Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Love Dare

Fireproof The Movie opened at theaters this weekend.
The back cover says. "Unconditional love is eagerly promised at weddings, but rarely practiced in real life. As a result, romantic hopes are often replaced with disappointment in the home, but it doesn't have to stay that way.

The Love Dare is a 40-day challenge for husbands and wives to understand and practice unconditional love. Whether your marriage is hanging by a thread or healthy and strong. The Love Dare is a journey you need to take. It's time to learn the keys to finding true intimacy and developing a dynamic marriage. Take the dare!"

We are starting this book today. But, we are not just reading as a couple we are reading it as a family. Experiencing unconditional love from my spouse is a wonderful thing but imagine if our children could learn to express unconditional love toward their siblings!!

After some dialog about patience vs. anger, the dare is introduced.

The first dare is-

"The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse (brother or sister, mom or dad) at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It's better to hold your tongue than to say something you'll regret."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lies Women Believe

We began working through "Lies Women Believe" by Nancy DeMoss in our Wednesday night class at church about 6 weeks ago.
I have found it to be very insightful and again challenging. The book is based on the premise that Satan lied to Eve in the garden and because she believed the lie, she acted on the lie and the entire human race has been in bondage to sin ever since. Satan's tactics have not changed and he still lies to us whenever he gets the chance. If we believe his lies, we will act on them and our choices and actions will lead us into bondage also. We can be freed from bondage if we can recognize the lies and replace them with the Truth.
So far we have covered the chapters about lies women believe about God, sin, themselves, priorities and marriage.
The challenge comes when you recognize that you have clearly accepted a lie and now must change your behavior to be in agreement with God's Word.
One lie that really challenged me - that word again - was the one that states: I can get by without spending time with God every day. After all these years there are still days when I stay in bed until the last possible moment and then rush into the day without taking time to receive my marching orders. When will I learn? Once again I am making the commitment to be more consistent about my quit time.
If you have read this book please comment about your "challenging" revelations and how you are handling the Truth now that you know.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Shack

This book by William P. Young has raised quite a bit of controversy. I have just finished reading it and found that it was very insightful and well written. I'm not a theologian so I'm not going to try to deal with the finer points, but I was challenged by what it said about love and judgement. I like to read books that challenge me and this book did accomplish that end.

In Chapter Eleven, Mack has an encounter with Sophia - a personification of God's perfect wisdom. When he is invited to be the judge, Mack claims that he has no experience at judging to which Sophia replies,

You have already proven yourself very capable, even in our short time together. And besides, you have judged many throughout your life. You have judged the actions and even motivations of others, as if you somehow knew what those were in truth. You have judged the color of skin and body language and body odor. You have judged history and relationships. You have even judged the value of a person's life by the quality of your concept of beauty. By all accounts, you are quite well-practiced in the activity. . .

. . .By what criteria do you base your judgments?. . .

. . .Judging requires that you think yourself superior over the one you judge. . .

To which Mack comes to the conclusion that:

. . .All his judgments had been superficial, based on appearance and actions, things easily interpreted by whatever state of mind or prejudice that supported the need to exalt himself, or to feel safe, or to belong. . .

There is more about judgment in this chapter that is worthy of thought and
consideration, but these are the things that challenged and convicted me. I am often guilty of passing judgment, and when I do it hurts me and hurts others. I need to learn to love and leave the judging to God.

On the subject of love, the character called Jesus says,
"All I want from you is to trust me with what little you can, and grow in loving people around you with the same love I share with you. It's not your job to change them, or to convince them. You are free to love without an agenda." p. 181

I am often guilty of withholding my love in an attempt to try to control the people closest to me or to force them to meet my expectations. Focusing on loving them, rather than fixing them, certainly makes a big difference. It does free me to love unconditionally. I recently had a conversation with my 25 year old daughter, Bonnie about these issues. She said that judgmental attitudes and the feeling that she had to live up to a certain standard in order to be accepted had made her want nothing to do with the church now that she was grown and could make her own choices. While she continues to seek a relationship with Christ and to live her life in a way that glorifies Him, she is not actively serving with a body of believers.

While I’m not advocating that we should embrace a “tolerant,” anything goes mindset, I do think that it is very important and often a very difficult task to communicate love and acceptance while teaching truth.

What do you think?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Intimacy or Isolation

I just have to share with you this paragraph from "Twenty Piece Shuffle"-

"Ironically, true intimacy is probably also one of our greatest fears. Most of us spend a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money creating an image of ourselves to sell to the world around us--an image based on what we would like to believe about ourselves, if we didn't know better. An image more acceptable, we hope, than the unlovely self we are sure would be rejected if it was discovered. Fearing to be truly known, we hoist an image and carry it before us like a shield , protecting the vulnerable, tender inner core in which we truly dwell. The more we succumb to this fear, the deeper we descend into isolation and the more convinced we become we must hide the "awful truth" about our deepest selves."

I have to admit that this quote was very descriptive of the way I often feel. What do you think about it?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I've been thinking

I have been reading some interesting books recently about what the church of Jesus Christ was designed to be vs. what it has become. I have been a member of First Christian Church for 26 years and it has been a very positive and very important part of my life. I thank God for the opportunity to be a part of the body of Christ. People in my church reached out to my husband and I when we were very lost and headed for disaster. I am in no way condemning the corporate worship that is the church of America today. What I am thinking is - "is that all there is?"

About three months ago I read Pagan Christianity by George Barna and Frank Viola and learned that most of what Christians do in present-day churches is not rooted in the New Testament, but in pagan culture and rituals developed long after the death of the apostles.

This was a real eye opener for me. My "non-denominational" denomination born out of the Restoration Movement teaches that we are Christian only- There were a number of preachers in different religions and sections of America during that time who started to emphasize a return to the pristine Christianity of the New Testament. Many of whom claimed as their motto, "Where the Bible speaks; we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent".
So, why do we do what we do like we do it? and is it effective? Are we accomplishing the work that Jesus called us to do?

This week I learned that a member of our church has some very disturbing family issues. The issue is hush hush and few people know about it and no one is doing anything about it. I don't know what to do. I'm not supposed to know!

I am asking myself what would Jesus want me to do when a new book comes into the store on our autoship new release program from David C Cook. "The Twenty Piece Shuffle" by Greg Paul addresses the issue of taking off our "everything is just fine" masks, getting real and meeting the needs of those around us. Jesus cared passionately about the needs of the poor and downtrodden. To be honest I have not.

Also this week, Jerry Easterwood came and talked to our Sunday School Class about The Compassionate Care Clinic. Hmmm, what a coincidence--NOT.

I don't know what God is calling me to do, but I know I can't do it alone. If this message resonates with you, please comment.