Monday, September 18, 2006

Glory Thief

I'm not sure when I learned this, but somewhere along the recent way, I became grateful for this Christian compromise.

I said before that I was compromised and also satisfiedly so. But that was one degree too far. It is obvious I realize now that I may very well be experiencing compromise, but I am not satisfied to stay in it. I obviously feel uncomfortable. And I think that that can make all the difference. The man who beat his chest and could barely lift his eyes when asking for forgiveness, was doing a great job in His eyes.

Karen suggested that I saw myself as better than everyone else. And I did. I am glad that I was forced to experience an undeniable compromise. Because now I can understand and accept and relate to everyone else who is like this. Before, I would have wondered what was wrong, that they didn't care about their faith, maybe. Now I know so much better. It's not like that. It's simply beyond control, and more importantly it's a time to learn to be reliant on God's righteousness.

And I am the least of those who understand how to do that. It's certainly an unwanted step in part of my heart. Once again, others are doing better at following after God than I ever assumed could be true.

So what about all those times when God poured out wisdom and peace over my heart, before my age of compromise? I think now, that I should have remembered I knew already, it was simply a gift. God was being kind to me. It wasn't from me, it was from Him.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Coeur D'Alene

This is where I will be for the next three days. Is that a bad thing to say on the internet? I don't think anyone can use that information against me.

There's a free hotel/conference and someone else is going to be driving, so I am going.

It's in Idaho, just west of Spokane, Washington, across the border a little farther east. I am excited to drive through the Columbia river gorge (meaning north of Oregon). In college I read a book called "A River Lost" and it still sits on my bookshelf, about the transformation of the region into the modern age through the restructuring of the river into a series of dams. Never been.

More excitingly, I am going to spend some cold hard time admiring the Rocky Mountains. I've been told by the driver, that mountains are the backdrop to the city beside the lake of the same name.

Now I told a few people how I was hoping to see the Rocky Mountains, and you know what they said? They said "Well, I don't know if those are the ones that are next to where you are headed." Baloney I thought, but I proceeded to doubt.

The internet advocates my dreams becoming reality:

"The Couer d'Alène Mountains are part of the Rocky Mountains, located in Idaho and Montana."


The Rocky Mountains are my most favorite. I love the basin and ranges, but even more than that I love the rugged peaks, the ancient fossil beds and amazing techtonic forces to examine, and the immensity of them all. They feel like the call of inspiration to me.

Here's a photo I took of the Grand Canyon last May:

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Joseph's Dungeon

I have some bad news.

I really honestly can't see my way out of this cyclic spin I'm in. It's too far out of my grasp to deliver myself. I am truly stuck.

Does God ever decide to pull out the rug on someone? I know that sounds harsh. But, come to think of it, it feels harsh.

I feel like I'm starting all over again. Way back to when I was 21, having freshly made a commitment to be Christ's follower, but finally entering into the choice that comes in lifestyles as a result. For several months I suffered by being dual-hearted. I think it came to an end after lots of perserverance on my part to seek God's help and repent.

I'm leaning in my daily moments on my children's Christian programming playing that arrangement of dialogue in the background of my day....

From VeggieTales, the newly released DVD called, "The Bad Apple: A Lesson in Temptation":

"Who let you in?" asks the victim.
"I was hoping you would," says the enemy.
"It looks amazing. Like you could walk right in," said the victim.
"Oh, you can. Go ahead, walk right in," says the enemy.

Oh, I am such a spiritual loser. I appreciate how God uses what He wills to help me, and I'm not offended to be taught like a child. The next is one has been lying around my house for the entirety of these difficult months. The more I watch it the more I learn....

From the Dreamworks (the makers of Shrek) movie "Joseph: King of Dreams," an entertaining account of Joseph of the Old Testament.

You know from the bible how he started off being a child born to a barren woman, a miracle, with a special gift given by God. He is sold into slavery by his brothers, he serves faithfully as a slave and is betrayed again in innocence to jail. It is at this point in the movie, where Joseph has reached the most pitiful and lowly point when this song below is sung.

There is an amazing scene involving a broken young tree that evolves while the song is being sung. He is in a dark, barren dungeon. The tree is the only living thing inside the jail. It is nearly dead lying broken in the middle of the floor. Joseph picks it up and tends to it, over the months in the jail. It grows bigger and gets more and more healthy. As the song is playing and the months pass and the tree grows more sturdy, brief scenes flash reflecting all the hard moments in his life leading up to the present. Each time a scene from his past is recounted, Joseph places a stone around the base of the tree.

These selected stones of a protecting wall Joseph places around the tree represent all of the reclaimed pieces of his faith over his circumstances.

I thought I did what's right
I thought I had the answers
I thought I chose the surest road
But that road brought me here
So I put up a fight
And told you how to help me
Now just when I had given up
The truth is coming clear

You know better than I
You know the way
I've let go the need to know why
For you know better than I

If this has been a test
I cannot see the reason
But maybe knowing I don't know
Is part of getting through

I tried to do what's best
And faith has made it easy
To see the best thing I can do
Is put my trust in you

I saw a bird and thought that I could follow
But it was you who taught that bird to fly
If I let you reach me
Will you teach me
For you know better than I
You know the way
I'll take what answers you supply

My most favorite scene in the movie, the one that will always stay with me, and is the desire of my heart, described:

Inside the otherwise barren pit, here Joseph stands silent with his head bowed and his hands together in front of an amazing beautiful and healthy tree which is the centerpiece on display in the pit.

Joseph is now going to be taken to Pharaoh, where it will be obvious to all through Joseph's life what the Pharaoh announces to the people "Zaphaphanea" : "The God speaks, and He lives." I want to have my life's fulfillment in having others having a similar testimony about God through seeing my life.

Joseph is delivered out of that pit onto an easier time. And for all of those who will be thrown in the dungeon after he, there waits an amazing testimony of hope and strength for all to behold. I see the soul of Joseph being reflected by that one favorite scene where he stands humbly before the lone strengthened tree. I see a life laid down and destroyed in the way Jesus promised "If you want to save your life, you will lose it. But if you lose your life for me, you will find it." Where there is nothing left of me to behold, only Christ, living and breathing and blessing in the centerpiece of the room. Because of faith. In the midst of hard circumstances.

I want to reclaim these circumstances for faith in God and what He might be doing. It looks ugly, confusing, non-logical to me. I am coming to a place where the only option I have left, is surrender. I want to let God lead me. This can't go on forever.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

At the wheel

"That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, 'Let us go over to the other side.' Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, 'Teacher, don't you care if we drown?'

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, 'Quiet! Be still!' Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, 'Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?'

They were terrified and asked each other, 'Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!'"

Mark 4:35-41

Last night in my women's bible study we dissected this passage for its meaning, its truths, its applications. I am so glad that I went, because this is exactly what I needed to be taught in my moment now.

There are some common things to pull out of this passage but that's not what I'm interested in. I asked what the stern of the boat was, and was surprised it meant the back of the boat. The vision of it: Jesus, at the back of the boat, and asleep. Meanwhile the disciples were attending to the business with all their seasoned skill, to do as He had just commanded: "Go to the other side."

This spoke a lot to me of that cycle I have been going through. God is with me, gives a command. I go about achieving it according to the good and God-given skills and intelligence I have. Meanwhile, the LORD seems to take a backseat in terms of leading, or directing. I have the command; it is my time to run with it. I have the free agency to accomplish it according to my own skills.

Then the storm hits, you know; trouble. What are my problem-solving techniques?

1) Try and control the boat. Another words, I'm still using my skills, my talents, my abilities. Jesus is with me, but so far I haven't included him specifically in the difficulty I am beginning to experience.

2) Call Him "Teacher." I acknowledge God. I confess that He is the one who can help me now that I realize I need it. I have been well taught that He is there with me, and He knows how to help me when I have the need.

3) Ask any question, or make any statement, about God that isn't one of faith. Their choice was "Don't you care?"

How did Jesus consider their good efforts to come to Him for help? He called it "having no faith."

None? That seems kind of extreme. I look back to the disciples' words. They knew plenty about who he was. But the faith was non-existant because they didn't put that knowledge to work at the appointed time of their testing.

How much of what I do is timid to step out of the realm of knowledge, into a place where it is put to work by using it in my hard times?

"Anything not done in faith is sin." rom 14. Jesus rebuked his disciples not because their knowledge was lacking, but because they needed faith! Faith was so much more important to being a sucessful disciple, than knowledge was. Faith is the foundation out of which true knowledge springs forth.

So when I set out with my marching orders, leaving that high place of success with where I am with God, I need to be just simply aware that the difficulty will come as I make my decisions and accomplish my tasks. What is it He wants from me when that time comes? Be prepared now: Jesus wants me to apply myself to exercising faith.

Lessons Learning

The LORD puts up with me. I'm not really sure why. All I can come up with is the cross. Because nothing else makes sense.

Oops, I wanted to write this blog right after the last one. But too late! I cycled again.

I got good counsel from three people; Pastor Greg, Karen, and my husband.

Here are the questions I asked, and here were their answers:

From Karen:
Q: Is there anything good about going through this constant cycle of sin and obedience?

A: Yes, as we confess sin, which means stop justifying it to ourselves and God and agree to look at our sin His way, a tiny spiritual separation occurs between our old nature and the new life in Christ planted as a seed when we first believed and the Holy Spirit entered our innermost being.

Q: Why doesn't my normal Christian routein work anymore?

A: We dare not trust the sweetest frame (not even our own imparted righteousness!). He gave us grace because He knew we would need it.

Q: How come I've lost that golden touch? I never had two hearts before. How come I've become like the majority; compromised at least in practice, if not by choice?

A: It seems to me that you are revealing that you are comparing yourself with other Christians, and seeing yourself normally as better than they are. We must get ourselves a little lower than the one we need to support.

From Pastor Greg:
Q: I want to get back to where I was. Where it was easy for me to be blessed with His abundant revelations and fruits of the Spirit. I don't have a clue what I need to know or do in order to get back there.

A: Why would you want to go back? I mean, can't there be something even better waiting for you? Even if God is letting you have a hard time now, when you learn what it is that you need to, your understanding of His power and its ability to work through you will be better at that point than where you have come from.

Q: How good is it for me to experience the fact that I would want to sin? How far deep should I expect God to take me?

A: Well when we are tempted to sin, and we follow through, all of that time spent sinning for things we clearly know are wrong, we are not in fellowship with God, we are not where God wants us to be. He never wants us to choose or remain in sin. God's way in this situation is for us to believe that He has provided a way out, and to use it.

And lastly, I had a most important question that I asked all three but only Ben could answer it:
Q: Last year I fell in love with the principle of being buried to produce spiritual seeds around me -- sacrifice. I prayed to God to suffer for Him, and I soon did. Then I prayed again to suffer. There was a period of a month directly after when we were concerned about our finances being reduced, but they actually got better, so that wasn't it. Then, silence. I forgot about my prayer. Now after going through these months of spiritual struggle, I wonder now, was that God's answer?

A: It's likely. He could be giving you a kind of suffering of having to examine and experience the fruit of fleshly sin, in you. You might learn to know He is good and realize you're miserable without Him so it'll train you to practice some consistent effort to make deliberate your faith in Him to save and sustain you.

Q: Is it possible that He knew that in my heart it was less likely there was loss that could scare me? Did He choose to take me through a path of blessing and abundance, instead, to test my heart?

A: Yes, He could have given you what you didn't want, blessing, to prove that you can find ways to challenge your faith and trust in Him in a place of temptation. Not a temptation to sin by doubting God for a loss, but a temptation to sin by holding too tightly to the good gifts He has given you.

blog archive

Phrase Search / Concordance
Words/Phrase To Search For
(e.g. Jesus faith love, or God of my salvation, or believ* ever*)