I don’t normally write about the devil, as I would rather focus on the goodness of Christ.

However, a recent conversation inspired me to reflect on satan’s activity in our lives.

Scripture gives us some clues on Mr. Evil’s activities within the world, and to sum it up he basically is a deceiver.

Or in laymen terms; liar.

Actually my favorite image of Satan is found in St. Peter’s first letter. St. Peter writes,

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Satan is looking to deceive us in all kinds of ways.

He wants us to believe that we are less than.

Less than what?
Less than perfect.

In Matthew 5 Jesus teaches about loving your enemies and ends this section of scripture by telling everyone that we are called to be perfect like our Heavenly Father.

Perfection does not mean crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s. Jesus’ perfection means being whole.

Being completely whole.

We were originally made whole, but because of the fall in Genesis 3 and our own sin we are broken. The Good news is Christ’s death and resurrection makes us whole again!!

Satan gets a hold of this though and tries to get us to believe that our brokenness cannot be fixed.

He whispers,

“You are not pretty enough.”

“You are not smart enough”

“You don’t belong”

“Your depression and anxiety are just who you are, you can never experience freedom from them”

“You are only here to make yourself happy”

“You are not loved and you are too broken to be loved”

“Your house isn’t nice/big enough”

“You will never have enough money, it’s your only security in this world”

Ect.

I’m sure you have heard something similar in your own life.

These insecurities are crippling when they are all we believe about ourselves, and Satan is waiting in the bushes, hoping if we hear these lies enough we will start believing the lies.

Here is the Good News; we don’t have to be defined by our insecurities. We get to live as kingdom people right now.

We get to experience the freedom of the life transformation of Christ Jesus!

Lately I have been feeling the burden of these lies in my life. I have sat in self pity for too long over some things that have happened and have decided that I am wallowing in my own sin.

Satan doesn’t want me to move towards Christ, so he is going to try yell louder from the bushes. He might even try to get inside my heart house and stick his dirty little hands all over the different parts of my heart.

Scripture is clear on how to stop this from happening.

St. Paul gives us the image of putting on the armor of God to the church of Ephesus, to keep Satan at bay.

He writes, “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”

Let us keep our hearts from being weighed down by the lies of Satan an rejoice in the resurrection of Christ.

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Sticky faith

April 22, 2013

I caught up with some friends from high school a couple of weeks ago that I hadn’t seen in a long time.

We caught each other up on life. As I was talking about Arlo we somehow got on the topic of baby jam. Baby jam is a sticky substance that seems to get over everything that Arlo touches. It comes in all different colors and seems to get all over everything, oh, and it’s really sticky.

I was reflecting on our conversation and it reminded me of my faith.

Faith is like baby jam…it’s really sticky.

I know a lot of us use moralism as an interchange for faith, but if we read scripture faith is wider and deeper than simple moralism.

In fact when we did ministry in southern Illinois I noticed that moral theism was trending in the pews rather than faith in Christ.

I say faith is sticky because it’s really hard to nail down.

When I was younger, faith was an emotional response different experiences within a community of believers. This usually happened at church retreats.

In college faith was found in word studies, philosophical ideals, hermeneutics, and being right. My faith grew in the classroom and in the dorm room.

In our first ministry the faith I experienced became restricted by expectations, fundamentalism, and pride, both from myself and from others. The faith I experienced was cornered and scrutinized.

When we resigned I realized that the faith I was experiencing was changing yet again.

As I sit here and type this I cannot discount all my faith experiences, just like I can’t discount anyone else’s faith experiences.

I can say that I have noticed similarities in my experiences.

People, the church, evangelism, service, and study have been components in all of my journey.

But mostly people. I’m not an expert but the times when I have put myself in new situations, especially when I have been serving others is when I have experienced a new perspective of my faith in Christ.

And, this is why faith is like sticky baby jam.

When you put yourself in a position to experience new faith you get that faith all over every one you interact with.

Just like baby jam, that sticky faith starts to show up on everything you handle.

This sticky faith then leads you to encourage and challenge others on your journey in new ways.

Rule Keeper

April 8, 2013

I have always been rule keeper. Yes, I like to speed, yes, I didn’t go to every chapel in college, and I am generally very vocal when I think a rule is unnecessary.

But I really like rules. I think it’s my need to control that I admire them so much.

I think this is the reason why I love Waylon so much. He tends to know himself well enough to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. He also has a better grasp on the love of God and of God’s grace than I do.

Mostly because both the love and grace of God don’t follow the rules. The whole Gospel doesn’t follow the rules.

And that’s really hard to swallow for a rule keeper.

Most of the time when we sit down and read scripture we pick on the Pharisees, those religious leaders who always seem to be giving Jesus a hard time. We are shocked that they didn’t get Jesus and his message.

But, they were rule keepers who were guarding the historical rules that were given to them by God. It’s easy to pick on them because we live post resurrection and they are an easy target.

But, being a rule follower I know it’s hard to make room for people that break the rules or recreate them.

The reality is that Jesus lived, died, and lived again for all of us rule followers, rule pushers, and rule breakers.

He makes room for us all and loves us all tenderly, knowing our weakness and who we harden our hearts too.

One way that I have learned to let go of the rules is by connecting with other human beings.

I have a friend who swore she would never forgive or love a parent who abused her children, until one day she met a woman while volunteering at a soup kitchen who abused her children. This woman shared her brokenness with my friend and the hardness started to melt my friends heart.

Maybe that is the key to us rule keepers. To keep our hearts open to opportunities to live the Gospel out, so that little by little we can experience more of God’s grace and love in our lives.

Painful company

April 1, 2013

I have always connected with Good Friday more than any other Christian holiday. I think my connection to what happened on Good Friday is rooted within the humanity and suffering of Christ.

It’s the first time in the Gospel story where Jesus and I look similar. Pain tends to be a great equalizer.

We got the opportunity to go to a Good Friday service and it left me reflecting on suffering and how it not only impacted Christ but also impacted the men and women following Christ.

Often we look at the cross as a means to an end. We see the empty tomb and forget or pass up the opportunity to sit in the suffering that is such a vital part of our Christian faith.

Gathered together, in a small dark room, the disciples sat in their pain.

Perplexed by the painful situation, but perplexed together.

They suffered in community.

I have experienced painful situations in the past, and I often was blessed with a community that could suffer along side me.

What a powerful image. Christ dies on the cross alone so that we could suffer and be broken together.

We get the opportunity as resurrection people to not only walk alongside those who suffer but bring them to the cross to experience the freedom of death.

We get to share the life transformation that is the cross and the resurrection and we get to do it together!

Hand in hand we get to give up and walk into death together and hand in hand we get to experience the life of the resurrection.

Arlo’s birth was traumatic. He was born four weeks early and developed pneumonia which led him to be in the NICU for the first week of his life.

Arlo’s birth and first week also led me to have a new admiration for Mary, the mother of Jesus. I wondered what it was like for her going into labor and delivering Jesus so far from her own community. I wondered what it was like for Mary to hold this little God baby in her arms.

I remember asking Mary to be with Arlo when I couldn’t while he was in the NICU. We lived thirty five minutes from the hospital and while I tried to be there as much as I could I also had to heal from my labor. So, I asked Mary to watch over him and be with him. I guess I remembered that verse that talks about the great cloud of witnesses and I figured since Mary was one of the first she would be the best to ask.

I’m sure a lot of Christians would find my request from Mary to be off putting. I actually had a good friend ask me, “why didn’t you ask Jesus to watch over Arlo?”

My first response was, “well I just assumed He was already watching over him,” and my second response was, “because Jesus was never a mom”

There is something about being a mom that Jesus never got to experience.

When we finally brought Arlo home, I had no idea what to do with him.

I still remember his first sponge bath at home. We put his little tub on the kitchen table and Waylon and I undressed him and started to bath him. He screamed and I cried and it took us a good thirty minutes to get over the whole messy ordeal.

Reflecting on my first year of being a mom has allowed me to look through the eyes of Mary, and as this Easter has come and gone I have realized how painful the cross was to Mary. I would go as far as to say the cross might have been more painful to Mary then to Jesus.

You don’t want your kids to feel pain. When Arlo was on oxygen in the NICU I wanted so desperately to breath for him.

Mary must have felt utter despair that night. Even of she knew redemption was coming, that sword still would have cut her heart into pieces.

As we have moved out of the passion and into Eastertide let us not forget the brokenness and the pain that brings us all together as human beings. We all have suffered and all have the opportunity to weep with Mary on Friday and rejoice with her on Sunday.

Being

March 11, 2013

Something I learned living in southern Illinois is that to be a healthy, thriving person I need to be myself.

After three years of wearing a false smile and agreeing to disagree I realized I was not loving myself.

This lack of love towards who I was doesn’t really flow with my faith. The greatest commandment in scripture is “love The Lord your God with all your heart and, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself”

Did you catch that?

I cannot love my neighbor unless I first love me.

And to be honest I really do like a lot about myself. I am funny, I am intelligent, I am a good leader, and of course I could go on and on…but I also have things in my life I’m not proud of and often try to hide from my community, God, and myself.

So, what does loving me look like? Well the first commandment paints a picture of loving The Lord holistically, so maybe loving me should look holistic.

I should love myself physically; Taking care of my body and eating well. Pushing myself to let go of any addictions in my life.

I should love my self emotionally; Creating healthy boundaries and cut off dead weight. Also be willing to work through emotional issues within my own life.

I should love myself intellectually; challenging myself to new bounds and going through and clearing up my muddy pre suppositions and misconceptions.

I should love myself spiritually; Getting involved within a community of believers and becoming vulnerable to their guidance. Also allowing my soul to be challenged by scripture, friends, and prayer.

Of course I don’t really have this figured out. This is just some guidelines that I have discovered along the way. I have realized that if I am not loving myself well, then my joy is easily stolen. I get grumpy, cynical, and negative.

I only have a short time on this earth and I would like to be as joyous as I can.

A poet’s song

March 8, 2013

I have never been a poet. I am a pragmatic and serious person.

But I married one.

When Waylon and I first got together we would go on walks, hold hands, and he would recite poetry.

I fell pretty hard for my poet.

One of the things I love about Waylon is that he expresses life through a poetic lens. Even in his crudeness he is more poetic than I will ever be.

I have a very serious view of life. You only live once and for the most part you make the decisions that will impact you for the rest of your life. While I often pride myself of thinking widely I am actually very black and white in the way I live.

I often apply this black and white perspective to my theology. Until I met Waylon my God looked a certain way, acted a certain way, and loved me a certain way.

Very black and white.

Waylon added some color into my little world. He opened my eyes to a new way at looking at the world.

Granted I often need reminders of this new perspective and often get too excited about the way I see the world.

This is why I surround myself with poets now.

Not only have poets given me a new look into the world but they have given me a new perspective when I read scripture. Instead of encountering facts, details, and outcomes I come to scripture with a new look on emotional understanding and relational perspective I had not had previously.

Let’s be honest.
Life is hard sometimes.
Life can be full of loss, agony, and broken pain
Life can be full of joy.

Life can be full of emotion that can only be captured by a poet.

Let me end by posting a poem by my sweet husband.

A Monday morning poem

People usually find the incessant barking of a dog or two
Inside the fence
A nuisance, noise pollution

A rap on the window,
“Shut up, out there!”

After listening to those dogs bark
At the same string of squirrels
Loose dogs roaming the neighborhood
The occasional passerby,
The mail lady six days a week
Between noon and two o’clock

I hear those dogs barking out
A testimony of their sheer persistence
Of created life
As I hop in the shower
And head to work on Monday morning

Family Dinner

March 8, 2013

“What does the term family mean to you, and how do you define family”?

I am taking a class right now that is a prerequisite for the program I would like to pursue. In my class we are discussing how families respond to end of life situations.

My teacher asked the above question and it got me thinking about what makes a family. Especially now a days when families look differently. If you are hoping for a world that is based off of Leave it to Beaver you are living in a delusional place.

Hell, if a kid was nick named the Beav now it would carry a whole new meaning.

If you are carrying a torch for a moralistic nuclear family to be the last bastion of Christianity within ‘Mercia, you are believing a lie.

Christ didn’t come down to this earth so that we could all be good, white, clean, moral, and attractive people. The Gospel of Christ has nothing to do with our cultural definition of what the right kind of family looks like.

We have been invited to a family dinner. In the Gospel of Luke we see the parable of the great feast.

A man was preparing a great feast and when everything was prepared he invited all his good friends, but they all made up lame excuses not to show up. So, the man tells his servant to go invite people off the streets and the servant does so, but there is still room in the house, so the man tells the servant to invite those out in the country.

In the end the friends he had invited who had bailed at the last minute never got to sit at the table with the master.

We have a chance to sit at the great banquet, but it’s an open table. If we don’t agree with the people the host has sat us next too, we can get up and leave.

If we don’t want to accept our kingdom family for the dirty, messy, foul smelling creature she is, then we have the freedom to choose otherwise.

To be Kingdom people, sometimes we have to give up our standards so that we can live in the freedom of the cross and the resurrection.

Through the cross and the resurrection we are tied to call the criminal on the cross next to Jesus family. We are responsible to care for whoever calls on the name of The Lord.

Even when it’s hard.

Even when we disagree ideologically.

Even when we are different sexual preferences or have different sexual histories.

Even when we feel that they just use the money we give them on drink or drugs.

Even when we have been hurt.

Even when we disagree theologically.

If we want to sit at the family dinner we need to remember to make room at the table for whoever Christ wants to include.

Hearing it wrong

February 19, 2013

In our time in southern Illinois we worked within an independent Christian Church. Waylon was hired a year out to Seminary so we took our dogs and moved to the deep southern region of Illinois.

We served in a church with a battered past and a bleak future. The leaders were tired and weary, and the congregation was dismayed.

As we served within this community I started to believe in this hopeless negative gospel that surrounded me.  I was immersed within this community that negativity seeped into my soul and stuck itself there and started weighing me down.

A friend of ours used the metaphor of barnacles on a ship to explain what I was going through. These negative mental and emotional barnacles within the church started to grow onto my life.

In other words I started believing in a Gospel that wasn’t good news.

As I have been reading for Lent I stumbled into Galatians 1 where Paul is reprimanding the church, because they have lost sight of the Gospel they heard and knew when they first became Christians.

Paul is speaking to the false teachers who have come in to “twist the truth concerning Christ”. These false teachers who come in the church are more interested in self gain, power, manipulation, and the need to control the freedom that Christ gives us.

They are barnacles that grow and spread within the church and weigh it down.

Like a boat tending to sea the barnacles weigh the boat down. When the barnacles finally get knocked off the boat they tear away the hull coating. This gives rot the opportunity to crawl in which deteriorates the body. Not only do the barnacles slow the boat down but they cause additional damage when they are finally knocked off!

These false teachers taught a false Gospel and when the church finally did something about it, their was a huge amount of damage done.

This false Gospel rots the soul.

While in southern Illinois I had barnacles growing around my soul and when those barnacles got knocked off I still had interior damage to deal with.

When we moved up to the suburbs my interior life had become quite a mess. I preferred to be isolated, I was weary of relationships, and bitterness started to rot my soul.

Instead of continuing on this path of destruction I took advantage of my home community. I caught up with good friends who helped me talk through this damage. Waylon and I meet weekly with another family to have a meal and some fellowship. I am even meeting new friends.

Through a new community the damage that had been done is starting to heal.

The key to this healing process is accepting the real, true, good Gospel.

This Gospel is the catalyst for freedom and life transformation.

This Gospel aids the poor, the sick, the widowed, and the orphans, along with everyone else.

This Gospel gives us a chance to feel what love looks like in community.

This Gospel takes away pain and offers healing.

This Gospel is good news to everyone who is broken and lost and hurt.

This true Gospel can be found within scripture, this history of the church, and our other sacraments.

As we live within the Church we get the opportunity to see this Gospel come to life. We get the opportunity to get on the boat and sail around the world. To see the life that God the Father so desperately wants us to experience. When we are within a local church, and we see this false Gospel creeping in, to attach itself to our free lives we must call it sin and root it out! Otherwise the damage might be detrimental.

Roots

February 17, 2013

I love trees. My favorite kind of trees are weeping willows. They give such an expressive impression to this world with there shrugs and sorrow. I would LOVE to go see the red woods out in California! Ilike trees because they demonstrate a history while still remaining within the present. They are a powerful understatement within Creation.

With the start of Lent I started reading some scripture and stumbled into Psalm 1. I have read it many times before but was caught by the image it presents of a tree that is rooted within The Lord. A tree that is “planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.”

What a powerful image as we enter into Lent. We have the ability to be planted within the word in such a way that we grow, and produce life! The Lord is life and when we are planted firmly in his word, his church, and his history we prosper and offer beautiful life to the world around us.

As Waylon and I make our journey into the Anglican tradition I reflect on something I heard from an Anglican podcast. The priest was talking about his experience with scripture and how as he grew in his faith, and had fellowship with other believers he realized that scripture is life changing.

Scripture can bring life, and transform, and breath. It can change hearts and lives and whole people. Scripture is a sacrament. It is a grace bestowed to us, so that we will be fruitful and experience this ever growing life.

The challenge is rooting ourselves in this sacrament and experiencing “delight in the law of The Lord”

As we enter into Lent, and we study scripture we may have read before, instead of skimming over it let that scripture invade our lives.

Let us be rooted within The Lord. We get the opportunity to be rooted within the history of Creation, while being present within our own world. While cars go zooming by, while we drink coffee, while our hearts are dismayed or filled with joy, while we invest in relationships and struggle with our purpose we get to be rooted within the history of Creation and the Creator.

As we become rooted within the presence of this sacrament, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the life that is happening all around you through the work of The Lord.