When a Friend is Trapped

Dear Readers,
Consider your life.

I can’t use enough words to say how important our lives are. You are more than a job. You are more than your latest or last relationship.

 

I had a shaking experience with a friend. We recently meet up, though we live in different towns, and have for years. I know his life isn’t what I’d hope for him, and despite my husband & I offering him a place to live at anytime…he remains where he’s been.

“What makes you happy?” I asked. “Not entertained, but happy…joyful.”  My question was met with silence. If possible black silence. My heart cracked. I understood the non-answer.
“You don’t do anything that makes you happy anymore, do you?” I asked, and humbly he confirmed.

He went on to tell my husband and I that he doesn’t think about “these things”. Simple questions that are deep. What difference do you want to make? What makes you happy/joyful? If money wasn’t an issue, what would you want to do or be?

My husband and I explore this questions all the time, so that we can assess the steps we take in life.  Money isn’t the goal, it’s the necessity on the way to goal. We try not to offer too much of our thoughts, ambitions, and life to such a minut factor. It’s not everything.

 

Don’t be trapped.

When I moved out of parents and into the shaky land of adulthood,  one of my first purchases for my new apartment was two huge maps. One of my country, one of the world. I hung them on my wall, and I’ve looked at them frequently thought the years. I still look and I still think the world I know is small. There is so much more beyond me yet.

If I’m happy with my small world, that okay. If I’m unhappy I remember that I could choose change at anytime. Get up, move, learn, experience, move again. No problem.

Money maybe a factor, but only one. Determination is another factor. Friends and influences could be another factor. Don’t let this things pigeonhole you. It could always change. You have choices. You have options.
In our meeting up, my friend brought his newest girlfriend. They seemed to speak of their city as the representation of our state. (A pathetic representation that would be too.) I’ve been around most of the state, intentionally learning and experiencing different things, so that I could legitimately know that state. We all make broad sweeping statements, but I’d just like to be able to back mine up if possible. It’s a wonderful state. I love a lot about it; despise a little about it, and I have learn to adore many of its quirks.

When I mentioned that perhaps they don’t leave their own city much (which I’ve seen to be true with many people) the girlfriend tried to say they don’t have much money for that.  Money has never stopped our friend before. He’d been an adventurer. Finding rides with friends, and friends of friends. Exploring whatever places he got a opportunity for. Maybe it wasn’t much, and yet …it was.

A while after talking with her, I realized she probably imaged traveling as a vacation. Hotels, eating out, spending money on attractions. We haven’t often done that.

 

GO and BE.
I believe every city has its own personality. And I suppose small towns do as well. A region can definitely have a particular culture to it. It’s amazing to see the stunning differences with crossing of a boarder, whether geographically mapped or not. You don’t have to spend tourist-y money to learn this.  Being there, driving through, walking around, sleeping, eating, talking with people, watching people …all of these normal day to day things reveal the full experience.

Often my husband and I camp when it’s warm enough. It’s cheap and it tells a lot about region. Some place have been amazingly beautiful and calming, others were rough and more unwelcoming as a whole.

 

Ironically, at the end of the day, this isn’t about traveling or visiting places. It’s about living life, knowing there’s more out there when you need an “out there” to adventure into. Sometimes we live our lives in such a small space that we miss our whole lives.

Survival mood can only work for so long, before it stops feeling like life. Before hopes stops flowing in. I don’t want to see that happen. Sometimes, I have to watch it happen. I can’t force anyone to get help, to try something different, to adventure beyond the unhappy state that they’ve known for so long.  Sometimes I can only proclaim that “other” exist.

 

We continue to pray.  We continue to hope, while we have hope. We continue to remind people the think, seek, pray, progress.  Sometimes the unpaved road leads to home.

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.