Grace, Spiritual

Splintered – a Chip of the Old Family Stone

Only love to lose

By: Jana Greene

Remember the old Sly and the Family Stone song “Everyday People?” (In case you don’t, here is a link to listen: Everyday People )

I think the modern Christian Church needs to heed the message. We’ve become so splintered by theologies, ideologies, and ego-ologies. My heart is heavy for the division, and frankly, all it manages to do is prop up the devil, who – in case you haven’t noticed – is having his heydey on this planet already.

Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I’m in
I am everyday people.
There is a blue one
Who can’t accept the green one
For living with a fat one
Trying to be a skinny one
Different strokes
For different folks.

For the longest time, I operated from a place of loving God out of fear, terrified of displeasing him. And that meant shunning you if you participated in certain behaviors, so that I could not be accused of “condoning” it.

We don’t have the time to bicker among ourselves, because Rome is burning right now.

Billy Graham put it succinctly:

“It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”

(And yes, I am throwing in a little Billy Graham into a piece about Sly and the Family Stone. God digs it when his kids mix it up.)

Sometimes I’m right, but I can be wrong. That STINGS, doesn’t it?

Peter is my favorite disciple, but he was far from the most perfect. His propensity for flubbing things is what endears him to my heart, he was ‘wrong’ a lot.  (Google ‘Peter’s sins’ if you are interested)  Yet Jesus told him –

“…And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.” – Matthew 16:18

Peter was Everyday People. Just like me and you.

I am no better and neither are you
We are the same, whatever we do
You love me, you hate me, you know me and then
You can’t figure out the bag I’m in
I am everyday people.

There is a gay one, who won’t accept the straight one, that won’t accept the trans one for living with the  (fill-in-the-blank with your favorite deadly sin of choice.) one.  And that’s WITHIN the Church. We are sending the world the message that we love everybody all the same but stay over there so you don’t rub off on me.

Jesus wants us to go to the world and rub off on it like crazy. That was his whole modus operandi.He came to welcome everyone into the family of God. We don’t get to exclude certain groups of people because we find their choices distasteful, or even because the Bible says its wrong.

Are we to pretend then that all behaviors are acceptable to God and just ‘get over’ ourselves? The world is well aware that they are considered sinners by the Church.

What they maybe haven’t heard is the message of LOVE that is supposed to be our cornerstone.

When I’m perfect, I will pick up rocks and throw them at you. But honestly, I’m pretty sure that’s not happening.

It’s not that sin is unimportant to God.

It’s that sin became dwarfed and overcome by the power of the Cross, and LOVE is a bigger deal.

Our message of Love rests on the Cornerstone that cannot be moved by cultural trends. It’s so much bigger than that. What would the world look like if we didn’t make sin the biggest consideration in loving? We like to label the stones we throw at other people, don’t we? We feel so JUSTIFIED, righteously angered.

In essence, I guess I am saying yes – let’s get over ourselves.

Let’s loose those stones around our necks that we carry to make ourselves feel morally superior to “those” people Playing Superior is exhausting, believe me, I know. Jesus said this, and the weary world needs to hear it:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:30 (MSG)

And so on and so on
And scooby dooby dooby
Oh sha sha.

We got to live together.
I am everyday people.

Please Church, can we just get on with the business of loving one another? I believe if we do, the gates of hell itself will not prevail against us.

God bless us, every one.

 

“With that, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose: “Rulers and leaders of the people, if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, put under investigation regarding this healing, I’ll be completely frank with you—we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. Jesus is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one.” – Acts 4:8-12.
acceptace, Prayer, Spiritual

The Value of Struggle

Unanswered prayer
This sunset, brought to you by God, was preceded by some of the crappiest weather phenomenon or area has experienced in years. Just weeks of sloppy rain, gray skies, and gratuitous yuck. Though sorrows may last through the night, His joy comes with the morning. And all God’s children say “Amen.”

 

By: Jana Greene

You have value to God and to the world He made. There is no question about it. You may not feel very valuable (I don’t either sometimes) but your worth cannot even be measured.

I get lazy with prayer, and there are times (honesty alert!) I don’t pray for a thing like I should because I am secretly afraid of being disappointed in the outcome. In my own wisdom, which is exceedingly limited, I just don’t see a way for the thing to work out, so I don’t even bother asking.

But God says ask anyway, and keep asking.

Why would He encourage that? Clearly everyone’s prayers don’t always get answered or else we’d have a populace of lottery winners and a complete deficit of sickness and suffering in the world.

Sounds wonderful on the surface, but you’ve got to wonder how our spirits would fare; what our character would look like.

This morning, I heard from Him about it. While I am already in bed trying to figure out how to fix the whole damn world (or at least my little corner of it) and then asking God for help in fixing it.

But it’s not mine to fix, He reminded me.

We live in a world that rewards our expectations. It is a vending machine, instant gratification society and we get upset when even the smallest things don’t go our way.

But we’ve got to stop asking God to jump, and expecting Him to ask us “how high?” We do that, or at least I do.

I want to orchestrate the outcome of my prayer petitions to Abba in order to see something or someone I care about ‘turn out’ a certain way.

That expectation – that He somehow needs our direction in the matter we bring to Him –  takes His sovereignty out of the equation. And His sovereignty is everything.

God doesn’t get our orders wrong.

He says to pray unceasingly, but I don’t think His command to do so is to get everything we want. I think maybe we are to pray unceasingly until God changes our hearts about what we want.

Maybe the thing that is haunting your spirit and demanding Holy resolution has value.

Maybe the experience – and your victory over it – will be used to help someone desperate in the future. I’ve seen that play out thousands of times in my own life. In looking back, God wasn’t ignoring my plea, but had a purpose in that struggle to benefit someone else.

‘Cause it’s not all about me.

Maybe your acceptance of a heavy situation has finally caused you to lay it down and God is working with your spirit on the skill of NOT picking it back up.

Maybe an answer to prayer looks NOTHING like you imagined, but it’s an answer nonetheless.

Have faith that the Father who loves and values you is trustworthy in every area, seen and unseen. Have faith that He is still listening and is working all things to the good for those who love Him. Even when all rational thought and preconceived notion tells you otherwise.

(I’m preaching to myself here, too.)

Our battles are fought and won in the Heavenly realms and we don’t always get to take home the tangible souvenirs.

Ask Him for a faith big enough to believe He knows how high to jump. Be honest in telling him you are afraid to be disappointed.

Bother to ask. And keep asking.

But consider the value in the prayers that FEEL unanswered. We see through a glass darkly here, this side of the Kingdom.

God wastes no hurt. And always answers prayers. In His time, and to His perfect and pleasing will.

He’s got this. He’s got YOU.

 

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Spiritual

Manipulation Liberation

IMG_4844

By: Jana Greene

“If you  are an approval addict, your behaviour is as easy to control as that of any other junkie. All a manipulator need do is a simple two-step process: Give you what you crave, and then threaten to take it away. Every drug dealer in the world plays this game.”

– Harriet B. Braiker, Who’s Pulling Your Strings?

The first time I read the quote above, I understood it in the context of an addict.   As an active alcoholic, I drank in order to feel a certain way, which pleased my mind and body.  My spirit, however, recognized alcohol as a toxic substance and understood that it simply had to go.  I craved what would have eventually killed me, had I not surrendered to God completely on a cold January morning in 2001.  The two-step process of behavior control – I get it.

But as I re-read it, I considered it as it applies to addiction to the approval of others.  There are people in my life with whom I have had to construct boundaries in order to survive sane and sober.  Quite literally, after eleven years of active recovery, there are people who still make me want to drink to oblivion.  Complicating the issue is that some of these people are family; human beings tethered to me by DNA and some very dysfunctional patterns.  Sadly, some of these relationships have ended in estrangement.

I really struggle with that.  I know that , I am protecting my sobriety by limiting contact with some people.  I am protecting the little girl who was not protected growing up.  That child within me is at peace with avoiding such persons.  But ironically, it is that child within me who also longs to be nurtured.  Safe. Cherished.  And who seeks out those things.

I struggle with it because it is a tragedy to lose relationships, but when people who love you use your weaknesses against you, the environment becomes unsafe.

For years, like a good junkie, I would return for another fix for the fleeting sensation of being loved by certain others, forgetting the sickness and drama that would be left in the wake.  I was given what I craved, and it was t threatened to be taken away.  And then it would be taken;  boundaries demolished, the rubble having to be cleared away before another could be built.

So today, I just don’t take the “drug”.  People are always and forever telling us who they are, but you have to pay attention to what they are.  If manipulation came with a warning label, it wouldn’t be manipulation.  That’s  the sneaky thing about it, the game every drug dealer in the world knows.

Like the lyrics to a great song (All the Same) by the band, Sick Puppies:

I don’t care,

no I wouldn’t dare to fix the twist in you.

You’ve shown me eventually what you’ll do.

(To watch the Free Hug video on Youtube,  accompanied by “Twist” by Sick Puppies, CLICK HERE.)

I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and He never estranged anyone.  He ran toward the most dysfunctional people on earth.   He is forgiveness incarnate, grace I don’t deserve and mercy I cannot comprehend.

There is absolutely no possibility that you could mistake me for Jesus.  I am as imperfect as they come.

But I pray that He understands the reasons for my boundaries.  I pray that He will help me heal from the trauma in my childhood and the tragedy that is a splintered family unit; that He will keep me sane and sober, and protected.

Simply put, the twist is not mine to fix.  It is His.