I am Tired of Bible Study

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I’m tired of studying the Bible to attain, or in some cases, retain, head knowledge.

If I absorb information without action, then am I similar to the Pharisee of the day–one full of knowledge, but, oftentimes accused of being callous?

The world is a mess.  People are starving, while I sit with dessert in hand, being entertained by episodes on food channels.

Children are kidnapped.  Raped.  Brutalized.  Harmed in ways we won’t allow our minds to grapple because it is too uncomfortable for us to entertain such thoughts.

Or, their little lives are ended prematurely, yet, I hasten to get involved because of controversy.

Enough.

“Wreck me, Lord Jesus.”  

Wreck me to the desires of the world, so I can be intimately involved with the hearts of the lost and broken.

One of my all-time favorite quotes is penned from the founder of World Vision, Bob Pierce:

“Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”  

Not only that, wreck me so much so, that I will not stop at just helping with the physical needs of the oppressed, but loving them so much I share with them the One who rescues us from ultimate destruction–Jesus Christ.

Love,

Josie

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.  Luke 19:10

 

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I See Deadly People

Single soul initiative

The stench caught my attention before the carcass caught my eye.  Actually, the first glimpse on my path of death were of a gang of vultures, sitting alongside the makeshift dinner table of the road’s shoulder, devouring the hard-shelled carcass of an armadillo.

The smell so intense, I had to cover my nostrils with my sweat-covered STANKY shirt to provide momentary relief.

Does one ever get used to the smell of a body no longer alive?

I don’t believe so.

This brief altercation brought to my mind a moment years ago when I saw a deadly woman in my peripheral vision.  No, she was not a ghost  sneaking up on me from the other side of the grave–

She was a living, breathing person who occupied a seat in the row behind me at church one Wednesday evening.

By all appearances, she was alive–

She stood.

She took in oxygen.

She clapped to the music, as words exited her mouth.

Fully alive.  But, I wonder if that was only a technicality.

I saw death in the midst.

When I say this, I mean literal death.  Her flesh was falling off.  Her skin barely had hold to her body.  So grotesque.  Inwardly, I cringed, yet outwardly I forced my eyes from an obvious diversion from her sight by keeping focus on something, anything, so she wouldn’t be offended by my behavior.

So, I stared at her hands as they clapped.  They seemed larger than normal as the pieces of skin flapped in the wind of her rhythm.

How on earth was she even alive?  That, and why was no one else bothered by this sight?

As we took our seats after worship, I gazed forward, which gave my eyes momentary relief.  But, my heart was haunted over her, and throughout the pastor’s message, I tossed about in my chair worried over her welfare.

After service one would wonder why I didn’t just turn around and embrace her with concerned dialog.  Oh no.  Instead I did a sort of plea bargain with God–that kind I offered when I really don’t want to do anything of the sort, yet, knowing I should do something,  I throw out a  sliver of a bargain with God in hope He allows me off the hook.

“If she looks my way God, I will talk to her.”  

Luckily, she looked elsewhere, and I was officially off the hook.

Still, after I left, I couldn’t remove the picture engrained in my mind of her appearance.

And, because of my lackluster performance, my guilt-ridden gut began an authentic plea bargain with God–promising to sit with this injured soul the following week.


When Wednesday arrived, with determination in my step, I made my way toward the Worship Center.  But, before I could enter, I was stopped by an attractive woman with whom I’m an acquaintance.

She plans to attend service, and asks if she can sit with me.

NO!  I yell to myself.  I am on a mission to help the woman who looks as if she is the aftermath of a landmine explosion.

But, outwardly, I accept the invitation to sit together.

Still, I scan the room looking for her whereabouts.

She is not there.

Bothered, I sit back and embrace the service.

Eyes closed at the onset of a prayer, I hear a slight whimper originate from the woman next to me, followed by rustling from her seat as she stands and makes her way to the altar.

I bend over as if  engrossed in the deepest of prayers to avoid the quiet nudge within that STRONGLY suggests I get up and make my way next to her up at the altar.

“But, God, I don’t want to go up there.”

I sense deep within there will be no bargaining my way out of this one.  So, I make my way to her side and slip my arm around her and draw her close.  Tears stream down her face as I speak words to her I am not entirely sure what they are.

After a few minutes, we both make our way back to our seats, and after service, we depart our separate ways.

Sometimes what we see is not entirely accurate to the condition underneath the surface.  Could it be God placed this “vision” of a deathly woman in my heart so my eyes and heart were open to the encounter of another woman who would stumble upon my path with the appearance of life, but was actually dying underneath the false physical exterior of beauty?

“God, please give us eyes to see the true heart condition of those in our vicinity who need you, and the heart to respond to them with love. “

The Problem With Mixed Messages

Do I look fat?

It’s the age-old question that begs dishonesty in most American households. You see, I ask this, but don’t expect an answer that is anything other than, “What? Oh no; honey you look absolutely amazing.”

“In fact, you look so good, it looks as if you’ve lost a hundred pounds.”

Actually, this does not work either.

Too extreme an answer. Once, I lost eleven pounds and asked Hubby if he noticed a change, and that was his word-for-word response.

This is what happens when one talks in extremes:

1. Either he believes I look as if I have lost 100 pounds, and since the scale registers  significantly more than 100 pounds, he thinks I weigh entirely more than I actually do.

Or,

2. I need to lose 100 pounds.

Neither render a favorable response.

It is best to speak the truth, and nothing but the truth.

The problem with speaking in extremes is it easily causes confusion and/or conflict.

When my youngest was around four years old, she befriended a family a few houses away from ours.

One day, she made reference to their home environment one too many times, and I had just had it.

I said point blank, “If you want to live at Michael and Ryan’s house, go ahead.”

My extreme response was riddled in jealousy and hurt.

Don’t misunderstand, I do not encourage such living arrangements, especially at preschool age, but this is not the point.

She took these words of mine at face value.

I stood there, shocked, as she put on her boots and red coat, with the faux fur-lined hood, and strutted right out the door.

What in the world?

I watched in horror as she walked the snow-lined street on her way to their residence–without even a single look back.

Actually, I noticed a sort of determination in her stride, and am almost certain, a slight smile that increasingly grew with each step.

I thought for sure I played her bluff.

But, she was four and she didn’t understand bluffs.

Neither did she understand my mixed signals lined with hints of sarcasm.

So, eating a snow version of crow, I ran out the door and called her back.

This was not at all a pretty snowscape scene with mom and daughter running toward one another with arms open wide–both in tears at the thought of losing one another.

No, it was a different type of heartbreak.

“You said I could live at Michael and Ryans!”, as tears pour from this miniature person’s eyes.

Her dream of being part of the fine Irish family would not come to fruition, and my heart shattered at the realization my baby would rather live elsewhere.

All because I did not mean what I said.

The lesson here is a simple one:

Let’s say what we mean and mean what we say.

When I See a Person as a Project…

It's not a project, but a person.

I hear the words somewhere inside me rise to the surface, exclaiming:

“It’s not a project, but a person.”

Hmmm.

What does this mean?

After hours of internal interrogation on the possibilities, the following is my two-bullet-conclusion:

  • A project has a set agenda with a set goal to accomplish.
  • Yet, a person is a living, breathing entity.

Yes, I am that smart intelligent.

In all seriousness, if I look at a person as a project, I risk harm to the relationship.

Because, if I pursue an individual as a project in need of repair, and attempt to project my agenda into the restoration process, albeit good and necessary repairs like obedience, cleanliness and discipline, I risk damaging the good of my relationship with the individual.

It may appear I accomplish completion in the character transformation of another, but flaws soon surface because the external condition is inconsistent with internal conflict within.

But, if I pursue a person as Jesus does, with truth awash in His Love, then it is a win-win result.

Dividing lines of defense crumble when I pursue a person with the brushstrokes of love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control, and my former agendas transition into deep, meaningful conversations which cross the boundary lines of opposition.

Yes, it is not a project, but a person.  

Who is that person in your life you are looking at with Pinterest eyes?

 

 

 

The Land of Promise

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Awkward would best describe the way I feel. Like wearing a pair of high heels the first time. You recognize that this is not normal for your feet and it takes concentrated effort to gracefully maneuver. Make sense?

I had a dream.

I stand close to the water. I see below the surface to the bottom. It is full of rocks. The water is clear and calm. I lean in for a closer peek. It feels as if time stands still. Maybe it is because of the stillness of the water. I don’t know.

I only see my lower half (a good thing) as I either have my pant legs pulled up or I am wearing capris. I gently place my painted toes into the water as if checking the temperature.

Ripples move outward.

As with dreams, the scene abruptly shifts. I am on the other side. People are with me, but I do not see their faces. Only the ground as I guide them to pick up the now dry stones to build an altar of sorts.

I awaken.

The dream feels familiar. I know this story.

Joshua, Moses’ successor had a similar real-life moment. He was about to take a journey to the Promised Land. The River Jordan was high; at flood stage. The water was rushing. I am confident his adrenaline was rushing through him just as fast.

God encourages him to take a step. He will go before Joshua on this journey. Joshua and the people move forward in faith. The water parts and a thoroughfare opens. The rest is history.

The water is still. No huge storm or rushing water in my dream. I am still. He wants me to take a step of trust. I attempt to hold back the waters of His workings instead of allowing Him to miraculously move the water.

It is time to put my foot into the water.

It will take courage to move forward and enter the land of promises He has in store for me.

Yet, I want to walk in these new shoes. They are too valuable to just sit on a shelf.

I am ready to take the step.

Will you join me?

 

Lord, help me be the person you have called me to be. Give me the courage to move forward on the journey you have marked out specifically for me. Forgive me for standing when you are stepping. I want to be like Joshua. I know it will require more of me than ever before. I know you are with me. You will not abandon me on this journey. You always keep your promises. I am ready for the next step. Help me maneuver in this new terrain. In Jesus name…

Don’t Ask Why, Ask What

It is a short exclamation, in the midst of a long message, which makes my heart pitter-patter at the speaker’s declaration:

Don’t ask why, ask what.

Not long after, I lose internet connection, and the video shifts to static on my screen.

But, instead of attempting to reboot connection and find my whereabouts in this unfinished message, I move on about my morning without another thought of this peculiar phrase.

Until I enter my vehicle.

After a failed attempt to phone a friend, I turned on talk radio.

The first words I hear transmit over the airwaves are exactly the same:

Don’t ask why, ask what.  

What in the world?

The pastor’s next words do not infiltrate my thought process since these five take possession of my mind, and grab hold of my heart.

I ponder its meaning.

I don’t feel there is anything at this very moment in time which I would question God with–

Why?  

Why, God?  Why?

Why did you allow this to happen to me?

Why don’t you fix this situation that I know you can?

Why are you doing this to me?

Why, God?  Why?

So, knowing this is not necessarily for now, but later, my mind deliberately wonders–

What?

What moment will I be apt to question You, Lord?

What do You want me to learn from this situation?

What part of me do You want conformed to Your character through this difficulty?


 

Today, I am stuck with another question, in the form of a how–

How?

How is it You love me as much as You do that You interrupt time and space to fill me with messages directly from You?  (is this even grammatically correct?  I don’t care.)

Oh, How He loves us.  

Tear Down That Wall

Humpty Dumpty sat on that wall. And, before too long, he had one great fall. All the kings horses and all the kings men, well what happened is that they couldn’t put poor old Mr. Dumpty back together again.

A sad story really.

He fell hard off a wall.

The fate of this fable makes me wonder, was it because Humpty stayed on his wall, that after some time, the wall, ironically, delivered him to his fatal conclusion?

Think about it. Do you ever wonder when you hear this story, why he decided to go up on the wall in the first place, high and far-removed from the general population? And another thing, why didn’t he just come down?

Was there more to his story than meets the eye?

Since this is merely fiction, my imagination has an opportunity to imagine. And what I notice is possibly he struggled with another wall in his fictional life–

The wall of isolation.

Humpty was all alone up there. No other egg to accompany him–a loner Isolated from the general population .  

Possibly, difficulties arose in his life and he grew tired and worn out, but because he stayed clear of others, he did not recognize the warning signs of weariness.

And because of his worn out and weary state, he eventually fell asleep, and then fell hard. If he would have allowed others near and dear to him to help him in his fragile state, they could have carried him during his down times.

Just a thought.

If you are attempting to go it alone, please reconsider.

We need to hold each other up when the difficulties of life attempt to tear us down.

1 Thessalonians 5:10-12 – He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.