Nuggets: Be Unashamed of Your Body

I think Heaven should have a special appeal to all those who have struggled with body image. Not that Heaven isn’t just plain awesome, period. But, the way it’s described in Scripture, tugs my formerly eating disordered heart in a unique way.

I’ve recently listened to Pastor Chip Ingram’s series on Heaven and I highly recommend it! One of the things he presses, is that Heaven will not seem incredibly foreign. It’s not something that we can “only imagine”. Heaven is the place that God dwells, it’s where He wants to live and where He wants to live in close, face-to-face relationship with His people for all eternity. It’s actually very like what He created in the first place. And we have a pretty good description of Eden in Genesis.

My favorite line in all of Genesis is verse 2:25, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

Can you imagine (perhaps this is where we have to employ imagination) what it would be likely to be completely unashamed of your body?

We are told that we will have new, glorified bodies but we will have bodies. Psalm 139 expresses God’s intention and pleasure in the unique way He sculpted you and me. He wants me to look this way! He is happy with the way you turned out!

So, set your sight again on the eternal. Don’t get hung up on the things that moths and dust will corrupt. One day, you’ll look at yourself and truly see you as God does–with pleasure, joy and peace.

Well-Aged With Season

As with last week’s post, I’m going back through a handful of pieces I’ve written in recent years, but never published. I’m amazed sometimes at the things God once taught me but slipped to faint and distant memory. I hope this touches you today. 

“Be careful, parents! One day the little ones whose diapers you’re changing will be changing yours!”

I heard that humorous warning about aging in a sermon once. I don’t recall the rest of the lesson at all. That line was so catchy, I kind of got stuck there. But recently, the gravity and art of aging has intrigued me.

Maybe it’s because my refrigerator is camouflaged in pictures of my nieces and nephews. Kylie, the oldest, isn’t quite three; baby Acelynn hasn’t even had her first birthday. Right alongside images of first steps, yogurt-smeared chins and sparkly, wide eyes, is a photo of my grandmother. She turned 91 this year.

Granddad died a few years ago. Since then, almost spry as ever, she has lived alone a few hours from my parents’ house. The only signs of her age are fading hearing, a tremor when she tries to hold her head perfectly still and she walks a bit slower than she used to.

Or maybe, I’m contemplating these seasons of life because I volunteer doing pet therapy with hospice patients. I heard of a man who recently decided he’d like a visit. It took them months to convince him he would benefit from a few hours with a dog. Stubborn, he kept telling his son and nurses that he wants his own dog, not simply a visitor. He knows what they say is true, that it wouldn’t be fair to the dog. He’s too old and ill to care for it properly. He may not live much longer and then who would take care of his furry best friend? Brave and I will meet Mr. Thurston next week for the first time.

Or maybe it’s because a few weeks ago Brave and I attended a grief camp for children who have lost a loved one in the last two years. However unfair, they were thrust into an unexpected season, one with a stark awareness of death. For many of them, the loss will mean a drastic change in their lifestyle. Who will tuck me in at night?

I might be thinking about birth, aging and dying, youth and the elderly, old and new because a friend just told me that he and his wife are finishing their basement so that his father can move in with them. It’s only been a few short years since they tenderly cared for his mother in her final days.

Whatever the reason, the seasons of life are turning in my head. But it’s much more than a solemn observation of finite lives. It’s more of an interest in how these season change us, not just our appearances and abilities, but change the way we live our lives. Passing years change our lifestyles, our priorities, our waking thoughts and unremembered dreams.

In 1 Corinthians 13:11, Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

It’s not surprising that Paul includes that sentence in, “The Love Chapter”. The most important way that time changes us, that age matures us, that the end sobers us, is that we fall more in love with the timeless. Time as we know it nears its finale, and our attention is swept up by the eternal. Our love shifts to things of an infinite nature—the promises of our Creator, the surety of seeing His face, the eternal spirits of our loved ones. Our lives necessarily change to accommodate these newly found truths.

Our bodies slow down as God allows age to limit our lifestyle, to force us to take closer, longer looks at what really matters. It is in the slowness, even the stillness, that we know He is God. And in that knowing, we are so much closer to all we’ve ever hoped for–to be fully real, fully known and fully loved.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

Can I Trust God In the Little Things?

Croce in montagnaThe other day, a fried of mine wrote an article honoring the late Elisabeth Elliott. She spoke about living a life of faith, one such as characterized by Elliott. But one quote in particular stuck out at me:

“If you believe in a God who controls the big things, you have to believe in a God who controls the little things.”

You see, this is the very hardest thing for me. I’ve known that for a long time–my willingness to trust God with eternity, and fearfulness to trust Him with tomorrow.

Take a peek at my thoughts:

“Sure, God. I know you can heal cancer, take me to Heaven, deploy angels, perform miracles, turn water into wine, change hearts, walk on water and even move on my spirit bringing joy, peace and hope. And I thank you for that.

But God, I’m not really sure that you can help me with body image. I don’t know that you’re all that interested in my decision about whether or not to get a dog. I’m probably on my own when it comes to deciding if I should go to that event next weekend and what I should say to my co-worker who really hurt my feelings.”

Can you identify?

So you can see why Elisabeth’s quote hit close to home. But then, God turned it on its head.

“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much” (Luke 16:10).

While I have difficulty trusting God with the little things, He is pleading with me to simply start there. When He finds me faithful to listen to Him concerning these little things, then He can invest me in big things.

The beauty of it is that the beginning is the same. The kernel of my faithlessness is the small things; the starting line of His plans for me is the little things.

God is asking me to dig deep, to plant that mustard seed of faith–tiny as it is–in the littlest situation. Then, if that soil is fertile and I truly believe in the God of the Universe, I will find He cares about the little things. And, when I get my footing in the little things, my faith will begin to grow and God will send me out into greater things for His glory.

What little things do you have trouble trusting God with?

First published at http://www.tblfaithnews.com

Lewis Does It…Again

I so wish I could’ve met C.S. Lewis! He “gets” me like he’s inside my head sometimes. Then again, other times, he washes completely over my head and leaves me gasping for breath, dazed and confused.

This arrived in my inbox last Thursday. I love everything about it. From the consideration of redeemed creation to the gentle appreciation for broken-down bodies.

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On the resurrection of the body and of all creation; and on the goodness of the bodies we now have.
26 November 1962
My stuff about animals came long ago in The Problem of Pain. I ventured the supposal—it could be nothing more—that as we are raised in Christ, so at least some animals are raised in us. Who knows, indeed, but that a great deal even of the inanimate creation is raised in the redeemed souls who have, during this life, taken its beauty into themselves? That may be the way in which the ‘new heaven and the new earth’30 are formed. Of course we can only guess and wonder.
But these particular guesses arise in me, I trust, from taking seriously the resurrection of the body: a doctrine which now-a- days is very soft pedalled by nearly all the faithful—to our great impoverishment. Not that you and I have now much reason to rejoice in having bodies! Like old automobiles, aren’t they? where all sorts of apparently different things keep going wrong, but what they add up to is the plain fact that the machine is wearing out. Well, it was not meant to last forever. Still, I have a kindly feeling for the old rattle-trap. Through it God showed me that whole side of His beauty which is embodied in colour, sound, smell and size. No doubt it has often led me astray: but not half so often, I suspect, as my soul has led it astray. For the spiritual evils which we share with the devils (pride, spite) are far worse than what we share with the beasts: and sensuality really arises more from the imagination than from the appetites: which, if left merely to their own animal strength, and not elaborated by our imagination, would be fairly easily managed. But this is turning into a sermon!
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Yours, Jack

Courtesy of Bible Gateway

Guest Poem by Heather Worrell

Could this be the Rosh Hashanah
My Lord returns for me?
Would surely be a splendid thing-
A happy day to see!
As faith turns into blessed sight
And human souls- set free!

But for those left behind-
Who failed to heed the call-
Overwhelming darkness
Surrounding one and all,
A mere twinge of regret
Of sins that did appall-

A spurning of God’s love
As each chose their own way,
Giving up the conscience
To follow sin’s death sway,
Rejecting of the sacrifice,
His life that down He lay.

And then a hardening
Of the heart,
A twisting of the mind-
No hope left to impart.
No turning back-
All reason to depart.

But here is the warning-
Hearts can still repent.
He is standing by-
Soon comes judgement.
Choose while you can-
Now is your moment…

Make sure your heart
Is truly ready;
You’ve kept the faith-
Held steady;
Your place reserved
Already.

Weary sojourners here
Waiting to be found-
Listening to the air
For a trumpet sound;
Refashioned bodies
To Heaven inbound!

-Heather Worrell 9-2-13

Consuming Eternity

787290_a_little_landscape_with_little_river

I hustle and rest,
I try my best
To place you in the center.
Then find my heart in barren winter.
How with such pure effort,
Can I not comport
My self in righteousness,
Shaded by your holiness?

How do I find myself excavated
All my energies relegated
To survival, to clinging to shreds
Of dignity, goodness and holy fruit?

Like a thirsty tree thrusting branches higher,
When clean deep trenches gush with water.
I clamor for refreshment in obvious places,
Ignorant of your ready, near, abundant graces.

You are not far!
Though you hung the stars.
You never cleave,
Call me to cleave.
If I could but wrest away
My hands from briefer things.
Then part with time,
Spread these dormant wings,
And live this day, in its place
On the timeline of eternity.

Closing Lewis

Did you see the movie Thor? Remember that great, impassable chasm that in the end seemed to forever separate him from his love? The movie portrays two distinct realms, the world of the gods and the world of men.

Now, truthfully, the gods of Thor, were more like men, even in the fantasy. They could do evil and good. They had rivals and equivalents, relatives and love relationships. They lied and were deceived. But Praise the Lord, our God is not such!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Is. 55:8

Though it’s admittedly fiction, allow me to blow some holes in movie’s premises about gods and men.

At the close of the book, The Screwtape Letters, Lewis’ main character and narrator is blasting his nephew and protege for allowing a young man to slip through his demon fingers. The human died with full knowledge and acceptance of Christ’s substitutionary death which purchased his pardon and eternal life.

It’s interesting to consider that first moment of real life. It’s murky, a muddy puddle, to peer into the mystery that we’re told we cannot even imagine.
“However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ — the things God has prepared for those who love him–“. 1 Cor. 2:9

But as expected, Lewis does a masterful job of imagining what that might be like. You see, though God is utterly unlike us, we were created in His image. And then, Jesus came to earth clothed in human flesh so that a perfect man could ransom the lives of wretched men.

God has allowed our worlds to overlap. In fact, from the beginning, His desire was to walk with us daily, visibly, physically. Only sin has carved this chasm between us.
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Is. 59:2

But that chasm is most certainly crossable. In fact, it has been crossed already, by Jesus, so that we can be reunited with our Creator. For those of us who have humbly accepted Christ’s payment for our sins, we have the promise that we will see Him!
(1 Cor. 2:9) 19
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,”. Hebrews 10:19-20

So listen to Lewis’ description of a Christian meeting his maker:

he saw Him. This animal, this thing begotten in a bed, could look on Him. What is blinding, suffocating fire to you[Wormwood, the failed demon], is now cool light to him, is clarity itself, and wears the form of a Man.

and

-that this thing of earth and slime could stand upright and converse with spirits before whom you, a spirit, could only cower.

Think of it, Friends! Think and be thrilled that it cannot be contained! Your great future, the glory of beholding His face and being able to stand before Him loved and unashamed! What magnificence! And it is not far away!
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude 24-25

In fact, except for the physical vision of Jesus, it all ready is.
“For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” Eph. 2:6

P.S. Lewis was such fun. I think I might go very slowing through his book, The Great Divorce, with you next. What do you think?

 

One Thing For Sure

It is not my desire to ignite controversy. But, I’m going to do it anyway (:

Isn’t that what blogging is for: to strike up dialogue, probe opinions and make you think?

I have been reading Christ’s Prophetic Plans, by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue. I picked it up just after re-reading Hank Hanegraaff’s Apocalypse Code, so my thoughts are tangled, my opinions mangled and the only thing I remain certain of this that JESUS IS LORD AND I WILL SPEND ETERNITY WITH HIM IN HEAVEN! Whew, at least that’s settled!

Caught between these two eschatological view points, each espoused by biblical scholars that I deeply admire, I have digging in unusual places (Google) for better illumination on each opinion. I have ferreted out audio and interviews with MacArthur, R.C. Sproul and Sinclair Ferguson. I have read about John Newton Darby (often regarded as the founder of Dispensationalism) and read about Margaret MacDonald (a woman whose entranced, hysteric mumblings have been regarded at different times both as extra-biblical and demonic.

This reading leads one into discussion of the rapture, the tribulation, the essence of salvation and the distinction of the nation of Israel. While I firmly believe that we are called as Christians to “… you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15) I confess that I remain unresolved on three of these issues.

If one accepted Darby’s view of the secret rapture… Benjamin Wills Newton pointed out, then many Gospel passages must be “renounced as not properly ours.”…this is precisely what Darby was prepared to do.

Too traditional to admit that biblical authors might have contradicted each other, and too rationalist to admit that the prophetic maze defied penetration, Darby attempted a resolution of his exegetical dilemma by distinguishing between Scripture intended for the Church and Scripture intended for Israel…

The task of the expositor of the Bible was, in a phrase that became the hallmark of dispensationalism, “rightly dividing the word of truth”.

From “The Roots of Fundamentalism:
British and American Millenarianism 1800-1930” (1970)
by Ernest R. Sandeen, University of Chicago Press
ISBN 0-22-73467-6, p. 65-67

Makes you think, huh?

It bothers me that as I read both view points, I find the authors of each, demeaning the others. Not only do they espouse a different opinion, but like politicians defending their platforms in an election year, they mock the opposing view. While we study and strive to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and wait expectantly for Him can we not remember,

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:1-3

Paul reminds us:

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

“And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’ Jew and Gentilef are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” Romans 10:8b-13

Book Review, Day 2

We are continuing to review Michael Leehan’s book, How Satan’s Solider Became God’s Warrior.  If you missed it, go back and read Monday’s post for an introduction. 

I found it startling that on a daily basis, Leehan wasn’t so different from you and me. He studied and went to college. He dated and married, had kids and divorced. He started his own successful business and was socially accepted by his neighbors and friends. Leehan even went to church with his girlfriend. The Bible tells us that Satan is the master of deception.

I began to wonder how deceived I might be – in a very different way, but perhaps just as deceived as Leehan was. In Ephesians 6, God tells us that we do not war against flesh and blood but against the rulers and authorities of darkness. But do I live like that?

Daily, I confess, I live a myopic life. I tend to believe that from the moment I wake, all my choices are my own and I make them dependent upon what will best serve my purposes. If I’m feeling especially altruistic, I will think about what will make my husband happy or how to meet my friend’s need. But I regularly fail to see myself as an eternal being whose actions today have eternal consequences now and forever.

 A couple things I did realize: we are not alone in our little biospheres – and we really never have complete privacy. Someone or something is always peering into the minute world of our experience.

After years of seeking and experiencing spiritual prowess and knowledge, it became apparent to me that we are truly spirit beings just on this earth for a short season…I knew with certainty the spiritual realm was more alive and active that the world I was born into.

That quote puts a lot of things in perspective. Here at Predatory Lies, I confess on a regular basis the shallowness of my daily concerns. I spent (and continue to struggle to refocus) 15 years trying to create and maintain my perfect earthly body. You can relate your own terrestrial worries to this truth; but I assume with few exceptions that most people muddle along with their minds buried deep in issues that have nothing to do with their souls.

How Satan’s Soldier Became God’s Warrior demolishes this misconception. It is a  book-length anecdote that will startle you awake to the certainty of eternal life. Where will you spend it?