Tag Archives: Christ

I Was Writing About Fortune Cookies, But Got Distracted By Jesus

One time I had this idea that I should start a fortune cookie company. All the fortunes would preach the gospel. I can’t tell you how much it would make me smile to crack open a cookie and find

You are a child of God.

Believe that he died for you, and you will grow in your ability to authentically care for the people you love.

You are more sinful than you know, but he’s already died for it.

The king of kings has called you his own.

In Christ you are more than a conqueror.

Listen, the Holy Spirit is speaking to you.

 

I am a gospel fiend. I can’t get enough.

When my boyfriend tells me about something that he’s struggling with, I often ask, Why is the gospel good news in that situation? By now he knows I am not just quizzing him. Well, I do want to offer as much practice as possible for him and everyone in articulating why the gospel is always good news in every corner of our lives, but more than anything else, I just want to hear it again.

Tell me, again, again, again, and again, what did Jesus do? Really? Wow. My heart changes a little every time I hear it. It’s like the love that I always knew was surrounding me, just feels a little thicker, tastes a little sweeter, looks more glorious, and I sink in a little deeper every time someone tells me the truth.

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Red Rover, Anyone?

The kids form two lines holding hands and facing each other. The lines should be 30-50 feet apart. The team chosen to go first calls for a runner from the other line, saying, “Red Rover, Red Rover, let Thomas come over!” Thomas then takes off running and tries to break through the other line. If he breaks through, he chooses one of the kids that he broke through to take back to his team. If he doesn’t break through, he has to stay with the other team. The game ends when everyone is in one line.

Wikipedia explains the risks associated with Red Rover in following way: When the runner breaks through a link (or attempts to break through), it can hurt the linkers’ arms or body or knock them to the ground. Practices particularly discouraged are linking players hand-to-wrist or hand-to-arm (rather, players should hold hands only), “clotheslining” an opposing player at throat height, or extending the hands so an onrushing player runs into a fist.

Seems like a funny way to get punched.

Red Rover is a game that is also known as Forcing the City Gates. It’s not a highly competitive game. Everyone ends up on the winning team.

Being in the church ought be like playing a game of Red Rover. First, we join hands, brothers and sisters in Christ. Together, we look over to the other side. We choose them one at a time. Which one belongs in the army of the Lord first? Where is his spirit already stirring in their hearts?

Then we call them over, one at a time.

“Red Rover, Red Rover, send another one of his beloved on over!” And they’ll come. Come, give us all you’ve got. Run hard at Christ and see if he catches you. See if you can break the bond of life that Christ has built into his people through his work on the cross. And we stand firm in peace because we know that the bond we’ve been given is unbreakable.

Test it and you will approve it.

That’s another dream of mine. That I would be one of many Christians to reveal a deep, unbreakable witness through the relationships he’s built between those who will join hands and stand, looking out, passionately, jealously, begging for his precious children to come and give us all they’ve got.


You Came At The Wrong Time

Can anything really come at the wrong time? Does the right time ever really feel right? Even the right time will feel wrong. Aren’t we always going to be challenged by the next step?

I was supposed to be single for a while. At least six months. Now who knows? It is silly to wait when someone who seems to match your passion for life and the kingdom of heaven is right in front of you.

As he thrusts the most beloved before him, tender even in his hardness, the jealous one—, thus I thrust this blissful hour before me.

Away with you, you blissful hour! With you there came to me an involuntary bliss! I stand here ready for my deepest pain:—you came at the wrong time!

Away with you, you blissful hour! Rather seek shelter there—with my children! Hurry! And bless them before evening with my happiness!

There evening already approaches: the sun sinks. Away—my happiness!—

Thus spoke Zarathustra. And he waited for his misfortune the whole night: but he waited in vain. The night remained clear and calm and happiness itself came closer and closer to him. But towards morning Zarathustra laughed in his heart and said mockingly: “Happiness runs after me. That is because I do not run after women. But happiness is a woman.”

I read this page of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and I zero in on, “You came at the wrong time.”

But, no, it’s not possible to come at the wrong time with a sovereign God.

Relationships are not for the faint of heart. A relationship should be your happiness, but it is also another challenge leading you toward your holiness. It’ll demand that you become full enough in yourself through Christ to share it with someone. Enjoy your blissful hours together where you have them, but expect something far richer than bliss. The Lord will not let your heart alone in it for long. He is greedy for you, always claiming more, making you more like him.

Nothing can come at the wrong time. And to where has it come, anyway? Surely God knows the time and I have no doubt that it is right. The question is: for what is the time right? How shall I approach this oh-so-right time?

I will never stop asking it.


Emilie the Sage

Since I first came to know Christ, I feel that I have played the role of sage. And I’ve loved being the quiet wise one to whom everyone seems to look. But I am not always that. Sometimes someone else is that person to me. I remember having long talks about people’s lives with them, especially in high school. Then I would give them some gospel advice, and they would reach for the nearest pen and notepad to record what I’d told them, word for word. That always made me feel so important.

I realized tonight, though, that Emilie does that for me. It is nice to be free to recognize someone else doing what I have sometimes done so well and not feel like my identity is threatened. She can be that person too. I don’t have to always be the wise one to feel okay with myself. I can both bless and be blessed. There is no need to hold myself above her or anyone else.

I don’t think I’ve had that kind of freedom in the past.

The Lord always provides the wisdom I need. Sometimes through my mind, other times through someone else’s. It is a beautiful gift either way.

Today Em was sitting on the floor in front of me while I rubbed her back.

EM: Can we talk about Jesus?

ME: What about him?

EM: How he loves us.

ME: Yes … I don’t know how to start this conversation.

EM: Well I was just thinking about that line in the song “Jesus, I my cross have taken.” It goes, “All must work for good to me.”

ME: Hmm.

EM: That’s crazy. There is nothing that ever happens that isn’t a win for God. He’s just rackin’ them up. And that means everything that happens is a victory for us.

ME: Because we’re on the same team.

EM: It’s like, even when we’re scoring goals for the other side, our team is still winning by so much, we can’t be shaken.

ME: God scored all the goals to infinity about two thousand years ago and people have been scoring for the wrong team ever since.

This is such good news, guys! We’re allowed to be on the winning team. As long as we claim to be on his team… and why would we claim anything but the winning side?

EM: It must suck to be Satan. Every time you think you’ve succeeded it just becomes a bigger loss.

ME: Yeah.

Well that’s about it. I am just so glad I got to feel someone’s joy spill over me. I live  in the same room with that! So good for the soul.


What are you good for?

To use a cliché expression: why do we so compulsively put one another into boxes? Are we really that desirous of full understanding? I don’t think so. I believe that every person wants to put every other person in to a box for the sole purpose of answering the question: What are you for?

No the question is not, as one might hope, who are you? That is how we phrase it, but we really mean, what can I get from you?

People asked Jesus that question all the time. Some wanted him to be healer, some wanted him to be breadwinner, and others wanted him to be a political hero. At one time or another he seemed to promise to be many of these things, but when people tried to corner him as a means to a particular end, he evaded them. People clawed around him, hoping to discover what was behind him, when the answer was that Jesus came—not to give us anything, but that we might have him. All of him. Just him. He who is. The great I Am.

Lately I feel like I understand more fully what it is like to have people look to you to keep giving her the “bread” you gave yesterday. I believe that this person does authentically like me, but she doesn’t want to really know me or be challenged by me. From what I can tell, she wants to do whatever it takes to make her life as easy as possible, a tendency that I share. In the past, I have been a person who has provided more ease for her. Now I have to be discerning. How can I offer what she needs and not necessarily what she wants, but still be good news to her? That has been a major question for my roomies and I.

I would love for her to know Jesus, but if we indulge comfort idolatry, her knowledge of Jesus will always be based on what she’ll get from gospel people, not based on an authentic love of Christ. I want him to capture her heart in a way that only he can. I trust the Lord and his gospel. They are very good news. I am unafraid of frightening her away the pull of the gospel is too strong. He loves her more than I do.

I think this is a place where Christians could easily have a lot of trouble. The Bible says to be generous, to give people what they ask for from you. But there is more to it than that. We are not doormats. We can often give more to someone by not providing everything for which they ask.

I am learning this through discussing it in community. Sometimes a little worldly wisdom from mentors can confirm what I feel is right or wrong when I am not sure that I can trust myself.

I am so grateful that allowing Christ to live in me, putting on his righteousness, actually makes me capable of asking, in all sincerity, the real question. I can look at this girl, a person with whom relationship is costly and ask: WHO are you? If I did not have Christ it would be easy to gain a sense of righteousness for myself based on being able to help, or having a more successful life, but the cross doesn’t care about those things. Who’s keeping score? We all already lost, and he handed us the trophy.


My New Heart Is Tested (And It Feels Extreme)

God has done a work in me. Allowing me to let my life be interrupted far beyond what I am capable of dealing with in my human condition. But the Lord has plans far beyond that. He is going to let this situation sanctify me to the absolute fullest.

I am being tested.

Here are the tests in no particular order:

I came home from work having been up since 5 am. I almost fell asleep on my way home. There was terrible traffic for the time of day.

Yesterday I spent the day in the sun, was awake for 18 hours, ran 4 miles, swam, and tried to go wake-boarding (making several failed attempts).

My room is still full of baby things.

Baby Marley is banging on the coffee table with jar lids.

She tried to wake me up from my much-needed nap twice.

She spilled my latte twice after I told her not to touch it over and over and over. The second time she spilled the whole thing and then splashed in the puddle, splashing my computer screen and keyboard, which I just wiped off with a baby wipe. (This is particularly difficult for me since my computer is expensive, I can’t afford to replace it, and I just had the keyboard and display replaced. Thank God a clean computer is not necessary to sustain the joy I’ve been given or I would be selfish, hoarding, and worried when I loaned it to anyone.)

Now she’s throwing used baby wipes at me. And now screaming because I wouldn’t give them back to her.

As I made a late lunch and early dinner for myself (shrimp and couscous definitely helped me to feel physically better), I closed my eyes and asked for the love of Christ for Marley and her mother to wash over me once again.

The overwhelming feeling of wanting my life to be all mine was not a welcome one.

I felt his love wash over me anew. I will need to ask for grace refills, Alot, I can tell. I am so glad the heavens are wide open and pouring the Holy Spirit over my head so I can feel it run into my eyes and stream down my neck, watch it seep into my skin and cover every inch–fill every corner of me, slowly, but surely.

Praise the Lord for Baby Marley. She is making me so much holier.

Deep breath. Release. Another one. Release. It’s not my life. It’s his. And it is so much richer this way.

Also, I had a nice chat with my boss today about the potential of a WordPress blog. I might link to this one and continue making posts on the my WordPress. A long time ago (a couple of years, maybe) I tried to switch this blog over, but I was unable to move the whole archive over. Now, I don’t care, the sooner the better. I will let you know when it is set up. Sorry, lj, when you don’t keep improving your service, you lose people. I can’t afford to be dated.

UPDATE: In case you missed it. I did move my blog. And now I’ve moved this post over from it and you are reading it on my new blog. Woo hoo!


Watch out! He’ll take your life away!

I feel so sorry for all of you that my words are not going to adequately express what all my tears have said so well lately. I am so overwhelmed by… well first, thinking of my parents’ anniversary, what a blessing it is to see my parents love one another for so many years. That’s a relationship worth waiting for. It gives me a lot of peace about where I am at. Reading a poem my father wrote to my mother on their anniversary in 1998 began this trend. They’ve taken such good care of us and offered us so many opportunities and so much grace and attention. I was and am overwhelmed thinking about it.

This morning in church, thinking about the cost of discipleship, how he became like us, how we are free to enter the world of the gospel-less to reach them. I was overwhelmed once again. I am not sure what moved me in particular. Nothing specific besides the intensity of being reformed. When God has his hands in my heart, changing the shape of it, opening the doors, and filling me with a new sense of mission, new kingdom passions, it blows my mind and the grateful tears will not stop. The gospel, freedom, the pursuit of Christ, they are such good news. I will walk the paths he is laying out for me. Paths that he has prepared me for.

So now I think our apartment situation is finally going to work out, the move is coming up, and he is making my heart ready to take on his mission in our neighborhood and wherever else he may lead me. I was just recruited to go on mission to France this summer; I would love to see my Dad fall passionately in love with Jesus as he is with my mother; there are some young people in our potential building that I can’t wait to let into my life. The move approaches and Christ is being formed in my heart.

The gospel is so satisfying. I feel better than if I had found the most glorious treasure I could imagine and I will sell myself body and spirit to taste it more fully.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matthew 13:44).