Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Are you taking the biblical thing too far?

"Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?"
Jesus said, "I am."
"He deserves to die!"
(Mk. 14:61,62,64)

The response of the leaders of his day is the same response Jesus gets in the world today. Hate. 
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has received a death sentence in Iran because of his faith in Jesus.  Kirk Cameron is accused of "taking the biblical thing too far" for his views on homosexuality.  Tim Tebow, who apparently offends people by praying,  has his own official Hate Club.  The world hates Jesus and his followers. 
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." John15:18 
 The world can't accept that Jesus is who he says he is because then they would have to accept what he said.  If they discredit him and his followers, then they don't have to play by his rules.
"The way of the Lord is a stronghold to those with integrity, but it destroys the wicked." Proverbs 10:29  
When I read the news reports, I wonder why people get so angry when believers express their views that are based on scripture, but then I read about how people treated Jesus.  They spit at him.  They beat him with their fists.  They jeered and mocked him.  They crucified him.  As a follower of Jesus and a Bible believing Christian, can I expect any different?
In this world we can choose to let Kirk Cameron, Tim Tebow, and Youcef Nadarkhani receive the blows. We can be like the disciple Peter who said after Jesus' arrest, "I don't know what you are talking about.  I don't know this man."  We can be like the women at the cross who watched from a distance.  Or we can be like Joseph of Arimathea who boldly identified himself with Christ by asking for his body.
As we struggle to live by faith in this generation, we can be encouraged by the example of Noah who was not afraid to stand out in the middle of great wickedness.  But like Noah, we have to be willing to build an ark when there is no rain. We have to be willing to obey God even if it's not politically correct.  We have to be willing to be mocked, spit upon, and beaten.  The only way we can do this is if we are sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  (Heb.11:1)  We must hold unswervingly to the hope we profess and not shrink back when the world condemns us--even unto death.  (Heb. 10:23)
Hatred will happen.
It is happening.
Jesus wasn't convicted to die because of any heinous crime.  He never even sinned.  He was arrested out of envy (Mk. 15:10) and the crowd was stirred up against him. (Mk 15:11)   His charge was listed as "The King of the Jews." 
What crime did Pastor Youcef commit?  He believed in Jesus and the crowd was stirred up against him.
What crime did Kirk Cameron commit?  He believed in Jesus and the crowd was stirred up against him.
What crime did Tim Tebow commit?  He believed in Jesus and the crowd was stirred up against him.
They are accused of "taking the biblical thing too far."
How about you?  Is there enough evidence to convict you of "taking the biblical thing too far"?
Will you stand firm if the crowd is stirred up against you?
Will I?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

You know you are... (cont.)

You know you are having a bad day when...
...you are driving your son to band practice and you pull into the parking lot and the car starts making a loud screeching sound, and
... you call your husband who is in the middle of a middle school musical performance of "Willie Wonka" and try holding the phone out of the window so he can hear the screeching sound to decide whether or not you can drive home, and
... after he leaves the play and picks you up (because the screeching sound is very bad even though he couldn't hear it on the phone and the car needs to be towed), he gets stopped on the way home and gets a ticket because the car we are now in has an expired registration--who knew?

How about you?  What do you know you are?  Leave a comment below...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

You know you are...

You know you are the parent of an 11 year old boy if he tells you the night before that he HAS to have a  lobster for his presentation tomorrow.
You know you are the parent of a 12 year old girl if the reason she gives you for missing the bus is that her hair "wasn't right."
You know you are the parent of a 15 year old boy if you have to change out of your pajamas and back into your clothes because some of his friends are dropping by.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Good grief

This week I attended another seminar on grief.  (Good grief!  Why in the world does she keep going to  those things?  Isn’t she done grieving by now?)  I went because after Anna died, I wanted to know everything I could about grief--and I still do.  
Am I doing this right?  
Is this normal?  
How can I do this better?  
How can I help other people who are grieving?  
In the last four years, I have attended several grief groups--most of them approached grief psychologically instead of spiritually.  Most of them were not very helpful.

The world tells me to comfort myself by taking a walk, visualizing my ‘happy place,‘ making a craft, listening to music, writing a poem, hugging a tree, taking care of a pet, or touching my heart and saying, ‘Bless you.  Be healed.’  (I am not making these up.  These are actual suggestions from grief 'experts.')    After Anna died, I realized there was no amount of food, no gifts, no trips, no happy place, no pets, no trees, no NOTHING that could touch the pain that I felt.  So where did my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord.  For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow into our lives, so also Christ’s comfort overflows.  

The day after Anna died (before consulting the grief experts) I asked God how I was supposed to go on living and his answer was VERY clear.  He did not say, “keep a journal, seek a therapist, breathe deeply, drink tea, listen to music.”  Those are comforts that the world offers and they are nice, but the comfort they provide is temporary.  What God told me was, “Do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  Those were my instructions, 
Change your perspective.  
See what I see.  
Trust me.  
Why would I seek comfort in alcohol, sex or hugging a tree when I have the GOD OF ALL COMFORT waiting to comfort me?

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  That’s a promise straight from the mouth of Christ.  The blessing is not anything I can see or touch.  The blessing comes from drawing close to the God of all comfort and pouring out my heart to him like water and holding his hand as I walk through the valley.  The blessing comes from getting out of bed in His strength and not my own.  The blessing comes from comforting someone else with the comfort I have received.  The blessing is the hope that I have in HIM.

Recently I met a woman who told me that she had tried a grief support group and hated it.  She said the people in the group sat around crying and she couldn’t deal with everyone else’s pain in addition to her own.  I wasn’t sure she would like our group because we sometimes cry and we share our stories, but I invited her anyway.  After the meeting I asked her what she thought and she said, “This group is different.  This group has hope.”  She could see a difference in the way we grieve because we grieve with HOPE!  When someone dies, Christians experience just as much pain, depression, despair, regret, and fear as the next person, but we acknowledge God’s sovereignty and that he has a bigger picture than we can see.  We accept that this life is not all there is.  We focus on Heaven and what is to come.  And eventually, we are able to stop asking “Why?” and start asking, “What are you doing in this situation, Lord?”  
And through it all we are transformed by our grief.  
Hope makes a difference.  
It changes everything.

PS.  If you are looking to connect with those who are grieving with hope, check out GriefShare.org for a group in your area.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hearts to SEE

There are two blogs that I love to read, www.aholyexperience.com/    and www.kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/ .  But sometimes when I read them, instead of feeling encouraged I feel condemned.  Ann Voskamp sees God EVERYWHERE--in a flower, in her sink, and even in her socks.  I never think to look for Him in those places. And Katie Davis sees God as she bandages wounds, cares for orphans, and shares her guest room with the homeless.  What have I done today?  Sigh.
Yesterday I read that after Jesus fed the 5,000, the disciples "still didn't understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves.  Their hearts were too hard to take it in." (Mark 6:52)  Maybe that's my problem.  Maybe my heart is too hard to "take in" what God is doing around me.  "Jesus asked them, ' do you still not see or understand?  Are your hearts hardened?  Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?'" (Mark 8:17) Ann and Katie have eyes to see and ears to hear.  They are not super-women, but their hearts are not too hard to SEE a super-God.  Sometimes I SEE, but most of the time I am distracted by the cares of this world and all I can see are the dirty socks on the floor and the yard full of weeds.  How can I maintain my heart of flesh and keep it from becoming a heart of stone?  How can I SEE God in the details around me?
I may never write a book or meet Kathie Lee Gifford like Ann.  I may never adopt 13 orphans or live in Uganda like Katie.  But God is not just in Africa or on a corn farm or wherever other people SEE Him.  He is where I am.  He is where you are.
Slow down.
Look for Him.
Give thanks.