Friday, January 26, 2007

Acceptance Part II

Have any of ya'll ever had publican-itis? (Read the word carefully...it's tricky)

I have. It's a particularly nasty trait that I hate to own up to, but I feel it's important to be transparent.

I have looked down my nose at sinners. There. I said it. Or rather, I typed it.

Yes, I had myself a whoppin case of publican-itis. Everytime I would watch the news and hear about somebody getting busted for drugs, or burglary I would just puff out my chest and say, "Thank you God that I'm not like them." I would then launch into a tirade about how these people should just be locked up and thrown into prison. Or, a more personal favorite, the Their Mama's Shoulda Whooped Their Hind Ends When They Were Little speech. 'Cause, you know, I'm a perfect parent.

Never once did I stop to pray and ask God to help those people. Not. Once.

So, what is it with acceptance exactly? Why are we as Christians so afraid to love?

For me it's because I've been hurt so many times. I remember what it was like being on the outside looking in and I hope to never have to be there again. When I joined my church, it felt so good to finally be loved and accepted that I was afraid that if anyone else came in, there would be no more room for me. But God's lap is so big. It has room for all of His children. Now, when I say children, I don't mean Oprah's version of God's children. Sorry to have to burst her bubble, but God's children truly are limited to those who have trusted in Jesus Christ for their salvation.

But here lately, it seems as if the church is constantly trying to separate itself from the "unsaved." Is that wise? Is that what we're supposed to do? Are we afraid that if we *gasp* allow ourselves to love sinners that we will be sullied with their sin? Do we really think that God is that stupid? I think that the church really needs to study the difference between "acceptance" and "justification."

I can accept a sinner. I am one myself. But I will not justify their actions.

Jesus likes me. He loves me. The Maker of the Universe loves me, a goofed-up, disorganized, overweight slob. Know what? He loves you too. If He loves you, I figure I can love you too.

'Nuff said.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Let Us Pray

Shayne has been sucked into a blackhole of paperwork. She is working furiously to find her way to daylight, but isn't sure she can make it.

Houston...we definitely have a problem.

If all of her readers wouldn't mind sending up a few prayers, she would greatly appreciate it. Also, if anyone has seen her mind...she'd like it back.

Thank you, that is all.

Monday, January 08, 2007

I Lied

I didn't get a chance to blog today. Spring Semester has started and the students are back in force! I've still got the whole "acceptance" thing on my mind though...so as soon as I get a few moments of uninterrupted peace, I'll let ya'll in on it.

I know you're dying to know. 'Cause, I'm such an intellectual and all.

NOTE: I hope that the sarcasm on that last line came through all right, but just in case it didn't...ya'll know I'm not conceited like that!

Friday, January 05, 2007

On Acceptance

May I share something with you today? I know I tend to go on and on about things God shares with me, but they excite me. When I finally "get" something it, well, it turns me on so to speak.

Acceptance is a big deal for me. I won't bore you with the details of my childhood, but let's just say that middle school was not a good time for me. Consequently, my beliefs and feelings about myself were so completely scarred that I'm still dealing with the effects of it today. Over 20 years later.

But today I hit a realization. A "revelation" if you will. Jesus accepts everybody. Warts and all. Now before you slap yourself in the forehead and say, "I coulda had a V8. Is that all you're worked up over???" just hear me out a little more. I already knew that Jesus loved me. I knew He died for me. But there's a slight shade of variance between acceptance and love. I can't completely explain it, but there is. For me, love means that God had compassion for me in my pitiful state and gave Himself up for me. Acceptance means He likes me. He likes me.

Now all of you devout and learned theologians are going to start squirming at this, and it's OK, but guess what else I think. I think God likes everybody. Even the sinners.

Pick yourselves up off the floor. You look outlandish sitting down there with that look on your faces.

Perhaps I should clarify the statement a tad. I didn't say that God likes sin. I said God likes the sinners. Loves them in fact. (We already went throught the love/like thing but I still thought I'd remind ya'll of that)

So.

What does this mean for me? Well, actually it's liberating if you want to know the truth. Now, if Jesus loves/accepts everybody, especially sinners, how am I supposed to feel about them? More importantly, how am I supposed to act toward them?

Let me put it this way. Why does the church continually expect sinners to behave like they're saved before we'll love them? Why would we expect them to stop sinning before they know anything about Jesus' love/acceptance? I have my thoughts on that, but I need to flesh them out a bit more before I post. So look for part 2 on this Monday. I'm takin' the weekend off.

Isn't Jesus the greatest ever?

Romans 5:8 (New American Standard Bible)

8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Solemnly Swear I Will Not Be Perfect This Year


My motto this year is "I'm not looking for perfection...just improvement." How's that for underachievement?

Seriously though...what exactly is perfection? Does God expect perfection from His children? Do you expect perfection from your children?

Consider it a poll of sorts. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this, so feel free to make lovely, nice and long comments.

G'ahead...I'll wait.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Nothing Says "I Love You" Like A Be-Dazzler!

My 14 year-old daughter got this for Christmas this year from my mother-in-law.

She was, well, we'll call it thrilled.

I don't mean to be ungrateful to my mother-in-law, because I'm sure she truly thought it was a good gift. And it is...for 8 year-olds.

Grandmothers be advised. Though the Christmas season is over, it's never a bad time to get a little advice on giving gifts to teen-agers.

I'm a little confused though. When my daughter was five (FIVE, I say) this same woman gave her a pair of shoes with heels that would have intimidated Pam Anderson.

Go figure.

Not To Sound Stupid But If The Shoe Fits...

Hey, something I've been wondering for a while. Maybe ya'll can help me out a bit. What are links, pings, and trackbacks? I mean, what are their purposes?

Pity me, for I am ignorant.

What Did You Come To See?

I have often asked God to show me His face. In my little human mind I imagine Him in all His magnificence and raging beauty, and my soul longs to encounter Him face to face. I know that many of you have that same desire. Lately though, when I ask that question, another question pops up in my heart. Perhaps "pop" isn't the correct word. It's more like the question has materialized in my heart and is growing more insistent each time I ask God to show me His face.

"What did you come to see?"

I don't like the sound of that. Jesus asked the same question of the crowds of people who had come to hear him preach. He was not talking about Himself, but John the Baptist. Still, the question rankles a bit. It keeps rattling around inside my brain and I can't seem to quiet the Voice behind it.

"What did you come to see?"

With laser precision the question reveals my heart and humbles me.

"What did you come to see?"

Honestly, I wanted to see a light show. I wanted to see and hear angels singing the "Hallelujah Chorus." I wanted to see the Glory Cloud. I didn't want to see God. I wanted to be entertained. Kind of like tourists in New York City. They don't really come to see the city. My goodness, if they want to see it they can watch CNN or "The Today Show." No, tourists go see the city so they can take pictures of it which they then use to brag to their friends that they have "been there." Probably because they've heard stories from other tourists who have "been there" and swear that it's THE city to visit, a MUST-SEE for all tourists.

I don't want to be like that with God. Tourist attractions are just what they are...a good place to visit. But I don't want to just visit with God. I want to dwell with Him.

"What did you come to see?"

God has been on this earth numerous times. At first He came and He walked with Adam in the cool of the day. Later He came to the Israelites in the Exodus as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The day Solomon consecrated the Temple God really showed out and the priests were knocked to the ground by the weight of His Glory. All that pomp and circumstance and we failed to understand who He is.

With the birth of Jesus, God tried a differenct tact. This time no fire from Heaven, no slaughter of animals, no trumpets blaring praise. Just a scared teenaged girl in a cave, with an even more scared middle-aged carpenter. No other witnesses to the greatest event in history save for a few sheep, possibly a cow or two and some shepherds. The most amazing thing about this story is that after all the prophecies and all the signs in the heavens, the only people who noticed were 3 magi from the east. 3 people. In the whole earth. Why is this? With all those people in the Temple, scouring the Law day and night...only 3 people got the scoop from God about His son being born. Why? Is it possible that they were the only ones who were truly looking for Him? Even the shepherds were just minding their own business tending sheep when WHAMMO! out pop myriads of angles telling of His birth. Not a whole lot of guesswork involved on their part.

"What did you come to see?"

During Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem all the "church people" are in the Temple looking for Him. They actually sent people out to shush shouting kids, WHO WERE LOOKING STRAIGHT AT HIM, because they were disrupting their church service.

"What did you come to see?"

Over and over again the majority of mankind has misinterpreted, mishandled, and misunderstood God. We have looked for Him in every place except for where He really is. Me included. He came in so many miraculous and wondrous forms and we weren't impressed. He came as a baby and we were looking for a king. Now that He is king, we want the baby back. We are never satisfied.

I asked, "Father, let me see Your face." Is it possible that he has already done so and I just didn't recognize Him? Is it possible that He has already done so and because He didn't look the way I wanted Him to, I averted my gaze and looked elsewhere?

When I looked into the despairing and frightened eyes of the Katrina victims, was that the face of God looking back at me, pleading for help? Is it possible that when I hug my kids each night before they go to bed, that I am putting my arms around Him?

Could it be that when I look in the mirror each morning and curse my nose, or my double chin, that I'm cursing God?

"What did you come to see?"

I believe in the miraculous. I believe in the angels, the sapphire sea and the wheel within a wheel. But I also believe in the tiny baby in the manger. In the every day, humdrum wonders of summer fading into autumn and winter bursting into spring. I believe in the joy of feeling my husband's heartbeat against my cheek as I lay in his arms each night. I believe the face of God is all around me. I just need to open my eyes and look at Him.

What did you come to see?

Matt. 25:34-36

34"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'
37"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
38'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
39'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
40"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'
41"Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
42for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;
43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'
44"Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'
45"Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'
46"These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."