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Friday, August 27, 2010

Drops like Stars

i just spent the past three hours at barnes and noble by myself: reading, writing, and people watching. mm that's what i love the most.

i was thinking about picking up a trashy People magazine with elin nordegren on the cover after about two and a half hours.. but i wandered over to the christian inspiration section instead and picked up rob bell's 'drops like stars.' it's the only rob book i haven't read and it's short enough.. so i found a comfy chair and started reading.

it's a weird little book, pretty unconventional. he writes a lot about suffering and references art quite a bit. but one section he writes about stripping away things in life.. and he quotes mark twain as saying,

if i'd had more time, i would have said less.

that blew me away.

because for me, it's just the opposite. if i could do things over again, i would have said more. if i'd had more time, i wouldn't stop talking.

that's when it hit me.

it's not about what we say. it's never about what we say.


it seems so obvious now. why would i ever think it was about what i say?? what i do?? of course i can't be a good anything.. duh. everything i do is inadequate if it is done without Christ.

i keep forgetting that and over and over again i'm reminded of how thankful i am for His grace.

and then rob bell writes about going to a counselor and how every time he mentions the word 'mistake' or 'failure' or 'sin,' his counselor says:

the God who wastes nothing.

He wastes nothing! nothing is failure! even the failed pieces are essential. rob bell writes that it isn't just a failure, it's an opportunity.

to be bitter or better.

closed or open.

more ignorant or more aware.

more or less tuned in to what God is doing.

we have a CHOICE to make, a CHOICE on how to react when we mess up. there are two ways to see things, two ways to respond, and we have a choice on how we are going to let things unfold from this point on. will we humbly admit where we've wanted control, where things have veered, where we can learn and grow? will we become more aware of God's presence and be open to how He's shaping us? will we rebuke satan by the fact that we're loved and secure in Christ's blood? will we accept the reality that we're forgiven?

there's a choice.

(and when i read rob bell, i start to write in sentences instead of paragraphs).

and then it reminds me of francis chan and forgotten god and this big lesson of discipline i've been learning in this season of my life.

it all comes down to discipline.

if i'm not disciplined in seeking God first, then none of my life makes sense. if i'm not disciplined in getting on my knees and asking for help, then i invite God to take part in my life, to see and approve of what i'm doing, instead of willingly asking to be a part of what He's doing.

sometimes i get on these 'freedom highs' and feel so pumped to be free.. but what kind of freedom am i living if i'm not being disciplined? a lazy, unorganized, unmotivated, me-seeking kind of freedom. a freedom that fits God in.

and i'm left with realizing that it's not all about what i do or say, but about what Christ does or says through me. i can't be a good anything if i'm not actively pursuing the Spirit and if i'm not humbly abandoning myself.

there are a lot more thoughts still brewing on francis and discipline..

(read what my friends are writing: when hell comes to town and inception).

Monday, August 9, 2010

An Ultimate Story of Grace

i've been thinking about c.s lewis and narnia and "the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe" alot lately i just recently watched the movie and (thanks to my friend erin's recent blog post: hello, my name is edmund) i can't stop thinking about edmund.

because i am him.
his story is most like mine, his redemption is most like mine.

i love edmund. he's my absolute favorite.
i see underneath that desire for turkish delights and i see a desire to be loved, to be accepted. he gets picked on all the time by his family, why wouldn't the white witch's antics seduce him?

edmund does awful, selfish things. he falls into the traps of the white witch and betrays his family on several occasions. he wants what he wants and he'll do whatever it takes to get it. he's used to a me-centered life and i think it's safe to say that, so far, living that way has been frustrating for him. he lives in the shadow of his older brother, his father isn't at home, his country is in the middle of a war-- the witch offers stability that he hasn't seen in a long time.
i'm not trying to make excuses for edmund or his actions, but i am saying he's human. aren't you edmund too?

besides aslan (of course), edmund's our hero. he has to be our hero.
look at what he did..
yet he's invited back.
he turned his back on everyone who loved him..
yet he is INVITED BACK.
edmund's story is the ultimate example of redemption. isn't that encouraging!?
the lion, witch, and the wardrobe is the ultimate story of grace.

because no matter how much i'm like edmund, i know i'm not like peter and susan and lucy.
they fully understand grace. because grace is not only about forgiving and loving:
it's about FORGETTING, it's about INVITING people back, it's about WELCOMING them in, it's about giving them more than they deserve. it's about CELEBRATING them, cheering them on, seeing them do good, recognizing their humanness.

they welcome their brother back, joke with him, feed him, clothe him, hug him. they give him armor, suit him up to fight, celebrate when he's spared. he's one of them again, no questions asked. no making him feel bad, no making him pay.
and edmund: he doesn't remind his siblings of how much they ridiculed him. how little love they showed him. how they drove him away. he doesn't say remember this? he understands what's been done for him, he accepts it, and he runs back into their arms: no exceptions.
that's grace.

and when aslan is on the stone table and he is being mocked and jeered and his fur is being shaven and his body is being tied, aren't you yelling, "that should be edmund!! that SHOULD BE ME!! aslan did nothing, he doesn't deserve this, is this reallyyy the only option!??"
because if the cost of betrayal is turning the betrayer over to the white witch, then serve edmund up! hand him over: he deserves it! hand me over: i deserve it!
having the king die and pay the ultimate price for mine and edmund's stupidity and moronic behavior?
that's inconceivable grace.

with that kind of sacrifice, knowing that someone took your place on the stone table, wouldn't you live differently? like edmund, wouldn't you fight differently? knowing the kind of price that was paid to save you, wouldn't you show love to save others?

i'm so thankful to be edmund.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thank You for Being Evidence of God's Redemption

Can you be fully loved if you're not fully known?

I've been thinking about this question a lot lately. 'The me I want to be' has been rocking my world and john ortberg says this: "i can only be loved to the extent that i am known."

because we've all got people who love us, we've all got corners, people who won't judge or condemn us no matter what our "fully known" may look like.
but are we allowing these people to love us to their full potential if we're not allowing ourselves to be fully known by them? how can we experience the joys of being fully and completely loved if we're not being fully and completely transparent?

it's scary, isn't it? trust me, i tried to find a loophole.

i think i'm good at transparency.. to a point. i'm good at being real.. if you don't ask too much. i know i'm loved.. so i can justify being vague. fully known scares me. there's nothing left to hide behind.

but once those walls are gone and you're, well, completely exposed and out there.. it feels like a welcoming home. it's not scary anymore, it's freedom. knowing you've shared, nothing has changed, you've let love in: it's extraordinary. it's redemption.

so ask yourself this: are you fully known by the people who can fully love you? you don't need to be known by everyone; you don't have to confess to everyone. but your corner, your community: are you fully known by them? and are you fully loving those who have made themselves fully vulnerable for you?

read this as encouragement:
"the Spirit will bring the courage.. ultimately, adversity can produce hope because of a reality much larger than you and i. the reality is that God is a REDEMPTIVE God." -john ortberg.

you come alive when you step into openness and stop pretending. don't let shame win!

live today knowing you're evidence of God's redemption!