Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Battle To Fight

I'm picturing the warrior, battle stained and tired but fiercely facing down the enemy. His hair is pushed back from his eyes. His hands grip the sword and are ready for more battle.

The sun glints off the bright shine of the armor of the enemy arrayed in front of him. They seem shiny, rested. Bright flags fly over their ranks. Shouts fill the air.

To the warrior, eyes narrowed and every muscle in his body strained and ready it might even be tempting to look back behind him to his own ranks and notice the holes in the banners, the blood stains on the armor, and the tired, lean look in every man's eye on his side. The grim silence is almost loud. There is a battle to fight.

In the heat of the battle, what must it be like to realize that these are real people you're fighting? That they are wounded, bloody and dying because of the battle. That you're the one inflicting these wounds? At that point, there must be something bigger, something larger than life that makes the battle worth while. Otherwise, why are you fighting?

Feelings would get in my way. I'd feel sorry for the others, I'd try to reach out to them and help them. Even if they were the attackers, dangerous to the happiness of those I love. I'd begin to reason with myself that as they are wounded and dying I must be wrong and should stop fighting, stop inflicting wounds that were not meant to be personal. But there is something bigger, something larger than life that makes the battle worth while.

It depends on the battle. It depends on the fight.
But feelings cannot be thought of in the heat of battle. You must fight with principles.

It's the principle of the thing that makes it right to keep fighting.

The principle of good versus evil.
The principle of light versus darkness.

The principles were thought through and believed in long before the battle with emotion and feeling began. Long before the wounds were inflicted, the principles were standing.
And in the heat of battle, the principles are still standing. They are still true. They do not change because it gets hard, because it gets messy. The principles remain.

If the principles were good and right and solid before, then they are good and right and solid still.

The warrior, eyes narrowed, hands ready for battle gazes at the enemy. The principles he is fighting for are still there, strongly calling, strongly standing. And he is ready to fight with might and main to show he truly lives what he believes. He must win for the sake of those he loves. He must win for the sake of principle. The principle which will stand solid long after the heat of battle. Long after the waves of emotion and feeling. He is called to a battle. There is a battle to fight.
And he must win.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Coffee Time

Today I had coffee time with friends.
It was so lovely.

I'm learning about the importance of community, and of sharing time and food and conversation over a table. No cell phones or other electronic devices between us, just face time.

Jesus spent a lot of face time with his disciples. The disciples spent a lot of time in houses with other people, eating together and talking. And Hebrews tells us to not forsake the gathering of ourselves together. (Heb. 10:25)

I was thinking today about some conversations I've had with folks and how iron sharpens iron. We talk and we don't necessarily agree, but we discuss things and it gives me new things to think about and new ideas to examine. I have so much to learn, and discussing and talking with others helps me stay grounded and on the right track. 

It's lonely off on my own. My mind can go in a billion different directions and it develops thought patterns that I get stuck in. I have an idea and my brain thinks about it in the same pattern over and over again. But when I talk to another person about it, it helps my brain develop new pathways of thinking and I'm not carried off into my own little world. The idea has to enlarge to encompass reality.

I've also realized how nice it is to have safe people - people who are healthy emotionally - and who understand some of my background and worldview to talk to and be friends with. I'm all for reaching out to people who may not look like me or think like me, but I think it's balanced to also have friends who do think alike. There's an ease of connection that can be a very good thing. 

I've never been one to think that friends were the most important thing to fill up my time with. I enjoy friends, it is true. But my life doesn't center around worrying about whether I've got a lot of friends, or if I'm in the 'in' crowd. I've been happy to develop deep friendships with my family members. But I think that even with those close friendships with my siblings and parents, it has also been good to have a few friends who I trust and can talk with. Friends who are there for me, who work for the friendship as much as I.

And so I made time to have coffee with friends. 
And it was so lovely.

We can laugh, and talk, and share. 
And it rests me, and sharpens me, and I feel Christ's love.

And I am reminded to be grateful for Christ's friendship. A friend that will not forsake me. A friend who always understands. 

And now to share that friendship with others.

Maybe during some coffee time. 


Monday, July 18, 2011

The Cross

This photo is one of my new favorites.
I took it at camp a couple of weeks ago, at a service my brother and sister were holding.
I know, you can view it again, just a little below here on another post.

Somehow I'm fascinated.

I stare at it and stare at it, contemplating the cross and thinking about the hard wood, and soaking in the meaning.

The cross of redemption.

The cross means I'm clean! The cross means I'm loved! The cross means I have life!

The cross means that Jesus died.

I stare and stare at it, trying to comprehend why Jesus would die on the cross for anyone, much less me.

There's a reason it is empty.

And that's because he died, and rose again.

I've been thinking that we each have a cross to carry. We each must die for someone, we each must die to something. Because life is found after dying.

We can never attain what Christ has done for us. But somehow, when we face a death of our own, when we carry our own cross, that is following Jesus. Somehow there is grace and strength and depth that comes with that. It makes us broader and deeper and fills us with Him. It fills us with Life.

Carrying my cross, sometimes it is so heavy. Sometimes the wood is too rough. Sometimes I feel broken, blistered, and bloody from carrying. Sometimes I think I can't take another step.
In those moments I am the strongest and I am the freshest and I am the deepest.
Because no one can carry their cross alone. The only way I can carry my cross is by constantly crying out to Jesus, by only thinking of Him, and by only looking to Him for strength.
And I've found it every time.

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: so clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen

A Psalm

Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.
I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.
For great is Your mercy toward me,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
O God, the proud have risen against me,
And a mob of violent men have sought my life,
And have not set You before them.
But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion and gracious
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
Oh turn to me, and have mercy on me!
Give Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your maidservant.
Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
Psalm 86:11-17

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


 He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Mark 8:34b

Photo by Katie. Copyright 2011.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Heart. My Body. My Life.

My heart is opened up to God and I say here I am! Use me!
My hands are opened up to Jesus and I say here I am! Use me!
My life is laid before You and I say I am Yours. Only let me glorify You.

My heart. My body. My life. Yours.

My heart is opened up to God and everything within me strains toward You.
My hands are opened up to Jesus and they work for You.
My life is laid before You and it is completely Yours.

My heart. My body. My life. Yours.

My heart is opened up to God and there is nothing hidden or excluded.
My hands are opened up to Jesus and they follow Your command.
My life is laid before You and it does not matter whether I live or die.

My heart. My body. My life. Yours.

My heart is opened up to God and laid bare and filled again with Christ.
My hands are opened up to Jesus and they work for Christ.
My life is laid before You and it is no longer mine.

My heart. My body. My life. Yours.

My heart is opened up to God and only You can fill it.
My hands are opened up to Jesus and only You can fill them.
My life is laid before You and only You can hold it.

This heart. This body. This life. Yours.

Do with me as You please. I am no longer my own. But Yours.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Words Upon Words

Words words words.

Talking, writing words. Words in black and white. Words written in space between two people. Words in sounds. Words with double meanings, words that are meaningless.

It's all words.

Words trying to convey a meaning, share a thought, a feeling and a way of thinking.

I fill up so much time with words. Talking. Writing. Reading.

But what is real is the words I am living. Do I live the words I say? Do I live the words I write? Do I live the words I read?

It's easy to sit and write and pontificate on a subject and explain and expound on it.
But its not always as easy to actually live it.

The words of my life speak volumes more than the words of my tongue or pen.

Good thoughts to remember when I sit down to expound.

Good thoughts to remember while living my life.


I have a growing fascination with words. A growing fascination with how they work, and the way they sound on a page. Rippling along, I notice a word that catches my eye and my fancy and it rolls on my tongue and tickles my ear and makes my heart happy to see it. A combination of words that is like eye candy and brings images to mind that lead to new thoughts and down new pathways of thinking. A word that catches my imagination and sends me off on a thought adventure as my eye passes over and to the next word.
A cloud of words, puffy and white in the blue sky that lead to higher planes and better ideas. A garden of words that blow in the wind, the sun shining down. A wave catching the light and sparkling sending a shower of beauty and hope in the form of communication via words.

Words on a page. Words on a life.

What am I communicating? Who am I communicating?

What words am I writing?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Precious Stones

I was thinking last night about the following verse:

1 Corinthians 13:9
For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

And I was thinking about my life. I want the foundation of my life to be of precious stones, gold and silver. When going through fiery trials I don't want it to burn up like wood, hay and straw.
The heat of life, the stress and pressures to conform, the questions, the uncertainties all can either burn my character up, or cause my character to become beautiful. The character is the gold, silver, and precious stones. 

I don't know about you, but I want my character to be like rubies. Rubies or pearls.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Small Thought, Continued

Dear Sarah,

You asked, "How does self control equal loving others?"
I have a couple thoughts on that.

First, what is self control? It's just being able to control yourself and your own actions and thoughts. You decide how you react, how you use your muscles (like your tongue) and what you're going to allow yourself to think, see, hear, or absorb. That's controlling yourself.

How does self control equal loving others?
I'm not loving my brother if I can't control my hateful tongue.
I'm not loving my sister if I allow myself to hurt her physically.
I am not loving my neighbor if I don't control my actions.
I am not loving the people around me if I insist on my way.

Self control is a hard discipline for me. I am learning slowly how to apply it to many areas of my life, but it takes constant work and vigilance.

One area that I especially get to practice self control is in the area of food. Because I have many allergies which cause serious issues, I have to constantly be self controlled with what I allow myself to eat. I'd dearly love to eat a big bowl of ice cream, but the consequences of that action will punish me. So when faced with that tempting bowl of ice cream, I have to think about how it will affect me later and how it will affect the people around me later. It's not just going to cause me problems. My problems will cause others problems, as well. It's a ripple effect.

The same is true in our relationships with others every day. My interactions may be fun and innocent or exciting at the moment, but they affect many people besides the two of us. It's hard sometimes to realize just how many people are affected by certain relationships. The consequences ripple out and sometimes are far reaching if I am not self controlled. And if there are problems, they won't be just my problems, they'll be problems for those around me as well.

Specifically when I began mulling over how self control was an exercise in self denial and loving others I was thinking about it in the realm of guys and girls and their interactions. 
Because I love my family, I am going to be self controlled in my relationships. 
Because I love the guy, I am going to be self controlled in my actions toward him. 
Because I love my future husband, I am going to be self controlled in how I allow myself to think and feel now. 
Because I love the guy's future wife, I am going to be self controlled in how I interact with him now. Perhaps the future wife is me, perhaps not. 
There is a ripple effect going on.

When I like a guy, I want very much to be near him, to talk to him, and all the things that go with being in a relationship. It feels good! It's fun! 
But it doesn't help him if I am not self controlled.
And I know it doesn't help me if he is not self controlled. It just makes it harder for me to control my feelings and actions.

Between girls and guys, true love is waiting for the things you want. True love is not giving way to how you feel at the moment and what you want during those feelings. 
True love is knowing it is best for the other person if your own wishes are controlled.
If I really love him, I am willing to deny myself what I want for his sake. I am willing to wait for the things I want. I am willing to go without what feels good for his sake.
True love is thinking about the consequences of what I want and how it will affect those around me.

Self control is thinking about the consequences of what I want and how it will affect those around me.

And that's why I think self control equals loving others.