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.

A Reply to the Living

To Write Love On Her Arms recently put up a controversial statement from a controversial man. It was not the statement itself that caused me to stop and mourn, it was the comments thereafter which I saw utter fruitlessness in.

Statements about those who “want” to die (sucide) will figure out a way to die regardless of access to a gun. Statements like modern “health care” includes “mental health” care.

When did needing new to be loved and cared for, needing to feel worth, fall under “mental health”? Are we now a people who believe so little in the spiritual matters that we don’t even consider ones soul? One’s fighting spirit? One’s natural need to be included in healthy community?  Are we so willing to hide ourselves from the concept of God that we sacrifice our children to prosperity?

Caring should never fall second place to any “solution” nor should one’s agenda be a guise for caring.  This is the most humiliating disgrace of believing that a system (whether government, church, non-profit, ect.) are the ones to “fix” things or to care for people everywhere as a whole. A system, a law, a program cannot replace a living being, a person, a caring friend.

What stops sucides are people. Not laws. Not difficult access to possibly deadly scenarios. Not cliches. Not a time-out rehab.

When we stop being people, death has already won. When we stop loving one another, isolation has already killed us. But we are not people who are dead; we are alive. We have opportunity to care, and therein we have opportunity to live as well.

I don’t want to save 2 out of 3 people. I want to love those who haven’t known the security of love. I want to befriend those who haven’t been established in the embrace of a tender home. It’s not about numbers. I don’t serve a God who looks for better statistics. I serve a God who knows each person by name.

I am not a number. I am not a satistic. And I will not treat others like they are.  This is real life not a number of a page in a story book. Reconsider responsibility.

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.

I met Jesus

I met Jesus.

I was sitting in room of Christians who had traveled far and wide to hear a few speakers at small gathering. I had my note paper and Bible out. It was more likely that I’d use them for a distraction, then to be using for notes. I’d been here before. I questioned why I was here again. The class began, the introduction provoked notes, the class went on and nothing was said.  At the end I sighed, but I wasn’t surprised. We had time between the session and lunch, but it was all the same room so I stayed, thinking my thoughts. I talked to one of the people who was there, well… I listened really, and she did most of the talking. I heard her story, but I didn’t have much to say. She didn’t seem to need someone to explain life or even theology to her, although she had questions about both. Her story begged to be heard, to be considered, to be acknowledge. As I listened, considered, and thought upon the summation of her story, I heard Jesus, begging to be acknowledge. I heard Jesus disappointed in being misunderstood and pre-judged. I heard Jesus concerned for his children and what will become of them in this age. I heard that sweet familiar voice, and I didn’t know how to respond. I just listened.

That night as we said goodbye a dear friend confide in my husband and I of how weak, tired, and lonely he was. How he struggled to feel like he could make it through the day. How a child’s smile was something that could bring light into his life because it was so dim all around him, and it might be all had to encourage him that week. There was that voice again, it was Jesus, and he wept. Jesus was lonely and tired. Jesus was in the middle of a room of Christian folks, and he was barely making it. He didn’t know he was valued. Even in that room he couldn’t feel the love his heart longed for. Jesus wept right in front of us. Jesus was tired and lonely. Jesus need someone to carry his cross for him, and I cried because I wasn’t close enough to be he one to carry this cross with Jesus. I saw someone else get chosen. Someone who was confused and didn’t understand the task given to him. “Everybody loves him” he told me in cheerful yet disappointed to be overlooked kind of way. Then I understood….

The body of Christ is broken.

In the Gospel books of the Bible, where they recount to story of Jesus lifetime on Earth, one of the things that is mention about Jesus’ death is that none of his bones were broken, just as the Passover lamb is eaten whole and not broken. Of course, it’s also known Jesus was badly beaten before he was executed, so his physical body was torn up, but it wouldn’t have been what we considered broken. At least it’s something to reconsider.

However, Chrisitanity considers the believers to be the body of Christ, particular as they meet together. In this, I can definitely say the body of Christ is broken. We don’t really talk to each other, or maybe we don’t really listen to each other. We don’t expect to meet together and hear God’s heart from someone else’s story… but why not?

One of the famous parables that Jesus taught is called the parable about the sheep and goats (found in Matthew chapter 25:31-46), and in this story Jesus says this phrase, “as you’ve done it unto the least of these my brethren, so you’ve done it unto me.”  We take this to mean the way we treat the lesser or unnoticed people, is ultimately counted as the way we truly treat or care about Jesus. As simple of concept as this is, we often do not consider it.

Faithful Christians who long to grow into maturity look for more mature teachers, someone who can impart to them wiser counsel, deeper understanding, fuller perception. Seek to become better. We watch well-known, well-attested speakers, preachers, authors and we grab at any hint of “insight” they might bestow upon us. We pray for miracles. Some pray for revival. Others pray for revelation. We sit together, searching together, and we rarely bother to ask our lowly comrades about their own life stories. We leap at the chance to teach, to be called on, to be noticed! And we leave our lowly companions behind. We aren’t very Christian at all.  We don’t know the first thing about maturity. We don’t understand Jesus.

Jesus teaches that if we want to be the greatest Saint ever, we must become the servant to the lowliest Christian. This ultimately two things. Number one: authority, spirituality, and leadership are not what we’ve previously imagined them to be. Number two: we need each other… We need to acknowledge each other. We need to see Jesus in the lesser, the despised, the castoff, the forgotten. We need to turn our seats around and face one another. If we really want to grow in maturity, then we won’t be “distracted” by one other, instead we will find Jesus I the sufferings, sorrows, and even smiles of one another.

There’s a simple reason Jesus identifies himself with “the least of these my brethren”.  God’s wisdom isn’t the same as the rulers of this age. Jesus doesn’t lead his apostles and prophets and disciples to platforms, at least not for very long. Instead we walk in deserts, back alleys, secret passageways. Jesus leads us to sit in the middle of nowhere with the hungry when we have no banquet to give them. We sit half-dead in prison cells, in chains, in stocks and we sing to our God. We sit in small crowded rooms and share a meal, a story, a song, a hope, a million prayers. Jesus leads his disciples to pray throughout the night, when we’re tired, sleep-deprived, hopeful and yet losing faith, when we’re on a battered ship and all the hearts around us are drained and hopeless. Jesus leads us to the houses of mourning, to the tombs of “if you were here this would not have happened”, to religious leaders who say to us “what gives you the right to say these things?”

Jesus leads to places where are habits are questioned, our dedication is questioned, our choices are questioned, our diet it questioned, and relationship with God is questioned. Jesus lead all of his disciples through these places when he was here on Earth, and he still leads us through these places now …because this is where Jesus is. This is where he’s always been. Jesus has always been with despised, the lowly, the castoff, the forgotten.

The Bible make the commentation that Jesus “came to his own, and they knew him not” or they rejected him, but sort of… Many of the religious who we’re suppose to stand for the best representives of the community in their time did not acknowledge or accept Jesus, but yet many of lowly, pushed aside, nobodies they recognized something in Jesus that only comes from God. The God of the Bible has long identified himself with the small, lowly, and humble. God made his name known through a people who have been historically small in numbers. The God of the Bible has long had a heart for the forgotten people. At times God has even idenitified himself as being forgotten, neglected, unloved, uncherished, embarrassed, unacknowledged.  Though it seems God wouldn’t understand these lowly feelings, this is actually something God has known all too well.

God seeks for someone to hear his story, someone to listen to his heart, someone to acknowledge this brokenness around him. God seeks for someone to work with him. Our great and mighty God, allows himself to feel our pain, but are we willing to know his pain, his heart? Can our prayers exceed beyond our present circumstances into prayers for the “thy kingdom come, thy will be done”? Can we see Jesus when we see devastions around us?  Can we be a people who stand in the gap and listen for God’s heart, not just so that we can say we’re closer to God, but because he longs to be heard?

Are we wiling to be the saints in our generation?  The sacrifice we make is the wisdom we’ve acquired. We must trade what we’ve learned about how to grow in spirituality, and we must listen until we hear a Jesus who is lonely, a Jesus who is worried about his children, a Jesus who thinks he’s overlooked because everyone loves that guy over there better.

Wouldn’t it be cool just to tell that Jesus you love him? Wouldn’t it be life-changing to spend sometime with that Jesus? Wouldn’t it be just like God to sit with these troubled-hearted people, even if we have nothing to offer but our own listening ear and loving heart?

I saw Jesus and he wept, and I loved him all the more for it.

My prayers are with the these saints who continue to press on and make sense of this battle the fight. May God let them see and feel that Jesus is right there with them suffering what they suffer and yet loving them enough to help them overcome these times as well. May the believers around them make themselves known, so that Jesus can be seen and felt in vibrantly realistic ways in these lives, at this time. May Christ body be healed and no longer broken, discontinued, and losing the blood-life that we’re meant to pump into one another. God save us, we are your people.

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?