Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Small = Insignificant {don't believe the lie}

I pulled up this little space on the internet to once again speak about what was in my heart, which I felt was important to speak, for myself and possibly for others.  My thoughts were related to being small, not despising the small, that God came small.  He comes to the poor in Spirit.  He comes to the outcast and always to the broken.

And then my eyes landed on this post written by a man I sometimes read but not always and my focus was turned, at least I thought my focus was turned.  It's all kind of related really, very subtly related.

After reading through My Wife's Plea to Christian Men I recognized a tendency that has developed in the church, the tendency to want to cut off the fruit without addressing the root.  Could there be something that has been forgotten or overlooked?  Maybe the forgotten, the small is really significant and not the other way around.  You see sin, no matter what it looks like, is a big deal and it is always an issue of the heart.

The Gospel is and always has been an issue of the heart.  Every sin we commit, is not simply a fruit that needs to be lopped off, it is an issue IN OUR HEART.  But here's one problem, we don't want to look into our hearts to see the depth of who we really are, to acknowledge the broken places that need attention and need healing.  We don't want to bring the small things of our heart, the secret things of the heart that seem insignificant, out into the light with our spouse or a trusted mentor BEFORE they manifest themselves into the BIG things.  

Two side comments on that last statement:

1.  There is no BIG sin, little sin...she's right when she states:

"This isn't a special sin, it is just sin:  
God-belittling, Christ-mocking, Spirit-despising sin"

That statement applies to ALL our sin...we've just forgotten or maybe we just don't want to remember or admit that our misuse of food or off-hand snarky comment to our friend or selfishness is really sin.  We don't want to pull out our anger issue, or discontentment because we have been deceived into believing that it so small what we really need to do is just cover it with a band-aid so no one can see it until it goes away.  We don't see our desperate need of rescue until our heart manifests itself in some more obvious way.  What we need is not a band-aid but radical surgery, even in regard to the seemingly smaller. less obvious issues in our hidden heart, and not just one time, EVERY.SINGLE.DAY!!

2.  Let's admit what is not happening consistently in the local church ~ there is very little heart to heart, painfully honest, sin confessing, burden bearing, on our knees grieving, side by side mentoring happening in the church at large.  I'm not saying it is NOT happening at all, it is.  It's happening small and secret and God is in those places accomplishing purposes for his kingdom that no one ever sees.  And that's how it has been from the beginning!!!  God came small, to a manger, to the poor and He showed his glory to a few, insignificant, dirty stinky shepherds!!  And He still works the same way!

There is HOPE and POWER in the Gospel.  It's found when we sit with our friends in the more obvious places of brokenness like adultery and porn addition and it's found when we sit with our 4-year old in the midst of her temper tantrum that only a few are aware of.  In both situations there is a HEART issue and the rescue needed in every situation we face, big or small, is provided by the HOPE and POWER of the Gospel through the Spirit of Truth that is alive within us.

If we aren't willing to look to the small issues, there will always be bigger issues eventually.  The infection of sin just sits there underneath the band-aid of secrecy and shame until it festers into something more obvious.  The ONLY way to stop the BIG (more obvious) manifestations of sin is to rip off the band-aid and start confessing your small, seemingly insignificant heart issues to God first, (obviously he already knows your heart anyway), and then to a REAL LIVE PERSON!!!  There is no other way.  We were created for community and relationship and it looks a lot different than just showing up at Bible study on Tuesday morning or Wednesday evening small group or even Thursday Men's prayer time.  If there's not more going on between the men and women in these times of gathering together than discussing the truth of scripture or praying for the needs of the people around you, then we're missing the boat, and we're missing it BIG!!  Keeping the little foxes hidden in the secret depths of our heart is only going to create more of what we see already happening in our easy access, at your fingertips, hidden in the palm of your hand, self gratifying culture of individualism and secrecy.  How WILL it stop?  Well, not by just stopping, that's for sure.  After the infection of sin has grown to the obvious, then sure, you need to stop but what else?  Where do you go from there?  What's the real remedy to the malady of sin and addiction? 

Simple answer? Look in your own heart.  Ask the Spirit to reveal your sin and then confess it, repent and believe the TRUTH about who you are and who God is!!  Live life every day with the understanding that what Tim Keller says is true:

"The gospel is this:  We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope."

And enter into relationship with a trusted human who is sinful just like you and sees their need of Jesus in the small, insignificant, less obvious manifestations of sin in their own life.  After listening to this interview with Tullian Tchividjian I'm tempted to think he might agree with this prescription!

The churning that started my thoughts in regard to what this post turned out to be look quite different than what I first envisioned.  The culmination of this post is birthed out of what is graciously being worked in my own heart that was prompted after interacting with some very special women over the past few weeks.  Women who sit in bedrooms on Sunday afternoon for 2 hours pouring out the small. gut level honest, hard truth about the struggles in her heart.  Women who come and eat and chat till past midnight about what is happening in her heart and life after working a 12 hour shift.  Women who admit that their lives are hard and chaotic and desperately lonely!  Women who love me in my mess and who send me text messages that read:

 "This was encouraging to me--'rather than resenting my weakness,
I believe Jesus is asking me to confess my weakness.  Being poor in spirit doesn't mean despising self but releasing self from the expectation of being anything but poor. Small. Helpless. Worn.'"  (emphasis mine)
 credit Simply Tuesday.  

This nurturing of life doesn't just happen in the lives of women around me, although it seems that women are more accustomed to this type of relating.  It's not impossible for men to move from their head to their heart and be honest with themselves and one another about what's really going on deep down where we forget to look.  But it takes intention, time and an understanding that this little thing is kind of a big thing, that confessing sin and bearing one another's burdens needs to begin with the seemingly small, insignificant sin in our heart.  Small does not equal insignificant.  Maybe seeing that the small is necessary and significant and beneficial and preventative is a beginning to understanding how we got here in the first place.

My heart grieves too over the brokenness I see, not only in the headlines and around me but within my own heart.  Let's preach the Gospel to ourselves over and over and live every day knowing that we are small, needy sinners in need of rescue by a BIG God.




Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Is the Gospel Working for You?

Is the GOSPEL working for you?  

What kind of question is that?  Of course it's working for me, I believed and now I'm free of the penalty of sin and I'm not ever going to die, and, well, yeah, it worked.  

But what about now?  Is is working now?  
Are you being transformed by it's power NOW?  Are you walking in freedom now?

Is freedom even possible?  FREEDOM now, in this life, on this earth?  I want to believe that it is.  When Galatians 5:1 states that "it was for FREEDOM that Christ set us free", I want to believe that living a life of freedom is a definite reality.  But today my heart is grieving over all the bondage I see (in myself and others) and I'm not talking about addiction that is visible because it has come to it's complete end and is manifest for all to see in any number of ways.  I'm talking about people in the church pew, people who go to church, who claim to be disciples of Jesus and yet their indwelling sin is made manifest by the words that proceed out of their mouth.

No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus as Paul declares in Romans 8:1, there is forgiveness and grace and mercy flowing from these words and great sorrow and anguish of heart at what I see being lived out of lives I know have experienced the saving grace of Christ.  

BUT, and I'm not even sure what to write next...that BUT is killing me, grieving my heart and creating anxious prayers for healing and redemption of these things that are only seen in close proximity as life is lived day in and day out. These issues haven't manifested themselves into full blown visible sin, addiction to alcohol or whatever, pornography or infidelity or you name your favorite visible sin state.  These are issues of the heart,  discontentment, anger and frustration, gossip, self-centered actions and words flowing from hearts that point to other things that dwell there, possibly undiscovered and seemingly unchecked.  IF there is knowledge of these hidden things in the heart and confession has been made to someone they trust, there seems to be no turning to Jesus for what is needed to satisfy the weariness of these souls.  There is no healing taking place...forgiveness ABSOLUTELY but what about HEALING...what about living in freedom and killing these disgusting little foxes that will spoil the vine?  And that is exactly what these little hidden issues (lest we call them what they are) have the potential to do.  Big sin starts in the heart...no one wakes up one day and says, "hey I think I'll have an affair today".  That sounds so silly but it's so very true.  There is danger lurking in OUR HEARTS, not all around us as we seemingly believe...IT IS INSIDE OF US!!!  WE have the potential to participate in the most grotesque sin our minds can fathom, the one we've said, "I would NEVER do that".  Get a grip, Yes, you would and so would I.  

So, what's the cure?  How do we defeat the sin inside of us?  How do we attain this elusive freedom?  Here's something for ya, YOU ALREADY HAVE IT, you're just not walking in it!!!  Our freedom was purchased the day Jesus nailed our sin to the cross.  But HOW do we "walk in freedom"?  

QUIT HIDING!!!  
We hide, just like Adam and Eve in the garden, we're hiding from God and our friends and 
constructing our suit of fig leaves to cover our shame!! 


The ways in which we come out of hiding and own our sin look different for everyone but the effect is the same.  When we bring our hidden sin out into the light, when we name it and turn to Jesus, and are accountable to someone (a counselor, a recovery group) there is power then to heal.  That's when you gain the POWER of the Gospel to overcome these little annoying personality straits that seem like they're just who you are...name them, call sin sin and experience healing and the power of the Gospel to CHANGE YOU!!  

Please read this with the understanding that the writer is still working diligently, pursuing freedom, confessing sin to sisters in Christ and turning to Jesus for the power to live free of my annoying sin habits.  I am THANKFUL beyond measure for women in my life (and a wonderful professional counselor) who not only believe the Gospel, they live out the Gospel to me every day!!  They love me in all my brokenness and walk with me as I trudge through this life living out of my wounded broken self.  They, are merciful and forgiving and welcoming and I will be eternally grateful for the community God is building!! 
You Girls ROCK!!!
To the rest I leave you with these words:

You're FORGIVEN

BE FREE!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Monday Mahem

For the tired Mommas on  a Monday~

Mondays are always hard.  After the weekend Mondays are just, well Mondays.  We all know what it looks like to have a "Monday".

I bet your Monday activities were pretty ordinary as Mondays go.  Meaning the kids woke up earlier than expected because after a full weekend they will surely sleep a little longer...not a chance!!  For some reason, unknown to anyone but them, they would rather play with their food than eat it, and can anyone explain why they feel the need to pull out every toy in the toy box only to play with it five minutes before moving on to something a little more interesting and why is one outfit a day an unreasonable request.  They ask a million and one questions that come from who knows where, that you confidently answer but learn in a nano second the answer you gave was obviously insufficient because immediately out of their mouth spills yet another demanding a response.  One minute they are reading quietly on the bed until they realize you've left the room and are conversing with someone else and they feel the need to scream your name at the top of their lungs just to make sure you haven't been transported through that smart phone never to be seen again.  Oh how these little episodes seem to unravel the nerves of Mommas everywhere!

I wish during those seemingly endless days of struggle and frustration I could give you a little glimpse into the life of a sweet Momma I know. I bet she would give her right arm to feel frustration over some of your Monday mayhem.  You see, her little man has been battling cancer for a while now.  This little bald dude isn't doing the normal things that cause the frustration to loom as you navigate yet another day of mundane Monday mayhem.   He has been in the hospital numerous times, without his siblings to hit over the head or punch or swipe their favorite snack while they aren't looking.  He has been fighting for his life.  He is better now, finished with his chemo and before long his Momma will be experiencing the same type of "normal" Mondays you other Moms are having, with one exception; She probably won't be aggravated by the questions or frustrated with her disorderly house because of his playing or spilling.  She will most likely be THANKFUL that her little man is there living and breathing, fighting with his siblings and spilling his cereal on the floor!!  She has learned something very valuable over the past year; life is short, kids get sick, we take for granted what normal looks like.  We grumble and complain because we don't see that we have so much to be thankful for!  The endless days of instructing and loving and teaching and mothering don't seem so overwhelming when you understand that they are gifts, gifts of grace.  You could be at a hospital in another state waiting with your little one whose tummy is grumbling because the test he's supposed to have requires an empty stomach and he hasn't been able to eat and they don't have what they need for the test so he has to wait longer and longer until he finally falls asleep exhausted and hungry!!  You could be watching as the nurse assigned to him for the day inserts yet another needle into his little 3 year old arm so that he can receive yet another dose of something that is supposed to cure but will most likely make him severely sick and uncomfortable before it does any real good.  You could be sleeping in a hospital chair night after night while someone else cares for your other children 150 miles away because YOU are his Momma and he needs you with him so he isn't afraid.

So, at the end of your Monday or beginning of your Tuesday, take a little time to consider what your days could look like and be THANKFUL for the endless questions, the piles of clothes in the floor and the sibling rivalry that never seems to end.  Life is short, it can change in an instant.  Your once "normal" activities can quickly be replaced by trips to other towns where hospitals know more, have more and can do more, where you sleep in a chair and go days eating take out and wishing you could go back to the way it used to be because as hard as that was, THIS seems intolerable.

Oh, and one more thing, you're doing a GREAT job Mom!!  Shaping the minds and hearts of young ones is something to be proud of, to be considered profitable and important!!  Mothering is demanding and exhausting and endlessly rewarding on the other side.  Take a deep breath and before your know it, your nest will be empty and your days will be filled with quiet reflection on days gone by all too quickly!!

This momma writes from a heart full of memories of little girls who have grown into fine women!!  xoxo

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