Monthly Archives: January 2014

Reasons I Love Christians

It’s kind of popular for Christians to hate on other Christians.  It’s kind of popular for some Christians to be fed up with and disgusted by those other Christians, who are too stuffy, too judgmental, too hypocritical and aren’t loving enough, gracious enough, compassionate enough.  It’s popular to expect perfection from Christians, and we get angry at “those Christians” who are falling short and making “the rest of us” look bad.

Let me be honest and say, I am guilty of having been in both parties – hating on other Christians AND being one of “those Christians” everyone loves to hate.  It comes with the tension of having Christ living in me and still being human.  Sometimes I go to extremes, rather than walking in the balance God has called me to.

So today I wanted to give you SEVEN reasons why I love Christians:

  • Christians are not perfect.  Just like their human counterparts who do not identify with Christ, Christians mess up and make mistakes.  They sin.  It could be something the world views as normal, such as gossip, or something less-accepted, like adultery.  Sin gets in the way of our relationships with God and others.  The beauty of the gospel is that salvation is not based upon what we do or do not do: it is trusting that Jesus was God’s acceptable sacrifice for our sin.  We don’t have to be perfect, because He was.
  • Christians have a lock on accountability. Our society is plagued by the god of self; as in, we answer to no god but ourselves.  Christians understand we will be held accountable to God for our actions.  In the meantime, many of us seek the counsel and guidance of other Christians in the areas we’re struggling.  We answer to more than just ourselves. (I want to make a note on this: It is not my business or responsibility to hold other believers accountable unless they ask me to do so, it is my business and responsibility to make myself accountable to believers who are sharpening me in my walk with Christ).
  • Christians understand transparency and vulnerability. Our society doesn’t like the idea of vulnerability; after all, it literally means to leave yourself open … to whatever.  As people, we are expected to be impregnable.  And we certainly don’t hand anybody anything that could be used as ammunition against us.  And yet, Christians are bound by the fact that none of us has it all together, but because of Christ we can have restored relationships with God and each other.  That means we are free to love each other in spite of our faults, and be loved in spite of our faults. 
  • Christians are motivated by love.  Okay, so you don’t like the guy who shouts at you to repent every day on the street corner.  You don’t like the protesters outside of the abortion clinics.  You don’t like church discipline.  Here’s the bottom line: any Christian (by that I mean someone who trusts Jesus as Savior from sin and Lord of life) I know is motivated by love for the people they are trying to reach.  It may not seem like it (because why are they shouting?) but I promise you it’s true.  That guy downtown?  He wants to see you come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and be restored to a right relationship with God so you can enjoy Him forever.  Those protesters at the clinics?  They just don’t want to see you make a decision that will negatively impact you physically and emotionally.  Those elders who put you under discipline for moving in with your boyfriend/girlfriend? They want you to understand the implications of violating God’s design.  I get that it comes off as abrasive sometimes, but these people don’t hate you, they’re not angry at you, they’re trying to help you. Why? God loves you, and they do too.
  • Christians agree to disagree among themselves.  There are a lot of people who love Jesus and have accepted Him as Savior and Lord because of His death and resurrection who have VERY different opinions on what the Bible means.  There are some things that unite all believers in Christ, but there are some minor things that are not as important that distinguish denominations and local bodies.  It is EXTREMELY rare for a local body to not interact with other bodies in their areas.  I know First Baptist McKinney joins up with other churches/denominations to serve McKinney frequently, even churches that they don’t line up with 100% on doctrine.  Churches get along peacefully with each other for the most part. 
  • Christians are unique.  We all have different personalities, ideas, gifts, and talents, but what is so amazing is that we bring all of the different things we have to offer into our local bodies and our local bodies to our communities and our communities to the world … and together, we make up this universal organism called the Church.  Totally a God thing, by the way, but it’s awesome how He works it out!
  • Christians are movers and shakers. We are trying to reach the world with the good news about Jesus, and it’s common to see us volunteering to serve people, starting organizations to better serve people, being active in government and influential in policy formation and change, starting movements in the church and obeying God’s call to go to different parts of the world and minister there.  We’re not trying to brainwash or indoctrinate, we’ve got good news, and we want our lives, not just our mouths to tell you about it!

So yeah.  Christians can be human and sin, but we’re not just sinners.  We are this crazy awesome bunch of people from all kinds of backgrounds with all kinds of talents that God has ordained to walk counter to cultural and societal norms that fall outside of His will and impact our world by telling it about Jesus.

I love Christians!!!

 

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The Source of My Hope

Listening to the rhetoric of the State of the Union from President Obama and the Republican response last night, I realized a few things about myself.  I can’t take politicians or the American Dream seriously anymore.  I used to believe in these things (I think), I just don’t anymore.  I have no use for platforms or people who talk about doing things, I’m only interested in people who are actually doing things.  Often they are the people with no platform or pedestal.

And I realized that I can’t take politicians and the American Dream seriously because they are not the source of my hope.  Jesus is.  There is nothing Washington D.C. can do for me that He can’t do infinitely better.  It is His job – not Washington D.C.’s or even mine, in pursuing my own ambitions –  to provide for me in terms of my career, my finances, any relocation details.

I have hope because through Jesus, I’ve been reconciled in a right relationship with the God of the universe, and I am eternally secure in him.  This life on earth is blessed (no doubt about it), but together with its trials, it is nothing that can be compared to my eternal home.  So I’m not going to worry about what Washington D.C. is (or is not doing), I’m going to live to make a spiritual impact where God has me now, and wherever He may bring me in the future.

 

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His Eye Is On the Sparrow

“Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see, His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

I don’t know how it’s all going to come together, I just know it all will come together.  Mornings like these I contemplate the details, and I can’t even begin to fathom, but I feel calm.  After all, I am not responsible for making things happen, I don’t have to sweat the details, I just have to walk in obedience.  The next four weeks are going to be a whirlwind, I can already tell, but I’m peaceful about that.

Then I look at my bank account, and somehow, it’s overdrawn.   I forgot to cancel something after a 30-day trial (I hadn’t really used it, and actually forgot I even had it), so I called the company and thankfully they are refunding my money and cancelling the subscription.  My bank assures me they will refund the overdraft fees (yes, they charged me for two other items that had already posted for one item’s overdraw) when the money from the company posts in two or three business days.

Heart attack.  Then sigh of relief.

Like, it just takes one crazy thing to throw me off from that peace.  And it’s totally been resolved, but I’m still feel wired from it.

So I have to go back to the peaceful.  Be thankful God prompted me to check my bank account this morning, because I honestly can’t think of a reason why I should have.  Be thankful I’m getting every penny back.  Be thankful again that the details are not mine to obsess over.  And most of all, be thankful God is looking out for me.

This Is Not a TV Show

Drama, drama.

As women, we can be addicted to drama, specifically the drama we see in TV shows.  We are so addicted, we begin to replicate it in our lives and think that is a good thing.

Ladies, we are not living a TV show, we live in reality, and what works for television, does not translate well to the real world.

This is not a confession, nor is it an endorsement, it’s just a fact:  every Monday I watch a show called Revenge on Hulu.  The premise of the show is a girl whose father was imprisoned and killed over a crime he did not commit.  Years later, she heads back to the family who framed her father to take her revenge.  One by one, she takes them down.  Her piece de resistance is marrying the oldest son and heir of this family and framing her mother-in-law for her own death.  The main character is calculating and merciless and every time she lets her guard down, her revenge plans seem to unravel.  She loses many friends in the process, and she doesn’t care, because revenge is the most important thing to her.

I like the show, I’m interested to see where the producers will take it and how it will end (will they be honest about the consequences of revenge or Hollywood it up?), but I don’t seek to reflect the main character or her actions in my life.  How ever well revenge works in a fiction narrative, it does not work that way in real life.  People don’t just line up for you to take them out, nor will they go quietly.  Also, being calculating and merciless and not letting people in (because you can’t … it would get in the way of your plan), is isolating, and isolation is unforgiving.

So I choose instead to be wise and compassionate and vulnerable.  That is my strength, that is what I have found people to be attracted to.  This world is calculating and merciless enough without adding me to that mix.  I try to be different, refreshing, apart from this secular definition of feminine strength. This is how we are ALL called to be as women in Christ!

Don’t seek to make yourself the main character in a TV drama. Ladies, these characters are powerful, but are not strong.  They are glamorous and physically beautiful, but not attractive.  They seem to have lots of friends and lovers, but they are not the kinds of people emotionally healthy individuals keep company with, not are they the kinds of people emotionally healthy people are. 

 

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In A Place to Give An Opinion

I wasn’t going to write about this today.  I had a completely different topic in mind, but in the past few days I’ve seen pleas from two different people concerning the political unrest in Ukraine.

I try to avoid giving my opinion on politics.  Scratch that, I try to avoid giving my opinion at all.  I don’t think my opinion is that important, or that sharing it will make any sort of difference.  Today, however, I am in a place to give an opinion, where a dear friend of mine in Ukraine is not.  This is a friend who has through her life and example taught me to be braver and bolder, has shown me I can make a difference, and so today, I write for her.

Of course, we all know (I hope) that last Thursday a law was passed in Ukraine that was intended to shut down protests against the Ukrainian government since the decision to form stronger bonds with Russia in November 2013, instead of the EU (Source: BBC News).  This week we’ve been faced with reports of torture and death of protesters.  It’s a devastating situation.

It all boils down to two things I think we really take for granted and even abuse here in the United States: the will of the people and freedom of speech.  If we don’t like something that is going on here in our nation, we can band together and change it with little or no opposition, and we can express ourselves as we see fit with little or no recourse.

Sure, there was that little thing with Kirk Cameron and Unstoppable when Facebook shut down the official movie page, but really all that did was produce a bunch of angry Christians whining about persecution, and eventually the page was restored.  But let’s say it hadn’t: let’s say Unstoppable was blocked from Facebook for good.  Kirk Cameron had dozens of other options to publicize his movie.  And that is because he is blessed to live in the United States.  And let’s not forget about Phil Robertson, who was dropped from A&E for proclaiming his beliefs about homosexuality.  Again, American Christians cried persecution, and he was restored, but guys, if all else failed, he could have bought himself a camcorder and taken to YouTube.  If I’m not happy with public policy or government administration in this country, I can write a blog or a Facebook status about it.  I can join with other like-minded people to get it changed.  I have options.  Americans, we have options.

The Ukrainian people don’t have options.  They are opposed by a government that does not care about their wishes or desires, a government subverting the will of their people at any expense, up to and including humiliating and killing their own people.

Why should we as Americans even care?  This is happening in Ukraine, right?  That’s thousands of miles away from where we enjoy our privileges, how ever often we complain about persecution.  Should we care because laws impeding freedom of speech could spread?  I mean, it’s already happening here with Kirk Cameron and Phil Robertson, so what’s happening in Ukraine could be our reality any day.  Why should America go around making the whole world embrace our form of freedom?  This is Ukraine’s problem.

Dear Americans, we should care, and we should care deeply because the Ukrainians are people just like you and I, except they don’t have the privileges we have.  They would like to have a more democratic process (hence the protests), but their government has its own ideas.  The people’s voices are being taken away through legislation, humiliation, torture, and murder. 

I am connected to these people by humanity, by this sphere we call earth.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve never met them, that they are thousands of miles away, or that I can’t even begin to imagine the pain Ukraine is experiencing right now.  It’s not about democracy or freedom of speech as we understand it here, it’s about the people who have dared to take a stand for a better, more free life, and their government (an organization designed by God to administer good!) is trying to shut them down in a most abusive manner.  It’s about improving their quality of life.

Please pray for Ukraine.  Then, spread the word about Ukraine.  Their government will not fight for them, and I can imagine the people are feeling very isolated from the rest of the world.  Let’s show them we care!!!

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Remind Me How Transient I Am

“Let me know how transient I am” (Psalm 39:4b NASB).

Transient. Tran·sient. /tranSHənt,-ZHənt,-zēənt/. Lasting only for a short time; impermanent.

It’s funny, I grew up with the verse I quoted above.  It was one of the many chapters my family memorized. It didn’t hit me in the face until Saturday, though, because I grew up with the King James Version (which uses the word “frail” in place of “transient”), and I didn’t hear this particular version until then.

It’s funny, my dad once told me concerning a season of life (this season of life, in fact; although he said it some nearly four years ago) that I was transient.  It made sense then and it makes sense now; it’s been coming up a lot lately in my thoughts concerning a possible relocation to Seattle.  Then Saturday and this version of this verse.

Of course, I have a sense that this life is transient.  It will not last.  I understand that.  I live that.

But I am transient in this life too.  I may do something for a season that I don’t in the following season.  I may move once, upwards of two times, or never again.  I may never be in one place or one season very long.

Transience is one of my only givens.

I have learned my transience.  I have learned not to settle, and have learned that what may be one day may not be the next.  I have learned about change and that I am a creature subject to change.  I have learned because God has let me know.

And He will continue letting me know, because I am, guys.

I am transient.

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So This Is How It’s Going To Be

On Friday night at 11:30, I finished my personal revisions to The Field.  That just means I’m finally happy with where the story is – I’m still cleaning up typos, grammar, and awkward phrasing.  It also means I get to send it to my editing team, which I did this morning.  They’ll help me pinpoint the weaknesses, and in a few weeks, I’ll either strengthen them or get rid of them altogether.

The Field ended up being 41,868 words, 73 chapters (plus a prologue and an epilogue), and 134 pages.  I have to shake my head because it was never, I repeat never intended to be so comprehensive.

It started with a concept, someone talking about C.I.P.A., a medical condition where people have lost feeling.  Hypothetically, according to the person talking about C.I.P.A., a person with this condition could walk across a field of glass and bleed to death, because they couldn’t feel the pain.  Unless, a thought popped into my head, unless they looked down and realized they were bleeding.  Anyway, this person’s point was that as a society we think it’s a good thing to not feel, but I was all concerned about these people walking across the field, dying, because they didn’t realize they were bleeding.

I wrote a blog post later that week talking about a form of spiritual C.I.P.A. and how when we engage in sin we can quench and grieve the Holy Spirit and his convicting ministry is curbed in our lives (especially as believers).  We stop feeling sin and we become numb to its consequences and we end up dying spiritually.  And I talked about standing on the edge of that “field of glass”, watching people cross over, and having been there myself, pleading with them about the disastrous consequences.

And I left it at that, but the concept had taken hold.  About a year later, I wrote it all down as a short story about a group of field trespassers who face the consequences of that trespass.  Less than six months after that, I decided I could develop the story and characters better, and that’s how The Field became what it is this morning.

A concept turns into a short story and a short story into a book.  A group of people become specific characters with back stories.  It’s honestly the kind of development that drives me crazy, and even though it’s the first time I’ve been successful finishing a book, I really don’t want to write this way ever again.

Which brings me to the wee hours of Saturday morning.  I had just settled down from my finished-with-revisions high and was fixing to fall asleep, when a concept pops into my head.  A mostly-asleep me thinks, “That would make an interesting short story.” I jump out of bed and scribble it down in my writing journal so that I don’t forget about it.  I decide I will spend the next few days working on this short story for fun and return to the novel I’ve been trying to write for several years when I finish it.  On Saturday afternoon, I sit down and start writing this short story for fun.  Then it hits me: this isn’t just a short story.  I mean, for the time being, that’s how I’m going to write it, but I’m not going to be satisfied with it just being a short story.  It’s going to develop into more at some point.

Sorry, novel, you’re just going to have to wait until I figure out how to abbreviate you to a concept, and re-expand you into a short story and then back into a novel.  At this moment, I have no idea how to do that, so I’m going with the idea that’s brewing in my mind, and I’ll come back to you later.  Maybe.

It’s the craziest thing, but I’ve found my writing method.

Don’t forget to enter for your chance to win a copy of The Field here through June 30th, 2014 or purchase your copy today.

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Jesus is King

This is what my thoughts in praise and adoration have been drawn to recently: Jesus is King.  Often, it can be tempting to see Jesus only as the God-Man, as the one who walks with me, the one who knows what I go through because He has been there himself.  And He is that, but Jesus is also King.  That means He has authority, He has power,  He is over and above all things.  He is not just my listening ear and shoulder to cry on, Jesus is worthy of my falling before Him in reverence and awe of who He is, and what He has done.

Hosanna

by Hillsong United

I see the king of glory
Coming on the clouds with fire
The whole earth shakes
The whole earth shakes

Yeah

I see his love and mercy
Washing over all our sin
The people sing
The people sing

Hosanna
Hosanna
Hosanna in the highest

I see a generation
Rising up to take their place
With selfless faith
With selfless faith

I see a near revival
Stirring as we pray and seek
We’re on our knees
We’re on our knees

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks yours
Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

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The Day of Small Things

“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.  ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! … The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands shall also finish it…  For who has despised the day of small things?  For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel'” (Zechariah 4).

This is a plumb line:

plumb line

This is the temple:

Learning not to despise the day of small things.  Small things often mean big things are on the way.

 

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Taking the Whole Writing/Baby Thing to a New Level

I’ve been revising at a breakneck speed of 4,000 words a day.  I need to let my hair down a bit.

Just like babies require a lot of time and attention when they’re delivered, books require a lot of time and attention once they’re “finished” as well.  I take back everything I said about writing a first draft; revising is way more daunting.

Just like babies leave you at some point and go to stay with friends/relatives, or enroll in daycare or school, books eventually have to leave you as well.  You just have to hope their being with someone else doesn’t harm them in anyway, but really you know these interactions with others help them mature.

Then once they get through school, just as most babies-turned-adults-at-some-point-when-you-weren’t-looking go off to college, books eventually go off into the world as well.  You know you’re not able to protect them after that point: criticism is fair game (from absolutely anybody) in our day and age.

I know, I know, dear parents out there: my book is not a living, breathing being.  It’s not even close.  BUT I am tremendously attached to it, and dare I say it, proud of it!  I want it to do well, you know.

Okay, okay.  I’m done now.

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