Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A bit of my new job

Today, while sitting in the waiting room at the mental health clinic, my curious looking and smelling companion and I watched an even more curious man walk in the door. Todd noted quietly (which was an uncommon tone for Todd in waiting rooms) that he was glad that man did not live above him. The man was wearing large, clomping unzipped boots. I laughed at Todd’s dryness as he grinned with a bit of uncertainty my way. He is still learning me. Even upon knowing all he needs to know, he will still never be sure of me as his mental illness makes him very suspicious and paranoid. His meds make him forgetful which doesn’t help either. I am still learning him as well. He is a bit unnerving in his fidgety-ness. He stares and asks pointed questions, like an inquisitor trying to catch me in my “lies”. Todd has an ‘80’s rock band mullet and is balding on top. He speaks with a slight east coast accent and has poor hygiene. Living in a cold upstairs apartment above an abandoned storefront in Smallville Iowa, he rolls his own cigarettes. Todd despises judgmental attitudes and “quotes” the bible to prove his viewpoints. While driving home from a dentist appointment yesterday, Todd was emphatically declaring between mouthfuls of donuts and trail mix (he waited 30 minutes exactly after the fluoride treatment, to his credit) that Christians, if they are good Christians, should never judge others. I agreed with him quietly and he turned to me to ask if I was a Christian. I told him I was. He sat quietly for the rest of the ride home munching on a candy bar. While dropping him off at his apartment, saying our good bye’s, he turned to me before shutting the car door, “God bless you, Lori.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gulping in the Fresh Air

I made an error today at work... an email blast error that went to some wrong recipients. When dealing with these type of conference registrants you never know what type of response you will get. Let's just say, I felt my share of condemnation as the responses started pouring into my inbox. When I finally drafted the appropriate apology and pushed "send"...I then received a few responses of, "no worries". Sometimes it's ok to realize how stifling condemnation is...just to realize how fresh and life-giving grace is. It made me think about the fact that I don't feel suffocated by the condemnation that should have been mine because Jesus took it all. That brought me to a point of giving Him thanks because all of a sudden I noticed that when that blame is removed.... I then have the privelege of breathing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I am dust.

"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust."
Life sure has a way of knocking us down. I feel like curling up in my bed and discontinuing what life calls me to be and do. I am thankful for God's promise of compassion at time's like this.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I've Loved You So Long

PhotoIt is a rich movie. It shows many ways we live life imprisoned without bars. The way the sisters relationship develops and how each character learns and grows is good to watch. As a "heads-up" it is in French and has subtitles ...which I didn't find distracting at all...some might.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Soloist

This movie should be delivered from the pulpit.

I had a church service in my living room a couple Sunday morning's ago. It was between loads of laundry while some of the week’s meals simmered on my stove top. I have the luxury of doing this most every Sunday morning now that my family meets at Kaio on Sunday nights and my family likes to sleep in.

The message of the movie was summed up in this line, "You're never going to cure so-and-so. Just be his friend and show up."
"Friends sometimes piss each other off," was a supporting statement.

I think,
when I think,
that this one is a good litmus test.

Am I close enough to her or him to piss them off? Close enough that they piss me off? God may it be so. Let me be in his/her life if You would will it.

Just this week I saw an impassioned Facebook status from a Christian man I know. I can't deny that 15 years ago I thought the same way--It makes sense and is actually easier than it's alternative.

"You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." James 4:4 (ESV)
He followed it up with a few paragraphs of commentary, a couple more verses and a quote from Matthew Henry. He wrote well and I understood what he was saying because I used to live within this context also.
I was saddened by the “Amen’s” from other Christians and caught myself, deep down, elevating my arguments and myself to the highest most holy height that these Christians just couldn't understand.
I wanted to respond and Randy wisely told me it would suck me into a debate/argument that this man seems to thoroughly enjoy. That wisdom was from Jesus through my husband.
So I sat on it, and the next day I looked more closely at who “liked/agreed” with this man's post and it turned my heart from judgment and I had compassion, which was definitely Jesus.
I saw a man who has been hurt by the world’s recent infringement on his family’s life and I understood. I, too, have been deeply hurt by the world's sin.

However, I have been just as deeply wounded by sin within the church.
Sin is sin is sin.

If you think about it, friendship is just plain messy and it's not just messy with the world “out there”.

Why did we ever think we needed to steer clear from the world's people?

I think it is fear and mis-applied pieces of scripture; look at Jesus' life. Look at Paul's life and the other apostles and remember that EVERYONE they went to was an unbeliever. Once church's started to form, they then went to them to teach about their need to war against "the world"--but NOT the people of the world.
Frankly, it is natural to overlook the world that wars inside of us against the Spirit, and look for a culprit with skin on. We disregard the great commission by viewing the people of the world as the enemy.

When I think about messy relationships the context is changing; I've begun to see that it can work in the church. Being honest, side-by-side, about shortcomings and failures is different then being exposed by another person's malice or insecurity--which is the fear that keeps these things in the dark instead of bringing them into the Light. True community is a “messy blessing”; it is a chance to realize how "in the same boat we all are" and how much we all need Jesus.
You need Jesus desperately.
I need Jesus desperately.
Neither of us has arrived, but in His great plan, God still uses us in our weakness to befriend others who haven't met Him yet.

Knowing we all sin and struggle and overcome by the Spirit is a starting place. The starting place used to be handing out tracts, inviting disinterested unbelievers to church, creating programs and antiseptically dealing with the world out there.

In the movie, the reporter who lived uptown had a similar response to the homeless musician.
It is natural to want to help and try to "do good by him" because he obviously had more and was more privileged. Natural responses usually need to be unlearned.
The homeless shelter director’s idea was that this man did not need an evaluation to determine his sickness so he could be fixed with medication. He just needed a friend.
The reporter's response - “Your program is ******!”

In other words, It’s NOT ENOUGH… to just be friends.

Sound familiar? Churches who preach loudly from the pulpit that we should not be friends with the people of the world, but instead, "We should Slap a program-band aid on them, keep ourselves clean and pray for the best," frankly need to un-learn this natural response. Inevitably, there is a larger mess under their heavenly lifted noses -- fellow church-members are dying on the vine.

But I digress…or do I?

It has become so interminably entwined….transparency, community, needing Jesus, needing each other, loving the world together as we fully realize we are not “above” or “better” just forgiven and sent.

I hope this movie touches you and moves you along in your journey with those people that only you can touch.