Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Enemy in the Mirror

I have a love/hate relationship with Christian TV. Sorry to say it, but most of the people on there, IMO, are wackos. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, I'm sooo judgemental. Everything I hate about Christians. Might as well say I'm a hypocrite, too, which is just fine, because I know I probably am one. Oh well. I'm digressing. There are a few shows I DO enjoy, like Joyce Meyer. She's way cool. She's like me, only older and smarter. ;) But I like how she thinks.

Anyway, she's been doing this series on Be Yourself . I highly recommend clicking the link and scrolling to it to listen. So since you're going to listen to it, I don't need to sum up, except to say this.

How much of the enemies we see in our lives are really ourselves? Our own perceptions? Worse, how much is really the thing we see in others that we lack in ourselves-that we wish had? Or maybe it's the thing we hate about ourselves that we can see more clearly because it's illustrated by someone else and we're too blind to see that we hate it about ourselves?

Just wondering...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

All you can do is... PRAY

It seems like this theme keeps hitting me over the head a lot lately. Here we are, locked in battles against people and situations we desperately want to change. As much as we want these things, the truth is only God can change people's hearts. It would be nice to transform an enemy into a friend. Sometimes, it happens. And sometimes, you have to wait and watch God.

It sucks, though. You sit and wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. Did I mention waiting.

It's tempting to take matters into your own hands, as Sarah did in having Abraham sleep with her maidservant. But that didn't fulfill God's promise, it only made their lives messier.

So you pray. And wait. And Pray. And wait some more. And pray some more.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Thoughts I wanted to share about the Ted Haggard deal

I originally posted this on another forum I belong to, but it made me realize one of the biggest enemies I pray for all the time-ourselves. Our society. Our views on the world and Christianity that keep us from fully knowing and understanding Christ. Our eyes are so full of garbage and judgement and all sorts of stuff that shouldn't be there that we are not focused on Him. We desperately need prayer for ourselves, because condemning a man for his sins is not what Christ taught us.


Wow... I've been really pondering this since it (Ted Haggard's deal) happened, because the day after the news hit, I read an article where a woman was interviewed about it as she left the church. What she said broke my heart-she said that because of this man's actions, she will never enter another church again.

A few years ago, our pastor resigned due to an "ongoing sin" in his life. We never learned the details, but I watched as our congregation dwindled away... disillusioned by a man they thought was supposed to be perfect. They didn't even know what he supposedly did. He sinned.

And the thing that keeps getting me is that we forget-these people are human. They're on this pedastal for being pastors or worship leaders or whatever. We expect perfect, and our vision of God relies on who they are and what they do.

Um... NO!

The only perfect human being, the only perfect example of God was this guy named Jesus. And funny thing, he actually WAS (or is IS the proper way to put that?) God.

Do I think that as Christians, our lives should be transformed? Absolutely. But as some of you constantly remind me when I'm beating myself up for messing up or not being "there" yet, transformation is a process. I'm starting to realize that the transformation is not yet complete until we walk through those pearly gates and into the arms of our Father. Which means we will always be dealing with some sin in our lives, or more correctly, God will be dealing with some sin in our lives.

I think what saddens me most is that people like Haggard or my former pastor or every other leader in ministry who struggles with hidden sin is that they feel like they have to hide it. Why, as brothers and sisters in Christ, do we not have accountability with each other? Why can't we help each other through our struggles? Partly, I think it's our own pride, saying, "what will they think of me if I tell..." But I also think that in many cases, we've created a culture where we expect perfection. It's a cycle that feeds on itself-we expect certain behavior, and they feel they can't come clean because they know they don't meet our expectations.

Sin is sin no matter what. As the article that sparked this discussion pointed out, sexual sin is pretty obvious. But what about other sin? I am constantly (and still struggling with, mind you) being convicted of Matthew 5:22 "22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." Why aren't we in arms over pastors and leaders who do that sort of thing? Why aren't we shocked and leaving churches? Why aren't we outraged at the moral crisis in America?

It's okay to have other sins that erode at our hearts and our souls, but it's not okay to have sexual sin? That's not okay with me. And yet, that seems to be the message that America is eating up over and over. Is it any wonder that we're bombarded with attacks from nonChristians? From their perspective, we've made it abundantly clear that we won't tolerate sexual sin, and we loudly condemn anyone who participates in those immoral acts. And as long as we don't do those things ourselves, anything else is permissible. We can be a really terrible mean person, so long as we don't cross the big, bad sex line. What is wrong with us?

I'm glad to see this discussion, because it's been really running in my mind a lot lately. I'm outraged, and I've been holding it in, which is probably not a good thing. I'm not outraged at Haggard, but at us. I'm outraged that we're outraged.

Okay, I'm stopping, I promise. I keep thinking of more stuff and getting madder, which is probably not a good thing. Or maybe it is. I don't know. I feel like I need to do something, and I don't know what, and maybe that's why I've kept it bottled up. ARGH. I hate this. I need to stop stewing and start doing, or something. Yeah, I know. I should probably give it to that God guy, eh? ;)


I guess, or rather I hope, that while some people get weirded out with my openness, that I do so with purpose. I'm not ranting for my health or for the fun of it, but because I hope that when people look at my life, they see someone genuinely pursuing a relationship with Christ, and isn't afraid to put my garbage out there. What you see is what you get-or at least that's my attempt. You know about my homicidal tendencies, you know about my temper, you know about the mean thoughts in my heart that I fervently pray to be rid of. I'm not perfect, and I hope that my friends and fellow travellers on this journey, when they see me claiming to be, would smack me upside the head and tell me what a big fat dummy I am. Because I am striving for that greater prize. I hope that whatever I say or do and whatnot, that it would be an encouragement to others. We aren't perfect, but we are being made perfect. And it is only through the blood of Christ that it can be done. Take courage, fellow travellers.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The old ghosts from our pasts....


Last night, I went to an alumni event my college sponsored. Now allow me to illuminate some of my not-so finer qualities. Hubby was asking why this is the first alumni event we'd attended. I finally had to admit that well, I didn't like most of the people I went to college with. Ouch, I know. It's okay, they didn't like me all that much either. *gags*

So there we were, and one of the first people I spotted was this girl, a rather nasty sort-you know, the perfect hair-do, pearls, preppy sweater, yada yada yada. She and I never mixed well, given that I'm a jeans and t-shirt sort of girl and could neve stomach that whole perfectly made up look.

I did not talk to her-after all, what do you say to a girl you'd disliked throughout college for no particular reason except for the fact that she was a little too perfect for you to imagine yourself being friends with her. In fact, I'm not even sure she'd remember who I was, given that most of our college years were spent passing each other in the halls with her looking down her long, aristocratic nose at me.

But it did get me to thinking-why do I dislike her so much? Other than that whole Stepford wife perfection thing that she seems to do so well?

The truth is, I don't know her at all. I did Google her, out of curiosity. I found out a couple of things-one, she's a total rocket scientist. Had no idea about THAT one. And two, she's involved in all sorts of civic organizations and whatnot. On one hand, it's exactly what I'd expect of Miss, er Mrs. Perfect-chairwoman of such and such committee, donating her time to all these worthy organizations. And I thought, well, maybe I can see a little of why I'd dislike someone like that. I mean, I'd love to do stuff like that, but really, it's all I can do to keep my head above water, let alone try to organize some big charity function.

But as I thought about it, I realized something else. Yes, her name is on all these charities and projects and stuff. But that doesn't mean she's a good person. It doesn't even mean she's a happy person. Of all the things I remember most about her, and probably the biggest reason I picked her out of the crowd, is that she constantly walks around with this look of dissatisfaction on her face. The most striking thing about this girl, and probably the very basic reason why I never liked her, is that she always looks at you like you were a bug that just got squished on her windshield.

And I had to wonder, as much as her name is bandied about on all these things that should impress the general population, has it filled whatever it is inside her that needs to be filled? Because I have to think, that if a person looks that unhappy all the time, maybe she is, in fact, unhappy. Have you ever met someone who was just happy? There's this lady in my bible study, and she is going through a whole boatload of crap right now. But she has always got a smile on her face. There's just this joy radiating from her. If you ask her, she'll tell you it's Jesus.

While I can assure you that Miss Priss I Just Ate A Bug Face is a regular attender of church, and her name, along with her husband's, appears very prominently on all the "right" lists of those serving at a particular church, I wonder, does she really know Jesus?

Now I want to be clear here, I do not know her, I do not know her relationship with God, and this is all PURE speculation. But I'm trying to look into the heart of someone I don't know. Someone I don't like. And somehow, insert myself into her shoes so that I can feel a little compassion for her.

Even though I would name her as an enemy, the real enemy is me. Because maybe, the truth is, as much as I want her perfect image to have some crack, something to make her real and relatable to me, perhaps, the real enemy is me. And how I look at her. How I've spent so long not seeing her as a human being, but as some weird freak of nature to roll my eyes at and wonder if such perfection exists.

Maybe she looks at me as "the other". The sort of freak of a person who never looks well put together, can't keep anything organized, even if it's attached to her, and can spout off on just about anything, but has never done anything constructive with her life.

The funny thing about enemies, is that the more we see them as "the other", the more labels we slap on them, the easier it is to continue to hate them. She is a wife. She is a mother. She helps our community. She attends church. Maybe we don't have everything in common, but at least I can look at her as a human being. What she has in common with every other person I dislike (at least for the most part) is that lack of relatability-the fact that I don't see her, or them, as human beings. They are "the others".

Lord, forgive me. I pray that someday, I can come to an understanding of these people, maybe not in the sense that we get together for playdates and have tea on a regular basis, but at least in the sense that I can look at them with Christ's eyes, and love them. I pray that they will come to a closer relationship with Christ, and whatever emptiness is there, if there is in fact, emptiness, that He will fill it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I don't know how much folks follow celebrity news. Honestly, I try not to. However, when I went on one of my obsessive election checks at our local news site, the big news was not how my favorite candidates are doing, but that Britney Spears has filed for divorce.

It hit me with a strange morbidity because when I started this blog, I began praying for her. I've never liked her. I think her music is terrible and she's a horrible example to young women in how she publicly acts and dresses. I don't know her as a person, and I've always felt guilty for disliking someone like that. And while I can't say I've seen or heard anything about her husband that's made me like him either (I know, I'm such a mean you know what), I will say that divorce is not something I'd wish on her or anyone.

The news reports all call it inevitable. And that breaks my heart. Maybe because it's true, but mostly because it shouldn't be.

Why is a marriage, especially one that's only two years old, so easily thrown away?

I still pray for Britney. I pray for her husband. I pray for her children. I pray that God will be with them as they deal with this tough situation and He will bring healing to them. I also pray that the public will give them the space to do so.

The thing that makes me the sickest over the whole thing is I caught part of her interview with Matt Lauer, and while I definitely thought she was way over the top, she made some good points about privacy. Everything she does, everything he does, is judged by a group of people who don't even know them. It has to be hard to wake up to daily comments in the media about being a bad mom or married to a loser and all the other horrible things people say about them. Because I am the research queen, and they still don't have status reports about the election up, I read a few of the articles about the divorce. It sickened me to read the comments-on two blogs alone, there were over a thousand. The worst were the ones that read something like, "Now that you've gotten rid of the loser, you can go back to God."

EXCUSE ME? Oh, you poor pathetic idiots who have the audacity to call yourselves Christians. And yeah, my words are probably not the most Christian thing to say, but it is righteous anger-and maybe one day, I'll learn the nice Jesus-y way to express it.

I honestly and sincerely pray for all the people who think that the dissolution of this marriage is their own personal party time or have some warped idea that this somehow advances whatever bizarre agenda they have. I pray for the hearts of people who would rejoice at the sorrow of Britney, Kevin, and their children.

But my greatest prayer is for marriage. I hate that we live in a world where divorce is so easy, and it's the automatic solution to our problems. Not that I think it's always bad-obviously, if a person is being abused, they need out. I was watching something on Daystar one night where it talked about divorce and why God hates divorce. God hates divorce because it hurts people.

This divorce-it hurts in more ways than we can possibly imagine. There's the normal hurt of any divorce-and it makes me sick to call any hurt from divorce "normal". There is nothing about divorce that is normal. But they will have to endure the hurtful words of people who know nothing about them, who've never spent a day living in their shoes. The rest of us-we will have to watch the sideshow as other, more important issues like an election get brushed to the side. As we make our bets on what next mess will happen in their lives, we dehumanize them just a little bit more. In so doing, we dehumanize ourselves a little more.

Lord, forgive us.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Why I don't pray negative

I had a minor debate with a friend a while back-she was saying that she hoped that certain businesses would go out of business and that she prayed for it regularly. I took the whole sharing the love of Jesus approach and said that I don't pray negative things. She argued back about how there is Biblical evidence on smiting one's enemies. And yeah,I see it. In an OT framework.

But still, I can't seem to bring myself to wish or pray negative for others, even those who are deserving of it, in my opinion. It seems to work out that when I act in accordance with those bad feelings, it always backfires. I could say, "dear lord, this scum sucking pig is embezzling millions, please have them exposed and brought to justice." Never fails, but usually the opposite of what I want to happen ends up happening. Scum sucking pig will get off.

Which leads me to the next bothersome issue of praying negative. You reap what you sow. Funny thing about that is that if you're sowing negative thoughts, you're bound to reap them. I've already gotten a lot of negative yucky stuff. I don't want or need any more in my life.

So today, That Man was asking my opinion about our friend's divorce. No longer on the reconciliation bandwagon, but out for blood. And at first, I was slightly irritated with God about why He had me interceding and thinking that I was making a difference only to have this come up again. Fortunately, God is good about reminding of things like the real point of prayer-conversing with Him and getting to know His heart. Anyway, friend out for blood was mentioning that the other party has done some bad things that technically could have some charges filed. That Man wanted to know what I thought. My thought is this: absolutely, the one party did wrong. But the judge is smart enough to figure it out on his own, and has, in fact already done so to some extent. Right now, our friend is the victim. By not fighting dirty back, it exposes the evil of the other party-but by repaying the deeds eye for eye, so to speak, it makes our friend no better than the other person. And in stooping to that level, it is no longer about what's right, but about revenge. Revenge doesn't really have a place in the heart of a Christ follower.

Which brings me to my final, and somewhat unrelated, thought about praying negative. It seems like every time I think in the direction of wishing something bad would happen to one of my enemies, they end up getting the things I want the most. For example, this one gal who is just plain rude to me and likes to throw the fact that she's got a very wealthy hubby in my face. I remember thinking one day about how it would serve her right to have that fall apart somehow so that she could understand what it meant to live like ordinary folk. Shortly thereafter, he bought her a brand-new house that was simply gorgeous. The exact layout that I've always wanted for myself. Coincidence? I don't believe in it. As I look at the situations where I've been negatively inclined towards people, they end up with my stuff. Not the bad stuff, the good stuff-the stuff I've always wanted, but never gotten.

I have to ask God, why do you keep doing this? And I'm starting to realize that He's doing what He can to get my attention. Yes, they are mean, nasty, icky, yucky people. But He loves them. He wants to bless them. And I had a much larger point to go with it, except that I'm so sleepy, all I can remember is that my bed is really comfy and has clean sheets. I think it has something to do with the idea that He wants me to see things with His heart. He wants me to learn to love them as He does, and to be able to rejoice with Him over their triumphs. Uhhh... yeah. I'm not making sense now, am I?

Time for bed.