Saltiness: Limits of Love

Often, very often, I feel like I am not making a difference.  Despite doing or being what I believe I ought to be, results aren’t always obvious or existing.  Yet something recently has me wondering about “results”.

My husband and I use to live close my parents, and I’d make frequent visits. Yet after 5 years, it didn’t seem to make much difference one way or another. I didn’t see us as building a relationship. I noticed my dad couldn’t tell an observational difference between me and my siblings. My parents would confuse my husband’s saying or traits with the other men of the family. Despite our best efforts, and many not-so-best efforts, my parents didn’t seem to notice much in particular, and this became a wear on my husband and I. We’ve moved. Not the big move that I wanted, but a small couple hours drive time. It’s been near a half and year, and I’m starting to see the difference now. Although it’s not the difference I want to see.

My parents show signs of not having us an influence in their lives. I see things like fear becoming more normal for them. Slowly, but much too quickly. I see a shift from my influence of more natural approaches (which they barely considered before) to a more store bought, doctor induced philosophy.  It’s not that they didn’t have some signs before, but now it seems to have quickly built steam in my absence of pointing out how absurd it is.

Is that it? Is that all I do with my life? I block out some bad. Perhaps I don’t even particularly bring good into people’s lives, but maybe I just block out some of the bad. It seems so little. It seems so ineffectual.
I turn my thoughts from  my parents to my husband. His parents are negative people. I’ve always been displeased to see that displayed over and over again in our short history together. The effects their negativity has had on his life were infuriating. But as of lately I’ve seen my man becoming something greater. It’s taken a long time, a lot of work, and continuing to challenge him in healthy ways, but it becomes more and more obvious. He’s stronger in many ways. Still becoming strong in a few ways. We’re good together.

Is it because I’ve blocked some the poison in his life and challenged him towards good? Perhaps I’ve become the large influence in his life, the influence where his parents once had their vice grips. Is that all that I do? Block negative with my influence?  I suppose it’s a useful thing to be, however lacking in gloriousness. Then I wonder…
Is this (in part) what it’s like to be salt?

Jesus talks about being “the salt of the earth” and many pastors and theologians have puzzled over this simple parable. What does it mean? Indeed there is some flexibility to what all it could encompass, but perhaps simple is best in this case.
My man and I watch some of the Food Network “game shows”. If the judges detect too much salt it’s considered bad to have a salty flavor, or too little salt is considered unseasoned.  Salt is mostly to showcase whatever else is happening with the combined food. It’s not meant to be prominent but it necessary to the dish.

Salt is also considered to have trace minerals, things that your body needs but it doesn’t need a lot of it. These little “trace minerals” make a big difference when they’re out of sync with what your body needs, too much or too little. Subtleties set the standard.

In relationships (of all kinds) its hard to wait for the subtleties to draw forth into the standard. It’s hard to see it add up into something. When my husband and I were dating, I thought for sure that I was going to get my heart broken. I didn’t see him taking it as seriously as I did. I knew I was risking beyond what seemed reasonable or safe, but I felt compelled to keep going until I actually did break. It wasn’t until he confessed that he wanted to marry me (and therein we got engaged) that I felt sure that he was in this too, and not just for convenience sake.

Subtleties, small things, they add up. Probably never as fast and securely as I want them to, but they do add up.

If my greatest gift is merely blocking out some of the negative of other people’s live, that means its still their choice to choose the positives. I can’t choices or add that for them. I suppose I was hoping that I could also do that, but I do not think my life has given my evidence of that. I suppose there are many things which we are grateful that they mere neutralize a situation, such as our immune system.
However it’s up to each person whether to work that immune system hard or to give it help, and then what kind of help from there. This is complication of working together, yet our lives were made to touch one another and interlock.  I can only do and be that which I am.  I can only make my choices. Other people must make their own choices. I wish I could help, but this is as far as I can go in touching their lives.

I am just a little salt in gourmet dish.

Women Facing Stones

There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.
“Why don’t you water the flocks so they can get back to grazing?” Jacob asked. “They’ll be hungry if you stop so early in the day!”
“We don’t roll away the stone and begin the watering until all the flocks and shepherds are here,” they replied.
As this conversation was going on, Rachel arrived with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.
 
Gen 29:2-3; Gen 29:7-10; Mark 16:1-4
Three flocks, three women. One well in the open county, one tomb in a lonely place. A large stone.  “Who will roll the stone away?”
How can we go on with our lives if the large stone remains as a cover for that which we seek to get to? Whom will we have to wait for? How long will we have to wait?
Yet there is one who has the promise to bless all nations within his body, who is able to roll the stone away. Who will not wait for the “correct” setting or correct time. Now is the time for the one who carries the promise of the Messiah within himself.
My husband and I have been going through studies, material, scriptures, and thoughts all searching through this idea of women in ministry. God vs women. The curse, the restoration of all things, the Messiah and Eve (and Adam). Who wins?
As people who are interested in this debate, we are those who are coming forth in the open country side. We ask ourselves, what will it take to find our identity in an eternal God who is not gender bias?  The scriptures themselves have been taken by bad shepherds who merchandise in the souls & flesh of men, and they have laid a large & heavy stone over top. Sealing us outside the source of what we so desperately seek to come unto.
Our journey has been hard.
Yet, we’ve been surprised by the picture set before us, as we come closer and closer. Something very strange. Something very different than we expected.
It’s not there.
The very large stone, that had always kept us waiting in line, and had made us waste precious hours of the day. It gone. It’s been removed. Now there’s a new man standing, waiting. Familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Loving and broken hearted. Excited, relieved, tired and renewed. Who is it that stands before us?
 “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”  And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it.  And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.  Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Rev 5:2-5
For better or worse, the Lord opens to us that which no one else can open. Our delight is that this opening, revealing gives us a sending. The times ahead maybe perilous, but the compare to the glory that is about to be revealed, it’s a small thing to endure.
There is something beyond us. Bigger than us. Yet we all get stuck on small biers. Thistle and thorns have kept us from coming sooner. Bad fruit that we were given to eat. It didn’t seem right at the time, and it surely wasn’t. It didn’t take us where it promised; it didn’t lead us to where we wanted to go. But there is the promise of redemption still.
In our journey to seek God’s face, to see how God feels about women, and what the whole of the Bible says, we have found ourselves aligned with stories of those who have fallen. Fallen for sin, or fallen for Love. Every turn has redemption in it.
We find it impossible to read all the way to the New Testament and find grudge-holding to be God’s ideal. Neither does the blame-game seem relevant anymore.  Instead,  when to comes to the issues of women, we have found God there in every turn, with love in his eyes. Heartbreak and love. Love always wins with God. God’s love swallows the heart break that was once there, until there is only love. It’s like Jesus…
It’s like Jesus and the women who was “caught in the act of adultery”. The whole issue seems to be summed up here:
“Where are your accusers? Are there any left?”
“No.”
“Then neither do I accuse you.”
Throughout the Bible there is reconciliation and redemption. Eve, Adam, and God. Paul, Junis, scriptures. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.
There are no long held grudge match against women in scriptures. So where are those modern scholar’s who are without sin? Will they continue to hold their stones and point at women’s “short comings” while denying their own ancient faults? It’s impossible to be justified before Christ while holding onto that stone, holding onto that power, and holding onto the blood thirst.
As it turns out, even if no one else will place aside the stone (whether large or small) God has already set a redeemer to his Beloved, and the daughters of God no longer wait on anyone else.
The well is open, the tomb is empty, redemption has begun. It is up to each of us now, to decide whether we’ll drop or stones as well, or wether we harbor contempt for a woman who was set up and deceived. And where is that man who fell into sin with her? Has he alone been redeemed, forgiven, set free?
We must reconsider that facts, from God’s point of view. Least we let the letter of the law ensue within us blood thirst for one of God’s precious ones. Careful now…

How to Not Become What I Hate

I have the luxury that not too many time on my news feed do political things come up. However, the do come up. I can’t help but laugh at the slogan “not my president” like an individual needs a president, instead of that which it truly is, a country receives a president. I can’t help but notice the venom of not getting everything “my way”.
I’m surprised how many people have fallen in line with this. Surely there’s other ways to reasonably express the same thing. So much time spent on something so disliked. …and why? What difference will it make in the end?

What happened to be the change you want to see? Or is hate a hot seller right now? I wonder: How do we not become the thing we hate?

It’s not just about politics. It’s actual life and character that are at stake daily.  I ask myself this questions not because of politics or news feed propaganda, but because I’ve come across (and walked away from) people who cannot be reasoned with. People who are destructive, manipulative, cunning & deceitful yet claiming to be innocent. The struggle was all too real. Too close to home. Too appalling. In the end, I got nothing. No one heard me. I was the trouble maker for pointing out the lies. In the end all I had was this questions: How do I not become what I hate?

In our lives, I believe we learn not just from good examples, but also from bad examples. Yet either way, we can find that this path markers can become more like our aim or goal. We focus on them too much and we never get to enjoy the path ahead of us. We can even get into messy situations or get lost.

If I focus too much on what I despise (for the sake of not being that) there’s a chance I could actually accumulate those same traits, that same path. I could find myself almost hypnotized by it. I don’t want that to happen.

I have to keep a balance. I have to remember that goal and not just the means or the markers. I have to remember I am not the things that I’ve been “shunned” for, and that those who would shun me, don’t know me. They’re unwilling to know me. I have to know who I am, not based upon the accusatory things that others say. I have know truth apart from opinion. …and that’s ridiculously hard. But If I don’t it’s consumingly destructive.

Sometime I get lost in destruction. I forget to move. I forget to cover up and protect the necessary core. I get worked over by those who don’t intend good for me, but wins for themselves. I am in the way. …to them.

These moments can’t define me. I am more than my weakness. I am greater than my strength.  It’s something that takes training and self-diagnostics. It takes refocusing and breathing good air. I have to remember what is beautiful, and let that also be an inspiration. I cannot fill my head with what I despise, and then expect that I’ll become better than just that. I need to consider that there is beauty which is still waiting to unfold. I need to remember that I can be part of that (regardless of what others say I am). I need to protect that…delicately.

I need to remember that no matter who “won” that there’s a lot of work to do. Good work.

I am becoming something that I wasn’t before. I need to cultivate that into the good that I want to see. I need to keep my eyes on prize, and not dredge down into previous failings. I need to move forward, because there’s more than just me at stake.

I need to consider whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise… then these thing shall also obtain a place in my mind and my musings. I will not be overcome by imbalance and injustice. I will strive for beauty’s sake.

 

Loving the Unlovely: Christian Conflicts With Israel

There ought to be things that still break our hearts. IF we consider ourselves to be in some relationship or acquaintanceship with God, then there definitely out to be things that still break our hearts in very tender ways.

I struggle to find the words of what I saw.

There are a people within Christianity who claim to love the Jews people, but they believe that something just like the last Holocaust is possible or even likely to happen again. These said people wish to do their part to protect God’s Chosen People. They believe a redeemed Israel will come out of the calamity, albeit a drastically reduced number.
Some times these people speak so factually it scares me to here their casualness.

But it got worse. …

I once heard a vehement Jew…maybe rabbi, I don’t remember right now…say something along the lines of, “Christians just want to use Jews to bring back their Christ! They don’t care about us!“. As if one religious culture could use or manipulate or sacrifice another. I hate how right he may have been. I could only imagine what he’s seen and heard. I know what I’ve seen and heard makes me sick to think about it, even as I search for the words.

These select group of Christians (fore mentioned) had a portion of them give a message/sermon which I heard about after the fact, although I was at the same camp…I skipped this particular “teacher”.  He spoke from Ezekiel 39:9-16, and he spoke words of mockery.

One of the other seminar attendee’s gladly recount the summary for me. The theory went something like this: after the Jews survive (barely) another world war, then they’ll see Christ and be humbled, then they’ll have to be on cleanup duty for seven months from all the Armageddon that just occurred, and they’ll become even more humbled. Then after that, maybe they’ll be truly reconciled with God.
My heart broke.

These are the Christians who claim to love Israel and love the Jew? What love is this, that delights in their being kept out of their own Holy City and having to do humiliating unclean work of peasants? While what..? The “Christians” get to hang out with the Messiah, partying because they’re so much more fit to be in the Holy City?
No. I do not hear the heart of God in this. No. I will not be with that crowd.

If that was the only way such scriptures could be read, then let me just say, I would set aside “party time” or “ruling and reigning with Christ” and I would go help the Jews with the disgusting, unclean work of picking up corpses and bones left rotting months after the most horrific battle of history.

These things should not be taken so light-heartedly.
Did this teacher even stop for two minutes to consider God’s heart on these things? Or how Christ works over and over again? How is that Christians can take verses like, “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” or “And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses“, but they are only for Christians?
How is it that there is still this idea that one must clean themselves up before God will accept them? How does one clean themselves up with God’s help?

In case you should become curious what is in Ezekiel 39:9-16 and what does it say… may I just offer another point of view? It’s not about Israel going through more disgrace and humbling. By this point in the eschatological story (end of times story), the remaining People of God have already beheld and meet their God in fullness. They are already a priestly people. Now God has put a new love in their hearts where they can’t stand the idea that something -even something defiling- would stand in the way of anyone coming up the Mount of God and meeting with the true God. Therefore, they’re so fervent, that they willing go out, work as hard as they can, for as long as they can, and they will clear the Traveler’s Valley, so anyone…absolutely anyone can come and meet with God.
They are not doing this to earn merit, but out of Love…the Love of God, which we only gain when we experience a personal encounter with God.

I don’t understand the words “I love you” or “love” itself when people hook with circumstantial requirements. Although maybe we all do. Maybe we’re a people who forgotten how to love other just because …just because there is some unmistakable beauty in the depths of another person’s soul, which our soul notices even before we see it or understand it ourselves.
Even if we fail at this… can we just, please, not put God’s name on it?

Can we just have enough respect for a being that would qualify as God to not try to make him into a tyrant or monster at every other turn? Can we just admit we want points for our deeds? Can we just stop putting other people down even though we find disappointment all around us? Can we have a little respect? Can we hope in beauty? Can we stop being mean to those who brought us here?

If we’re going to were the title Christian, could we just believe in the way Christ Jesus lived, and they things he taught? Could we just look at the scriptures without trying to find our own treasures, and just search for God’s heart instead?

Could we stop saying “I love you” just to make it easier to use people? Please… Please stop feeding your hate.

Can we wash one another’s feet just because Jesus called us to servanthood? Can we just act like the thing by which we identify ourselves as?

Something changes when you know God’s heart beyond the best doctrinal choices. When God doesn’t fit into our given options, we have a chance at expanding our world, our minds, and our hearts.

When Jesus had his infamous “angry moment” in the Temple, flipping tables and driving out the money changers… you need to understand the unspoken things that happened there. The context, if you will.  In those days, people sold potential sacrifices just outside the inner temple area, in an area known as the court of Gentiles. It was all the closer Gentiles were allowed to get towards the Holy God of Israel. Whether out of spite, commerce greed, or necessity of the day this area (the court of the Gentiles) had become so packed that barely anyone could walk around in it -because of the buying, selling, and trading taking place- let alone have a quiet moment to worship a still distant God.
So Jesus comes in see all this taking place and quotes the scripture, “My house will be called a house of prayer” …and the rest of the sentence is “for all nations”.

Hebraically, this is how you quote scriptures, in part. Because ever elementary age child learned the scriptures by heart. …or nearly. It’s iron sharping iron to quote part and have those around you quote the rest to you and still understand the greater picture of what’s being said. Kind of like we do with movie quotes nowadays.

So in this famous “angry moment” of Jesus at the Temple, we see God’s heart is broken in that Israel (and their religious system) isn’t taking seriously being the People of God and priestly to all nations. So I can only imagine if there comes a time when the Messiah shows up, and restores the fullness of all things, then these people too will see the truth about even this detail in the covenant.

When God shows up everything changes.

It would be absolutely impractical to have a half love for the Jew now, merely waiting for Jesus to come and rub their faces in it, and to think that will be enough to be a catalyst for their “full salvation”. It’s absurd!
If we want to make a difference in the darkest times, we must know God’s heart. We must know God’s heart beyond doctrinal correctness. We must not despise one we call our brother. We must see the beauty of what God is doing beyond our own selves and our reward.

Love is nothing if it is not lavish and strong to those who are weak and far off. And if our love is nothing, than so are we.

Form vs Function

If we were people who we really interested in living like Jesus, what would that look like?

“Blessed is he who takes no offense on account of me.”

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’  But wisdom is proved right by all her children.

Luke 7:33-35

Our piety does not surrender us to the humbleness of allowing ourselves to look like “a glutton and a drunkard”  instead we tend to be people who find our Godliness in fasting and prayer. But it’s amazing who Jesus often identifies himself with.

Many of us like a religion which permits us to be individuals who can learn, perceive, and enjoy God in a way of “personal experience”.  We like to conquer our ideals of God, moral, and doctrine without taking into account those around us. We find the nicest Jesus jeans in our preferred style, and we slip them on. We look good, and we feel confident. What could be better?

Form vs Function.

Jesus seems to have this crazy idea that the Laws of God are about helping people come into fullness. We perceive the Laws of God as borders. Instead of growing into fullness, we grow into the Laws of God. …or in modern day Christianity we grow into the acceptable practices of our local congregation or denomination.

In fitness, there’s a debate about form vs function. Many people workout to achieve a specific form and to look a certain way….but other than looks, it holds no purpose, and often holds no commitment.
Other people have hobbies or jobs that are physically demanding, and therefore they workout to stay at the top of their game: function.
Idealistically, it’s better to take up a new hobby which is going to keep you moving and preforming and working towards a specific function. …But realistically, most of us just want the looks aspect.

Jesus seems to believe the Laws of God are for function…not a form.
Jesus seems to believe that there is freedom in living according to the heart of God.

…Yet…we look for our “spiritual growth” in things that appear pious. We look for spiritual fervor in outward dedications and declarations. We believe that the “straight and narrow” is a toll road. We do not think of setting our sight on the things of God to be a widening view. But why?

Who told us what spirituality and maturity look like? Have we based these examples on the examples of Christ? Do we base our character on the words of Christ? Or do we find it more permissible to follow the example of the religious people next to us? Afterall…who can be like Christ…right?

Maybe the truth is, you simply can’t master the things of God by way of “OR”. Maybe we weren’t meant to complete our spiritual based on our own individual experience of God. Maybe God created us to be woven together; those who fast & pray along with those who drink and eat well.

Maybe God created the quiet to interweave with the chatty and those who laugh nervously at silent moments. Maybe God created those with clean hands to embrace those who struggle with addictions. Maybe… maybe we learn from one another, and the stories that each of us have to tell. Maybe we find God when we listen to the stories of the brethren and allow our hearts to beat a little faster, a little more achingly, a little harder when we hear these stories.

Maybe we were meant to meet with God face to face, instead of just having one representative tell us how it’s all suppose to be. But maybe we didn’t understand this God is different. But maybe there’s time…

Dispelling Man Myths

Once upon time, I was told you can’t change modern Christiantiy if you’re not part of it. You can’t change church if you don’t attend the buildings. Luckily, I’m a skeptical person. I didn’t believe that then and I don’t believe it now. I very much live on the fringe, the outside, or the you’re-going-to-hell lane. I don’t mind, the air is good out here, and I can have all the truth I can forage for. It’s awesome!
Yet once in while I peek in to see how hints are things going. And of course, it’s always the same. No progress. No clue. No identity. Yet my most recent glance in this modern Christian culture still has me all twisted up inside. My spirit mourns like a death of loved one. My mind reels to imagine healing for this ridiculous offense.
Men. My dear men, are so lied to.

#1.  A man is a man. Period.

Dear men, you don’t need a woman or partner or a fling or a bed-warmer to be a man. A man is a man, and this has nothing to do with anyone else. No one can become a man by traits, looks, sexual identity, tendencies, strength, surgery, ect. Life is in the blood. XY makes you a man, and that will always be in your blood. And if it’s in your blood it’s in your spirit. Learning how to be you as another ambitious task, but this is a task everyone faces.

However if your identity is dependent on your interaction with others, there will come a time when that will bring you into question. There will come a time when you have to live with yourself, by yourself, and still be acceptable to yourself. I always find these are ugly, trying times, and they’re worth the refining which they are.

I read some big mouth Christian authors who want to say a man is suppose to  get married and have children, anyone else is abnormal. In case you don’t know, these authors are liars (If they weren’t previously, they are now.). There are good men who are single, happy, and Godly. There are good men who are divorced, childless, and still Godly. There are a hundred other combinations I’d rather not go through. These aren’t abnormal, outside the will of God, incomplete, nor are they “gifted” with singleness. They’re just good people who are living their lives, letting their stories unfold, and dealing with changes of life as they come. …and that’s freakin awesome!  The world needs good men.

#2. (Similar to one). Being a father, husband, leader, dictator, shepherd, teacher, ect. does not make you more of a man than before, it only makes you more responsible for the lives and outcome of others.  So it maybe wise to “man up” but other than that… The Bible tells us not to rush into becoming a teacher or a leader, because they will be judged twice as harshly as their “students”. (Did your church tell you that?)

Honestly, this is normal problem that does not require woman or children to be under you. As a matter of fact, in Christianity it is abnormal to be a leader according to top down strategies. Jesus was a big promoters of “the least of these” the “servant of all” and general servanthood. Take notes from Jesus, because this stuff is not only manly, it’s severely attractive.

You know those old myths about a gentleman holding a door for lady? Standing when a lady enters a room? Or offering your coat when a lady is cold? These were simple old school practices of treating a lady better than a servant, or making yourself to be the servant to elevate a woman’s good reputation. I.E. being a servant of all.

Luckily, nowadays we don’t really stand for anyone entering a room like dukes, lords, ladies, ect… It’s just not necessary, so it wouldn’t mean anything to repeat it for women. Actually, it’d probably be weird. Yet, there still the concept of doormen or greeters, and poorer people not having enough clothing, so there still meaning within these two old school practices.

Yet what we face is practices without meaning quickly become existent, therein that what they once stood for also becomes obsolete. Then we say things like, “chivalry is dead” “gentlemen don’t exist” “that’s old fashion”, and therefore further driving the point that to practices such things now would only be peculiar not debonair.

The way we interact shows our character, but it does not install character within us. You do not become more manly by takin on a higher role.

In reading the opinions of Christian authors, I cannot understand why being a man depends so vastly on woman being in your life and generally under your thumb. That’s not manly. That’s aggressive, abrasive, and avoidance of the real issues. If one cannot live with themselves, why should others be subjected to living under them?

A man is a man with or without a woman in his life. His choices make him into the person he choices to be. Manly, boyish, aggressive, subtle, playful, ect.

As people we work together to become a better version of ourselves. Yet at the end of the day, each of us must choose for ourselves who we have become up to this point and who we will become next. Choice. Decision. Intentions. These guides our paths.

#3. It is not your job to be the “bread winner” “bring home the bacon” or be “the provider” of your family, whether that be one person (yourself) or twenty. It is your job to use your resources (including talents and time) in the most effective means of stewardship and hospitality. I know, I’m stepping on toes here, but this is too off centered for me to leave alone. Here’s the problem with that…

Being a steward means knowing what you have is entrusted to you, but it will also be required of you to give an account for what you have done with it. We don’t hold too tightly and we don’t take the responsibility too lightly either. A good steward is gracious.

Hospitality means knowing your life, your circumstances, your choices do not effect only you, and therefore you intentionally engage others, usually through kindness and collaboration.  Somehow, there’s a modern belief that thinks hospitality means paying for someone’s meal, and I suppose it’s a start. But it’s hardly the whole definition, it’s hardly a skim of the meaning.

What I’m trying to say is money isn’t the point, and it never was. It disgust me how much the modern church system is into and obsessed with money. It’s so very Babylon. So un-Christ-like. So far removed from the things of God. …And then Christian authors are going to stand up and say this is what God requires of you!? Liars.

Many of us haven’t figured out what we would be willing to trade for money. What path to take. How to keep our souls and keep afloat at the same time. Many of us don’t want to be our parents. Many of see a problem with how greatness and wealth are currently obtained. Many of us have this pull, like there something more important than how you make money, how much, and for how long. There’s a reason why this has occurred in our generation. There’s something about it we can’t deny. It must be answered. I hope we can. I hope we do.

It maybe odd for me to write to men or about men and use the pronoun “we” but as far as I can read, half or more of being a man simply requires the knowledge of how to be a reasonable human, thus the “we”.  It’s amazing that when we hit some root issues, like being willing to be servant of all, like being willing to see ourselves as stewards, like realizing God has made us to be a certain somebody now, then it changes what we are capable of. Some things correct themselves when root issues are dealt with, but certainly all things have a better chance of making adequate progress.

Part of our problem is that we tend to add to the problem. Jesus argued with those who knew the word of God and were entrusted with it, because they “laid heavy burdens on the people” and did nothing to lift those burdens. But Jesus spoke of God providing a way that is straight (and narrow) and a burden that is light. Jesus regularly spoke on heart issues, root issues, original intent of God issues. Knowing this, I do not think I can be persuaded that many of the modern Christian authors are helping the people.

Treating the symptom is a sure-fire way to die from medication, that has created new symptoms and diseases. It’s a ridiculous cycle that needs to be broken. One cannot break it by repeating the same words as the last author. One must start with the heart and root issues. Because that’s what Jesus did.

To be a man is not something too glamorous for the commoner. It is obtainable. However, if I were you, I wouldn’t buy a book about it, unless that book is the Bible and you have a few good friends to discuss with. It’s crazy how far off-centered things have gotten.  It’s really not as bad as all that. Yet it’s bad enough for me to be a reminder.

God made man. Not the system, not the clothes, not the money… Just God and dirt. And you know what? It turned out okay. Let’s not get too glammed up. The original is beautiful.

Are You Afraid of the Silent God?

Maybe the coolest thing about going headlong into the traditions of Christianity, based on the Biblical definitions of Christianity, is finding a God that’s actually daring enough that it’s scary.

It’s great to find a relateable God, and the warmth of the closeness of the Holy Spirit. It’s encouraging to have Jesus as the Good Shepherd. But sometimes… God’s silent. …and it’s weird.

It’s challenging to spend years (or even months) building a relationship with God, and then all of a sudden, just when you feel like you’ve taken a big step of faith, God is silent.

Questions come and go. Advice from well-meaning people comes flowing in like a raging flood, and yet your heart says no to all of it. Suddenly these friends become your enemies because you don’t take their counsel. Suddenly you realize your in the midst of the wilderness, where all the great saints of the past, have traveled, stayed, sought, ran, and generally spent some harsh days & nights therein. You’re in God’s country…. and God is silent. It’s heart-wrenching.

Just like the book of Job, when we go through hard times, people have too much advice and too little listen. Just like the book of Job when we petition a silent God, nothing but the voice of God himself will satisfy.

Here’s the problem: When God is silent, you can’t just skip to the happy ending. When God is silent, my life sits in silence. I am not involved in a type of spirituality that comes with a fast forward button. I endure every last moment which I live. I have skipped none of them. I remember them; I feel them. I am not nothing.

Silence happens. …and it’s weird. But it’s not ugly.

Silence is painful. It can be agitating. We live in culture that everyone rolls their eyes at the phrase “silent treatment”. This is not a relaxing spa day, but a use of manipulation. Silence is known to us as bad in our culture. But it certainly doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Even a long silence doesn’t have to be a bad thing, cause by negative reactions.

Certainly if we’ve spent days and months, and maybe even years into building a relationship with God, then suddenly we discover a time of silence, hopefully we’ve built a solid foundation in our relationship with God.  Because it will be tested.
There has to be a faithful God with a plan for more than our lives, but for all things. Otherwise… it’s all vanity, and the silence will break you.

Silence is like being lite on fire…
You want it to stop as soon as possible.
It’s uncomfortable to say the least. It doesn’t feel right. It’s scary. It feels like death. But we are surviving. We are growing stronger. We are losing things that we never need to be growing on our souls in the first place. We are transforming, on a good day. On a bad day, we want to quit, to leave, to give up, and to tell God that he’s not listening. Ironic, right? Tell God he’s not listening? But this is the reality of the unrecorded moments.

There is an agony to be wrestled, and not merely vanquished. Silence is the arena for such  an agony. If we skip it to get to the happy ending, to sing our happy songs, to say only good things about a faithful God, then we lose possibilities of being effectual in our generation, as all the saint of ol’ were in their generations.

We’ve never had to deal with anything quite so profound as silence. It is a discipline. It’s an endurance. It’s worth it. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.

Silence has a lot to say.
There are lessons to be learned that are not easy. Lessons that are not in cute $20 book at the Christian book stores. Lessons that come from living a life, and trying it out for yourself …once in a while.

It’s interesting that as my husband & I considered our faith, and considered that saints of old, we thought: why not?
I am a big believer in learning from other people’s mistakes and life-lessons, but when it came to the saints, I found that what I learned is I need to do this too.

I found that believing in God had little do with what Christianity (as a modern day system) promotes, and actually had a lot more to do with things that are record in the Bible. Things that people say aren’t possible anymore. Things that were so 5,000 years ago. I found those things to be the most lively and livable things about Christianity, or any connection with God. Because God honors his people for what they do, what they live, and what that shapes them into.

We are not a people who are solely about doing or solely about being. We are a people who believe you must have faith and you must do works. A lack of one only shows both as dead.
It’s not a demand, it the fluency of life.

The crazy thing that happened then, was that we found ourselves in the middle of the stories that all the saints have lived through. And guess what? There’s is no fast forward. There’s a lot of time and life that happens between one sentence and the next. Between one paragraph and the next. If our lives were recorded as movies, there would be a lot that wouldn’t make the cut, because it’s just day in & day out life.
But when you’re living it, yourself, it makes a difference. Everyday is a choice. Everyday could be pivotal. Everyday may be an endurance. And you feel every last one of them. They are important to you, and therefore they are important. period.

This isn’t a story in a book. This is real life. Silence is not only heard, it’s felt, and we do not make light of that. We do not brush it aside for a glorious “someday” we live through it because there are lessons to be learned here. There is life to be lived, and felt, and challenged here.

When God is silent, I can’t break that. I can’t move. I refuse to exit that silence. I won’t pray my way out. If God is silent, then I sit with God in silence.

If I believe in God, then I must also know the Silent God. I must know if this is real, what’s it mean, and how do I endure. Because my life isn’t just about me, but so many people have come across this Silent God, and have been told to “pray it away”, to ignore everything that’s happening for a someday that’s worth paying attention too.
But these don’t sound like the word of Jesus. They only sound like well-meaning friends, who are actually giving bad advice.

I need to know the Silent God. I want to approach him. I want to be able to sit with a Silent God. I want to know what happens with a Silent God. And I want to know him without fear. The Christian life isn’t actually about comfort and happily ever afters, those are only tiny pieces and a great big story. A story I want to fully live.

Can it be done?