Monday, July 27, 2015

Winding Down On Summer

Baseball season is over.

I'm of two minds about that fact.

I'm somewhat nostalgic. Baseball has been great for our family this year. This was the first organized sport the boys have ever done. And it was an amazing experience. The players and the coach made it amazing.

I don't know about you, but I am totally an "it takes a village" person, when it comes to raising my kids. There is no way on God's green earth that I can teach my kids every thing they need to know to survive and thrive! I just don't have all the skill sets.

Which is why it makes me rather weepy-eyed, squeezy-heart, choked-up feeling, when someone pours into my kids. Our Coach James poured. And poured.

What a guy! Seriously! He had the heart of a teacher. The heart of a coach. He wanted all the boys to succeed. He sacrificed his time on all the Tuesdays and Thursdays of June and July to give of his expertise and wisdom so these boys could learn to be baseball players.

And I do mean, learn. My boys were not the only boys on the team with zero baseball skills. There were 2 great players (the coaches' son, and son's friend), 2 good players, and 7 really not good players.

He taught them how to play baseball. He drilled the skills. He had easy to remember one-liners. "Play's on first." "Eyes on the ball." "Watch it into your mitt." "Get your mitt dirty."

No matter how frustrating it must have been (and I'm sure it was), he never let his frustration show. He never lost his cool. He just kept instructing, repeating, encouraging.

Consequently, each one of these players is now in love with the game. They get the game-even if their skills are a bit rough (really, really rough) still. They all improved-a lot.

I was so proud of them. I was proud of them in their orange jerseys, cleats, and gloves. I was proud of them when they lost their first 3 games. I was proud of them when they went on to win the next 5. I was proud of them for showing up. I was proud of them for every ball that was hit. I was proud of them for every ball that was caught. For each strike against the other team. For each walk for our team. For every play at first, and second, and third.

And I will miss it. I will miss sitting in my lawn chair, swatting bugs, sweating, and cheering as loud as I could.

Yes, I'm definitely nostalgic with the end of the baseball season.

I'm also somewhat panicked. 

July is done! (Practically speaking.)

I knew that we were committing on Tuesdays and Thursdays through June and July. And that when baseball ended, so would July.

8 weeks of baseball done. 4 weeks of swimming lessons-winding down. The summer almost over.

I know. It really isn't. We still have all of August. But, have you seen my calendar?

My summer life-style consisting of training, naps, baseball, swimming, and occasional cooking and cleaning, is about to get a bit harried.

Summer is going out with a bang!

I'm trading baseball, naps and swim lessons for VBS, a wedding, sewing a flower girl dress for said wedding and also making pulled pork for said wedding.

Plus 2 birthdays. And our 14th(!!) anniversary.

A husband who is doing long roofing days on a huge (700 square) roof about an hour from home, with an abbreviated crew.

School curriculum that needs planned and ordered. School cabinets that need organized. School supplies that need purchased. Last year's transcripts needing to be filled out for BMV.

Grandparents in town for a week.

Peaches needing canned. Tomatoes needing canned.

And triathlon training still needs to happen. As well as working on She Plans Dinner.


It is going to be a delicate dance between careful planning and living in/enjoying the summer moments. Flexibility and scheduled. One step at a time and multi-tasking.

It's going to be a continued pattern of letting go what can be let go. Focusing on the important-for importance's sake, and before everything becomes urgent.

It's going to be a intentional focusing on enjoying the last hurrah of summer, before the seasons turn to fall.

That's nostalgic!

Monday, July 20, 2015

My Current Paradox

I am truly loving this summer. The pace has been pretty great. The temps have been on the cooler side of hot, which is fine by me. I've done lots of reading, and biking, and sitting outside-all of which are things I love to do.

For quite a few years I have felt like the summer version of me, is my favorite version. It may even be the best version of me. Physically, I am strong and toned. (I completed my Iron Man last week-with some hours to spare!) My skin is sun kissed. Mentally, I am more relaxed and zen.

I feel healthy, happy, strong and energized.

But, the paradox is that, at the same time, I feel weak, unmotivated, and so overwhelmed by life that I just want to crawl into my bed, pull the comforter over my head, and not come out-ever?

Honestly, last week I felt my weakest, when I was feeling my strongest. When I was actually getting my Iron Man done. When I was running my first ever 11 miles in July. (I don't usually pick up those kinds of summer miles until August for 1/2 marathon training.)

This was not a righteous Paul thing either...when I am weak, then I am strong. Yeah. That is not where I was at.

I was exhausted. I slept close to 8 hours every night (some nights more). I took 2 or 3 naps last week. One of those afternoons, I was so tired, I packed up the cookie dough I was in the middle of baking, and went and took a nap.

I had some health issues, including a cold, that knocked my socks off. (I barely had a voice for several days last week.)

I was hormonal. Like, on the verge of tears when we cashed in our vouchers for a ball game, and got seats. I tried not to cry when the chicken instantly blackened on the grill when the temperature skyrocketed past 750 degrees. (500 degrees to 750 degrees in 3 minutes. Might be a record.)

Like, so overwhelmed by the fact that at 5:00 one evening I had to fold a load of laundry, make guacamole for dinner, and get a swim in, that I couldn't even find a way forward. What to do?

I didn't write. I haven't made bread in weeks. I vacuumed my house, but didn't dust. Scrubbed the bathrooms, but skipped the floors. I cooked basic dinners.

I was trying to sift through keeping promises with keeping my sanity. I was struggling to cope with life, and coping wasn't happening very well. I wasn't thriving in a whole lot of areas. I was surviving by the skin of my teeth.

So, pretty much, when I say on FB that I am having hard week, it's code language for my life has gone to hell in a hand basket. (I strive for low drama online...Snort)

And yet, it was still a great summer week. I loved the time on my bike in the quiet. I loved pushing myself, raising the bar, and meeting that goal. I loved teaching Sunday School. I loved drinking coffee with my man, and praying together every morning. I loved taking my kids to swim lessons, and to the pool to swim with their cousins one afternoon. I loved cheering my boys on at their baseball games, and watching them win both of them.

Weak and strong. At the same time. The paradox.

The struggle is real.

Some would say, "relax on the training. Listen to your body." Trust me, I'm listening. There was no way to ignore the message. But, I also knew that the hormonal crap would pass. It always does. It may have been rougher this time around the block for various reasons, but it was temporary.

I already feel better this week. I feel less tired. I feel less overwhelmed. I feel less guilt about the choices that I am making to simplify life.

I am being proactive about saying no for every yes.

I bought 4 loaves of bread on Saturday. I decided that I've fought this particular battle long enough. Bread making is not conducive to summer, training, and swim lessons. I relieved myself of the burden of trying to figure out when I was going to get it done. Of the burden of guilt for not making bread yet again today. No one is going to die from eating store bought bread for a few weeks.

I am focusing on the important, and what must be done this week. Swim lessons. Baseball games. Dinner with friends. Picking green beans from my garden. Picking blueberries at the farm. Dusting. Training. Working Tuesday. Studying for VBS. Reading to my kids.

So, I might be Iron Manning, but I am also napping. Buying bread. Skipping house work. Making uncomplicated meals.

I'm not doing it all. That option flew out the window quite a few days ago. I'm just striving to do the next thing.

That's what Elisabeth Elliot said-do the next thing.

That subtle reminder/quote came up in my FB feed via my sister in law last week. And then again in a Saturday newsletter from Art of Simple.

It's what I need to remember today. This week.

Just do the next thing. That's all.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Speaking Brave

My goal this summer is to have several Iron Man weeks. (not days. I'm not completely insane.)

2.4 miles in swims. 112 miles on the bike. 26.2 miles in running. 

Last week I stated this goal on FB. And guess what? I didn't meet it. Do I feel bad about stating my goal? No. Do I feel bad that I didn't meet my goal? No. I had a cold which made me feel lousy, my bike got another flat, the kids had swim lessons to work around, and it just didn't happen. Do I feel bad that I also had to say on FB that I threw in the towel on that goal for last week? No. I don't.

Besides, I'm trying again this week.

I mentioned on Facebook (in the same post) that I think we quite often hesitate to state our goals. We will announce when we have met a goal, but often we will play our cards close to our chests until we've accomplished what we've set out to do.


Are we afraid of failure? Of flack?

I'm all about setting goals that are within reach but that also cause me to stretch a bit. Meaning-goals that are accomplishable, but that are going to take some hard work. Yes, there is a possibility of failure, but there is also a good possibility of success. And what does it matter if I don't quite reach my goal? I've probably gotten a whole lot farther than I would have if I never defined a goal.

Failure really isn't much of a deterrent for me. Because rarely is anything a complete and utter disaster or failure. Experiences will be a learning curve, but progress is still made.

I've loved Caddie Woodlawn's quote ever since I first read it..."if at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

If I publicly state my goals, and fail to reach them, I also publicly state my failure. Maybe that will involve eating some humble pie. But, that's not going to hurt me.

Often when we publicly share our hopes, dreams and goals, we get flack about them from others. This can be

You shouldn't do Iron Man weeks-it is taking too much time from your kids. You shouldn't do Iron Man weeks-it's not good to push your body so hard. You shouldn't do Iron Man weeks-you are insane. Your house needs cleaned. You family needs to eat something other than leftovers. You're...

Some people haul out the big guns of guilt and shame, whenever we are brave enough to share what we are aiming for. Often for reasons that have nothing to do with us and our goals, they heap on discouragement and other downers.

There will always be naysayers.

But, then again, there is much good from stating your goals. Accountability. Encouragement. Focus. Motivation. Responsibility. Ownership.

It's a way to breathe life into something that may be rather fuzzy and undefined.

There will always be the people in your corner. Maybe they aren't the vast majority, but they are the ones who cheer you on and believe in you. The ones who encourage you when the way gets rough and tough. The ones who hold your feet to the fire when you just want to give up. The ones who stand alongside you and say that it's okay, whether you succeed or not.

Stating your goals is a way to share the journey and process (and not just the end results) with others.

Also, it is worth saying, that stating your goals does not have to happen on a social media platform. It can be to your BFF, or spouse, your small group, or anyone. Anyone besides just yourself.

And another also...your goals, hopes and dreams are going to look different than mine. That is all the more reason to share. We all benefit when we all share our differences.

I am going to write a book this year. I am going to lose 10 pounds before school restarts in the fall. I am going to paint my kitchen. I am going to learn _____ .

Is there a goal that you need to state loud and proud for the world to hear? 

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Little Bit of This and That...Life Lately

I feel like it has been forever since I wrote last. It almost gets to the point where I wonder if I will ever write again. Sigh.

So many thoughts. Most of which just have not perked enough yet to be written. Some are too private to write.

I had a cold last week, and I ended up taking naps several afternoons instead of writing. I had a goal of doing Iron Man mileage last week, but that just didn't happen. I rested, and rested, and rested some more.

I didn't even hardly cook. I made Mac & Cheese for my brother in law's 40th birthday party last Monday. We ordered pizza Tuesday. Ate leftover Mac & Cheese on Wednesday. Did Olive Garden on Thursday. Am I proud of that? Not really. But, at least we ate. You do what you gotta do.

Today I am feeling pretty good, though I did take a nap. Instead of writing. Or vacuuming and dusting. I am aiming for my Iron Man this week. I know, I know. A real Iron Man has an 18-20 hour time limit. I'm taking advantage of every one of the 168 hours in my week.

The boys finally won a baseball game last Thursday. 9-0. I was amazed (as I think their coach was) that there was actually a team worse than them. I did feel awful for the other team. But, I was proud of our guys. And I think they were pretty pumped too. Finally to score! Finally to win!

As for the girls...well, they are just clicking along. Still sharing the top bunk so that McGuyver can sleep in the bottom bunk. Meres got a Goody hairbrush for her birthday that they both have been loving. Seriously-they could make their own commercial. They tell me every time I brush their hair that this brush doesn't hurt. It makes their hair shiny and soft. So, for those of you with girls who want to is a retro looking brush, for thick hair. It has those beady long bristles, and short clumps of bristles. The combination works magic.

I've been reading and reading a lot lately. Some on my Kindle. Some in paper and ink form. I just read Shauna Niequist's Cold Tangerines. It was her first book, and very similar to her other essay books. I really enjoyed it. I also read 800 Grapes by Laura Dave. It is getting mixed reviews, but I really liked it.

Mr. Hippie has been really busy with work. Which is pretty typical of summers for us. Since he does run his own roofing and siding business. We are thankful for the work. But the summer days sometimes get long.

We are settling well into our new church. There are Which has been a blessing. We do open Sunday School in the summer, and I taught yesterday. It was great to teach again. I do love telling stories to kids. Because they love stories. Well, actually, I think we all love stories.

I am gearing up to teach a VBS the first week of August. My theme is Lonely but not Alone. And I am telling the stories of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego; Daniel; Elijah; Balaam; and Jesus. He is the only one who was ever truly alone, and He bore that so that He can always be with us believers. Such a blessing.

Anyway, that's a glimpse into what's happening around these parts lately. Here's to hoping I get more writing done throughout this week!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Pasta with Spring Vegetables

It's July already! How crazy is that?! I am trying hard not to focus on the fact that our summer break is almost halfway done. It's about time to take a gander at some curriculum for next year, and start getting our syllabus nailed down.

Our first triathlon is this Saturday! What a way to celebrate the 4th! Thankfully, it starts early and is short, so we can do it, and be done, and enjoy the rest of our weekend. We are planning to visit some friends near the Windy City. They put on their own fantastic fireworks display every 4th of July, and this year we finally get to see it.

I've been trying to tackle one of my "urgent" tasks each week (in the interests of not having a completely lazy summer). Last week's task was strawberry picking and processing. This week's task was the weeding. I got most of the big weeds out of my tomato patch before my back was hurting too much. It looks way better. I will probably finish it up on Friday. 

We got a new (to us, and free!) bookshelf for the boys' room this week. They are thrilled to have more than enough shelving for all their favorite books. There are 6 shelves, each about 30" long. That will hold a lot of books. They're happy, I'm happy.

The boys had their first baseball game this week. It was terribly pathetic how bad their team was, but they did have fun. Their regular coach was unable to be there, and only 5 guys from their team. Four players from the younger team stepped up to the plate (literally), so they could actually play. They lost 0-9. The damage would have been worse had there not been a five point per inning limit. I'm pretty sure Freckles was one of only two kids who actually caught a ball. They always seemed a bit surprised when the ball was in play. This does sound rather sad, but I will say that they have all improved since they first started practicing a few weeks ago. Hopefully their games will continue to improve also...

Today I have a pretty healthy recipe for you. Pasta with Spring Vegetables. This dish is packed with asparagus, peas and green onions. The prosciutto gives it a nice flavor. Salty. I love prosciutto! 

Mint and parsley both grow well in the spring, and they add a very springy taste to the pasta.

This dish is dairy-free, and can easily be made gluten-free by using GF pasta. 

Pasta w/ Spring Vegetables
Prep time: 15 minutes, Cook time: 10 minutes, Total time: 25 minutes
1 pound cavatelli or other  short pasta
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound asparagus
1 bunch green onions
6 garlic cloves
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
1/4 cup mint
3/4 cup parsley
6 slices thin prosciutto
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

-Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup water.
-Trim tough ends from asparagus, cut into 1/2” pieces.
-Trim roots from green onion and cut into 1” pieces.
-Mince garlic. Chop mint and parsley. Tear prosciutto.
-In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, crisp up the prosciutto. Remove from skillet and set aside.
-Heat the oil in the skillet, and sauté the green onions, asparagus, and peas until tender and bright green in color, 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds.
-Add the pasta, reserved pasta water, mint and parsley to the skillet and mix well. Serve topped with the crisped prosciutto.

Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Current Events: Learning to Love the Sinner but Hate the Sin

The BFF asked me the morning if I was going to blog about the legalization of gay marriage.

It's such a big subject. Many, many people have already sounded forth on both sides of the issue. I see levels, nuances and tension. My many thoughts on the subject mean that it is going to be hard work writing. Not easy, type it up, add a graphic, and publish. This is hard work writing.

-Every person who posted on social media this weekend against legalized gay marriage, was lambasted in the comments. Without fail. 

A lot of the comments ran along the lines of Christian bigot. To think the SCOTUS decision is wrong is to be hateful and close minded and intolerant and unenlightened. There were less harsh accusations of hypocrisy. To be against legalized gay marriage is practically claiming to be without sin, didn't you know? Which no one is. Thus, Christians who are against legalized gay marriage need to zip it, until the time that they reach perfection. Then they will be allowed to add something to the discussion.

I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I believe everything in it is true. This is the filter, the paradigm, on which my life is based. This is what forms my unapologetic Biblical worldview. The Bible is the lens through which I view the world.

Just because this is my paradigm doesn't mean I am stupid, hateful, hypocritical, gullible, naive, archaic, bigoted, or any number of other adjectives that have been used to describe people like me.

The Bible says that homosexuality is sin. The Bible calls homosexuality depraved. The Bible calls homosexuality an abomination. The fact that other sin is sin, does not negate the fact that homosexuality is sin. 

Homosexuality is insidious in nature. The whole gay agenda is insidious in nature. The fact that this "victory" is being celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike should cause us to wake up and take notice. Being on the same page as the world is very rarely a good thing. 

Homosexuality is something that God condemns in Scripture and yet a lot of His people are rejoicing this is now legal. Rainbows are being worn with pride. 

It's ludicrous.

Almost everyone believes stealing-taking something that does not belong to you-is wrong. The Bible says it is sin. We don't celebrate stealing, or thieves. We wouldn't celebrate legislation that made stealing legal.

Most people believe affairs are wrong. Affairs are novelized and romanticized. But, affairs, even in movies and popular novels, always happen on the down low. There is sneaking and deceit. Why? As human beings, we know it is wrong to cheat on a spouse. That's why we try to hide it. The Bible says affairs are sin.

Sex trafficking is despicable. And though many are supporting it in various ways, if pressed, most people would publicly admit that it is despicable. The Bible calls it sin. We don't celebrate sex trafficking. We wouldn't celebrate legislation that made sex-trafficking legal. As a matter of fact, there is a whole lot of people lobbying for tougher legislation so that it is even more illegal.

Lying. Cheating. Murder. Greed. These are all things that are mostly frowned upon in our society. We don't celebrate them. Some are illegal in our country, and we are not pushing legislation to make them legal on the basis of justice and love and equality. Furthermore, the Bible calls these things sin, and we are okay with that. It agrees with our own moral code.

So, why, are a whole lot of mainline Christians thrilled about this Supreme Court ruling? Why are a whole lot of mainline Christians against calling homosexuality sin?

It doesn't make sense to me.

I differ from a lot of evangelicals in that I don't believe the United States in a Christian country. I certainly do not believe we are a Theocracy. I wouldn't necessarily say that we were founded upon Christian principles. 

People of any worldview in our democracy want to see legislation that supports their worldview. It's only logical. This applies to Christians with a Biblical worldview. It applies to others who don't have a Biblical worldview. 

Our experiences shape our worldview, but our experiences do not affect the truth. 

It doesn't matter how many gays you know, homosexuality is still sin. It doesn't matter their personalities, or their basic goodness. That doesn't change the truth. 

Truth is an absolute. It doesn't change from person to person, culture to culture, generation to generation. 

Truth is found in the person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6) whether you believe that or not. Truth is found in the Bible. Thy word is truth. (John 17:17)

-Judge not, is probably the most quoted verse in the Bible. But, it is only part of the verse. Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged. With what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you again. (Matthew 7:1-2)

Humans will be judged by the same standards they use to judge. That is what the Bible is saying. Judge not is not a sentence, it's a phrase, of a longer sentence.

As a believer, I have a problem with the Supreme Court ruling. It directly opposes the Bible, which is the paradigm I used to form my beliefs and behaviors.

As an American, I have the Constitutional right to protest this ruling. I'm not saying that I am going to break the law. I am saying that I can let my voice be heard to try and change this ruling. I can write my Senators and Congressmen. I can write President Obama. I can vote. I can be involved. It's how the amendments starting, and then ending, the Prohibition, were passed.

Furthermore, it is possible to disagree with a behavior on the basis of Scripture and oppose a law of our land, without being a person full of hate and vindictiveness.

-Homosexuality is not only a sin, it is a judgement. This ruling is a judgement on our country. Many are celebrating the victory for love, but it's actually a suppression of the truth, an exchange of the truth for a lie. 

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 
being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:18-32)

-I've read this weekend that in the case of homosexuality, it is not enough to love the sinner and hate the sin. Homosexuality is claimed to be more than a behavior, it is an identity. By rejecting the behavior, we are rejecting the person. 

I know that a lot of conservative Christians will not agree with me, but I can't unequivocally say that homosexuals aren't born with a disposition towards homosexuality. I just don't know.

What I do know is that even if there is a disposition towards sinful behavior, that impulse does not need to be carried out. 

I believe you can be a Christian and be a person who identifies as a homosexual. I do not believe you can be a genuine Christian and live a life-style that the Bible condemns repeatedly in both the Old and New Testaments. I believe there is freedom in Christ from habitual sin-whatever than sin is.

-There is tension in my soul. How do I show the love of Christ to homosexuals, while upholding the Biblical truths that are foundational to my life? I'm really pondering this. What does this love look like?

The practical how is comparable to negotiating a mine field.

In all the conversation since Friday, believers and unbelievers alike are emphasizing, "judge not." They are pointing out that Jesus ate with sinners. That Jesus is the friend of sinners.

And, that's true.

Homosexuality was a sin back in Jesus' day too. You don't have to delve too far into Greek and Roman culture to find that out. There is a good possibility that Jesus rubbed shoulders with homosexuals. He may have even eaten with some. I don't know. I certainly can't deny it.

But, people didn't remain the same after their encounter with Jesus Christ. He didn't call out fire and brimstone on sinners. He didn't judge sinners. But He didn't condone or tolerate sin either.

Zaccheus-changed. Mary Magdelene-changed. Woman at the Well-changed. Paul-changed.

One of the most familiar verses in the Bible is John 3:16. But, context is everything...

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:16-21)

Jesus' mission wasn't to condemn. It was to save. 

But the Bible also clearly teaches that judgement is coming. And it will be led by Jesus Christ.

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords. (Revelation 19: 11-16)

That's gory and decisive and very clear. Jesus Christ will be judging. 

Which is an inconvenient truth for all the #LoveWins advocates among us. Love doesn't win. God does.

Love is not just positive, sweetness and light. What about tough love? What about telling the truth? What about when silence is actually not love?

Sinners are going to be judged. Sinners will end up in hell forever. One facet of showing love to sinners is telling them how to avoid hell.

But, then I ask How do we practically, in our day to day lives, show Christ's love to homosexuals? How? 

That's the tension.

What does that loving look like?

Does it look like being friendly to my lesbian neighbor women? Conversing with them? Doing the things I do for my other neighbors, like making cookies at Christmas, and occasionally shoveling their walk?

Do I really believe it's the Holy Spirit's job to convict of sin? Does He need me to be preaching against certain sins-whether publicly or over my kitchen table? 

Does He want me to love first, and ask questions later?

Does He want them to know I am a Christian by my love? Towards God; towards other believers; towards unbelievers? When the hurting and the broken come through my doors, will they be won to Christ by my love?

Is it my job to point out the sin, or to point sinners to the Savior?

If my channeling of Jesus' love draws them to Christ, their encounter with Christ will not leave them unchanged. It just won't. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Weeding Out Sin and Sinners

My gardens need weeded. Quite badly. But, with hours of training every week, working one day a week, weekly cleaning, daily cooking, and embracing my summer jive...ain't nobody got time for weeding!


Plus, it's going to mess up my nails, which are actually looking quite long and healthy right now. Weeding will break them, and make them dirty.


I will probably bite the bullet next week and get the beds all cleaned out and weed free. Because weeding really is important for plant productivity.

Weeds steal sunshine, soil nutrients, and precious rain from the real plants-the vegetables and the flowers.

We weed for productivity. We weed in order for our plants to grow unhindered, in the best possible circumstances, so they will bear a bumper crop.

Weeding reminds me of the Christian life. We often refer to confession and repentance as weeding out sin. It's a good term. Accurately descriptive of the process.

The purpose of confessing and forsaking sin in our lives is to produce more fruit. We get rid of the sin so it doesn't have a foothold to choke out the good seeds and plants and fruit in our lives.

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)

Sometimes we forget why we are rooting out sin-in our lives and in other people's lives. We get a bit enthusiastic and occasionally vindictive. We lean towards punishment and revenge rather than repentance and restoration.

We get a little ruthless, pulling up the good plants, and not just the weeds. We wreck the person instead of focusing on dealing with the sin. We take it all down to the bare dirt, pulling out the good, the bad, and the ugly. In our thoroughness, we'd rather see the sinner withering, than restored and productive.

Sometimes we neglect the weeds, in our careless uprooting of the plants.

We hate the sin. We are hateful to the sinner.

We forget that God hates sin, but He loves sinners. We forget that God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

We forget a basic farming principle.

Pull up the weeds so the plants will flourish and bear fruit.

The purpose of weeding is not to pull up the plants. It's to get out the junk, the hinderances, the sappers, the weeds, so the plants can flourish and reach their full potential.

Weeding is necessary, but it must be done properly. Care must be taken. The plants must be preserved, the weeds must be destroyed.

Is there any weeding that needs to happen in your life?