Thursday, October 29, 2009

No room for the "religious"

You know the funny thing about Christianity is that we think we have it all figured out and that if everyone plays by our rules and our standards, then hey – they're a part of the ultra exclusive, Christianity Country Club. But the problem is , the religious – hoity toity – stick up their butt individuals (who make up their own rules instead of living by God's) make the true, heartfelt, Jesus loving, Christians look just like their soap box selves. And often times the judgment and persecution that Christians today face comes directly from one “Christian” to the other. We’re literally waging war against ourselves. Why is it that we have so many different denominations? Because we can’t seem to agree and we can’t seem to come together on the equal ground that Christ is Lord and that’s all that matters. No, our pride gets in the way, and we start throwing out lies and blasphemes against one another so that we may look somehow better than the rest. Want to know the truth? We’re no better than the Pharisees in the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19), when Jesus requests to go to this man’s house to eat with him, start a friendship, discuss life and it’s challenges. And we know the Pharisee's response all too well, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner”

And so I ask… if we’re here to seek and save the lost, if our one mission on this earth is love other’s as Christ has loved the Church, then how are we supposed to do that if we're completely segregating ourselves from the unbelievers, the “sinners” of society? Because I have news friends, every single one of us was once a sinner. That’s right… at one point you too were a sinner! How DARE you judge, despise, and separate yourself from loving those God has placed in your life? Why do you find it appropriate to place yourself on your own little pedastool of perfection, while watching those who so need the love and grace of a God of mercy perish?

Matt Chandler had a great piece of insight that totally rocked my world recently… “the more you engage the lost world, the more religious people will grumble. Please tune them out.” The sad fact is that I see this everywhere I turn. And I find myself falling into these traps when I surround myself by the “religious” of this world. What do we have to gain by giving up everything to discriminate those who don’t know Christ? Absolutely nothing, except judgment from The Eternal. And the Pharisees are the people Paul Speaks of in 2 Cor. Chapter 10:12, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves – they’re not wise!”

When we place ourselves on our own little christian idealism of perfection, and not on Christ's standard alone, we fall prey to the lies of the evil one. He uses anything to get to us, especially our own pride and fear. So beware when you find yourself tuning out those around you because of some superiority complex. For you never know who's life you'll touch just by a kind word or a smile. Look at every person you see as an opportunity to shine light, love, and eternity. You won't regret it... for you may be the only Jesus someone ever sees. Make a good impression!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Argh! Life sometimes... lots of revelations this week. Here we go...

What I long for, what I desire is not found on the pages of Vogue or Cosmo. No, what I need more than anything in this world is companionship. I’m not talking about the companionship of friends or even that a boyfriend. No, the companionship I long for is more fulfilling and fruitful than what is found in the faces of those I pass on a daily basis. The companionship I dream of is deep, intimate knowledge that only comes from time and trust. The companionship I desire may not even be possible this side of heaven – it’s a companionship of being fully known and overwhelmed with fullness – to the point of bursting.

The trouble is, this companionship is utterly unattainable, nearly meaningless. Because the everyday problems of fame, money, sex, addiction, pain, loss, job, family, friends, drama, and everything in between prevent our forward movement towards all encompassing companionship. The road blocks, the hurdles of today are what stand in our way of fulfilling this desire. And the truth of the matter is: our attention is quickly diverted by the seen, while the unseen sits patiently waiting, wanting the all fulfilling relationship. Until we give up the earthly distractions, the sins that so easily invade our lives, we’re unable to experience the incredible joy, love, and deep friendship of a Savior who so often seems so far, but is really right beside us every step of every moment of everyday.

And understanding finally falls on the words of King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiates. We can gain the whole world but forfeit our souls in a matter of seconds in comparison to the grand scheme of eternity. “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless”. Now I know what he means, for though I could have whatever I desired if I worked hard enough, I don’t want any of it. Yes, I get ahead of myself on many occasions and get overly excited for something, but the second I finally get that something I’ve longed for there’s something else, something bigger and better, which distracts me from the gift already given. Constantly searching for the next best thing, I realize now that there is never going to be a “next best thing” on this earth. There’s going to be disappointment in the things, and frustration at the loss of relationship because of them along the way.

Does this mean we give up everything we have to gain a deeper, fulfilling relationship with the only Perfect Love? No. But it does mean that we get our priorities straight. It means seeing a need in someone else’s life and fulfilling it. It means giving up the addictions, the cults, the fame, the drama, the obsession with celebrities, and even the distraction of friends/family. An overflowing, all consuming relationship requires that the things of the world not take precedence over companionship. It’s a choice; freely given for us to decide.

So what will it be? Sacrificing a little here and there for overflowing, rich relationship, or giving every part of your being to the things that will never satisfy? And how do we even begin changing?


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Living Ecclesiastically

What do you have to celebrate today? What is something you’re grateful for, that you can rejoice in? What, in life, keeps you going day by day? And how often to you sit back and just enjoy life for what it is?

I’ve realized a few things in the past week or so (since I turned the ripe old age of 24) that I never really took the time to think about before. For much of my life I’ve been “too busy” for just about everything. I guess that’s what a girl's life becomes when she’s worked since the age of 13, and has rarely had the time or the money to really go and experience many adventures. As I sat in LA on my birthday this year, it hit me, “I’ve been wasting my life, running around like a chicken with my head cut off, worried about everything under the sun – and what do I have to show for it? Wrinkles, stress, and a body that’s practically falling apart at 24.” As I continued pondering this dilemma on the plane home from my favorite sunny place in the US, I was hit with a ton of bricks: I haven’t been living my life! I’ve been slowly, grudgingly dragging through it. I decided, this year is going to be a different story – no more “too busy” or “too over committed” for anything. Prioritizing the important, the things that last, the memories, has become my goal. And Ecclesiastes has knocked my socks off...

The book of Ecclesiastes is one of the most depressing books in the Bible, at least for me. However, recently I’ve read it with a whole new light, thanks to the insight brought by Matt Chandler at The Village Church. Conviction swept over me as I realized that so much of my own life feels so incredibly “meaningless”. There seems to be no direction, no reason for my existence. I’ve become dissatisfied with my everyday, boring life, and have craved some kind of new adventure ever since the “daily grind” started. The thing I didn’t realize is that no matter where I am, no matter what I’m doing, there’s going to be some slight sense of “everyday”. No matter how many quotes I do at work, or how many loads of laundry I do at home, or how many meetings, practices, coffee dates, etc. I have - there’s still going to be another one tomorrow, another month, another year. “Everything is meaningless!” to quote the great King Solomon. And I'm stuck with my thoughts...

Realization #1: Life sucks sometimes – deal with it! Wow, talk about a Debbie Downer moment – but it’s true, right? Life has a tendency to throw us some curve balls every now and then that leave us thinking, “what the heck was that?!”. On the positive side, every bad situation that comes our way, usually leads to something good in the end. When the pains and frustrations of life come our way... what are our options? Well, we could just sit around, moping about how sad and stupid our lives are, or we could…

Realization #2: God gives us others for a reason. There’s this verse in Ecclesiastes that says, “Eat, drink, and be merry”. Let me clarify that this does not mean get drunk and party all the time. No, this is something deeper, more fulfilling, and utterly delightful. This verse is pretty much telling us to go out with friends, have dinner together, do coffee, bake, have movie nights, meet for Bible Study, whatever you do in life – share it with friends. For at the end of a long, tedius, frustrating week isn’t it an incredible blessing to be able to meet up with someone wonderful for Happy Hour, or have a movie night with someone near and dear?

And I say… it’s time to start living our lives Ecclesiastically! Not in the mode of being too busy for friendship, too overwhelmed for relationship with others; no – what we need to do is start planning more outings, scheduling more dates, and really getting to know those around us. For we get to take the memories and the friendships with us when we leave this world… but everything else (the house, the money, the cars, the techy toys, the designer fashions) all get to stay here. He with the most toys still dies with nothing.

So as I enter into my 24th year of life, not quite where I expected I’d be, but on my way to something incredible, it’s time for me to start living my own life Ecclesiastically. Living for the memories and the friendships, and not worrying so much about the stresses of the everyday. No, I choose today to go to the Pumpkin Patch (because I’ve always wanted to and never had “time), invite friends over for dinner/brunch/coffee/whatever, meet with new people and really try to connect with them, live up the Holidays for everything they are (I’m talking Nutcrackering, gingerbread house making, decorating up a storm, Christmas cookie delivery service, giving to those in need, and remembering the Reason for the Season daily), and truly making the 24th year of life the brightest, richest, most edifying year of my life.

24 – here I come! :-)