…my faith is so frail and flawed that I fall away over and over again from my God. There are times I feel that He has withdrawn from me, and I have often given Him cause…
So I struggle with my theology of failure and the Noes of God.
from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle
These words resonate with me. But, I have to think that it isn’t that God has withdrawn from me but that I have withdrawn from Him. That’s not to say He doesn’t have reason to withdraw and leave me in the dust. There is no reason to keep pouring into me. But He does. He gives me more grace. And sometimes I don’t even realize it.
Grace comes to us at different stages in our spiritual pilgrimage, and it accomplishes different effects and evokes different responses. But it is all grace. – Steve Harper
I not only struggle with failure but with guilt and doubt. I long to know confidence. That No from God, His holding back of my confidence, must be for my good. I need to use that No to stay humble, but not to doubt. To draw near and to go on.
I wrote some thoughts on death a few weeks ago, and I wanted this to go hand-in-hand with that post.
We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as microscopic swarm, the lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks late, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us. -from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I love this description of the beginning of life. Job knew all about life and death. Oh to be like Job; to learn how to accept when the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.
And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21
We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like “if.”
But we are always optimists when it comes to time: we think there will be time to do things with other people. And time to say things to them.
We fear it (death), yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.” – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
That last quote about fearing that death will take someone else is so true. I know I will die one day, and I don’t want it to be anytime soon. But, I also don’t like the thought of outliving all my loved ones. I have watched my mother lately as she has lost several longtime friends. I guess when you get to be 80 that is bound to happen. But, it still doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, it probably makes you think about death just a little too much.
John (the author’s husband) shrugs his shoulders… “Farmers, we think we control so much, do so much right to make a crop…You control so little. Really. It’s God who decides it all. Not us. It’s all good.” – from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
“It is our way of looking at life, our interpretation of the universe, our orientation to reality. “ – from Christian Worldview – A Student’s Guide by Philip Graham Ryken
Whenever we bump into the world, our worldview has a way of spilling out. It comes out in what we think and love, say and do, praise and choose. – from Christian Worldview – A Student’s Guide by Philip Graham Ryken
Read that again and let it sink in. … what we think and love….praise and choose… . Much of what I think no one will ever know. But I will, and I must live with it. What I love? I’m afraid what I really love shows in what I write about and talk about. My love for Christ often fades into the background, and that is truly telling. And shaming. My worldview shows in what I choose to do with my time.
I’m beginning to think my worldview needs a little adjustment.
“Every time you feel in God’s creatures something pleasing and attractive, do not let your attention be arrested by them alone, but, passing them by, transfer your thought to God and say: ‘O my God, if thy creations are so full of beauty, delight and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy art Thou Thyself, Creator of all!” – Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain
I came across this quote in Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.
There isn’t much I can add to this. I love going out with my camera and trying to capture “something pleasing and attractive”. I am grateful to God for allowing me this simple pleasure.
So, I really got sidetracked today after reading an article reposted by someone I love but who really didn’t grow up in church. I feel like someone from the outside looking in, reading this article, could really find justification for despising the “church” as they understand it. Here I will briefly address each point the author makes with my insight, however flawed.
Nobody’s listening to us “…millennials value voice and receptivity above all else”
This seems kind of sad that this is valued above all else.
We’re sick of hearing about values & mission statements
I can agree here. Get back to the Gospel.
Helping the poor Isn’t a priority
The author talks about connecting people with similar passions – meeting and brainstorming. Individual Christians need to be serving the people where they are – it’s not always necessary to CONNECT and brainstorm.
We’re tired of you blaming the culture
True, perhaps, We need to call sin sin. I agree, we need to see how our lives should differ from the culture.
The “You Can’t Sit With Us” affect – The author speaks of “…authentic community with a shared purpose centered around service”.
We need to be centered around worship. All the rest will then fall into place. He also says to “..create and train a team of CONNECT people…” This seems like just another program. We are called as Christians to do this regardless.
Distrust and misallocation of resources “…millennials don’t trust institutions.” The misallocations of funds is true in many churches, especially the Mega-churches. But, many of these are just religious institutions, not a true body of believers.
We want to mentored, not preached at
I understand craving relationship and I believe it can be found within the church. The New Testament shows us this example in Paul and Timothy. But, this does not mean to disregard preaching. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God – Romans 10:17
We want to feel valued. “Churches tend to rely heavily on their young adults to serve.” (yet later the author says the church is “… a smattering of mostly older people) I agree with his point about relying on young people – this isn’t in keeping with the pattern set out for us in scripture. The author goes on to say, “We desperately need the church to tell us we are enough, exactly the way we are.” This is completely false. None of us are “enough” – only in Christ are we worthy. Many millennials have been given trophies and told they could do anything they dreamed of, only to find out not everyone will be a NFL star or a grammy winner.
We want you to talk to us about controversial issues – “We need someone consistently speaking truth…”
This goes back to #1 – sound preaching. He says to “Create a young adults program…” A program isn’t necessarily the answer. Sound preaching and teaching from home is. I will be the first to admit I fell down on the job on that one.
The public perception – “It’s time to change the public perception of the church.” The perception may change when the church is worshiping and serving as scripture teaches. But, just remember the public perception of Jesus when He was on earth was pretty low. Why should it be different for us?
Stop talking about us (unless you’re going to do something) I say this goes both ways.
You’re failing to adapt. Here the author quotes Bill Clinton, and I’m thinking there is something wrong with that picture. Then he says, “You’re complacent, irrelevant, and approaching extinction.” I guess “stop talking about us” doesn’t apply here.
“The truth is, church, it’s your move.”
If the author is a Christian, he IS the church. If he’s not, all of this is moot.
“So I guess you could say Neel owes me a few favors, except that so many favors have passed between us now that they are no longer distinguishable as individual acts, just a bright haze of loyalty. Our friendship is a nebula.” – Clay from Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
I’ve written several times about my friend Cathy. Once again I am reminded of our friendship. It was much like this – a bright haze of loyalty. A nebula; a mist that has dissipated into memory.
We took turns picking up the check when we went out to eat. I did the driving because of her illness, and she often surprised me with little gifts. And big ones – like concert tickets to see Loretta Lynn, Boz Scaggs, The Temptations & The Four Tops. I learned so much from her, especially from the way she treated people. She was kind and compassionate, especially to the underdog.
Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. – James 4:14
“Christianity is more than a moral code, more than a philosophy, more than a system of rites… It is more than a belief; it is a life.” – Thomas Merton
The prompt for PAD on April fourteenth was “Time out”. This is what came to mind…
Time Out If I am being told to Take time out to smell the roses Then more than likely I need to take more time And take more than a whiff Perhaps I need to remember Who Put the roses there And not just who planted them But Who created roses And tulips and clouds And me Maybe I need to Take time out To say a prayer of thanksgiving And to give someone a rose Or a hug or a meal Maybe I need to Take a time out From myself