Rabbit trails and winding paths…

I think this post should just be called “Random Stream of Consciousness”. All the thoughts flowing through my mind today spilled into my journal. I thought I’d share a sampling, just to give you some insight into the person behind the blog.

When I was in seminary, blogging was a relatively new phenomenon. I loved it; it helped me flesh out all the ideas and concepts I was learning prior to committing them to paper for a grade. My first “digital journal” if you will. Blogging then was much different than blogging now, but I still feel the need to wade into the blogosphere waters. It seems that in my pursuit of seeking understanding, I have lost my way as I try to get myself out of this theological sludge that presently surrounds me. I am tired of living for other people, but I feel trapped in this pattern. What do I do?

This is what I do: I begin to redefine what it means to follow Jesus, incorporating what I have learned, and letting go of things I cling to that I know are not correct. And it is time to own my faith, for better or worse, instead of looking to everyone else in the theological universe to tell me what to believe. The balance is delicate because I am not advocating closing myself off from all voices of influence and wisdom. What I am saying is that those voices of wisdom can come from different corners of the Christian world, and I need not be so dogmatic about it all.

Example from my political life: Although I tend to lean left, I am not a hardcore liberal. In terms of public policy and the definition of government protection of its citizens, I am what would be considered liberal. Protection in this view would be more than just military might, but also programs that provide safety nets for the least and most vulnerable. I find it ironic that organizations that scream the loudest that we need to reclaim our “Christian heritage”, poo-poo such liberal ideas – ideas that Jesus Himself spoke about when talking about separating the sheep and the goats. But, I digress…

Where I depart from liberal ideas are the social issues of marriage and family. In those areas, I am a conservative. I have tried to twist the Bible into a pretzel to justify SSA and marriage and I just can’t. I also cannot countenance the myriad justifications for abortion. None of them hold water for me.

However…I am not a social crusader for either of these issues. What I mean is, I cannot jump on the conservative bandwagon of trying to legislate homosexuality or abortion away. Quite frankly, I don’t think it can be done. More importantly, I don’t think that is what Jesus meant when He commissioned us to go and make disciples. To the contrary, I believe that this combative stance that is constantly railing about what we’re against undermines our true purpose as followers of Jesus, which is to show Christ’s love as He draws people to Himself. This is not a capitulation to the world’s ideas and ideals; it is a bit a realism that laws can only go so far. I am fully convinced that our mission as believers will necessarily clash with the society in which we live. We seek the welfare of that land; but for me, the cause of winning people to Jesus overrides the need for a society that matches my own moral code and is actually a deeper and more fruitful way of seeking its welfare. We simply cannot legislate belief.

And so, to those on the left, I do not go far enough in my liberalism. But to those on the right, I go too far. But for me, my desire is to love people and share God’s truth with them. I don’t need a law to do that, and to some degree, I believe that laws will actually hinder that process, especially when the people behind such laws are fellow believers. Love them into the Kingdom; let God do the hard work of changing them. We can’t do that, and no law ever will.

I digress again…

I use this as an illustration of the grey areas that bridge the distance between black and white answers on so many issues. In theory, things can be clean and neat; but life is not theory, and things are never so clean. Decisions have unintended consequences; lives and hearts and minds and feelings make life messy. Beyond the pages of a blog or a book, or beyond the steps of a platform or a chamber of Congress, life bears out the marks of those consequences, intended or not, in stark relief. We can never know all the consequences of a given decision or action; but we must own them all the same, regardless of intention.

The consequence of my own decisions is the big ball of confusion that is my inner life at the moment. I’ve chased the rabbit trails through winding paths, tossing to and fro with every wind of doctrine, seeking solace in this truth or that system. I want all the answers; I want the systematic categories to perfectly fit together.  If there is a sermon outline, I’m the one who must have all the blanks filled in or I have a breakdown. Doesn’t quite matter as much that I actually understood what was said. How completely backward, right?

I live in my head much of the time. I love figuring things out and systematizing ideas and beliefs. I want to be consistent from one issue to another. I don’t like loose ends and unanswered questions. But faith does not always satisfy the desire for certainty. By its very nature, it cannot – faith is not needed if you know all the things. Never mind the fact that I am a finite created being that can’t possibly know all the things. Minor detail.

Perhaps this current path to wholeness requires that I give up my quest for certainty in all things, answers to all questions. Perhaps this path to wholeness is acceptance of mystery, unanswered question, and paradoxical truth. I find myself in utter dependence on God when I understand the least; I cry out to Him when the questions are the most pressing. I reach and stretch and hope and pray and desire when He is hidden in mysteries.

Christianity is not merely a set of beliefs, but a way of being, a way of living, a way of being present in this world. Something I can’t quite grasp apart from living it out with brothers and sisters, no matter how many systematic theology books I digest or Bible translations I read.

This turns everything on its head for me, for my current categories do not fit the direction I’m going…

Broken crayons, patience, and grace…

I used to love getting that brand new box of crayons at the beginning of each school year. You would have thought I’d won the lottery. And those few times I was able to convince my parents to get me the big 64-color box with the sharpener on the back? Watch out! I was in heaven!

The frustrating thing for me was that those crayons wouldn’t stay “new” for long. As I would use them, they would slowly wear away, or worse, get broken. I wasn’t much for coloring with broken crayons. Even that fancy sharpener on the back of the box couldn’t fix that. And so I would long for the next school year to start, or for that magic moment when my crayons looked too awful and I would appeal to my parents for a new box.

At times, we can treat our lives and our relationships in this same fashion. That breathless feeling of a new relationship; the promise of a new job; or the excitement of moving to a new city can be intoxicating. But when that newness wears away, we can sometimes start to fade away. We can get restless and impatient, and our wanderlust kicks in as we search for the next new and exciting thing to give us that euphoric feeling again.

Life cannot be this way all the time. Life is not an endless stream of adventure and new things. Much of life is slow and steady. Predictable. Normal. Ordinary.

This year, the Lord has been walking me through this idea of ordinariness. There is nothing wrong with being “ordinary”, especially when you consider what ordinary means. It is in the normal ebb and flow of life that roots form and deepen, habits are formed, relationships are established and fortified, and commitments are confirmed. Even the process of writing requires that steady, methodical rhythm of routine and discipline. Ah yes…the “D” word. How we love that. Patient, steady faithfulness requires it.

Don’t despise the ordinary in your life. God uses it to bring depth and color to your life. Much of our lives will be filled with these large spaces of simple, faithful living. Walking out or callings or vocations, loving our families, cultivating our friendships, taking care of our homes. We need patience and grace to fulfill this calling, to fill these spaces with the rich color of faithfulness and dedication. Integrity and character.

This is the thing about broken crayons: they are great for filling in large spaces with deep, rich color. You need a sharp edge to make sure you are coloring “within the lines”; but to fill in that big spaces, the soften wedge of a broken crayon cannot be matched. We need our broken crayons. We need those parts of our lives that feel broken, ordinary, or mundane, to fill out our character and grow us up. As we walk through this life, it is easy for us to feel like those crayons, once so sharp and new, being broken and worn and frayed. But oh, how rich the color our lives can bring to our world if we surrender our brokenness to the Lord and faithfully walk with Him.

More later…until then, grace and peace…


Technical Difficulties…

So, my journey with Blogger has officially come to an end. The functionality of Blogger is just not conducive to what I’d like to do with this page. So I am in the process of moving my blog and domain over to WordPress.

More to come…stay tuned!

Random, mini-tirade, breakdown, and all around rant…

This is the deal: I want the Reformed Theology stuff without the Complementarian (CM) baggage. Does that make sense? I’m tired of this CM/EG (Egalitarian – sorry I love acronyms) fight. It’s getting old. Older than old. Rickety. It’s making me crotchety. I don’t like being crotchety. But now I’m crotchety.

The tentacles of the so-called New Calvinists and all their friends are spread throughout American Evangelicalism (AE) and they are CM freaks. I do NOT believe this is a Gospel issue. It is not central to the Gospel, or a requirement for believing the Gospel. This fight is a distraction in my eyes – a distraction to the very real and present dangers that face us in this world, and in our churches. While we are parsing out what a woman can and cannot do during a worship service, people are becoming disillusioned with church, abused by church, or otherwise disenfranchised because of our witness. All that can be seen from the outside is fighting and quibbling. Scratching and scraping for position and power. 
All the things they see in the world. 
What is our witness? What do we stand for? Do we simply stand for defining what man and woman should be and do? Do we simply stand for a list of things that we are against? How about what we’re for? 
I’ve grown tired. Tired of the theological drama that ensues on a daily basis in blog land. It is part of the reason my love for blogging is being slowly strangled to death. One wrong word, one wrong phrasing, and even if you are an unknown nobody, you can blow up and be blown up by the word/theology police. The invisible Evangelical Magisterium that have appointed themselves as the theology police for all of Evangelicalism. 
And this is not a tirade against rigorous theological reflection. But how many extra “essentials” are we going to add onto being saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone? There are too many strings attached. It’s too burdensome. It’s too exhausting. Perhaps I care too much? Not enough? Depends on who you would ask. But this woman, who once craved theological study and was passionate enough to spend two years of her life studying it, has lost her mojo. I want it back.
That’s my story for today…

Yes, I’m still here!!

I promise; I’m still here.

Just doing some spring cleaning of the soul, and it has slowed progress. And changed a few things. 
When the idea for this blog first came about, I was angry. I would never have characterized myself as such, but it is true. For personal reasons that if the Lord so leads I will share at some point, as well as things happening in my country and the world, anger seeped into my heart and took root. Outrage was the order of the day. Not a good place from which to encourage. 
In the intervening months, I have done a lot of soul searching. As I was spring cleaning my closets, the Lord was spring cleaning my soul and revealing some not so nice things. They had to be expelled before I could move forward. 
So I come to this mile marker and I see the road bending in a slightly different direction. My first thought was that my focus would be women, and the myriad ways we are given dangerous messages about ourselves from both the world and the church. Then another subject that hits close to home for me began to creep into my mind, that of race and ethnicity. Then the whole married/single dilemma cast a shadow on my thoughts, leading me in that direction. I found myself unable to focus. 
It seemed that I was asking questions that I either was not finding answers for, or I was finding answers and didn’t like them. 
And then I happened upon Psalm 131 and these words leaped off the page: O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. (vv. 1-2)
After marinating in this short psalm, the following thoughts occurred to me: I have been demanding answers to questions God has never promised He would answer. I need His help to no longer concern myself with that which He has chosen not to reveal, those things that are beyond me, that are infinite and therefore can never be grasped by my finite mind. I will always seek, I will always wonder…that is part of what makes me who I am. But I must trust the answers He gives, that they are enough. That He knows better than I. 
So…my initial purpose in writing has been completely transformed. The theme is the same: Encourage to wholeness. We are broken; our world is broken. And Jesus came to put things back together again. 
We are all broken in any number of ways; we all need to be restored to wholeness. And so I want this space to be about that. About the journey to wholeness. I’m still on the road of discovery in terms of where this will lead me. I will likely touch on all the subjects I mentioned above and more. Wholeness entails the whole person, no stone un-turned. It is a process that lasts a lifetime, and its chief end is to conform us to the image of the One we worship…

More to come; until then, grace and peace… 

Coming soon…

I know…it has been a long time! I can almost sense the words echoing through an empty terrrain. Is there anyone still out there?

I hope that changes soon.

I’ve moved some things around and have made some changes. Not only has the name of this blog changed; the direction has changed. And it corresponds directly with the changes that have been happening in my heart.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…for now I would just ask that you hang tight and stay tuned. There is more to come.

See you soon!