A Spirit Crying Out

I have this sense, that what we see around us isn’t the world going crazy, in so much as it’s every person with a spirit crying out for a very similar thing. A Messiah.

It’s clear enough to see that most people perceive something wrong with the world or culture that we live in. Many people believe that by the hand of force they can make a difference. Others believe with the correct ruler or god or president, that this world will become more of what they imagine Utopia would be like. Some still believe if we follow the correct system, that will eventually work everything out in the end.

Whether we imagine we’re seeking justice, love, equality, truth, authentic, holistic, prosperity, or perfect …we’re looking for a way to make that happen. Usually with a leader of some sort to get us there. Someone who can see the problems and have a quick decisive way to bring order. Maybe even something that lifts up our own values.

The simplicity of this, doesn’t really sound like a world gone crazy to me. As matter of fact, the Bible might even explain this as birth pangs. A longing for something new to be birth, and to bring things into correction or fullness or redemption.

We call it “the restoration of all things”.
I see it everywhere.
Black Lives Matter, anti-Trump, pro-Trump, Isis, Jihadist, ect.

I find it really isn’t so different than these that took place while Jesus was on the Earth. Different names, yes. Different faces, I suppose. But the pushing, the waiting, the anxiousness and urgency -very much the same.

Sometimes (maybe often) we feel like God doesn’t work fast enough. Maybe that God doesn’t understand what it’ll like to have this trapped feeling of want something greater but not being able to affect change. Maybe God doesn’t understand time and history, because maybe he gets to live outside of time. Maybe God doesn’t care as much as we’d previously assumed, because nothing is worse than feeling stuck and watching glory & hope fade all around you.

Then again…

Maybe God does understand this. Maybe the only reason we even feel this way is because God felt it first. Maybe the push and the urgency within us isn’t just about a sinking ship, but it’s our spirits feeling a deep wind of change. A kingdom that has come and is coming into fullness. A world that’s beyond even the concept of Utopia or “heaven” and is more real the the turmoil we wake up and face everyday.

Maybe our spirits are intuiting birth, newness, life, …and yet it feels like its just beyond us. But how could it be beyond us, if our spirits already feel it? Already thirst for it? And already pushing to come forth into this life?

I get this sense of we are creating our own hell, because we don’t understand how to make heaven. We are actively involved the destruction of something beautiful, because we want it to unfold in our timing. Our curiosity needs fed, and it won’t wait in line. If there’s something great to be found from the hand of God, let us have it now! …Or so we often feel this way. Many people feel similar. Many are willing to takeover and show God how it’s done.

But Jesus faced the same thing in his day. This isn’t new.

The words he spoke aren’t irrelevant or old or un-relatable. They may even be the sharpest light into our own times.

The more the media kindles the fire and promotes fear, the more absurd things become. The more extreme “good people” start to think. The more we create our own hell within the distractions that pull us way from what are spirits are saying. “This isn’t truth. This isn’t right. There has to be something better.” And that would be the most correct thing that could be said.

There something better. There is a culture that brings us into fullness. There is a Promised One who brings justice, who rewards the hard-worker, who empowers the forgotten & oppressed people, who sets the world in way that allows fullness, purpose, order, fulfillment can easily flow.

There is that Promised One, a Messiah who brings the restoration of all things. One who doesn’t have a particular bent of a particular cause, but has in mind the way to bring all things into the beauty of what they were created to be from the beginning.

We are not too far gone. We not even as far as we imagine. God isn’t unaware or inactive. Instead, I purpose that there is a fighting, a pressure, a contending because there is something new, beautiful, and fulfilling taking place, even at this time. Our spirits feel it. How we respond is up to us. But there’s only one Messiah who can bring us into the restoration of all things. There’s only one “peace on Earth” that is truly peace for all mankind. There’s only one Promised One who truly knows and understands justice. We must be careful, not to pick an idol.

The world, our spirits, and heaven itself awaits those who will hear the call and respond to a gracious, humble Messiah. Not that we may have riches and wealth for ourselves, but that we may be servants who bring the restoration of all things. Who bring children to the maturity of becoming heirs of the Father. Who brings servants up into being wise & faithful stewards. Who can see hurt and know it’s birth pangs of something beautiful coming forth, and who can midwife that birth in its proper time. Therein bringing mother, child, and even the father into joy and fullness.

We are the people of God, through Christ Jesus, and we believe the Holy Spirit testifies to Yeshua HaMashiach bring us into the restoration of all things.
(Yeshua HaMashiach is the Hebrew name of Christ Jesus. The one and the same.)

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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.

Letter to Modern He-Man Woman Haters Club

Dear Men,

Thank you. Thank for listening abilities and your instinct to solve a problem. But sometimes just listening and understanding how this feels is good enough. We don’t typical need you to solve a problem for us, we just need to know you don’t think we are the problem.

Sometimes it your skeptical looks and brash words seem more against us than the actual problem itself. Nothing is worse than having to fight on all sides, and having an internal battle as well. If you’ve got our back, then find the sincerest way to say just that. Like all human beings sometimes we self-implode. Don’t freak out. Don’t critique us while we’re down, because we’ll never forgot the words of someone we once trusted. We’ll rebuild. We’re resilient. But if you wrong us, you’ve poisoned your own self.

Sometimes it’s better to be harmless, instead of helpful. Sometimes.

You maybe over thinking this “leadership” thing just an ounce too much. It’s not really about one person being higher than others. It’s not really about men being above woman. It’s not really about being the front-man, and it certainly isn’t about discarding childhood dreams of superheroes, Pirates, Knights, G.I. Joe guys, inventors, or incredible athlete. The world needs people who understand how to use their own skills, training, minds, hopes, ambition, and heart to become something no one else expected of them.

Someone once said courage isn’t the absence of fear, but merely the decision that something is more important than that fear.

And it takes courage to know what it is to be a man without someone else specifically telling you what that means. But take a look around! There’s a lot of bad advice and bad results, but you, you are not a statistic. You are the real deal. You are the one in million chance to change the course of history by doing and being only that good which you were made to do.

We’ve all been through bad things on various levels, and for those of us who have made it today…we still have a chance. A chance to be different than before, different than we’ve seen, different than the fate that’s been handed to us. But it takes practice and persevance. …Maybe that’s why I’m writing? Maybe you didn’t know, but you need to know: you’re not alone.

I took a peek at what it must be like to be you. You can’t imagine the outrage anger I felt. Well…maybe if anyone can imagine it’s you. I don’t know how to say it any other way, expect to say you’ve been lied too. Bombarded with lies, from what I’ve seen. There’s more arranged truth falling under the titles of “modern man” and “biblical manhood” than is fathomable for any truth seeker.

You’re not alone.

Even if you think you’re made to be a leader, out front, you’re not alone.

Not that you understand us or want us, but we’re here. Not that we’re going to make you drink tea and dress up, unless you’re into that kind of thing. Not that we need a hero, but that we’d welcome the one that you are. Not that you’d understand this…but you were never alone. We were always part of you, and when you push us away, you’re ripping off a piece of your chest, a piece of your core, and tossing it aside. God… That has to hurt!

But we were made to work together.

You know that crazy piece of scripture? “Neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female…for all are on in Christ Jesus.”  That’s how it was in the original design, all one, working together, distinctly different but still one. And that what Messiah came to redeem “the restoration of all things”.

So when someone tells you to be a man by standing out in front as the leader, or to be a gentleman by opening the doors. Guess what? We do that too. And we do it because we come from your created life. We don’t come from the dirt that you were formed from, we come from you. We’re meant to be along side you. We were assigned to the same post. We were together once. We were together until the day Adam disowned us.

Once we were “bone of my bone…flesh of my flesh” then another terrible day we became “that woman you gave me”. In between we were always together. Even sin and shame didn’t separate us. It wasn’t until a man disowned a woman that history bore this ever ugly scar. Now… They try to keep us apart. How terrible!

I’m not sure what to say. I think you’re still mad. Christ Jesus came to bring a restoration of all things, but so many “Christian leaders” would rather die saying “that woman” than to ever acknowledge the oneness of “bone of my bone…”

What has happened to us? Sin and shame didn’t separate us. A curse didn’t separate us. What happened to us?  The worst part is to see you …angry, alone, accusative, agitated, vindictive, and emtpy. You can do some much more than that. You were built from order, fruitfulness, life-giving substance, solid materials.  You are made as something which is very good. But you haven’t been told that, have you?

I am telling you.

We were made for more than we’ve been told. The simple wisdom of God offers more than the rearranged truth that has been published in the name of big-name, multi-million selling Christian authors. You don’t need someone to interpret the Bible for you. Persevance and a pure heart will reveal truth.

It’s like I said earlier, it’s not about one person being over another, I’m not trying to tell you what to do. I’m just a small voice of many. I’ve seen the shackles, the pain, the contortion on your face… You’re not yet become who you were created to be, and it’s because you’re missing a basic feature. Bone. Flesh. Heart.

You weren’t made for a platform, a pedestal, an isolating position. Your job isn’t to gain money, protect, lead. Your purpose is tend, care for, collaborte …with us…working together. We’re not a stepping block. We’re not weaker (believe me if we were weaker we would have stood up under these millenniums of oppression.). We are not inherently sinful or stupid. We are not “that woman you gave me”. We are partners in truth, in caring for, tending to, collaborating with. We are bone, flesh, heart. We are the second beauty that God created as very good. Second like an update, not like second place. We don’t know second place. We only know how to share first place. …or nothing.

Yeah it hurts to get kicked aside, but we learned it happens. We tell our daughters, nieces, granddaughters that it will happen. We are resilient. But you… Is it the same for you?

Is it enough to fellowship with other earthen-made vessels or would it be cooler to see a side of yourself present in a totally different way. “Bone of my bone…flesh of my flesh”? Would it be cool if two separate components could become one, strong, focus, ecstatic force of good? That’d be some “leader” wouldn’t it? That’d be some life. That’d be so uniquely original.

Division was never really God’s thing. So why support it now? If Christ came to restore all thing, why not work towards that now?

No one wants to take your place. I just thought you might like someone to stand next to you. I don’t want you to miss out just because you thought it’d be more manly. God didn’t think it was manly to be alone, but… If it’s working for you… Go ahead.  Just know we’re still here, whether you wants us or not, because we were made for this. And we were made very good.

Does Jesus Give Bad Advice? Church and Isis Part 2

 

 

I’ve come to see that Christianity is starting to have a major personality split. Maybe it’s not a new thing, maybe my seeing it is new.

Since news of the terrorist attacks in Paris I’ve vaguely watched the reactions of people, but even with attempting to mind my own business, I’m still shocked by what I do notice.

Hate, self-preservation, my rights, “those people”, blame-game, responsibility shift, closed-hearts-closed-eyes, politics first God second…maybe second, …and that’s just to mention a few.

I’m surprised.
Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I am.

So it turns out Christianity sometimes means modern Evangelical Christian, and all the crazy things that goes with that.
Other times Christianity means one who seeks God’s own heart, and all the crazy things that goes with that.

Apparently it is ok to be a Christian hate our current political enemies and anyone we think might be slightly  related to them, and still say your prayers, go to church, and pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is heaven“, ect.
Apparently sometimes politics has to do what it has to do and we all should huttle together under that, and then later on we can pray for “those people” when it’s safe to consider them as actual people again. In the meantime, however, it’s best that we use our social media to let everyone know how despicable they really are.
Apparently if you’re part of the modern day Evangelical Christian, then it’s ok.

However, I suppose if you want to seek God’s heart at all times there might become some struggles like:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Maybe Jesus gives bad advice?

I mean it’s not like Jesus expects the world to change if we live according to his words right? And of course, it’s the responsibility of the modern Evangelical to change the world, right? So maybe we should just reconsider these Jesus words. Maybe if we only apply these words inside the “church” system, then we can get them to mean something that could make Jesus right and us right at the same time.

…Or maybe we could be challenged that we have a God who believes the way to change the world is a different kind of wisdom than that which the world itself uses. The principalities use one kind of “wisdom” and then God uses a different kind of wisdom.  And the two wisdoms cannot be consolidated into the best of both worlds. Nor do they need to be.

There use to be this old saint who would always say, “Crisis reveals, and ultimate crisis reveals absolutely.”

We aren’t even in trouble yet. There is a crisis on our doorstep and so many want to ignore it and tell “those people” to go away. Go to “other Muslim nations”. This reveals who we are. What we’re prepare for. What our character is. …and not as a nation, but as a people. A people who claim God is Love. A people who claim to have the answers. A people who claim they don’t understand why the youngest generations are leaving the “church” and not coming back.

Last time on the Church and Isis we considered what it means when Jesus talks about being the Good Shepherd of his flock, and how this means we shouldn’t just give up on the lost sheep around us.

What I am saying is IF you are a Christian, then you have a responsibility. This is not a time to wait for politics to clear things up or for “the church” to get itself together. Your responsibility is to: love one another. Pray for your enemies. Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with your God.
And if you can spare yourself at all… then do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.

Is that enough to change the world? Or is just enough to change who I am? If me, then maybe you. If you then maybe one more person. You do the math. It’s God’s wisdom. Is that enough in this age?

Men vs Women …or Not

One of the things I think I take for granted in my life is, I have good men in my life. From time to time as I write, I natural mention my husband. I love him. …like that silly head-spinning, butterfly inside still love him. I laugh at myself sometimes. If I were in a movie, surely something tragic would happen next, because most people don’t believe in these content happily-ever-after-s, there has to be a catch.
But this is life, and with life is confession. I confess that I don’t always consider how much I really love my husband and how blessed I am to have obtained him (and boy was it work to get him!). But when I do consider it, I am amazed at our story together.

Yet my husband is only one good man in my life. I have brothers who I adore, cousins who are caring & fun, friends who are a joy and considerate, and I probably shouldn’t list everybody here. The point is it continue to extend and ripple out from my inner most circle on outwards.

Not that every single person  (or man) I know, love, and appreciate … I am certainly not that generous. However, I’d be foolish not to consider and enjoy the fact that in my life there are many good men.

I remember this one time, when I was 19 or 20ish, my mom said to me “Why do you hate men!?”  I was astonished. I had no idea where this came from. I wonder what my mom meant by that. Yet in this astonishing moment, I looked up at my mom and said with perfect confidence, “Just because I don’t flirtatiously pursue them, doesn’t mean I don’t like them.” My mom was silent. I think this hit the mark of wherever it came from.  I then proceed to tell my mom that while I knew a few jerks who were adding grief to my life, there were plenty of guys I truly appreciated, and to which I listed a few to put her at ease.
To this day I can’t figure where that conversation came from.  Was because I was happily single? Was it because the jerks who were causing problems from me, I stood up to? Was it because I’d spent too much time with a man-hating relative, which concerned my mom that I too might become that? I’ll never know.

What I do know is that some women don’t have the security and support I have. Some women might not have good history and memories of close male relatives. Some women may not have many or any male friends who they could truly trust. I think all of ladies know what it is to be hurt and used. If there is a woman who doesn’t know this (at any age she may be), I pray she never will. It’s terrible that it should be all to frequent.

In general, as people, we hurt each other. But there’s something so fierce about it coming from the opposite sex. It cause some previously unknown age-old hatred to rise up with perfect indignation, and demand the severest actions. Maybe something says “I knew I couldn’t trust him” or maybe something says, “I knew he didn’t really care about me” or maybe it’s something innocent enough to say, “Why is this happening? Why me? Its not suppose to be this way.
We all understand pain and being hurt. We understand wanting to shelter ourselves from this happening again. But maybe we all also understand a strange deep desire to connect and to believe that we have a right to be treated equally in love and the search for love.

Sometimes I think in attempts to make it an “equal playing field” our culture lows the standards so pathetically far, that it isn’t even connecting or relating any more.  Tell me, what is a relationship when there is no actual relating happening in the midst of it?  A -ship? A voyage? An adventure? To where and for what? Why not stick with friend-ship if there’s no further relating in the relationship?

What if
What if lowering the standards isn’t a way to connect or relate? What if we could understand the hurting isn’t of just masking it over? What if there is a reason it hurts? …a reason deeper than one person hurting another person. What if there’s something to this “age-old hatred” that needs to be tamed and healed before we just simple move on to the next one? What if it really is not suppose to be this way? What could we have been missing all this time?

In the Bible, in Genesis chapter 3, there’s this story that changes history. Most people see the story as “sin enters the world”, but then, to be honest, most people can’t actually describe what is “sin” without being super legalistic and unrealistic (we can talk about this some other time, if you’re curious about it). Yet some how, the most relate-able emotion, story, feeling, scenario in this chapter is rather overlooked. So let’s talk about it a little bit…

There is this horrific moment that plays in my imagination more than just any other part of chapter 3, as I read this unexpected turn of events from perfect beautiful world & relationship, to some unknown treacherous depths.
Adam and Eve lived together and they worked together in a perfect world. Then sadly by deception and wrong choices, they sinned together and therefore allowed brokeness to enter into this perfect world they’d been enjoying. After the realized their wrong-doings they made coverings for themselves together and hide together. Although sin and shame had entered the world, they still had each other. They were still together even in these times. Yet something happened when it came time to face God together, suddenly for the first time ever Eve hears Adam say disdainfully, “That woman that you gave me, she…
Suddenly unity is broken between man and woman. Suddenly Eve is out on her own, exposed and alone. It’s the first time in history when one human would publicly betray another human being. It’s the beginning of the horrific endless blame-game, and the beginning of endless wounds that would repeat generation after generation. “That woman that you gave me, she…” An echoing age-old disdain entered the world through those spoken words and that severing of unity.

It’s painful to simply consider it.

These kinds of woundings and utter isolating loneliness only could happen in a sin-broken world. This kind of pain was not how God intended for the world or relationships to be. It could even be argued that this heartache between Adam and Eve did not occur until God himself had felt the heartache of Adam & Eve hiding themselves from God. Could it be their human relationships were only able to be broken because their relationship and unity with God was first broken?
I have heard it suggested that we as humans feel heartache and betrayal so universally because God himself has also felt heartache and betrayal, and being created in the imagine & likeness of God makes us susceptible to that which God also experiences. Could it be?
I have long prayed for many of the man I know. Not that in some way men need it more or desire it more, but I once heard an old lady who had many younger woman consult her about when will they find “the right man” or a good husband or whatever the case. This lady put her arms around all these younger women and just started praying, praying for Godly husbands. Praying for men of character. Praying for the younger woman who felt exasperated over the whole subject and all their personal experiences.  Instead of coming together and saying, “I know! All men are…” “The good ones are hard to find” or any other the other ridiculous statements I’ve heard in my short life time.  The older lady, she just prayed.

It struck me as being so logical.

Before I meet my husband, I had prayed for him. Before I knew him, God knew him, and so I prayed. Today, I pray for many great men I know. Not that they should need to become husbands, or those who are be better ones, but I pray because in today’s world we certainly need man of character and caliber.
Again, I feel blessed to know so many great men around me. I am thankful. However I also consider those who don’t. My heart and prayers are with those women and young girls. I wish the world was kinder, but even if it is not on mass, I am glad to know a few good men who are.

Women: Misunderstood

I remember riding in the car and avoid the question, “What makes your blood boil?” I knew the answer immediately, well there are many things, but one thing that has long gotten to me… and I was avoiding answering it because I can be simply too fiery about it. When I sit here and type, I can measure down how provoked I may seem, but face to face, in a small space like a car, and with a new friendship …surely I could see overbearing and unnecessarily opinionated. Yet strangely since that time, it’s been coming up again & again, and it begs me to participate, to listen, to consider, to reconsider, and to engage.

I love this issue: Women.

Women, misogyny, modesty, submission, equal parts, the curse of Genesis chapter 3 (and thereafter), things the apostle Paul didn’t really say, Greek mindsets, sexuality, barefoot pregnant and in the kitchen, self-worth, dating, …and on & on it goes.
It’s an explosion that possibly has no end.
It’s intertwined with pretty much everything. …But just to make it a little more complicated than it already is, I like to add God into the mixture.  Although God often sweetens the deal (so to speak) this is one issue where it really brings out the bitter components, and it isn’t too easy to figure out just why that is.

I spent 10 years trying to really truly know the heart & core of whether or not God hates women. My question came from the actions & philosophies of Christian pastors, authors, speakers, and especially from young Christian men. It was the worst case of the “blame game” that exist in human history, and it’s alive and well today.

Most recently I’ve been fairly “out of the loop” with Christianity, women, and modesty. I figured I’d get back to these issues at some time… but I was wrong… at sometime they’d come creep upon me and beg again for answers and for compassion. Recently, that’s exactly where I’ve found myself. Just today, I watched a movie, read through a dozen blogs, googled, took notes, looked up scriptures, made more notes, and scoffed here & there in between. Shaking my head and bulging my eyes at the ideas which STILL exist in such open-ended conclusion that I wonder if deep down, even the people who are writing and saying these things, know they’re still missing something. I wish I could talk to these people. Not type, but really talk over coffee or even an empty table, and just spend hours with questions, stories, realities, unrealities, and searching for the deeper truth.

How is it in the year 2015 that we still have no better mass conclusion than to say “men are responsible for their thoughts” (internal life)  but “woman are responsible for their bodies and clothing (and sometime for the man’s body as well)” {external life}, and on mass Christianity except this as a good conclusion?!
What about the two become ONE flesh? What about in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female? What about in Christ Jesus there is NO condemnation? What about the body is more than clothes? What about faith & works, works & faith they go together? How can so many people support a Christianity that say the men do the work in their minds and the women must be responsible for all their outward things? That’s not Christianity! That’s ancient Greek pagan philosophy, and it was disgusting!

Where are the Christian authors, speaker, theologians? Why 15 years later am I still reading the same opinions in other people’s mouths?

These are spiritual matters of the heart and inward person. Modesty, sexuality, love, relationships, attraction (and many others) don’t start outwardly work their way into our heart, spirit, and faith -sometimes in a corruptive matter- No!  These are things that start inwardly with how we view other human beings, what we hold as worth, how we gain power or control or servanthood, how we choose to live socially …these things all come from inward decisions of morals, worth, value, sentiment, priorities.

How long will Christian continue to snub Jesus for the sake of Aristotle, Augustine, Tertullian?
How long will generation after generation of young women will have the unfortunate experience of asking the same question I wrestled for a decade, “Does God hate women”? This questions shouldn’t even exist, especially in the Christian realm, but it does and I hate that.
It makes my blood boil.

It makes me want to make a change in this ol’ world. But what can I really do? For now, I write, I research, I take notes, I talk (mostly to my husband), I hope and pray. I don’t think these task are world-changing, but it’ll have to do for today.

Spiritual growth, Spiritual maturity, and heretic

Spiritual growth, Spiritual maturity, and a heretic = What do these things have in common?

I suppose it depends on your honest perception. Honest meaning not necessarily the first thing out of your mouth, because many of us a trained to give certain answers immediately, but more like the second thought or third (or later) thought that comes up in your mind. The solid answer that comes to your mind as you real start to consider if we do faux-pas in throwing these things altogether at any given time. As you consider the question, and I hope you do, I’ll start off with a fun example.

My husband and I have run into some leaders here & there who simply find us “off”. Most of these don’t know how or what to call us at all, but few ever actually like us. Early in the year a pastor who was trying to thank us for something said to us, “There something about you two. You’re…” and as he searched for a sufficient wording and I joked, “Good Christian people?” to which the pastor replied “No. More like… uh…” and continued to search for adequate but not overly-blissful praise. This is something I haven’t stopped laughing about yet, and it was very early in the year when it happened.

More recently, I opened my mouth in defense of a Christian brethren who was being accused by a conference leader/speaker of descension and/or division, and since we (my husband & I) sided with our friends we were all accused of not enjoying the “spiritual meat” because “there’s plenty to go around“, to which I also replied something along the line of it wasn’t meat but baby food.
One might think there’s a big difference between actual meat and baby food… but then again..?

Also slightly after this last event, my husband was encouraged to write to the good-hearted leaders of this said conference, so that they could also know our opinion, after giving some time and hindsight to consider the full implications of it all. My dear husband also found himself getting accused (by such good-hearted leaders) of similar things “not appreciating the spiritual meat” “there’s plenty to go around”  that very same “spiritual food” that both I and he called baby food or to be politer, a happy meal.

Wow.

Can it be, that one would get in trouble for wanting to spiritual mature past baby food and kids meals and spiritual Cheerios stage? Can it be that one would get into trouble for knowing how to seek out, prepare, bless, share, and partake in our own healthy regular spiritual diet, and therefore not come starved enough to intake whatever is being given out? Instead we might actually be looking for quality ingredients to form a spiritual meal?  Apparently if anyone could get in trouble of this type of thing, my husband & I will be the ones to do it.

The problem?

I am not insulted by you telling me I am spiritual “fat” because I know how to feed myself prepare full healthy meals, and I am not spiritual anorexic or anemic. I am not insulted. Neither am I bullied by this. Nor can I be bullied into eating whatever is being served up, just because its there, and its what “everyone else” is doing.

There is this cool story in the Bible that you get to hear about once in a while and it’s found in the book of Daniel chapter 1. It talks about 4 friends who’s lives where spared when their country was invaded, but they were still taken away as slaves. (Good luck, bad luck.) From there, they got chosen to compete for positions of training and honor in this foreign kingdom, but in the midst of this preparation they were serving types of food that these 4 friends do not indulge in. Therefore they had to make a secret deal with their supervisor to only eat the foods which fit their diets.
In the end, they turned out to be healthier, smarter, and all around better off than all the other young proteges, and had much success in their new land, by the blessing of God.
(that’s the short form; it’s very suspenseful story)

I like to ask, Why didn’t they just indulge in the foods like so many others with them? Why did they abstain if God had brought them to this place of privilege, didn’t that in itself give them the right to enjoy? But I don’t ask to judge these 4 friends, but I ask to judge ourselves. I am a big believer in that if we don’t learn from history we will be doomed to repeated. We must see the patterns that have already been created, and learn from others mistakes and victories.
I think these 4 friends choose life while they were still alive. They choose to honor God with the “temple” they had left, their own bodies. but… What about the others? Maybe the other young candidates had previously been scared to death at being taken as slaves and watching their beloved city burn, and maybe they never recovered. Maybe something in them died, or lacked graditude toward God or just saw these circumstances as most favorable and so they “lived it up” while they could.

In my experience, the terrible thing about growing up, especially spiritually, is that when you learn how to make meals and share what you have, you sort of become pickier, in that you learn things taste better fresh and not prepackaged. This does apply to physical nutrient and cooking for your body’s own health, as much as spiritual nutrient and spiritual food. I love learning new recipes and meals and trying different foods, but I don’t go back to eating baby & toddler food unless I am ridiculously sick or in a gross-food-eating-contest.

In my physical and spiritual life, I still eat Cheerios, but I eat them with fruit on top and milk surrounding them and on an occasion, but not as a snack or meal staple. I’d be so hungry if I only ate Cheerios ever.

Recently, in this blog, we’ve discussed that there is a difference between hunger and craving. We absolutely have to know that there is a difference, and that we are not to mix up which is which. This part of growing up. We have to be able to discern what is healthy for our bodies and our own being, and therefore we must not take in just whatever is available, but only that which is beneficial and enjoyable (in a non-indulgent way) to our insides.
Our physical bodies are the perfect example of our spiritual health needs. Some people have food allergies. Some people LOVE pasta (Thank you God for pasta!). Some people like spicy. Some people can’t sleep because of caffeine, others aren’t affected by it, still others try to be health conscience about it. Listen, you must know what you need! You must disciple yourself to do what is best for your inner parts. And I hope I don’t really need to say this, but you do not need to be following trends, enjoying “quick fixes”, and going along with the latest greatest.

Be real.
Be moderate.
Be authentic.

So have you been considering what do spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, and a heretic have in common with one another?  I hope very little, to be honest, but if you’re in our shoes (or many of the sandals of the saints), they might just be the measure of success!
If you’re growing up spiritual, you might get accused of the opposite, but the proof is in:  “for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes” (Proverbs 24:16)

Let’s keep going friends. There’s more adventure, insults, and joys to be found, and I can hardly wait to see what’s next!

“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Matthew 11:18-19