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.

Advertisements

Women Facing Stones

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

Not Superheroes, Just Friends

About a month and half ago, a friend of ours confessed he need to turn himself in for DUI. We prayed with him and have prayed for him since then.  A few weeks after that, another friend told us about his agonizing relapse, we listened, and he asked us to pray he’d get into detox. Maybe a month later, a different friend of ours found out his wife was cheating on him and planning to leave him. We were able to be with him that day, and spent the night keeping him company and being available.

We’re not miracle workers. We don’t change the world with our prayers. But we believe this is who we are meant to be. We believe this is what resurrection life looks like. We are thankful for those who will let us know when their life isn’t perfect and they need some support. Not everyone will tell us, not everyone will let us help or pray or sit with them and listen. Not everyone can trust, hope, or call out for help. We are thankful that God has made these friends strong enough to include us.

Somehow, I don’t think people imagine this as the good Christian life. We don’t evangelize (as its known to be), we don’t seal them with cliches, we don’t tell them everything will be okay. We just try to be available, try to pray, try to believe with them.
…and personally I can’t imagine much else to be the “Christian thing to do”.

We’ve never once stopped to think or accuse the devil. We’ve not yet become overwhelmed. Instead we thank God that these fine people have entrusted us with their tough situations. We thank God that we’ve been able to look into their faces, and hear it from them. We’ve thanked God that we are able to pray with/for them, and fully believe God will strength the weak hands and feeble knees. We know they need the prayers. We all do.

My husband and I are searching for a new place to live, and it’s frustrating. We haven’t found an open door, and we start to get a little put out with God. What does he want from us anyway? We’re trying! Then something happens… not to us but to whom we love …and we get quiet. We remember to be thankful. Although our current residence is limiting, and we’re ready to move forward, we are still a part of life. Life is not out there, somewhere, someday, instead…it is today. With all the bad and good and waiting, it still counts as life.

If I have to take a moment to remember this, to think about it, and to let the gratitude sink in, then I’m sure I’m not the only one.

We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, addictions and cheaters, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

And this is why we believe that we are already part of the resurrection life. In life we feel pain, we share heartbreak, we hope in unseen circumstances, we fall and get up again, we sorrow, we rejoice, we try. WE do this together. We include one another in these adventures -which at times seem to lead nowhere- and we pray. We include God.

When saints pray for a common hope, I believe it’s like going to a concert with a beloved band on stage. It feels like everyone is singing along, the crowd is pressing forward, strangers become friends, there is strength in numbers. There’s also that one weird person who has to yell something like “marry me” or “I love you” to one of the band members…but that’s easily ignore or laughed away.
In a concert like this, people are sweaty, smelly, sometimes pushy, close and pressing closer. Some yell the whole song, some sing, yet we all seem to lose our voice by the end of the night. And we love it! It’s like a sign of hardwork well accomplished. Not only did the band get on stage and perform, but we were all a part of the concert tonight…and it was beautiful.

If you’ve never been to a concert like that, you’re missing out. If you’ve never lived a faith like that, then you’re missing it…missing everything.

One or two of these friends (from the previously stated stories), said to us something along the lines of, “I don’t deserve friends like you” to which my husband perfectly replied, “Everyone deserves friends like us.”

We’re not superheroes. But in real life, we are friends to real people. We love our friends. We are proud of our friends.Our prayers for them pour out more regularly than prayers for ourselves. We are thankful for those who have allowed us to journey with them. We know these aren’t just bad times, but these are times where God is working.  We press on, carrying the burdens of our friends. Hoping. Rising…one more time. We will try. Together we will walk through today.

If this isn’t what faith is suppose to look like, then God help us. It’s the best we’ve got thus far.

Does Jesus Give Bad Advice? Church and Isis Part 2

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe Jesus gives bad advice?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So… Love is Dangerous?

I made the mistake of flipping through some comments on social media other day, about things that related to the Paris attacks. …Generally related.  I didn’t find much about the people who are recovering, and what’s being done to help them. I didn’t find stories about the hundreds of funerals there will unexpectedly be now. I didn’t find any news about what Americain band was playing during the time of the shooting in the theater. Instead I found hate. Sadly it was readily available and flippantly posted.

Facebook, in its usual style, made a way for people to change their profile pictures to be overlaid with the French national flag. Many people have respond and chosen to do this. Even they posted venom. Not specially towards France, but towards reguees who are fleeing these same deadly attacks in their home countries, because they might be the terrorist themselves. They might be spies. They might be dangerous.

They might. What of it?

Does anybody remember or know what it’s like falling love? It’s risky.  There’s a chance the other person won’t like you. There’s a chance the other person is really a jerk. There’s a chance you two aren’t actual compatible. It’s a chance that one takes, when you choose to further love, friendship, or honesty. It’s risky. It could even turn out badly. Do you remember? Has anyone warned you? Because it’s true.

There’s an old saying “you take the bad with the good” and when you attempt to care about others, it’s just a risk one takes.

Love doesn’t cure everything. But Love makes an attempt to bring forth the cure. Thats what changes the world. Love isn’t ignorant, but it is courageous. Some people hate courageousness, because it’s scary, because it’s change, because it’s beyond what they’ve limited themselves into. I know… I’ve seen it.

We aren’t those people.

In the 1830s America made a permit blemish on her history that can’t ever be undone, and ordered what is now known as the Trail of Tears. The government believed it would safest for the Indians to move onto their own prearranged lands or “camps” further away from the “civilized” areas of this growing country. In the 1940s America again grouped a race of people into questionable treatment in confide areas of “government camps” “for their own safety”.  In the 1940s the Nazis also grouped the Jews into ghettos and “camps” “for their own safety”.

In the late 1930s there’s an infamous story about a large ship filled with German Jews who were promised passage to one of the islands in Caribbean. Before the ship arrive the country changed its mind, and refused to give refuge to these desperate passengers. According to that story, that ship sailed all the way up the coast from Miami, FL to NYC no one granted them passage nor would they let one passages step off that ship.

Fear ruled. If they’d come from that country how bad could be for them to return to it? According to the story, it’s believed that none of the Jews on that ship survived the Nazis occupation.  We had a chance to save a boat full of people, if not a few dozen. As a country we refused them all. That’s the worst part. No one was saved and we let it happen. It’s now part of past we can’t change, but instead we must consider.

I get it, people are scared. I see Muslims have the bad rep in the world today. Okay….. But what’s about the Christian Syrians and refugees? Do you know that they also may be seeking freedom?  What about those who hope in a different and better life for their kids?

Do we remember that behind this mass we see as “refugees” and immigrants, that there are actual people there? There are Christian brethren, there are seekers, there are hurt wounded, scared, hopeful, praying people there.

At this point the question doesn’t seem to be what do we think about taking refugees in, but do we believe in people anymore?
Do we believe that Love has the power to change things? Do we believe that our lives effect others lives? Or are we comfortable cloistered away from danger, away from others that it’s not our problem, because it doesn’t effect our lives?

It effects me.

Do you see people when you see the pictures of the refugees and immigrants? Can you see any people? Find one. Find a face. Find a family. Think about them. Love them. Pray for them. Hope for them. Consider them.

Love is dangerous. It’s risky, it’s scary, it’s unpredictable.  And in light of all that, it’s still worth it.

Find one. Love one.
Because that’s how you change the world.

Today, fear is not my author. I hope we all remember that we have a choose. We have a voice. and we are but one. One makes a difference.

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.
Example:
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

When Villains Are Winning

Do you ever watch those movies where it seems like the bad guy has all the weapons, all plans, and all power?  This is definitely something that gets me about Disney classic kids’ movies. Sometimes the villains are just too big & bad. I think it’s excessive for a kids movie. Yet it’s not just kids movies that have this. I was at my parents house and they had their mystery crime shows on, and I was overwhelmed by horrific imaginations of the directors of the shows, let alone how too close to possible such things could be.  It’s the kind of thing that causes one’s soul to grieve.

I left that evening thinking about all the old evangelist who had been through the churches and camps I’d been to as a kid. All of them (or most of them) seemed to say the same thing, the world is going down the crapper, and they’re just waiting for Jesus to “take them home”. They didn’t really care what happens in this world next, as long as they didn’t have to be part of it.
There’s a lot of Christians who believe the world well come to a climax of a chaos before God steps in or Jesus stops it all. …and it’ll be much worse than this. People are afraid already. and I ask myself, these are the people who think they have “the good news for the world”?

It’s overwhelming if that’s as good as it gets. It’s not worth it, in my opinion, if that’s all there is to tell. Yet I think there’s something missing here. Well, I think there’s a lot missing, honestly, but what is missing is missing in the here & the now. Not some future escape hatch.

Love is missing.

After seeing those crimes shows then having that haunting mocking voices of evangelist of the past all in my head at the same time, I really had to do a reality check. Is it worth it or are we all damned because of the sins of our forefathers, which have brought us to modern day society and philosophies?  But it struck me that in the midst of the worst of it all, God still gives the same instructions. We’re not to change our character just because the times are bad. We don’t become superhuman, and we aren’t to take up some excusable violent tactics in such times. We stick with what we’ve been given from the first to do and be: Love.

I realize that many consider “Love” to be an overused word although it’s meaning is truly under utilized. So let’s try a slightly different approach: Do the little things that matter.

Once I had a calendar with inspirational quote and one month said, “Start by doing what is necessary; Then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’ll be doing the impossible
I’ve remembered that quote for all of my adult life. I knew the first time I read it, that it would be very important in my own life. As I looked up the quote again today, I saw that was from St Francis of Assisi and that too made me smile.

To change the world, to affect good, to overcome evil we start with what is necessary for us to do in our lives now, then after a while we might be able to step up to simply the things that are now possible for us to do. If we are faithful in those things we will find ourselves doing things that previously seemed impossible, because this is what Love does.

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Romans 12:9-13

I think this is a bit of what it looks like to overcome evil with good. These tiny things make a big difference. Each choice can make a difference. I actually believe that love does make a difference. Love piles up. Doing the little things that matter, makes a strong fiber that can endure things we didn’t know we could actually do.

Wanting to give up when it ridiculously tough and you don’t see things coming along any better is normal. Not giving up when you want to is extraordinary. It’s doing the impossible.

Love endures because it is strong, not because it’s weak, feeble, or scared to move on. Love endures because strength of doing the little things that matter is all the more strength it takes to change the world and to overcome evil. There’s not secret formula or magic recipe to get through challenging times, instead, it’s the tiny little things which we use & depend on to get us through those times which makes us into strong, faithful, loving saints.

We endure because we are strong.
We overcome because we faithful in the little things.
We affect the good in this world because we do what is necessary.
Love is what is necessary.

God gives us the ability to affect and to change the world which he puts us in. We live now because God wanted you & I here for this moment in history. This isn’t too much, and it isn’t too dull for us to do something about it. We are the necessary people for our time.
God has not left us to chaos, and this world is not spinning out of control.  We are chosen to be here, so let’s start with what is necessary in the world around us, and maybe we’ll find ourselves doing the impossible sooner than we ever imagined.