Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Love Incorruptible

I stumbled across this phrase a few weeks ago while reading Ephesians. Paul ends this great letter with these words:

Grace be to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. (6:24)

The phrase jumped off the page and I immediately began to think about its implications.

  • I can only do this because Jesus embodies LOVE INCORRUPTIBLE
  • He is both the model and the source of it
  • My story is full of examples of love corrupted and defiled
  • When do I let my heart be corrupted by loving something or someone more than Jesus?
  • Do I RECOGNIZE where Jesus redeeming and purifying my corrupt heart?
  • How do I keep my heart loving Him in this way?

So much to consider - I will be thinking on and answering these questions in this blog and for the rest of my lifetime. In the meantime, praise Jesus for His incorruptible love and for the grace to love as He does.

It's all relative.....and real

God has been teaching me much about suffering lately - mine and others. In the past, I didn't have room in my life for both - I have always been very consumed with my own stuff. But this time, as I recover from yet another surgery (#15 to be exact), God has given me eyes to see suffering more how He sees it.

I heard today of a friend who is having very major surgery that will alter the course of his life FOREVER. In light of what I have just been through, I am tempted to be ashamed for considering my own suffering of any consequence. After all, his is much more serious, difficult and extensive than mine. On the other hand, many of my friends would look at my trial of the past few weeks and tend to feel silly at the thoughts of how naughty their children have been or how little time they've had to connect with their busy husbands.

We are creatures of comparison. We look to the right and to the left, above and below, behind and ahead to measure up where we fall in the spectrum of trial and suffering.

"Mine is bad but it is certainly not as bad as his - but, wait, what's she complaining about? How dare she think she's got it rough - try walking in my shoes for even a moment!"
The internal dialogue continues as we measure out the suffering continuum and plot our location from day to day. Our level of suffering may seem relative compared to our fellow man but it certainly is real. Whether it appears monumental or trivial - it is our reality. The question is not, "How much am I suffering compared to the next person?" but "Where do I RECOGNIZE Jesus in my current suffering? Where do my eyes need to be opened to His character, His Truth and His redemption in my life?"
God is grieved at the suffering His children have to endure on this earth. And yet, He promises hope in the midst of it and final triumph over it one day. He sent His Son to suffer incomprehensibly so we would not have to suffer eternally. Compared with His suffering, ours is relatively small and yet, very real. Dump the vain pursuit of comparing and focus on Him who suffered for our ultimate deliverance.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I like to use ALL CAPS when I write. I realize that their use is to be reserved for the occasion of yelling or strongly emphasizing a point. I like to emphasize a lot (gesturing with hands right now)so I use ALL CAPS a lot. So, the significance of ALL CAPS in the title of this post may be lost due to my overuse of the technique. Maybe with the added bonus of 2 exclamation points you'll get it.

I really, truly mean to yell the word as Pastor Mark did for over an hour last Sunday. He is preaching through 1 Peter and getting us fired up about the fact that it isn't just some nice Christianese platitude that claims we should rejoice through trial. It is Truth, it is Possible, it is Necessary. Interesting timing for me - I had to listen to the podcast as I missed the actual Sunday service due to recovering from major surgery. As I lay in my bed, chaffing with bed sores and a catheter tube sticking out of me - I began the sermon with low expectations. Sure, I get the whole concept in theory but certainly it didn't apply to me right now in practice. Little hard to rejoice through the veil of pain and tubing of urine. About half way through - my heart broke. Faithful as ever, God caused me to RECOGNIZE Jesus in my circumstances. Today, He comes disguised as bedrest and a bladder bag reminding me that this world is not my home, this body too will be recreated after a short time on earth and that He is so much bigger than my puny life. I truly can REJOICE!! because of Him alone.

Peek a Boo - I see You

What a silly baby game that is - my kids used to be convinced that once I put the blanket over my head, I was gone. Squeals of laughter and surprised joy would overtake them time and again as I would lower the blanket and much to their amazement - I WAS STILL THERE! Before I pass judgement too quickly on the sheer foolishness of this childish pastime in my children, I must recognize it in myself. It is often how I relate to God.

When the proverbial sunshine is flooding the halls of my life, of course I am convinced of God's goodness and presence and steadfast love. Truth is, I may not even be compelled to consider it too deeply because I don't really need to. I am being blessed by Him - must be smack dab in the center of His will. It's when the blanket goes over His head (stay with me...) that I begin to wonder where He went. My dark circumstances stir up fear, doubt, a desire to control and comfort and I am only convinced that I want Him back.

Where are you God?

Have you gone from me?

If I quiet my heart for a moment, I hear His answer. I AM STILL HERE.

As God allows for trial in my life - designs it actually in keeping with making me more Christlike - I am growing up enough to realize that He is a Constant - He is still under the blanket. Oh the joy that now floods my soul in confident and quiet trust that He is there even when I can't see Him. I RECOGNIZE His form under the folds and creases.

Definition to my Life

As I contemplated what to call this second foray into blogging, I thought back to the first title I chose (yeah, the arrogant one I mentioned in my last post...) and immediately knew it had to go. In the past year, God has painfully been shrinking the size of my life to a much more reasonable and smallish size compared to what I believed it to be in the past. I realize it is a common condition known to all mankind to operate as the center of your universe but I did it very happily and strategically blindled for many years. Happily because I duped myself into believing that the temporal power and enjoyment I received from running my own kingdom were enough for me. Blindled because I felt helpless to do anything about it ("oh that poor, blind girl - she can't help it she was born without eyesight") but STRATEGICALLY because it did have volition involved. Making my world very big made me feel loved - demanding from those around me to be seen and heard.

Enter REDEMPTION: God exposing my heart with all of its filth and loving me enough to show me the error of my ways. As I was reading in Luke 24 recently, I came upon my favorite definition of redemption as defined by the bible itself.

verse 31 ...their eyes were opened and they recognized Him...
I now have a new title for my blog, really, my life. As my eyes are opened to the Truth of who God really is, I am put in my proper place. I no longer care that I am seen or heard - I want Jesus to be seen and heard through me. It is no longer ok for me to spout out my passing thoughts and opinions about the world according to me - what does Jesus have to say about it? My life, my pain, my tears - they are not for nothing and they are not EVERYTHING - they are given to me so I can RECOGNIZE Jesus in the midst of them.

The Journey Begins....(again)

I once again enter the world of blogging - the "once again" phrase ratting me out as to the deep struggle of my heart. I am not an endurer - I am a flash in the pan. I love nothing more than doing something once, being hailed as excellent, wise or brave and then never having to go back to that thing again. This tendency shows up in my relationship with God, my husband, my kids, friends, housework, hobbies and thus, BLOGGING. I started a blog over a year ago. I entitled it, "The World According to Jen" - feeling sure that people cared what I had to say about life and my place in it. I posted twice and then I was over it - the pan flashed and I was done.

I am also a "Corner Cutter". My husband dubbed this not-so-noble title for me as he has witnessed over time my tendency (read: sin) of trying to get the desired result with the least possible effort. I want to be thin but I believe I should lose the extra poundage after one day of eating like a rabbit. That 3 day treadmill/lifting weights frenzy should result in a toned body permanently. Teaching my children should involve only having to tell them ONCE and intimacy with Phil can be built in a night - can't it? That day last month when I cracked open my bible -won't those spiritual fumes keep me sputtering for at least another day?

And so, I feel like a junior high girl recommitting her life back to Jesus for the dozenth time. I will faithfully commit some time and heart energy each week to documenting this journey of my life - RECOGNIZING Jesus in each and every moment because He is there. He is Faithful. He is the beginning and the end - no flash in the pan.