Conclussions and confusion…and time

I have quite literally wrung my brain dry with this investigation of eschatology. I have decidedly fallen into the camps of Partial Preterists. I have no insights left to impart, simply the bearing of the Holy Spirit on my own spirit, which leads me to this conclusion.

If you want to read more about this topic, here a couple useful links: Ligonier Articles  and a Wikipedia definition. 

Changing the subject…

If time had walls,

What would frame this hour?

Would I find safety in the confines?

Fewer lost moments, bleeding in chaos from one to the next?

Who would share this hour-room with me?

Would the doors be open?

Walls hung with color and beauty?

Homey? Or shuddering will we

Hustle to leave, lock the door and run

To another moment and hope to stay…

even as time slips past?

No, time is like adornment. Jesus,

Dress me in scarlet to brighten rainy hours.

But as the whirlwind moments pass,

Seamlessly, like seasons, unthought freedom,

I change.

Finding comfort in each dress and shoe

To walk the proverbial halls of time.

Yesterday, I wore a garland of buds

And slept wrapped in a blanket of cashmere.

In each moment hangs a wardrobe.

I only have to chose,

To enter or leave each moment

With well-dressed mind.

Day One Review of “How Satan’s Soldier Became God’s Warrior”

If God created everything, then He created evil. So, by that line of reasoning, I decided that God was responsible for evil, controlled it, and was in fact, both good and evil. He had to be responsible for the tragedy that was my life. And if He was responsible for all the suffering in my life, how could He possibly care about me? Since God didn’t care for me, I might as well serve His enemy. If God didn’t think I was good enough to save, why shouldn’t I serve His evil counter part? This evil counterpart is Satan, the god of this world. In my crippled thinking, I viewed Satan as God’s alter ego.

By the time you read that paragraph you’ve started Chapter 2 in Michael Leehan’s book How Satan’s Soldier Became God’s Warrior.  Pretty intense. I picked up this book after hearing Leehan interviewed by Janet Parshall. I confess, the sensationalism of Satanism was the driving force behind my interest in the book. That and the fact that what is a more appropriate topic for a blog about Predatory Lies, than a book that shows God’s defeat of the Father of Lies?

I expected a gripping story; and I wasn’t disappointed. However, I didn’t really expect to address the problem of pain and God’s role in human suffering. I didn’t think about how many decisions Leehan made prior to his final decision to serve Satan. There were tiny steps along the way that seemed harmless enough and unrelated. Things that culturally we might recognize as poor choices, but hardly map them into a progression toward the ultimate rebellion against God.

In truth, is there an “ultimate” rebellion, or is sin simply sin and separation from God simply separation from God? How different are you and I from Leehan in his darkest moments?

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.          Eph. 5:15-16

Another thing that piqued my interest in Leehan’s book is that he is “close to home” for me. Leehan’s story takes place mostly in Oklahoma. The church body that reached out to Leehan even as he plotted to murder their pator – is in my home town! So, let me also take this moment to put in a plug for Lifechurch.tv.  There’s a reason that the pastor, Craig Groschel, was on Satan’s hit list. Lifechurch.tv as well as the mobile phone app, YouVersion and their many other FREE resources are unparalleled.

 

 

Holiness is Related the Cleaning Lady

Well, this week was intended to revolve around Moses. However, we were highlighting Moses’ growth in holiness, so this is not an incredibly long rabbit trail to discuss holiness with a more personal anecdote.

I woke early on Monday to get ready for work. I go into work at 9, however, I like to get up have time for my quiet time and breakfast, litter dumping, dog feeding, etc. This morning, as is often Monday’s modus operandi, conspired to delay me at every turn. As soon as I set my oatmeal on the stove, I headed downstairs to care for the cats. Some animal, I’m not sure who, had decided to relieve themselves right in front of the back door. Fortunately, it was the solid kind, but still not what I wanted to spend my morning inhaling and cleaning.

Having no choice, I promptly went to work scrubbing and blotting and forgot all about the bubbling oatmeal. As I headed back up the stairs, the wonderful aroma of slightly seasoned oatmeal greeted me, tinged with a slight burning note. Great. Under the lid, over the side, around the burner and glued to the bottom of the pan. Delightful. So the next 30 minutes was spent trying to scour my stove top and pan without burning my fingers.

I’m a perfectionist, more aptly described as simply compulsive, crazy and easily carried away. Suddenly, I found myself removing the burner covers, mopping the floor on my hands and knees, noticing the shelves in the fridge need a wipe down, it’s time to clean the inside of the dishwasher, drying the inside of the sink…you get the picture.

The best part? The cleaning lady, who occasionally restores my sanity by indulging the belief that she can clean better than I can, was scheduled to come on Monday. In an hour and a half, she would arrive and clean, scrub, polish and deodorize everything that needs it or not. I do believe however, that she would not appreciate it if I left the pet mess on the floor, or burned oatmeal congealed on the stove top.

That’s where the metaphor arrives and dissipates all at once. Cleaning is related to holiness. Making my home or life exceptionally and acceptably spotless. I’ve noticed it’s normal for women to feel the urge to clean their home before the help arrives, so that they do not make a bad impression on the cleaning lady. I mean who wants to be labeled as “that home.”

We do the same with God sometimes. We think that once we tidy, straighten and scrub our lives, THEN, we can justify presenting ourselves to Him, or allowing Him inside. I mean, we wouldn’t want God to think we were “that screwed up life,” right?

Here’s the difference. God asks us to come in all our mess. He wants us to let Him in at the dirtiest moment of our lives. Our wonderful God delights in cleaning, straightening and scrubbing. Honestly, our efforts at “pre-cleaning” often delay and inhibit His ability to work stunning, sparking beauty into our lives.

Introverted Extrovert (sounds like a new species)

Does God care if you’re an introvert or an extrovert? Does one personality type please Him more than another? Is one personality a more effective evangelist?

A couple things recently have caused me to wonder. First, I have always referred to myself as an extrovert. I love people, I’m bubbly, animated, talkative, a people-pleaser and I can’t stay home a full day alone. In fact, the minute I’m snow-bound or otherwise shut up indoors, I’m bound to try and go out (usually to my detriment) just to make sure that I’m not really stuck by myself.

Recently, I have continued a life-long bad habit of over committing. I try to make sure that I’m never lonely or bored. So I promise to work this shift, meet that person, take on that volunteer opportunity, do this Bible study, etc. Finally, I guess I’m getting old, I suddenly realize that when I get that busy all I want is to be alone. Suddenly, I crave those long mornings in Bible study when I don’t have to be anywhere before noon. I miss the moments of cuddling with my puppy and the hours to experiment in my kitchen. I’ve come to a crisis of identity. Am I still an extrovert or am I a closet introvert?

According to definition: 

Basically, an extrovert is a person who is energized by being around other people. This is the opposite of an introvert who is energized by being alone.

I don’t feel like I could live in the extreme of either circumstance. But truthfully, as much as I love being with people, I feel inflated after a couple hours alone, with either a sermon or Christian music playing. What about you?

Last Sunday, our pastor confessed to being an introvert. Obviously, he’s serving the Lord and serving people and he’s not alone all the time. So, is there a right way to be?

God has blessed me in my extroverted moments. I get chatty on this blog and I comment on other’s blogs. I have tried to encourage my readers to be vulnerable, outreaching Christians. A few months ago, I gave away 2 Starbucks gift cards per week, asking the recipients to take a friend out to coffee and share the love of Jesus with them. That request introduced me to a special friend.

When one of the recipients of the gift cards provided me with her address, I was floored to find out that she lives in my home town! I wrote a quick note, stuffed the envelope and stuck it in the mail. Imagine how shocked I was four weeks later when they came back to me. Not a “return to sender” but a freshly stuffed envelope with a full-page personal note, a gift card TO me, a couple beautiful drawings and a cash gift. Stunned. Shocked, Humbled, Grateful. 

The card was gracious. She thanked me for reaching out to her. In return she extended kindness to me on one of those days when I was feeling friendless and lonely. Now, I’ve sent her something and we tag each other in blog posts (:

Another new, unexpected friendship began about a year ago. An elderly couple was dining at Panera just behind me as I was working. When they rose to leave, the lady commented on my Bible. “It’s so nice to see someone in the Word.” One little sentence struck a quickly deepening conversation. I must have stalled them for 30 minutes as we uncovered that her hubby was retired military, I told them about my husband, my writing, my church. She asked me about joining my church’s Bible study. We exchanged phone numbers and bid farewell.

I didn’t see Bob or Shirley again until yesterday. She hadn’t returned my phone call and I didn’t want to be a pest. But when our paths crossed in Panera again, in our same seats, Shirley jumped up, spry for a 76-year-old woman. Shirley explained that her daughter had had surgery and she herself had battled some health issues. But she definitely still wanted a chance to study the Bible with my church and to become better friends. We traded numbers again and said goodbye with a genuine hug.

Then there’s Fred. My atheist friend at Panera who gives me practical advice and driving directions around D.C. We met when he pointed me to the only electrical outlet at Panera. Since then we’ve exchanged small gifts, talked for half an hour at a time and grinned at each other across the dining room. (Don’t worry, he’s my granddad’s age.)

All these examples only serve to explain that being extroverted, needing to be around people and to have relationships, has provided me myriad opportunities to learn from others and to share the love of Christ with them. If I had been cuddled up at home alone, I would never have met these people.

From the other side of the isle: Jesus often escaped to be alone. (Luke 5:16) A Christian will never have the nourishment or energy to grow in their walk with the Lord if they are always being stuffed with the company of and interaction with other people. In Psalm 46:10 God commands us to be still and know that He is God. Stillness is not an attribute often exhibited by extroverts.

My researched conclusion is this: it’s not OK to say, “That’s just the way I am.” We can’t stay the same. We will all be born with a bent, but it is the beauty and glory of Jesus that constantly straightens us and changes us to be more like Him.

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Run Baby RUN

Obviously, endurance is important in a marriage. You’ve got to survive the honeymoon, then the seven-year itch, then the kids and dirty diapers, the moves, the financial catastrophes, the football games and shopping trips, the burnt dinners, the in-laws and late nights without courtesy phone calls.

For many of these posts, you have endured my cloaked complaints about the ups and downs of marital bliss.  I can tick off the idiosyncrasies that I have endured but I haven’t humbly given credit to my husband’s endurance.

A prime example of his endurance and patience is our recent road-trip back to our roots in Oklahoma and Kansas. Patrick drove 20 hours each way. He stopped every 2-3 hours for my pathetic bladder. He allowed my dog to climb up, back and over the seats when he wanted to sit in my lap. He let me pack home twice as much stuff as I packed to begin the trip. And he barely complained at all!

Have you ever considered how you have benefitted from another’s endurance? I’m not just talking about putting up with you (that may or may not be a chore). Patrick and I have prospered in direct proportion to our parents’ endurance. Both of our parents’ are still married – my own just celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary! CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK YOU, DAD AND MOM! All of our grandparents honored their wedding vows well over 6 decades, till death parted them. Now, I easily run to the arms of my mom or mother-in-law with full assurance that they will advise to the preservation of my marriage – not to simply tickle my ears.

I have been noticing and admiring endurance in many aspects of life, recently. My sister, Kelsey and her husband have embarked on a long blessing that will require great endurance. I introduced you to Kylie , in November. Doubtless children demand endurance!

My youngest sister just got engaged to one of the most fantastic men. She endured a long, sometimes long-distance dating relationship while she waited for God’s perfect timing for the marriage. I’m sure these last few months of waiting for the date to arrive will seem to stretch on forever, but it will be worth it!

What are you enduring? Is it painful? Is it in high hopes of a wonderful future? Is it worth it?

As Christians, our high calling is to be Christ-like. Endurance is an indisputable requirement to imitate our savior.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2

It will all be worth it.

I’ll See You At Home

For two weeks now, my husband and I have been visiting family in Oklahoma and Kansas. Before that, I was lucky to fly to TX in November to see my newborn niece, Kylie. So right now, I am on a high – thrilled with the passionate hugs of family, the pleasant smiles of friends, late nights by the fireplace and afternoons reminiscing over a cup of coffee. How I love being HOME!

There is something inexplicable about being home. Have you ever noticed that you, (or your spouse) have a tendency to revert to child-like behaviors when you go home? For me, suddenly I hear myself getting loud and giddy with my sisters or quickly irritated by my dad. My husband can sometimes act like the sullen, quiet teenager he once was when we’ve been with his parents for too long. There’s a hankering for the special meal your mom used to make, and she’s thrilled to serve it for you one more time. Patrick and I enjoy returning to the college bar that holds iconic stature in Stillwater – Eskimo Joe’s.

Is that what Heaven will be like? Enns accurately reminds us that Heaven is our real home.

“One of the rich, colorful words describing heaven is the word patrida…The word is related to pater, meaning ‘father.’ Hence, patrida has a family meaning. This is where one’s family lives. It reflects the family’s culture, language, habits. It is home.”

Is it reasonable then to believe that we will be more “ourselves,” more authentic in heaven? I think so. We will see just how we really were created in the image of our Abba.

Living in VA, far away from my family, I often feel lonely and a little left out. I wasn’t there for the special family dinner celebrating my youngest sister’s engagement. I wasn’t able to fly home fast enough to be with Granddad in his final hours. I didn’t spend Christmas around my mom’s Christmas tree. But someday, when I am really HOME, I will never miss anything.

There’s a good chance that I may never meet you here. I will probably miss all your birthdays, your anniversaries, your tearful moments, your joyous occasions. But someday this long journey will be over. I do hope to meet you at home. Do you know your Father?

P.S. Here’s another review of Enns’ book. I hope you enjoy it!

Kylie Reese Gunderson

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Just in case I miss a day of communication here, I thought I’d post some pictures of Kylie so that you can understand how good my reason is! I do plan to keep up with the blog theme of mentoring, and I will catch up with Starbucks card giveaways as soon as I get home. I haven’t had a response for contact information for last week’s winner, so I may have to draw another name. Both sets of giveaways will go out next Wed.

Lastly, I’m sharing a poem that I wrote for Kylie:

 

A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.

So when fear strikes hold, your heart is a pawn,

In a ruthless game of chess.

When fear grants your heart no rest.

 

A baby is My Father’s opinion that the world should go on.

He bid me wait at least one more day

Till I bring you to our home to stay.

Dearest Kylie, learn to wait on your knees.

 

A baby is My opinion that the world should go on.

I want you, Love, to know me as your very own.

To learn to worship at my unseen throne.

To know me as your closest, sometimes only friend.

The grass will grow, sun wake and fall

Until my final trumpet call.

Wait, please wait – these days are mine for you.

Come grow up in my arms.

Love, Jesus

Always the Holidays

Apple-cinnamon aroma abreast the autumn air.

Lilting laughter lingers long.

Watching wild-eyed,

As ash alights the air from an ardent flame.

Youngest ogling yummy yams and yellow squash.

Sounds of shed leaves like shattering stain glass.

 

Always the warmth of holiday.

Always the fragrance of home.

Always the mirth and the longing.

Always sweet memory aching.

Women are Inferior To Men…

The Bible says women are inferior to men.  

You’re being a doormat to treat him with such respect when he doesn’t return the favor.

You’ve heard it.

Recently, my little sister’s boss asked her the $24,000 question.  As a mom-to-be and a new home owner, her priorities are shifting.  In the midst of an unrelated conversation he asked, “Do you think your husband’s job is more important that yours?”

Wow, feminists, I can hear you roaring!  I smell the bacon frying and you’re on your way back out the door to trample on every man who gets in your way.

Kelsey said, “Yes.”  Now, there are plenty of logical reasons – Kelsey is going to be taking maternity leave at the very least and be unable to work for a while, and Blake makes more money, to name two.  But really, she told me, her heart is committed to the Biblical description of Christian behavior.  She is proud of and loves her home.  She is anxious to fill their new house with baby things, a loving atmosphere and if she’s lucky – puppies!  Kelsey does not plan to sign her life away to a progressive career before her first child is even born.

So, Christian, is a woman inferior to a man?   Can she achieve less?  Is she doomed to servanthood all her days?

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”  1 Peter 3:1,2

I can hear you protesting.  Did you only look at those two verses?  Step back, take in the full view.  Start in 1 Peter 2:13-25.  I’ll excerpt some of it for you.

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” (v.13) …jump…

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His footsteps.” (v. 21)  Jesus was abused, ignored, reviled and slandered.  Even in the worst of circumstances, Jesus submitted himself without retaliation or indignation.  He entrusted himself to God, who judges justly.

If Jesus Christ submitted Himself to the Father’s will in order to ransom me, then, can I not submit myself to any authority figure, knowing that ultimately (whether they realize it or not) I am subjected to and judged justly by God?

And men, don’t think you’re off the hook!  Just a few verses down, there’s another “Likewise.”

The command to submit is not limited to women any more than salvation is limited to men.  Christ-like behavior is to, “Honor everyone.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honor the emperor.” 1 Peter 2:17

“Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 13:10