A Spirit Crying Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then again…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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To the Unknown God: Perfect

We worship a God who is good. We quake before a God who is Sovereign. We know almost nothing of God because we allow this to be our prime definers of God. We are as children, barely understanding the world we live in, let alone the great world at large.

We are uninterested in God being anything but good or love. Somehow we think we can predict, control, or even manipulate what that means, and therefore how God must respond. It is not so. Yet we proclaim it.

Because God is good he would not allow his people to suffer such things.” One lady told her theory on pre-trib rapture. I may have accidentally laughed in her face and called her idealism a coupon-Jesus redeemable at anytime before tribulation. I laughed because I thought it be so childish, and she was much too old to not know or have seen some history we God did not save his people out from some kind of tribulation. Yet there she was middle class America living a “good” life. Serving a “good” God.

Early in my life I struggled to see God as good. God let’s a lot of things slide. Things that create destruction on others lives. And in my life. Such things don’t always make sense when we’re seeking a good that is God, as a defining characteristic.

Yet there’s something else that we don’t consider, which is tightly linked into this concept of God being good. Beyond good, God is perfect.  We, as people, hate perfect. It’s told to us as unobtainable.  We disdain a God who is unapproachable, but still requires of us. How very brutish! Yet if that’s how we view perfect, than we know not what perfect is.

Perfect, as defined by who & what God is, is: beautiful, lovely, fulfilling, victorious, honest, holistic, eternal, raw & pure.  These are not utterly unfamiliar traits, so why should we be scared of such things? We seek these things in our relationships, in our food that we consume, in our movies and music. It is not so foreign to us at all.

Instead, we more often than not, believe a tainted view of what “perfect” is and we despises God for it…when such things have little to nothing to do with God. That concept that “perfect” is what Hollywood portrays. A concept and commitment that tortures the souls of people who are “not good enough” and who have to always keep working to obtain an elusive goal.

This is not the perfection which God himself defines. We should not even believe that such idealisms have anything to do with perfect, for they are so vague and sketchy and demanding, that there is no hint of perfection within the requirement itself. This Hollywood-ish idealism, is nothing but slavery. God’s definition of perfection is fullness, which brings freedom. Restoration which unveils purpose and fulfillment, which gives joy and victory, and brings forth freedom and beauty.

How is it, then, that we choose “good” over perfect? We want a nice God, who is defined by our fickle sense of “love” instead of seeking how God defines Love, good, perfect, and therein securing ourselves to God’s definition of these terms. What makes it easier to accept God on our terms?

The second overused & abused term (imo) is that God is Sovereign. It’s kind of like saying God is god. Like God has the trait which we require in a god. Seemingly it’s non-statement. Although people who use, believe that they are making a big and defining statement, truth is they’re just being redundant. I find it to be unhelpful, and again vague. I find this definition of God to be a scapegoat style terminology. So basically we don’t take time to get to know God or understand his heart, his wisdom, or his character, therefore we come up with some scapegoat words and pin everything we don’t understand under that.  Somehow people buy this as theology. It’s laughable. It is not theology, it is a distraction.

Here’s something to look for:
God works in patterns. Jesus tells parables. This doesn’t happen because Jesus assume people are stupid (although I’ve heard preachers say as much, because too many believe this themselves)  more likely stories are used so that the pattern is available for those who turn aside to see, at anytime throughout history.  God is smart. Certainly God knew the tricks of devil, and distortion that the enemy uses. But as long as the story remains, the patterns can be found and read and understood.

God doesn’t treat people like the dirt Adam was made from. This is bad theology. God knows the price it is to even sacrifice even one of his holy people to the corruption in the world around us. It isn’t something he takes lightly or accidentally allows. But we ache and bellow at a God who is consider to be “good” when these things do happen. Where is that God now?

So much hurt comes from not knowing and seeking a God who is beyond good, beyond love, beyond Sovereign. A God who is perfect, a God who is holistic, a God who is relational. Then to meet that God at these times …to say it is painful, is woefully understanding it. Often it is devastating. Often people utter lose their faith in God here. We can’t hear the voice of God, because that good, loving, sovereign God is …vacant. Something worse, something overpowering is happening.  God -the God of heaven and Earth- is at work, and we don’t recognize him. We don’t know that voice, that hand, those moves. This God is foreign to us, and we think the enemy is attacking and God isn’t around. Desperation sets in deep.

Upon pausing to consider this, I think of the parable of 10 virgins that Jesus tells. Five wise and five foolish. The wise are consider the such for having taken extra oil…just in case a Good God doesn’t come to get us before the night. The five foolish are sure that the will be taken in before their oil runs out, for a Good God is plenty while it is daylight and even while it is dusk. Yet it is insufficient when it is midnight.

They need more oil. They haven’t developed a relationship with a God who can be perfect, holistic, relational, silent.  They head back to those who sell oil obtain more of the same, but this time it’s insufficient. It’s too late.  It’s too far removed from the God who has come to bring us into rejoicing, into fullness, into raw, pure beauty. They’re shut out. They miss out. As matter of fact, this God must even confess: I never knew you, because they never came to know him. How sad.

The easy way is devastating.

Hothouse Christianity while not have roots deep enough to weather the storms. It will not have branches hardy enough to endure the cold. It is not a wonder so many desire to believe in God who pull us up and take us back into the warm greenhouse before winter comes. It is absurd to call it maturity or fullness. For many who have gone on before us in the faith have made huge sacrifices to sanctify the purity of faith that would come to us. To settle with this “good” God and “good” Christianity is insulting to those who have preserved for us the good perfect and pleasing will of God throughout all the ages.

We need them. If we do not have the deep roots we will not be overcomers. And if we seek escape then certainly we are not conquerors. To be involved with a God merely for the sake of spiritual insurance is insulting to all of heaven. If we do not enter into the fullness which we have been granted access to, then certainly we are willing foolish. How can God claim to know us when we will not allow ourselves to know anything beyond the “good” “loving” “sovereign” scapegoat god?

In modern words: go big or go home.

Sitting With The Silent God

There I was well adjust to my thirties…far from high school, and yet…feeling exactly like I was in middle school again. In the middle of the camp dining room, a room full of adults, just moments ago talking to friends, but the dinner bell rang (so to speak) and everyone literally turned away from where I was sitting to sit with someone else.  It was just my husband and I sitting in the middle of the room…alone.

We both felt the sudden turn. What happened? We looked at one another. That was odd. We were just talking with people, and now that it was lunch time, everyone wanted someone else to talk to? No one else came to sit with us. It was too coincidental. Was God portraying something with our lives?

It was fine. My husband was still there. We had each other. I was fine with that. …And then… my husband decided he need to take a walk. I didn’t know it then, but he told me later that the pressure and the obviousness of the situation was too much for him. He felt it too.

So there I was. A living monument in the middle of the lunch room, and no one saw me. No one ate with me. I tried to calmly tell myself not to shove my tiny meal down and runoff like an awkward middle-schooler. I could do this. I could deal with sitting alone in the middle of the room where two minutes ago we had friends to talk to and now… suddenly…nothing. I could stand tall, or rather, sit like a normal person. No problem.

Quietly I was talking to God. It was too coincidental to miss. “What happening here, God? No one’s sitting with us? What is this?
And then to hear in my spirit, “I know. How do you think I feel?
It was heart-breaking. I continued to calmly eat my food and sit there ever-so politely, while fighting tears from these impactful words of God. Then came the unforgettable words: “At least you sit with me when I’m silent.

My heart broke. The Silent God, of course!

I finished part of my tiny meal, and threw the rest out. It was too much to ingest. I looked around the room more than once, and I didn’t catch any eye, not once. I was there in the middle of it all, and no one saw me. But to think…that I might have merely been a symbol of a God whom they didn’t want to endure, that…that was crushing.

Some months ago, I had posted about how I was currently learning about the Silent God (a side of God we don’t tend to like or believe in), and it was impacting then…but this! Hearing this: “At least you sit with me when I’m silent.”  was devastating… devastatingly beautiful. In that moment of hearing those words, I couldn’t believe that other people would miss this. I couldn’t believe that I was privy to hear the words and heart from the Silent God.
It was beautiful. It was honest. It was straight from a broken heart.
It was one of those moments that best friends share together.

I remember when I was kid, I always wanted my friends to be the kind of people who could sit with me, even if I was having a silent day or silent meal. Because best friends share stories, conversations, and share their hearts & lives even if words aren’t being spoken between them. Even in silence, the best of friends are still connected.

Yet we live in culture that promotes silence as being awkward. Silence in the ruin-er of moods. Silence is the killer of connection. Silence…silence isn’t as bad as we make it out to be. Not always.

I haven’t recovered.
I haven’t gotten over a God who would say to me, “At least you sit with me when I’m silent.
I haven’t stopped tearing up every time I think of it.

How close do you have to be to share a broken heart with someone? To feel their pain as they express it. To cry when they cry. To sit with them in that time and not try to change it, but just to share in it?
How quiet do we have to still ourselves before God shares his broken heart with us?

One of my favorite Bible verses say, “He who is faithful with little, will be faithful with much. And he who is dishonest with little, will be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)
God is seeking those who are faithful with little. The problem is, we have heard so much from a culture that says God wants to give us much …and that entices us.

The problem is we live in culture were dating is the same thing as having sex together. We live in culture where you can watch movies instantly and any part of the movie only takes two clicks to get to it or maybe just a spoken word (long gone are VHS and cassettes!). We live in culture where my husband’s coworkers ask him where he got his lunch, and they’re surprised when he frequently says we made it at home. We live in culture where we play little computer games during our dead time, but then we pay real money for unreal power-ups & instant-builds (and so on) in said game.

We live in culture that wants a form of greatness, but we want it now, and we’re willing to sacrifice some of our greatness in order to gain some instant-ness. We want to skip ahead to our favorite parts.

The problem is we apply this mentality to our spiritual lives, because it’s our everyday mindset. We don’t have time for menial task. The reality is relationships (including spirituality) are built on things that might otherwise be considered menial. Have we forgotten that in our modern world?

We need to practice being faithful with little in our everyday lives. Everyday we have choices to make. Just for today will we pick something that guides to healthier or more holistic living? Maybe tomorrow we fail. Maybe yesterday didn’t work out. But today? Today we could choose to be faithful with little. Today we could build a menial piece in our relationships. Today we could be a little more honest with ourselves.  Today could be great, or it could be nothing of consequence. And that’s okay. It’s only a little thing.

When greatness does come we will not know it, unless we are faithful in the little things.

It maybe a long, long wait, but… don’t be afraid of a Silent God.
Unimaginably beautiful awaits those who persevere faithfully.

Fools On Display

“Sometimes I think God has put us apostles at the very end of the line, like prisoners soon to be killed, put on display at the end of a victor’s parade, to be stared at by men and angels alike.”
– St Paul

Strangely, I get the impression this isn’t one of the first five things anyone thinks of when they think of the Christian Life or walking by faith. …and I wonder what it’s like to be that person who walks along without this weight. I wonder what it’s like to think of Christianity in terms of things done in or pertaining to a “church” building.
I imagine it’s terrible and boring.

1st Corinthians chapter 4 is very powerful in a humbling way. It’s like reading a story of how my ancestors got to America and got established into our modest life. It’s a reminder that we aren’t just trusting God for our day to day life, but we’re part of something greater. It’s a reminder that it isn’t just about what’s happening now, but our “now” is part of greater chorus which has been sung out in faith. We join those who have believed before us. We join those who believe now, and we join those who struggle to believe but keeping living for one more day, searching for truth…if there be any left in this world.

This is a challenge. This is a weight.

Later on, in 2nd Corinthians, Paul uses the phrase “eternal weight of glory”. A small phrase that has baffled many. What could it mean?
I think it means, when we get connected into the roots of our faith, and into the forefathers of faith, and we start wanting to be a part of their faith, knowing their God, and living that faith…then we’ve connected to something that eternal. Something that’s glorious. And there’s a weight to it all. “the eternal weight of glory”

When we think of the long lineage of history that has processed our stories and brought message of a living God down throughout history, we look small. Yet…in our “now” state of being, we feel so worthless, so insignificant, and sometimes so forgotten by God.  We feel like God puts us on display in the worst way. We feel foolish. We like stoning up our hearts, instead of opening them up. We feel like we have no faith at all. We feel insane. …but we keep going.

There is no alternative.  There is no following the system into a happily-ever-after. There is no daydreaming and one day  it’ll come true. …not without an attempt. Not without skidding through some failure, bristling through some doubt, drowning in stares of people who “admire” your “cute faith” but they sure don’t want to be you or live their own faith in the same “admirable” way.

Yet not everyone can.
Someone has to be at the base. Someone has to discover that old path that now seems overgrown and hidden. If it ever was here, then it’s still here. But my God, it isn’t easy to find, and to keep, and follow. …Yet if that’s all we had to do, it’d be easier than this. Yet we know, behind us will come those who are looking for this same path, and we need to put signs out for them. We need to clear some of the brush. But we need to make sure, it is the right path at the same time.

To say it’s hard is an inadequate understatement.

We are on display, and this display makes us seem like fools. We know. Yet we must. It’s not just for our sake anymore. When we enter into an ancient and eternal faith, then we become part of legacy. One that must be preserved. One that must be given to the next generation. And I just don’t have the faith to believe that our “church” systems are going to be the ones to pass on a living faith with a Living God, where even the words of God are still alive to us today.

To be eternal means there is no “Old Testament” God vs “New Testament” happy-go-lucky Jesus. Just one triune God working throughout all of history. Including now.

There is an eternal weight of glory, and it’s exactly what Jesus was talking about when he said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. We preserve, because if we quit, we will never know what the saints of ol’ saw. We’ll never know why the cloud of witness is cheering us on. We preserve because there’s other children coming after us, and if we were kicked out of the church for seeking deeper truth in our perilous times, then what will happen to them?

This is why we are part of a faith that is on display before men and angels. Because God has a plan. …and that’s something that I want to be part of.  So here’s to one more try…

Are You Afraid of the Silent God?

Maybe the coolest thing about going headlong into the traditions of Christianity, based on the Biblical definitions of Christianity, is finding a God that’s actually daring enough that it’s scary.

It’s great to find a relateable God, and the warmth of the closeness of the Holy Spirit. It’s encouraging to have Jesus as the Good Shepherd. But sometimes… God’s silent. …and it’s weird.

It’s challenging to spend years (or even months) building a relationship with God, and then all of a sudden, just when you feel like you’ve taken a big step of faith, God is silent.

Questions come and go. Advice from well-meaning people comes flowing in like a raging flood, and yet your heart says no to all of it. Suddenly these friends become your enemies because you don’t take their counsel. Suddenly you realize your in the midst of the wilderness, where all the great saints of the past, have traveled, stayed, sought, ran, and generally spent some harsh days & nights therein. You’re in God’s country…. and God is silent. It’s heart-wrenching.

Just like the book of Job, when we go through hard times, people have too much advice and too little listen. Just like the book of Job when we petition a silent God, nothing but the voice of God himself will satisfy.

Here’s the problem: When God is silent, you can’t just skip to the happy ending. When God is silent, my life sits in silence. I am not involved in a type of spirituality that comes with a fast forward button. I endure every last moment which I live. I have skipped none of them. I remember them; I feel them. I am not nothing.

Silence happens. …and it’s weird. But it’s not ugly.

Silence is painful. It can be agitating. We live in culture that everyone rolls their eyes at the phrase “silent treatment”. This is not a relaxing spa day, but a use of manipulation. Silence is known to us as bad in our culture. But it certainly doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Even a long silence doesn’t have to be a bad thing, cause by negative reactions.

Certainly if we’ve spent days and months, and maybe even years into building a relationship with God, then suddenly we discover a time of silence, hopefully we’ve built a solid foundation in our relationship with God.  Because it will be tested.
There has to be a faithful God with a plan for more than our lives, but for all things. Otherwise… it’s all vanity, and the silence will break you.

Silence is like being lite on fire…
You want it to stop as soon as possible.
It’s uncomfortable to say the least. It doesn’t feel right. It’s scary. It feels like death. But we are surviving. We are growing stronger. We are losing things that we never need to be growing on our souls in the first place. We are transforming, on a good day. On a bad day, we want to quit, to leave, to give up, and to tell God that he’s not listening. Ironic, right? Tell God he’s not listening? But this is the reality of the unrecorded moments.

There is an agony to be wrestled, and not merely vanquished. Silence is the arena for such  an agony. If we skip it to get to the happy ending, to sing our happy songs, to say only good things about a faithful God, then we lose possibilities of being effectual in our generation, as all the saint of ol’ were in their generations.

We’ve never had to deal with anything quite so profound as silence. It is a discipline. It’s an endurance. It’s worth it. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.

Silence has a lot to say.
There are lessons to be learned that are not easy. Lessons that are not in cute $20 book at the Christian book stores. Lessons that come from living a life, and trying it out for yourself …once in a while.

It’s interesting that as my husband & I considered our faith, and considered that saints of old, we thought: why not?
I am a big believer in learning from other people’s mistakes and life-lessons, but when it came to the saints, I found that what I learned is I need to do this too.

I found that believing in God had little do with what Christianity (as a modern day system) promotes, and actually had a lot more to do with things that are record in the Bible. Things that people say aren’t possible anymore. Things that were so 5,000 years ago. I found those things to be the most lively and livable things about Christianity, or any connection with God. Because God honors his people for what they do, what they live, and what that shapes them into.

We are not a people who are solely about doing or solely about being. We are a people who believe you must have faith and you must do works. A lack of one only shows both as dead.
It’s not a demand, it the fluency of life.

The crazy thing that happened then, was that we found ourselves in the middle of the stories that all the saints have lived through. And guess what? There’s is no fast forward. There’s a lot of time and life that happens between one sentence and the next. Between one paragraph and the next. If our lives were recorded as movies, there would be a lot that wouldn’t make the cut, because it’s just day in & day out life.
But when you’re living it, yourself, it makes a difference. Everyday is a choice. Everyday could be pivotal. Everyday may be an endurance. And you feel every last one of them. They are important to you, and therefore they are important. period.

This isn’t a story in a book. This is real life. Silence is not only heard, it’s felt, and we do not make light of that. We do not brush it aside for a glorious “someday” we live through it because there are lessons to be learned here. There is life to be lived, and felt, and challenged here.

When God is silent, I can’t break that. I can’t move. I refuse to exit that silence. I won’t pray my way out. If God is silent, then I sit with God in silence.

If I believe in God, then I must also know the Silent God. I must know if this is real, what’s it mean, and how do I endure. Because my life isn’t just about me, but so many people have come across this Silent God, and have been told to “pray it away”, to ignore everything that’s happening for a someday that’s worth paying attention too.
But these don’t sound like the word of Jesus. They only sound like well-meaning friends, who are actually giving bad advice.

I need to know the Silent God. I want to approach him. I want to be able to sit with a Silent God. I want to know what happens with a Silent God. And I want to know him without fear. The Christian life isn’t actually about comfort and happily ever afters, those are only tiny pieces and a great big story. A story I want to fully live.

Can it be done?

What’s the point in the now?

What’s the point in having faith when (as far as I can tell) nothing is actually happening in the external world? If there is something, even something minor happening, how am I suppose to assume that has anything to do with me anyhow? I’ve felt so stuck and nullified, that I begin to wonder what difference does any of this make? But I know I am not alone. So maybe, but just maybe, I am learning something here?

I wrote to my brother. I needed advice. I always take my brothers’ advice …well, almost always. I wrote a small question, and waited for an answer that would say more than one little answer is suppose too. He wrote back with a small simple answer. I was satisfied. I’m not losing my faith, and I’m not losing my mind, so what else is this strange feeling?  I feel so incredibly anxious to move onto the next step in my life that I wonder: What is the point in the now?

This morning a little phrased popped into my head, and I looked up the fuller context of what it was. It was Abraham, the father of faith and the father of many nations.

Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.”  He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,
being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

– Romans 4:18-22

What’s the point in the now?  Abraham, the father of faith, believed and it was accounted to him as righteousness. In the midst of Abraham waiting for God to begin the necessary steps to fulfill a big promise and a future for Abraham’s family, it’s recorded as Abraham believed. That’s not a very external list of what happened, but somehow, the saints who record this story know that this is the more important detail to be recognized than a do & don’t list or a list or events.

This is very odd concept. Because Abraham believed (a continuous belief), God accepted that, more than any doing, as an act of righteousness.

Righteousness is something which we usually say something like, it’s doing that which puts us in the “right” before God (meaning in good standing with God). Some people are convinced that their love in the hearts for their family and lack of murdering other people will count was righteousness, should they ever have to stand before God. But the Bible say some weird things about righteousness and being counted as a “good person”.

We are unfit to worship you;
each of our good deeds
    is merely a filthy rag.
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.
Isaiah 64:6

At one time Jesus says something like, “No one is good, except God alone” which seems a little extreme… but then again I’ve had some sad times where I had a similar opinion. But there’s also place where the Bible seems to imply everything we do with our own strength is meager.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
    the guard keeps watch in vain.
 It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives sleep to his beloved.
Psalms 127:1-2

Which again might bring about the question: What’s the point in the now?  Which also takes me back to Abraham.

Abraham believed God and God’s promise(s) and it was accounted to Abraham as righteousness. Abraham obtained righteousness for not for his actions, reactions, or self-control, but instead it’s recorded as his faith in God and God’s words that put him in right-standings before God. Out of that also came actions, reactions, self-control, and so on, but these sort of things are secondary and aren’t the true symptoms that something or someone is good or bad. Instead it what comes out of the deeps of who we are.

Somehow, who we are, what we choose to believe, and how deeply we believe anything starts to define what’s really in us …good or bad. But that’s not what our society says. We have responsibilities, we have obligations, we have limits, we have temptations, and some people even believe that each of these things are a test, and depending how we do on that test we effect our levels of righteousness.
So how does Abraham fulfill God’s longest desire simply by faith?

Maybe righteousness isn’t so much about getting to place of right standings before God. Maybe it’s something more like willingness to commit to working along side of God. Maybe that’s the kind of people that make God say, “I call them my righteous child”.

My husband and I live in an odd situation where we feel God has called us out of many of the systems of this world. It makes people scoff. It makes people wait for our doom. Afterall, you can’t fight the machine. Things have been like this for generations, you can’t just change it now. These are tried and true methods of a “happy” life. We’re willing to test them anyways. We’re willing to leave the tried and trued, and to take that path of “no return”. We’re willing even to put up with some scoffing.
But it’s been a while, you know, and sometimes it seems like nothing’s happening. We’re anxious for the next step in life, but we’re waiting. Waiting brings questions. Questions are belligerent company on a path less traveled. But our hearts are 100% here in the unknown. We pray for miracle frequently, daily. We study, we learn, we research, we smile, and we even cry. But sometimes it seems nothing is changing yet.

Abraham was a man in an impossible situation. Throughout his life’s story he had many crazy hard situations. Maybe sometimes he made better decisions than other times. I’m not really in place to judge that, because at the end of it all Abraham is remembered as the father of faith. He’s remembered as something even greater than a saint. All this was not because of external factors, but something that came from the deepest part of Abraham.

One of the sayings of Jesus that I like to use as a compass is: “If you were children of Abraham, then you would act like it.
Maybe I don’t see the external factors, but maybe something is happening. Maybe we’re not making great impressions on the people around us, but maybe God is satisfied. That would be cool. I’d be happy to fulfill God’s heart merely be taking God at his word. I don’t know if it works like that in my situation, but that could be a beautiful beginning to a great story of humble saints.

Wish us luck, say a prayer, but whatever you do… Let’s all journey on together. There’s more life coming soon.

Beauty: Misunderstood

Sometimes it’s nice to be comfortably in the age of adults. Sometimes it’s enough to forget some teenage year struggles and social awkwardness. I think as much as I might have struggled at that time, I also had fun with it. I found reasonable ways to push the perimeters and made my life a questioning statement about the “set rules” of life. …of the good life of good Christian living.

One of my strange joys of my teenage years was to hunt through thrift stores to find odd & old patterns on shirts and dresses that seemingly no one else would want and attempt to wear them. Sorry I didn’t take the time to find these old pictures for today, but I can say that there was plenty of things which my mom said looked like the 1960s that were my favorite.

Confession: At that time this had less to do with my actual love of the retro style and more to do with buffeting the system, even though it was a very tiny protest at that.

Now I’ll also say that the retro style is an acquired taste that really grows on you (in my opinion), and I don’t doubt that I generally love it more today than I did back then. Although I am particular about which retro-styles I like. However, I bring it up not to discuss styles, but actually to talk a little about beauty.

In my teenage years, I had read the saying “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” and another one that says, “Beauty is more than skin deep”   and it’s these kinds of things make me wonder what could be done to test and/or prove this.

For most of my young life I was told that I was pretty or cute or beautiful as a baby and toddler, and I enjoyed the pure attention and admiration. But I remember I wasn’t more than 3rd or 4th grade before these kinds of saying become tainted. Suddenly it wasn’t just a compliment on its own, but now it was a sort of testing of waters. Now when it was said it had something to do with “boyfriends” or “fighting off the boys” or if it was a boy of similar age it was expected that I might compliment him back. But What for?  I didn’t understand this change. Neither did I enjoy this change, because it seemed to make “beauty” ugly and cheap. Now I had to be guarded against even compliments, which were once good things.

What kind of beauty is it that allows one person to look at another person as a object to use for their own gratification? How is that even considered connected to beauty at all? My conclusion was this had nothing to do with me or my beauty, but the distorted vices of the hearts of those who would pay such nullifying compliments. But yet the guardedness and insecurity of such changes would stick with me a long time into my future.

So low and behold, as my teenage years rolled around, I was ready to put to the test these ideas of what was beauty, and how far could someone claim something to be beautiful before it was ugly or undesirable …or just too strange. And thus began my adventures in my own clothing styles.
Imagine a reasonably smart, good humored, young girl wearing multi-colored paisley shirts, embroidered jeans, modesty-conscious, crazy fun hair styles, and not too particularly concerned with any one’s great opinion or stares.  …then we’re getting closer to what I might have been during that time.

Yet not matter how ugly my shirt or crazy retro my dresses or odd my hair might be, I still had compliments …less, yes, but still compliments. I did notice people were general less bold now. Something about my new fashion sense made people a little more aloof, which I was totally ok with, and those who did still mention it just labeled it as my particular style or me being me. But in the end, it’s just clothes and external expressions. How many people noticed my heart? Or my struggles? Or my joy? Or how many noticed when I was usually quiet? Probably less than a few.

That thing which we call beauty, isn’t usually about beauty at all. External changes in clothes, hair, makeup, accessories, or lack there of  in any of these, isn’t really the display of more or less beauty. Maybe it cries out for more or less attention or expression of some happening internally, but not so much beauty.

Most of the time during my teenage years, I wouldn’t actually have thought myself beautiful. People say there’s a lot of conflicting messages in the media and in children’s toys & dolls and role models, but I’m not sure those are things to blame. Some where, at very young age, we have the wrong idea of what beauty is and where we see it. I’d heard beauty is more than skin deep and that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but what was the likelihood of discovering such truths in our modern day life?

I think at some point I must have discovered something about beauty which wasn’t so much told to me or explained out loud. At some point I realized what we look like doesn’t have a lot to do with beauty. What we look like has a lot to do with self-image. Beauty, however, is seen when we notice the details of someone’s character or heart or beliefs, or in showing respect to other living beings. Sometimes beauty is discovered when we take on the ugly and learn what it is to be little more lowly but still have joy and pride in life.

I remember looking at a picture of my mom, who rarely truly considers herself beauty, and in this one photo I was looking at she had wrinkles and her glasses weren’t not exactly straight and she had a meek smile. As I consider the photo, I remember thinking how beautiful she was. I thought about how she might look at the imperfections in the photo and not think too much of it, but I remember also being captured with how beautiful she really, really did look. Wrinkles are bound to come. Glasses sometimes don’t sit straight. Smiles sometimes get captured in that halfway position when a photo is taken. …but so what? Certainly such tiny things don’t define beauty.
What my mom may not notice is that she has a perfect diamond shape face that allows her to look great in almost any type of glasses, beautiful innocent brown eyes, thick full rich hair, and Love in heart that is always conveyed no matter what kind of smile. She’s beautiful.

It took me a while to understand beauty for myself, and it’s taken me a little bit beyond that to understand that many people don’t even consider what words actually mean. Often we have our associations with this word or that word, and that’s it. There’s no more defining or consideration or thought. …and that’s a shame.  There’s many consideration-worthy things in this life. There’s many joys to be found, and lessons to be learned. There’s healing to be obtained.
And for me, I know I am here today, so I might as well do something with myself, besides just nodding my head at others opinions. I have some time and I’m still breathing, so maybe I could try something more adventurous. Maybe a long the way I’ll discover things that well help this world make a little more sense to me …or even help someone else.

Today beauty. Tomorrow…?