Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘condemnation’

cup of waterThis is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing. [Matthew 10:41-42, The Message]

Am I the only one who has a little put-down voice inside? Of course, back in the day (BC), that voice had a heyday on others, but the tables have turned and I’m getting my due: the voice is putting me down relentlessly. No matter what I do or say, the voice is busy. Either I am too late, too early, too fat, too loud, too predictable, too repetitive, too sharp, too flat, too comical, too serious and on and on and on. Oh, she’s a busy little voice.

And when it comes to giving (whether it’s my time, money, or energy), it’s never enough (or lately, too much). When Mike and I switched back to tithing in late Fall, the voice choked for a bit, but then she started nitpicking at me (particularly after Mike died): what about that reimbursement check for mileage, did you tithe on that? And what about that dinner your brother bought you, did you tithe on that? What about Mike’s retirement checks or his sick leave or his annual leave? Pick, pick, pick.

Every time I volunteer for a task or good cause, the voice complains about the time I’m wasting, what kind of volunteer watches “Law and Order” instead of serving? Or, look at so and so, now that’s a committed person. If someone needs a meal, the voice mocks me, “I hope you’re not making that stupid casserole again.” If I am out several nights of the week, volunteering or working, the voice asks me about my priorities. Sigh.

It’s a lose-lose with that voice.

other voiceIt’s time to shut her down. I’m not 100% sure how to do that and I welcome your suggestions. But my heart knows two things:

  1. I’m not alone with this problem.
  2. God appreciates every gift given from the heart, both great and small.

I need to focus on the other Presence, right? I declare right now, I’m giving the Holy Spirit full authority over that other voice. Put a dome over her!

Take my mustard seed, Lord, and make it a tree. Take my small gift and use it for good.

Read Full Post »

smhNot as popular as the ubiquitous LOL, but SMH is appearing more and more in text messages and Facebook comments. And here, in one of the oldest books of the Bible, Job says it too:

I also could speak like you,
    if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
    and shake my head at you. [Job 16:4, NIV]

The Voice translation gives the verse a little more clarity:

If we were to trade places,
        I could rattle on as you do.
    I could compose eloquent speeches as you do
        and shake my head smugly at you and your problems. [Job 16:4, The Voice]

And there it is: shake my head smugly at you. Job is calling out his friends for what they are really doing, which is judging him. And quite honestly, so is every SMH. It’s a subtle put-down but a put-down all the same.

I have never liked the book of Job much with its speech after speech after speech, pretty much saying the same thing over and over again. It reminds me of a one of my colleagues long ago with whom I completely disagreed, and yet despite my authority to say “no” and my opinion (shared by others), she would continue to state her case, first in one way and then in another, as though, the wording alone would finally break through my dense skull. I kept saying, “I understand what you are saying but I disagree with you all the same.” She could not fathom how I could possibly disagree, surely I wasn’t understanding the “truth” she was imparting. And she would begin again.

But perhaps this story sticks in my mind because I am guilty of it myself. Perhaps I am SMH, if not physically, then emotionally or privately. Whether overt or secret, I am still holding court in my mind.

I am not Job in this story, I am one of the friends. And I’m not liking it much, this realization.

Solution? None. At least, not at this point, except for awareness and I suppose that’s worth something. And certainly, the next time I am tempted to SMH, I will think twice and look back into the root of it.

Read Full Post »

mistakesIt’s not really a question, though, is it? It is an accusation. The person asking has already made a judgment about the event or act and it’s a matter of drawing attention to it. Even God used this phrase against Adam and Eve? Instead of “What?” I think “Look” would be a better addition: “Look what you have done.” Wake up!

Genesis 31:25-26a
Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead when Laban overtook him, and Laban and his relatives camped there too. Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? . . . “

Of course, in Laban’s world, everything was about him. His accusation was based on his perceived loss, not of loved ones (despite his saying so), but of his household gods and the good fortune he had had while Jacob was working for him. Laban knew that God was with Jacob and in those twenty years, he had benefited from it. With Jacob’s departure, he feared his losses. And so the phrase gets longer: Look what you have done to me?

When God said, “what have you done?” he was bringing awareness. He alone can do this. When people say it to each other, take care. It’s generally self-motivated.

Perhaps there’s a small hope in the speaker’s mind, that circumstances are not what they seem, a small hope that the beloved one did not really cheat on his/her spouse or get caught with drugs or drunk while driving. Maybe it’s a prayer: please God don’t let it be true.

But, in the end, the answer is already out there. It’s a rhetorical question really. And for that reason, don’t bother. It’s all for effect!

Here’s the really sad part. I hear this question all the time. At least, in my mind. It’s the accuser of course, not God at all. But that’s what I hear when I err. This is a question I must cast aside today. It has no healing and no awareness for me.

Instead, I choose to hear, “What will you do next?”

Read Full Post »

Some people call it writer’s block, but for me,  it’s more like malaise. I looked it up: “a vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort.” I’ve had it for the last month (or more) and I have put less than 500 words (or prayers) to page. This is not good. I need to get back on some solid ground.

Psalm 40:2
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Here’s a bit of confession: I haven’t felt like writing. It’s a grievous mistake, I know, because writing (like prayer) cannot be done out of feelings alone. It’s a discipline. A persistence. A slogging-on despite the circumstances. My favorite metaphor for endurance and doggedness leaps up: the tortoise of Tortoise & Hare fame. But you see, I have given way to the Hare again, round and round and round I go, no closer to the finish line, and off the path.

Another confession: if I am not writing, you can assume I’m not praying. The two have gone hand in hand for the last several  years and apparently, the Muse has departed, the Spirit hides behind a cloud, and the galloping horse of time has whipped through my apparently delicate balance of personal retreat with both God and Muse and daily life.

It’s not that daily life is a bad thing. I’ve had an amazing number of experiences and involvements over the past six weeks, from travel to Europe to visit extended family to my Navy son visiting for two weeks and second trip out west. Each agenda was full of laughter and joy and healing. I was much blessed. But. . . I took no time alone. Each day I hit the ground running and every minute was loaded. And really, that’s not so bad in itself. I know. But, once I returned to the days and minutes of normalcy and anticipated routine, I had no anchored place or time. I no longer retreated to my favorite chair (or if I did, I woke up an hour later) and I no longer had a plan for study since I just completed my New Testament journey of echoes, prayers, and meditations. Everything has come to a point all at once and, since my way is unclear, I am still standing at a crossroads of sorts. Where do I go from here?

And the worst of it all? When I stop doing something, I tend to forget how to do it. This is most clearly illustrated in a foreign language. Use it or lose it.

To get good at writing, one must write; and to get good at prayer, one must pray. No other way.

I am amazed how easily and quickly I lost my routine of prayer and writing. In the past, I had conquered malaise by keeping track of my time. I know that sounds anal, but it worked! Each time the inner voice of condemnation would attack me because I missed a day or two of prayerful meditation and study, I had facts to shore me up. Sure, I missed a day, but in a year, I’ve gotten it right over 70 or 80 or even 90% of those 365 days. So, “evil voice,” back off! I’m ok.

That pattern  has worked for the last five years.

And in the writing department, I became a great fan of Anne Lamott and her book, Bird by Bird, who encouraged me to start writing, 300 words a day, every day! And I did. I even completed a manuscript that way. But then, the next step was editing and cutting and slashing and changing and re-writing and soon, 300 words could no longer be used as a measure. I faltered. I am once again unsure, beleaguered by another voice or worse, silence. I tried to give myself a little credit, after all, I was still blogging. At least, I was. I did.

Breathe. I gotta breathe here.

Scratchboard by Michael Halbert

Today, a holiday, I woke with the determination that I would count it a victory day over lassitude and melancholy. I would pray. I would write. I would tend to my inner self. So, how did that go: I slept more than anything else with books on my lap and pen falling to the floor, tea growing cold. I lost four hours of my day to malaise, true malaise. Shortly, I must go to the grocery store for dinner. The day is flying by.

And yet, I do have this to show myself. I am sitting here right now. I made it this far. I crept over the edge. And tomorrow, hopefully, I will make the next step.

It’s time to choose. A way.

Read Full Post »

I have a friend whose life phrase is “live loved” which she has adopted from the God Journey folks. It deeply resonates because of its simplicity and promise that we are loved and called to do the same for others.

Ephesians 5:2-3
Be imitators of God, a therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

It’s a two way process actually, but substantially begins with being loved (or recognizing that we are loved). Usually, we experience this love first as small children in the home. The better our parents were at loving and creating security in love, the better start we have. If that love is absent, then the search is on. We all search because we all know, inherently, that we are creatures of love. It is part of our DNA.

So much of what we do as young adults and teenagers is asking, “do you still love me?” If the answer appears to be “no,” then the search for “feeling loved” expands further. And if there is no model for being loved, the chance of picking up a counterfeit increases exponentially.

Although my father loved me, his age and alcoholism prevented him from being consistent. As a child, I forgave him everything (as children do), until he died when I was nine, and my heart interpreted that as the greatest betrayal of love ever. My mother, handicapped by her own losses and mental instabilities, did the best she could, but her love always seemed to carry a proviso, a burden, a condition.

So, I performed well to merit love, from her, from my friends, from the men in my life. I became an expert chameleon, the consummate actress in life as well as on the stage. Theater and acting seemed like the perfect solution: applause equaled love. All the while asking, am I worth loving now?

Even when I met God in Christ, I was still programmed to perform and earn love. I worked through the motions and the rules. I went to church. I married a Christian man. I wore Jesus jewelry and talked the Jesus talk. I lifted up my hands at the right times and depending on the setting, I danced and swayed.

Similar to the Verizon commercial, my heart would say, “Do you love me now?”

But with each year of performing, the mistakes piled up as well. There was that inner critique, the reviewer whose assessment was always harsh and blistering.

When was the release moment? I can’t really say. I think it started when I learned about “performance-orientation” from Elijah House. And then, from there, a counselor helped me accept the truth of Romans 8:1 (Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus . . . ). And eventually, I came to really believe God loved me, failures, disappointments, and all.

And only then, I will truthfully say, did my journey to love God back begin in earnest. Only then, did I understand and experience freedom in my faith.

And what does loving God look like? I’m pretty sure it’s loving others and letting them love me. Today. I’ll start with today.

(Fast Day 2)

Read Full Post »

I think most people want to be married, to be in a committed relationship and to build a family. This is the norm of our culture. But in that light, Paul says there will be divided devotion; it comes with the territory. I think it’s time to stop beating myself up on this issue of a divided heart.

I Corinthians 7:33-34a, 35
But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. . . . I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you [single people] may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Additional references to the idea of a “divided heart” might be Matthew 6:24 (two masters), James 4:8 (double-mindedness), Psalm 86:11 or Hosea 10:2. Bad, bad, bad, that’s all I read and the condemnation rains down upon me. Enough.

The undivided heart state is an amazing ideal, but I need to be more realistic about attaining single mindedness in this time of my life. If I only focus on the undivided heart scriptures, I lose sight of the other tasks God has placed before me: namely, my family.

Actually, my devotional practices are better than ever, single or married. My sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, my desire to please God, my trust in a sovereign God, all have grown in the past few years and continue to grow. I am studying the scriptures systematically and I am praying daily. I am seeking God’s will.

But much of my prayer time is on behalf of my husband and and particularly, my children, whose spiritual lives are quite unformed still. There have been so many missteps, so many truths I have not managed to share convincingly, so many outright failures. Our marriage, although laced with kindness and cooperation, is not particularly trusting or intimate. I need to reach a much deeper place of humility there.

And what of my other relationships? These too are an intrinsic part of loving God, that is, loving others. But don’t these relationships also take a piece of the heart? They take energy and time and thought. They require concern and devotion. They, too, divide the heart.

I wonder if it’s not a huge paradox. Maybe divided devotion for love actually comes together as ultimate devotion to God. After all, what is given (time, energy, love) to the “least of these” is given unto God [Matthew 25:40].

What if it’s not divided love that is a problem but mis-directed love: idol worship, loving without God, loving carnally, loving selfishly, or loving for gain.

Like a shady bookkeeper keeping double books, two complete sets–one the truth and one a complete fabrication–this divided devotion will fail. This double heart cannot live. Unfortunately, the black heart of deceit is strong and will prevail unless there is help, confession, and truth.

Read Full Post »

I had fun today thinking about the kingdom of God like the Internet cloud and Jesus as the best access point ever, no downtime. Access is always there but I’m not always connected.

Romans 8:34
Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us?
[Amplified]

All the other access points are letting through too much spam. Some of that spam is putting me in a bad light, taking my mistakes and embellishing them, blowing them out of proportion. Some of those access points are jamming the frequency and filling up bandwidth: less and less room for the good stuff.

But the Jesus pipe is always clear. Not only that, the Jesus connection has the best filter ever designed. It takes my complaints, digs out the root causes and carries those message into the kingdom as supplications.

Of course, when I turn off my inner WI-FI, the one suffers the most is me. I still have an inner computer, but it’s working with existing memory and software that hasn’t been updated. The longer I work with this inner computer, the less efficient it becomes.

I hope I can keep this little metaphor going today. After all, I sit in front of a computer all day at my day job. I want to remember how important it is to stay connected today.

The password is easy: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: