Thursday, September 27, 2012

Connecting The Dots....

I remember the PC (personal computer) revolution; I remember the positive impact it had on productivity in the workplace. I remember when I discovered the Internet and all of its capabilities and I remember when I first got email. I remember when I paid for AOL.

With the advent of email I started to receive many emails that contain platitudes, feel good quotes and Bible verses from many sources.

I remember when I finally discovered Facebook and realized there was a term for this - social media.

It was great connecting with old friends and making new friends. I started to notice an interesting phenomenon - many had religious principles in their status and quite a few now seemed to be born again Christians. I was pleased yet perplexed. Perhaps I was an undercover Christian in High School and College, but wouldn't I have known, wouldn't I have gotten some indication based on actions or words that they were different, just like me? (maybe I think too highly of myself).

I was perplexed because I never realized that so many I knew had the same beliefs as me - perhaps we didn't have these beliefs when we were together.  The other thing that was even more perplexing was that many quoted scripture, but if you just look at their social media profile, nothing in their lives lined up with the scripture.

On a large scale, I see this happening today.  For example many quote Jer 29:11...I know the plans I have for you.  Many want the good promises of the Bible without the daily discipline of nurturing a relationship and  being obedient. Some would say what's wrong with this? Imagine you have a house that's been given to you. It's a gift with no strings attached. The house is so beautiful, that on first sight you fall in love with the living room - and this is where you stay.  You can tell anyone who asks about this living room - the furniture, the dimensions, the view.  One day someone asked  - but what about the rest of the house?

What about the rest of the house? It is said that the Bible is like rubber since many bend it to make it suit their views. I believe this happens because many things are taken out of context and many are looking for validation for their thoughts and lifestyles. We're stuck on one dot, one room. We need to connect the dots to see the whole picture.

With the advent of technology many are taking steps to let the world know of their faith. I know we're all works in progress, but be consistent in your beliefs; don't be empty vessels or look good on the outside and be deteriorating on the inside. Be brave. Know why you believe what you believe. Let your beliefs dictate the way you live.

Do you take time to connect the dots? Do you spend time pondering scripture? Do you enjoy searching the scriptures? What do you do with the knowledge gained? 




Sunday, September 23, 2012

How Is It That Ye Do Not Understand?

This is what Jesus said to his disciples after miraculously feeding the four thousand.
In the prior chapters of Mark, He had fed the five thousand, healed countless people, and calmed a storm.
The disciples had been in his presence when He performed all of these miracles and yet they still did not understand who He was and how he spoke.

We are like that, aren't we? Jesus is in the midst performing miracles, rescuing us, bringing us comfort, intervening when we would otherwise make a mess and yet we don't get it.



How is it that ye do not understand?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Equipped


I joined the Track Team on a whim. I had just started HS and I felt lost and confused. The school I attended was not your typical High School - it was a specialized HS; only the talented and smart attended. On the first day I did not feel like any of these so when the announcement was made that the track team needed runners, I thought - I can do that, and that is how I started running. I had no idea what I had signed up for, but I quickly learned.

Every sport requires equipment and Track is no different. I did not come from a family of means so initially I ran in my skippies. I started to get shin splints and the coach informed me that I would need proper running shoes which would provide support. So, knowing no better at the time and having limited resources, we went to Bobby's (how many of you remember or heard of Bobby's?) and purchased my first pair of running sneakers. To my mind's eye, they looked like track shoes and they had better support than my skippies. If I was to have any success in this sport, I had to invest in the proper equipment. Eventually I was able to purchase proper running shoes and other accessories.

Today, I would consider myself a jogger. Running without the proper equipment is a recipe for failure. Like me you may have an abundance of cotton t-shirts. However, if you run in cotton t-shirts you sweat so much more and cotton doesn't absorb the sweat; after a while you become cold. The fabric makes a difference.  Shoes make a difference. A cap makes a difference. A hydration belt makes a difference. Many of these items are not cheap, but they're an investment that's worth it over the long haul.
Knowing what I know now, it's silly to go for run in the wrong equipment.





Yet, so many of us in our Christian life do not take the time and effort to prepare ourselves for what's ahead. We don't invest the time or the effort, and then we wonder why we are not able to handle what comes our way. We are to put on the whole armor so that we can stand against the wiles of the devil. We think we don't need to, or we can figure this out on our own.  Just as I would never go running without the proper equipment, on a daily basis, I do not start my day unless I'm spiritually prepared.
On a daily basis, put on your equipment (armor):

  • Belt of truth
  • Breastplate of righteousness
  • Shield of faith
  • Helmet of salvation
  • Sword of the Spirit
  • Pray



Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)
Are you equipped? Do you prepare yourself daily? How have you invested in your Christian walk?


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Falling

The other day while running, I fell.

As I was falling, my brain was saying "I can't believe I'm falling," and then I hit the pavement. It was very early in the morning, so not one solitary soul heard me scream as I fell, and moaned as I made my way back up.

Once I got back up, I had a tough decision to make - do I quit or keep going?
I gingerly walked to my mile marker while being very audible in my discomfort, drank some water and decided to keep going. Once I started to run again, the pain from the fall didn't bother me as much as I had received surface cuts and scratches on my elbows and my right knee. Also, running distracted me from the pain.


A couple of things made me want to continue:

  • A friend's mother who is in her late 70s is training for a half marathon. She recently told me how she fell while running, but she just got back up and kept going.  I thought, "If this 70+ year old can do it, why can't I?"
  • She also said that running at her age is hard, so she always repeats Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me....as she runs.
  • After recovering and thinking about falling Proverbs 24:16 comes to mind - The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked. This fall was an analogy for life. I've run this path many times and yet I have no idea what tripped me up. I was a tad distracted not really looking at where I was placing my feet. After the initial shock and pain, I took my time, steadied myself and continued. When I was finished this particular run, I felt accomplished; I felt stronger; I almost felt invincible.  Getting up and fighting makes you feel that way and encourages you.


Falling hurts; getting back up hurts a bit; staying the course - hurts initially and then it doesn't hurt anymore. Until you fall again.

Have you fallen recently? How hard is it for you to get back up? 


Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy New Year!

For many, the new year is celebrated when the calendar advances to the next year in December, but for me I always get a sense of newness in September.
September is when the children start school traditionally; though many schools started in August, today was the first day of school for the Little One.


With the start of school, I think of it as an opportunity for:

  • Growth
  • Opportunity
  • New Experiences
  • New Friends
  • New Commitment
  • Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone


I have a pep in my step today; smiling because I'm alive, saying hi to random people.  I feel good! I feel possibility.

In the mornings typically my husband and I have deep conversations. We've been married for 23 years and through the years we've learned many things together. When you've been married or in a relationship for a long time you think of ways to revive your relationship. If you've been a Christian for a long time, how do you revive your Christian walk?

I'm participating in a Bible Study using the book A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers. I'll be sharing insights and highlights here.

Life is tough; don't become despondent. I used to have a pastor that ended every service by saying, "Jesus, I  reach out to you."  I didn't always understand it then, but the longer I live the more I need Jesus. So I reach out to Him daily, hourly, minutely.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
  Lamentations 3:22-24
Happy New Year! With God's help, make it a good one.  If you've been a Christian for a long time, how do you revive your Christian walk?


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Women, The Church, Politics

I like this, so I thought I'd share.
I've also copied the post here, to make it easier for you to read.
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Before you throw stones or want to endorse me as a candidate for the next President, just hear me out. And even if more strongly disagree or hate me more than you already do, just ponder the thought and question I pose on this post about the importance of having the voices of both women and men in our lives.
First, let me set the table.
I care about politics not because I obsess over politics. Hardly.
Rather, politics is important to me because it involves policies and policies, ultimately, impact people. In my opinion, we have no choice as Christians: we must be engaged in our civic responsibilities and affairs. In other words, if our faith in Christ and the work of the Kingdom is important, we ought to be engaged in the issues of our world.
At the same time, I am an independent when it comes to political parties and urge Christians to not be played, swayed, and seduced by the powers to be. For this reason, I’ve tried to urge others to be cautious of the politicization and manipulation of Jesus, Christians, and religion. (emphasis mine)
For this and other reasons, I’ve attempted to tune in to the Republican National Convention last week and this week’s Democratic National Convention. Some of it has been educational, others infuriating, others confusing, and still, others very inspiring.  I am listening and I want to be more deeply educated and informed so I can steward the privilege of voting with care and discernment. But thus far (and I know that the DNC has just gotten underway), one clear observation for me from both the RNC and DNC has been the amazing voices, words, leadership, and speeches from…the women. The three that obviously stood out for me were the speeches delivered by Ann Romney, Condoleezza Rice, and Michelle Obama. Ann’s speech was heartfelt and compelling. Condoleezza’s speech was inspiring and dare I say it…”presidential.” And wow, Michelle Obama’s speech was simply riveting. I found myself in tears on couple occasions during the FLOTUS’ speech.
As I soaked in the inspiring speeches from these women, I was mindful of the incredulous fact that the 19th Amendment to the American constitution – allowing women to vote – only took place in 1920.  Just 92 years ago and with that, America became just the 27th country to support “universal suffrage.”
Without any offense intended to others – especially the male speakers –their speeches were the clear highlights. I don’t care what others will do or say during the DNC from here on out, no one is going to top the speech delivered by Michelle Obama. But this isn’t my attempt to say that women are better than men, more articulate than men, more intelligent than men, or any other nonsensical comparisons. Rather, I want to simply communicate how incomplete the conventions would have been without their voices, words, challenges, and exhortations.

Imagine if only men were allowed to speak.

Seriously, imagine that for a second.
Now, I get it. For some of you, it may seem heretical to juxtapose “a political convention” with “the Church” but hear me out. I know for some of you, it simply comes down to your “theological” and “biblical” convictions. I understand that because that’s exactly why I support women in all levels of leadership – not because of political correctness, trendiness, hipsteriness, but rather, biblical and theological convictions.
Now going back to Ann, Condi, and Michelle…can we all agree how important their voices were in their respective conventions – as they addressed American citizens and delegates from all 50 states, all walks of life, all ages – and broadcasted to homes and halls throughout the country, and really, the larger world?
Deeply impactful.
And yet in some churches and Christian conventions, associations, conferences, and denominations, women still aren’t allowed to lead or speak – particularly from the “main” platform.
Yes, they can teach children’s ministry, counsel other women, lead the women’s tea party, organize bazaars, host a kick arse bake sale but when it comes to addressing, teaching, preaching, leading sacrament, challenging, and exhorting the larger church from the pulpit or stage…No Can Do. 

And that is sad. Really sad.

Not having the voices of women in the Church is not just sad for women but even worse, it’s sad and a deep loss for the Church. We’re missing out on the stories, convictions, and challenges from the Ann Romneys, Condi Rices, and Michelle Obamas within our churches. [And for goodness sake, can we please have some darn Asian representation in these conventions so I can include an Asian woman for my post!#!#.]
The amazing speeches of women in the conventions makes the silence of women in the Church that much more deafening.
And to be honest, this post isn’t even about advocating for women in all levels of leadership; It’s not even a post about egalitarians vs. complementarians. But rather, it’s simply to convey how sad it is that we really don’t have the important voices of both women and men in all our churches.
Your thoughts? 


Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Children You Don't Know

Have you ever felt like you don't know your own grown children?

I have.

I don't know why anyone puts a wall around themselves except to them it seems necessary, but it does seem awkward when it's your child.

As a parent, I'm not blind to the temptations our children face, especially in the times we live in. I often hope they will make the right choice, ah...but sometimes they disappoint.


What do I do with this disappointment?
Is it a scar on me as a parent? Yes and no - but mostly no because as an adult you've made a choice to live your life in a way that's not consistent with the way you were raised. As a parent, there's always a degree of embarrassment, or the opposite of pride when these situations occur.

I rely on God more- it would be prideful of me to think that MY children would be perfect and always make me happy. I think disappointments come to keep me humble.

Depending on the severity of the disappointment, I may become more insular and introspective. Of course I question myself and my parenting skills or lack of them.

I can't rationalize bad behavior; I don't accept the behavior but I still love the child. I will always love but their actions may force me to make some tough choices.

I rely on the people around me particularly my husband to help me navigate. It's usually my instinct that alerts me to something being off; then he follows through with the child in question. He's as level headed as I'm not and often has a better handle on these circumstances due to his life experience.  For me I can empathize with a lot of things, but have not experienced it. Together, we figure it out.

As I write this, I am reminded that I disappoint God regularly also with my behavior. How does God deal with us? He loves us, he corrects us, he chastises and ultimately we repent - because of His steadfast love. I hope to be steadfast as God is.

......I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3
Is this a foreign concept to you? Have you ever felt this way about your children? Do you see a model in the spiritual for how to deal with this?