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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Why This Church?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t like my church.  I’ve felt this for a couple of years now, so I don’t think the feeling is going away any time soon.

But the problem is that I don’t know WHY I don’t like this church.

  • It has wonderful ministries – inner city ministries, hospitals for women and children in Africa, helping sex trafficking victims, teaching pastors in China and Mali.  Divorce care ministries, single moms, addiction recovery, counselors on staff, food pantries.  I think the ministry arm of my church does seriously wonderful things.
  • It has very nice people.  I don’t think I’ve met a mean person yet.  We’re in a small group and it’s full of rockstar people!
  • It has good theology.  There hasn’t been much preached from the pulpit that I disagree with. And nothing that I strongly disagree with.
  • It has a great library of all kinds of books.

It has upbeat worship.  But it isn’t really my style.  I feel like I’m at a concert instead of at a worship service.  Some people totally love that and get excited by it.  Not me, I guess.  It didn’t bother me at first, but it does now.

It has good teaching, but at the same time, I don’t really feel like I know the Bible any better because of my 4 years attending there.

I know a church isn’t supposed to be my only way of worshiping and learning about God – and it isn’t. But it’s also a major part.  I mean, if I go there  every single week and feel that I’d rather be in the nursery instead of in service, that’s a problem.

But is that enough reason to leave a church?  My husband likes it.  And since I can’t articulate very well why I don’t like it, it makes it hard to find another church – what would we look for?

Sigh…

 

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Using your gifts

“All the gifts which we possess have been bestowed by God and entrusted to us on condition that they be distributed for our neighbor’s benefit.” -John Calvin

I ran across this quote.  Somewhere.  Written in some book.  Which I have long since forgotten.  But the quote struck me enough to write it down.  And I keep coming back to it.  It keeps popping up in my mind.

What gifts do I possess?

I have many of the same gifts that most other people have.  Time.  Money.  Words. Smiles.  I might have some of these in more or less quantities than another person, but everyone has some measure of these.

What other gifts to I possess?  Education.  Knowledge.  Experience.  I know how to design software solutions.  I know how to price match.  I know how to diaper a baby (though not yet know how to potty train a toddler).

What neighbors do I want to benefit?

That’s the hard one for me – there are real, physical neighbors of course.  People that live in my circle.  There are “neighbors” that I work with.  Neighbors in my family.  Neighbors at my church.  Neighbors are all over!

Am I really using my gifts to benefit others?

Sometimes.  Sometimes not.  I use my software skills to benefit my company.  I use my baby diapering skills with my children.  But it kind of seems that I should be benefiting my neighbors more.  Not in a “full time, take lots of hours away from my family” kind of way.  But I’d my eyes and heart to be open to benefiting others in impromptu ways when an opportunity comes up to say something kind.  Or to  make a meal for someone.  Or to teach someone something that I know about.

I think sometimes an idea pops into my head of a way to bless someone, but then I don’t act on it.  That’s a shame! That very thought turned into action could be just what a person needs.

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Apathy or Wisdom?

When the whole Phil Robertson/Duck Dynasty/A&E controversy went down last month, I didn’t post about it.  I didn’t say anything on facebook about it.  5 years ago, I would have.  But the 2013 Jayme didn’t.

Why not now?  Wisdom?  

I’d like to think that it was because I didn’t really have a ‘dog in the fight’.  I don’t watch Duck Dynasty.  I’ve seen 2-3 episodes a couple of months ago when I was in the hospital after having Stephen…it was the only time that I had access to that channel.  The most exposure that I’ve had to the family is watching their testimony on I Am Second.

But I did read his comments in their entirety (I think) and my reaction was “Boy, that was a dumb way of putting it.”  and I also thought “I’ve said some really stupid things in my life and I’m guessing he regrets wording his position this way.  I think I know what he means, but man, oh man.”

I think I really only know what he means because we (likely) share the same biblical worldview and because I’ve seen his testimony.

I’d like to think it was wisdom that made me refrain from saying anything, but the answer might just as easily be apathy.

Because I don’t really watch the show, I didn’t really care about the outcome of the situation.  Which isn’t a big deal.  But what concerns me about myself is that maybe I don’t care about is how Christians are viewed.  And that’s a little troubling.

Because I should.  To some degree anyway.  I should care about how Christians are seen by others.  I want us to be seen as loving.  And joyful (not ridiculously happy because we’re clueless, but joyful as-a-whole).  And aware (of what others face).  And compassionate (knowing how difficult some people’s struggles are – no matter what it’s about).  And gracious.

And in the whole Duck Dynasty/Pat Robertson/A&E thing, most Christians didn’t come across as loving, joyful, aware, compassionate or gracious.  And that stinks.

But it didn’t really bother me very much.  And I think it should have.  At least a little.

What do you do with that realization?

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A more useful body

I came across this quote a while back in an Elisabeth Elliot book I was reading (I can’t remember which one, but I suspect it was Through Gates of Splendor).  Her first husband, Jim, was pretty selective about the activities and clubs he joined when he was in college.  He was planning on being a missionary and picked activities that he felt would directly prepare him for that life.  So, it seemed kind of weird to many that he was in the wrestling club.  His reasoning:

“I wrestle solely for the strength and co-ordination of muscle tone that the body receives while working out, with the ultimate end that of presenting a more useful body as a living sacrifice” – Jim Elliot

It’s a great thought and one that challenges me in my quest of healthier eating.  Eating healthier is great and a LARGE part of the journey to being healthier, but how about my physical activity? 

Plus, this quote is a good reminder of WHY physical health – is my reason that it’s ultimately because I want to present a more useful body to the Lord?  I’m not convinced that’s my reason 100% of the time – or even 50% of the time, but it’s something to chew on (tee hee!)

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Proverbs 31 man?

I was reading Proverbs 31 and noticed the verses preceeding the passage on the Proverbs 31 woman.  It’s still the same queen giving advice to her son, but instead of listing out qualities that the wife should have, she was giving her son advice on what he must be.  In essence, she was listing out some qualities that men should strive for.

Let’s read Proverbs 31:2-9, shall we?

2 Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
   Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
3 Do not spend your strength on women,
   your vigor on those who ruin kings.

 4 It is not for kings, Lemuel—
   it is not for kings to drink wine,
   not for rulers to crave beer,
5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
   and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
6 Let beer be for those who are perishing,
   wine for those who are in anguish!
7 Let them drink and forget their poverty
   and remember their misery no more.

 8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
   for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly;
   defend the rights of the poor and needy.

There’s probably many blog posts that can be written about different qualities.  But I just want to point out a few:

  • What does it mean to spend your strenth on women and on those who ruin kings?
  • Why shouldn’t kings drink wine?
  • Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves!
  • Speak up and judge fairly!

Mainly, how can I use these instructions in my teaching my son(s)?  What impact should this have as I teach them to interact with others?  How can I put this advice into real life practice?  Good things to think about.

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Last post about the book that I recommended on Monday.  (You have bought a copy, right?  Or reserved one from the library?  Go do so!  I’m for reals.)  It’s “Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches” by Russell D. Moore.

This time it was a story of when his two boys left the orphanage on their way back home.  He writes:

We nodded our thanks to the orphanage personnel and walked out into the sunlight, to the terror of the two boys.

They’d never seen the sun, and they’d never felt the wind. They had never heard the sound of a car door slamming or felt like they were being carried along a road at 100 miles an hour. I noticed that they were shaking and reaching back to the orphanage in the distance. …

I whispered to Sergei, now Timothy, “That place is a pit! If only you knew what’s waiting for you – a home with a mommy and a daddy who love you, grandparents and great-grandparents and cousins and playmates and McDonald’s Happy Meals!”

But all they knew was the orphanage. It was squalid, but they had no other reference point. It was home. (pg 43)

The trauma of leaving the orphanage was unexpected to me because I knew how much better these boys’ life would soon be. I thought they knew it too. But they had no idea. They couldn’t conceive of anything other than the status quo. My whispering to my boys, “You won’t miss that orphanage” is only a shadow of something I should have known already.  (pg 46)

To the boys, leaving that place felt like suffering.  A form of torture, maybe.  Panic.  Even though they had started to bond with their new parents, they were leaving the only home that they had known.  It wasn’t too long later, he writes, that they were settled at their new home with the Moores.  They got used to wind and cars and sun and not having to hide food.  Their old home couldn’t begin to compare to their new home. But they didn’t know that then.

Do I do that?  Am I in a place that feels like home, but really is suffering compared to something else?  I’m particularly thinking of my eating habits, as unhealthy and undisciplined as they are.  If I were to start eating better, it would feel like suffering to me.  I’d have to deny myself things that I dearly love today.

But if I ate healthier (the AFTER), I might realize that eating healthy isn’t suffering.  It was the BEFORE that was really suffering.  I just couldn’t know that until I tasted (ha!) the something better.  Just like his boys couldn’t have known that it was the BEFORE that was bad without knowing the AFTER.

Makes me think.

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Still talking about the book that I recommended on Monday.  (You have bought a copy, right?  Or reserved one from the library?  Go do so!)  It’s “Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches” by Russell D. Moore.

It’s practically a Christian buzz word or hot phrase these days to say “My identity is in Christ.  That’s what matters.  Nothing else.”  I’m sure I’ve said it myself.  But…confession time…I’ve never completely known what people mean by that, to be honest.

Do they mean that nothing else matters on earth?

Does it mean that no one should call them mom or dad or grandma or CEO or pastor because they don’t identify with that role?  Should Phinehas grow up calling me Christian Jayme, not Mom?  Should Jeff call me Christian Jayme, not ‘dear’?

Does it mean that they are confident in everything they do because they know that Jesus has their back?

Does it mean that it doesn’t matter what they do or what they say or what they don’t do or say?

What does it mean?!?

Mr. Moore talks about how the early Christians and Jews were in conflict over circumcision.  The Jews had the rite of circumcision as a way of saying “We are God’s people.”  If Gentiles could now be God’s people because of Jesus, didn’t they need to be circumcised too?  What was the thing that would identify them?  Without something, how would one ever know if they were in or out?

From the book:

The New Testament reminds … of our adoption so we’ll remember that we are here by the Spirit, not by the exertions of our flesh.  Because we’ve been brought into an already-existing family, we ought not to be proud, as though we were here by family entitlement (Rom. 11:11-25).  We’re here by grace.

But our adoption also shows us just how welcome we are here.  This is not, after all, the first time, God has adopted.  Too often we assume that the Gentiles are the “adopted” children of God, and the Jews are “natural-born” children.  But Paul says that Israel was adopted too (Rom. 9:4) … Israel was an abandoned baby, wallowing in its own blood on the roadside (Ezek. 16:5)

…Circumcision answers the question, “Are you part of the family?  Are the promises made to you?  Are you in the covenant?”  … It’s a lack of faith, a lack of repentance.  If they are clinging to their identity in Christ, being found in him, then everything else is rubbish.  Yes, we’re part of the family, but we don’t point to our own circumcised flesh to prove that; we point away from ourselves and to a circumcised, law-keeping, faithful, resurrected Messiah (Col. 2:11-13)

…We now come before God as sons bearing the very same Spirit as was poured out on the Lord Jesus at the Jordan River, a Spirit through which we cry “Abba!”

This means repentance.  We recognize and know that we never could have found ourselves in this family “through the flesh” — whether that striving was through biblical circumcision or through pagan orgies or through modern self-absorption.  Our identity is found in another – Jesus of Nazareth. (page 30-31)

So, it isn’t that nothing else matters at all.  Other things matter.  The roles that I have on this earth.  The people in my life.  It’s that nothing else is as defining as being a Christian.  It’s that nothing else determines my eternal destiny.  It’s that I don’t have to point to anything as proof of being a Christian.  Other stuff is nice (good deeds, baptism, evangelism, being a wife, being a mom), but it isn’t the definition of me.

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I have found a book that you MUST read.  You must, you must.  It’s “Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches” by Russell D. Moore.  Even if you’re not interested in adopting.  Even if you don’t know anyone who is adopting.  Even if you’re already excited about adoption (for you or in general).

The reason: the first 2-3 chapters of this book are life-changing. For me, at least.  The author lays out the theology of how Christians have been adopted by God and weaves his experience of adopting 2 boys from Russia into that.  It is exceptionally well written.  It is a beautiful story – both his story as a adopting dad and our story as believers.

Since they adopted 2 boys at the same time and near in age, he often got the question “Are they brothers?”  Biologically, they were not.  But that didn’t matter.  The moment the judge declared them members of the Moore family, they were.  They were Moore’s children and thus, now brothers.  He reflected on why getting that question bothered him so much:

From the book:

The “are they brothers?” question irritated me so much, the more I thought about it, because it was about more than my adoption process. It was about my pride and self-delusion. It reminded me of my own tendency to prize my carnality, a tendency the Scripture says leads right to the grave (Romans 8:13). None of us likes to think we were adopted. We assume we’re natural-born children, with a right to all of this grace, to all of this glory. (page 31)

As Christians, we have been adopted by God.  We often forget this.  We don’t want to think about it.  We want to think that we just naturally and always have been a member of His family.  But we haven’t.  We once weren’t His children.  There was once a moment that I wasn’t.  The next moment, I was.

Being reminded that I haven’t always been here, in His family, is the impetus that I need to once again, be awed by grace and favor that I have received.  I forget too easily that I once was a “Have Not”, but am now a “Have”.

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I’ll always be grateful that God took the form of a human, was born on this Earth.

I’ll always be grateful that He lived a sinless life, but still allowed Himself to be crucified on the cross.

I’ll always be grateful that He didn’t stay dead, but rose again, so that I could have salvation.

I’ll always be grateful that it isn’t anything that I’ve done that has given me that salvation.

I’ll always be grateful that, by God’s grace, He gave me the faith to believe in Jesus as the Son of God.

I’ll always be grateful for Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

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For His Pleasure

“You are worthy, O Lord our God,

to receive glory and honor and power.

For you created all things,

and they exist because you created what you pleased.” (Revelation 4:11)

I’ve been attending a Beth Moore Study – Believing God at my church for the last couple of weeks. One of the topics that came up was about why God created us. The answer: For His pleasure. Not so that we can build cool things. Not so that we can share His Word with other people. Not so we can help other people.  Not so that we can have more people.  Nope.  Basically, He created us because He wanted to and we make Him happy.

Normally, that thought wouldn’t really give me pause, but I started thinking about it, the thought became a little more real to me. It was basically the same reason that I ‘created’ Phinehas. (Now, I know it’s really God who creates people, but you know what I mean…let’s not get lost in the details.)

I became a mom because I wanted to. (And because Jeff wanted to be a dad). I didn’t want children so that my son could build cool things. Or so that he could share the Gospel with the kid sitting next to him in 8th grade math. Or so that he could help others. Or so that he could have godly children of his own. As much as I hope my son does those things, it isn’t the real reason that I wanted to have children.

I became a mom because I wanted to. Because something in me said “I want to be a mother! I want to have a family! That would please me.”

My experience, thus far, in being a mother has helped me understand God better.  Knowing that God created me for His pleasure and experiencing a similar relationship with my son gives me a better glimpse on how God sees me.  I make Him happy!

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