Monthly Archives: October 2009

I Need a Spiritual Laxative

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I’m willing to bet it’s a common problem because I’ve heard about it, seen it and personally experience it: spiritual constipation.  I know it’s not the prettiest imagery available, but nothing seems quite as accurate either.

Massive consumption.  Gluttony of the worst kind.  Shameless spiritual intake that rots rather than produces any kind of fruit or action that is indicative of health.  Am I the only one guilty of the disease of self-indulgence within the church?  Am I the only one that battles the temptation to sit in my plush pew in order to cash in on the emotional high of a worship concert, followed by a pep talk about the greatness of God’s mercy despite my sin?

I don’t mean to imply that the above is wrong or bad.  Truly.  I do think, though, that I have grown overly comfortable in church. I do believe that I have come to see and use church for my own personal edification instead of what is ought to be: a time of repentance, refinement and rejoicing.  Repentance for my waywardness. Refinement for my rough edges. And rejoicing for God’s mercy not in spite of my sin, but in light of it; for His love not because I sinned less this week than last, but because He saw me in my sin and chose my anyway.

An uncomfortable position of humility, perhaps, but in fact proper.  And do you know what has obscured my vision of this necessity as of late? Do you know what has hindered my ability to see the beauty of atonement and sanctification that comes with being bowed low before an almighty God?

Me. I have gotten in my own way. Again. 

I have been a consumer of all things good, Godly, spiritual, and right. I have gorged myself on church services and bible studies. I have eaten and drank my fill of every spiritual power source and outlet. And the result?

It feels like the coma after Thanksgiving dinner.  Instead of eating enough for that meal in and of itself, you eat enough of that meal to tide you over until Thanksgiving of next year. You feel nauseous; rendered useless for the rest of the day because you must lay flat on the couch in order to breath.  The thought of more food during the rest of your weekend vacation seems unbearable.  Where would you put it? You couldn’t possibly need it.  Cravings for anything else are stifled. Your taste buds are exhausted. Your jaw is still sore and you have blisters on your thumb and index fingers from holding your fork and knife to tightly because of your holiday excitement.

So despite the fact you may have eaten healthy, good-for-you foods, the over-indulgence has actually hindered your well-being.  I find the same thing rings true with spiritual health–unless you work out and exercise what it is that you intake, it doesn’t do you any good, it serves you no purpose.

Memorizing scripture. Going to church every time the doors are opened.  Participating in every available bible study. What benefit is it to you, the Lord, and the rest of the body of Christ if you take and take and take and give nothing back in return?  Not only is it selfish, it’s unproductive. It’s a distraction to others who may be spiritually thirsty and in need of encouragement, love, affirmation, etc. but when they turn to you, you are too busy feeding yourself that you don’t stop to serve others who genuinely don’t know how to take care of themselves.

Why am I ranting about this? I’m not mad or upset. I’m not angry at anyone.  It’s just that I listened to a sermon the other night and it rocked my world because it not-so-gently brought to my attention that this is my own problem.

Here’s are some of the key points that really caught my attention:

  • In Romans, Paul is pleading with us to see our lives rightly—we were uniquely created by God and placed specifically, for a time and in a place, by God to be agents of reconciliation
  • Everyone has a part—therefore everyone has a responsibility; a role that they must fulfill in order that bride of Christ may all that she is supposed to be.

Whatever gifts, talents, and abilities you possess but do not provide to others outside yourself is a sin; a burden rather than a blessing. The whole point and purpose behind our God ordained gifts is that we might use them to serve, love and build up the body of Christ. To deny the church, the body, of an integral part of itself, is to cause harm.

I don’t think that we typically think of it this way, but at the end of the day… that’s all it is. 

Solution– get over yourself. I have to get over myself, my desires, wants, needs, etc.  Because if we’re going to be honest, what do you suppose are the differences between my wants and the wants of others in the church? Not a whole lot.

So, instead of joining another bible study, I think I need to find a way to serve. To teach someone else something I have learned.  And when the time comes that I am running dry, I am willing to wager that whoever it was that I loved and served in my overflow will return to me such love and support.

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Compliments of Momma Dunn

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Below is a forwarded email that I received from my mom, “Momma Dunn.”

I couldn’t have written them better myself, so I thought I would pass them along.  Enjoy.

  • Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.
  • There is a great need for a sarcasm font.
  • How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
  • I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.
  • I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
  • Was learning cursive really necessary?
  • I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!
  • Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood..
  • I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the water.
  • You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you’ve made up your mind that you just aren’t doing anything productive for the rest of the day.
  • Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don’t want to have to restart my collection, again.
  • I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Darnit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voice mail. What’d you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the ‘phone and run away?
  • As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.
  • Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
  • It should probably be called Unplanned Parenthood.
  • I keep some people’s ‘phone numbers in my ‘phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
  • Even if I knew your social security number, I wouldn’t know what do to with it.
  • Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time…
  • I wonder if cops ever get upset at the fact that everyone that drives behind them obeys the speed limit.
  • I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
  • I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lites than Kay.

Adventures in Babysitting: Reaping the Harvest

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Not sure if I'll ever be able to eat them again... tragic.

Not sure if I'll ever be able to eat them again... tragic.

Last week, I babysat two teenage boys.  You better believe I prayed long and hard before embarking on an epic week in which I learned, more than I anticipated… or even wanted to know. I would like to share one such lesson with you.

Nathan is 15 and Ian is 14. They are both ridiculously smart, witty, and sarcastic.

As we sat at Qdoba (which is NOT as good as Chipotle , FYI) Nathan swallowed a bite of his burrito, looked at me and asked “Did you ever harvest your eggs in college for money?”

*blank stare*

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I think I misunderstood you. Come again.”

Nathan: “Did you ever harvest your eggs for money?”

Ian: “How much do they get for those things?”

Nathan: “Like $1,000 a pop.”

Ian: “Why so much?”

Nathan: “Limited supply.”

Ian: “How limited?”

Nathan: “Like one a month.”

Ian: “Oh… well how do much do guys get?”

Nathan: “Like $20”

Me: *lying on the floor, having a coronary*

One of my Hobbies

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Um... the picture-perfect-Barbie-looking-bride is my friend Tyler

Um... the picture-perfect-Barbie-looking-bride is my friend Tyler

I’m a professional aisle walker…

LOVED this dress...

LOVED this dress...

I can walk exceptionally well in a straight line….

Sisters at heart...

Sisters at heart...

It’s an art really… jason's weddingFinding just the right slow pace is harder than it looks…

Take it from me, you can catch too many bouquets... they'll come back to bite you

Take it from me, you can catch too many bouquets... they'll come back to bite you

But don’t worry. I’ve pretty much nailed it at this point.

I Promise I Will Never…

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Send my husband to the store to buy me… you know… “girl stuff.”

I walked into Target today to get some face wash.  I can never remember which aisle it’s on, so I have to walk slowly past every ailse, pausing ever so slightly  in order to determine if I am getting close.

As I mosied down, I came to “the aisle” and standing there, all by his lonesome, was a man.  Two boxes in either hand. One pink. One purple.  He was like reading a book, or a comic strip.

“Wings? No wings?”

“Wiiings? Nooo wings?”

I almost turned to ask if he needed help. He looked confused and scared. If he was there it was undoubtedly because of a dire need in which case his failure to deliver the correct “material” would have cost him something priceless. 

Although, in my opinion, the fact that he was where he was already meant that he had traded in his “man-card.”

Poor guy…

I should have told him to pick up Midol and chocolate too.

An Ode to Sushi

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shhh... just look. Delish.

shhh... just look. Delish.

If you know me at all, you know I really like food.

And one of my favorite kinds of food happens to be raw… Sushi.

Sushi is without a doubt one of my favorite foods for several reasons.  Allow me to list them for you:

1. it’s pretty– I like colorful food

2. it’s healthy- fish is good for you, veggies are also beneficial to your health, wasabi is good for your sinuses, and ginger is good for your digestive tack

3. it’s relatively cheap

4. I can eat an insane amount of sushi without ever feeling full, so I’m always sure to get my money’s worth

5. Why I felt compelled to share this is beyond me.

Growing Pains

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I only come to know the beauty of the valley from the top of the mountain

I only come to know the beauty of the valley from the top of the mountain

I’m beginning to detect a pattern.  Spiritual growth goes hand in hand with struggle, strife, transparent prayer,  desperate faith, and brokenness that leads to repentance.  It’s a pretty simple and predictable equation really.  But just because something is simple does not necessarily mean that it is easy.

I woke up this morning to snow and ice covering my car and the roads leading out of my apartment complex. I poured myself some coffee, turned on my computer and got ready for “bed church.”  “Bed Church” is an infrequent occurrence, but extremely convenient.  I podcast several different churches and listen to sermons at all sorts of random times.  When I’m working out, when I’m getting ready for work, before I go to bed, and most appropriately, on Sunday mornings when I am trapped in my own home.

Today’s sermon was entitled “Organic Faith.”  Beginning in 1 Peter 2, the pastor referred to the verses in which Paul challenges believers to grow and mature, to crave heartier things and to ween themselves from spiritual milk. Like a child who’s tastes change based on their growth and needs, so our desire for God should deepen, incurring a greater need for Him.

This is fairly elementary.  What got my attention is how he went on to describe just what this looks like.  What does it look like to go deeper? How does it taste to chew on tougher spiritual matters? How does it feel to wrestle with issues we may never find answers to? How do you live in the world without becoming like it? And how do you live in full confidence of faith when all you have is in fact, your faith?

Now, my fleshly rational would say, “Well, once you become a Christian, spend time in the Word daily, and fill your calendar with ‘churchy’ events 4 days a week, life is smooth sailing.”

Enter divine irony. Que omnipresent paradox.

This is exactly what Jesus said will not happen. This is exactly what he warns will never be the case.  And this is exactly why He came, saw us in our depravity, and conquered the sin that clings close and so easily entangles us.

That being said, we must face some hard truths. We must accept a few ultimate realities in order to be better prepared for the defensive battle. After all, defense wins the game, right?

First thing first: Forward motion is all that matters–pace does not.  So long as we, no matter our spiritual state, are seeking His face, yearning for His presence, and consuming the Word of the Gospel, we will be propelling ourselves forward. How quickly we get to the next step does not matter.

Once we realize that time is of no importance to God (considering He is outside of it) we can more accurately measure the “nature of growth.”  By not allowing ourselves to be contained or restricted by a clock or calendar, we can focus on what change is occurring and what new truths are taking root instead of making sure that we keep up with the spiritual-growth-pattern that the church outlined in a three point sermon.

Here are some components of the growth of maturity (remember, these are not my thoughts–I am simply relaying a message that encouraged my own valley season):

Spiritual growth, change, and maturity may or may not be instantaneous.  For some, God may radically and instantly change them, removing huge barriers, demolishing blockades, or simply bringing a peace that is there in the morning when they wake up.  Still for others, it may be a process, something that must be worked through with sweat and tears.  The former would appear to be easier; but the latter, while longer-lasting, may be used as a testimony to countless others.

Unlike an earthly parent-child relationship in which the parent would teach and instill in their child the ability to be independent of them one day, Christ draws us continually to Him.  In strengthening our faith, in deepening our relationship with Him, and in continuing to dip us into the fire of sanctification, we instinctively and intrinsically come to need him more.  Life outside the presence of Him begins to feel unnatural, uncomfortable and impossible.

The next part is what has been a real wake up call for me as of late.  In drawing closer to the Lord, seeing more of Him, and beginning to understand (or at least attempt to grasp) the expanse of His goodness, grace, justice, and sovereignty, my sin has become so much more apparent to me.  It seems to have blown up in my face.  All the ways that I fall short, the way I do the things that I don’t want to do (shout out to apostle Paul), and the humble realization of my desperate need for grace is amplified.  While I know this is good, right, and a natural outcome of growth, it does not feel good.  It had, at first, created in me a panic-stricken need for God instead of a reverent and endlessly grateful love of God.  To be panic-stricken is to forget the free gift of salvation and all that it means. So I must remember first His grace that saved me, allowing me to approach the throne, and then again worship Him for such mercy that has written my name in His book.  I now see that the realization of my sin generates an understanding of my dire need and thus, an eternal gratitude for salvation.

Maturity at this stage must be maintained through the continual “tasting and seeing” of the Lord’s goodness.  Like a plant that needs water, so we need to daily taste of the Lord’s grace and see His goodness in and over our lives.  Now, I will be the first to admit that there are times in which I can neither taste or see these things.  What’s the remedy?

I think it is two fold: prayer and remembrance.  I must pray that the Lord would open my eyes to see all the ways in which He is moving, orchestrating, and intervening on my behalf.  Then, I must call to memory all the ways in which He has been faithful to protect and provide for me in the past.  He may be unpredictable, but He will never contradict or deny Himself.  So there is rest and hope to found in the fact that His faithfulness is without end.

Lastly, we must ask “why.” Why the valley season? Why the spiritual drought?  I think that in asking and in wanting to know the mystery of His will, we discover the state of our own heart.  And that is the root of it all.  If we want to change our behavior and modify our actions, beliefs, etc. we must first confront the matters we house in our heart.  At the end of the day, that’s what the Lord is really after anyway, right?