, my now.


I think it was 2008. I was googling "written teen testimony". My stepson needed to write his before his baptism and confirmation. And like in many things in life, I went to see if a google search could give me ideas I could share with him.

A link to a page led me on an adventure. I stumbled on a page basically questioning things of the Faith. I saw things in print that had been on my mind. I didn't know other people, people who grew up in church, who knew God all their lives, could have questions the way I secretly did. But there it was: a pastors page, questioning traditions of men, asking if they really were what the bible really said.

I dove in and read my bible like never before.

But I can go back further than that.

I was little. I was in the back seat of our station wagon and my mom prayed with me. Asked the Holy Spirit to be with me, to teach me. There is no time in my life that I don't remember knowing God. I owe my mother for that. And I am so very thankful.

I had basic churched-kid church life. I attended different protestant churches, went to Sunday school and youth retreats. One of my first crushes was a boy from church. I did have some not so basic experiences too. My family was actually kicked out of one church just before it morphed into a cult. (Seriously). I encountered some truly God-loving people in my young walk. I had leukemia and depression and through both those storms I met people at perfect times who spoke God's truth into my life.

I was a teen who pushed all the limits. I never questioned God or what He wanted from me. I knew very well what His expectations were. I did my own thing though. I'd cut school and then debate the bible with people. I refused to go to church with my mom as a teen. It wasn't church in general. It was this specific church. I didn't like it. I had a bad feeling.

I met my husband. We got engaged. One night we stayed up way late, talking. We prayed together for the first time that night. He gave his life to God. We looked for a church to be married in. We found one and we've attended there ever since. well, until....

So back to reading my bible like never before. I was. And I was seeing something. A theme. A theme I don't remember being taught in church. It was a story. A Marriage. A people. God's people. One people. He loved them. They strayed. He brought them back. One people. He gave them a way to live. The questions led to more questions and it led to answers, not from tradition or creeds but from His word alone.

We read as a family.

When we left behind pre-conceived, we saw the emphasis doing something...It was more than belief. It was about faith but not as we define faith in English or Greek. No. It's not just a cognitive exercise. It's doing and living and looking very different than the world around us. Sure, we always knew we needed to have action in our faith. But why was there a vague notion of what that action is to be...We saw that when we set aside our bias that God's Word is actually quite clear.


And then our homeschool curriculum had us study history from the perspective of God's people. History through Israel's eyes. We saw their walk in relation to the time and place they lived. We celebrated the sabbath and the feasts outlined in the bible. We saw how they all pointed ahead, to what was to come and they helped us remember all He done. That did it. We were hooked. We saw that all those things we thought applied to someone else, people from another time, another place, actually was our story. This was us. We were God's people. Not some new group to replace the old. We were added in, grafted in. One people. We knew that we wanted to be people who followed after God and did what He said. We no longer wanted to follow a man made compilation of traditions. We saw that we have been guilty of what His people have been guilty of since the beginning of time: replacing the commands of God with the traditions of man.



So we stepped out and began making changes. It's a process. It's a beautiful, messy life changing process. The first real change, I think was just in our minds. We saw relevance where we were sure we were told wasn't there. We were confused. Why did God set aside days and call them holy and then somehow they became irrelevant? Who decided Christ followers wouldn't actually do what Christ did? Then we, bit by little bit, began to look at His commands as a whole to see what had we assumed didn't matter any more. We saw some commands that seemed silly to ignore like don't eat pork. (God said so and that's enough but there's also eye opening scientific reasons you can read about here and here) and then some we had to study out to understand the hows and whys behind them, like adding fringes to our garments (to remember), and not wearing wool and linen together (there's some cool emerging science on that one). And there are a few we don't understand exactly why, but that's ok. We don't have to know it all this very moment. We are happy to dig and pray and wait and try to understand.





We are beginning to see our children take seriously the commands of God. My youngest never forgets his tzitzit (fringes). My oldest loved bacon but is happy to not even think of eating it. Why? Simply because God said so. We've practiced doing concrete things that He has asked. So then when the abstract comes: love each other, give when it's hard, forgive-- the obedience has been practiced. It has more weight.

So this is where I am. I am learning more than I ever knew I could. I am carefully reading through all of God's Word. I am understanding things in a way I didn't know they could be understood. And all of this is only by His grace.

And this where my family is. We're learning together. We're attempting to do what He asked. We believe the time is growing short.

If you're interested, I'll share some of what I'm learning as I go. I tell His Story the way He's been telling it to me...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Fill...



Five Minute Friday, early on a Saturday morning, but with a new host, Kate. Same deal: Word lovers write with a prompt for the love and the fun. No edits, grammar police or second guessing. Free writing for five minutes...And the heart of the community is that you visit the other lovely writers, to encourage, to make a new friend.








This week is....






Go


Fill instead of empty. Give instead of take. Pour and love and lavish. You'll feel empty. But when you frequent the well of the Water that always quenches you are never ever empty.

Fill the hearts around with peace. Choose to avoid the chaos that expectations bring.

Fill the minds with truth. Remember that the only truth is what is good. Something can be accurate but still not true.

Fill the house with love because they won't really remember exactly what you taught them but they will remember how it felt to be there.

Fill bodies with strength. Actual food and the infinitely more important Bread of Life. Because really what does any of it matter if the Soul isn't nourished often and deeply.

Fill up the world with smiles and words that build others up. There always is a choice how you view a situation, the world.

Fill wherever you go. Leave others with over flowing cups. It's an amazing thing, how the only real way to fill is to empty. Because He pours but He leaves it up to us to fill....

Stop

Join us and visit the new digs over at katemotaung.com. Write. Link. Encourage. 


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

No such thing as Safe Sex..


I'm sharing this here because it's maybe the most articulate post I've ever read on the subject...and because I wholeheartedly agree. We as a generation of parents need to raise up our kids with higher standards and stop picking and choosing which "truth" we'll live by.



I will not teach my kids about safe sex because there is no such thing | The Matt Walsh Blog

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

His Story ~ Tisha B'Av

I had a different post planned, but last night at sundown began Tisha B'Av or the 9th of Av.

And I just can't get the significance of this day out of my mind.

Av is the 5th month of the biblical calendar. It's a holiday. But not a particularly happy one. This day and those right around it are even referenced in the bible.
...Should I weep in the fifth month [Av], separating myself, as I have done these so many years? -Zechariah 7:3
In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month ...came Nebuzaradan ... and he burnt the house of the L-RD... -II Kings 25:8-9
In the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month... came Nebuzaradan ... and he burnt the house of the L-RD... - Jeremiah 52:12-13
This day is a day of sad remembering.

Traditionally it is a day of mourning for the loss of both Israel's first and second Temple. Both. Because they both were destroyed on the same day of the year. About 700 years apart.

It's also kind of mind blowing when one looks at just what else is remembered this day. Scratch that. Not kind of. It's nothing short of amazing.
Through their history, Israel has seen many tragic event fall on or right around this day.

From Wikipedia...

"According to the Mishnah (Taanit 4:6), five specific events occurred on the ninth of Av:
  1. The twelve spies sent by Moses to observe the land of Canaan returned from their mission. Only two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, brought a positive report, while the others spoke disparagingly about the land. The majority report caused the Children of Israel to cry, panic and despair of ever entering the "Promised Land". For this, they were punished by God that their generation would not enter the land. Because of the Israelites' lack of faith, God decreed that for all generations this date would become one of crying and misfortune for their descendants.
  2. The First Temple built by King Solomon and the Kingdom of Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BCE (Anno Mundi [AM] 3175) after a two-year siege and the Judaeans were sent into the Babylonian exile. According to the Talmud in tractate Ta'anit, the destruction of the First Temple began on the Ninth of Av and the Temple continued to burn throughout the Tenth of Av.
  3. The Second Temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was destroyed by the Romans in August 70 CE (AM 3830), scattering the people of Judea and commencing the Jewish exile from the Holy Land.
  4. The Romans crushed Bar Kokhba's revolt and destroyed the city of Betar, killing over 100,000 Jews, on July 8, 132 CE (Av 9, AM 3892).[6]
  5. Following the Bar Kokhba revolt, Roman commander Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the Temple and the surrounding area, in 133 CE.[7]
Other calamities associated with Tisha B'Av:
  • The episode of the Golden calf (17th of Tammuz) in which the Hebrews, after their exodus from Egypt, reintroduced idolatry as a form of spirituality.[8][9]
  • The First Crusade officially commenced on August 15, 1096 (Av 24, AM 4856), killing 10,000 Jews in its first month and destroying Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland. 1.2 million Jews were killed by this crusade that started on the 9th of Av.[6][10]
  • The Jews were expelled from England on July 18, 1290 (Av 9, AM 5050).[6]
  • The Jews were expelled from France on July 22, 1306 (Av 10, AM 5066).
  • The Jews were expelled from Spain on July 31, 1492 (Av 7, AM 5252).[7]
  • Germany entered World War I on August 1–2, 1914 (Av 9-10, AM 5674), which caused massive upheaval in European Jewry and whose aftermath led to the Holocaust.[6]
  • On August 2, 1941 (Av 9, AM 5701), SS commander Heinrich Himmler formally received approval from the Nazi Party for "The Final Solution". As a result, the Holocaust began during which almost one third of world's Jewish population perished.
  • On July 23, 1942 (Av 9, AM 5702), began the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.   

    I look at that list and I can't believe it. Yet I can. I don't necessarily understand why these things have all happened on this day but to think it's insignificant would be foolish. In my last post on His Story  talked of how we, the church, seem to have forgotten that God said Israel is His people. If we are His people also it only means we become part of them. So this history is our history.

What is it about this sad day? And is there more catastrophe to come? Of course we don't know, but I believe we'd be wise to watch and pray. And trust. Because we know how His Story ends.