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What is the end making me now?

“Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.”
Thomas Merton

So, in the middle of a crazy life – in the midst of developing and cultivating friendships, between writing papers and attending classes, from frantic scurry to job to hectic driving to ministry – what, exactly is it that I desire?  What, specifically do I desire?  What is shaping me?

I like to think God.  I WANT to think God.  I’m even brash enough to look at my life and think, “God”.  But, is He really?  Or am I being side tracked by other, lesser important things, that are shaping me in ways that are not daring and bold and who I was originally designed to be?  Am I settling for less?

What is the end I am living for?  What is the end I currently have my eyes on? Is it bigger than just finishing this semester, or beginning the next project?

What are my deepest desires – the ones I know and few others do?  The ones even I don’t want to admit to myself (do I even have those)?  And how are those shaping what I do now, who I am now, who I am becoming?

Who is shaping me?  What is shaping me?

 

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Being Human

I am really beginning to the hate the Christian phrase, “Well, we’re human.”
There is this idea out there that it is our humanity that causes, or maybe better said, allows, us to do horrible things, or to not achieve what we’re supposed to.
We’re humans, so we murder.

We’re humans, so we wreck our environment.

We’re humans, so we use each other.

We’re humans, so we gossip.

We’re humans, so we sleep around.

We’re humans, so we bully each other.

We’re humans, so…

You get the idea.

And I hate it, because it’s not true.  We DON’T do those things because we’re humans.  There is nothing bad about being human.  In fact, when God made Adam and Eve, in the garden, He said that “It was very good.”  God wouldn’t say that about something that inherently did horrible things.
Being human is good.
But, living in a world that is broken, (thanks to a little fruit eating, and then years and millennia and who knows how long of rebellion against God) we seem to think that this is natural.  That our fallen state is natural.  And that this is just the way it is.

And it IS just the way it is…but it wasn’t supposed to be so.

Stop blaming stuff on being human, and own up to being broken.  It might actually help.

Broken can be fixed.  Broken can be restored and redeemed.  Broken can be repurposed.  Broken is not the end of the world.

Own up to being simply broken, to living in a broken world (it will help you remember this isn’t how it’s supposed to be and there is better coming); allow God to fix your brokenness.  Let’s see where that gets us.

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Someday….

Someday, after I make the team.  Someday, when I have that job.  Someday, when I lose that weight.  Someday, when I make more money.  Someday when I have a different boss.  Someday, when I’m no longer renting.  Someday, when I have a dog. Someday when I don’t have a dog.  Someday when I have a better car.  Someday when my prince has come.

It’s such a wonderful thing to dream about, isn’t it?  Someday?  It’s magical.  You think about “Someday” and it sparkles like a toddler’s glitter-covered masterpiece (who ever thought it was a great idea to give toddlers glitter?  At least it comes out the other side.  Which makes me wonder about the stuff that gets stuck somewhere on the journey through.  Sparkly toddler innards.  Hmmmm – okay, I’m done now).  As I was saying, someday is a fun place to dream about.   A whole lot more fun, often, than enjoying today.

The thing is, it’s a trap.  If you are constantly focused on “someday”, you’re missing today.  And when that happens to me, anyway, I tend to miss the lessons I’m supposed to be learning (or those lessons are a whole lot harder than they should be), and I don’t enjoy the experiences that make up life as it is today.  I’m so busy dreaming about the future that I miss the awesomeness of what’s going on now.

And I get it.  I mean, I’m really enjoying school and life right now, but there is part of me that is very ready to be done with school and onto whatever else is next.  I want another adventure, a different challenge, something sparkly.  I don’t want to wait.  I don’t want to “waste” the next two years.  Because everyday – normal, boring, everyday – can seem like a waste when Someday glistens and beckons ahead, just around the bend.

The hardest part, for me anyway, is when other people tell me about Someday, and how wonderful it’s going to be for me when I have sparkly bling on my left ring finger, or I have a diploma on my wall, or I can fit into jeans three sizes smaller, or my car can climb mountains or get better gas mileage, or whatever.  The thing is – their words are only hard or distracting if I let them be.  Usually such things are said with the best, most encouraging of intentions.  And if I listen too closely, or give their kind words too much power, I can begin to think that my life has no value or worth, or I don’t have a valid opinion until mystical someday happens.  So I have to keep in mind that really and truly, they’re being encouraging, and go about my daily life from there.

Because now, because Everyday, because Normal can be magical too, if I pay attention.  It’s a harder skill to learn, a slightly more nuanced flavor to develop an appreciation for, but it’s worth it.  After all, today, every day, is where you live.  Normal is where the lessons happen.  Normal is where the magic actually happens.  Here and now is when you grow.  Day to day is incredibly valuable and necessary.

Don’t get so lost in Someday that you lose the magic and wonder of Today.  Someday will come soon enough, but if you’re so used to looking for someday out in the future, you’re not going to notice when it takes the sly appearance of Everyday.

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I wish…

This is not the weekly blog post, it’s just something I need to get out.

There are days, like today, when I deeply, intensely, passionately wish that God and His love for me would capture my imagination, my emotions, and my mental world to the extent that so many other things on this Earth do.  I wish that I could dream about God as passionately as I do my future, my friends, my experiences.  I wish that I could be satisfied with the wonderful, heart-filling proofs He does give me all the time (if I’m looking) of His love for me.  I wish the world hadn’t been broken, so that He and I could walk, side-by-side, hand-in-hand through one of the lush, green forest gardens He’d recently grown.  I wish I could long for Him the way I do when I miss my friends.  

I want that sort of connection with Him. 

To say I long for that day isn’t expressing the depth of my desire, but the words don’t exist to express it.  So, I’ll simply say:

I deeply, passionately, intensely, long for the day when all will be made right again.  And I don’t know what it’s going to be like when the world is made new, but I pray that I’ll still have a body, so that I can know what it’s like to feel Him hold my hand.  

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A = B, but that doesn’t mean B=A

A couple years ago one of my youth group kids made the statement “God is not love, LOVE is God”. At the time I’d never heard that before, and while I instinctually didn’t agree, I hadn’t thought much about why up until then.
I came across a meme on Facebook the other day that said the same thing, and so now thoughts are flowing. Careful, they’re a bit mind-bending. Feel free to respond, please.

I have an issue when we say Love is God, because that statement makes it sound like the only characteristic God has is love; also there is the implication that Love is the end all. And while most Western Christian culture seems to agree with this statement, I think we’ve missed the mark.

God isn’t JUST love; we modern, Western Christians have a huge problem with forgetting this. “Well, if God is love, why is this happening, why is that happening? Why is there pain and hardship, etc etc etc? A loving God wouldn’t do that.” We forget that God is just and righteous, Creator and Ender (or “Changer of seasons and chapters” might be the more accurate title). To say He is only love sells who He is short. And while yes, all of His other characteristics are affected by His love, this does not necessarily change those characteristics into love. To say He is ONLY love takes away a good deal of His incomprehensible God-ness; it takes away quite a lot of His majesty and power. Not that love isn’t powerful, we all know it is. But it’s a different sort of power than God occasionally displays.

Also, to say Love is God, changes worship. If love is God, than worship is merely loving others – whether in a friendly way, in a family way, in a romantic way, in a taking-care-of-you way. If love is God, than all we have to do to be right with God is to love others. And yes, a great deal of Christian worshipping God should be loving others. Many people who are not Christian do a pretty good job of this. (I’m not going to get into whether or not people who are not recognized by the church as Christian are going to heaven; someday I might)
But loving others is not our only act of worship and is not all we are called to do. Christians are to actually love God. We can’t love God if Love is God. That would be loving love…which yes, people do. But rarely are those people happy or well-balanced people. These are usually the desperate and red-and-wild-eyed people in your life who tend to be hard to be around. They leave you emotionally empty when you’re done hanging out.
But let’s get back, briefly, to how Love being God changes worship. There is no reason to live to bring God glory, and the biggest purpose in life you have outside of yourself is to love other people. Which, again, don’t get me wrong, is a HUGE purpose (it’s in the Bible over and over)…but if your purpose in life is to merely love other people and not love and serve God, nor is it take a part of the story He is writing, your life has so much less meaning than a Christian’s should.

Love is not God; Love is the means to show others all of the intricate facets of just exactly who God is.

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freedom

I sit on my bed, a puppy curled up next to me, my laptop on my lap, a thunderstorm rolling in (which, if I didn’t live in Colorado, I might worry about interfering with the fireworks later on, but the storm’ll be gone in a couple minutes here), a familiar ache in my heart (again, don’t worry – I’m used to this one, the pain will also pass in a few minutes here), and I’m rather uninspired to write.
Which is sad, because I’ve had an awesome week.  Camping with teenagers, getting to know some new friends a bit more, finally sumitting a 14-er (an over 14,000 feet above sea level mountain), some relaxation time, some good ministry, sensing God moving, and just so much.
I could talk about the necessity of community, or how God loves each and every one of us, how His grace really is sufficient for each of us every day, how, with God, our history does not necessarily dictate our future, just…so much.
But the familiar ache is rather overwhelming in this moment.  And none of the above feels right.
So, instead I’m simply going to tell you to enjoy your 4th of July.  Enjoy the family and friends, the food, the crowds (somehow), the fireworks.  If you’re odd like me, go buy a pack of black licorice and eat it as you watch the fireworks explode in gorgeous colors above your head. Enjoy the deliciousness.  Enjoy these moments.  They are priceless.
And while you are enjoying the summer holiday, I challenge you to be “real” with one person.  Let one person see the mess you are (because, be real, we all are messes).  God uses messy people in awesome, powerful ways – especially their stories.  So go share your story.  Experience the freedom in letting someone really know you.  Be willing to open up, that God might use your story to reach into someone else’s heartache moment and heal or encourage or free them with what He’s done in you.

 

 

PS – I have a new tab up there. It’s meant specifically for any teenage girl reading this blog, but feel free to go check it out even if you’re not!

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Time Treasure

It is late, and I have had a very long day, and I am in the middle of saying “good-bye” to two very special people who have been a huge part of my over the last five years and “hello” to two others who I suspect will become incredibly special to me as well.  I am in the middle of a whirl-wind of emotions.  Planning a sermon and parties and photo books on top of “normal” life.
I’m ready for things to slow down.  I’m ready for this craziness to end.
But not really, because when it does, I’m that much closer to saying good-bye to my two dear friends.
I’m learning how incredibly precious each and every moment I am given is.  I am realizing that I need to get better at simply enjoying and treasuring life – the crazy times, the heart-wrenching times, the tired times, the wonderful times, the every-day times.  I’m not good at this.  This is something I need to get better at, a gift God has given me that I need to learn to treasure.

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