Monday, September 26, 2016

Go Deeper

Individualism or  Me-ism, Conformist or Nonconformist, should a Christ follower be any of these?

Every now and then you meet a person who fits no mold.  They are the kind of people that will not follow the rules, who don't mind making waves, and also enjoy getting attention in a pretend humble, embarrassed way.  They claim praise and admiration make them uncomfortable.  They feel they have a higher calling than others to set the trends and make important changes in the world they live.

The subject is too difficult for me to dissect...  I get it... this is how some of what I write makes people feel.  I have gathered that my thoughts sometimes come across as being too individualistic or that I think I am extra specially outfitted with unusual problems.  To be clear, I am perfectly aware that all of the battles I fight are the same ones you do.

Let me just say this in my defense...I believe the best way to identify with people is to say things as honestly as possible and to admit our humanness's as a way to acknowledge that we are sinners saved by grace through the blood of Jesus.  If that down to earth approach sounds like me ism to you, I am sorry.  When I read a Scripture verse that resonates with a situation I am currently in, sharing it with you is applying it to practical living.  It is supposed to be encouraging; I pray it is... Please let me write...

   To put into words what others aren't willing to admit or acknowledge is my personal challenge to you to go deeper with Christ, to rid yourself of the old man and put on the new.  This will mean change and sometimes be seen as being a non conformists.  And as a general rule, people are a little afraid of calling things exactly what they are.  Nobody wants to admit to a prejudice or a hangup, but I believe Jesus would like us to work on that.  I think He likes honesty. I know He doesn't  like hypocrisy. He calls hypocrites "whited sepulchers".

 Jesus was all about changing lives and He asks us to go into the world and preach the gospel.  One of the apostles of Jesus says we should not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds... If that doesn't require individual change and the acknowledgement of  'me-ism';  I don't know what does. 

Why it makes people more comfortable to have a proper place in their minds to put someone who thinks outside the usual predictable box, I will never know.  I love thinking and talking with a person who is willing to see their own personal need of change and of going deeper with God. If we are more comfortable with people who sound acceptable and proper perhaps we will be safe from public scandal and of embarrassment but perhaps also we will be held back from a little soul searching and the practice of digging deeper to becoming more honest with our own shortcomings.   So yes, I do believe a Christian should be concerned with personal growth and individualism so long as its final goal is to be changed from glory to glory. 2 Cor 3:18 

 Press on and all that! And for sure, don't be afraid to go deeper with God in your everyday.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fall...Not Quite Poetry

I love the fall season more each year.

It is such a celebration for all the abundance of summer.

The colors of nature giving one last oomph and saying "hurrah"!

A chance to sit back and re-evaluate the busyness of green and heat and then dry...

In fall, we think cozy thoughts and plan coffee breaks with pumpkin-y flavors.

We light candles and listen to classical music. 

We read books in the basement of our hometown libraries... 

We could molder there along with these old friends, for the love of books and leather chairs and imaginary worlds.

On the way out of the library we stop on the sidewalk to say hello to another...

Then stroll home across the bridge over the water where leaves fall and twirl on whirlpools as they lazily float away...

A pot of chili and a pan of cornbread... 
served in a chunky bowl gives warmth and comfort.

Family altogether quiet in the early dark of the evenings, each one in a different book, different world, yet all here experiencing home and laughter and mellow hours.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How Marriage Has Taught Me To Love My Church

As writers often do, I am now going to flip this discussion of  "What Church Should Be", and look at the very choice of words that make me cringe...loving the Church.  I'll admit it, the cringing is reactionary.

I was churched in a setting that was not conducive to spiritual growth.  Any kind of real answers were found by my personal digging into the Scriptures.  The authority set up over me was not one I was taught to respect.  It was a sorry state of affairs if I am honest about it; strewn with church splits, politics, and what felt like hierarchy.  If you look up the definition of that particular word, that is exactly what it was.

So imagine my surprise while dating my soon- to- be- husband, I found out about another way of thinking.  My astonished boyfriend was the first to bring to my awareness that most people respected and trusted their leadership.  That people did on a normal basis was news to me.  My lack of respect was a pretty big concern to Bruce and I could tell he was worried about how I would behave in his home church once we were married.  Secretly, I think he was worried if I would treat him respectfully with the attitude I was carrying around.

And rightfully so, because with all that independent thinking and reading of the scriptures on my own, I had no other interpretation except the one given to me from the Holy Spirit and my own ideas.  Which I treasure.  I would never belittle the blessing of digging and searching for my own personal growth and spiritual food.  However, I was not balanced on authority or respect issues being jaded about what was.

In Bible School the year before I was married, I took a class taught by a pastor and my uncle, Dan Schrock, whom I ironically trusted and respected even if the class was titled something like "Church, the Glorious Bride of Christ".  I was intrigued for the first time with the idea that Church was something attractive and that it was God's idea.  The way Uncle Dan taught it, actually made me see glimpses into the heart of God for His Church.

Being married though, was the first I started to care about my place in God's eyes as a wife.  For the first time ever, I began to realize that my ideas weren't always agreed upon by my husband.  Truthfully, he hardly ever agreed with my spiritual thoughts and wisdom.  Instead, the more I voiced my beliefs and opinions the more he retreated and shut down.  Up until that time I hadn't really paid attention to the headship of authority that is explained in pretty good detail in the Bible.

Me, being the digger and brainy one that I am concerning the Scriptures, I started to run into verses about the commands for a wife to respect her husband.  And the ones about "seeing that she honors him and holds him in deep awe", that pretty much baffled my brain.  I had a brain of my own. Why would I respect my husband if he acted unworthy?  ( How's that for brutally honest?)

When I finally repented and asked God to change my heart about giving and showing respect whether I felt my husband deserved it or not, I began to see what respect really means to God.  And I began to see that God's order of respect and submission works in all aspects in the life of a Christ follower.  Including church...

And sometimes in church, if I don't agree or "get" somethings   a lot of things we supposedly agreed to do as a local body of believers, I at least understand the concept of servant hood, of laying down what I want or think and of giving proper respect whether I feel it is deserved or not.

And sadly, I very much doubt I would have learned that about church if my husband hadn't helped me figure it all out.  Practicing submission and respect in my marriage paved the way for me to see God's intent for His people to serve each other and to do it with humility, not necessarily our own way.

I still am an independent thinker, my poor dear hubby...but over the almost 20 years of our marriage I have found that my job is to stay close to Jesus while working at giving my husband every scrap of respect I can, in word and deed and in action.  And that while I still have a strong opinion about almost everything there is to have an opinion about, I am learning to listen to my husbands thoughts and opinions too.  I am even learning to shut up and not give mine so much, which is a miracle of sorts.

This is also what it takes to love your local body.  The people you go to church with are the ones who show you how to have a servants heart.  You are going to practice giving in and humility if you belong to a vibrant group of believers.  If you love each other well, you will be willing to give up personal opinions.  You might even be able to overlook some of the things you feel strong about if you are dedicated to seeking God's will for your church and believe He has the power to make the changes you long to see.