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Archive for the ‘Thinking Out Loud’ Category

I began writing here a few years ago, putting out my deepest spiritual angst for the world to see, and I always hoped, could benefit from in some way.  As my need for therapeutic writing (processing) has diminished, I’ve had less to say, and have no intention of trying to contrive content in order to keep a blog going.  This has never been about finding followers or selling anything.  I guess my desire was to reach out – find like minds – offer a warning alarm for anyone seeking to take the detours I’ve taken.   I didn’t come out of an unhealthy religion (twice) just to find a comfortable pew to spend out the rest of my days.  The journey marches on with new challenges, disappointments, and a continued desire for more understanding.  Having been born and raised a Seventh-day Adventist, and now being an ex-Adventist, makes up a part of my identity I can never truly erase.

I thought I’d moved on past this label, and gotten to where I can just be a human.  But you really can’t cut off your formative years.  They mold you for a lifetime in some way or another, a sobering thought as a parent too.  What brought this back to the surface for me was a show I ran across on Netflix called Amish:  Out of Order.   Reality shows have their severe limitations, and I don’t know when it became necessary to format programming as if the target audience was five years old, but the sincerity of the people in this show sharing their experiences  had me in tears myself.  The show centers around an ex-Amish man, Mose Gingerich, who does what he can to help other young Amish people make their transition to the “English” (outside) world.  He offers much counsel, encouragement, and finds ways to bring the ex-Amish together as a family to replace the ones they left behind.

In one episode, the focus turns from the young people to Mose and his own pain he continually carries from past abuse and being cut off from his family when he left.  He goes back to attempt to reconcile and re-spark a relationship with his mother.  His father has passed on.  She won’t let him in the house for fear of what her community elders will do to her.  She can’t even agree to correspond by mail.  She can offer no relationship, because she has been given a choice between her son and her church.  He chooses to forgive those who have hurt him and to pursue a relationship even if there is no response in return.

While Adventists are rarely (but sometimes) this extreme in their shunning of those who leave, the effects of growing up in a church that teaches salvation only within its own membership, creates fear and confusion that only those who have left one can understand.  In this episode an ex-Amish evangelical minister mentioned that suicide is sometimes the preferred option for someone who can’t stay or leave.  I also knew many Adventists who committed suicide.

As I look back on my life, I feel like my entire adult life has been an attempt to grapple spiritually with my original heritage, which has a culture all of its own.  While not as secluded as Amish, and very worldly by comparison (more so now than when I was young), this church has a very distinctive culture of food, religious lingo, and a prophet that dictates nearly every facet of every day life, for those who take her seriously enough to comply.  Adventist churches of my youth were close-knit and in my family where work/church/school all centered around the institution, we had little or no social connections with any non-Adventists.  If we did happen to meet people on the outside, we felt it our responsibility to share our truth with them.  Outsiders were a lesser class of human and seen only as targets for saving.

Since leaving, I have never found any other group that had the same close-knit feeling of community as we had growing up.  (Our Hebrew Roots group came close for a time.)  Sometimes I wonder if I’m not out looking for truth as much as I am looking for that type of spiritual family.  American churches I have been involved with are not like this.  I cannot even imagine the void an ex-Amish person must feel upon leaving.

Going from this closed system into a public school my senior year, I found myself lost in family dysfunction and grasping for my own identity.  I felt like my new social world operated on a set of rules from a secret code somewhere, and I didn’t have any instincts or discernment about who to trust.  I went into college continuing the reckless abandon I had begun the previous year – trying to prove to the world and myself I wasn’t a religious freak.   I didn’t want to think about God, religion, rules, personal safety, or the future.  I wanted to be seen as a wild child just like everyone else, and it’s much easier to fit in with a joint in your hand.

Decades later, I see that the main focus of my adult life has been trying to find a spiritual path and identity.  I can remember shortly before our awakening out of the Hebrew Roots Movement, feeling so thankful I finally had found the truth and wouldn’t have to go through any more transitions.  That’s pretty funny, because I’m still in transition.  I don’t get to rest comfortably in correct knowledge, because the older I get, the less I know.

I don’t have access to cable or satellite television, but this week I was at a friend’s house and decided to check out 3ABN for the fun of old times.  This Adventist television station plays a variety of programs designed to teach the church and also evangelize outsiders.  The current program featured an evangelist we had watched almost 20 years ago.  We used his videos to evangelize the community.  In fact, one of my husband’s employers and now lifelong friends came through this connection as we reached out to our town with the “truth”.   This evangelist, with more grey hair now, paced the stage selling the same rote speech on the Mark of the Beast as we had handed out umpteen years ago.  He now has a more elaborate stage, complete with life-size golden angels and state-of-the-art multimedia technology, but the defining message of the organization marches on:  If you do not keep the 7th day as the Sabbath, and keep it correctly, and instead worship on Sunday as the harlot of Revelation has taught you to do, you will be damned.  At least I can watch it now without the anxiety, only sadness that people are still being led into this.

This month I am going to visit SDA family I love so much, and have learned to put down the sword of aggression toward their faith.  I don’t think they are going to hell, even if they think I might.  I no longer believe I need to save them from what I consider false beliefs.  They are happy.  It’s home for them, and they have contentment in their path.  I envy that at times  – being settled.  I don’t know if I ever will be.  The spiritual truths most precious to me now cross all barriers of sect and culture, so I hope this time around, we have more in common than not.  Because after all, I will always have some Adventist in me too.

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to my latest subscribers!  I see one of you is very interested in food topics, so I hope you like this post too.  I was writing it in my mind just as your comment came to my inbox, so this was great timing.

I learn so much about LIFE  in the often frustrating process of growing things.  For many years I have off and on tried my hand at gardening.  I love it, but have never been terribly successful.  This year I had high hopes because for the first time I could build proper raised beds with an added soil mix.  No more wondering about soil Ph or the grass growing in faster than the seedlings.  I believed my past failures stemmed from a lack of proper preparation.

Well.  Not so much.  Even though our family hopes to someday produce as much of our own food as possible, it looks more like the tooth fairy has better odds of showing up in this house than a bountiful harvest.

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Radishes harvested previously. Couldn’t bring myself to photograph today’s results.

This morning I did some tinkering with some of my plants and picked a tiny handful of ripe green beans.  What to do?  Not enough for a meal.  Don’t want to throw them away or compost the precious fruit of my toil.  Along with the beans I pulled some under-developed, woody-rooted radishes, some onions that may or may not ever form bulbs (still holding onto hope there), and all the kale I had planted too close to the chard.  I pulled a couple carrots to see their progress.  They looked about the same as the radishes, and we planted them both over three months ago.  I have many theories about this sad little garden, as I look over the chain-link fence where my neighbor’s squash plants exploded as soon as she planted them and now sport bright yellow blooms.  I trust we will figure it out and learn much in the process.  I have read plenty of books – but it’s so different than actually growing things.  Or… not growing them.

On the way back from my garden I also walk past the compost pile where some potatoes plants took off on their own along with some type of squash or melon.  I didn’t plant anything there on purpose and I haven’t watered it one time, but it’s all growing much better than my garden.

I brought in my little harvest that seemed good for nothing and nearly did toss it all into the compost to be the food for the next try.  But I remembered I had soup bones ready to make some good bone broth.  Now it’s all chopped and simmering in my pot till bedtime at least, and filling the house with a cozy aroma on a rainy day.  Every bit of nutrition from my little plants will be drawn into the broth in a concentrated liquid full of calcium and healthy fats from my father’s grass-fed beef that will help our bodies absorb the fat-soluble vitamins.  It doesn’t matter now that they were tough or too small, or too few.  I added fresh lemon juice to coax more calcium from the bones and the results create a base for soups and sauces that nothing in the grocery store can hold a candle to.  I have never made broth with all the veggies coming from my own garden, so this is a small victory.

Do you ever feel you have nothing to offer?  Do you feel like everyone else’s life is something to boast about and yours is a disappointment?  An embarrassment even?  Life is full of regrets, failures, and opportunities to feel inferior and worthless.  But where there is life – there is hope.  Jesus told parables about making the best of what little we have been given.  With Him, a little mustard seed can grow into a great tree!  And those things the world considers “trash” and thrown in a pile to rot, can even bring a harvest greater than those who have been carefully cultivated.  (Yes, had to work that in.)  Just thought I would share the encouragement of the Lord today.  It was what I needed to be reminded of too.

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Lately I’ve been learning or realizing things so quickly I am having an extremely hard time processing everything.  Sometimes I want to scream “slow down!” but there is a sense of urgency also.  One huge thing I’ve always been drawn to but am now understanding more deeply, is what constitutes genuine community.   My husband and I have always been drawn to this and had a long discussion about it today.  We’ve experienced it on some levels in the past, and greatly desire it in our future.  We visited a good friend today who lives in a community many would think less than desirable.  He lives in a tent but he has an amazing place to live on a beautiful creek in trees.  The other people there have much more connection to each other than the neighbors living on my street, partly because they need one another.  Most people in our culture have been led to believe they don’t need anyone’s help, or it’s shameful to even admit it.

We talked to our friend about our big dreams for people living together, helping each other.  Now people call them communes, or even cults.  In North America they used to just be called tribes, and it was a way of life that even some Europeans found more inviting than their own, so they joined up.  As I learn more about them, it strikes a familiar chord deep in my soul of what I have also always desired, and how I believe God created us to live in relation to one another.

I have recently made another friend who is terribly isolated – raising a small child nearly alone, and battling an autoimmune disorder.  Her husband works out of town a great deal and her own family who lives nearby, less than nurturing.  She doesn’t attend church because her experiences with Christians and their theologies have also been less than nurturing.  She lives in a brand new house on the good side of town – in poverty of a different kind.  She told me of her many failed attempts to find a play group for her daughter.  They all had some element of conformity she didn’t find herself to match into; too Texan, too granola (scowling at her Cheetos), too religious, or even too atheist.  Each one wanting community based on their own particular identity rather than just loving people as they are.  Sound like any place you’ve been?  Thankfully, she decided to start one of her own, of which I am a happy member.  It’s a small but amazing group of women who value simply BEING.. and being with their young children.  I guess that’s our one conformity.

I also know some amazing people who have brought in a beautiful girl off the street who was pregnant.  They already had an elderly parent living with them, and their own two teenage boys.  But now they will have a tribe also, with a baby and and elder to boot.  They are doing all this with an inspirational amount of joy and gratitude.

community-300x201An interesting paradox exists today.  In a recent documentary, Happy, the filmmakers identify elements that contribute to human happiness, drawing from cultures all over the world.   A sense of community ranked in the top five, along with other interesting characteristics not foreign to genuine expressions of Christianity.  While humans crave this, our culture has all but lost it.  Substitutes for real community, such as social networking, do attempt to fill a need – yet don’t require much in the way of the hard work that goes into living in close community.  We can turn it off – shut it out – hide the bits we don’t like.  We want togetherness, but we want it with people just like us.  We have made-to-order radio and video entertainment.  No one has to watch or hear anything they don’t like.  Not like the good old days listening to your top 40 radio station, waiting for your favorite song.  Or flipping through your six TV channels over and over and settling for re-runs of I Love Lucy.  No more.  You can now watch all the episodes on demand now if you want, commercial free.  But even the TV and radio of my day were the beginnings of social isolation.

We also don’t have to be around people we don’t like, even if we are married to them.  We want people on demand too.  Just the ones who don’t get on our nerves.  I am not judging anyone who is divorced.  I have been through that too.  But we have become a society that bails out instead of pushing through.  In a community, you learn to push through.  And some behaviors which tend to cause marriages to fail would probably be addressed in healthy, healing way.  Maybe.  Just a theory.  You can’t hide your junk when you live in close proximity to others.  If you hit your wife, it won’t be your little secret for long.

Even with all my idealistic dreams, I realized I wasn’t enduring too well in my own tribe.  We’ve had people live with us, and we’ve shared homes with others.  We bombed a couple times, had amazing success in others, but in none of those situations did we see it as a way of life.  We looked at it as something cool we get to do for awhile till we go back to normal life.  Normal, isolated, scrapping for survival one day at a time on the hamster wheel kind of life.  But now our family has grown and our living space stayed about the same.  I start to feel crowded, frustrated, wanting things to be my way.  I want the situation to go away, not work through to a solution.  My own selfishness has never been revealed more clearly.  As I told my husband today, there is a big difference in wanting the best for all the people in your life, or wanting them to arrange their lives to make your life easier and less stressful.  And I also realize I’ve left many situations myself because it was easier to walk away than honor a commitment to one another.

Well, after all this today, I ran across the most touching, beautiful video (by “accident”) about an intentional community started by a husband and wife.  They went where no one wanted to go, and are pouring out their lives as a living sacrifice.  It is showing in vivid color exactly the things I have been hearing deep down in my soul.  It’s only 10 minutes and I hope you take time to watch it.  I believe the time is now for these to be birthed everywhere, as living witnesses to the love of Christ.  There is no way to follow Christ alone.  He ordained that we should need and help one another, and learn to love as He loves.  We just need to build on a few rooms. 🙂

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photo by Krystal Tye

I spent last week in Southwest Colorado, one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  My father moved to this area when I was 11 years old (and helped build the condos in the picture) so I’ve been blessed to have a childhood full of mountain memories.  Even before this, our family lived in Grand County, Colorado on three acres of lodge-pole pines.  I have always wished my own children could have grown up having the same adventures I did.  As kids, we lived outdoors – hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, swimming, spelunking,  backpacking, fishing, biking, four wheel mountain road driving … that’s all the “ing” words I can think of.  I am so glad my parents gave me an appreciation for nature and finding joy in the Creator’s world.  I still have to be outside as much as possible, even if it’s just to sit in my own back yard.  Sitting.. my new “ing”  word for my older body.

Now I am a city dweller, and it has some great perks.  But nothing can compare to watching the mood of a mountain range change five times in a day as the light and clouds change, hearing the wind in the trees before it comes to you, the smell of soil, pine, and sage, and a sky so blue you wouldn’t find a match even in a 64-count box of crayons.  I’ve only been home a day and I’m already homesick for the Rockies.  And I have not even begun to count the ways I love them.

On this visit, my younger two children were finally old enough to take a serious hike.  We took off to climb the mesa behind my father’s house.  My brother has camped on top a few times, so he knew they easy way to the top.  In this case, easy meant avoiding the 80 degree incline directly behind the house and opting for a more gradual slope farther down the road.  But we still had a steep climb with patches of snow, mud, large rocks, cactus, and brush to maneuver around, with no trail.  My six and eight year old kids had never been on anything more challenging than the bike trail behind our house.  I wondered how long before the complaining would begin, but I didn’t start begging to stop for a rest until we nearly reached the top!  My idle ways while living at near sea level revealed themselves as I gasped for air.  My children however urged me on to keep up.  I realized hiking in the mountains from a young age taught me I could do hard things, and that hard things could be very enjoyable, even though painful at times.

The views from the top made it worth the effort.  We could see the entire valley, a lake, and even the state line into New Mexico.  We hiked along the top to the far end,WP_000580 then made our way down farther from the house than we planned.  We tried mud skiing (new sport) down the last incline, investigating a large animal skeleton at the bottom.  As we rounded the base of the mesa and found the road that led home, I realized we had walked farther than we ever do on our city trails.  Yet none of us had grown bored or wished we hadn’t come.  I contrasted this to my various attempts to start a walking program motivated by the fact that it’s good for me.  No comparison.  I tortured my body on this hike and wondered if I would need assistance to get out of bed the next day.  But at home it’s like pulling teeth to get out and walk down my flat, straight city street, or even the bike trail.

WP_000589I sometimes hear people speak of their relationship with God as I do my exercise program; obligatory and guilt-ridden for lack of effort.  I’ve been in that place plenty of times too.  But God is not an obligation – He is an adventure!  The Spirit has so much beauty to show us, so many interesting things to ponder and ask about, full of fresh air and bright light.  My grown-up self often forgets that God isn’t found in the list of things we “should” do to be a good Christian.  He is found in the joy of childlike curiosity, love, and trust.  He delivered us from being servants and pupils under the school master to being sons and daughters of Him, Abba, Daddy.   I love the world He created for us to enjoy and He speaks to me so much when I have the chance to immerse myself in it.  Even in my city, there are places and times to do this.

But sometimes following Jesus isn’t a walk in the park.  He did say there was a cross involved.  Choices, sacrifices, endurance, patience, and pain – these also come with the high calling to “walk as He walked.”  I have been on hikes that lasted longer than I bargained for.  One day, when I was 12, my dad had to carry me the last couple miles back to the truck.  I couldn’t go anymore.  Sixteen miles round trip of steep trails and a few laps around the lake while fishing – I was overly optimistic about my abilities.  But do I regret it?  Not for a second.  What drives people to do crazy things for Jesus?  Joy, Gratitude, and Love.  If obligation is my game, I’m afraid I would give up before I have barely started.  Truly loving relationships don’t understand that kind of drudgery.

When we got home from our trip, my children ran to see their daddy who had to stay behind.  No one had to say, “Please go hug your dad and tell him you missed him.”  Spontaneous love and affection erupted that even the neighbors across the street could hear.  If only we could see ourselves with our Heavenly Father this way.

I can write about this much easier than I can live it.  So easy for my default setting to be task oriented, not love seeking.  Seeing truth is easier than walking.  But I’m thankful my Abba knows when I need Him to pick me up and carry me.  Maybe that’s a third and best way of walking.

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Today I read a passionate argument against some “hyper-grace” teaching that has become popular.  Living under my rock, I am not in a position to comment on teachings I have not heard for myself, but this has never stopped me before.  🙂  I will concede that maybe the message of Grace in Christ could be presented badly.  But I find it hard to believe that it could ever be too much.

I’m not sure if the reaction is toward something that may actually be heretical or if maybe much of the Church has never understood that law and grace were never meant to be in balance.  Grace replaces law because it does what the law could never do; creates a new life, draws with love rather than fear of punishment, transforms desires which in turn guides a life toward Christ instead of self.  Maybe those teaching “hyper-grace” don’t know this either, but I have never heard anyone teach that Jesus has no affect on a life.  He just saves you and that’s all there is to it?  Nothing changes except you go to heaven instead of hell?  Are people really teaching this?  Or are some people afraid to let go and let Him be the Lord of the road people are on while seeking Him.  I would speculate it’s possible that neither side of this debate really know Grace.

I have wanted to write about this so many times, and never could quite seem to figure out how to approach it – because it’s kind of the depth and scope of everything about living in Christ. It’s like, if you don’t get it – I can’t give it to you.  But I see so many Christians , churches, and creeds missing the awesome power of Grace.

Real Grace (which is even beyond my ability to accurately define) is such a transforming power that squabbling over what you think you are allowed to do or not allowed to do becomes pointless.   Those debates are for those who don’t have enough grace, not too much.  Grace fills you with love for God that keeps Him in mind in all your actions, words, and even your thoughts.  Grace fills you with love for other people so that you lay down your prejudices, hates, grudges, and feelings of superiority.  Your heart lives with those who are last, not first, and you learn to lay down your life and take up your cross.  You even find yourself loving those who hate you.  Grace isn’t always easy, but it’s glorious.  It’s Jesus on a cross loving you and His executioners, saving us who were against Him.  You can’t have too much of Him.  Loving Him with your whole heart, mind, and soul does not lead to licentiousness.  Quite the opposite.  People think that when Christians begin to get comfy with sin (which is also sadly defined only by moral behavioral lines while the sins against love are ignored), they need more law.  I disagree. They need to see more Jesus, and we so seldom speak of Him.  We love to dwell on agendas and abstract ideas.  Even New Covenant recovering theology junkies like me are in danger of this.  Life is not a good idea we can talk about at a distance.  It’s a Person who is your Life and has an active participation in it.  We often turn His Spirit into a dead doctrine  or a band-wagon, either one.   Both of these forget that He is standing there as our Bridegroom, waiting for us to realize the intimacy and power of His Love.  Imagine an unpublished final chapter of Pride and Prejudice.  Elizabeth Bennett,  in spite of her hard-won love and admiration of Mr. Darcy, turns to a life of crime because he wasn’t stern enough to keep her in line.  That’s not how love stories go, and I don’t believe it’s what Jesus intended for those who fall in love with Him.

It makes me sad when people believe Jesus isn’t enough and we need to step back to Moses to get a good dose of morality to stay on the straight and narrow, or to even find conviction for sin.  This isn’t what He taught.  The inheritance He gives us, His Spirit, His Life.. is so much more, so much greater.  And it’s continuing to open my eyes to areas that I had not surrendered to Him before.  Grace loves me enough to not leave me to wallow in my own ways.  In the last year, I’ve seen things that were so out of line with Him, that I used to believe were true (similar to the awakening which inspired the start of this blog).   The areas of my life being pruned would never have been brought into the light with the Law.  His Spirit goes deep into the heart and tests things against the Law of Love.  So much in my heart has failed this test.   This did not come about because someone came and said, “you need to repent of x,y, and z”.  Rather, it’s the fruit of walking with Him, and hearing His heart.  And I have much further to walk.  Maybe we need to move past God as a doctrine and realize that living in communion with him (as a husband and wife, father and child, etc… whatever family or friend relationship you relate to) doesn’t operate on this score and control system when it’s healthy.  What friend of Jesus did He ever have to force Himself upon?  Was there ever a more attractive Person?

I may have never encountered this actual problem of hyper-grace, and I may misunderstand the arguments against it, but I do appreciate the chance to say, Jesus is enough. 🙂  Always.

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I may have only minutes before the many people who live in my house wake up.  This is an experiment to see if I can write a post that makes any sense in this small window of opportunity.  The other day I ran across a picture which perfectly describes the fantasy of an introvert writer who lives in a small space with many other people.

jumping bowlI can dream can’t I?  I do love all the people in my house so very much.  But I also love silence and solitude.  Even Jesus had to get away by Himself with His Father.  I have yet to pray all night however!

Yesterday I spent  several hours working in our backyard (a.k.a. neglected jungle) and barely made a dent in what needs to be done.  The previous occupants of the house let things overgrow for years. They also left their own piles of debris which we are still gradually eliminating, and finding interesting uses for.  In addition to rocks, metal, leaves and sticks, the other big challenge to clean out is the Mondo grass that has been allowed to take over large portions of the lawn, as well as the vines and shrubs attacking the fence line.  So while all this wild plant life grows so vigorously, the edible vegetation I am actually trying to grow barely makes any progress.  They sprouted, but haven’t grown.  Squirrels keep digging holes in the bed.  If a Scripture has come to your mind by now, I’m sure it’s the same one that I began to hear in mine.  The Apostle Paul lamented about how easy it was for him to do what he didn’t want to do, and the thing that he wanted to do – he didn’t do.  It never ceases to amaze me the reflections of spiritual truth contained in the Creation.  Jesus also loved to draw lessons from what He made, and I am thankful HE is the gardener of my soul.  His green thumb is so much better than mine.  Paul concludes his dilemma with thanks to Jesus for deliverance from this “body of death.”  (Romans 7)

535454_560529423967130_2035587773_nBut here is a paradox.  In nature we see a life force that is overwhelmingly strong and finds a way to survive when it seems there should be no way.  In extreme conditions and against all obstacles, life finds away.  But left unchecked, this life can cause the death of other things.  It takes over.

As I worked yesterday, the beauty of the blue sky behind a few low-hanging clouds quickly drifting by refreshed my weary soul.  Two Cedar Waxwings courted each other in a tree overhead, and another tiny, adorable bird was cracking a pecan that never let go of the tree.  I looked up the hill behind our house, where the most noteworthy and wealthy families in the city live.  I can see some of the buildings on the property of a well-known man who just passed away this week.  In the same year, he and my son both became ill with cancer.  This disease doesn’t care if you live at the top or the bottom of the hill.  At cancer centers you find people of all races and religions in a somber fight to live against that which refuses to die.

As I learned how cancer develops and grows, I also saw amazing spiritual parallels.  Cancer represents an attempt at immortality, gathering resources for its own growth and survival, even at the expense of the host.  Self-destruction eventually comes either through a barbaric onslaught of chemicals and radiation, or in the end – its own “victory”.  The mechanisms by which it achieves its goals are incredibly diverse and complex, and the more I studied it, the more I began to see a sinister war, not a disease.  Cancer takes what the body uses to defend itself and appropriates it for its own use.  It establishes a control center, then outposts , supply lines, and lines of protection.

For most of human history, this has been the way of expanding earthly kingdoms as well.  The way of fallen nature seeks to establish its own security at the expense of everything and everyone around it.  Not all kingdoms are content within their own borders, just as some human cells decide they don’t want to ever die.  Some people live their lives this way on a personal level.  Jesus came to show another Way.  Dying brings life, not killing and taking.  It’s so foreign to our “natural” way we often believe we can follow Jesus and still cling to what feels so obviously natural to us.  Jesus said, he who loses is life will save it, and he who seeks to save his life will lose it.  In this very simple statement we see the cause and cure of our own spiritual cancer.

I eagerly wait for a real, humane cure to the physical examples of cancer.  Nearly every day I hear of someone else entering this war, and we have lost far too many friends and family to it.  And I am in NO way suggesting that those who carry the physical disease do so because they have succumbed spiritually.  But the spiritual form grieves me maybe even more so.  When I hear attitudes and convictions of people who take up a side against other human beings for their own elevation, either nationally or personally, I believe we are promoting spiritual cancer.  It now smells like death to me, even though I have been guilty of it many times.  Compassion means to suffer with, not blame, judge, condemn, or feel no grief over the deaths of perceived enemies, as if they were dogs.  No, we care more for dogs come to think of it.  And may I continue to see where I may apply the Cure.  I agree with Paul, “Thanks be to God in Jesus Christ!” for this deliverance which continues.   But we must see ourselves as we truly are, and Him as He is, not as we wish Him to be.

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In Matthew 7 Jesus tells us not to spend our time judging others when we have logs in our own eyes. He says that in the way we judge, we will be judged. He doesn’t elaborate how or by whom. And it almost sounds like Karma although I know Grace overrides what we deserve.

My theory … after an extremely uncomfortable situation this week, is that the internal voice we have which expounds frustration over other people’s faults will in turn condemn and accuse us when we find ourselves falling short or letting people down. Yesterday I experienced both of these simultaneously and realized I was the victim of my own critical voice. I wanted to lash out at someone else while feeling like a complete loser over some very small infraction. In my own case, nothing good I had done counted for anything at all in the face of a small failure for which I could find no excuse.

Maybe this voice was inherited from my parents, or maybe it is simply an unfortunate personality trait. Whatever the source, I know I can continue to let it own me, or I can pray for more grace. It is so much more than a theological position. Grace is to be in Life….even down to our thoughts and attitudes.

Today is brighter. No one is as much a failure as my internal judge would accuse. Not even me. Thank you Jesus.

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