Birth Of A Blog: RDJ #8

Close to home: journal share from same time last year…

Welcome to my journal. Here you will get a peek into the pages of my heart. Unedited (for the most part) and as they were written. I do leave out portions which are extremely personal or potentially intrusive to those I love; also some of my wildly long, rambling tangents. But otherwise I try to be brave enough to inspire you to feel safe to bare your soul a bit. Have no fear here. This forum is a place to share your heart and be encouraged. Truly, I think this is a glimpse, if ever, beneath the surface. 

Since it really is one year ago that I wrote my first Blog Post here, and fumbled to figure out what I was doing, I thought it would be appropriate to share a peek into the journal which would reveal what was going on at the time. Interestingly, just seven days later I would injure my hip during my daughter’s field day, and this little writing excursion which started as a burning desire in my heart would become like a healing balm over my life. 

May 20, 2011
@ 1:20 PM
Friday
Dear Lord,
This is a record week for needed confession-from Sunday’s incident at the White Water Rafting Trip to the ultimate distraction, laziness and hypocrisy I am drowning in today!
Today really is more than a culmination of more than this week…But, Lord, that being said…knowing that you are the God who loves me, saves me and GUIDES me, I appeal to you…this daughter needs you to reign her in. 

So much needs prayer…
Lord, today was a rare day- I did not start with you in prayer and focus. Not to mention I was up until 
3 AM-  the night before trying to create my Blog space. Well, I thank you that I did finally create my first post on my Blog- Thank You , Lord!
My heart could not rest until I gave birth to this which I do believe is your will for me in the sense of my love of writing, sharing and You!

I have been thinking a lot lately about direction and desire… these lead me back to You again and again.
Writing, teaching, growing in my intimacy with You. Your Kingdom work…the gifts you’ve gifted me with.
Oh, back to sin-
I know Lord, this week I see a trail of it.
This week I felt like the traffic of sin was flowing heavy through my life. 
One bad decision after another…and distraction as well as selfishness 
and laziness have been huge on my Hit List.
I feel overwhelmed, cluttered and in a rut. 
That is the bad news.
The good news is 
that despite THAT –
I don’t feel LESS loved 
by You, Lord. 
You are the difference.

Lord, I need your Holy Spirit to guide me into all truth 
with power to change me…
to the one you desire to transform me into…
Help me, by your grace.

Well, thanks for peeking in my journal-
 I hope you leave here with a bit of inspiration to live
 raw and real in Him, 
for Him, by Him and through Him! 
Ain’t nothing like it, friends!
God Bless You, ALL- everyone! 
Be sure and check out the other PEEKS and Peeps

7 Strategies to Help Christians Play Nice

It’s your move.

When I first became a Christian, I spent a lot of time lamenting the fact that I did not have a wonderful Christian upbringing and spiritual heritage as so many of those I began meeting in the church. That was until a conversation I had with a friend named Faith. Not kidding that was (is) her name. Faith and I conversed about our faith. Moving right along. Faith appreciated her Christian heritage but recognized a difference in the faith we both shared. Mine being a little rough around the edges, and a radical conversion experience. Contrast that with her upbringing which kept her safe and secure in a comfortable Christianity. She told me she was a little jealous of my very raw and real relationship with the Lord, and that she had nothing radical to be saved from, apart from perhaps the comfort of her own Christian life. Funny, how God brings different people together in His Kingdom to teach us about His infinite wisdom and goodness while showing us the flaws of our own perception! The fact is I am grateful that I know Him, and He has given me this gift of faith (in addition to a friend named Faith!). A precious gift it is, and one which I will thank Him for eternally. I guess no matter which side of the fence you are on, the fact is the grass always looks greener on the side you’re not on! I listen a lot and observe with the motive of understanding myself and others better. I have compiled a short list of strategies, if you will, to address some of the issues that repeatedly come up with regard to the lives of we who are Believers.

1. When speaking  to another person, especially with different views than your own, try not to allow your mouth to contort your whole face into an expression that looks as if you are chewing clumps of defiled kitty litter.

2. Two words that don’t belong together, ever are Mean and Christian. Seems obvious. But somehow, it really is the one that trips many up, historically speaking. Radical yes, radically cruel, inhuman or down right rude, no. Please go forth and sin no more. Take a tip from the Disney Princesses: “Kindness is important, no matter what you do…” or just try opening up your Bible, anywhere where Jesus is speaking, teaching, or hanging out. That is the example. And no – you do not need to go turning over tables, it won’t have the same effect, and you will probably get arrested. You can read number 7 repeatedly (after you have read the rest) and it will all make sense in the morning.

3. Sermons are great to listen to, but really they are meant to be lived. Do your Pastor, Preacher, Priest or whoever you are receiving “Spiritual Truth” from a favor and don’t sleep through the service he spent all week preparing. Most of all ask God, what He wants you to hear, instead of thinking of all the “other” people who could benefit from hearing today’s message.

4. If there is a certain person or group of people who you feel strongly about “sharing” God’s truth with and yet at the same time  feel a strong loathing for simultaneously. Chances are they are not your mission field. At least not yet. Please stay home, shut up and pray instead. You will make it easier for those Christians who truly have a heart for the person or persons to be about God’s business without hindrance. The truth is spoken in love. Truth without love equals judgement. Stop judging and start loving. On your knees, then, get to it.

5. Please stop reading every book that comes out of popular Christianity and neglecting your own exposure to The Living Word. Jesus said that “Man shall not live by Bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God”. How is it that any Christian can follow Christ without reading what He said daily? A wise woman once told me “. Read Jesus’ words every day, if you want to walk with and know Him”. Not just once in a while. You eat every day, right?

6. Stop playing favorites. Following Jesus means denying the flesh. Christianity is no place for cliques. Boundaries are healthy, cliques are not. It will drive your supposed evangelical efforts into the ground if people are not willing to be real, be gracious and just accept others who are different from them. Period. This means not just saying hello to new people and getting disgusted when they don’t respond the way you expect but, just finding ways to invite them into your life. On their terms NOT yours. It’s called grace. If you have received it, you can give it.

7. Watch your “Blind Spots”. We are to be in the world, not of it right? What are Blind Spots? Glad you asked. They are those places that the Holy Spirit has not convicted a person yet (Believer or Unbeliever) and you feel compelled to reveal, judge, slander, whisper, condemn etc. in a candy coated Christian way which, by the way, fools no-one and is unkind. Read number two again. You are not the Holy Spirit. Re -read number four. Three words for you: God is Able. No really, He does not need your help. Messiah has come and it is not you. Check the mirror. If you disagree, go back to number five.

Well there it is, this is not meant to offend, but if it does, I have another post for you coming up soon called:
“Why Christians Should Be The Least Likely To Be Offended”.  Stay tuned!

Choking My Inner Pharisee

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees
and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:20

Welcome, friends. Because I call you friend, I need to give you a fair warning. The post you are about to read may offend you. So, if you are feeling self-righteous today your flesh is not going to like this post one bit. If you are easily offended, please do not read on as you probably will be offended. If you are one of those martyr types, go ahead and read on then whine about it after. I just feel like I need to write this as sure as a demon possessed person needs an exorcism. (Exit “Easily Offended” reader, here. Bye now)

I alluded to the fact that I had more to say about this topic ( Some Build Empires… ) and basically have chickened out until now. But since this is supposed to be an exercise in authenticity, grace and truth, I need to speak it as I see it and trust that the truth will be written with a generous measure of grace in the end (freely I have received, freely I give).

I have been around the church for awhile. The church meaning the universal Body of Christ called out in newness of life. I have to say, I find it has been challenging at times to keep my eyes on Jesus. I have seen some stuff that has taken stronger believers than me out of the fight. I have seen many settle for some delusional “Christian” existence that reads zero on a scale of 1-10 with regard to anything resembling an authentic Christianity (as far as my Pharisaical eyes can see). I have seen my brothers and sisters succumb to temptation, walk away from the church, and never return. I see those who call themselves followers of The Way who won’t return a casual greeting or kindness in their own fellowship of believers. I have seen leadership that abuses it’s position and a loving group that graciously lives the message of Christ. I have seen a congregation turn on it’s own leader and conspire against him behind his back. I’ve watched a church of over a thousand members be divided… leaving confusion, disillusion and pain in the wake. Yeah, I’ve been around the church awhile, and I’ve seen a lot of stuff. And it ain’t all been pretty. Sorry, I warned you.

But, I have said it before and I will say it again. I am not down on my brethren, for better or worse I will stand with the church where God leads me and serve there because of His great love, grace, mercy and sacrifice. It’s about Him and not about me. But I will tell you this. He cares about what I think. He cares about what I say. He cares about what I do. Why is that, you ask? Because He is in me. Because of this fact I can’t “hate” my fellow believers. I find it’s harder to give grace though, at times. Why, you ask? I will tell you friend. Because it is a slap in the face to Jesus when His children are so busy doing the same thing as the world does IE. judging, criticising, fighting, gossiping, slandering, blaming, labeling, name-calling, back-biting and EXCLUDING others (or favoritism) all while wearing a big, fat, phony, Christian disguise and a long face thinking that it is God’s work. News Flash: The world is not buying it. Those who desire fellowship with the One True Living God are not impressed with it. The fact is, it does not bring anyone closer to Him nor is it glorifying Him. You know, in a family people need to learn to accept one another and get along. But, I think Jesus expects more. He wants us to choke our Inner Pharisee  (kind of like the “child within” thing gone awry)  and love one another. That means the person who you are too busy to smile back at when they smile at you, might instead emit a response. That means, making an effort, to not only speak to the same person in your congregational clique that you have conversed with every week for the past 10 years, but to speak to that new person who seems “different” to you. Yeah, that’s right. Stretch yourself, friend. Jesus did just that for you. He stretched himself upon a cross and DIED, so you could live. So you could have the power to lay down your little inconveniences and GIVE to another who just might need an affirming nod, hello or hey, here’s a wild thought – a hug! Or maybe a listening ear. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot- You don’t agree with everything “they” believe, so that might be hard. NEWSFLASH again: That’s OK! Back to that “stretch yourself” concept. Here’s some questions one might ask, a Litmus test, so to speak. How available am I to the Lord’s leading? When was the last time I respectfully, graciously spoke with someone who had different views, opinions or beliefs than myself? When was the last time I made a new friend?

Well, I think this concludes my offensive post for now. I need to go “get off my soapbox” (my husband’s description) now and choke my own Inner Pharisee. You see, I learned a long time ago that it didn’t take long after I became a Christian for that Inner Pharisee to show up and start parading around in my own mind and life. And no, I don’t have this Christian life all wrapped up. Far from it. I have made some big, fat mistakes and walk, stand or crawl by His grace alone.

Here are a couple of books I have read that I like, along the same lines of thinking.
There are many, I just happen to think these were decent. None of these is perfect but hey, who’s judging- I found them encouraging in due season. Each has it’s pros and cons. I trust you can practice discernment.You may or may not agree with all in the books (good practice for Pharisees), but here they are:

I’m Fine with God…It’s Christians I Can’t Stand – Getting Past the Religous Garbage in the Search for Spiritual Truth by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz

So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore – An Unexpected Journey by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman

The Unlikely Disciple – A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose

The Final Word from Colossians Chapter 3: 12-14
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

If you made it through to the end, be sure and share your thoughts. I am not easily offended, however I do occasionally whine… In between preachy soap box tirades about life.

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