Monday, July 30, 2012

on worship (part 2)

Make sure you read Part 1 First.

Make up sex.

There is a reason we have that term. Make up sex has magical healing powers. Don’t tell me it doesn’t because if it didn’t, we wouldn’t have that fantastic term in the first place. Make up sex, the very best kind. You know it!

Have you ever noticed that when you go for long periods of time without having sex with your spouse a drift begins to form between the two of you? Sometimes the drift appears when sex is absent, other times sex becomes scarce and then the drift begins to emerge.  Either way when there is no sex true intimacy is hard to achieve, where there is no intimacy walls start to go up and true closeness is hard to come by. You argue more, your selfishness escalates and your willingness to give evaporates. You blow up and have the big fight.  But then… you have make up sex.  Sex not only creates intimacy like no other loving act on earth, but it is also a healing salve to our wounded and disconnected souls. When this kind of intimacy occurs, it’s magical healing starts to take place. 

 Does that sound familiar? I find that in my own spiritual journey the more selfish and self focused I am the harder it is to worship, because worship is about God, not about me. When I don’t worship and I become self centered my resentment and a lack of understanding of my relationship with God begins to deepen. At this point I am only interested in taking instead of giving myself to him. Do you see the connection?

Worship puts an end to wherever the cycle had degraded. Worship heals and reconciles. Worship is about giving. Worship takes the focus off of self and it gives to what it loves. The more we give ourselves to what and whom we love, the more joy we experience. Sex is the same way.

Just like in sexual intimacy, pleasure is to be given, but pleasure is also to be received.

As we recognize who we are in Christ and receive his precious gift of salvation, peace, love, joy and hope we are able to thank him and acknowledge him as the giver through worship. It gives us great pleasure in doing so and, it gives him great pleasure to receive it. He delights himself in you! You are his bride! He chose you. He died for you for the joy set before him (Heb. 12:2).  You are the apple of his eye.

Go and practice the healing power of sexual intimacy if you wish. But mostly I urge you to go practice the healing power of Worship as you give yourself to the Living God and connect with him like never before. Delight yourself in him and enjoy as he delights in you.

Friday, July 27, 2012

on being under the influence

You have heard (or perhaps even experienced) that when you are under the influence of alcohol you lose all inhibitions. Well, it is my contention today that when you are under the influence of PMS you lose all concept of reality. Furthermore, you also lose the ability to exercise moderation in any area of your life.

During PMS you are always extra fat and extra ugly, and everyone else is extra fat and extra ugly. Except for your thin friends, of course, they are suddenly extra thin and more gorgeous than ever. You become a monster and everyone else around you becomes a monster too, especially your children. You husband suddenly becomes insatiably horny and won’t keep his hands off of you, which under any other circumstance would be flattering, but now is just plain annoying. Your friends are mean, and your in-laws can do nothing right. You eat all the time, and when you are not eating you are crying or, at the very least, whining and complaining about something. What is there not to cry about? Everyone is a monster and you are fat.

Life is exasperating. 

You age 10 years. You get 10 new wrinkles, 10 new zits and 10 new ponds (in each breast!). It is 10 times hotter and everything takes 10 times longer to do; everywhere you go is 10 times further. You have told your kids what to do 10 times and your husband, well, he’s… disappeared by now.

When you reach 40 take all of the above and make it 10 times worse.

My clothes are tighter, my car is slower, I forget everything, I'm having a real bad hair day, and everything is so darn complicated. The dog won’t stop barking.

Hello, my name is Susan and I am under the influence.

I’m exasperated, I’m old and I have a hard time moving forward. I was on the computer for hours today trying to improve my blogging savvy-ness and learned nothing. I haven’t taken a shower and my head is hurting. I never made it to the gym, and I have at least 5 half written blog posts to finish, three more in my mind that I haven’t even started. I can’t remember the clever sub title that I was going to add to this post, but, even if I could, I wouldn’t know how to add a subtitle anyway, because I learned nothing today. Remember?

I have clean clothes spread on my bed, waiting to be folded and put up. I will at some point in time throw them all back on the floor so that I can go to bed. There is hair all over the bathroom floor, books all over my desk, soap all over the bathroom sink, and the only reason I swept the kitchen today is because my monstrous clumsy son broke a glass. I also have no food on the table, only chocolate in my belly. Who cares about anyone else anyway? They are monsters.

Don’t worry, after the hangover I’ll be the happiest woman on earth, married to the sexiest man alive, enjoying the most awesome kids ever, and admiring best in-laws that ever existed. I will feel beautiful and alive. I will run 4 miles, eat lots of fruits and veggies, and cook healthy meals for my family. I will smile, not yell; I will laugh and not cry. I will fold the clothes, clean the house and take a shower. I will wear makeup, put on my cutest outfit, and wear my wedges without falling over.

Until then I think I will go pour me a glass of wine, find me an uncluttered spot in the house and read a non-thought provoking book.

Cheers to all women. Cheers to PMS and being under the influence!

Friday, July 20, 2012

on worship, an act of trust (part 1)

Take a deep breath here and stay with me. Warning. This is a very candid post.
This is actually a re-post from about a year and a half ago that I felt like sharing again. I edited it slightly and as I pondered more about the subject matter I decided to write a second part that I will be publishing some time next week. Stay tuned if you are not scandalized by the subject matter!

Here we go.

I read a long time ago in a Beth Moore study about prayer life and how it can be likened to marital intimacy. Although I agree with her because there is a great bit of intimacy in prayer, I tend to agree more with John Eldredge.

In his book "The Journey of Desire" he wrote a chapter titled: "The grand affair".
He writes:

"For us creatures of the flesh, sexual intimacy is the closest parallel we have to real worship"

Stop here and let me say this. I hope you are married so you can better understand what I am going to write about. I also hope that you are as blessed as I am with a very healthy marriage. I am married to the most wonderful man on earth for me. My husband, although he is not perfect and he doesn't always "get me", he loves me very well. He is my best friend, my companion, he is good at lifting me up, taking care of me, and he is a wonderful giving lover.

Although Eldridge does a way better job at going deep into this, he really helped me understand the discipline of worship in a whole new light. I got to thinking about sexual intimacy and what it requires of us. Lets face it, if you are truly going to experience great sexual intimacy with your husband there are a few things that are kind of required, or else it may not be all that healthy of a relationship.

First of all I need to feel very secure in the love and loyalty that my husband has toward me. That is something that he has proven over and over in the 21 years of our marriage. My husband is faithful.
Are you secure in the fact that God loves you, that he is loyal to you; he wishes no harm to you. Can you see how he has shown himself faithful to you all these years?

Second, it's kind of hard to have sex with your clothes on! You have to take it all off. For some crazy reason my husband thinks that I am the sexiest, most desirable person on the face of this earth. I know that and I BELIEVE it! I know that I am not perfect; he knows that I am not perfect, yet he STILL wants me. He still treasures me, and when I understand that it is way easier for me to take it all off and still have the light on. I have nothing to hide.

Do you think that God loves you and treasures you? Do you know that you can "take it all off" and he will still love you where you are, with the “extra pounds” the not so perfect “figure”, with the "cellulite" or "varicose veins". If you don't feel like he will take you as you are, then you will have a hard time taking it all off. You will go through the motions and never know what it feels like to be "naked" in his perfect presence yet still be treasured in your imperfect being. Don't be ashamed in the presence of God, delight in him and let him delight in you!

Lastly, to have great sex you must give it your all. There is no holding back. You could call it complete abandon.

All of this requires TRUST. I believe that that is the bottom line in worship. It is why I think that worship is an act not only of adoration, but also one of trust, an expression of trust. "I not only love you and adore you Lord, you are the creator of the Universe and of me. You are powerful and mighty, but also I trust you and I GIVE myself fully to you with complete abandon."

How can you believe, take it all off and be naked in the presence of God if you don't trust him? Don't worry about what it looks like on the outside, or what others seem to be doing, ask yourself: Do I trust you, God, with myself? Then give yourself completely to him, no holding back.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

do you have an ark to build?

As I was struggling and arguing with God again about my inadequacies, lack of experience, and lack of audience he brought to mind the story of Noah.

It is estimated that it took Noah 55-75 years to build the ark. Although it ultimately saved humankind, only 8 people boarded that boat. Only 8.

This is what he taught me that day.

I have time. I don’t have time to procrastinate, but I have whatever time God has allotted me. No matter how difficult the task is or how long I think it may take me to accomplish, time is going to be ticking away no matter if I do it or not. I can avoid it and whine while time passes, or I can get to work (perhaps even fail) while time passes. He has given us time, lets make our time count.

I can’t worry about who gets on board. My job is not to get people on board, my job is to walk faithfully with God and obey. So be it if I only have 8 who join me. My art and my work will not ultimately save the world, but even if only 8 come with me, we can together ride the storm and delight ourselves in rainbows at the end. 

Don’t get caught in the storm. When the rain starts falling and the waters begin to rise you’ll be glad that, even though it seemed crazy at the time, you obeyed anyway.

Now, go grab your hammer and nails. Go build your ark. He will give you the time you need and the right company to hold your hand when the boat starts to rock.

Friday, July 13, 2012

between spit and heaven

In her book So Long Insecurity, Beth Moore pays a visit to a very unusual story in the Bible. It’s one of those stories that makes your head spin and you can’t help but wonder what on earth was Jesus doing? And what on earth would this mean to me? As it turns out, as with most stories that swim in my mind for weeks on end, the more I thought about it the more it meant to me.

Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida
 22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
 24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
 25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”

Can I get an amen on the, this is just a weird story?

What’s up with spitting in a man’s eyes in the first place? Interestingly, the act of spitting is quite an insult anywhere else in scripture and, well, in any societal mores period; it is gross and degrading. Why would Jesus choose such a crazy unconventional means to heal this blind man? Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for that, but I do love Beth’s perspective on the whole spitting matter.

In terms that are common to us today, you might think of it as Christ slathering the blind man’s eyes with his own DNA.

This is not the only instance in which he chooses such unconventional approach to healing. He healed another man’s blindness with a concoction of spit and dirt from the ground in John 9. And in Mark 7 he also healed a man that was deaf and “could hardly talk” by placing his fingers in his ears and then it says that he “spit and put his hand on his tongue”. Surely it wouldn’t be blasphemous for me to say that God sometimes does really weird things, would it?

Weird enough if we left it there. But what really must be catching your attention as it did mine is the fact that at first glance it sure does seem like Jesus has made a mistake. This man is only partially healed. Do you remember Wesley, in The Princess Bride, after Wesley is tortured to death and brought to the witch Doctor? Wesley is declared by Billy Crystal’s character (the which doctor) as “mostly dead”. I guess we could declare this blind guy as “mostly healed”. I mean, he went from what we can assume complete blackness blind to seeing men as trees, walking. Close enough? I don’t think so.

As I continue on my own personal journey of healing, I find myself relating to this guy more and more. For starters, notice how he takes the blind man by the hand and guides him outside the village. In my own life although I could have been healed anywhere (as could have this blind guy) Jesus chose to take me by the hand and lead me outside of what was familiar to me, literally outside of my village to a completely different part of the country. Without knowing what was really going on when God took my hand to bring me to Texas he knew that this was the place where I would best feel his healing hands upon me, and where I would begin to see real change taking place in my heart.

Healing is part of the restoration and sanctification process that we receive only through Christ. He already spilled his DNA from the cross to bestow onto us this healing; and after his hands are upon us the healing journey will be so different for each of us. I love that about him. He does not use a “one prescription heals all” method. We are all wounded so differently, and we each have our own stories to live, and eventually our own stories to tell. We can come to him in secret as the woman with the “flow” did, or we can have people who care about us lead us to this healer, as the blind man’s friends did, or just have our loved ones intercede on our behalf, as the father of the dead little girl did. He has an individual remedy for each of us.

My favorite part of the story comes next. After spitting and laying his hands on the blind man he says:

Do you see anything?

I love how Jesus checks in on him. Jesus is the one pursuing us.
Sometimes I feel like Jesus is continually checking in on me in this way. He asks me, what do you see? Most of the time, I feel as though I still see “men like trees”, in other words I don’t think I’m seeing things clearly. You have for sure laid your healing salve on my being; I see things differently, but not clearly. Here is the best part.

He put his hands on his eyes again…

His healing never ends. I believe this only from experience. Perfection and complete restoration will not be reached till we are with him in heaven. Right now I want him to ask me every day, what do you see? When I see distortedly I want his healing hands on me once again.

…and he made him look up.

This reminds me of Peter, as Audio Adrenaline puts it so well, “if you keep your eyes on Jesus, you can walk on water”. My healing cannot take place by looking at men; they will look like trees. My healing will take place when I look up. Up toward my Father, up toward heaven, up to Jesus himself.

And the hope of the journey is:

And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.

My healing is a constant touch of the hands and spirit of Jesus as I continue to look up. That is just where I am now. I am in the pause somewhere between the spit and heaven. Some days I just have to say, Lord, I see men like trees, walking. I need your touch as I look to heaven. I want to see things clearly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

to fleece or not to fleece (Gideon Part 4)

Yes I promise that this is the final thought on Gideon. For now, because Gideon is my hero and, since we all have a little bit of Gideon in us I probably won’t be able to let him go forever.

v. 17 If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.

v. 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.

v. 39 Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.

Three times, three times Gideon asks for a confirmation from the Lord. Do you think maybe he was a tad bit insecure? God, my precious God, he is so patient! …for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

Don’t be afraid to come to God with your insecurities, that is what he is there for. He is there for us because when I am weak he is strong.

I think that Gideon here was not demanding proof from God, but instead asking for reassurance and conformation from God.

I also think that what Gideon was seeking was not the will of God; he knew what the will of God was. God had already told him what to do, AND he told him what the outcome would be. I think that what Gideon was seeking was in essence the same thing that the man with the spirit-possessed son was asking for in Mark 9 when he tells Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

What I love most about this particular part of the story, is that a few verses after the three requests from Gideon (which God complies with, by the way), God actually chooses on his own initiative to give him yet one more sign. He tells him:

“If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah  and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.”

Man, he is so sweet!

I have a great marriage. Mike and I are deeply in love, even after 21 years, the love just keeps growing. I have many issues, but thankfully none of my issues and insecurities involves doubt about my husband’s love for me. I have absolute total confidence that he loves me deeply. I never have fears or irrational thoughts of him leaving me for a younger, thinner, more beautiful woman, I just don’t. Don’t get me wrong; I’m never na├»ve enough to think that I’m immune to anything like that happening, because everyone is susceptible to having their life, as they know it, change in an instant. It happens all the time. But really, losing my husband is the last worry on my mind. I have plenty of other things to worry about.  Yet, on a regular basis I reach out to him and ask him this silly question, that of course, I know the answer to.

Do you love me?

Of course he loves me! But in the comings and goings of life I just feel this deep need for his reassuring devotion to me. In the midst of the multiple messages I receive when I glance at the magazines at the grocery check out counter, or when I see commercials on TV that insinuate that what men really want is “this” (you know, the ridiculously sexy, lean, touched up bombshell), it’s good to be reminded that what my man really wants is me. I know it, but I still want to hear it. When the house is dirty or there is no food on the table and I fear his disappointment (which isn’t even there), I want to be reminded that he still loves me, that his love does not hinge on my looks or my performance. I need to hear it.

In the midst of sin and being overtaken by the messages from the enemy that was oppressing him and his people, Gideon needed that reminder that God really was going to save Israel by his hand. And just like Mike is willing to indulge me and tell me that he really, really does love me, and then go above and beyond and also remind me that he thinks I’m beautiful and sexy and the best wife ever, God was willing to indulge Gideon and let him know that he really, really was going to use him to deliver Israel, and then goes above and beyond by sending him to overhear an enemy’s conversation. There, the enemy pretty much declares that they knew that Gideon was going to defeat them! (and don’t you forget that truth girlfriend, the enemy knows he’s screwed!)

Some people may be hard on Gideon, and perhaps rightly so. After all, think about the brave ones that so blindly trusted God even when they had no idea what the outcome was going to be. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refusing to bow down to the image of gold knowing good and well that they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. They had no idea if they were going to be saved or not. They did it anyway. Ester decided to go talk to king Xerxes, knowing good and well that she could be put to death for doing so. She did it anyway. David never asked God if he would be able to defeat Goliath! He just went for it.

I tend to have a little more compassion on Gideon though, because I can also think of people like Thomas who believed that Jesus was the Son of God and was his follower for 3 years. He had heard that he was going to die and rise again, but refused to believe that he was alive until he had proof. When Jesus saw him he said,

“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27

Even John the Baptist, toward the end of his life while he was in prison he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask him,

Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?”

As much as we might deserve it, Christ will not chastise us in moments of insecurity and unbelief. He heals the man’s spirit possessed son, he asks Thomas to touch his hands and his side, he sends an answer to John the Baptist, he wets Gideon’s fleece and keeps it dry on the second request.
If “putting down your fleece” is a prayer to Christ to nourish your trust him, and to help you overcome your unbelief, by all means, lay down the fleece, he will be there to let you know-

Yes dear, I really, really do love you. I really, really am going to use you.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Welcome to My Freedom

It’s been a while since I have opened my doors to you. Today you will get a small glimpse of the downstairs new paint color. It is so much lighter and brighter in here. I love it. In the future I will on occasion continue to show you the slow progress in all that has been done and will continue to be done on our house.

For now, I just wanted to wish all of you a fun, relaxing, flip flop wearing,  bbq smelling, watermelon seed spitting, bike riding, mosquito killing, firework filled Forth of July.





As we celebrate this awesome day that marks another anniversary of the day our forefathers successfully proclaimed our freedom through their sacrifice and blood, I want to also remind you to celebrate the ultimate personal freedom we have all received through the sacrifice and blood of Jesus Christ.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
 2 Corinthians 3:17