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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Show

Paul wrote a song last night(for those of you who may not be sure who Paul is, he's my better half, my husband :-)) And it resonates with me and reflects (I think) a lot of what I myself have been experiencing and hearing from God;the freeing notion of his love for us regardless of our performance and our ability... funny huh, how He works in our lives...
So here it is...Any comments would be welcome!

THE SHOW


There’s a face you show to strangers
There’s a face you show to friends
There’s a face you show while singing until the music ends
There’s a face you show for pain, there’s a face you show for joy
There’s a face
That sets in place
To hide that you’re annoyed

But I never dare
To try and share
The face that You gave me
I guess it’s time
For a face that’s mine
Revealing what You see

If that means that I’m done singing
And it’s time to just let go
That’s alright with me
Because Lord, You see
I’m tired of the show

The program has to be right
It has to run on time
It must be smooth it must be good
Must not step out of line
We must keep people coming, perfection understood
Details become more important than they ever should

But I rarely pause
To consider cause
Or to simply stop and be
I want the chance
To laugh and dance
And feel the joy You bring

If that means that I’m done singing
And it’s time for me to go
It’s alright with me
Cuz Lord, You see
I’m tired of the show

And if it means that I’m done hiding
because you're asking me to grow
It’s ok with me
Cuz you've set me free
to face a life without "The Show"

Monday, April 25, 2005

The "magic" of Advertisement

As I have mentioned before, I am taking classes at FLCC, and I have also mentioned my Sociology class before(see previous post "Deviance").

Friday morning and this morning in Sociology class,our professor showed us videos, of a woman (her name is Jean something)who speaks out against the negative influence that advertisement has on us and especially the way that advertisement portrays women.
Among other things, she contends that advertisements have for years suggested that for women,all that should matter is to look good;they have portrayed an ideal of beauty that is impossible to attain in nature at best and unhealthy at worst;they have among other things reduced women to nothing more than just a body,an object.

As I also mentioned before, I have had also struggled, most of my life with body image issues, and certainly, the mass media has not helped, and so as I watched the video, I realized the deep influence that TV, movies,magazines and advertisements have had on me. But then...I had to reflect on what the core of my issues really is.Sure the message out there is clear..the advertisement says something like:
"You don't look just right, so you NEED to buy this product" and it is a powerful message filled with images of the ideal body, the ideal hair, the ideal face, etc.

However, for me at least, the issue lies at the core of who I perceive myself to be, or not to be. When my focus is off Christ, my identity is blurry and I cry out to be defined. I can define myself through my job, my skills, my appearance, my posessions, the list goes on and on. But when I know his love, his infinite love for me,his constant presence in my life, his grace and mercy, then I no longer need external things to define me. Then, I know that who he made me to be, just the way I am, without status,without things, without a title is enough, and it is me who pleases him when I seek to be with him instead of the things of this world.

So perhaps the mass media influence is negative, I don't think that has never been more clear than in these days of slender bodies, perfect tans, perfect teeth, indeed, women withouth any imperfections at all. But the choice lies much deeper than whether to buy into the standard, the choice lies in our souls, and the choice is between the world and the Savior. The question is, who defines you? The world, or your Father? Men or God? The people around you, or Jesus, who is within you?

Jesus sing over me

"Can I climb up in your lap
I don't want to leave,Jesus sing over me
You're everything I need"

Mercy Me in "Keep Singing"

I love that song; it communicates the brokenness that most draws us to Jesus.
Those verses especially, communicate the image of a broken person, feeling almost like a scared child, looking to be with his dad,to be comforted, to be restored.
I have recently needed comfort and ,at first, I didn't know how to get it.

I had lost something and all I could focus on was what I had lost,and that wasn't giving me any comfort.And then I felt it. It was as though he had wrapped his arms around me, cried with me, and I realized, I had just been on my Father's lap, and I didn't want to leave! And I truly understood the verse "You're everything I need"

At the end of the song,after establishing how much pain he feels, how dark it all looks, he sings "I gotta keep singing, I gotta keep praising your name, you're the one who's keeping my heart beating"

Once you have been with God, and he has cried with you, and you with him; once you have been on his lap, comforted and loved; once you have seen as if with your own eyes that HE IS everything you need...the wanting decreases...the pain and the anguish fade just a little bit...enough for you to feel the amazing love he has for you, and the healing power of his presence.

Everything else pales in comparison, and loses a little bit of meaning, and that's how comfort can happen. He takes your eyes off of the world, the things, the needs, the wants, the pain, and he puts them on him;for a moment it's just you and him, and you know that's enough...he's everything you need.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Just me...for You

"The moment we deny God's fingerprint on our soul,the instant we stop listening to our uniqueness, our God hearing starts to deteriorate."

Those are the words of Michael Yaconelli, in his book "Dangerous Wonder", which I started (and finished)reading today. Many times during reading this book today I paused to take it all in. God speaking. God smiling. God with me. One of the times I felt his tug the most was when I read this particular passage.

My "God hearing" has suffered severely from my misplaced focus. I learned early on in life to deny my uniqueness and strive for sameness so it is something I am quite familiar with and efficient at. But when about 6 and 1/2 years ago I became a Christian and recognized God in my life for the first time,for a short time I knew who I was, in Jesus. I knew how I was loved and cherished, forgiven and accepted. I treasure that time in my life, it is to me the equivalent of the return of the prodigal son. The Father I never knew I had was waiting for me to come home, even when I hadn't know where home was. But I knew when I found it,it was home indeed. I was at home with my Savior, safe and scared all at the same time, in awe of Him and yet strangely peaceful. Oblivious to the world around me. Full of life. Full of Jesus.
But soon I was swept up in the struggle for sameness and acceptance by the world around me; I was striving to please him, no longer just reveling in his love and acceptance; I had learned it wasn't enough for me to just be. I had to do,earn, prove,and commit. My heart was lost somewhere in the process, my uniqueness was trampled on and promptly covered up, and I conformed to what I thought was the standard that I ought to strive for,and to becoming the person I "should" be.
How sad that must have made him! He lost me then, while I was franticly trying to find him again. I didn't realize, all I had to do was stop doing. Stop "denying his fingerprint" and be me. And be with him. That's all he's ever really wanted. To be with me. Not with the counterfeit that I would present to him, not with the politically correct and appropriately polished version of me. Just me.Messy hair, no make up, sloppy, inconsistent, unpredictable, inpatient and annoying, but also wide-eyed,eager,willing, and unique.

I am here now;I am here and you are with me,Abba. I get it, I do.
No noise, no production,no cleaning up, no covering up, just me. How could so little be enough? You make it so. You make me...enough.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Your Love

You love me Lord, and I trust you. I know the depth of your love for me, and I know, that even when what is good for me doesn't feel good, you still love me.

I know that when I cry, you are holding me and crying with me. I know that when I am confused, I still know what is TRUE: That you made me, and that you love me, and that you are forever, and you never change.

When I am anxious and worried, nothing changes. The truth stays the same.
Whatever comes my way, whatever storm I face, you are with me.

Help me to see YOU in the midst of the hard times, the pain and the worry.
Help me to see that I need to control my circumstances, because I can trust YOU, more than I can trust myself.

Thank you Father, for your grace and your mercy.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

God's body, not mine

"Everything is permisible to me"--but not everything is beneficial.
"Everything is permissible to me"--but I will not be mastered by anything.

1 Cor 6:12
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?
1 Cor 6:15
Do you not know that you body is a temple of the holy spirit,who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Cor 6:19

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

My body, His Gift

I would guess that most people that know me, know that I care a great deal about my physical appearance. Some would call me obsessed and I would hardly argue with them on that.
Lately God has been working in me in many different ways and revealing to me different things about himself,myself and our relationship. Body image is just one big thing in my life that he would not spare. In and of itself, it isnt huge, but he knows me and he knows what is at the core of it.

At the risk of oversimplifying, I will say there are at least 2 things at the core of it in my case: lack of trust in him (and thus the desire to have control) and lack of knowledge (REAL experience knowledge not just "head" knowledge) of his deep deep love for me.

From the time I was a teenager it was BURNED into my brain that within my body and appearance lied my worth. As long as my appearance was at a certain level, I was worth something;sadly, I also learned that as long as my body was 'available' sexually, I was worth something.
As it turns out,those concepts are harder to dethrone than you would think, and today's society and mass media do NOT make it any easier, in fact, they make it THAT much tougher to realize the deep lie within them.
The lie is that my body is only good for one thing; the lie is that my body represents my worth as a person; the lie is that meeting a certain physical standard is what I should strive for,in order to silence the sounds of self-loathing and pain.

The truth of course, is that God made my body to do many more things than what I concern myself with,and for more than what the lie would have me believe.
God made my body to do wonderful things. It is meant to be his temple, his dwelling place. It is meant to sing his praise, and worship him.
It is made for loving others, holding hands, giving hugs. It is made for laughing, and crying so that I can rejoice with others and weep with others. It is made to give life, both physically and spiritually through the power of his holy spirit.
It is made to enjoy my husband within the context of our committed love to one another, and for my husband to enjoy me.

The truth is that when I consider my body only as a means to obtain "worth" I downgrade it to the status of a tool. I make it into an object. I strip it of the wonderful qualities that are within it, and I invite other to do so as well.
What a tragedy! To take something so valuable and strip it of its value and affix upon it a label that allows others to mistreat it and misuse it. To take the gift that God has given me and abuse it and beat it into submission, in order to slience the pain and the hurt that God himself promises to heal.

A tragedy indeed.

Conformed or Transformed?

This morning during my "reading and relaxing" time, I came upon this statement which stopped me and made me think. I was reading Wayne Jacobsen's book "He loves me" (thanks Greg!)and this is what he has to say at one point while speking about grace:

"We are far more used to being conformed by external pressures than we are to being transformed by his inner presence."


I thought about it for a second and realized...that's why it was so hard for me to "reach" God for so long, that's why I felt distant from him. I was reaaaaaaaaaally focusing on being conformed by the external pressure of 'doing the right things that I should do as a good Christian' instead of truly wanting to know HIM. 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God'....the kingdom cannot be found without HIM can it? We can't find the kingdom if we're looking externally at the shoulds and musts, we find the kingdom when we are looking to see him, to know him to love and be loved by him.
Perhaps a 'DUH!' moment for some, but very much a lightbulb moment for me. He has been continously reinforcing this concept to me, almost daily (see posts "Obedience" and "are you effective?") I love it when he does that!

Along with Mr Jacobsen's statement this morning God gave me this verse that expresses that same concept:

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as tough you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules. "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use because they are based on human commands and teachings.
Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship,their false humility and the harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sexual indulgence. Col 2:20-22

Paul is referring to the same thing. Don't focus on the external 'things' that you are told by others you should or shouldn't do!! These things PERISH!!! All human effort in and of itself is fallible, so don't put your trust in it.
The tricky thing is, as Paul recognizes, is that they "indeed have an appearance of wisdom", we are taught to EARN favor, to abide by the rules, and so we apply that 'common sense' to our spiritual relationship with the Father. But He is not looking for robotic obedience, he is looking for our hearts. He's not interested in our performance for him but in his performance in us! We've got it backwards I think, or at least some of us. I certainly did. It is nothing I do, it is HIS LOVE and power in me. It is actually, what I DON'T do that makes the difference.
Now I truly understand what Paul meant when he said if he ever boasted, he would boast only in Christ. To him alone be the glory, for he has loved us and saved us by his amazing grace.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Obedience

We are teaching our yellow lab, Tutuca (see previous posts) to be obedient.
To heel when she walks with us, to fetch the ball and then come back to us and drop it at out feet, to stay and sit, in other words, to be obedient.We use treats and a lot of "Good Girl!"'s but sometimes we also have to say "NO!" and not give her a treat.

Interesting parallel I thought! God is teaching me patience, and within the context of learning to wait on Him and trust Him and His love, there's the concept of obedience.
There's a good verse about obedience I read this morning:

This is love for God: to obey his commands. 1 John 5:3

In reading this it would almost sound like if we love God and are good boys and girls, then we will b obedient. Much like my yellow lab I am eager to please my Master, but many many times, my best intentions are just, well...just that. What then? Does this mean that I don't love God? I don't think so.
The verse comes after a far more detailed verse that says:

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God,and God in him.In this way, love is made complete,among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world, we are like him. 1 John 4:16

I think that sums it up pretty nicely. We are already justified by his love. Our obedience isn't earning us salvation.Obedience isn't something we do to earn his favor, or to please him or to look good.If that were the case, he would be displeased with me quite a bit.Obedience is the fruit. His love is in us and the result is obedience. All we do is live in him and allow him to live in us. He does the rest.
He works in us to change us and make us like him, all we need to do is yield, and in the context of that love, obedience to what He wants to do in us is the natural result.

Even when we do get in the way and we do not yield, his love is there, taking us in, giving us grace, and allowing us to grow through our failure. That is his love. His love does it all.

How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called sons of God!
(don't remember where this verse is :-)

Friday, April 08, 2005

Patience

Aaaaa the art of patience learning...I believe the word of the day when it comes to my journey with God these days is PATIENCE.It's interesting; in learning patience, I'm actually...well, already waiting to develop patience, so in a sense, I am waiting for the things I would rather not have to wait for, and hoping that I will develop patience as a result...So all I'm doing is...WAITING!

Again, I turned to my friend Google for a detailed definition of the word patience: "long-suffering, resignation, forbearance. These nouns denote the capacity to endure hardship, difficulty, or inconvenience without complaint. Patience emphasizes calmness, self-control, and the willingness or ability to tolerate delay"

Hmm...The "without complaint" part troubled me.Actually the "calmness" part too.
I struggle with ALL that.I don't particularly think that God enjoys making me wait, but I do think that He wants me to grow in His likeness, He wants me to develop patience and calmness.
I even think that perhaps, this patience wouldn't be so much the result of waiting, but a result of TRUST. But as I have been waiting, and wanting, and asking God to show me His Love for me, I am learning to trust, and it's funny, when you start trusting, you have true peace, and when He does bless you, it is His gift to you.

I dont know about you, but I would rather have something He has given me out of His love for me, than anything I can get for myself, in my selfishness and sinfulness. I will wait for You Lord, because I trust Your wisdom and Your love for me.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Deviance

In Sociology class our professor has been talking about deviance. He talked today about the values that society has, and the values that most of us, hold dear as a result.

An example of such "values" or goals, is "SUCCESS". And the way one goes about achieving success is with ambition, education and of course, hard work. My professor then theorized (well,actually it wasn't him, it was Merton's theory)that what happens when one doesn't quite agree with society's values or goals, we have deviance.

So then I realized, then...I am deviant! The definition of success in our society is mostly money and status, which I do not consider "VALUES".

Additionally, other things that this society considers priorities are physical appearance, material posessions, image,diplomas, credentials etc. Every one of them, is in contrast with what Jesus was all about. He was NOT about image, money, diplomas, and STUFF in general. He was about love, heart, people, His Father. That makes us deviant. If we are following our Father in Heaven our priorities WILL not reflect this society's values and goals.

I guess that's what Jesus meant when He said (I think it was Him that said it)that we are to love the world, but not "join in". We are deviant. We don't fit in.

Ok, so maybe this is well covered territory in the Christian faith, we are aware of this, we are familiar with the concept, but to hear the word DEVIANT which has such negative connotations, was eye-opening for me.
Google defines deviance as "a state or condition markedly different from the norm". MARKEDLY DIFFERENT hmmmm....now, THAT made me think. I am not sure I am "markedly different" from the norm. So now I'm asking myself, am I deviant enough?!

I think to a certain extent we all "join in" on some of our environment's values, it's inevitable. But I am finding that as far as I am concerned, there has definitely been a high level of conformity on my part. Conformity to this world, the society, the "values" that everyone else around me holds dear,not the ones Jesus lived by. That bugs me, but it also compels me to find those areas where I have conformed, and ask Him to show me His way.
I want to be deviant Lord! :-)

Monday, April 04, 2005

Why me?

I ask that question too many times..."Why me lord?" or..."Why not me?"
Just like when I was a kid and questioned my parent's wisdom and authority.
Looking back and realizing the truth about my parents,questioning their wisdom and authority doesn't seem like such a bad thing, but what I do now...well, that's not smart at all.

Questioning God on why He does what he does in my life, or why He allows certain things to happen, only breeds discontent, lack of perspecive, self-pity and ingratitude, ALL bad things! Absolutely nothing good comes from it.

I DO know He loves me. That will be enough for me this day. Knowing that He loves me and that He is indeed sovereign. I will need to rest in that, without knowing the why's for everything, and recognize as Steven Curtis Chapman's song says that "God is God and I am not, I can only see a part of the picture He's painting, God is God and I am man(woman in my case)so I'll never understand it all, for only God is God"

And isn't THAT a good thing?!

It is a very good thing. In His wisdom He does not show us everything all at once...sometimes He shows us later on, when we can handle it, sometimes He never shows us, because we could never handle it...in the end, He alone has all the answers, and He alone chooses when we can see the big picture and when it's just better for us not to, and learning to trust that, can make life a little easier,or at least, I think so.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Are you effective?

I was scanning the "Our Daily Bread" as I do occasionally, and when I read the title of today's topic,"Broken Things" I decided to read.

I was following along with the author as I read about how God works in great and awesome ways when we are broken, until I read this sentence:"people who have been broken become better and more effective Christians"

I thought...hmmmm "effective"? effective among other things means "able to accomplish a purpose" What would be our purpose as Christians? what would be the "thing" that we would become more able to accomplish? Perhaps being a good witness? Learning more from the Bible?

As I reflected on what it is to be effective and on my own experiences in my brokenness I concluded that the more times I am broken and come before Him the LEAST effective I feel.
When I am broken and go before Him I am healed, forgiven, comforted, loved. Not made effective. Perhaphs,the more I am broken, the more I can relate to the brokenness of others and maybe that is a kind of effectiveness. But at the end of the day, I don't believe that the Father is going to look at us on judgement day and say "Well done, you were quite effective"
He longs for our time, our affection, our presence, our honesty, NOT our efficiency.
Think about it! He can do ANYTHING PERFECTLY!He doesn't need our human efficiency!

He doesn't need your efficiency, but He does love your brokenness, because when you are broken, there is nothing between you and Him but His love.

But I thought it mattered!

I was having a chat with God, trying to understand where He was leading, where I should go, what career to choose, what to study, what to pursue, what to become.

I wasn't sure, but I think I heard Him say "it doesn't matter"
That can't be right! I must have misunderstood you, Lord, what did you say?
"IT REALLY DOESN'T MATTER, because you are not looking for Me to fill you, you're looking for things to fill you, and no matter what path you choose, you will still be empty of the things I want to give to you"

Ok, so, it didn't quite go like that, but that was His message LOUD and CLEAR. It doesn't matter. I have heard it said before "it doesn't matter what title you hold, what position, what diploma, etc" but ironically, the people saying those things DID have a good if not great (by the world standards) position, title, diplomas, etc. so I never quite bought it.
But what Jesus was saying to me was different. Seek ME. If you do nothing else with your life, that will be more than enough.
If you never "achieve" anything else by the world's standards,but become like a child in your Faith and Trust in Me and become a part of the body of believers I have put around you, life will be much richer than you ever thought it could be with all the right credentials and achievements!"

WOW. I'm not saying we shouldn't want to , learn, be educated or even achieve.
I am saying, in my case, I was looking for things to give me what I lacked. I was looking to prove who I was to God and myself through achievement, hard work, sacrifice. And He said...."it doesn't matter, I KNOW YOU and LOVE you as you are, and I want you to know Me and Love ME as I AM"

My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God,namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Col 2:2

If all the treasures of wisdowm and knowledge are hidden in Christ, than where else should I go to find them but Christ Himself?

Followers