A little change, a little late

Hi Friends,

I realize it’s already the 8th (gasp!!) of December, nearly a third of the month has escaped my notice. Quite literally 11/12 of the year have skimmed past my eyes, and leaked through my fingers like so much sand through an hourglass. It has left an indelible mark on my memory, my perspective, my future, my dreams, my relationships, my hopes. You know just about everything I know about my life and about the goodness of God to me. I hope you are experiencing Him in as much of a tangible way as I am – in the middle of the pain.

For the closing of this year, I want to turn the tide of our conversations just slightly. Let’s end on a positive note, with a sneaky little twist on the Predatory Lies.

For December:

On Mondays we will talk about gifts. Decemeber is the quintessential month of giving.

Packages pile beneath evergreen trees.

Gifts of song on doorsteps please,

The neighbors who offer us cider.

Secrets for one month are good.

Below the mistletoe I stood.

Dying to tell you, longing to kiss you,

My little secret,

“I love you!”

~God’s gifts to us, unusual Christmas gifts, the best gifts, the worst gifts, promised gifts and disappointing gifts, our gifts to God.

Wednesdays we will talk about the lies surrounding Christmas. I’ve already thought of a few, but I’ll bet you can tell me more of your own. Was the idea of Christmas a lie in  your home? What did you believe about Christmas that turned out not to be true? What is true about this globally recognized holiday? Is there one true Christmas – or are Hanukah and Kwanza and fables of Santa just as valid as the truth of the Christ who came to live and to die and to rise again for the salvation of the world?

And Fridays are going to remain our play-date. I reserve the right to deliver delicious recipes and tips for navigating Holiday dinner parties, cookie exchanges and testy relationships. I’ll give you a couple of excellent links for great gifts and serene quiet times of prayer and the revival of the bank account. I might have a few poems up my holly-laced sleeves.

January will appear, unbidden. Much as I could use some extra time to resolve the crises of this year and a few longer moments to just be here; on January first, Lord willing, I will be prepared to be there. I’ve discovered some great new books by Moody Publishers that I will review and give away copies of. That’s the start of my New Year’s plan… more to come.

Merry Christmas, Friend!

Brazen Lies

 

 

The Lie    The Truth:

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”

John 14:6

If you click on the picture above, it leads to a website honoring Jesus, THE TRUTH. If you don’t with absolute certainty that you believe THE TRUTH, please follow the link, or contact me. Eternity is NOT ambiguous.

Lonely

©All rights reserved by Hilath

Loneliness is like a leach.

Cleaves to your soul and rarely leaves.

There’s the occasional lapse in its presence,

But the longer it’s there, more comfortably lingers.

The last to leave, the first to arrive,

When little is said, and laughter dies.

Onerous and ominous.

It overwhelms and overcomes.

Only loneliness knows the way

To obliterate the sun.

Never forever,

Not only, not never.

Some nights pain subsides.

Some rights reserved by Mohammed Nairooz

Ever a friend, but evasive.

Eternal distance from everyone.

Else someone see your empty eyes.

Else someone hear your whimpering cries.

Loneliness is like a leach,

Cleaves to your soul and rarely leaves.

Loneliness lies, there’s little to love.

And longing grows longer.

Yet, there must be hope.

Yesterday’s gone, yet tomorrow comes.

There must be a yellow sun,

Yearn for a reason,

To live through the loneliness.

Composed for Gooseberry Garden

Sunny Sea Gold’s Story

Most of you know my story by now. If you don’t, please read these 2 posts and it will help to fill in the gaps. God Is Going to Give Up On Me and Guest Post on Carole’s Blog. 

Then, enjoy this story. It is a compelling story published in Redbook magazine. Sunny tells how even loving family members can introduce us to terrible fears and longterm bad habits and contagious pain. Sunny’s story has a bright ending, though. She has chose to ignore cultural norms and to raise her daughters with a fearless view toward their bodies.

Sunny Sea Gold: I Was Fat In A Thin Family

 

 

Serving Servant

I am a disciple of John Piper, as you have probably read here before, many times. On Piper’s blog, he often hosts other godly authors and pastors. One such pastor is John Bloom. Last week, I got the blog updates in my email with a featured post by Bloom.

I have confessed that I struggle diligently with pride. I like to think that I have lessened its influence on me over time. When I was young, and living at home, I raged with prideful indignation toward one of my sisters. She seemed prodigious. Everything she touched turned to gold. Every feat she attempted crumbled beneath her capable, confident strides. As her old sister, I felt like an ant, searching for the sun, while shrouded in the shadow of a greater being. Eventually, I quit many things – softball, piano, swimming; and I shrugged in resignation when it came to school, friendships and ambition – I could never be her equal.

Through a unique type of prayer, called Theophostic Prayer, many years of impotent counseling and self-effort were finally surpassed by Christ’s truth. Jesus, Himself, spoke to me as I relived the memory of my pain and bitterness:

“If there is something I gave her, I didn’t intend it for you. I don’t give to all the same. I give out of pure unbiased love to fulfill the needs of each. Not the same for all.  Don’t let your heart be bruised by things that don’t matter.”

At that moment, that conversation, the jealousy that I had stoked with every failure, was squelched. Unfortunately, I am still human. I live in a fallen world and I am apt to forget things. I don’t see this sister regularly, and so I began to slip in my vigilant obedience. Instead of Christ’s truth, I started looking for things I can DO to prove myself. Little lies that were mere echoes of earlier screams, told me, “You could be a better wife. All of your sisters are working, why aren’t you earning an income? What good are you? You’re home again? Inferior!”

Jesus doesn’t forget – anything. He hasn’t forgotten my tendency toward self-pity. He hasn’t forgot the exact purpose he designated for me. And so this morning, in a blog post by John Bloom, He reminded me. Maybe this time, with Andrew as my mentor, I can remember.

Serve In The Shadow God Placed You

My Way or the Highway

When I was a little girl, I was an unconscious legalist. My good-Christian parents had chosen to homeschool their four girls. Like most kids, products of our environment, we assimilate what our parents, our peers, the adults we respect, the world around us – what everyone else does as the way things should be done.

 

My wonderful mother ground her own whole wheat into flour and made healthy homemade bread. We grew up active – swimming, playing outside, watching very little TV. I didn’t realize that I was building a moral code based on my observations. Even worse, I didn’t realize that I was equating all of these good things with the “good works” that God had created me for.

 

Let me explain, here’s what my pre-adolescent mind deduced: all Christians make their own homemade bread, all Christians call the television the boob-tube, all Christians homeschool their children, all Christians eat dinner together as a family and require their kids to drink a full glass of 2% milk every night.

WRONG!

 

That’s what Will Davis’ chapter 6 in, “10 Things Jesus Never Said,” addressed.

The Lie 

If it’s wrong for you, then it has to be wrong for everyone else.  If God requires you to do it, then every other Christian has to do it too.  If we’re not all completely uniform in our Christian beliefs and practices, then someone is out of line.  If other’s aren’t acting, worshiping, and believing exactly as you do, then they’re not good Christians.  Maybe they’re not Christians at all. 

 

That’s harsh, and few believers would agree that they think this way, but, if our actions reference our true beliefs, then most of us have been caught in the act. My examples above are pedantic, thoughts of a school girl.  But they are none-the-less indicative of how we often treat other believers. To this day, I have to remind myself that my husband was not brought up to believe that the television is inherently evil – it’s OK to watch more than 30 minutes a day.

 

Now, before you think that I am saying, “Anything goes, do whatever makes you happy,” let me emphasize: I am talking about debatable issues. The Bible is not ambivalent to our behavior. There are non-negotiables: all human life is valuable, stealing is wrong, God’s name is sacred, homosexuality is a sin, sex outside of marriage is wrong, and Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father are a few examples. But truthfully, God did not prescribe a certain number of hours of television. He never said “homeschool thy children.” God does not approve of one church denomination over another.  (In fact, it is my opinion that God would rather we didn’t have denominations, but that’s another article.)

 

Davis concludes this chapter, as the others with, Come to Me, All You Who are Weary and Burdened. To paraphrase his final paragraphs: God enjoys all kinds of music and God doesn’t have a favorite color.

TODAY IS THE BOOK GIVEAWAY – DON’T MISS YOUR CHANCE – LEAVE A COMMENT!

Chapter 2, Am I Such a Loser?

By far, the chapter I expected to be most affected by in Davis’ book, “10 Things Jesus Never Said,” was chapter three.

You are constantly letting God down.  With every new day, he has a fresh and full slate of hopes and dreams for your life, but by the end of each day, he’s facing the ugly reality that you’ve failed to be all that he hoped you would.  Once again, you haven’t lived up to God’s expectations.  (pg 51)

Again, well-versed Christian that I am, I don’t really believe this, do I?  Well, if our behaviors are the truest indicators of our beliefs, then yes, sadly, I do believe that God is terminally disappointed in me.

Many children formulate their perspective of God in the image of their earthly fathers.  Ironic, since we are made in HIS image, not the other way around.  My father was generous with affection.  He spent plenty of time with each of his daughters and met every one of our needs. However, like all earthly dads, he is human.  And, consequently, so are his daughters.  We made myriad mistakes.  We let him down.  And I remember his grimace, the downturn of the corners of his eyes and the straight lips that pressed together – that face meant Daddy was disappointed.

According to Davis, disappointment has everything to do with expectations.  We set our hopes or expectations on something or someone, and the inevitable shortfall results in disappointment.  He gave a perfect example: You cheer for your favorite sports team, expecting them to do well, when they don’t play up to your expectations, you’re disappointed.

What’s the good news?  What is the truth that exposes the mantra, “You’ve disappointed God,” for the fraud that it really is?

GOD KNOWS EVERYTHING!  HE DOESN’T HAVE A SINGLE EXPECTATION.  FROM THE DAY YOU WERE CONCEIVED AND BEFORE, HE HAS BEEN INTIMATELY AWARE OF EVERYTHING YOU WILL EVER DO.  Therefore, you can’t fail to meet His expectations.

Davis gives a couple of Biblical examples, that you’ll have to read the book to understand.  The Bible has no shortage of flawed heros and heroines.

On a personal note, as I finished this chapter, I remembered God’s word in Matthew 5:48, “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  In Philippians 2:5, we are told to have the same attitude as Jesus Christ.  Just today, someone I love dearly has disappointed me.  I don’t think I can completely avoid that emotion.  But, Davis’ book has caused me to consider my response to that person.  I don’t want to cause them to despair, as I feel when I believe I have let God down.  I want to love in such a way, that my disappointment resounds with forgiveness, humility and mercy.

AT THE END OF THIS WEEK, I WILL BE GIVING AWAY A COPY OF THE BOOK, “TEN THINGS JESUS NEVER SAID: And why you should STOP believing them.”

MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE A COMMENT SO THAT YOUR NAME WILL BE ENTERED IN THE DRAWING!

Ten Things Jesus Never Said

You’ve gone too far.  There’s just no saving the likes of you.

According to Will Davis Jr., author of “10 Things Jesus Never Said,” this is one of the most common sentences that we put in Jesus’ mouth.  If I remember correctly, adding to or taking from God’s words is a punishable offense.  But at this point, let’s not add to the list of things we are afraid might never be forgiven.

I was tempted to skip this chapter as I began reading Davis’ book.  After all, I’ve been a Christian for nearly 25 years.  I’ve been living forgiven that whole time, right?  I don’t doubt my salvation.  I know, that I know, that I KNOW where I am going to spend eternity and I’m super excited about it.  However, I forced myself through the pages.  My dad used to say that you had to read the preface, table of contents and prologue to really read a book.

Suddenly, a subtitle caught my eye.  “God Treats the Disease of Sin, Not Its Symptoms.”  Thinking of sickness and disease, tossed my mind back to years, many years, of repeatedly falling back into the sin of an eating disorder.  (I know that the definition of an eating disorder is often debated, whether it is a sin or a sickness.  I can see it both ways, but in retrospect I must confess that my behaviors toward food and exercise were often idolatrous – an obvious sin.)

I began worshipping the idol of thinness, health and perfection when I was 14.  I enslaved my body to my pride wanting to build myself into an enviable shrine of perfection.  When I recognized my behavior as sin, I sought help.  Then, for the next 13-14 years I repented and fell backwards, honored God with my body one day and then put myself on a pedestal the next day.  I lied to my therapists and parents about eating and exercise in the morning and then confessed it to the Lord at night.  After several years of this cycle, I started to hate myself.  I clearly remember thinking that God would sooner or later give up on me.   It’s hard to believe that God could continue to forgive a pathetic, stubborn woman.

“You haven’t gone too far. You may indeed be dirty, covered with sin – in reality we all are – but you’re not too dirty.  No one is.  God knew what he was getting into when he sent Jesus to redeem sinners…He didn’t set a limit on the size or scope [or number] of the iniquities that he was willing to pardon.” (pg. 45)

For the moment, I am living in freedom and honesty before the Lord, humbly submitted having destroyed the idol of fitness.  I know I’m not done sinning, but simply the knowledge that I can NEVER go too far, inspires such joy, confidence in Jesus and gratitude.  I can relax, focus on Jesus, forget myself.

AT THE END OF THIS WEEK, I WILL BE GIVING AWAY A COPY OF THE BOOK, “TEN THINGS JESUS NEVER SAID: And why you should STOP believing them.”

MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE A COMMENT SO THAT YOUR NAME WILL BE ENTERED IN THE DRAWING!

Heroine Addict, from my journal, July 2009

I feel like a heroine addict.  I read once about a pastor overseas who was addicted to heroine.  In an effort to purge his life of all the idols in his life and determined that his God was bigger than anything that assulted him, he locked himself in his house until he had conquered his lust for the substance. He said he would rather die than dishonor God by his life.

The story goes on that for weeks he writhed in agony on the floor suffering withdrawl symptoms that seemed worse than death itself.  In his lucid moments he screamed scripture outload and defied Satan by the name of Christ.

 

In time, tested and tried, he emerged as purified gold.  A pure bride of Christ with no desires for anything else to sustain his life or offer him satisfaction and joy.

Today I cried,  I moaned, I sobbed over a pathetic piece of biscotti!!!!  I spent time alone and grieved the silence.  But I battled.  I called those who love me, read of God’s love for me and Christ’s sacrifice.  I clung to hope and confessed my weakness.  I relished the comfort of my mother-in-law and the peace of my Savior.  I will win this war.   It has gone on long enough.

Some of the wounds seem so fresh today because I was reading my oldest journals and read of the pain, sorrow and loneliness that invaded my life when I was only 13!!

Joel 2:25-26 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust,My great army which I sent among you.
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame. “