Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Grace on Display

I like Donald Trump.  I do, I like him.  I've never met him, but I like him.  I don't know if I'll vote for him, but to the shock and wonder of many of my fellow believers, I'm liking him even more now that he seems to be more and more repulsive to many.  I get a chuckle out of the shock and disgust he brings out by those who think his actions are unpresidential.

But what I like most about Donald Trump, or what he seems to be shaking up in my country is he is, if you really look you'll see, he is the poster boy for what Grace covers.

I think that's something we Followers-of-Christ-but-disgusted-by-Trump have forgotten to apply to the man, and consequently to those who support him, who like him, who are willing to look past many of the things that are being pointed out on an hourly basis, as to why America is in trouble if Trump is elected.

I really liked it when the Pope chimed in and said that he didn't think Trump was a Christian.  Those disgusted by Trump applauded.  Those who love grace shuddered.  Trump is the mirror of what grace covers.

Say pussy on television.  Grace covers it.

Lie and flip flop.  Grace covers it.

Have multiple marriages.  Grace covers those too.

Mismanage money.  Again, covered by grace.

Trump hasn't apologized to any of us for any of those things, nor do I think he owes any of us an apology.  I hope he and God have it settled between them, and I would gracefully trust that because he says he is a Christian, he has.  I hope he has apologized and made right those he hurt too, but he owes me nothing for his past behavior.  If he's sorry, if he's learned and repented, that's all that matters.  And I can hear you shouting, "But he hasn't!"  Still, not my business.  When you get all your own apologizing and repenting done, then you can point out Trump's shortcomings.

I can't help wonder, is anyone from his church giving us a side to Donald we haven't seen? Maybe they haven't because those interviews wouldn't get the shock value of his rallies and media interviews.  I have yet to see an interview from his pastor, from his teacher, from anyone in his religious circles we assume he is in, stand up and say, "I have been part of the process of Donald's spiritual life.  I have shared with him the Scriptures that speak of the new man, the new Donald when Jesus Christ enters in.  I have shown him the guidelines in the epistles of Paul and the sermons of Jesus and shown him that it is possible through our Savior to put behind our egos, to clothe ourselves with humility, to be kind, compassionate, to speak truth in love.  I have been an intricate part of Donald's spiritual walk and I have done my job as God has called me to do."

Have you seen any of those interviews?  Probably not, because if they were acting in confidence, they wouldn't, but still.....

Here's the thing, if Donald is a Christian - it may be that mustard seed faith a lot of us have, and I have nothing to prove otherwise that he isn't, even if the Pope thinks he isn't - then why are we who place ourselves in a more pious realm so offended by what he does?  Just what doesn't grace cover?

Can you see the duplicity of our disgust of Donald but our unwillingness to look in the mirror he is holding up for us to see ourselves in?

Oh sure, I can throw a lot of Bible verses about throwing stones, and even gather up a few of the 10 commands, but really, the opportunity that lies right in front of the Follower's nose is to show and tell and scream and shout - "This is what GRACE covers!"

Grace covers pride.

Grace covers adultery.

Grace covers divorce.

Grace covers lies.

Grace covers all.

So my next question is, if Donald can claim he is a Christian, and depending on whose measuring tool we are using, only God knows if it's true, where are his church family surrounding him, supporting him, encouraging him to speak the truth in love?  Are they there?  If not, why not?

Are you there for him, Church?  He says he's a Christian.  Are you praying for him if he's pulling one over on us?  Are you sending him the Scriptures that have pulled you out of the same offensive behaviors and taught you how to speak the Grace language?

See, it's so, so easy to be offended and put off by something.  Especially when we don't want to face the truth that is really busting out behind the offensive behavior.  It's easy to point out what is wrong with someone's verbiage, mannerisms, and behavior, rather than look beyond that and see what is being said that is true.

Maybe it's all an act.  Maybe he is pretending to be someone he's not.  (Oh no, THAT has never happened in a presidential election!)

But maybe he's being who he really is.

Rude, bully, abrasive, caustic, potty mouth.

Our job, Church is not to be shocked or offended by this behavior.  Our job, Church is to plead grace for this behavior on his behalf.  Our job is to pray for the new man in Donald to come out and the old man to die.  Our job is to pray that he is the leader God may be making him to be.   We are all just a breath away from acting just like him.  None of us are beyond temptation.  Some of us still struggle to put to death those very actions.  Yet, we Followers of Jesus are so quick to judge and say how disgusting he is.


We ourselves deserve the same judgment.

It's time to get down off our high spiritual horses and pray for him.  Pray for all the candidates not just the nice ones.  Not just the polite ones.  Not just the ones who have self-control.  Just because those candidates don't say what Donald says, doesn't mean they haven't said it or thought it.  They might just be better at covering it up or turning off the mike before they do.  I'd rather have someone not afraid to be who he is then someone who is just pretending for the sake of my vote.

We wouldn't have a lot of the Old and New Testaments if God hadn't used murderers to write it.

Whatever way November goes, God is in control.  I stand firmly in the knowledge as taught in Romans "...for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God."  I said this to myself many times the past seven years, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a shout.  But it is the truth I have always clung too since I've been praying for our country.

I encourage you to trust God with this.  Stop falling for this orchestrated disgust.  It only makes us look like a Pharisee of the Pharisees.  We all have crap.  We all have said horrible things, we all think horrible things.  If Donald is making Christianity look bad, then do something about it!  Help him make our Jesus in him look good.  If you have to start with yourself first, then why are you still reading this?



Sunday, February 21, 2016

When grace trumps should

I could weep just trying to convey to you what I am discovering and I pray I can find a way to tell you what I've uncovered.

I'm not a scholar.  I'm not a linguist or student of words by any stretch of the imagination, let alone words that are foreign to me.  Yet, I could weep and I probably will weep later over what I am discovering.  I can only pray that someone much smarter than me, someone who has dedicated their life to studying ancient words can find a way to make sense of it all for me.

The word Should has been bugging me.

When I looked it up in the NIV Exhaustive Concordance, hoping to hear from the horse's mouth just what exactly should means or doesn't mean, I could have fallen on the floor in shock.  I almost did.  I could hardly believe what my eyes were seeing.  Surely I must be seeing this incorrectly. Surely those more knowledgeable than me, those with degrees saying they are anyway, those who have dedicated their lives to translation of the Holy Scriptures from ancient languages into my language, surely they can explain to me what my eyes were seeing and my brain was trying to compute.

Surely, someone SHOULD be able to tell me.

Next to each word in the NIV Exhaustive concordance is a number.  This number signifies the number of times a particular English word is used in this particular translation. (NIV for me).  Underneath the word is a list of each verse (in partial form) where the word is used.  The first letter of the particular word is in italics.  To the right of the partial verse is the number which correlates with either the original Greek or Hebrew word.

(The right hand column is usually my playground.  This is where I take my shoes off, dig my toes in the sand, and start digging.  I love this column.  This blog is kept alive through this column).

But, I digress.

Back to S H O U L D.

Next to should is the number 371.  Three hundred seventy one times the English word should is translated from either  Hebrew or Greek...or at least that's what I thought.

Further digging shows that only five individual Hebrew words are translated should and five Greek words are translated should. Yes, I went line by line to make sure.   Out of 371 English shoulds in the Old and New Testaments, only 19, that's right, 19 times, that's 19 verses, is one of those ten Hebrew or Greek words used.

All the other times, for all the other verses in the right hand column, my playground column, it either says AIT (assists in translation) or NIH (not in Hebrew) or NIG (not in Greek).

Approximately 365 times, plus or minus, there is no Hebrew or Greek word used to translate the English word should.

What's the big deal, Ronda?

Never used to be a big deal to me, until I started thinking about the four letter word SHOULD.  (By four letter, I mean four letter curse words, figuratively, not literally).

We've lived our lives doing the shoulds and avoiding the should nots.  We've been proud when we do what should be done, ashamed when we do what shouldn't be done and sometimes we are really good at telling others what should or shouldn't be done.

Remember how I encouraged you to be listening for the word should? I listened to my own words and I took a look for myself in the Bible to find the word should there.  You should too, but you don't have to.  Grace doesn't use should.  Grace doesn't shame us for what we should do but don't.  Grace doesn't point fingers at what we shouldn't do but what we do instead.

Should assists in translation alright and, I'll admit, sometimes adequately, but it's not a word that the language of Grace regularly speaks.

Remember the 10 commands God gave Moses?  The translators cozied up the English word should to each one that makes them even more demanding.  Instead of just reading it like the Hebrew states, "Don't kill," for example, for some reason the translators thought the original languages need some assistance in getting the point across.  That may be when should was born.

I don't think God is a should God.  At least not since He sent his only Son Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for our shoulds and should nots.  I'm thinking should is no longer part of his vocabulary now that the shoulds and should nots were fulfilled by He who had no sin.  I like to think his favorite word may be Grace.

Should lies about grace sometimes.  Or at the least, should let's grace into the party of freedom but it  isn't long before it's offering a cocktail.  "You should be careful who you give grace to.  It may make Jesus look bad."

Should makes grace look weak.  Should can shake a finger and say, "If you only knew how bad so and so is you wouldn't give so and so another chance."

Should oftentimes makes grace small and even unnecessary.  "You shouldn't forgive, but if you have to, only forgive a little, when you need to.  You'll be fine and so will they."

Should blinds hurting hearts from seeing grace.  "You should know better then to expect grace to cover all the shame and guilt.  Your sin is forgiven, but surely you should suffer the pain of sins' consequences."

Should puts expectations on someone or something that grace never demands.  Should often demands what should or shouldn't be done.  Grace doesn't do any of that.  Grace frees.  Grace makes the weak strong, grace heals the hurting heart.  Grace opens the shutters and lets the Son shine in.  Grace does not demand.  Should lets pain in.  Grace leads the heart out of pain.

When we "should" something, we in effect judge ourselves and others by what we/they do or don't do.

So, I know you're curious.  What should we do?  What does the Word of God say in regards to the shoulds we carry out and practice?

I'm so glad you asked!

These are the things Jesus says are "necessary, ought to" do.

1.  Practice justice, mercy, faithfulness and the love of God... and..... don't neglect giving.
(Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42).
2.  Invest money.  (Matthew 25:27)
3.  Count on the Holy Spirit to give you the words you need to say.  (Luke 12:12)
4.  Set free those in bondage no matter the day.  (Luke 13:16).
5.  Always pray and don't give up.  (Luke 18:1).

Then he said, as a way of owing or showing debt or being bound to others,

Wash each other's feet.  (John 13:14).

The Apostle Paul (a guy who lived keeping the Jewish should list before Jesus knocked him to his feet) had a small list of things necessary to do also.

1.  Take his advice.  (Acts 27:21)
2.  Declare the gospel fearlessly.  (Ephesians 6:20)
3.  Proclaim the mystery of Christ clearly.  (Colossians 4:4)
4.  Make sure the worker gets the first fruits of his labor.  (2 Timothy 2:6)

Paul also found it important to remind us that the only thing we should feel obligated not to do because we're God's kids, is to think God is like the images man designs or makes him to be using gold or silver or stone.  We should not be obligated to see our heavenly father as man pictures him.  We should see him as he has revealed himself, not as man has tried to illustrate him.  (This should not is a word that means to be in debt; be bound by oath; be obligated and is used by Paul in Acts 17:29.  It is NIV Exhaustive Concordance number 4053).


So, there you have it.  The Should list.

Along with the two most important commands Jesus said to keep, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself," there's not much else to add.

Those are your shoulds.

The interesting thing about all the other shoulds in the concordance, those AIT and NIH or NIG, most of them could simply be stated without the word should.  Often the word LET was used instead.  (I'll leave that digging up to you.  I hope you get a shovel.  You'll be greatly blessed.)

Grace and should don't mix.  Ever.  If you are living on shoulds that don't fall under the lists of Jesus or Paul, then maybe it's time to evaluate what exactly you believe grace to be.

Are you still obeying laws because you should and not breaking laws because you shouldn't or has grace truly freed you to do the things Jesus said are necessary to do and avoid those things he encouraged us to stay away from doing?  Do you find freedom in Christ clouded by burdensome traditions and rituals that leave you empty and in bondage? I have yet to find in Jesus' words any indication of rules and regulations for reading the bible, practicing church, worshiping, songs that should or shouldn't be sung, instruments that should or shouldn't be used, how much to tithe, or give to the poor either.

Not one time.

(If none of this describes you, and your faith is strengthened by any or all of these things, then this is not for you.  If they work for you, praise the Lord!)

But if some of this is striking a nerve......

I hope you know deep in your soul it's not a matter of what we should do or shouldn't do.  If grace is "shoulding" you, it isn't grace.   I hope you find that it is only a matter of what God lets us do, what God longs for us to do without fear of punishment or judgmental peer pressure.  If your should list doesn't look like Jesus' or Paul's, maybe it's time to look closely at your should list and begin to write a new list.

You don't need permission to do the right thing.  Just do the right thing.  I'm not telling you you should do the right thing.  I'm telling you:

Do the right thing.  The things on Jesus' list.  The things Jesus put on Paul's list to do.  Everything else is just bondage, disguised as grace.

Should needs to find a new place to communicate.  I don't think it's a vocabulary word necessary for the follower of Christ to use.  Try grace on your tongue.  Try the word freedom.  See how awesome it feels to hear the word let roll out of your mouth.

Let me love the Lord my God with all my heart soul mind and strength.

Let me love my neighbor as myself.

Let me.

Don't should me to do either.

Let me.

Just let me.




For further understanding (I hope this helps anyway):

Here is an example of the transliteration of Genesis 41:35

The NIV reads:  They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food.

The transliteration reads this way:  And let them gather all the food years good that come of those and lay up grain under the hand of Pharaoh food in the cities and let them keep."

What would life be like if we were "let" to do something, rather than "should" do something.  There are a little bit more sounds of freedom coming from "let" wouldn't you agree?

For further investigative digging:

Must is a word also used to translate from the Greek.  NIV Exhaustive Concordance number 1256 is the word used above for the words of Jesus and Paul.  The following verses use the word must, also translated from 1256.

Matthew 16:21; 17:10; 24:6; 26:54

Mark 8:31; 9:11; 13:7,10

Luke 4:43; 9:22; 13:33; 17:25; 19:5; 21:9; 22:37; 24:7,44

John 3:7, 14, 30; 4:20, 24; 9:4; 10:16; 12:34

Acts 3:21; 4:12; 5:29; 9:6,16; 14:22; 15:5; 16:30; 19:21; 20:35; 23:11: 27: 24, 26

1 Corinthians 15:25, 53

2 Corinthians 5:10; 11:30; 12:1

1 Timothy 3:2,7

2 Timothy 2:24 (must not quarrel only; the other must is AIT)

Titus 1:7,11

Hebrews 2:1; 11:6

The 371 "shoulds" of the NIV translation.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

When Should is a four letter word

I've been spending a lot of time in the book of Leviticus.  I know, awe inspiring and comforting place to rest my soul, right?

I used to scan over it quickly in the early days of my Bible reading.  The Levitical laws don't apply to the post resurrection Christian, no need to spend a lot of time here....let's hurry up and get to Numbers.... Oh wait, that's kind of boring too, hmmm, when does it get exciting?

I'm amazed (and kinda shudder with the thought, "you're such a nerd!) when I realize I don't think that way anymore, because truthfully, Leviticus is pretty exciting.  But it's only exciting looking through the lens of - "I don't have to worry about doing any of this anymore!"

I don't have to keep a herd of sheep or goats or even a flock of pigeons on standby for every thought, word and action I knowingly or unknowingly did or didn't or might do.

The only reason I don't is because of one person - JESUS!  If it weren't for him, those required sacrifices and cleanses may still be a requirement, not just for Jews, but maybe even for the Gentiles like me.

It's really hard to grasp all Jesus has set us free from, but a good reminder is to just look at Leviticus to catch a big eye-full of freedom.

The tangible things, those things we are no longer required to do because Jesus was the perfect substitute for our sins, are a fairly easily understood grasp of what His sacrifice means not only for the Jews, but for the Gentiles like me who get to tag along and be grafted into his promise and reward.

Imagine for a second if the Levitical laws were still in place?  (You have to read Leviticus to get the point of this, so take a few minutes and just scan the headlines in the book - Go ahead, I'll wait and I'll look too.)

The grain offering

The burnt offering

Eating Fat and Blood Forbidden

Clean and Unclean food

Purification after childbirth

Regulations about Infections Skin Disease

Pick any or all of them and say to yourself:  This no longer applies to me.  I no longer am required to fulfill any of these things.

Next, ask yourself this:  But what if I did?

What if Jesus' sacrifice was not enough?  What if God turned his head at the beatings, the torture, the flogging, the mocking, the nailing to the cross, the hanging there in pain, the dying naked and alone.....what if none of that mattered?  What if none of that counted?

Sometimes I still live like it didn't matter.  I still live under my own quasi Levitical, I mean New Testament Christian, "guidelines."  I agree wholeheartedly with my mouth, Jesus did it all, yet in my thoughts and actions and even my beliefs, the law slips out.

I should read my Bible everyday.

I should be kinder.

I should not swear or think bad thoughts.

I should not get mad at idiots.

I should be more patient with idiots.

I should follow the demands and regulations of a religious denomination.

I should condemn those who do not see Jesus' Words in the exact same way the Holy Spirit has shown me.

I should.

I should.

I really, really, really should.

Here's the deal Weak believer, strong believer, waffling believer, hope on a string believer:

Whenever you put the word SHOULD in front of any of your thoughts, practices, or judgments in regards to anything required of you because you are a believer in Jesus.......you are putting yourself and the person, thing or behavior under Levitical law.

Jesus freed us from everything!

Should you go to church every Sunday?  If the Holy Spirit leads you to.

Is going to church every Sunday a requirement for keeping my salvation?

Last I checked, Romans 10:9-13 is still included in the Bible.

Should I give 10% of my income to the church?  If the Holy Spirit leads you to.

Should I baptize my baby?  If the Holy Spirit leads you to.

Should I..............?  Fill in the blank.  The answer should always be, and I really mean, I hope the answer always is:  If the Holy Spirit leads you to.  Because if the (un)holy should is leading you, it may be harder to hear what the Holy Spirit wants you to do.  Jesus took care of the shoulds for us.  That curse word should can now be permanently deleted from your spiritual vocabulary.

Anything that you are placing on yourself or another person and saying that it is a requirement for salvation or a fear that it may hinder your salvation beyond simple belief and trust in the work of Jesus Christ is......a work.

If you're still not sure, it's time to see if Ephesians 2:8-10 applies.

Good works are just that....Good.  If you feel (and I hate to use that word but I'm going to) if you feel good doing the work God created in advance for you to do, then by all means, do the work.  But don't do it if you have the icky feeling, or the thought "what will happen to me if I don't do this work?"  When we do God's good works with the slightest hint of fear of punishment or losing our salvation or just being unsure if we're really saved, that's not God.

That work is not from God.

There is nothing anyone can do, practice, avoid, pretend to agree with, or disagree with that is going to save you or keep you saved except believing in the One and Only Son of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

You cannot do, practice, stop doing, start doing, resume doing anything to keep you out of heaven or send you to heaven - except believe in Jesus Christ the Savior of the world.

That's it.

We are no longer under the Levitical law nor are we under any self-imposed or religious imposed practice to assure us of our salvation.

Jesus' work has done it all.

Anything else that follows the word S H O U L D . . . . should go to H E double toothpicks.

You can practice them, but don't depend on them for your salvation.  If you have joy practicing them, by all means practice them with joy.  But if you don't have joy and peace, then step back for a minute or two and ask yourself:  Am I doing, saying, believing this out of fear or uncertainty or am I full of joy when I am doing, saying or believing this?

If you want to read your Bible everyday, read your Bible everyday.  But don't read it out of fear or in keeping with an imagined taskmaster.

Do you like going to church every Sunday?  By all means go.  But if you are going because you "SHOULD" go because that's what "good" Christians do, then maybe you need to examine your motives.

What do you believe is the requirement for salvation?  Faith alone or faith and a whole bunch of my self imposed or my denomination's practices?  It can't be both.  You can practice the others, but if you are saying "SHOULD" to any of them, then there's a bit of a problem.  You, my dear Friend, are not experiencing true Freedom in Christ.

I know this, because I lived it and still battle it.

I still have the curse word "SHOULD" floating in my thoughts and it sneaks out through my mouth and judgments from time to time.

That little word should, used first by God Himself in the Levitical law, is no longer my boss.  That little word needs to be thrown off its weak and rotted throne.  Should has done a whole lot of damage to Followers of Jesus.  If you are concerned about the state of Christianity in America as I am, then look no further than what is practiced because of SHOULD after belief in Jesus Christ.

It's either Him and His work alone or it's not.

This is a tough concept, I know.  The consequences of looking at this personally is scary, I know.  I've done it.

But I've tasted the freedom that comes from taking "SHOULD" out of my spiritual vocabulary and I want you to taste it too.  Believe me, life with Jesus becomes a whole lot more joyful when you taste and see that He and He alone is good.  You don't have to add a bunch of other stuff to get the full flavor of His work.  Sometimes too much of other spices is not always good in a dish.  Sometimes just a little salt will do.

Your assignment is this:

1.  Pray for God to show you what I'm stumbling all over my words here trying to tell you.

2.  Do number one again.

3.  Probably should do number one again.

4.  If three times doesn't help, try this:  Look and think about all the times you think and say should in relation to your personal spiritual walk with Jesus.

5.  Look and listen for all the times you say should in regards to other's walk with Jesus.

6.  When you recognize something, hold it up to the light of Jesus, like an antique dealer looking for real China.  If you can see light coming through, it's Jesus.  If it's fake China, with no transparency when held up to the light....it probably has been over kiln cooked in the Should oven.

7.  The tough part will be what to do with the shoulds when you find find them.  The easy part is recognizing them.  (Spoiler alert - you're in for a humbling shock, but don't despair, hope is right there to pick you up!) The harder part will be throwing the shoulds out.  As always, the first place you should put anything you don't know is from God or not is at the foot of the Cross.  (Only then is this should a should you should practice!)  Set it down, pick up your Bible and see what the cross has to say about it.  Jesus will let you know where to go from there.  I promise He will.

That should (see how often that word slips out) be enough to get you started and thinking outside of the box someone long ago said we should sit in.



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Just a Face in the Crowd

I've got a rough draft of all but seven of my days for the April blogging challenge.  They are rough, believe me, but they're started!  I'm working on it ahead of time because I will be busy babysitting my granddaughter for the whole month of April and I know I probably won't have a lot of time for writing.  I hope I won't anyway!

As I'm roughing out my theme and researching my topics I have come across a lot of names.  Lots and lots of names.  My posts that are about someone are mostly about some major Bible characters.  At least 12 of them will be anyway.  As I have researched the major players, I find other names attached to him or her.  Often I find myself having to dig deeper to find as much information as I can that may help me understand the major character better all because of one name.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of hidden treasure found.  For the most part, what I am finding is that except for being mentioned as a "son of someone" most names have a one time appearance in the Bible.  Their name debuts but there is nothing to fill in the  "whatever became of.....?" blanks.

Which, to be honest, I don't think is very fair of God.  To the person, or to me, the reader.  I mean, if you're going to mention a name, someone connected to a major character of the Bible, wouldn't it be fair to us to know a little bit more about them then that they were someone's son?  I mean really, God, I want to know more.  Don't you?

Maybe you don't.

But.....then I get to thinking, and that is always a dangerous thing, if God wanted us to know more about someone he would have told us more.  And really, to be fair, there would be a LOT of people to add detail to, making the Bible even longer to read.  It's hard enough for most of us to read through it in a year, imagine if every name had a chapter?  So, I kinda understand why we don't know more and that's ok.  I guess I'll save my questions for heaven.

But here's the thing about all these named, yet anonymous people of history:

Even though we don't know anything beyond their name, as we look through this wide angle view of history, we do know they were a part of something much bigger than we can only imagine.

For example, the nameless believers of Pentecost Sunday.  We don't know the names of the 3000 that came to faith the day the Holy Spirit poured out on the crowd while listening to Peter, but we do know and can relate to the magnitude of what 3000 people might look like.  I would guess they probably equalled a small section at the Super Bowl, maybe like those sitting in the end zone.

At any rate, no matter what 3000 humans together look like, they were people.  They all had kidneys and hearts and muscle and skin and bones and a vascular system.  Everyone of them, nameless as they were, were human beings.  I would imagine a good portion of them had mothers and fathers and a few siblings too.  Nameless to most, especially us in 2016, but not faceless and anonymous to those who were closest to them.

I look at my family genealogy records and am in awe of the multitude of names that are included in just one branch of my family tree.  Just because I didn't know them personally, doesn't mean their life did not impact mine.  I have pictures of some, but not most.  There are records that have their names on them, their ages, their address, but I'll never know what color their eyes were or if they had a loud laugh like I do or were shy and reserved.  I can't read the emotions some of them felt as they buried a child, that records I read say, died as an infant.

But just because I can't touch them or hear them or see them or walk with them doesn't mean they were just a face in the crowd or a name on a ship's manifest or in the pages of an ancient book such as the Bible.

You, me....we.....we're a part of history right now.  Two hundred years from now only a few names will be recorded in history as the leader of the times we're in.  That doest mean we don't matter for our time in history because behind every leader is us.  Our names and faces will someday disappear like a vapor, but our purpose in history will live on.

We may not lead millions or thousands or even hundreds, but we're all a leader of someone.  A mother leads her children.  A father leads his family.  A child leads his or her siblings.  A student can lead a classmate, and a teacher can lead students.  To some degree, all of us are leaders whether we see ourselves as one or not.  Someone is always watching what we say, what we do, where we go, and how we do life.  We may never have our names written in the pages of history in great detail,  but it certainly doesn't mean that you and I aren't a part of what will one day be called history by our grandchildren.

You are more than a face in the crowd.  You are more than a space in a room or at your desk.  You are more.  You are needed.  You have purpose.  There is a plan written just for your life.  Look up and ask to see it!  You are far from faceless or nameless to God.  He knows your name and the very days of your life were planned by him before any of them came to be.

You are loved, Friend.  Very, very loved.



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Speaking from my heart, flawed as it is

I get wound up from time to time, a battle wages between emotion and logic; fear and wisdom; hope and despair.  I don't like to use this blog to air my scattered thoughts, but rather to remind my scattered thoughts Who is in ultimate control.

This is why I blog.

I used to journal, writing and sorting out the emotions et al that needed to find a way to come out and find its place in my personality, my belief systems and my quirks.  Then one day....it just seemed to come out better typed and a blog was born.  I guess it really started with getting that hair up my butt and training for a 1/2 marathon.  At any rate, I do less pen to paper journaling now to sort things out, and more sorting here, on Living in the Inbetween.

As you know, if you come here regularly, I took a break from social media that lasted about a week.  As much as I wanted to bury my head in the sand and avoid those things that spin me up, I was compelled to jump back into the action.  I make snide remarks on Facebook, from time to time, when I read something I think is absolutely ridiculous.  (So far from the good Christian some of you think I should/would/could be, I know).  I'm working on developing a better filter.....someday maybe.

But these are my thoughts and you can do what you wish with them.  Ignore, argue, stir in your pot and see how they settle....whatever you choose to do is your right to do.  I just need to get these thoughts of MINE sorted out, the best way I know how.

I have family members on both of my parents' sides who have done genealogy research of our ancestors.  I'm a nerd this way, and get excited reading through the copies of the genealogy reports that have been done.  Some of you may find this very boring and irrelevant to your life, but for some reason, it is very fascinating to me.

In 1997, a formal genealogy on my mother's side was traced back as far as 1883 starting with the passenger list from the ship my Roots sailed on from Germany.  On my father's side, the Roots of my American heritage were planted in 1771, in New York, five years before the Revolutionary War.

I think about those two dates a lot.

I think about those souls who risked it all to come to America.  A lot.

I think about what they gave up to come to America.  A lot.

I think about what they didn't have as they traveled across the ocean.  A lot.

No cell phone, no weather forecast, no promise of getting here alive.  No promise of any job waiting for them.  No promise of healthcare.  No promise of having a big house, new horses, clean clothes, a warm bed.

Yet they came anyway.

Why?  What was so bad about where they were that they risked everything for something unseen?

As a follower of Jesus, I'm not afraid of socialism or communism or capitalism or conservatism or liberalism.  I am a little bit nervous about what effects any and all of those can have on a soul, but as a follower of Jesus who knows the world I live in is not my home, I'm ok with whatever happens to the United States in November's election.  The sun will still rise and babies will still cry.

But as a descendant of people who risked everything to leave behind what seems to be trying to be born here, I'm worried.  I'm wondering how it has gone this far, this fast?  Have we all been sleeping?  Have we all just been apathetic towards politics and corrupt politicians that we don't even remember our history lessons?  Have we been so consumed with reality tv and fighting for rights that have already been won that we have left our government be run by career politicians so we don't need to be bothered?

Yes, the founders rebelled against their government and those same founders used pages of the Bible as a basis for the establishment of a free land.  This is how America was founded, on rebellion and using religion to plead your case.

Very flawed start and God saw it all and for some reason has blessed us despite our flaws.

People came here.  Men, women, small children...our grandparents.  You and I are descendants of people who risked EVERYTHING to come here.  Yet, some of us seem to be hell bent on making America the type of place our descendants escaped.

Flawed founders established a flawed country, no doubt.  But despite its flaws, people still come here.

Where will we go when we become like the nations our grandparents escaped and left behind?

Where will you go?

As flawed as America is, I still like being able to travel when and where I want with no fear of being checked for papers.

As flawed as America is, I still think it's pretty nice to be able to decide which doctor I can see without worrying about losing that doctor because an un-American system is taking over.

As flawed as America is, I still think it's awesome that I can talk about my faith in public, on the internet, face to face, without ever worrying about having to go underground and speak in code, worrying if I'll be killed for believing or doing so.

As flawed as America is, I still find our justice system still strives for fairness.

As flawed as America is, I still rejoice that I can write these things today without fear of being arrested or sent to a concentration camp.

As flawed as America is, I have hope that there are still enough of us who remember and appreciate who got us here, who fought their way here, who risked everything..... for us.

This election is crucial to the fabric of what America started on.

It's not the John Hancock's or the George Washington's or the Thomas Paine's or any of the other big names of our history that tell the true story.

It's Henry, Jesse's parents, Wilhelm, Johann, Fritz and millions of others who made my country for me.  We can't lose sight of where America started and why America started.  I pray we don't anyway. If God wills that we do, His will be done.  But for right now, today, I have to speak what I believe, from the depths of my heart, while I still can.... without fear of punishment.