Friday, March 24, 2017

In the wilderness

Therefore, I am going to persuade her, lead her to the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. Hosea 2.14 

God brings us to the wilderness to get the wilderness out of us. I am currently in the wilderness of Lent, and it pervades everything I do. I am daily, hourly, confronting toxic habits of idolatry and ungratefulness, and I truly lament for how my sin has pulled me away from Jesus.

But the reality of the gospel supersedes it; "But God" has become a two-word intention for my life. But God is rich in mercy. But God has seen me. But God is my strength. But God will redeem. But God gives life. 

The wilderness of Lent is where I let go of who I was to become who God has created me to be. And it might be  painful, as idols are ripped from my heart, but when I look up and see only Jesus, speaking tenderly to me from the foot of the cross, I can't imagine going back. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Real Love Warrior

Last night, autho Glennon Doyle Melton posted a picture of her and her girlfriend with the caption "Abby and I have decided to hold hands forever". I actually enjoyed her first book; I disagreed with several elements, but I found it helpful in many ways.

Her second book, Love Warrior, unsettled me in many ways. She disclosed a lot of private details about her marriage, including her husband's many infidelities and ponography use. The book, however, ends with them married and recommitted and could have been a strong encouragement to fight for one's marriage.

If that's where the story had ended

Right around the book's release, she announced a divorce from husband Craig.

And that she was then dating a woman.

And now, marrying her.

And at this point, the whole love warrior/fight for love/love wins is a load of crap. All she's fighting for is herself. That's not love, that's idolatry.

Marriage was designed by God, for the glory of God. Men and women commit themselves to each other for their lives - to serve each other, to lay down their lives for the joy of the other. Ephesians 5 calls on husbands to love their wives the way Christ loved the church.

Pause and think about that for a moment. How did Jesus love the church?

Jesus gave up perfectly heavenly fellowship to live a life on earth. He healed the sick, touched the lonely and he saw and he knew the broken-hearted. He came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. He did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped but considered others more significant than himself. He was tempted in every way and never sinned. He was despised, mocked and rejected and responded with nothing but the offer of forgiveness. And ultimately He did to rescue, sanctify and redeem His precious bride, the very ones who rejected his kindness and mercy.

That is what marriage is supposed to reflect. If Christ had left me when I was unfaithful or difficult to love, I would have been left behind a long time ago.

One of my favorite Hebrew words in the Bible is hesed, often translated as steadfast love. It is a love of loyalty, a love that gives and serves without considering the worth of the its recipient, a love that does t give up. That is the love to which we are called.

I think that attitudes like Melton's slap marriage and the gospel in the face. I think there are biblical reasons for divorce, but I also think they are few and far between. I just don't think you get to "fight for your marriage", commit, and then divorce years after the fact.

I am much more impressed with people who actually fight for their marriage, who have every reason to leave and still stay. I thank God for them. And above all, I am thankful Jesus, and his never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love. He is the true Love Warrior in my eyes.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Be Your Own Worship Leader

There was a beautiful season in my life a few years ago where I regularly led myself in worship. I read and enjoyed the Bible, and I would put together setlists of 3-8 songs that expressed my response to the glory of God as expressed in His word.

During this season, it also happened that I didn't have Internet at home. It's amazing what you can do when you aren't distracted (I also got quite good at newspaper crossword puzzles).

This week, I decided to be intentional about worship again. I definitely leave room for freedom and I don't feel like I have to follow the set exactly, but being purposeful and thoughtful about putting it together has done so much to draw my heart towards Jesus.

After a whirlwind two years of intense Bible reading (every book, 20 times in a row), I've been taking things very very slowly. I'm currently meandering my way through the Psalms and it certainly is tuning my heart to sing God's praise.

Every morning, I set aside time between my 6am yoga class (or Bible study if it's Thursday), and the start of my work day to read a chapter or two of the Bible. I consider what it says about who I am and what it says about who God is and I let that inspire my songs of praise.

I like to physically set out the songs in an order - even if I have them memorized, I put the names down on post it notes or write it out on a page. I almost always start with a typical call to worship song: Come Thou Fount, Enter His Gates, Be Thou My Vision or O Lord, You're Beautiful. From there, it depends on the day. I gravitate towards hymns, but I've also been rediscovering some Beloit InterVarsity classics. In any event, even if I only have 10 minutes to grab my guitar, it makes all the difference in my ability to practice the presence of God throughout my day.