Sunday, August 4, 2013

Muddy faces

For those of you who read my last post, "not my cup of tea", I am curious what you thought my main point was? After re-reading it a few times, I realized that it may have come across that I was pointing the finger at people who point the finger when I often struggle with pointing the finger. You might have to read that line a few times :) I'd like to take a moment to clarify the heart of my message.  It is not so much that I want to come down on people (including myself) who sometimes struggle with "the log in the eye" syndrome, as it is that I want to encourage each of us to constantly hold the things that we feel the most strongly about before the Lord.  You just might find, as I did even yesterday, that God often changes our hearts & mind on the very things we find ourselves pointing at.

Consider this verse for a moment
James 1:22-25 
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do."

I'll be honest, I've never really "gotten" this verse.  But, wow, yesterday - it spoke volumes to me.  After writing my last post, I randomly (yeah, right) found myself reading a couple of articles about a subject that I have felt very strongly about for many years.  The article was incredibly convicting, despite the fact that the author came from a perspective that was completely opposite of mine.  Instead of defensively attacking the author (in my own head, not literally), I brought the subject before the Lord.  At first the enemy got involved too.  I began to question and beat myself up for "doing it all wrong", and messing things up for good.  I had already gone down the "am I even a Christian" path a few moments earlier after reading James 1:27

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."


So here I was, spending time with Jesus and feeling like a complete loser.  I KNEW/KNOW that we are not supposed to come away from the word of God feeling condemned, but that is exactly how I felt.  I decided to get real with the Lord and ask Him to take away these feelings of condemnation and somehow fill me with peace despite the fact that I am SO INCREDIBLY FAR from being perfect (or even good).  The "mirror verse" came to mind.

God's word is a mirror.  The easiest thing to do is read it quickly (or maybe not at all) so we don't see the dirt on our face.  Or, maybe if we dig just a little bit deeper, we see the dirt and are so incredibly overwhelmed by it that we throw our hands up, walk away from the mirror and forget what we saw.  Or, and this is my temptation - we STARE at the dirt.  We get right up close, like eye-brow plucking close, and focus all our energy on the disgusting muddy mess.  Then, because we are so disgusted, we walk away and purposely forget about it.  But, oh how much more the Savior wants for us.  As believers, He is inside us and He is so incredibly, perfectly beautiful.  He wants us to look in the mirror and see what is underneath the dirt - a new creation.  Justified. Set apart. Beautiful.  He doesn't want to stop there though.  He wants to lovingly wipe away the mess, so we can see Him more clearly.  He is there.  He is working.  He is calling us to come before Him and allow Him to purify us.

This word picture was so freeing for me.  I was then able to say, even though I have not figured out how to "look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep myself from being polluted by the world" and even though I may have been wrong on an incredibly important issue, I am beautiful because He is in me.  And, He is not finished with me yet.  I am simply looking in the mirror, looking past the dirt, seeing Him and asking Him to clean me up.  I want Him to purify me - and that is half the battle.

And wanting Him to purify us (even those parts of us that we are completely convinced are right...and often find ourselves judging others about), was the heart of my last post.

No matter how strongly we feel about a particular issue, no matter how loudly our culture screams, no matter what our peers think, lets bring EVERYTHING before our perfect Savior.  Ask Him for HIS best.  Ask Him if there are areas we are blind to.  Ask Him if there is any attitude, belief, theory or idol that we cling to too tightly.  When we find ourselves tempted to judge people who have come to different conclusions, ask Him to help us focus our energy on our own purification.  Because we all have mud on our face.  And, as believers, we all are BEAUTIFUL.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Not my cup of tea

I recently had a conversation with a friend in which the subject of large families came up.  When I mentioned a new arrival (baby) to an already large family, her response was - "that is not my cup of tea."  I already knew that and it was/is ok with me, but for some reason the "not my cup of tea" statement as a reaction to someone else's news bugged me.

I was thinking/praying about it and I found myself visualizing an actual ladies tea party.  Imagine if instead of each lady enjoying their own cup of tea, they spent their time arguing (or perhaps just thinking negative thoughts to themselves) about what everyone else was drinking.

"I can't believe you like decaffeinated, how unfortunate!"
"What, you take yours black?  That's disgusting."
"That caffeine is killing you, you know!"
"Tea isn't even tea if it doesn't have at least 3 tablespoons of sugar."

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to go to that party.

Why is it then when it comes to controversial topics, we are so quick to look at what others are drinking - instead of what we are enjoying?  I am not pointing the finger here, there are times when I am tempted (and give in) to do the same thing.

It is easy to get so stuck on the "issues" that we don't see the primary issue - are each of us coming before the Lord and asking our Savior how He would like US to drink OUR OWN tea?

More and more I feel like the Lord is asking me to hold EVERYTHING in an open palm -to take my every desire/belief before Him and ask Him to reveal truth to me.  I have been asking Him to help me recognize the difference between idols and gifts (sometimes I find myself calling my idols gifts and my gifts idols) - to help me let go of anything and everything that is not of Him, and cling on to anything and everything that is of Him.

I truly think He asks each of us to hold EVERYTHING in an open palm.

So when those controversial subjects come up, you know what I'm talking about...

public school/private school/home school
stay at home/go to work
planned families/quiver full
babywise/attachment parenting
pampers/cloth diapers
the list could go on and on...

Enjoy your cup of tea, hold it out before the Lord regularly (with a truly open mind) and ask Him to reveal if He can make it better.  And when it comes to your friends, love them - enjoy them - and stop worrying about what they are drinking.  I will try to do the same :)