Into life

At the moment, not a lot is happening in our lives.  Anette finished her second year with distinction.  Our oldest is writing her final exam in a school.  Next year, we will start to home school her.  It’s funny how life turns out.  We firmly believed that our children will go to school till the end of grade 12.  Our country however, changed its schooling structure to an outcomes based system in 1996 and in our opinion the standard is not high enough.  I work at a university and see firsthand how the students struggle with their studies.  I want something better for my children. 

It’s almost amusing, the amount of talking, praying, worrying, looking at options, talking to friends, discussing, discussing, discussing our options.  When you leave the system, it’s always a bit frightening.  What will happen if we mess this up?  This is our eldest future we are talking about.  Do we have enough discipline in our home?  I’m talking about the parents 🙂 But, despite all our reservations, we are going to do it.  Please pray for us.

What I love about this is that Jesus does not give us an easy way out.  There are no short cuts.  And I’ve finally been able to phrase what’s been in my heart for the last year.

Jesus will take you into life, not out of it.

Jesus is not some escape out of reality.  Yes, we want Him to be, but He is the opposite.  Marx said that religion is the opium of the masses and he was probably right.  Religion could be that.  Jesus, however, is not.  Jesus was born in a time of conflict and oppression, not a time of peace.  He lived a life where, when people hit you, you bleed.  He cried real tears.  He got tired.  He knew how it felt when friends disappoint you.  He saw through the pretense of the religious types.  He did not go to a hilltop monastery to contemplate life.  He lived as a carpenter’s son in a world filled with chaos.  He became part of the pain, the confusion and the misunderstanding and He had to deal with it.

A lot of the time we will say that Jesus gives us inner peace, but I believe He is also present in our inner turmoil.  We have these busy lives and then sometimes escape with Jesus to a retreat to settle the inner commotion.  But we do not always have the luxury to do that.  When we are in the trenches of everyday life, we cannot decide to come and go as we please.  But you know what; Jesus is there in the trenches with us.  We are not alone. 

We always need Jesus, but we desperately need Him INSIDE the noise.

This is why I believe that followers of Jesus are the heroic ones.  When there is a fire, we rush toward it.  When there is pain, we are not afraid of it.  Where there is a crisis, we can face it head on, because we were made for moments like these.  When our own lives fall to pieces, we begin baby steps towards hope.  Our laughter is authentic, because we have no need to pretend.  We cry real tears, because we love the person in front of us.  We cry real tears, because life is not fair.  We are not afraid of weakness.  We are not afraid of life or to live, because Jesus is in it.

Perhaps I’m naïve.  Then I am joyfully naïve.  We belong to the kingdom of God and the rules are way different in His kingdom.  He came that we can really live.  Jesus said that He is the Life.  And the only way to live out His Life is to be present in the wonderful mess, called life.

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Fear

This is an article that Mike Yaconelli wrote on fear and I pray that all of us may experience something of this fear in our lives.  This is especially for Barb.

The Safety of Fear

The tragedy of modern faith is that we no longer are capable of being terrified. We aren’t afraid of God, we aren’t afraid of Jesus, we aren’t afraid of the Holy Spirit. As a result, we have ended up with a need-centered gospel that attracts thousands…but transforms no one.

What happened to the bone-chilling, earth-shattering, gut-wrenching, knee-knocking, heart-stopping, life-changing fear that left us speechless, paralyzed, and helpless? What happened to those moments when you and I would open our Bibles and our hands started shaking because we were afraid of the Truth we might find there? Barclay tells us that the word used in the Bible for “Truth” has three meanings—a word used to describe a wrestler grabbing an opponent by the throat; a word meaning to flay an animal; and a word used to describe the humiliation of a criminal who was paraded in front of a crowd with a dagger tied to his neck, its point under his chin so he could not put his head down. That is what the Truth is really like! It grabs us by the throat, it flays us wide open, it forces us to look into the face of God. When is the last time you and I heard God’s Truth and were grabbed by the throat?

Unfortunately, those of us who have been entrusted with the terrifying, frightening, Good News have become obsessed with making Christianity safe. We have defanged the tiger of Truth. We have tamed the Lion, and now Christianity is so sensible, so accepted, so palatable.

Who is afraid of God anymore?

We are afraid of unemployment, we are afraid of our cities, we are afraid of the collapse of our government, we are afraid of not being fulfilled, we are afraid of AIDS, but we are not afraid of God.

I would like to suggest that the Church become a place of terror again; a place where God continually has to tell us, “Fear not”; a place where our relationship with God is not a simple belief or doctrine or theology, it is God’s burning presence in our lives. I am suggesting that the tame God of relevance be replaced by the God whose very presence shatters our egos into dust, burns our sin into ashes, and strips us naked to reveal the real person within. The Church needs to become a gloriously dangerous place where nothing is safe in God’s presence except us. Nothing—including our plans, our agendas, our priorities, our politics, our money, our security, our comfort, our possessions, our needs.

The two men on the road to Emmaus knew they had been with Jesus because their “hearts burned from within.” The impotence of today’s Church, the weakness of Christ’s followers, and the irrelevance of most parachurch organizations is directly related to the lack of being in the presence of an awesome, holy God, who continually demands allegiance only to Him—not to our churches, our organizations, or our theology.

We believe in a God who wants all of us—every bit of us—and He wants us all the time. He wants our worship and our love, but most of all He wants us to trust Him. We have to be more in awe of God than we are of our government, more in awe of God than we are of our problems, more in awe of God than we are of our beliefs about abortion, more in awe of God than we are of our doctrines and agendas. Our God is perfectly capable of calming the storm or putting us into the middle of one. Either way, if it’s God, we will be speechless and trembling.

Our world is tired of people whose God is tame. It is longing to see people whose God is big and holy and frightening and gentle and tender…and ours; a God whose love frightens us into His strong and powerful arms where He longs to whisper those terrifying words, “I love you.”

Check it out

theapple

About 2 weeks ago, a lady, Andrea Pouliot contacted me and asked if they could put one of my posts(Be more than you are (Becoming real) on their website.  She and one of her friends, Kimberly Lisowski, wrote a book together called The Apple You Were Fed.  In the comments she said the following…

We expose our every misconception to allow readers to see the carnival cut-outs (masks) we lived behind, the ladders we climbed, the sin list we compared others to… We have put ourselves out there to share this life-changing message. We do not teach it, but rather show our embarrassing journey to freedom.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  I’ve not read it yet, but my copy is on the way.  Have you read it?  If not , check it out.  Perhaps God is waiting for you in those pages 🙂

 

recoveryourgoodheart

Another author, Jim Robbins came by a few months back.  His book’s title is Recover Your Good Heart.  This from the first chapter:

We say people can come into the Kingdom through grace, but once they’re in, we switch from grace to duty, obligation, and pressure. Though we preach that you can’t contribute a thing to your own salvation and that it’s all God’s gift for you, once you’re “safe” however, you’d better keep up and step up.

What happens when your quality of life depends upon the correct judgment of a professional whom you believe to be trained and capable, yet you discover he has given you the wrong “cure”?

So, is there a cure?  You will have to find out for yourself 🙂

Both books are available at amazon.

Election day

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So, today is the big day.  I hope that everyone in The States will go and vote.  I’ll be glad when this is over, but I think the debates will go on for quite a while after this election.  Molly had a post on the election the other day and the number of responses were amazing.  It seems that the christians are a lot more devided in this election than the previous one. 

From an outsider’s perspective, I think the conservatives in the church made a huge mistake when they decided Bush is God’s man.  He is incredibly unpopular outside the United States and it seems not so popular in the States as well.  I think John McCain would have had a great chance if Bush was not the Republican leader before him.    I also think that this election may put the conservative right(the ones shouting from the pulpit) at a crossroad of becoming irrevelant.  In Bush you gave the world a very poor example of christianity.  Every candidate you support from now on, will be met with distrust.  If you wanted Obama to loose, you should have endorsed him 🙂

Who will win?  It seems Obama will, but McCain has come back from behind more than once.  Whatever happens, I’ll pray for your country and your leaders.  May God bless you all.