April 23, 2016

Love not the world?

I just put the question mark there to pique your interest. There’s not actually a question mark in the original quote. Also some random pictures just to break up the text.

Any time some new hot topic floats to the top of the internet, it’s like there’s a contest among internet theologians to out-love each other, as publicly as possible.

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And I’m not saying that’s bad. God is love, and to be like God means to be loving. In fact, I just finished reading this book which explored this topic pretty thoroughly. It looks like a stuffy scholarly theology book, but actually it’s an exploration of how God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are who they are because they are love. God’s love is integral, extending, overflowing. You can’t out-love God. You can only try to imitate His love.

Jesus loves His Bride, the Church. And He tells the Church that the world is supposed to hate them, because the world hates Him. The words ‘love’ and ‘hate’ are pretty clear there.

But the world we live in is a complicated, messy place. There are absolutes. Gravity, the sun rising in the East, and God’s definition of what qualifies as sin. But human beings are complicated, messy things. And so life gets complicated and messy, when we abandon the North Star of the absolutes God has created and try to do things our way.

Here’s one of those absolutes: Jesus loves his Bride, the Church. He loves the Church second only to God the Father, and it is Jesus’s love for God the Father that led Him to die for the Church. If we want to be imitators of Jesus, we should love His Church. It’s right up there with familial fidelity. In fact, it is familial fidelity. We’re children of God the Father and co-heirs with Christ. I’ll stop there before becoming even more repetitive.

Here’s another of those absolutes: We’re not supposed to love The World (1 John 2:15), and the world is supposed to hate us. Hate. Do you know what “hate” means? I mean, really? Have you thought about that? An easy extreme example would be the hundreds of Christians murdered – martyred – by IS in the last few years, for being Christians. But what does that mean for us over here? Does The World hate us? Or do we love The World so much that our “The World” doesn’t have a reason to?

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You might be thinking, “Oh here we go, here comes the excuse for the hateful internet preachers and Bible thumpers and such and such.” No, that’s not what I’m talking about.

What I’m talking about is the, probably well-intentioned, reaction that says, “Look here, The World, I’m not with them. I’m not like them, those people who are mean and say things you don’t like to hear. I know you don’t like the Church, and frankly, I don’t like them all the time, either. But I do like you! Like me back, because you can! Really!” It’s a dangerously gray place to be.

And I think the indicator signal of veering out of the biblical lane of evangelistic love is when we take as a point of pride being loved more by The World than by the Church. When we’d rather have The World – not people seeking Jesus, not people with honest questions – love us and see us a safe enabler for The World, than hate us and think us fools. And we’re okay with openly distancing ourselves from the Bride of Christ, His Church.

lightstock_193674_medium_jaci_That’s not how it’s supposed to look. The World is supposed to hate us and think we’re morons. (Matthew 10:22; John 15:18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-27)

Not because we listen to silly Jesus music or wear one-piece swimsuits or even because we only have sex with our husbands, once they are our husbands. I think that’s what I, and others of my generation, grew up thinking that concept meant. Being just a little out of step with what’s “cool.” But no. The World can shrug off most any lifestyle, yes, even ours. It’s not our culture that should be the reason The World hates and ridicules us. It rightfully should be our message and testimony.

This isn’t a cry to be inflammatory or divisive or provocative. The Gospel – that every human being is actively sinning against God and needs to repent and beg God’s forgiveness for their sin – is inflammatory and divisive and provocative enough. (That can’t really be preached “without words,” btw.)

This is just a brief (ha ha) reminder that, when we find ourselves saying “Thank God I’m not like that publican,” and the “publican” in mind is the Church, when we feel more hated and ridiculed by the Church than by The World, it might be time for a recalibration.

Apply as needed.

 

 

And be with The Church tomorrow.

April 4, 2016

It’s Easter! It’s okay to be happy!

I got to participate in our church’s Easter choir last month. It was awesome on multiple levels, at least because it gave me the chance to stretch some old muscles. But also it was exciting because it was Easter. Christmas would be wonderful, too, of course. And I love show choir. But Easter is special. It’s the biggest, most important day of the year. Or, it should be. That’s a thought for another time.

Anyway, so Easter comes and we are singing in both services. And while we were doing the congregational worship, I made an effort to engage in intentional whole-being praise (as Jesus commanded us, btw) not just a recitative declaration because I was standing on a stage, rather than in the anonymity of the crowd.

Sometimes I got distracted, though. Because it is distracting to look out on 150 people and see that maybe 130 of them look like they’d rather be anywhere but there.

And, by the way, this was Easter. We’re singing lyrics such as:

No guilt in life, no fear in death/this is the power of Christ in me

No power of hell, no scheme of man/can ever pluck me from his hand

How sweet the sound of saving Grace: Christ died for me

Death is crushed to death, life is mine to live, won through your selfless love

And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me/for I am His, and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ

How do you sing that without cracking the smallest smile? Do you even believe it? Really?

“Oh, she’s being judgmental according to the outward appearance” and no, that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s not about having a particular posture or expression or specific reaction. But when I would glance at that crowd, to be blunt, it reminded me of my pre-salvation self. I was super serious, and making sure I looked serious was very important. Thank God I wasn’t like those Publicans on the other side of town with their smoke machines and belting solos, amirite? It was all about me

“But you can’t know people’s hearts just by observing their behavior.” That’s fair. But at the same time, there’s no piety in boredom. And you know the difference between being reserved and reverent, and just mouthing words in rhythm to some music. That’s what “mindless repetition” really is, whether a refrain is involved or not.

*gasp* Experiential dogma! Yeah, life is made up of experiences. Overcorrecting toward Gnosticism in our practice is just as big an error, y’all.

I’m reminded of a story from back in high school, some well-intentioned young man said that when he grew up and got married one day, he wanted to “make sure his wife knew that he respected her as a person, not as an object” so he wouldn’t actually sleep with her until they had been married a full year. And my reaction was, “Uh, that’s not marriage, dude.” And it’s kinda the same thing. Want to be careful not to praise God too much with your whole mind, heart, strength, and soul? Yeah, sure, you roll with that.

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“Maybe they – all 150 people – were having a bad morning, maybe they recently had received heartbreaking news, had been up all night with a cranky baby (you know I am sympathetic to that) or any other number of reasons why they just weren’t all that into Easter(!) this particular year.” Yeah, that’s fair. At the same time, Psalm 63 says,

“I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will life up my hands…my mouth will praise you with joyful lips…for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”

And David wrote that while hiding in the wilderness, not while he was comfortable in a palace. I’m just saying.

The message on Easter Sunday was from 1 Corinthians, where Paul writes that if the Resurrection wasn’t true, then we (Christians) are the most pitiful people in all of history. BUT – the implication is – the Resurrection IS true, so therefore there shouldn’t any pitifulness about us. Victory! Life! Gladness! JOY!

The Fruit of the Spirit is joy, springing directly out of the assurance of our salvation, not out of our circumstances. Point is, if someone is chronically disengaged intellectually and emotionally in corporate worship – if you’re bored – maybe it’s time for some self-reflection about who or what is really being worshipped.

April 1, 2016

Wherefore art thou blogger? (7 years in)

April 1 is my officially stated blogaversary, and today marks 7 years of sitting down to write something not in Word. I feel like the day needs to be acknowledged. Even though I haven’t been here in a while. And I don’t know when I will be again.

Geez, I never thought I’d see the day. Not the 7 year mark (I always intended to blog forever and couldn’t imagine a scenario when I wouldn’t) but the day where I honestly contemplated packing it all in.

This is the problem with multiple social media accounts. By the time I’ve gotten everything out on facebook, and twitter, and instagram – and to Baby G and SoldierMan and the other 2 people I actually speak to in real life – there just doesn’t seem like there’s much left here for the ol’ blog world.

I still remember the “good ol’ days” where people passed around blog awards like they meant something and did giveaways because we liked each other and blog posts were a couple-few paragraphs about some conversation you had with your husband and no one expected a high-definition watermarked bokeh-heavy picture of him in profile to headline it. Those were good times. More fun.

Now it just feels like there’s more pressure to perform, and I don’t have the energy for it right now. (And I don’t even feel like it’s safe to admit that, because I *only* have one kid that I *only* stay home with and I’m not even monetized, so what else do you do all day)

So, when I think I’ll just write a quick “here’s how we spent our weekend” post, it just doesn’t feel like it’s worth the effort anymore.

WIN_20160401_14_48_19_ProMe, trying to think of words

Also, I don’t know what to do with this blog. The Army isn’t as prominent in our everyday lives as it used to be (go ahead and throw the tomatoes, it’s just the truth and the season we’re in at the moment). I don’t have the experience or the desire to mommyblog. You get full enough of my hobbyist political chatter on twitter. We do okay when it comes to “experiencing Hawaii,” but that’s only worth a serious dedicated post maybe once a month, and even then, 99.9999999% don’t care where we ate because you aren’t going to go looking for the same place within the next month. (Sorry.)

I started blogging to talk about our family. I kept blogging because I met some really cool chicks. And that kept me coming back and reading and being “in the community.” A good number of you reading, and probably most of you who may comment, I’ve gone on to be friends with on facebook and in real life, and for that, I’m so thankful I gave this a shot.

But now every third blog post in my reader (and dang, how has that technology been SO SLOW to adapt to 2016? The lack of a decent mobile app is demotivating) is sponsored or affiliated and, no offense, but I really don’t care if Cheerio’s asked you to find a creative new way to make cereal art. That’s great if you got a kickback from it, really, good for you. Chase those opportunities.

I’m just not into it.

I’ve taken a really long time to say, I haven’t decided. I have plenty of other projects I need to give my creative energy to – finishing the baby book, organizing our home videos, home decorations, the fiction writing I haven’t been able to touch in 3 years – and I don’t know how the blog fits into all of that, or if it does.

I maybe hop on here every now and again to try and bring casual blogging back, but part of me wonders if that genre, that culture, even exists anymore. In the meantime, thanks for reaching out and connecting in other venues (all my social media buttons over there still work, btw). Thanks for reading this really boring stream-of-consciouness mishmash without a conclusion.

Seven years isn’t a bad run. I’ll see ya when I see ya.

February 4, 2016

Visiting the North Shore

The swells have been rolling in the last few weeks, so we went to the North Shore to try and see some of the massive 40 footers they were forecasting.

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I think the day we were there, they were clsoer to 25 feet. Still impressive. The beaches were still roped off at that point so they could search for the crashed Marines Sad smile I still can’t believe that was only a few weeks ago. FYI, the local community is still out searching for them, even though the “official” searches have been called off. They gave them a traditional memorial service, too, in addition to the one the Marines held.