12/29/2006

Women, Men, and Me

I heard a man on the radio say that he wasn’t looking forward to being face to face with God when he died. He said that he was sure God would tell him of all the things he didn’t do, opportunities he’d passed up and blessings he should have received if he had walked better on God’s path. I don’t know exactly why, but I don’t agree with that man. God has brought me to where I am and I don’t regret the choices I’ve made. The only time I feel I could have made better choices is when I compare myself to other people. But I have heard in the bible that comparing oneself to others is a bad idea…

2 Corinthians 10:12-
12We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you. 14We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, 16so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in another man's territory. 17But, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." 18For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

When Paul wrote this to the Corinthians, he looks forward to being commended by the Lord. For the Lord alone has done the work in us to make us commendable. And if He has not done a work in us in a particular area then we don’t have that to be commended for. How has the Lord worked in me and in my life to prepare me for commendation? It’s not apparent to me yet but I wonder if it’s in the “field that reaches even to you.” Paul is talking about the teaching and shepherding of the Corinthians. In Paul’s life it’s obvious what field he’s been assigned to. Jesus, Himself, came in a bright light and gave Paul his commission. I haven’t been given such a clear guide. I only have my hopes.

After ten years of trying every easier path I have decided to go back to school. I don’t know where or exactly when, but I think about it everyday. God has humbled me enough so that I can see how erroneous I have been in the direction I’d given myself. Romance after romance with men, music, and ministry. Another dream has more constantly stirred my heart. Whereas the others have stirred my lust, ego, and pride; this other dream has stirred my heart. As John the Baptist moved with the spirit of Elijah the prophet to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, so I am beginning to understand the same passion. My own relationship with my earthly father was strained by the presence of my strong pillar of a mother (I love you, Mom. You are beautifully strong) so that the last ten years has been practicing the influence she mostly brought to my life. The quieter, but more desperate need for acceptance has constantly rivaled my false self-sufficiency. Most days I have sought acceptance and love until I receive it. Then I protect myself by turning my back on it and saying, “I don’t need it.” For if I needed it and it was taken from me then I would collapse. Around in circles chasing acceptance and then dropping it for independence has gotten me nowhere.

Maybe my desire for a college degree is also an ego dream or a pride dream. How commendable I would be if I had a calling that turned the hearts of fathers to their children just like Elijah! But there is one element of that dream that seems to stare a modern evil in the face defiantly: it places fathers a little higher than mothers. My generation is full of woman-power and women-rights. Years of so-called oppression has justified women in asserting what power they have to subjugate men. So 5 of the men that I love have had their children taken away from them. Has it made them better men to have mourned the loss? Were they such bad fathers that they needed to be severed from their kids in order to become better ones? I’m not sure that it had to come to that. If the wives and girlfriends of these men trusted in God they wouldn't harbor so much fear. What it looks like to me is an abuse of the power given to women. Women are given the privilege of carrying sons and daughters in their wombs and nursing them to health. But without fathers children grow up thinking that their power comes from mothers only. So the world, being slowly separated from real fatherly influence is abusing the other power that is a woman’s: the emotional power.

I have practiced the power of emotional influence since I can remember. But it has brought me nothing but heartache and disappointment. I can create a loving environment around a man until he voluntarily gives up his reign as a man and becomes more like my child. I thought this was the way a woman should be. I thought it was my only way to make an impact on my world. So I would break the ones I loved with velvet gloves and repair them in a way that was more pleasing to me at the time. I believed I knew how to live their life better. And I did it because of fear. I did it because I didn’t believe in them or in God. I wouldn’t relinquish control even when I’d convinced myself I had. The thrill of having a man look to me for the answers has reinforced the illusion that I have answers to give. I want to give back to men what I have taken from them. We women can’t stop men from looking to us for answers, but we can use our skills to fill them with confidence in themselves. Instead of breaking them down I want to build them up. That was always my intention and I know what the road to hell is paved with. There is a moment when a man must decide to be a man despite the hopelessness he might feel. I can’t give them that decision even thought I’ve tried.

Working with two-year-olds has helped me believe in people in the smallest ways. I don’t place unreal expectations on them so that they won’t ever see disappointment in my eyes. When they look at me I want them to see safety and security and someone genuinely interested in what they are learning. I want the same for the men in my life. Some of them are still very much children. When they fall down I don’t make a big deal out of it and they don’t cry. I want to consistently be someone that believes in them no matter what.

Where am I going with this? I am all over the place. Isn’t it just like a woman to ride a train of thought around in circles? I know what men are good for. Among many other things, they are good for direction. Trains are like men. They are powerful in their direction as if they are on a track prepared for them in advance. When men think like men they are unstoppable forces, made in God’s image and created for His glory.
God in Heaven, I pray that You would give me more of a passion for fathers hearts turning to their children. I pray that You would open doors for me to do Your work in men’s lives. I pray that you would use me to bring families back together under the true head of the household. If my life is good for anything, let it be good for Your purposes. Teach me and guide me in the way everlasting. By Jesus’ blood I pray, amen.

12/24/2006

God is Love, not Law

God gave us the law through Moses to show us our sin. Then He gave us Jesus' example to show even the ones who thought they had the law down that they were sinners. The law is there because humans insist on their own righteousness apart from God. We want to believe that we are 'a good person'. We want any excuse to not need God. The law and Christ's example shows us how far we fall short.

Our eternity is in the hands of God. It's only by His mercy through faith that we will be saved from destruction. Our sin nature will do anything to keep from trusting in God. Satan has had thousands of years to mold a sin-loving environment around us. Yet God's love still breaks through and gently shows us our need for Him.

Jesus Christ showed the lost sheep that God is love, not law. The Pharisees worshipped law and despised love and crucified Him. Jesus said in Matthew 23 to do as the Pharisees say, not as they do. The Pharisees preached God's law with zeal but they themselves didn't understand it.

When I think of the pages of laws given to Moses I think 'there is no way we could follow that now'. Maybe not, but the law shows us God's character and standard of living. The law is the way God meant it to be for His chosen people Israel. Originally the only law we had was "Thou shalt not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." More laws were added because we strayed further away from knowing Him personally. By the time of the Pharisees, and even now, there is no legal substitute for a relationship with the Living God.

12/23/2006

Weighting for a Clue

You know when you want to rely upon someone but you see already that they are relying upon you first? Then you have to choose to be the support or to ask them for support instead. Usually I am holding them up and I don't mention anything about how I'm getting weaker by the second. There never seems to be a good opportunity. Oblivious, they add more weight to my load and I just can't hold it anymore. I drop them with a loud crash. They are shocked and usually unable to recover. I regretfully take my leave while they try to convince me I've betrayed them.

People think I can handle more than I actually can. Why do I wear this superhero uniform? Is it my fear of being ordinary? Maybe it's my fear or being insignificant. If I am a normal person with needs then I will be pushed into the gutter and flushed down the storm drain, lost in the shuffle. But if I have an air of confidence and invincibility I will be picked first by the team leader. I’ve convinced myself that I can handle so much that I get in over my head. But my pride has turned to apathy. It’s lonely at the top.

I am this benevolent force to be reckoned with. No wonder my relationship with God is suffering. He is the only force to be reckoned with and I am reluctant to give up my throne. I’m terrified because I’ve placed myself in a situation that requires me to be indestructible. So I sweep all those warnings of war under the rug and wait until I hear the trumpet blasts of the enemy. My kingdom must be destroyed if I am to bow to Jesus as King.

It all sounds so romantic and huge. Really it’s silly human garbage. We all go through this in one form or another. Surrendering to God is not in our nature, though we were created for just that! Does that make sense? No it doesn’t. I am dog-paddling in circles around my own mind. This is why I need fellowship with another human. Writing is helpful in many ways but mostly it makes my nonsense thinking sound like sophisticated philosophy. The last thing I need is to sound like I know what I’m talking about. Because I am clueless! I want to shout it from the rooftop of my castle! I’M CLUELESS!!

12/17/2006

Yay for Football

I watched too much television today. I spent Friday night puking my guts out with food poisoning. After the amount of TV I watched today I feel like I need to hurl again. I really like football, I just really hate commercials. And instead of just watching the Saints game I stuck around for the whole entire Giants Eagles game, too. But I got to eat fantastic ribs and veal sausage for dinner. I don't want to hurl that up at all. It's the TV crap I want to ring out of my brain. I am grateful for my excellent dinner and thankful for David's family and the way they eat. They always feed me. It's beautiful.

I had a really full day, spiritually. I woke up on top of the pile and felt light as a feather. I bounded to church and spoke effervescently at pre-church bible study. Then the sermon happened and I fell dreamily into the depth of the message. From there I went to David's and my spirit went into hibernation. Now I am home again wishing I had that top-o-the-pile feeling back. But instead I have a headache and I keep thinking about my money worries and car issues. I know what I'll do! I'll stop thinking about it. You know why? Cuz I can't do anything about it right now. It's Sunday night and I'm going nighty-night soon. The morning will have to hold onto those thoughts for me. It will hold God's fresh mercies, too. I have several dilemmas I am hovering betwixt but I will have to just hover for now.

I'm looking forward to drinking a big glass of water. I love water. Did you know that we are 75% water and so is planet Earth? Lovely coincidence.

12/05/2006

I Want Lasting Fruit Flavor

Why do I let my body and mind get away with so much? I just serve it up some hot, smoking tobacco whenever it craves it. Sometimes I smack away the romantic fantasies that swim around constantly but sometimes I indulge them. Then real life starts looking bland and dull and unsatisfying.

I'm sure glad my emotional condition isn't a sign of my spiritual condition. Most of the time I feel like I am actually the devil's kid. Maybe it's because his minions spend a lot of time accusing me or tempting me. Why they are so close they almost feel like family! What I'll probably find out is that they hardly hung out at all. It's possible that all this corruption comes from my fallen heart. Either way, sometimes it's tough to imagine that I am in God's family.

I saw that movie, "The Nativity Story" last night. It was beautifully made and biblically accurate. It was like cool, crisp, living water down a dry throat. God is merciful to allow His story to be told through Hollywood. I believe that some people wouldn't have a chance of understanding the gospel if it wasn't in a movie. Who reads historical documents anymore?

Jesus said, "You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." John 15:14

That's heavy. How do I do what Jesus commands? Everything in me takes so long to convince. It has taken me this long to understand that I'm loved by God and it's still being doubted regularly. I can only be changed, I cannot change myself. So I wait and pray and trust.