Thursday, January 8, 2009

Clean Windows

I received this in an email today.

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. 'That laundry is not very clean', she said. 'She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap'

Her husband looked on, but remained silent.

Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband:

'Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?'

The husband said, 'I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.'

And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look.

Lord, please clean the windows of my heart. Remove the traveling dirt that seems to cling to those panes. Let me first look to my own soul, that it would be purified and cleansed by your Holy Spirit. Help me to not be judgmental of others and their shortcomings or flaws, but help me to see them clearly through your loving, compassionate eyes.

Intrusional Evangelism

I saw this video of famous magician, Penn Jillette, from Bill Giovannetti, a pastor friend's blog,

This is an interview of Penn Jillette who speaks about someone who came up to him after one of his performances and gave him a small pocket bible. I know in the past I was not the type who would feel comfortable just going up to someone and sharing Christ with them, but after seeing this video, I think I could be convinced to at least "always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." (I Peter 3:15 - ESV) I like the words, "with gentleness and respect." This attitude helps to preserves the dignity of the person and yet the message of the Gospel can still be communicated with a heart-felt passion that rings with truth and sincerity.

When I first viewed this video, I could see that Penn was visably moved when he described the situation where this guy gave him a bible after one of his performances. It was evident that God’s spirit was dealing with Penn. Despite his comments about "still not believing in God, etc.", his protests were not very convincing to me.

This seemed to be just another step or seed that God is using in this man’s life to hopefully bring him to Himself. I don’t even think Penn was aware of how the Lord was dealing with him, but it’s obvious that something was happening in this man’s heart - he even seemed to be wiping a tear away as he spoke. The key to this is that the guy who shared the bible with him was genuinely concerned about Penn, he was respectful and gracious and THAT was what impressed this guy.

It still comes down to where "people don’t care what you know until they know how much you care." Penn Jillette could tell how much this guy cared and that made an indelible impression on him.

Another friend of mine commented on that blog about a book tht I'd like to read (thanks Marianne) called Unchristian by Kinnamon and Lyons where she describes "the perception that Christians are insincere and interested only in converting others."

See this link to read some reviews on Amazon:

I want to become more like that man who shared a bible and the message of the gospel unashamedly with Mr. Jillette and was not afraid of the rejection that could have occurred.

Lord use me as you see fit.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

treading water with a good attitude...

Hopefully it will be a better year. I am almost embarrassed by what I wrote a couple of days ago. But it was where I was at - at that moment. That same day, later that evening, my oldest daughter was in a car accident and totalled her car and the car that hit her was totalled as well. It was a miracle that she is alive - when you look at the damage to both cars. I am very grateful that I still have a living 18 year old daughter!

I will keep treading that water. I won't give up. I will keep trying to see the Lord working in small ways to show me that He loves me. I will keep focusing on grace and not on my sins, which I know have been forgiven and nailed to the tree. I will try to lower my expectations for myself and my children and even for my husband. (I guess there is truth to that saying blessed is he is does not expect anything for they will not be disappointed. Sounds a bit cynical I guess.)

I know that when I look over the past 37 years the Lord has NOT let me down, even though there were times where I wondered where He was and what He was doing. It's just being in the thick of it all, muddling through and not getting stuck in the mud/mire/sludge.

I don't have many choices do I? I have children depending on me and I need to keep going forward for their sake. I don't have the luxury of time - to allow myself to settle in this mode of thinking. They are with me for only a short while and I will so miss them when they are grown and on their own. I have recently read stories of people who have gone through much worse than what I have ever experienced and they have emerged from their ordeal with their heads held high and their faith in dthe Lord still intact.

I just pray this year the Lord will continue to show me mercy and grace and perhaps bring me a friend or two.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Having a hard day/week/year moment....

This has probably been the hardest year/month/week time in my life as a believer. I must have a twisted view of God because I feel like saying to God, "ok.... i cry uncle, I give... you won the arm wrestling contest (and I wasn't even trying to win)."

I don't mean to complain or whine (although as I've looked back on my past posts, it does seem as though I'm a bit of a whiner... sorry - that's where I am right now...) but that's why I called my blog, "Desparate for His Grace" because right now is a time of lamentations for me. The only difference is that I don't see the end in sight. At least right now I cannot say, "praise be to God, etc." I don't feel praise and I can't sing praise. I can only spout sadness and pain.

I am having a very difficult time holding my head up.... it does feel as though the water is rushing over me and I'm sinking, barely able to keep up. I keep waiting for that "grace that passes all understanding" to kick in. I keep waiting for the scripture to come alive for a verse just for me, to find that verse that speaks to my heart - and yet it's strangely silent around here.

I seem to weep all too often - for no apparent reason - although I do have some good reasons to justify why I shed those tears .... I know it does no good to feel sorry for myself. I know that God does not owe me anything. He does not owe me happiness or joy. He has given me everything for this life to live a godly life and I am complete in Christ. I know all this in my head and I've learned it all in bible college many years ago. But for some reason, after almost 37 years of being a believer in Christ, I seem to have forgotten how to "activate" these truths so that they become evident in my life again.

The truth of the matter is that I just don't see a way out of this dark tunnel. I seem to fall into this strange thought pattern of "well hang on for just a few more years and the kids will all be grown, out of the house, and you won't have to try so hard to be a good mom, a good Christian because they won't be around to see me regularly fall/fail/mess up." Isn't that crazy thinking???

But that's where I am ... I do see occasional small graces and favors that He seems to bestow on me here and there ... but honestly, it's not enough these days. I am taking these little crumbs and gobbling them up, hoping to be filled ... only find myself to be hungering for more ... more crumbs to help stop the aching pain inside.

I have almost stopped praying... I don't know what to say to Him. He knows my heart. Maybe He's not through "teaching" me something. I keep thinking maybe I've sinned or have forgotten to confess something (and I know I have sinned here and there; I'm not talking about a pervasive sinful pattern). Then I think maybe I haven't repented enough.

I have no joy or peace while I am going through this and I thought that was what was supposed to sustain me. Honestly, I am such a poor excuse for a believer right now. I'm certainly not the poster child of someone who has gone through a hard time and with the Lord's help has triumphed victoriously.

I am still in the pits. I cannot get out. I have no close friend to talk to about this or to help me and I feel so alone. I've been told by others that perhaps God is using this time to cause me to depend on Him too much and not on a friend. Maybe so - but that's not helping either because He too is silent.

I don't know what to do... I'm not in a self-destructive mode - so if anyone is reading this please know that I do not intend to do any harm to myself as that is the most selfish thing anyone can do.... I just don't know what to do, what to feel, how to be... how to think... how to pray... where to go.

I don't want to hear someone say, "fall into the arms of your dear savior as He knows what you're going through." Nope... don't think so.... because if what I'm experiencing is due to some sin in my life, then that means I deserve this pain/agony/aloneness and He cannot relate to that because He never sinned.

I just need anyone who reads this to pray for me... please as I am struggling so much right now and feel so very alone in this pain....

a weary pilgrim who's lost her way in the storm.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Logan the SkyAngel Cowboy

Our pastor shared this in church on Sunday and I had to post it on my blog. It made me cry (actually every time I've watched it or shared it with someone else I've cried...) but this young man has some amazing insights for a 13 year old boy.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Scarlet Letter

I read on the Drudgereport this week an article about a woman who's sins were being exposed by her church... I clicked on the article and was shocked to realize that this woman lives in my town and I've even visited that church before on a couple of occasions. This reminded me of the "Scarlet Letter" story except in this case, both parties were single. Here's the article:,2933,469928,00.html

It made me really sad and mad on several levels....

I am not sure how much of the details are true or were accurately reported… This 49 year old woman is being excommunicated from her church for being involved in a sexual relationship with a man who is not her husband. Several months before, this woman confided in her spiritual mentor and admitted her struggles with this relationship. The mentor was supposed to be there to help this friend with her problems with a relationship that was obviously not honoring to God. The woman had attempted to break up with this man on ten different occasions, but she still kept going back to him.

Then in October of this year the mentor decided to take this woman's confidential confession to the next level and tell some other ladies in their church. It seems as though the woman involved was willing to admit that she had a problem and had confided in someone in the church to help her deal with this issue. I don't know exactly how much time lapsed in between her sharing with her mentor and the time her mentor brought it before this smaller group of women in the church. Apparently, the church was now in step two of a three step process to deal with this issue of sin in this woman's life. In Matthew 18, there is an outline that Jesus refers to which many interpret as the way the church is supposed to administer "discipline." There does not appear to be a specific time frame in between each step. The verses read:

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

The article does not say that the woman "refused to listen" in step one of the process; however, it does appear that she was so deeply entrenched in this relationship and was truly battling with how to handle it. She did turn to someone she trusted to help her deal with this situation and was surprised and shocked to learn to see how her mentor handled her confidences.

… if anything this process seemed to have caused the woman to dig her heels in and rebel even further, going to the press and broadcasting the whole thing publicly, more public than the church was intending to take the situation. However, in some ways, it seems as though the church was more concerned with confronting the sin than they were in restoring the sinner…. but we don't know the whole story or all the details in the situation, nor should we need to. We can only surmise from what we read in the paper.

The article goes on to say that the woman left this church and resigned her membership before she received a letter from the elders stating that they were going to publicly confront her sin during a church service the first week in January if she did not repent. The woman said she had left the church and was now attending another church in the area.

It’s interesting… when this kind of church discipline was practiced in the 1st century… there were not several churches in one town…. and when someone was excommunicated, they didn’t have another church to go to… because the church was not only a place of worship; it was also a social gathering and a place where people had established close-knit relationships. There were more serious ramifications about being banned from the church — we don’t see that today because someone could just go from church to the next.

As I said in the beginning of this post, I have mixed emotions because I know that sin needs to be dealt with and that when we align ourselves as believers with a local body of Christ, we are exposing our lives to others with the intent that we are to spur one another to love and good works (Heb. 10:24). Ideally, in the kind of church that is honoring to God, which endeavors to hold true to the holy scriptures, where believers are really engaged in meaningful, transparent and accountable relationships with each other, we may never have read this story in the paper--because it would have been resolved in a biblical way. As I said previously, I don't know the whole situation, and in some ways, I am inclined to be a bit cynical towards the woman who felt it necessary to broadcast her story wider than it was ever intended (now the "whole world" knows).

But as someone who has been burned in relationships and who has been really hurt by others 'in the church" who have unjustly harshly judged and condemned me, I can relate to this woman too - even though my circumstances are not the same as hers. There is a breakdown somewhere here. I know this church is intending to be biblical in their process and they probably mean well. But when you're dealing with imperfect human beings, on both sides of the situation, even the most well-meaning Christian people can believe they are "doing what's best" when they think they're helping someone for their own good.

The sad thing is this woman will mostly likely not be restored to a meaningful relationship with the Lord - I cannot say for sure, of course, but with all this media emphasis, I am concerned that she is going to become more embittered and settled in her ways and sin… and that she will not be able to hear the still small voice of the spirit speaking into her heart…. it just makes me sad.

I was talking with my children about this story today and one of them said, “But mom what about the of gluttony, of lying, of stealing, of other sins.. are they supposed to confront about those kinds of things…” One of them said, "Sin is sin in God’s eyes, mom… why are they making this sin bigger than any other?" She’s right… it’s just that we don’t often “confess” to a sin of gluttony, of impatience with our kids (what I struggle with too often!), of lying, of cheating on our tax returns, of speeding when driving, etc. Sin is sin - all sin breaks the heart of God. All of these sins sent Jesus to the cross to die.

Just my two cents…

Lord have mercy.... on us all...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mary's Song - by Luci Shaw

This is one of my all-time favorite Christmas poems by an incredible writer, Luci Shaw.

Mary's Song

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest...
you who have had so far to come.)
Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.
His breath (so light it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world. Charmed by doves' voices,
the whisper of straw, he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed who overflowed all skies,
all years. Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught
that I might be free, blind in my womb
to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

what else can be said except, wow....