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.


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.


Christians vs Romantics vs God

I did it. I shouldn’t have, but I did. I read another blog about “happy marriage”. No I didn’t read it for ideas, I read it to see how much I would disagree with it. 23 out of 85 I couldn’t agree with the idea or wording. 23 out of 85 statements I couldn’t let slip by without cringing.

When did idealism become so … mediocre?
Maybe some people are scared of idealism, so instead we shot for probability-ism.

Like for instance the phrase “nice guy” when your single these are the words that taste like arsenic.  “Nice guy” is the most general thing you could say about someone and still believe you’ve said something polite about that. It means nothing.

Now in the “married people world”  I’ve found this phrase “good man”. Wow. Really? Nice guys get married and become good men? Great.
We have a problem.

Example: Nice guys are faithful to their woman. So is a good man. So are many abusive men.
Nice guys tell their girlfriends ‘I love you’. A good man tells his wife ‘I love you’. So do many abusive relationship men.
I do not find these things to be crux of a healthy loving relationship.

Do people who worry about “a good marriage” not really know what an unhealthy relationship is? Or the similarities and role playing that can occur in an unhealthy relationship?  Maybe they’re just worried about personal unhappiness?
I am stupefied at the ignorance and the seemingly shut-up-and-take-it Christian attitude I see about relationships. Where does this come from?
Do they truly know what are signs of good or healthy relationship?

This have against the modern view of Christianity: mediocrity.

Thousands, maybe millions of church buildings, preachers, authors, speakers are teaching millions of people how to be a good Christian.
This is problem number one.

Being a good Christian is lie.

God calls for his people to be righteous. Righteous people affect the spirituality and history of the age they live in, merely by being that which God created them to be.

I was caught off guard this last time I read the book of Ruth.
I read about Boaz doing what was right according the laws and statures of Israel, and realized I’m reading about a righteous man.  Which made me think about the story of Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus, and how the Bible calls that particular Joseph a righteous man.
The proof of Joseph was a righteous man was that he was going to quietly separate from his fiance without embarrassing her publicly.  This is a little different than the standard of his time. This is a little different than the standard of our time. Yet this is something God loved about Joseph.

I’ve also notice how many “happy marriage” Christian blogs are against chick flicks and fictional stories of the such. It’s like people blame chick flicks for their unhappiness in relationships. Are these the same people that blame Barbie for their self-image problems?
People, there’s a difference between fiction and reality.
There is also similarities between fiction and reality.

Now some chick flicks are just stupid. I will give you that.
However, many of them stir something within us. Sentiment. Hope. Connection.  …So why are so many blogs, authors, and preachers against this stirring within us as women? What’s so scary about woman who yearn for something beyond the average “good man”?  What’s so scary about a woman who wants to be continual cherished? What’s so terrible about a woman who is waken to the possibility of the rollacoaster of love and the hope for the happy ending?

Who’s got time for that?  …Is that the scary part?
What if someone else is better at it? …Is that the scary part?
Or what am I missing?

God calls men and women to live beyond their standard roles within the era they live in. Instead there another calling for them to answer to, a calling from God. These people were God’s people. God’s righteous. The saints.
Dare I repeat myself?

Who’s got time for that?  …Is that the scary part?
What if someone else is better at it? …Is that the scary part?
Or what am I missing? Don’t you want to know what it’s like? That story that’s worth being the one that is written down. That story that’s worth repeating for ages. Is this too much to ask? Is this the fantasy that mess up the mediocre average.

I’m not a fan of the mediocre average.
I’m a fan of life, of beauty, of God, and true Love stories.

Maybe the secret of a “good marriage” is paying attention the story your living, and the make it one for the ages. Maybe the secret is knowing your story and not attempting to make it into some other story, one that doesn’t exist, one that’s average.

Maybe it’s not about trying to be or copy someone or something else, but by being who God’s created you to be, and by loving your mate and who God’s created them to be. The love story is right there. It’s still unfolding, and it’s beautiful.

Choices, conflict, perseverance, mistakes, connection …it’s got all the makings of a great love story! Unless we decide the best way to have a happy marriage to fill out the medium mediocre, and in that case we are no longer living our love story.

I don’t want to live for a happy marriage according to the assumptions of many of what a “happy marriage” is. I don’t want to keep a checklist for myself and my husband. I don’t want to rely on cliches for life-saving, marriage-saving advice.
I want to love the man I have. I want live the life we have. Take the adventures that we’re given. Grow. Learn. Not be afraid of changes, of goals, or of discussion.

Marriage, Life, Love … they are unique. Not average.
There is a calling beyond the standard of the age/era we live in, and that’s not asking too much. That call is fulfilling. There is more than average, there is more than happy. There is a beauty in the story you’re living. Do that. Live it.


Love Languages in a World of Profanities

If you’ve had any long exposure to the church system, there’s a chance you’ve heard an excessive improper use of the 1 Corinthians chapter 13, known as the Love Chapter. In 1 Corinthians chapter 13 there are character descriptions of love, but often it’s used a the chapter in the Bible that defines love. Personally I think there is a difference between a character description and the actually definition of a person, place, or thing…in this case Love.

If I saw to you my husband is a handsome, funny, nerdy, intelligent, sometime creepy, and strong man then you have a very brief character listing of my husband. If I posted a picture with no description, then you’d make your own assumptions about what kind of person he might be. However if you meet him, depending on the day & company his with, you might have a completely different idea of what kind of person he might be. Experiential definitions are super important.

If we read 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and say “this is what love is” it’d really be hard to put into practice in all the applications of life, or even to sift through different moments of our life and say “ah ha! there’s love!” because it’s only a brief character list. There’s more to love than the quick sentiments shared in 1 Corinthians 13.
However, this one particular chapter is important, because how many times do we lose sense of what love truly is in our world & culture around us? Love becomes to vaguely used we forgot what the core characteristics of love actually are. Moreover, sometimes “love” becomes a foreign word and we don’t know what it means anymore.

There’s beautiful older song by Avett Brothers called “I and Love and You”  which talks about how the three word of (or the combination there of) “I” and “Love” and “You” have become difficult to voice. Sometimes I think that’s an anthem that many of us can relate to, and can agree with. Sometimes words or phrase like, “I love you” have depreciation value set in so deep that the words are useless. Other times these words are so hard to use because we hold them so sacredly that there is no matching it.

Sometimes the most beautiful phrase get lost in our perception of the world around us. Other times, it’s stolen from us.

There are times in life when I’ll be listening to new album from a favorite band or I’ll be really into one or two specific songs, and at that time I also happen to meet a person. Now this song reminds me of that person because they happen to come into my life about the same time.  Well an occasion, when that relationship or friendship might go sour, I’d stop listening to those songs or sometimes that band because it so reminds me of that person who’d now brought hurt or shame into my life.  Those beautiful songs become lost to me, at least for a long while if not forever.
We have this same problem with words and phrase, and unfortunately sometimes the most beautiful ones are the ones we lose.

Sometimes the word “love” doesn’t really seem to mean Love anymore. It because nullified. Sometimes the phrase “I love you” starts to mean “I own you” or “you owe me”  or worst things than that. Sometimes the beautiful is stripped of its worthiness and we can’t bear these words anymore.

It’s curious to me, how it seems like more people at a younger age have horrorific words coming out of their mouth on a regular bases and no one shrugs or blushes or flinches in the least, afterall “they’re just being real”  or  “sometimes there’s no other word that really expresses that”. I totally can’t agree. How profanities are rapidly on the rise and words and phrase like “I love you” are declining in meaning… that my friends, is a strange and messed up world to embrace. Instead of embracing it, I’m going to suggest there’s something wrong there. Maybe something is being covered up. Maybe there’s a lot of hurt that happened to nullify the beautiful things, and all we’re left with is the ugly venomous things.

The Bible has this super simple statement, “From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks
Unfortunately in world of broken hearts where words are used for manipulation, words become nullified and often we don’t take the time to really consider what we’re saying or implying or what we mean to say. …and too often this continues to add to the hurt.

Thus we find ourselves back at places like 1 Corinthians 13, which remind us of some original characteristic of love. Things we had forgotten. Things we stopped considering. And some things we find aren’t there at all, but we had put them on it because of our bad experiences. At times something like 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us of we’ve been thinking about love under false assumptions. We haven’t actually addressed love in its purest form, and maybe we stopped believing that such a version of love exist. …and somehow, when we don’t see and don’t strive for it, it does stop existing around us.

When we allow our bad experiences to define our words, our phrases, and our expressions then we lose the freedom that comes from understanding the core characteristics of what these things can mean. Phrases like “I love you” can be painful instead of beautiful. If there is ever to be a time where I can listen to those old songs again, or where we can hear the phrase “I love you” again, then we’re going to have to remember the core essences of where the beauty lies more than we remember the hurt that came along with these familiar notes.

If we’re ever going to be in place where we can say “I love you” with more force and power than we say F.U. then we’re going to have to find a way to believe in the power & core of Love more than hate. We’re going to have to be willing to make a change that will remind us of some of the pain that brought us here, because getting stronger hurts a little bit. It pushes us to our limits. But being weak hurts all the time, and we hurt others all the time. Being pushed around by every experience and every sharp word brings our spirits certain death, and out of that overflow we bring forth death into the words from our lips and our experiences towards other. …unless we chose to interrupt this cycle. Unless we chose to seek core truths. Unless we start thinking about what we really mean and what we really intend to do with our lives & our words. Unless we reestablish our core, we will be pushed around by every experience and by every sharp word. Sometimes this happens, but we need to reestablish our footing, and get up and get at it again.

The brief character list in 1 Corinthians 13 won’t be the absolute healing power to redeem love for us, but it will tell us where to find love and what she looks like. From there we have to have a strength to approach Love and be willing to be in an experiential relationship with love. Then somewhere along the line, we might be able to begin to distinguish between our faulty experiences with “love” and that which love truly can be. If we chose to continue to do this regularly we might even find that love has found us, that words have meaning. that profanities are for the weak and hurting. …and we all hurt, but we don’t all have to dwell in our hurts. We can be a people who heal, who grow strong, who break spiraling cycles.

Choice is powerful. Thought is innovative. We can be who we choose to be, if we’re willing to try. Are we willing?


Do People Matter in Modern Christianity?

There are echoing words of one mother who said to my husband and I “No one has answered him these questions before.”  We had the privilege of meeting this family, just a few months ago. The parents had long been raising their kids in the church setting. The oldest boys were about college age, so after nearly two decades in the church system setting, there were unanswered questions. The oldest son(s) had their questions about life and God and how are some of things to even be reconciled or what does it mean.  It was a normal day in the life of my husband and I, expect for those haunting words that came later. Those words have place within us a beautiful unforgettable wound, which we often consider.

In the Bible, when Jesus shows up in the public eye and starts his ministry of preaching and teaching there are these shocking words that say: “They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority.
Seriously? They were astonished at Jesus, because he spoke with authority? These people had many teachers of the law, religious leaders, priest, and scribes among them and out of all those people, you mean to tell me that the new amazing things was that Jesus spoke with authority?

Of course this phrase “spoke with authority” meant that Jesus seemed like he really knew the heart of it all. I wasn’t just repeating some other teachers which he had learn from, although it is historically accounted that Jesus quoted other teachers, writers, prophets, and the like. But even when he did, apparently there was still something amazing about it coming from Jesus.
In one sense, I love that! Who, as Christian, doesn’t love the idea that Jesus words were profound and heart-touching?
Yet in another sense, I hate that so much too. Where were all the teachers of the Torah? What were all the Pharisee, Sadducees, Zealots, and Essenes doing at that time? How in a time where they were hoping and expecting the Messiah to come did all of these teachings only boil down to man-made traditions that didn’t have authority? Since when do the people of God not have relevance, intelligence, insight, and more? What’s going on here?

One reason I hate this phrase: “They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority” is because it’s so easy to relate to today. We have so much access to information, we have thousands of Christian authors, millions of pastors, billions of believers, and yet we hemorrhaging in the Body of Christ.
“Your wound is incurable,
    your injury beyond healing.
 There is no one to plead your cause,
    no remedy for your sore,
    no healing for you.”

What’s happening with us? Why as Christians do we live in a time were children can spend two decades in the church system and have no one answer their questions? Why do we live in an age were the older generations have damned the younger generations, and don’t care if they walk away from “the church” which is supposedly the only life source, and in exchange the feelings are nearly mutual and bitterness has taken root? Why are people obsessed with ideas of revival and rapture, but have little to no instinct in caring for creation? Why are statistics the stories we speak about as if we do not know people themselves?
How long can this all last without becoming total decay and death?

Statistics don’t matter, because they are numbers added together. I write stories from my own life, because Life matters. People matter. Daily grind matters, because it’s a step …and because it’s part of our real lives.
We are the stories of which history is compiled from. St Paul argues: “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ before God.

When we get into something like Christianity and Christian living, or if you develop an interest in God, you need to understand that the spiritual does not obscure the tangible. Theoretically it illuminates what is real about the tangible, and therefore makes it more authentic than before.
If I say I care about God and God is important to me, but then I justify treating my husband like dirt because I was having a bad day… then I’m probably just a regular jerk, and my supposed belief in God has no effect on helping me see what is real.
However, if I treat my husband like dirt and then I realize there’s undealt with issue between us and merely gets to hide itself in “bad day” excuse, then I’ve let God illuminate my darker places and so me a deeper reality. …and I’ll probably need to apologize to my husband and see if he’s willing to talk things out. (This happens, thankfully not today…yet. Marriage is great!)

The point is if we’re so very interested in and focused on God (like many Christians may claim) then we ought to be seeing the people that are in front of us, and not merely numbers or trends. We need to be hearing and remembering stories about people and allow ourselves to be touched by their lives and comments, and not just statistics, scores, and popular sayings.
If we want to be people who wear the title of being a Christian, which has unfortunately become an ugly thing in recent decades, then we need to individually be responsible for being someone who God would be proud of. And I surely don’t mean that we should be more Christianized, but instead we have to do the footwork, we have to know what does God himself approve of? What does God detest? What is God’s heart truly like?

We have the possibility and potential to know these truths. We also have the possibility and current privilege to be ignorant and noncommittal. We have choice. “Not knowing isn’t an excuse for those who are willing to learn
The point is, we can’t just merely continue in traditions just because they are traditions. We can’t just perpetuate a system just because its still running (so far). There needs to be reality behind all this good-on-paper traditions. Then when there is reality, when there is truth, when we do see tangible people through spiritual clarity, then we’ve have opportunity to be a part of something that is God-created and God-approved. and that’s cool! That’s where the roots of Christianity come from.

When we live amoungst a people who have a wound beyond curing and injury beyond healing, I imagine it’s well-past time to reconsider what we’re doing and why we do it. When people can spend two decades or more in a church system and just learn the same thing over and over & over again, but not answer questions of a younger generation, then there’s a problem. A big problem. We need to check our pulse, and we need to heal that which isn’t dead.

“Woe to the shepherds who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; ”

“For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day”
They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid.

Ezekiel chapter 34


Follow Your Heart: Vices & Virtues

Is it too bold for me to stay everyday is not perfect?
Honesty can be bold, but so can a lie. I happen to think there’s something about boldness and strength that cause for people to poke & prod, to test and disrespect for no other reason than the see something that appears odd to them. Maybe this contempt comes from the fact that the boldness of honesty can be mimicked by a lie as well?

I do try to ponder these things. For as much as I try to live honestly before people, from those very same people I am too often (meaning it happens at all), accused of being false or faulty in grievous ways by people I trusted. It’s like a quick character shanking, and they look at me with perfectly normal contentment while I bleed a little. What just happened?

I remember for years and years I had an emotional involved flirty-friendly relationship with this one guy who I thought at some point we’d be dating and maybe even contently married at some time. It would of made a great story or movie someday! But there were definitely problems. He never had the guts to really ask me out or just tell me how he felt one way or another with earthquaking honest. Instead the relationship was maintained through hints and flirts, emotional deep involvement and little teasing affections. It was fun, it was an adventure, and I love adventures.
But it had other problems. Many different times he suggested I was too tough, too boyish, too closed-off, too…whatever, and back then that really hurt. Well, the memory hurts a little knowing how I so deeply felt for him at that time and knowing he treated me in this kind of way. I didn’t understand what I lacked, but I tried everything that I could, still being me but bending to what those suggestions said I should or shouldn’t be.
As I recall, the bending hurt worse, partially because he never loved me anymore for it. Instead there was something else that was wrong. Sometimes I’d continue to change for him, other times I’d get upset at him, but the cycle was on & on for years and years.

There did come a time where I finally I started to understand, it really wasn’t what I was lacking that this guy didn’t like; it was actually something I had a lot of but didn’t realize it: strength. I was too strong for the timid spirit he had. About 7 years into this mess I realize that he didn’t actually Love me. Maybe the idea of what he imagined me to be, he loved, but not actually me.  It was the last piece of the puzzle I needed to close that chapter of my life and start rebuilding myself honestly.
side note: I think it was about 2 months later I meet my husband for the first time.

I learned a hard beautiful lesson from that mess, and for that much I am thankful. The memory itself still contains some pain, but I think what hurts is realizing this isn’t just one story that happened “once upon a time” in the past somewhere. Unfortunately I am still prone to people telling me what’s wrong with me. Even people I trust and love and adore will at times tell me what to do and who to be, and not always to my own benefit; sometimes only for their own sake. Sometimes to make them feel more comfortable with the image they have of what will happen and how things should be. …and that hurts at times. But I am just tough enough to remember this hard lesson and what I’ve learned up to this point, and from there make consider what must be done next.

I also learned it is up to me to know my heart precisely and to follow it.

That’s difficult, you know?
If I do succeed at this, then that’s all the more reason for people to tell me that I don’t listen, I’m just hiding, I’m closed off, I … I lack. I lack something that I can only receive from the wisdom of others.
…And that’s almost true.

I am a big believer in communal life. I am!  But your heart… Your heart isn’t for everyone. Your heart is your personal space. You decide what goes in there and what stays in there. It must be guarded and tended to. It must be refined and renewed. It is the wellspring of life. It must be kept from polluters, which means you must know your own heart and not let anyone else define it for you.

By “heart” I do mean your core-being. Your emotions, your character, your internal spirit, your vices & virtues, these all come from the heart, your core and inner most self.

When you tend to these things, you can begin to live honestly from your core-character. You can know your own heart and follow it to the greatness you’re meant to be. But sometimes… just sometimes, when you’re strong enough to tend to your core and be healthy in the inmost parts, people will be accusatory towards you. Stay.
Stay strong. Stay where you are.
If you fall to pieces, fall right where you are, but don’t move, shift, or reassign yourself because of such attacks. If there’s anything to found or corrected it’ll be right where you are. Don’t move.
Don’t move until you’re strong enough to stand up and start walking again, following your heart again. Stay where you are.

So in the words of Martin Luther, when he was on trial, I say: “Here I stand, God help me. I can do no other.”

Here I am.
Is that too bold?

    I truly am thirsty for you, my God.
In my heart, I am thirsty for you, the Living God.
    When will I see your face?
Day and night my tears are my only food,
    as everyone keeps asking,
    “Where is your God?”

When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.

 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.

When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar.
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.

Every day, you are kind,
    and at night you give me a song as my prayer to you,
    the Living LORD God.

Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God,
    “Why did you let me down?
Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?”
They’re out for the kill, these tormentors with their obscenities,
Taunting day after day, “Where is this God of yours?”

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?

I trust you!
And I will praise you again because you help me,
    and you are my God.

Without the help of the Lord
    it is useless to build a home
    or to guard a city.
It is useless to get up early
and stay up late
    in order to earn a living.
God takes care of his own,
    even while they sleep.

Psalms 42
Psalms 127:1-2