This is My Crowd

This is My Crowd
Picture by: Photography by Vicky Campos

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Friday, August 24, 2012

TIme Keeps Slipping

Time is definitive.  It is measurable.  One second can be no longer than the next or vice versa.  There are a known number of seconds in a minute, minutes in an hour, hours in a day, days in a week, weeks in a year...  and months, don't even get me started on months.


Months represent birthdays and holidays and weather shifts and anniversaries and tax returns and paydays (not the candy bar) and vacations and a spike in gas prices.  They have become the mile markers of my year.  Reminders of what comes next.

4th of July heralds the end of Summer.  Back to School escorts in birthdays (4 in 8 weeks to be exact) and Halloween.  After which we do not pass Thanksgiving, do not break out our fall decor, go straight to Christmas.  New Years arrives with fireworks and champagne just in time for, you guessed it!  Valentine's Day!  There's a green blurb in there with dozens of little men and their gold, but Easter and Spring Break are there to guide us right into Summer.  

As a parent, all of these markers are pushing us toward grade school promotions or new schools.  It means double digits or driver's licenses; puberty and dating.  I think my perception of time changed with the great 40 week countdown, though there was a  6-8 week reprieve from the stress of keeping track, just as the last grain of gestational sand fell another clock started.  

When will he smile?  When will she roll over?  When will she say mama?  When will he crawl?  Walk?  Talk?  Eat on his own?  Give up the bottle?  Pacifier?  When will she be fully potty trained?  

Oh, wait, Kindergarden all ready?  No, I'm not ready for that, but by then I'd already set the pace.  Our lives constantly consuming weekends and months and milestones, until we'd created an insatiable monster, never satisfied with today, this moment.  Always focused on what lay ahead.  

So, here I am.  

My 5th grader starting middle school and water polo.  Us, the parents, contemplating additional responsibilities and watching as the pack (yes, 3 boys with 2 year gaps are a pack) splits up, spreads out.  Different schedules, different programs, different schools, the start of different lives.  

I've done 1st grade, in fact, not counting my own trek through the educational system, this is my 3rd time through.  I've done 3rd grade once, maybe I'll keep it together this second time through.  But 5th grade?  Middle school?  

Where has the time gone?  Does it push us or pull us or evaporate when it touches us?  More importantly, does it have an emergency break?

No?  It just slips by.  Intangible yet carrying the weight of all purpose and meaning in its wake.  

You can't get it back.  You can't borrow it from another.  You can sell it though and give it away freely, or simply waste it.  I've done all three.  

Fortunately, we can only live one day at a time, one moment at a time.  God, in His infinite grace and wisdom, must have known we would try to multi-task days and limited our access.  

All I can do is try my best to fight for today and make it count.  

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  Matt 6:34

Perhaps God has something there.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Christianity: Not Communicable/ Not Legislatable

Yeah, legislatable... it's not a word.  I don't care.

In any case, over the last few weeks I've had some stuff forcing its way out of me. Pushing its way into my thoughts, overflowing my heart into my consciousness.

Here's what it is in summary:

Salvation can no more be distributed to people through mandated morality than it can be transmitted throught the exchange of saliva.  If it could, then my husband could have become a Christian much more quickly, and we would be able to save over 300 billion people from an eternity apart from God through a single act of legislation.  

But, that's not how God designed the system and God did design the system, not man.  (We won't discuss the system man designed in this post, because man did design his own system.)  

Free Will.  Sacrifice.  Free Will.  Sacrifice.  Free Will.  Sacrifice. 

Those two actions are rotated throughout all of History and they have brought us to this place, or perhaps, we have brought them to this place.  The fall of man was a choice of free will.  To mitigate its consequences, there was sacrifice upon sacrifice upon sacrifice until Jesus.  He freely chose to sacrifice Himself, so that we could freely choose Him and then sacrifice our lives for the lives of others, so they could freely choose Him, etc. 

Are you catching the trend?  The lives of those you are fighting for hinge on their free will to choose and Jesus' sacrifice and in many ways YOUR sacrifice, my sacrifice.  Our freedom and salvation have not been bought so that that we can sacrifice the salvation of others so that we can exercise our free will.  Confusing and somewhat circular?  Think about it, through Christ you are free, more free than you ever were under the bondage of sin, but sometimes we focus on our freedom so much that we fail to exercise wisdom and choose to sacrifice our comfort so that others can come to know Jesus.  Sometimes, we have to give up our freedom for the salvation of others.  

Isn't that the point?  People meeting Jesus?  People experiencing a grace and love unlike anything they've ever known?

I have yet to find the scripture that instructs Israelites, Jews or Christians to mandate that all those living in their geographic vicinity abide by their customs or laws outside of conversion.  If you know where that verse is, I'd love to read it.  Instead, I have noticed that the entirety of the Bible, from the Old Testament through the Gospels and into Revelation, speaks often and eagerly about self-examination, both as individuals and as a religious community.  (If, by chance, you struggle with the word religious because it's too religious, then you can either stop reading or get over it.  I'm using it!)  I believe we are to systematically correct our own known sinful behaviors, ask God to reveal those behaviors/beliefs that we have not yet identified as being sinful and correct them, and, in the order outlined in the Bible, bring to light sin in our Christian community around us and correct those.  Not find sin in the unsaved and demand that they get in-line with the Bible.

At some point, we have to admit the folly of mandating our Christian beliefs as the American belief system.  They are simply not one and the same at this point in history and we need to stop.  We have our roles as Americans and our roles as Christians and though one affects the other, we cannot confuse the two.  Jesus is not American, He is God.

Here's the thing, people need Jesus and we can't do that if we spend all of our time telling them HOW they need to live and fail miserably at bringing them into the presence of Jesus.  Living Gods way makes no sense outside of His presence.  Once they know Jesus, the Holy Spirit can start revealing behaviors and beliefs they need to change and if He uses us in revealing those issues, great, if not, great.

Regardless of how that unfolds, with ALL people we need to love always, forgive time and again, and  abound in grace.  Treating others not just how we would like to be treated, but in the same manner Jesus treated us. 

Let's choose to sacrifice our freedom so that others can find freedom in Jesus.  The American dream is great, but the dreams God has for us and those He loves are greater.

Hard?  Yes.  Possible?  Yes.  Required?  Absolutely!


Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Don't Just Think About Doing. Do.

If salvation is truly the only prerequisite for Heaven, then why does life drag on so long after we obtain it?  Is God attempting to perfect us in this life, full knowing well that it can never be?  Is He crazy or is He just giving us pointless activities to keep us busy until we die? 

Or could the unaddressed sin in our lives be a time-sucking distraction from our intended purpose? 

Are you wasting time fighting a particular sin in your own power?  Is it taking up so much of your time and energy that it is literally keeping you from your intended purpose in life?  Our lives should not be some epic "Self-Help" course at our local adult school.  The absolute truth is that Christ has overcome it all!!  Why keep striving and  struggling on our own?  Pride?  Disobedience?  Aren't those really the same thing?   

Free image courtesy of

But I Don't Wanna!

I'm a parent.  When I issue a decree (yeah, I said decree) in my household there are not just perameters for what needs to be done, but how it needs to be done and in what timeframe.  Don't even get me started on the attitude with which it needs to be done.  For the record I'm not a tyranical ruler (for the most part), I just believe that it is my job to raise my children so that they are not self-absorbed, bratty, compromising loafs when they grow up.  That's just me. 

I have noticed that when my kids don't really want to do (or stop doing, for that matter) a particular thing, they respond in one of several ways: 

1) They argue the validity of the request. (Why?  I've never had to do that before now!)  
2) They argue the fairness of the request.  (But they didn't hafta!)
3) They pretend they don't hear my voice.  (chirp, chirp) 
4) They move r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-o-w.  (I was gonna do that after my show was over.) 
5) They argue that they are not able to perform the request.  (I don't know how to do that.)   

If I was honest with myself, something I'm not terribly fond of doing for reasons of pride, I would admit that my responses are quite similar when it comes to God's commands in my life.

Let's be Done with Mediocrity Already!

Aren't you "over" your issue yet?  I am.  I'm so over my issue(s).  I'm tired of them.  Sick of them, even!  When I wake up in the morning, they are there to stare back at me in the mirror.  As I'm trying to fall asleep, they roll around in my head as I face another day of failure.  There's a world out there that needs to know the love of an all powerful God.  Why do I expend so much of my energy fighting my own foolish pride?  At what point will I set aside that pride and say "It's Yours God!  All of it!  The good, the bad and the ugly!"  I'm not saying that I'll become perfect here on earth, but obedient.  Well, as much as an inherently rebellious filthy wretch can, anyway. 

To make this life effective, I must allow God to tell me what adjustments to make and then make them immediately.  I know, that's some earth shattering stuff right there.  If I ---->choose<---- to ignore God, I will spend the rest of my life fighting for this ideal life, where I get to do what I want to do, how I want to do it and God still blesses me, which is simply not possible.  Ultimately the end result will be missed opportunities to accomplish God's intended purpose in my life.  And guess what?  My life is not about me.  So, my disobedience will also affect the lives of others.  I hate to burst your bubble, but your life is not about you either.  It will always be about Him and the people He loves.

The Difference Between Thinking of Doing and Actually Doing 

I have wasted too much time trying to sort out the pros and cons of God's commands; generosity, forgiveness, grace, love, purity, discipline, operating in wisdom, faith and all of the other things that I expect from others and debate for myself.  God is pretty specific about all of these topics and many more.  Why debate with an all knowing God at the risk of living a wasted life? 

We tell ourselves and our friends, "I'm just working it out."  "I'm working on it, ok?"  "Look, I'm not perfect (and neither are you, by the way!), but I'm trying."  I know that I say those things.  But the truth is that in the areas I don't WANT to adjust, I'm constantly learning and never applying the truth.  I'm THINKING of DOING, but never actually doing.  Maybe that's just me.

This life is not a school where we study and learn and keep it all in our heads.  There won't be a graduation ceremony at the end where we get a diploma for all that we learned.  This is an internship.  The hours are long, we learn as we go, the job is tiring, but rewarding, it's never about us and we probably won't get the appreciation and acknowledgement we deserve.  Let's accept this and get to work!    

Don't let your pride keep you in a holding pattern.  Who cares if you have to forgive someone that has injured you?  Who cares if that means you have to be more generous (and that pedicure just isn't going to happen this month)?  What difference does it make if you spend more time helping other people instead of doing more entertainment based activities?  Wouldn't you rather quit smoking/ overeating/ watching TV like it were a part-time job/ reading shades of various bad, bad books/ staring at Facebook/ gossiping/ being stingy/ being lazy/ being rude/ being judgmental/ watching porn/ having an emotional affair with your co-worker/ being angry/ lying/ cheating/ wasting your life/ or any such other thing that you've been "struggling" with if it meant that you could live with fulfilled purpose?!  (note: It's not about the things we struggle with, it's how we handle them.  All sins are equal, so don't think your special if your able to hide your issue better than other people.)

Look, I'm not meaning to minimize your struggle.  I understand what it is to struggle in an area for years, I still do.  But again, it comes down to: are you thinking about doing something or are you doing something?  Even if you fall, at least you can get back up and keep moving.  Again, we're not shooting for perfection, we're shooting for obedience.  I can't say that I'll never say another bad word ever again, but I can say that in the moment when the jerk in the Mercedes cuts me off in traffic, I will ---->choose<---- not to freak out.  Maybe next time I will ---->choose<---- a colorful phrase, but, then again, maybe next time it will be easier to resist the temptation. 

Be obedient in this moment. 

Maybe that's not an area God is speaking to you about.  But maybe it is.  We won't really know until we surrender all.  As we surrender our lives to Him fully, God shows us what adjustments to make along the way (hello conviction of the Holy Spirit), but we must actually make them.

Notice I said along the way. 

What is this Purpose You Speak of?
Jesus never said stay in your homes and your small church huddles, talking about your personal issues and problems and then maybe, just maybe, people will see how hard you've worked to become a better person.  No, He said go out and make disciples of all nations, baptize them and teach them My commands.  Your "saved" life has not been preserved in the natural so you can work out your sin issues, you're "saved" life has been preserved so that you can tell people about Jesus, and along the way work out some of those sin issues so that you can become increasingly effective in your purpose. 

We need to remember that our lives after Salvation will always be about God and about other people.  Me becoming the person He created me to be is a result of my DOING what He's called me to do.  So stop arguing that you can keep the crap you already know you should get rid of, hoping that you can still live out your intended purpose.  It doesn't work that way, so far as I can tell anyway. 

Now that I've written it... I suppose I should start doing it!  Will you join me?

Has God already shown you an area where some adjustments need to be made?  How have you responded?