Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Helmet

The plan to go hop on a bike at the club bombed when the doors were locked.
I headed home, bummed about my missed "cleansing" opportunity.
But God had something else in mind for me; He made this missed opportunity way better!  The roads were quiet because it was early, so I figured I could get a good little workout in less than an hour - outside, like old times!
I thought about wearing the helmet or not, and went with it - mainly because people wouldn't be as quick to recognize me with my head covered and I could hammer like a kid.
And, yes, also because since I could hammer like a 10 year old, I didn't have to worry about falling - since I had my head protected.
Note:  If I were on my road bike, the helmet would have been a done deal, but since I was just doing sidewalks and local roads on my mountain bike, it was questionable.

I took off and it was awesome!  Found a nice big gear, and raced myself.

"Who cares what anyone thinks when you're wearing a helmet?" kept going through my head.

Ephesians 6:17 popped in just after I thought that.
"Accept God's salvation as your helmet"
"It is the hope of eternal life that can protect our mind from relentless assaults upon it by the enemy"
-  Aneel Aranha

How cool is that?  When we are saved - we are free - free from the enemy's assaults.  It doesn't really matter what people think of us - we no longer need to live to please man because of our helmet of salvation!  We are protected - as part of the family of God, we don't have to fear the evil one and we can live in the security of The King.

This was also made clear to me from a book I recently read by Kyriacos C. Markides (I don't recommend it).  While I disagree with some major theological issues, I enjoyed a story about a pilgrim and a hermit.  The pilgrim asked the hermit (he called him Father) how to attain his salvation.  The hermit told him to go to a cemetery for a month and hurl insults to the dead - nothing happened.  Then he told him to sing praises to the dead for a month - again, nothing happened.  The hermit then told him that was his lesson - in order to attain salvation, he must become like the dead - indifferent to insults and indifferent to praise.

While I disagree completely with the way to achieve salvation - because that is thru Christ alone; this is one of the many benefits to salvation.  Keeping ourselves somewhat numb to what others think of us; and not letting the enemy get into our heads.  And wearing this hope on our heads, in our minds, and at the forefront of why we get up in the morning!

Friday, June 15, 2012

I Ate a Hamburger Bun

I couldn't see it.  I was blindfolded and a 3rd grade girl had it on a fishing pole, but I knew it was there.  While I was kneeling, I was racing the other dude and his partner to see who could eat it the fastest.  I lost, but I was close.  I think I could have won if I had just stayed still, letting her put it in my mouth, instead of rooting around trying to find it.  Why?  Because she could see my mouth and wanted to feed it.  I couldn't see a thing, but was acting as if I could.
I hate it when I do that!

Kinda like when your six year old wants to put on her own sunscreen...  and totally misses all of her back.

I've been reading Genesis and have learned that God is a God who sees us.  When Hagar had Abraham's baby, per Sarah's request, and was kicked around because of it, God took care of her.  He saw her in her distress.  Sarah decided that she knew what was best.  She knew she and Abraham were supposed to have all these children, yet she was old and barren; so she tried to "feed" herself even though she couldn't see what was going to be given to her if she just waited for it.  She took matters in her own hands instead of letting the One who sees her, and everything in her future, just give her what He said He would.

What are you trying to do for yourself that God wants to do for you?
Ask Him.  Sit and wait for Him to answer.
He can see millions of things that we cannot.
He wants to feed you - abundantly!
"Open your mouth wide and I will fill it" Psalm 81:10

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Hiking Boots

I purchased my first pair of real hiking boots in preparation for a hike that I have planned in September (more on that later, for sure).
I laced them up, (apparently I'm supposed to wear them one or two hours a day to get used to them) to go walk the dog in the morning.  Yes, I look weird, in my shorts, t-shirt, and hiking boots, but I really don't care.  They feel awesome.  This is probably normal attire in Colorado.
I walk differently.  I walk way more sure-footed, and my weak ankles are secure.
Got me thinking about Ephesians 6 and the armor of God.  Specifically verse 15:
"with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace"

In context, Paul was writing these verses as what a Christian should put on each day in order to fight the enemy.  I love good competition, so when I'm lacing up my boots and walking now, I feel stronger, and am reminded to pray on readiness for whatever comes my way that day.  Paul's footing was sure and unshakable, that's for sure!

The shoes the Romans wore had strong soles with spikes coming out the bottom so they didn't slip.  They weren't covered too much over the top - it was the bottom and the protection from whatever they stepped on that was more important.  Their shoes allowed them to step freely - on sometimes painful ground without fear so they could focus on the battle at hand.  So when our feet our fitted in the Gospel, we, too, can go through some painful circumstances and not fear the outcome.

Walking the same path on the same sidewalk every day is not as exciting as what you can do when you have new boots.  When I walk now,  I go in and out of yards (not the pristine ones), up and down curbs, and stuff like that to get my feet used to changing terrain in the boots.  As we travel new paths, new muscles grow, we become more balanced, and realize how cool it is to take on new adventures as we go out on The Great Commission!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chapter 16; "How To Comfort Others"

I am secretly (not anymore) dreaming about writing a book one day entitled, Be Different; and Other Lessons God Has Taught Me Through My Dog.  I have about 16 Chapters now; each one with a topic - about a sentence long, so I'm well on my way (to about a one-page novel).  The lesson He taught me this week is how to comfort.

The last week of school always leaves us with a dining room table full of school odds and ends.  Since my now 4th grader loves to play school, she must keep it all (hopefully it will make its way up to her room soon).  She likes to sit and read me everything first; and one of the writing entries was about her dog.  She wrote about how he comforts her when she is sad because they snuggle and she tells him what she's sad or mad about and he makes her feel better.   After I got past the fact that she was going to the dog instead of her negligent mother for comfort, I realized two things:  One, it was probably me who upset her in the first place; and two, he doesn't say anything, he's just there for her.

Then, I discovered that's the way God comforts all over the Bible.
Job's friends came to comfort him after he had lost everything.  That was good - until they opened their mouths and ruined it.
David penned Psalm 23 using God's rod and staff as comforters.  He was a shepherd, and shepherds used rods and staffs to guide and bring back their sheep.  They don't say a word, but their presence is known, and that brings comfort.
"He (Lamech) named his son Noah and said "He will comfort us..."  Noah isn't mentioned saying a word to anyone until the end of his life; yet he was a comforter.  He just walked with God, and God used him to bring comfort to others.
God tells His people often from Exodus to Revelation to take comfort either under or on His wings.

"Oh, love me - and right now! - hold me tight"  just the way you promised, now comfort me so I can live, really live"  Psalm 119:76-77 The Message

This week, we also experienced a death in the family.
There is only One who can comfort better than anyone else.  He doesn't often speak audibly.  He has larger arms than anyone else we could possibly run to.  And He yearns to hold us; and for us to hold onto Him.  He longs for us to understand "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted".  (Mt 5:4)   Eugene Peterson translates that "You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you.  Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you."

"As a mother comforts her child, (without words, just the embrace) so I'll comfort you."  Is 66:13
Run to Him.  Let Him prove Himself faithful.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Washed By The Water

I was on my way home from the health club the other morning and  "Washed By the Water" by Needtobreathe, came on the radio.  In my dripping sweat, I could totally relate -  I felt good.  In fact, I felt much better than I did when I got there.  I actually did feel that I had been "washed by the water" - my mood had changed from my sweating!  Or had it?  I googled sweating when I got home, since I thought I might be on to something here, and I was reminded that it's not the sweating that really cleanses our bodies, it's drinking more water and the work of the kidneys that releases more toxins from our bodies than sweating does.
It's the endorphin release that actually changes our mood from exercise - not the sweating.  And, it's the mood change I liked at that point, anyway.

Got me thinking about water and cleansing and the whole sin/baptism thing.  According to Acts 22:16, baptism washes our sins away:  "get up, be baptized, and wash your sins away", The Lord told Paul during his conversion.  John 1:31 describes John's baptism as "a good bath, scrubbing sins, giving you a fresh start with God".

So, is it really baptism that washes our sins away?  That's like saying the sweat coming out of bodies is what makes us feel better, when it's really what's going on in our brain, and the hormones released there.  If it were just the sweat, I'd feel great after dripping while watching my daughters play soccer all day in the 90 degree heat, but it doesn't work that way.
1 Peter 3 explains pretty well that the waters of baptism don't wash away dirt from our skin, "but present you through Jesus' resurrection with a clear conscience."  Baptism symbolizes dying (going down in the water) and being raised again with Christ (coming up out of the water), which is how we are cleansed from sin, and given that clear conscience that we could never get on our own.

I checked out the meaning of the song that inspired me here ("Washed By The Water") and discovered that it's about the singers' dad who was a preacher whose congregation was gossiping about him.  The preacher stood strong and didn't fold up under the rumors.  He had been "washed by the water" - he had been given a clear conscience from Jesus.

 "Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick."  1 Peter 3:16, The Message.  And that, my friends, is done in the dunking!

Saturday, June 2, 2012


I finished the book.
Don't know that I've read one longer than that before, especially a biography!  It was awesome.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book and why:

"There is no way to peace along the way of safety.   For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe.  Peace is the opposite of security... Peace means giving oneself completely to God's commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the  destiny of the nations in the hand on Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes."  - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This is so true.  We think of peace as lack of confrontation, getting along well with everyone, no fighting. But peace is actually in our hearts - when we know we're doing what we were made to do.  "Wanting no security... not safe".  The peace of God is what transcends all understanding (Phil 4:7) - that's the peace he's talking about, and God "is not safe" - according to Lucy (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe) - "but he's good"!  And in knowing we are being obedient, whether safe or not, warrants a peaceful soul.

Metaxas said of Bonhoeffer:  "He had theologically redefined the Christian life as something active, not reactive.  It had nothing to do with avoiding sin or with merely talking or teaching or believing theological notions or principles or rules or tenets.  It had everything to do with living one's whole life in obedience to God's call through action.  It did not require a mind, but a body too.  It was God's call to be fully human, to live as human beings obedient to the one who had made us, which was the fulfillment of our destiny.  It was not a cramped, compromised, circumspect life, but a life lived in a kind of wild, joyful, full-throated freedom - that was what it was to obey God."

All over the book, Bonhoeffer defines Christianity not as avoiding sin, but being obedient to God's call.  I like this because it doesn't make Christianity out to be all about what we can't do - but the adventurous life!  In order to be fully human, we are called to live!  Abundantly!  Bonhoeffer knew this - he lived this - he tried to kill Hitler because it was more important to him to obey God's call on him to save the rest of the Jews from destruction, rather than avoid the sin of murder...

What are we so wrapped up in NOT doing, that we can't hear the adventure God is calling us to?
We have been called to live abundantly (John 10:10), not hesitantly.
Bonhoeffer's life was one that was radical - and that is what we have been saved for, too.