Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

For My Husband…

Author’s Note: This is based on the song, “Bless the Broken Road,” performed by both Selah and Rascal Flatts. I’m including a link to the Selah version here.

“Bless the Broken Road” in surround sound–
And I believe every word,
Yet the pain in the journey
Sears my heart and floods my eyes.
It wasn’t the North Star
Leading me to your arms.
It was the man
Your broken road shaped in you,
Blessed by Jesus.
But my road still isn’t straight,
And I can’t find the joy and strength
To bless my broken road.
Hold me close and don’t let me go
Until joy in the journey dries my eyes.
Bless me with your love.
Hold me in your arms and on my feet.

Love me
Until I can love you
The way you deserve.

 

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Impure in His Presence?

I’ve written in the past about how I love worship and how God inhabits the praises of His people. I also love worship because I always believed that nothing impure could stand in the presence of God and if I could just get over my shame and guilt I’d be a little cleaner because of time with Him.

While it’s true that time with Him in His Word and prayer does improve righteousness, attitude, and wisdom, I was trying to find the Scriptural basis for the notion that nothing impure could stand in the presence of God.

After a few searches, I started feeling queasy. In Job, we see Satan goes right up to the throne of God (Job 1:6, Job 2:1) with the other angels (presumably those still following God).

Satan also approaches Jesus, who never sinned, while Jesus was fasting in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11 contains all the details. In effect, Satan was permitted to test Jesus three times over food, power, and proper targets for worship. Jesus of course passed.

Impure spirits were regularly in the presence of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. In Mark 1:25, an impure spirit challenges Jesus and tries to reveal His identity before the proper time. In Mark 3:11, the impure spirits are constantly bowing and trying to identify Jesus before the proper time.

Mark 5:1-20 describes another time impure spirits were before Jesus. A seriously disturbed man lived in a graveyard. When Jesus was passing by, he began to yell… or the demon began to yell. It tried to identify Jesus and accuse Him of coming too soon to torture him and his evil buddies. They knew His power–they begged Him first not to send them away and then to send them into some pigs. He obliged. They killed the pigs, irritating the farmer and related merchants.

Now Isaiah and Revelation do have some interesting passages. They do talk about the impure not being fit to follow the Lord and be in the presence of the Lord.

Isaiah 35:8 (NIV) — And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it.

Revelation 21:27 (NIV) — Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

As much as it would make life easier if these verses were immediately true in our here and now, both Isaiah and Revelation are prophetic books about a future that has not yet come to pass.

So, what I said is true in the future, but it’s not really true in the here and now. In the here and now, the impure can be in the Presence of Holy God. They are either infinitely rebellious or quivering, shaking, and uncomfortable.

And maybe sometimes they’re a lot like me, or am I a lot like them? The difference is that I can and have chosen Christ and I have His righteousness covering me. At some point, I will not be rebellious, quivering, uncomfortable. I will be perfected and changed in the twinkling of an eye, forever whole and praising the One I love.

Zombie Breaking Free

Author’s Note: Insomnia bites. I don’t even remember penning this one, but it’s in my journal in my own scribbling. I suspect on some level I was watching (and interacting with) a televangelist. Enjoy!

I was a walking zombie.
I was dead in the moment–
Always suffering the past,
Fearing the future,
Rejecting the present.
I wanted supernatural faith
Without seeing the Christ moments in spreadsheets and dish pans.

I can’t change the past.
I lived dead to life.
I didn’t love the process
So I couldn’t see progress.

But I am free.
This moment is mine.
Christ lives in me.
There is no excuse.

This is the moment God placed me here.
His will is to love from the pain.
He gives super joy in the boring natural.
Jesus resurrected my faith, hope, and love.
The past is my foundation for victory in the present.
Christ owns my future, and it’s not yet mine to see.
I will never be pain-free or perfect in this life,
But it won’t kill me,
For Christ’s abundant life is more than enough.
I belong to Him, and He manages progress, not me.

Psalm 1xx: Praise of Creation

Author’s Note: Every once in a while, my hubby loves me (and hates his own life) enough to force me to get away from personal electronics at a farm in the middle of nowhere where Christian artists come to play lots of different music, even Alicia Keys. (See Creation Festival’s web site.) This piece was written at one such gathering.

The music rings out,
And I’m overwhelmed.
His Presence floods the hillside,
And I’m struck
By this foretaste of Heaven.
Worship rises from every heart–
Some clap, some dance,
Some sing, some weep.
Praise thunders louder and louder.
I’m not a citizen here;
I’m a citizen of that place.
I’m homesick,
But there’s still work to do.
So with love I stand.
Alleluia!
Jesus lives and reigns.
Amen.

No Communion for You!

This is one of those “deep” pieces for Christians only dealing with Catholic and Protestant relations. If you’re prone to anger, just stop here. Also, if you need fluff and unicorns and rainbows, stop here.

Communion has always been a touchy subject, even for those shepherds in all denominational pews with finesse and people skills. While most Protestant denominations take a “Come as you are as long as you believe in Jesus” approach, Catholics are a demanding crowd. You must be in union with the teachings of the Church, you must be free of all mortal sin (serious, premeditated decision to commit a major sin), you should not (notice I didn’t say cannot) receive Communion in any denominational pew but your own.

Latin rite Catholics are not permitted to receive with any Protestants or with Greek Orthodox Catholics, but may in the absence of a local parish receive with Russian Orthodox or Polish Catholics. Feel like you need a flowchart diagram or decision tree yet?

Why is this? Why is it that the one moment when we should have the most unity and love for each other and for our Lord that we fall apart?

Aside from the work of the enemy of our souls and pride, it has to do with interpretation of Scripture. Two passages are in focus here: John 6:25-59 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-32. I prefer to use the New International Version, Complete Jewish Bible, and a Catholic version of the Bible to get a full flavor of the passages. I would encourage you to do the same before continuing.

Our Catholic brothers and sisters believe that Communion literally is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. The priest prays a prayer calling down the Holy Spirit, and in that moment with those words, the bread and wine mystically and substantially become the Real Presence of Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit (this is transubstantiation). Since God can tolerate no sin, you’re supposed to approach the altar for Communion only if you accept and genuinely try to live Catholic teaching. Literally, Catholics eat Jesus in hopes of growing closer to Him and His teachings.

Lutherans have a similar belief.  However, Lutherans tend to believe that the believer’s faith plays a part (consubstantiation).

I believe (but have not had deep training) that most other Protestants see Communion emblems of bread and wine as just symbolizing the Body and Blood. Figuratively, as we eat, we are to be humbling ourselves before God and choosing unity with our Christian brothers and sisters.

What do I personally believe? I don’t know.

As a writer, I understand both the figurative and literal perspectives. I can’t imagine something that is just a symbol making anyone so sick they would die. And yet, I accept that Jesus could act just the way Catholics believe He does with transubstantiation without wanting to call them vampiric cannibals for following Jesus’ commands.

Without falling into legalism, I want to believe whatever Jesus wants me to believe. He’s left His Word. To know what I should believe, I would have to understand the Greek and Aramaic of the day. I would have to understand tense and language structure to know whether like English the decision about figurative and literal is based on the rhetorical situation and context.

If figurative and literal were based in tense with language structure, I would assume the scholars would have figured that out by now. If not, maybe I’ve given some ancient linguistic PhD candidate his or her doctoral dissertation project.

If figurative and literal language are contextually based on the environment and culture of the day, then I will have to pray and take it on faith that if I make the wrong decision I have done so with a clear conscience and will be covered in mercy, grace, and Christ’s Blood.

Repent. Rinse. Repeat.

My heavy, arid mother’s heart
Beats with fury’s fire
Of humiliation
At the hands of the ignorant.

The little minded
With normal wiring
Who try to feel bigger
Through bullying and teasing
Of the broken wired…

The cruel children
Who have learned
No better
Than to rile
The simple hearted…

And yet fury’s fires
Face hell’s fires
And start to die.

The Heart of the Savior
Issues the challenge,
“Forgive as I have forgiven you.”

Lord–
Your challenge is too great;
The valley is too deep;
My pain is too searing.

And yet,
Life after life
Snuffed out too soon
Teaches the uncertainty of tomorrow.

The time is now.
Tomorrow may never come.

Unready, unworthy, uncertain…

Repentant, sorrowing, grieving…

Faltering, flailing, falling…

Having chosen Jesus,
I again choose Christ;
I again choose forgiveness.

Lead me to the foot of the Cross.
Strengthen my resolve in the choice.
Give me victory over this stronghold.

Repent. Rinse. Repeat.

Repent. Rinse. Repeat.

Thoughts on a Red Pen’s Demise

I returned to my home office recently after a lengthy diversion for a customer. I’ve set up my desk, and I’ve stacked my bookshelf with all those books that we word geeks need–the unabridged dictionary, the thesaurus, the style guide, an industry-specific dictionary (older than the web site stated and priced far too high).

A co-worker brought me a business document for review, and I reached for that trusty red pen from my cup at the corner of my desk. I felt this inner surge of joy as I removed the cap from the pointy business end (why, yes, it does remind me of a rapier) and put it at the other end.

Imagine my chagrin as the pen refused to bleed in frustration at the issues in the writing. Don’t get me wrong; my team has excellent written communication skills. And that’s why writing issues are so egregious (and not in the archaic sense). But I digress…

As I fumbled for a new red pen, I began to let my mind wander.

First,. I felt sorry for those whose gifts weren’t written communication, who would sit in English, literature, or language arts classes and dread that paper coming back. That paper would be covered in the blood of the teacher’s pen, a pen assaulted by misspelling and grammar and usage errors. I could remember eye rolls and extra sweaty sweatshirts and bodies slinking to the floor.

Then I thought about immigrants from China trying to take a standard English class. I could imagine the confusion as red, their color of fiery expansive joy and good fortune, is used to tell them their writing has missed the mark and is just average and not real fortunate.

Then I visited the meaning of red in Christianity. Red is used in Revelation for the horse that indicates war and bloodshed. Scarlet, a shade of red, is used in Isaiah to describe sin and sinfulness. Red was also the color of the robe thrown roughly on Jesus’ shoulders after His scourging at the pillar when the Roman soldiers prepared to mock Him. Then His blood ran red at the crucifixion; because of His death and resurrection, I am covered by His blood so the Father sees only His Righteousness and not my sinfulness.

Then I came back to red on a graded paper… the papers my older children bring home. They are preemie survivors. The doctors didn’t know if they’d walk or talk, and then they falsely swore the kids would catch up. But whatever that history, red on their papers, just average, is a joyous sign of life and love and survival.

And then I swallowed some coffee and returned to my error hunt for survival of the economic stability of my home office.

Melodrama, anyone?