Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Solution: Life on God's Terms, Romans 8

Still speaking on the "Law," Paul says,
The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it.

When you think of it, that makes sense. When you did something wrong, you knew it because it was one of the ten commandments that you broke. You felt guilty and decided you'd try harder to not do it again. That's as deep as it went. You just tried to follow the rules. Or you rebelled against the rules and had a reason for it.

We're learning now, though, that is not how God wants us to live. Surprise! You mean God doesn't want us to follow the rules and try to be good?

Why should you have to try? That's not who God is.

God is grace. God is love. "He so loved the world that he sent his only son..."

The son made it possible for us to live in the "Spirit." As Paul says,
... instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

That sounds so foreign to how I grew up in a Christian home. It was all about rules and punishment from God. It was almost like God put us on this earth to watch us fail and get to unleash his anger on us. When I was a kid, I thought the only people who could follow all the rules were the Notre Dame nuns who taught me.

Looking back now, I wonder how many of them actually "embraced the Spirit." I know they could get real angry when they wanted to, and they had quite harsh forms of punishment.
Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them--living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored.

A "spacious free life." Spacious.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines spacious as "generous or large in area or extent; roomy."

Imagine having a generous, large, roomy life.

If God provides generously for you, you will have enough, perhaps more than enough. If he provides a large life, I think of big and exciting. Roomy I love best of all. If one has a roomy life, he's able to move around and not be shackled by this world with all of its boundaries and agonies.

You might be thinking, "I can't live in God's Spirit. It would be easier for me to follow the rules. Keep on trying to do it myself." Or, "I want to be in control of my life." Once again, it doesn't work that way.

God only needs to hear that you want him to take charge of your life. He does the rest. You change.
... If God has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him.

Paul also says that if you've never welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, you won't know what we're talking about.
Even though you still experience all the limitations of sin--you yourself experience life on God's terms... He'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself.

God calls out to us. You've felt the nudge before. We get busy with "stuff" and dismiss it and make fun of others who take the plunge. "Weak," we call them. "Unenlightened."

I've come to hate that term, "enlightened." It doesn't really mean anything. Some of the same people who say they've been enlightened still trash the planet and care nothing about natural resources. They don't grieve over racial and social injustice. They read a new book and say they've been "awakened."

How can someone have been awakened and still don't see the Truth?

It lasts for a little while. And then the "fad" ends.

I'm going for the gold. The only true solution.
God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! ...It's adventurously expectant.

And generous, large and roomy!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Torn Between One Way and Another, Romans 7

I read this several days ago but couldn't post. DH (Darling Husband) is down with his back, meaning I've had to do all the farm chores and take care of his 95-year-old Mom, plus take DS (Darling Son), age 19 had to have a cyst removed from his head which requires daily care. In the meantime, DLD (Darling Little Dog - as opposed to Big Dog) had to go to the vet and is on steroids for severe arthritis and needs special care.

If that's not enough, we have a guest and her daughter staying in our upstairs room, and this is not working out well. We'd wondered how she could have found herself out of yet another temporary home after losing her own home (we're the third family to put her up) and losing another job and losing another marriage, and I believe we've found out why. Our roomer is quite unique. We started out gently reminding her that she had no job and it might be good to get one. Then we began coming out and saying, "You need to be out getting a job." Then we began saying it louder and more emphatically. It's been over a month and still no job. But lots of excuses.

So, please dear people, pray for us. The sad thing is that most people who come to you for help really want a handout and not help getting back on their feet. So what happens is one becomes wary of helping others after being used. We're so trying not to be that way, but it's hard.

In light of all this, today's Message is good. We definitely are "Torn Between One Way and Another.".

What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.

Paul is talking about the law here again. When Jesus gave up his earthly life for us, we came under God's grace and not the law. Paul explains, though, that the law has its purpose. We do need something to go by. If it wasn't for the law, we'd be a run-away, out-of-control human race. More so than we are right now.

So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

This is exactly how I feel right now. I'd made up my mind to be a good and charitable Christian and offer our home to someone in need, and here I am losing my temper with her. It's obvious God has brought someone into our lives who is clueless when it comes to managing her life. And it's made us angry.

And, yes, it "happens so regularly," just as Paul says. About the time I get myself under control and repent for losing my patience and my temper, I see her do something else that irritates me and shows her total lack of manners, and I fly off the handle again. It's a viscious circle, and I so want to quit living like this.

Paul expresses my frustration exactly:

... I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me?

Then he answers himself with the same response that I know is true. And so do you.

... The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions.

I just wish I could remember what the answer is before I lose it again. Surely, God is trying to teach me something by this experience. Mercy for sure. And being out of my "comfort zone."

Still, though...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Message, Developing Patience, Romans 5

I have to admit this applies to me more than anyone knows. I was absolutely born without any patience. I've seemed to get better over the last few years -- only because it's gotten me in trouble so many times. The worst thing is that my husband is the poster boy for patience. He is never in a hurry. Living with someone like him can get on the nerves of somebody like me. People who are too laid back drive me crazy. They'll probably live longer than me, though, so I'm trying to change.

... We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.

Don't you love the term "passionate patience"? Oh, that I could become passionate about something that valued, that strong. I guess to develop passion for something, you'd need to spend a lot of time studying it, thinking about it, trying it out in different circumstances, actually using it. You know, to get good at something, do it over and over again on a consistent basis.

I'm a jump-right-in person with my emotions. When I get angry, I want to shout it out right here and now. When I want something done, I'm talking right now! I'm just pitiful.

But today's reading gives me hope for myself. I'll begin practicing patience every day. Put reminders around the house to remind me. That kind of thing. I'll let you all know, as we go along, how that's working.

Read. Think. Pray. Live.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Story Circle Network

From the Story Circle Network, National E-Letter, June 2008, Joyce Boatright writes:

"Spiritual memoirs are about those experiences that cause us to breathe quicker or slower or deeper, or to catch or to hold our breath--we inhale and recount our soul journey in acts of self-discovery.

Exploring our faith means recollecting and reflecting about our spiritual growth from our battles of faith and the lessons we learned--about our victories, our convictions, and God's grace...Sharing our trials and tribulations is an important part of our testimony. By writing our soul journey, we create our own personal parables, story by story."

I absolutely love this quote. It speaks everything I feel about writing the stories of my memories and God's grace, my testimony.

This one segment of writing above by Ms. Boatright has convinced me to join the Story Circle Network.

Privet & Honeysuckle

Journaled on May 29, 2008.

"Looking at my desk in the corner, next to the open door to the side yard, where the mixed scent of honeysuckle and privet is almost too strong to breathe in, my little space enclosed on three sides by shelves of books. A Mother's Day card from my children, chosen by my granddaughter Vicki, that plays "I Just Came For the Party" when opened, is proudly displayed on a shelf, and a plastic long-stemmed rose sticks in a hole on top of my monitor. Darling husband placed it there for me to look at when I work.

The calendar on the wall, closeups of flowers for each month, from my granddaughter Jesi.

The tote I won at the scrapbook retreat, filled with pictures to crop, a pen with a flower on top, trinkets, tools, adornments for my album pages. Life is good."

Women's Memoirs

Women's Memoirs
Women's Memoirs