Confession time

Dear Beth,

Confession time today. There are days when I wake up, looking forward to spending time with God. I’ve had a whole year before where most days were like that and I couldn’t wait to get out of bed in the morning to go study my Bible.

But my confession is that for the majority of my life, most days aren’t that way. I LOVE being in God’s presence. That’s probably my favorite thing ever. I love studying the Bible and the revelations that come with spending time in the Word. And yet, as much as I love it, I fight just as hard not to do it.

I used to feel guilty when I didn’t feel like studying the Bible when I thought I should be; in fact, I used to feel guilty about most things. I remember reading a quote one time, that went something like this:

For a people who are supposed to be forgiven, Christians are among the most guilty people I know.

I’ve searched for the quote for years since, and haven’t been able to find it again, but it stuck in my memory because it was so true. And yet, living a life dominated by guilt didn’t feel right either. So I did a study on the words guilt and guilty in the Bible.

Did you know that any time the words guilt or guilty are used in the Bible, they are always in reference to an external behavior, and never in reference to an emotion or feeling. We were not made to feel guilty, just as we were not made to be fearful. God did not give us a spirit of fear or guilt, but of peace and love and of a sound mind.

It’s interesting, after I realized that guilty feelings aren’t from God (and thus where they’re actually from), it freed me to change. And as I started releasing my guilty feelings, I began to value the times of conviction, so gentle and so different from guilt which torments us.

Conviction brings change which brings freedom. Guilt, on the other hand, causes us to dig in our heels and stay exactly where we are. It’s like getting into an argument with someone without offering them an out that will allow them to save face—if there’s no way to leave without humiliation, most people will fight to the bitter end.

This definitely didn’t go in the direction that I thought it would, but now it’s time to go study. I love you and love our conversations!

Love,
Te-ge :)

On Stop Lights and Being Stuck

Dear Beth,

Yesterday, I wrote about “Do Something,” which I think is going to be my slogan for 2015. Normally, I tend to procrastinate. I’ll get an idea and then I have to think it through from all sides before I move on it.

Now, I get an idea and then I remember, “do something.” So I have to act on the thought. That means that my writing will very likely tend to be less put together than before, more stream of consciousness, but at least I am acting instead of waiting. We’ll see what comes of it as the year goes on.

I know I’ve mentioned Pastor Kirk Bowman to you before, the pastor of the Rock of Asheville, the church I attended until I got married and moved away, and the church that will probably always be “home” to me. Pastor Kirk (or PK for short), preached one time about how we can get stuck waiting for God to show us our next move. Instead, he suggested, figure that God has given you a green light, and keep moving forward until you are sure that he is giving you a red light.

Figure that God has given you a green light, and keep moving forward until you are sure that he is giving you a red light.

You won’t miss the time to stop, but you might easily get lost waiting for the perfect time to go.

It’s hard to count how much this has influenced my life. Take, for example, “do something.” When I read it, I knew that it was speaking to me. But what if I waited for a move of God before I did something? I’d still be waiting, most likely, because I already had my word for this year right in front of me.

It’s like the story that Ken enjoys sharing, about the man caught in the flood. When the water isn’t very high, a car drives by and offers him a ride. “Thanks,” he says, but I’ve been praying, and I’m waiting for God to move.

As the water rises, the man moves to the second floor. Soon, a boat pulls up and offers to rescue him. “Thanks,” he says again, “I’m waiting for God to move.”

The water continues to rise, and the man moves to the roof. A helicopter comes along and drops a ladder. The man climbs up the ladder and tells them, “Thanks, but no thanks, I’m still waiting for God to move,” then climbs back down to wait.

Eventually, the man drowns, and when he gets to heaven, he asks, “God, why didn’t you answer my prayers?” Of course, God replies, “I sent a car, a boat, and a helicopter. What were you expecting?”

I’ve found that when I wait, I tend to discount the car, boat, and helicopter, figuring that it’s just my desire that makes me want to use what’s in front of me and then I feel stuck. But, when I move forward until I hit a stop light, I see each piece as part of God’s plan and I am amazed at how it all works together.

What I’m realizing already is how often I unconsciously put off things, waiting for a better time or a better answer, and then I wonder why I’m not moving forward.

By the way, when the story gets to the helicopter coming to rescue the man, I always wonder why he doesn’t at least try it – getting rescued by helicopter sounds like a pretty cool experience. :)

Love,
Te-ge

Do Something

Dear Beth,

Thank you for agreeing for our conversations to be put on the blog, I’m excited about posting them on here. :)

I think one of the reasons for my trip last week (I’m sure it wasn’t the biggest reason, but it is one that has stood out to me ever since), is that the distractions were removed so that I would finish the book I have been reading on for a while now.

I don’t think it’s just the act of finishing the book, but that my mind wasn’t busy with a million other things, so that the conclusion hit harder than it would have otherwise.

The conclusion? Do something. How do you change the future? Do something. What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Do something.

I don’t think there’s been any accidents to the things that have spoken to me so far in 2015. From Peter’s words in 1 Peter 5:6,

So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs, God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. (MSG)

to Dr. Mani’s suggestion to plan out 10 years instead of just 1 (what an eye-opener that suggestion is), to reading Andy Andrews’ book, The Final Summit  with its conclusion to “do something,” everything seems to be pointing toward a reminder that this moment matters, not just for now, but what you do now, also influences your future.

So act, do something—but not out of a desire to change the who, what, where of yourself—that part is up to God. Act now, out of a desire to not waste this moment, this step on the path to the next 10 years.

So act, do something—but not out of a desire to change the who, what, where of yourself—that part is up to God. Act now, out of a desire to not waste this moment, this step on the path to the next 10 years. It doesn’t have to be the best thing you can do; I know I get sidetracked sometimes, trying to figure the best move to make instead of just moving. Just do something, and know that God’s hand is on you, and at the right time, he will move you forward.

Looking forward to all that 2015 will bring.

Love,
Te-ge :)

My desire is to always be real whenever I share. The problem is, that means every time I send out a post or write a book, I’m putting myself on the line.

Thoughts

Why is it that sometimes when my brain is overflowing with thoughts it is almost impossible to get a word out on paper (or computer). It’s almost like knowing that a dam will break if you let the thoughts escape.

For now we see through a glass darkly…

The idea of seeing through a glass darklie – a dark shadow made of glass – came to me years ago when I was writing a story.

A darklie can be any size, but when you encounter one it darkens your vision and deafens your hearing so that the world seems the same way it does at night, composed of shadows and whispers. The fact that it is made of glass is important to remember. Glass can be broken fairly easily. If the darklie has not attached itself yet, then it is not usually too hard to remove and have the glass shatter. On the other hand, if the darklie is connected and especially if it has attached itself to someone’s eyes (their favorite place to grow) then it is only by careful patience and prayer that it may be removed without damage.

I feel I should add one more thing about darklies. Both Christians and non-Christians have them. They have grown on us over the course of many, many years, almost since the world was begun, and over those years they have steadily but subtly grown darker and darker. But by recognizing that we have them, we can start allowing them to be cleared, until one day we’ll be able to see stars and then twilight and then one morning we’ll wake up and see the sun rising and an angel stirring the waters.

——————————-

This morning I had a glimpse of what a normal Christian life could look like.

I feel that we have moved so far away from God that we see the reflection of His shadow and we’re content, we feel the whisper of His presence and it’s almost too much for us.

Adam walked with God. Abraham fed Him and waited on Him. He recognized God whether He ame as a person or came in a vision or Abraham spoke to Him. Moses could not see God’s face, but he spoke to God as a man does to a friend. Joshua stayed in the tent where God’s presence was.

I am so tired of seeing through a glass darklie. I want You, Father. I want my face to shine with Your light, I want Your glory to surround me, I want, I desire our house, our home, our family wherever we go to be filled to the brim, filled to overflowing with Your presence. I want to live a normal Christian life, not an average Christian life.

The glimpse I had was of a church somewhere very cold and very poor. And the Preacher was telling His parishioners that God would take care of them. And the warmth was coming from God to warm them as they listened. To illustrate, He turned to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendigo. It was much too hot for them there and God kept them comfortable. And it hit me that this is how our Christian walk should be, when we remove the glass darklie from our eyes (those dark lies like to hide things and put them in shadows so we merely see the outline of what is, like a child laying in bed at night nervous about the shadows flickering in his room).

Like cataracts over our eyes, we’ve allowed the darklies to grow over the years and over the generations until they’ve cut off so much of our vision that we’re practically blind, it’s just that we don’t realize it because we’ve never seen things any other way. And the change was so gradual for each preceding generation that very few were aware enough of it to work on removing it.

Can’t you just see us fumbling around, blind men who haven’t realized that we can’t see, diseased without knowing we need healing, only the difference in shadow tones telling us whether our eyes are opened or closed – and yet we say the shadows are real and we turn and trust in what we see instead of clinging to the One whose eyes are unfettered and allowing Him to heal us.

It’s bothered me for a while that:

Adam walked with God.

Abraham recognized God.

Moses couldn’t see God’s face, but he could be in His presence and see His back.

The children of Israel saw God in the cloud and the flame.

By Jesus’s time, people no longer saw the angel who stirred the water, but they saw the water move and knew what caused it.

And now we’re lucky if we see the water move and we have no idea what caused it. We have become so blind that we can’t see what is real, even if it’s close enough to bite us on the nose.

It just hit me. Until Jesus had come to the earth, it makes sense that each generation would see less of God.

When Adam and Eve sinned, God didn’t entirely turn away. They were still near Him because although the sin was a stain across them, they were still filled with God. With each generation though, the stain spread, growing ever larger from additional sins. And the sin darkens our vision even more than the darklie does. We can’t even think about having the darklie removed until the stain that covers and hides it has been removed. So that by the time Jesus came along, the stain covered their vision almost entirely. They could not even see an angel when they looked at one, and they could no longer recognize a face that glowed with God’s presence or looked like the Son of God, although Nebuchadnezzar (who didn’t know God yet) recognized Him in Daniel (3:25).

I don’t have words for the next part – it is more a picture in my mind. But I see us as Christians reaching out just as we would to those who have been in an accident, gently, tenderly taking their hands and saying, “Come, let me help you. Let me wash the blood out of your eyes so you can see. This? It’s living water. It will make the stain white as snow.”

From my study journal dated November 9, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 1 – Can I do this?

Each year I say that this year I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo. I set up my material, get ready to start writing, and then … nothing. Oh, I write a little, usually. Some years I skip the first day, think “I’ll do it later,” on the second day, and so goes each day after that, until it’s the end of the month with nothing written.

So, to keep me accountable and on track, I’m going to try posting here. Maybe this will work, hopefully – I’d love to actually complete a NaNoWriMo.

For those wondering what on earth I’m talking about, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. If you want to read more about it, visit nanowrimo.org. In fact, if you decide to join, you can add me as a buddy (I’m Teeg on there).

 

Seeing through an Infant’s Eyes 1 Cor 13:11

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. 1 Cor 13:11

On the YouVersion Bible on my iPad,  I have  all of 1 Corinthians 13 highlighted in various colors, with the exception of this one verse.

I enjoy playing games. Some of my favorites are the old games like Zork and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. One thing I learned while playing these that has proved true time and time again, even with modern games, is that the creator doesn’t add an item without a reason.

We are used to inconsequentials. If we’re taking a family photo in the front yard and only discover when we print the pictures that little Johnny left a wagon in the yard and it shows up in the picture, that’s an inconsequential. It doesn’t matter and has no real purpose.

Every day we filter out inconsequentials, more or less successfully, sometimes getting sidetracked by things we shouldn’t, sometimes ignoring or undervaluing things really deserve our attention.

But as I’ve been studying my Bible, I’ve discovered more and more that there are no inconsequentials in it. Perhaps there may be a problem with one translation or a typo or whatever, but there are no verses thrown in for filler, no chapters added to try to expand thee page count. Not even additional letters from the apostles included just for good measure.

Which is why, this morning, my eye lit on these unhighlighted words on a page full of color. On its surface, the words are easy to understand – the only confusion about them is why are they put where they do and what do they mean as a result of that?

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! (1 Corinthians 13:8-12 MSG)

So, what do gurgling and cooing have to do with seeing completely? I wish I could say that I understand completely and explain it, but I don’t … yet.

Thoughts that come to mind:

When the boys were born, I loved to read to them. And, being me, of course I had to research the best books first. What I found was that infants can’t distinguish colors yet, their eyes aren’t fully developed when they’re first born, and so, black and white book will catch their attention more than the very colorful books that they’ll love later.

In addition, infant eyes can’t see at a distance. Instinctively, we raise them up to our level or lower ourselves to theirs, so that they can see us.

In the same way, we change our voice, so that it’s at a higher pitch and easier for little ears to hear. Watch anyone around a baby, the adult’s behavior changes without any conscious effort and whether or not they have children of their own.

I am reminded of a movie I watched ages ago (so long ago that I can’t remember the name of the movie). It was about a man who had been completely blind since he was a very young child, and now science had come up with a possible cure. It was a true story if I remember right, but what fascinated me, even back before I had children, was the steps that he went through and could actually describe, as he learned to see. First things were outlines – in other words, black and white and distant objects were blobs. Then the part that fascinated me even more, and I didn’t actually believe it until I had children of my own – after he could “see” and was learning to distinguish objects by sight (another thing I had never considered as a step towards seeing but which made perfect sense to me after I had children of my own), even after all this, he still had to learn to distinguish between 2D and 3D. To see a picture of an object and recognize that it was not the object itself but a flat image.

We see these same steps in babies, but because they don’t have the words to express what they’re going through, it doesn’t bring about the ah ha moments without something to explain what’s happening, at least most of the time.

God, Grace, Family, Life