Thursday, May 20, 2010

What? You Mean It's Not About Me?

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.  -Isaiah 43:25
I love this verse.  It jumped out at me the other day when I was working my way through Isaiah.  I love it because it completely ruins my usual way of thinking.

I tend to believe that any blessing God gives me is for me, because He likes me and wants to do something nice for me.

I also tend to believe that any trial or challenge He sends my way is for me, to strengthen me and help me grow in my faith.

And I tend to believe that Jesus died on the cross for me, to make me clean and get me into heaven.

But actually...God does all these things for Himself.

Not for me.

Yes, He has forgiven my sins.  But He didn't do it for me or because of me.

He did it for Him.

Monday, May 17, 2010

"Let Him Who is Without Sin Cast the First Stone"

You know, sometimes I can't help but agree with the secular world.

(Have your feathers ready?  Because I'm probably going to ruffle them.)

I recently saw the following facebook status:
So let me get this straight - Larry King is getting his 8th Divorce, Elizabeth Taylor is possibly getting Married for a 9th time, Jesse James and Tiger Woods are screwing EVERYTHING, yet the idea of same Sex Marriage is what is going to destroy the institution of Marriage??? REALLY???
Now, I don't support same-gender marriage.  But really...what is there to say in response to that?

I can't disagree.  Marriages are falling apart all over the place, inside the Church as much as outside.  Half of all marriages end in divorce.  Half of all Christian marriages.  That means half of all people who stand at the alter and make a vow to each other, before God, and before their family and friends won't make good on their promise.

Young and old couples alike are shacking up together with no marital commitment to each other.  Single moms are common because pre-marital relationships are the norm.  Husbands and wives cheat on each other all over the place and take no responsibility for their actions.

Yet the Church tends to perseverate over same-gender relationships, and certainly not without throwing in a good measure of condemnation and disgust.

Again (I know I'm walking a fine line here), I'm not saying these things aren't wrong.  I believe strongly that God did not intend marriage to be anything other than between one man and one woman.  I believe that same-gender relationships disgust Him.

But that's not all I believe.

God hates divorce.  It disgusts Him.

Sleeping around disgusts Him.

Adultery disgusts Him.

Lust disgusts Him.

Pornography disgusts Him.

Rape disgusts Him.

Those of us who claim to follow Christ need to get off our high horse and down on our knees.  When people are making comments like the one above, then we as a Church need to take a step back and see where we're coming up short.  Because guess what.

Jesus hung out with sinners.

This is the part of Him that a lot of people don't like.  He talked to the ones that a lot of "Christians" won't even look at.

He stood up for the woman caught in adultery.  He reached out to the woman known as the town slut.  He forgave the people who spent their time at brothels and whorehouses.

He loved them.

He didn't condemn them.  Their sin already did that.

You know who He condemned?

The Pharisees.  The "Christians" of the day.  The ones who went to church and studied Scripture and never uttered a dirty word and who did all the right things.  The ones who claimed to bear His Name...but who really bore their own names.

I know several people who are in same-gender relationships.  And I have seen some of them struggle with real-life pain deeper than I have ever known.  They don't know it, but when I see their pain I hurt along with them.

Not because they have sin in their lives.

But because they hurt.

To these friends of mine, and to others caught in the same struggles, I apologize on behalf of the Church for our arrogance and failure to show grace to you like Jesus showed grace to us.  We are dirty, rotton sinners and have no right to distinguish between the sins of our fellow man when our own lives are so messed up.  I hope you are able to see past us when we get in the way of Grace and are able to see Jesus for all He is and longs to give you.

To my fellow Christ-followers, let's not forget the cost of Jesus' blood.  We are nothing without Him.  He doesn't ask us to condemn others, for then we become like Pharisees.  He asks us to love.  Love as He loves.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Legacy Left

More and more these past weeks I have grown to deeply appreciate the strong Christian heritage I grew up with.  I look around at the world...even my own community...and I see how empty and devoid of Truth people are.

What blessings God has given me.

My memories growing up are full of times spent with our extended family, usually at grandma and grandpa's house.  Family ties run deep in the Janssen blood.

Today our family gathered together one more time under a bright sky and unrelenting Kansas winds as we laid grandma to rest.

I remember many things about my grandma.  Things like the smell of her house, which I don't think I can ever describe but will never forget.

Things like the cookie jar that was always stocked with homemade chocolate chip cookies.  And the way she called them "chip chocolate" cookies.

And the cans of Dr. Pepper that were always in the fridge.  (I am convinced this is why Dr. Pepper is the drink of choice amongst our family members.)

And the way she always scolded and nagged at me to get my stringy hair out of my eyes because it drove her crazy.

And her love for sewing and embroidering.  She took each grand daughter shopping at her sixth birthday to pick out a sewing basket and supplies, and she taught each of us to sew.  (I'm sure I was a bit of a disappointment in this area as needlework never really caught on for me.)

And the dozens of quilts she stitched by hand, not to mention the even more dozens of pillowcases we were always receiving.

My fondest memories come from days long ago when our families would all gather at her house for Christmas.  Four children and their spouses, and ten grandchildren running wild in the basement, racing tricycles and playing "hide the thimble."

Grandma & grandpa, holding hands and surrounded by grandkids, Christmas 1997ish

I spent many summer days with grandma during wheat harvest, since my allergies kept me from breathing in my own house.  I slept in the blue room, and as I lay in bed under blue-painted walls and a blue floral blanket, I would hear grandma and grandpa across the hall talking to each other in the dark as they drifted off to sleep.

My grandparents were never overly vocal about their faith, but they daily lived out small ways that reflected the love of Jesus.  Old age didn't lessen their love for each other.  Often they would watch church services on television, and grandma would walk into the living room and sit right on grandpa's lap in the big rocking chair while the preacher's face filled the screen.  I have a framed 3"x5" picture on my wall of the two of them kissing on their front porch.

I never saw her do it, but my mom told me once that grandma would kneel beside her bed daily to pray.  I remember being impressed that an old person could do such a thing and still get off the floor.

My grandma was a strong force in our family.  In a way, she and grandpa were the glue that held us all together.  They were the center, both as a location and as a uniting force.  Thanks to them, we carry on a bond that will always exist, regardless of the challenges that may threaten us.

May I leave a legacy that runs as deep.
Lois Lavern Kimple Janssen 
May 23, 1915-May 4, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Old Friend?

Friends come and go in life.  When they go, sometimes it's a mutual and quiet parting.  Other times things end with a bang and a bad taste.

Every once in a while, after the dust settles, we run into these friends again.  When this happens, wounds may run so deep that it's hard to even look at the other person.  Or each one may be able to act politely toward the other, yet the whole time feeling the pain of something lost and irreconcilable.

Lately, I wonder how the tension felt between Jesus and Satan as they hung out in the desert together.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him...  (Matthew 4:1-3)
Aside from being hungry, hot, hungry, tired, and hungry...what went through Jesus' mind?

What went through Satan's mind?

Because centuries earlier - or maybe only moments, for eternal beings are not confined to time - Satan (then Lucifer) and Jesus shared the same stomping grounds.

Scripture indicates that Lucifer was a very important angel, high up in rank.  I can only imagine that he and Jesus (who is also God, creator of Lucifer) had some form of relationship; whether they were BFFs or had more of a commander-soldier status I don't know.

What I do know is they used to share heaven together.  And then Lucifer messed up and got himself kicked out.

Now here in the desert staggers Jesus - God Himself - humbled to human likeness in a land much less than heaven.  Beside Him is Satan, also from heaven but no longer belonging there, kicked out by the very one who straggles and stumbles in the earthly desert sand.

Did either one of them find this meeting to be awkward?  Did Jesus look into the eyes of His tempter and remember times past when the two of them laughed and joked together?  Did He not only experience and fight temptation that day, but also feel an ache in His heart of a dear friend now gone forever?


Related Posts with Thumbnails