Saturday, October 3, 2015

3H: Honoring my Father

In CR, I got a blue chip in trying to honor my earthly father.  I think I can probably boil all my problems to not honoring my Dad properly and not forgiving his shortcomings.  This is not written to try to fix my Dad.  It's to fix me.  It's also to acknowledge that my Dad is human, but he raised me to be a Christian, still provides the roof over my head, paid for my vacation back in July/August, usually pays for my prescriptions, will give money if I ask him.

He's human, but he does care for me, my brother, and my husband.  Any flaw I see in him, I certainly see in myself.

So, yeah, I need to honor my dad and forgive him his flaws.  I find that whenever I have made a resolution to do so, it has stuck for the most part.  I have relapsed.  But the thing is, I need rely on God's grace poured out through Jesus to heal my sins.  Not a resolution that I made.  Praise God, he uses resolutions, too, but the true answers are not through meeting God halfway; if we had to do that we'd never make the first step.  No, the Holy Spirit has to come all the way, pick me up, and walk me to my goal.  The goal is not me honoring Dad.  It's His Glory alone.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

3H Club: Commandment 4

The fourth of the ten commandments is the one that commands believers to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

Christians are all over the place when it comes to this commandment.  Is the Sabbath still Saturday, or is it alright to take Sunday off?  Should we rest on Saturday and worship on Sunday?  Do we now have two Sabbaths?  Is one of those days meant for simply housework for those busy the other five days?

The way I see it, Christians need to take one day off to rest.  The whole day.  Have I done this?  I don't know.  I've tried. 

But also, Christians need to physically meet with a local church once a week that sees Christ as the head of the church, and they need to sit through the sermon as God uses the preaching of the Word to awaken people to following Jesus.  If you do not sit in the sermon, then you are not being fed and are spiritually starved.

I have the worship aspect down.  The resting, I still do not know how to do.  Like Martha in Luke 10, I need something to do with my hands while listening to Jesus.  On Sundays, usually my hands play a guitar.  Some Sundays, I teach Sunday School to kids.  Still, am I resting?

On a typical Sunday, Tim and I wake up at 6:30, get dressed, leave our house in Conyers around 7:30, get to church so I can start practice with the worship band at 8:15 or 20.  During that hour, I'm on guitar and Tim is in the sound booth running sound and Power Point slides.  9:30 starts the first service.  After the music is over, I go to the sound booth and sit with Tim and listen to the sermon.  11:00 starts the second service.  During the sermon, I sit with Tim in the atrium and read.  Then we eat lunch with Tim's family and spend the afternoon at his grandparents' house.  I think if I was not at his grandparents house, I probably would not relax.  I'd be thinking of things I need to do to prepare for Monday.  Although, Sundays are an all day thing, it has both hectic and restful aspects.

I think the thing for a co-dependent on Sunday is that I must not try to do everything at one time.  At Community, everything is at the same time, so it is not possible.  God has gifted me with musical abilities.  God has also called me to Children's ministry which I do mostly during the week at CCS.  Sometimes, if I do Children's ministry on Sunday, it conflicts with my ability to play guitar for the service aspect.  But God has called me to both, and it humbles me because I have to realize that things will go on without me.  God simply privileges me to be a part of it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

3H club: 3rd Commandment

Before I move on to commandment three, I have one last thing to say about commandment two and how it connects to co-dependency.  Basically, if I should today get a picture of Jesus when I am convicted that such a thing does indeed paint a graven image of him, then it would be another example of me thinking that I know what I'm doing better than God does.  That is classic co-dependent.

Okay, commandment three: You shall not take the Lord's name in vain.

The most common example is when someone at school or work or on TV says, "O my God!" and has no plan on talking to God about this.  She uses his name without really meaning it.  This is a serious offense to our Lord.  It's even worse when people move on from God to Jesus's name.  Seriously, why do people think it is alright to take the name of the man who left his glorious throne, lived as a human, and died to take away your deserved punishment for your sins as if it is the name of your dog or as if it's a curse word or as if it is his fault that you had to say whatever you said?  Jesus has done everything for you and deserves only your complete praise.

How can misuse of God's name tie into co-dependency?  Let's look at my job.  I play music for the kids at the CCS afterschool.  I do a mix of old songs, new songs, cool songs, odd song.  I mostly do Christian songs so that there is no mistake that I love Jesus.  The kids on the other hand, react in as many different ways.  Some sing along and love the songs.  Some sing in a mocking manner.  Some simply lay their heads on the desk and look bored.

One time, one kid was there who normally loves Jesus but also likes to try to fit in with the cool culture.  I'm singing some of the best songs, and she has her head on the desk like I'm the incarnation of Barney the Dinosaur.  I tell her, "Get over yourself!"  Now, that is advice many people, including myself need.  But at the same time, I have no idea of her home situation, whether her parents are going through anything, if she's faced some tragedy, etc.  And as a representative of Jesus, saying words like that can tarnish his name.  I took God's name in vain.  And I still have not been able to amend for that.

Praise God for his endless mercy and grace because I am much more careful in what I say to these kids.  I must not lose my temper.  I must not work as if I'm the only one that can fix hearts and attitudes.  Only Jesus can do that.  And he continues to change my heart so that I can represent him better.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

3H club: Second Commandment rights

It's been over a year since I worked at the LifeWay in Atlanta that used to be the Berean Store.  In that brief time, I have many memories of conversations with people that I will probably talk about the rest of my life.

One time I was at the Point of Sale counter checking a woman out of the store when she said, "I think we need a picture of a black Jesus."

Keeping the conversation going, I said, "If you want a more accurate picture of Jesus, you would paint him as a middle eastern man since he was Jewish and from Israel."

As the conversation progressed, she said, "Well, Jesus was a spirit anyway."
"No he wasn't," I said, " he was a man with a body."
"But we're not supposed to have graven images."  Then we ended the talk and she left.

Then one of my co-workers said, "I agree about Jesus being portrayed as Israeli."  Then she gave the example of someone painting a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a white man.  It's just not accurate.

But beyond all this, nobody knows what exactly God the Son looked like when he came to earth.
And there are people who blasphemously accuse God the Father of breaching the second commandment to not make graven images by sending Jesus.  But these same people think it's okay to paint a picture of him when they don't know what he looked like.

Then it also just brings up the issue of whether making a painting of Jesus is a breaking of the second commandment.  I actually think it is.  Not that I enforce it much.  I have a picture of a "Laughing Jesus" in my old bedroom that is now Tim's office/man cave which I also use, too.  It does portray him as a middle-eastern looking guy.  And I would never bow down to it or worship it.

I do agree with Calvin that to portray God in any way is breaking the commandment when God is invisible.  And agree with me or not, it is plain that if you do attempt to draw Jesus, it won't look like him as we don't know what he looked like.  Am I going to get on the case of people that do have them, knowing that I myself have a picture?  Or get rid of my picture?  Probably not, but it is good to know.  I also rejoice that God the Spirit always leads me to righteousness whether gradually or even painfully.  And in the end, I'm happier knowing that he has made me right with himself.

What does this have to do with CR or me trying to recover from co-dependency?  Not sure yet.  Any suggestions?  I've been pondering it all week.  It's in the Ten Commandments.  And ultimately, God wants us to follow them for his glory.  Our recovery is a result of that glory.  Recovery from us and back into his Paradise.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

3 H Club: the First commandment

The first commandment: You shall have no other gods before me.

How can this help if you are recovering?  A lot of personal problems can all be traced back to someone having a god that is not God.

Let's see, at CR, I'm in the co-dependent and anger group.  What is co-dependent?  The short answer is that I want to help everybody.  How can this be a worship problem?

Suppose a friend is having a hard time finding a job and you want to help.  I suggest something, but that person says no and still has a hard time finding a job.  As a co-dependent, I would want to expend effort and time going through the job-search process with that person while at the same time, I need to focus on my own healthy job as a CCS afterschool worker and as a wife to Tim.  How is this a worship problem?  I'm not trusting God to deal with the situation but relying on my own means, making myself the idol.

Let's go for a more national issue.  Suppose abortion is still legal and that my tax dollars are still funding Nazi-ish organizations such as planned parenthood when smaller agencies who work to keep children alive and mothers from having to go through the permanent trauma of having an abortion can barely keep their lights on.  Do I get angry or do I trust that God hates this more than I do, that Jesus was more innocent than even these victims, or do I simply act like God is not there?  Do I lose hope knowing that this is still going on, or do I rejoice that God saved at least one life if not more because someone came to my pregnancy resource center and talked to me and he protected me from putting my foot in my mouth?

What if your issue is something not caused by sin, like cancer or losing someone to cancer?  Or is it a result of sin.  My mom died 6 years ago through cancer.  Did she sin?  Did I sin, or did her parents sin?  Not exactly, but you know who did sin?  Our first parents, Adam and Eve sin, and that is why cancer now exists in the world and why people die and will keep dying until Christ returns.  And why is this?  Because Eve and Adam thought that they knew better than God and decided to eat the one fruit he said not to eat when they had every other option available.

So, yeah, all our problems are because of idolatry and making gods when there is only one God who revealed himself through Christ and still lives in believers through the Holy Spirit.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Hurts, Habits, Hang-ups, and Contrived Means

It's been a while hasn't it?  Yes, I was blogging, and then my life got busy with working at my church's school and doing music and generally tending to my husband and family.  Such is the cycle of women who have blogs.

But I have a thought that I want to think out loud.  Over the summer, I decided to start attending my church's Celebrate Recovery program.  CR is a place where people can come sort out their "hurts, habits, and hang-ups."  It is basically Alcoholics Anonymous but it's based on Jesus and it's for people with all kinds of issues.  In fact, only 3% come needing help with alcohol or drugs.  I've never been on drugs, alcohol, and mostly kept all my sin on the inside my whole life.  I'm just there because I was born, I'm a sinner, and I've been redeemed by Jesus.

That's not the point, however.  It's only a tangent.  This past Saturday was Charles Finney's birthday.  The infamous preacher who influenced many people such as Billy Graham and Keith Green in their evangelistic methods.  The problem with Finney, however, is he was not a believer.  He did not believe that Jesus's death on the cross paid for the sins of redeemed man.  In fact, he did not even believe that man had original sin.  He only needed to find the right path for living, and Jesus provided that example.  Billy Graham and Keith Green, while true believers who preach the true Gospel, followed the methods of this man who never went to seminary and only believed that revival was not a work of the Holy Spirit but in his own words, a result of "contrived means." 

I think that if Finney had a true disciple today, it would be a man that the world loves and who impresses me from time to time.  That would be Rick Warren.  Rick knows the Gospel, and loves Jesus, but sadly, his methods can be boiled down to things men and women can do to improve their lives with Jesus simply as a sponsor and a guru and nothing more. 

Why pick on Rick?  Because I genuinely love the guy and I think he has good ideas.  Why bring up CR?  Because it started at his church, Saddleback. 

I like CR because it provides a safe place for me to talk about all my past issues and find healing.  It's like having a counselor but, it's free and I don't need insurance.

Where can CR improve?  As a woman who follows Reformed theology, a la John Calvin, and who believes this theology truly follows the Bible's teaching, I want to take what I like from CR, and include it in what Jesus has already established in his Church. 

CR already involves creeds and memorized prayers.  Granted, they are their 8 Principles based on the Beatitudes according to the Message Bible, the 12 steps based on AA but with Jesus as the focus, and the Serenity prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr who had terrible theology (but don't get me wrong, I like the first half of the prayer, the part that ends up in greeting cards).  Martin Luther thought it much better to simply pray to the Lord by remembering the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed (not Scripture but a precise nutshell of what we believe), and the Lord's prayer, and to pray to the Lord for his grace in following his commands and living out his Gospel as a result of his saving work in our lives.

Perhaps I can examine all of this and see how it could simply lead to true recovery in the Lord and not just following his principles without looking to him.  I suppose I can start such a series on my blog but you must also remember that I don't blog consistently these days.  May the Lord help me.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

My True Caretaker

Ephesians 5:22-24 is the passage that says that husbands should love their wives the way Christ loved the church.  Christ gave up his life for the church.  Christ, the Church's only husband, has exclusive right to worship and adoration from his bride.

Revelation 12 is that odd passage about a woman who gives birth to the Christ child and a dragon set to destroy both her and the child.  Well, the dragon did destroy the child, but the Child came back from the dead and has defeated the dragon.  He now can take his bride, the woman distressed by the dragon, and live happily ever after.

All people know that Mary physically gave birth the Jesus.  If we take the passage literally, then it would be taking about her.  This being a vision given to John about salvation and the kingdom's consummation, this is actually more than Mary.  It is the whole Church.  Just like Mary's son happens to be her own Creator and Redeemer, so we are the reason Christ came to earth.  We carry his Holy Spirit in us as his redeemed.  In a sense, we gave birth to him, but he is our Creator, Sustainer and eternal Husband.

In some odd way that defies human logic and relations, the Church is both my mother and myself while God is my Father, and Jesus, who is God the Son, is my husband and brother. 

A true local church will allow you to be wed to your husband.  You have doffed the name of your former household and taken on the name of Christ your king.  Therefore, the church needs to allow you direct access to your husband since we no longer need a mediator between us and God the Father.  We should not have to go through anybody other than Christ to get to Christ.  Not a priest, pastor, elder, deceased person, mother, grandmother, father, etc.  You have complete privilege to come into Christ's presence because Christ was slain by the dragon and then defeated that same dragon by rising from the dead and taking his power.  He did this for you the Redeemed.

On my wedding day, Chad who officiated stood by Tim as they watched my dad light a candle in the front of the chapel.  Chad told Tim that the candle symbolized the truth that responsibility for my care no longer falls on my mom and dad.  It now falls on my husband, Tim.  Therefore, if I'm in trouble, I will go to him before I call dad and trust him to take care of me completely.  We need to love our Lord the same way but only better.  Tim may fail me, and I may fail Tim, but Jesus will always succeed for us and bring us to our proper home.  We simply need to let go and trust.