Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Love Without Warning

I wonder...

I wonder if she knew when she woke up that morning that her life would be changed forever.

I wonder if she understood that by the end of that day, she would literally be dragged from the darkness and thrust into the Light.

Her name is unknown, as is her background. All we really know about her is that she was caught in the act of adultery and has become one of the most famous of the Bible's poster children for grace. Many sermons (possibly in the millions) have been preached about the love that Jesus bestowed on her that day. She is probably the most single shining (or should I say glaring?) example of the difference between religion and relationship.

But still I wonder...

Did she have a family? Was she a single working mom trying to keep food on the table? Or was she a bored suburban housewife looking for a little action? Where was the man she was caught with (assuming it was indeed a man)? What was she thinking as she was being dragged through the streets? Was she crying? Was she screaming in protest? Did she beg for mercy? Moreover I wonder...was she looking for grace or did she just get clobbered with it?

Most people come to Jesus because their hearts have been convicted after hearing a sermon, or they've been scared to death by a "hellfire and brimstone" message, or they've just been overcome by His love. This woman doesn't seem to have been given an option. I mean, the Bible does say she was "caught in the act." It doesn't seem as though she had any thought of seeking redemption. If anything I think this story is another example of just how little we have to do with the act of being redeemed. (I don't suggest running out and dragging your lost loved one down to the altar, but after reading about this woman it is tempting, no?)

Had it been me (and on more than one occasion it has been...let's face it...we all sin) I would have been crying out for mercy that my life would be spared. But that's probably as far as I would have thought to ask. I highly doubt I would have expected anything more than to leave the temple with my life. I truly think that that's what this woman was doing as well. Begging for her life, and not really understanding what that meant.

I wonder...

How many of us have been putting a limit on Mercy by only wanting to escape hell and have no thought of the abundant life that Jesus died to give us?

Whatever was going on in the woman's mind that day, it's obvious she wasn't expecting to receive any sort of pardon. There she is... all the rocks have fallen to the ground, people are leaving, and she's still standing there, awaiting Jesus' judgement.

I wonder...

How many of us are still standing there before Him...waiting for a death sentence that will never be given?

I wonder...

God...I wonder at You. We run from You, scream out Your name in profanity, we deny Your existence and worship ourselves. Yet still...Your love is relentless, and it finds us even when we aren't looking for it. Father clobber me with grace. Keep me in wonder, and never...ever...let me go.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Venti Mocha With A Double Shot No Whip, Please.

Latte Christians beware: this blog is not for you. If you like the leche...stay away from my pal Scott.

Whom Shall I Trust?

In light of a recent discussions about the "Emerging Church" and other doctrinal/theological issues, I feel prompted to ask this question.

When it comes to the Bible, whom shall I trust?

When we come down to brass tacks, all of us read the Bible and interpret it according to our understanding of what it says. Which basically means that there are literally millions of interpretations floating around out there.

Now, I am by no means a biblical scholar, but truly...who has the final say on who is interpreting scripture properly and who is not? If we say scripture has the final say...well I would agree. Except we go back into the whole "whose interpretation of what scripture says is correct?" circle.

The reason I ask is because I get disturbed when people start freely throwing around the words "heretic" and "blasphemy" everytime something or someone different comes along. (I would like to categorically state that this post is not an attack against anyone...it is merely my own observation and thoughts, so please don't send me hate mail.) It seems to me that a certain man called Jesus was also accused of heresy and blasphemy by the religious elite of His day and look what good it did them.

Let me reiterate. Jesus did not look like, talk like, or act like the Messiah that the Pharisees and Sadducees "interpreted" from the Torah. Because Jesus did not line up with their "doctrines" or with who they thought He should be, they rejected Him as a blasphemer. They called The Word a heretic. How crazy is that???

I'll end my thoughts with this. I believe we must guard and protect our faith through careful study of the scripture. (Study is not all there is to it, but that's for another post) However we must keep in mind that God cannot be boxed in. Solomon's temple, as glorious as it was, could not even contain the train of God's robe. If someone is being ministered to, and their life is being changed from "glory to glory" who are we to put a stop to it simply because the method doesn't fit into our idea of "religion?"

I'll just let ya'll think on that for a while.

Friday, March 07, 2008

He Loves Us

Today, as I was walking across campus, I looked and really noticed all the kids that were rushing past me.

Some were talking on cell phones.

Some were walking and talking with friends.

Some were walking alone and trying not to look like it bothered them.

There were the typical sorority girls with blonde hair, cute jeans, cute shoes, cute everything.

There were the passionate, artsy people with their dark clothes, their long scarves, long cigarettes and wild hair.

There were the non-traditional students, serious and all-business.

Then there were some who looked like they wanted to be anywhere but here.

One thought kept going through my head as I looked at all these wonderful, colorful people. It’s a line from a song I just “discovered.” It just simply says this:

He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us

I couldn’t stop thinking about it. God loves us. All of us. No matter where your coolness factor may be on the human scale, whether you're at the top or a bottom feeder like myself...He loves us. This song has really rent my heart in two and reminded me of who I am, and who God is. I actually have the video of Kim Walker singing this song in my sidebar. It’s the very first one and I highly, highly encourage you to take a listen.

Because if anyone had asked me 10 years ago, “Do you know that God loves you?” I would have looked at them with this “Well, DUH” look on my face and said “Yes. I do know that God loves me. I mean, God is love right??? Isn’t that His job? To love me?”

Oh, but I had no idea.

In fact, my understanding was so darkened, that I was no where near being in the same universe as the truth of His love for me. See, as a whole, we are so anesthetized to the word love that we have almost completely lost its meaning. I might say “I love my husband” and then turn around and with the next breath say, “I love pizza.”

Love has become too small a word.

I'm happy and eternally grateful to say that the "eyes of my understanding" are slowly but surely being opened more and more each day to the most jaw-dropping revelation ever given to a human being. God’s love, what love really is, is not small. I can run as hard and as fast as I can to the Throne of Grace and without fear of rejection climb on up into my Father's lap and rest. Because His love is large and active and passionate and loud and you wanna know something else??? It still burns as brightly and intensely as it ever has. For you.

For you.

It has never once dimmed, diminished or become less because you didn’t get the house clean today, or because you yelled at the kids and had mean thoughts about your spouse. It doesn't go away because you failed a test and lost your 4.0 GPA, or if you disappointed your parents and decided not to go to school at all. Know why??? Because God’s decision to love us is not tied to us or our actions in any way.

He loves us because He is Great and Mighty and Worthy to be Praised.

He loves us because of the Greatness of His Name. He loves us because He has decided to do so, and no matter what you do, or how you respond, you cannot make God stop loving you. He will love you all the way into hell if that is your desire.

Oh man, stop struggling. Stop fighting with it. There’s nothing you can do about it. God loves you. So what are you afraid of? Jump in, and let the “sea of His grace” overtake you.

If you’d like to know more about God’s love, read the gospel of John. If you’d like to know more about the song Kim Walker is singing and the amazing story behind it, go here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Finally! It Came!

My sponsor package for Ivan finally came in the mail yesterday. I am so excited. After ripping open the envelope, my kids and I plopped ourselves down on the living room floor so we could inspect every shred of information about him.

First, I must say, Ivan (and I'm quite positive about this) is the most beautiful boy in the bunch. His eyes are so big and beautiful (have I mentioned that he's beautiful?) and so full of inquisitiveness. I wish I had a huge spendable amount of money so I could fly over to hug him and tell him he is so very loved.

For now I'll just pray for the God who loves him more than I can think or imagine to wrap His arms around my sweet boy and keep him safe.

Hey...as a sidenote...I just want to let ya'll know that being the weirdo that I am, I do check my sitemeter. So I know that at least 4 people read this blog every once in a while. Doesn't sound like a whole lot, but that could be 4 more children being sponsored and prayed for. If you'd like to sponsor a child through Compassion International...please check out the nifty button in my sidebar. If you'd like to know more about my decision to sponsor a child, go here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

If You Don't Wanna Know Don't Ask (Nuggets Of Truth And Wisdom From Teen-Agers)

1. 30 is the new 'old.'

As in, "ready for the Hoveround" old.

Notable quote: "I'll settle down when I'm old, you know, like, when I'm 30." - DramaQueen (who is doomed to die at the tender age of 15 from smartaleckitis.)

2. Education is a complete and total waste of time.

Notable quote: "I'm going into the Marines, Mom. Why on earth do I need stuff like Algebra or English???" - Fuddman 13. Hubs then looks at me and says "I told you I wanted to sleep on my side of the bed that night but noooooo....somebody felt a little frisky."

Oh.

Well..I think that's enough for this week.

(Somebody please pray for me or kill me. One of the two.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hate the Phone...Love the Man

I knew from the first moment that our relationship would not be right for me. From the get go I knew there would be pain, massive amounts of frustration, and possibly some sort of physical injury. I knew this because God, in His infinite wisdom, has seen fit to bestow upon me a weird sense of clarity and foresight that usually only comes to me as I am about to screw up big time.

Unfortunately, as I heard this phrase coming out of my mouth..."I'll take it"... I realized that I have yet to learn to heed this miraculous warning system given to me by the Maker of the Universe.

*sigh*

A powerful sense of loathing came over me as my new phone and I stared each other down. I stood there with it in my hand, the tiny little led screen flashing back at me while the saleslady hastily completed the transaction, her eyes nervously darting back and forth between me and my new "little friend." I think she was afraid I would turn into Naomi Campbell.

Yep...loathing. It's a strong emotion. It comes upon you when you realize the buttons on your new phone are so small that the 7 digits you just tried to dial actually translated into a call to Tanzania.

(Can you say "roaming charges" dear internets???)

It also comes upon you as you spend 30 minutes of precious "me" time erasing the 61 photos your husband took of the inside of his pants pocket. Because the buttons on the phone are too small to be able to enable the security lock. (Ha ha...did you catch that? I just typed "to be able to enable"...ha ha ha...apparently the phone is sucking my miniscule writing talent out of my head...ha ha ha...)

And yes, I get 30 minutes of "me" time every now and again ok? 'Cause I just got it like that a'ight? Which is the reason for point #2 of this post.

I love my man ya'll. The boy is handsome. I'm just sayin'.

And if we ever manage to get the phone out of his pocket before using the camera feature, I might post a pic.

Choosing Ivan

One of the hardest things I've ever had to learn as a Christian is something I'm walking through right now. And...as with almost every issue I have it involves trust.

I had to make a choice. Actually, I had to make two choices. The first choice was to act. My second choice was Ivan.

Ivan Odembo, the newest member of my family. My Compassion child.

Just saying his name somehow fills me with love. I can't explain how I can love someone I've never met, and may quite possibly never meet. I just do.

The crazy thing about choosing Ivan was the fact that I had to choose. Which means, several hundred (possibly thousand) precious children didn't get picked.

Enter the trust issue.

As I clicked on Ivan's picture, forever making him a part of my life, I had to trust that God is sovereign and He knows the needs of all those I was not able choose. I had to trust that He will act on their behalf, and send someone to sponsor them. It's not easy to look past all those faces and pick only one. And those eyes. Heavenly Father, those eyes.

I have to trust that He is in control of their lives. Not me. And here's the difficult part...that it's ok not to be in control. To rest and relax in what tiny part He has given me to do and leave the rest to Him.

That's what I'm learning. And as I write this post I'm trusting that He will move you, dear reader, to act. To choose.

To hear more from others who have chosen to act, go here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

I don't know who you are. I don't know your kid's names or your family history. Heck, I don't even know where you live.

But I do know one thing.

You are loved.

For all of you out there who have not heard these words today with your physical ears, or felt the warmth of a loving embrace let me encourage you.

You are loved beyond space and time, past human understanding, and without measure.

Nothing you do or don't do can increase or decrease this Love.

It is Eternal, from everlasting to everlasting.

This Love is fearless and is not ashamed of your scars.

Whoever and wherever you are, as you lay your head down tonight, I pray that today of all days, this one thought reverbates throughout your soul and takes root in your heart...

You are loved.

8 ...God is love.
9By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1John 4:8-10 NASB)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Sisterhood Part II

When I first wrote this post I was hoping to be able to give it the expected Cinderella ending. But something this complex couldn't really have an ending could it?

Funny how after all these years I am still so very naive. I should have known that the first encounter was only a doorway. An invitation if you will, to a total paradigm shift in my walk with God. Looking back I wonder if would have had the courage to go through the door if I'd known what I know now.

I know now that some words are way too small to convey their immense meanings. Words like "hope" and "love."

I know some heroes aren't 6ft 5 with rippling muscles and dark, wavy, perfect hair. Some are 5 foot nothing with wrinkles, bad knees and age spots. Yet they are able to leap over huge mountains with a single prayer. (Miz B...I wanna be like you when I grow up)

I know that sometimes love is not enough.

I know that God's greatest beauty is not seen in the sun rising over my beloved Smoky Mountains, or setting over the painted deserts of Arizona. It's most clearly seen in a life being transformed by His grace.

I've never had the chance again to speak to the woman in my first post. But God did answer my prayer. He gave me a second chance, and a third, and a fourth...just not with her. I now work every other weekend with women like her. Like me. My sisters.

And the story goes on.