Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Stuff of Saints.

I've always been one to shy away from confrontation. I'm not one of those people who gets trigger happy when there's an issue that needs to be confronted. Whether it's a sin issue, or something as minor as wanting someone to take their shoes off before they come into my house--doesn't matter. They all scare the heck out of me and I'd rather leave the issue of confrontation to others who enjoy it a little more.

When I was a student at BCOM, I started to hear things about how confrontation within the body of Christ is my responsibility as a member of the church. That was a shocking revelation to me. I was far more happy to err on the side of "don't judge" than on that of "if someone is caught in a sin, restore him gently". I guess I'm trying to overcommunicate my point, which is: I am not a big fan of confrontation.

My pastor preached a great message this morning on living without compromise. I was hoo-rahing him all the way. But then he reached the part when he talked about confrontation. He said that Godly confrontation is a way in which we MUST allow this "no compromise" agenda to manifest. I put down my pen and was ready to retract my "amen's". Confrontation is something I'd much rather just pretend doesn't exist, you know? But as he spoke, he began to (how crazy is this..) make sense!

I'm gonna share some of these pointers about confrontation with you because I think they're really helpful in getting a handle on this issue--an issue that I believe the church has many times interpreted in error. He talked about the verse, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently." Key words here being "if someone is caught in a sin". Being caught in a sin and committing a sin are two entirely different matters. If someone messes up once and yells at their kid because they're under a great deal of stress, it's totally different than if they consistently beat their wife. Make sense? Only if someone is caught in a sin in the sense that they are not finding their way out.. then we make our move. But our first move shouldn't be direct confrontation. Our first move should be to get on our face before God and ask Him to right our heart toward the person and the situation. Then in GENTLENESS as the verse says, we should go and confront them. Now, if they don't listen, that's where it gets messy because we have the whole Matthew 18 form to follow. And honestly, that's awkward, right? I mean so now you have to go to the person with a couple of other people. And then if they still don't listen, you have to go with the church elders... and then the WHOLE church! Crazy, right? Yeah my thoughts exactly.

What was incredible, was this morning as my pastor was teaching on this, he didn't just spout off what we are to do. He did it. Yeah, not kidding. There is a lady in our church who has seperated herself from her husband and is pursuing another man while still being married to her husband. She has been confronted privately, with a few others, with the church elders... and then she ended up moving. Well, before the church this morning, my pastor publicly addressed the fact that what she has done is wrong. He publicly made it known that our church no longer "covers" her. Wow. Talk about radical, right? Talk about twisting your gut. I wasn't sure how to react. I really wasn't. I was shocked, but at the same time, I realized that the hard stuff is what Scripture calls us to do. We have loved her and accepted her. We are still loving and accepting her... but in a very radically different way. She knows that at any time we will recieve her back with open arms should she choose to repent. But she has to know that we are taking a stand for righteousness as a church. I still feel something in me twist as I think of it. But at the same time, there it is in Scripture plain as day.

He used the example of Jonah. When the storm came and it was made clear that Jonah's sin was the cause of it... why couldn't Jonah just jump off the boat? Why couldn't he just jump knowing that the storm would calm if he did? Why did the sailors have to THROW him from the boat? The answer is, that they had to agree with God in his judgment of Jonah... because in their agreement with Him, they were saved from His wrath.

"Discipline will produce a harvest of righteousness. Don't sacrifice discipline on the altar of cultural relevance."

Crazy. I'm still unsure of all my thoughts on the subject. Go ahead, share yours. I'm sure you have some. This is controversial stuff, I realize.

I hope that all made sense. Like I said, this is still sort of processing in my mind. But what I do know is that I want to live a life of no compromise. I want to live all out for Christ. I want to follow his pattern for righteousness. I want to obey His commands.

I want to be called out. I want to be set apart. "I want to be found faithful, I want to be found steady, I want to be found faithful until the end."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Some Notes.

A pastor from Kenya came and spoke at my church this Sunday and shared an incredible message. It provoked me.

I am, by nature, an avid note taker. But somehow, during this Sunday's sermon, I was so riveted by what was being submitted to me that I couldn't even break my attention long enough to jot down a few notes. I regret it, because I wish I could have literally swallowed everything he shared. I was crying the entire sermon, and I'm not even sure why.

He spoke of fire being shut up in our bones. A fire that we cannot even hope to contain. As he spoke that very fire inside of me shook me to the core. I realized that no matter how content I may begin to feel in my walk with Christ, there is a deep yearning in my soul to be ablaze. "Come be the fire inside of me until You and I are one... You won't relent until you have it all."

As the pastor stood and spoke, I realized something so potent. The call that has been rooted deep inside of me for years, is still very, very much alive. It's burning. Still burning. It was so hot when it was placed within me, that even through years without fanning, it's still white hot. Tears streamed down my face as I realized that I cannot shake this fire. I cannot lose this calling. He won't relent until He has it all--all of me. He desires to be one with me and will not relent until it is true.

I was able to write down just a couple of lines...

"The place of your vision is the place of your responsibility."

"I must work the works of Him who sent me while it is still day. The night is coming when no one can work. This mission cannot wait. I must work."

I was so struck by this sermon. Few sermons have so deeply moved me. But I was shaken.

I feel as though in the Christian community, we have become so locked on End Times study, that we have somehow forgotten our commission. Our commission to GO YE AND PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH, MAKING DISCIPLES. We've forgotten. We become comfortable in our home groups, and our theological debates. But there are those who have not yet seen. Those who have not yet heard.

I must go. I must work. The night is coming when no one can work... We must work while it is still day. The sun must not set until our work is done.

You Won't Relent

Thought I'd share this link to a great Misty Edwards song.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Plane Rides and Parenthood

There is something about a plane ride that never ceases to launch me into a world of reflection. Perhaps it is the transitory state a plane ride offers. There you are, midair, essentially hung between two worlds, existing between them, but within neither. Because of this, you allow yourself to evaluate both, independently, yet together as you wouldn’t be able to were you living on the ground “trapped” within only one world. You are removed. Apart. Above.

As I think back on the many plane rides I have taken before this one, a startling truth comes to mind. I am not the girl I once was. Interesting revelation, huh? Of course Claire! You may think. Your life has changed so why should you remain the same? But yet there is something in the core of me that has shifted. Something that defined me once that no longer does. Can I tell you what it is? I am not sure. It escapes me. It is but a breadth out of my reach and I cannot grab hold of it. But there has been a shift. A change. An erosion of sorts in which some things were washed clean and others were merely washed away.

The plane is gliding through the night sky and outside my window all that is visible is an expanse of darkness and black night. I wonder what earth lies beneath us and who lives there. I wonder if as they enjoy their evening, they have looked up to see a light gliding above them. I wonder if they’ve thought of me and where I’m headed.

I wonder, in a sense, the same thing that they might. I wonder where I am heading. I know the physical location of course, but where exactly is it for me? I am leaving my parents house and headed back to my house. But which of those is home? The one I know so familiarly, the same one I’m leaving behind? Or the one which holds my future, a place of some mystery and shallow memory?

There are two roads in these two “homes”. One was the path of my childhood, and now one has become the path of my parenthood. Worlds apart, yet connected by a little girl who may or may not have quite realized that she is now a woman.

As I carry this life inside of me tonight, as I journey through the sky, I wonder what my child’s life will be like. As I watched my parents this week slowly adjust to the strange and foreign territory of having adult children, I thought of how one day this little life inside of me will grow up and leave and form a life of his or her own. Will I grieve my loss? Or will I rejoice in my child’s independence? Perhaps a little of both?

It’s an interesting thing to observe my parents through the eyes of a soon to be parent myself. I suddenly see past their actions and words and into their hearts. A place of deep emotion.

I spoke with my brother today about the idea of adult children. We both had noticed a couple of comments that my mother or father had made in which it was implied that we are still very much children, unaware or unlearned, when in fact, we knew much about the subject at hand. As my brother observed the situation he remarked that it must be interesting to see your children “catch up with you” in a sense. I saw it in a similar yet slightly different light. I realized that although my mother knows that that I am indeed a capable adult, she has not only known me as such. We, as children, have always known our parents as adults, whereas our parents see us as the grown up version of the 3, 5, 10, 16, and 18 year old they once knew. My mother looks at me now and sees a woman, but there must be times when she catches glimpes of that 4 year old little girl with the mussy blond hair and pouting chin. She must look at me sometimes with longing, remembering when I was a helpless infant in her arms, content to rest against her bosom and giggle at her smiles. She must look at the secure and matured woman that I now am, while remembering the broken hearted early teen who sobbed dramatically on her bed, longing for approval; the one whose hair she stroked as she empathized with my "end of the world" scenario, which she knew all along was nothing out of the ordinary. She must hear me state my now intelligently formed opinions and remember a time when all I knew she had to teach me because I was a young girl, a student, with her as my only teacher. My father must grieve the loss of the little daddy’s girl who once looked to only him as her hero, when he sees his adult daughter look lovingly at the eyes of another man--her now husband,. He must hear my “adult” sarcasm and think back to a very different sarcasm--that of a 12 year old girl who once thought she knew best. He must watch me calmly walking down the stairs on Christmas morning and remember the cute little girl who would come running hastily down the stairs in footed pajamas, teddy bear in arm, eyes twinkling with Christmas joy. He must remember standing there not as a father who must keep some distance as his role has now changed, but as a father who would scoop that little girl in to his arms, hold her, and excitedly show her the beautiful gifts he had waiting for her under the tree.

Suddenly as I carry this little one in my womb, I think of how difficult it must be to be a parent. You love so much, and invest so much, and then when your work is complete and you finally are able to observe your successes, they fly aloft, and you are left with the distant memory of what was. What must you feel as a parent? Perhaps unrewarded. Perhaps unappreciated. Perhaps disrespected. Perhaps mournfully sad. But perhaps also, you are proud. As I watch my parents grapple with the drastic change of an empty nest, I am reminded that I, one day, will experience the same. And I realize with such urgency, that I must enjoy every moment of my child’s life. No matter how stressful, how trying or how taxing. I must remember that in the blink of an eye, in the subtle turning of a day, it all changes. Such is life, I suppose. And perhaps it is only in a plane ride that we can sit long enough in transition, pausing our lives where they are, and realize what has been, and what will be without fearing either.

As I close one chapter, and open the next, I realize that I can never stop the wheels of time. I can never turn back the clock or race it forward. But I can simply live in the moment I am given, at peace, in joy and with treasure. I know now, as I carry this child in my womb and experience my first small drink of parental love, that I am deeply loved by my own parents in a way I am only just now beginning to slightly comprehend. And it wraps me in an unspeakable joy that I cannot express, because I know this love is secure, untainted, and complete.