Pickin’ up the Book

After skimming some other blog posts today, some of which made a reference to C.S. Lewis, I was reminded of a book I bought a while back: ‘Mere Christianity’.
However – and, this seems to be the norm for me lately – I put the book down after the first couple chapters, and never picked it up again. ( Even despite my initial eagerness to absorb everything this brilliant man had to say about anything!)
Today though, is a new day.
Most mornings, I start the day off doing devotions. My imperfect attempt at drawing closer to God, tangled with morning ADD, mediocre coffee, and scribbled ramblings/prayer. But lately I’ve found that this alone is not enough to stimulate my mind; not enough to deepen my understanding of God, of Christianity; not enough to get me inspired or excited about Kingdom work.
In NO way am I implying God is not enough for me.
But it is certainly not enough on my part to call myself a Christian, do devotions, go to church, and repeat steps 1-3.
Before I go off on a tangent about my failings and shortcomings as a Christian, however, this is the idea I’m getting to:
I am finally going to read the book.
( Go ahead; Hold me to it!)
It’s not exactly an answer, just an attempt to stimulate that dusty brain of mine.
Also, as an attempt to blog a little more regularly, I will record my findings.That is, write down what inspired me, what I learned, what I’m sorting through, etc… And of course, please feel free to comment!

Chapter 1 done, and a reflective quote for the evening:

“These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that  they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are  the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.” (pg. 8, ‘Mere Christianity’, C.S. Lewis)

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A Colossal Truth in Colossians

Verse of the Day

Colossians 2:6-8 ~
6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ. 

Is the Church Too Overprotective?

My husband and I host young adults’ bible study at our home every week. During the most recent gathering, the young adults’ pastor asked us what we think may be the main reasons Young Adults ( Roughly age 18-30) leave the church. Answers varied from relevance, judgement, pressure, lack of knowledge of scripture, etc.
Based on a Barna Group research project, studies show Reason #1 to be that the church is too overprotective.
(For complete article, you can go to this link: http://www.barna.org/teens-next-gen-articles/528-six-reasons-young-christians-leave-church )
Too overprotective? What exactly does that mean?
Roughly a quarter of young adults felt that “Christians demonize everything outside of the church”. Others expressed Christianity as “stifling, fear-based and risk-averse”. And still others expressed, “my church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful”.
Perhaps some churches are too overprotective.
Is this a bad thing?
Sometimes the word ‘overprotective’ can draw up negative connotations. Like, association with what one is not permitted to do. Is this how the church has come to portray itself? The center of dos and don’ts?
The word “overprotective” conjures up  in my mind an image of the fretting parent, hand-sanitizing the kids after everything they touch, dragging them to the doctor after every sneeze, twitching with each minute that passes after curfew, etc.
The thing about being overprotective, is that I believe the intention behind it, is based on love and concern. However, I think being super overprotective can sometimes portray a lack of faith. God is so much bigger, yet still we try to control anything and everything, just to limit exposure to all that may deteriorate that upright, good, Christian armour we’ve worked so hard to maintain.
We try…
Limit exposure…
We’ve worked…
Not leaving much room for the Spirit to work, are we?

Young Adults leave Church because they feel it is too overprotective.
I don’t feel there is fault in protecting our hearts and each other. Except if it comes to the point where protecting becomes condemning and judging instead of loving. Obviously, over the years, some Young Adults have unfortunately encountered this.
We are the church. Sometimes we are broken. Sometimes we are scared. But we are learning what it looks like to completely trust in the Lord.
Perhaps some churches are too overprotective.
If this is the case, what should, or could we do, to figure this out?

Do You think the Church is Too Overprotective?

Clovers and Shooting Stars

I’m not really a superstitious person. Wasn’t in my younger years either. I didn’t feel threatened by black cats; ( Actually, in fact, I felt threatened by ALL cats) I had no problem walking under a ladder if I needed to fetch something, etc. But I did however, believe in wishes.
If I spotted a shooting star, I’d make
a wish. Find a four leaf clover,
make a wish. Perhaps it was the the rarity of these beautiful things, that had me convinced that they possessed the magic –  the   power to make  my  small dreams come true.
Isn’t that what most children want to believe? That the unexpected can come true?
That there is hope in dreaming their dreams, wishing their wishes?

I remember a sunny spring day. I was with my younger brother. I remember a large green field of freshly mowed grass and little white flowers.
And little green clovers.
Hundreds of them. Patches of them. Everywhere you looked.
As I was in the habit of doing at that age, I crouched down just to see if I could find that one 4-leaf clover.
And in time, there was revealed not one 4 leaf clover.
Not two.
Not a few.
But dozens of them! And there were 5- leafed clovers too! Oh, the excitement that swelled within me. I could make so many wishes! What would I wish for? Goodness, I didn’t even know what to wish for with one 4-leaf clover, nevermind dozens!

But my memory goes blank. I don’t recall what happened next. I don’t remember if I started collecting handfuls of these lucky clovers. I don’t remember if I eagerly started making wishes, or what I would have been wishing for. And such a lapse in my memory causes me to wonder…
Was it even real?
As a child, we might selfishly think, more is better. More toys, more ice-cream, more play time, more wishes. Sometimes what we have, we figure is just not quite enough.
Even as an adult, I struggle with wanting more. More sleep, more money, more purpose, more time. And though I have been provided with enough, I keep asking God. Somedays, he has been reduced to a shooting star, or a 4 leaf clover;
“God, could you grant me this?” ” God, could you give me more ____?”
I ask, and wish, and ask; but often out of my own selfishness. Today, as a Friday trend it seems, my energy was low. I was starting to feel a little irritable, and time just wasn’t going by fast enough.
I found myself thinking,  ‘God, I could really use a little more energy right now.’

Have I not provided you with enough already?

The thought threw me right off. Did I just think that last thought? Or did the spirit just whisper to me? I thought about the blessings of the day; the free lunch provided by my work, the generosity of a fellow employee in buying me some juice, etc. These are just a couple small blessings.
God provides, and he provides me with enough.
It’s time I stop hoarding my 4-leafed clovers. When blessed, go forth and bless others! It’s time to realize how much I already have.

~~~~~~~~
Now, if I were to write an epilogue to the clover story…
In that same field, up on a hill, about a decade later, sat a girl and a boy; gazing up into the starry night sky, on a warm August evening. Blissfully hand in hand.
Two days later, he asked her out.
Two years later, he asked for her hand, and year after that, she said I do.
But I can’t help wonder…
Was God giving us a sign? A hint, when he showed us a splendid shooting star, bursting through the night sky? That my husband and I gazed upon, almost 4 years ago now?
And the thought just makes me smile.

Good Girls Keep Diaries…

“Good girls keep diaries. Bad girls don’t want any evidence”
A quote on a magnet that a friend gave to me a few years back. Judging from the pile of diaries and journals I have accumulated and filled over the years, I suppose I would be a “good girl”. And perhaps if you were to read my dozen or so journals, you might come to that conclusion too.
Or not.
Personally, I think the quote is… stupid. What I did or didn’t do, was not the determining factor in whether or not I wrote, but rather (I think, anyways), who I am. My pain, my cries; to my joy and excitement. Raw emotion, not completely hidden from the world, but only spilled in its depths to my confidante – my diary. The place where my secrets could rest, so that I could breathe and continue on with life.
I’ve written in journals since I was 9. I liked to draw, so I’m not sure how my parents  figured out that I would also enjoy writing. Perhaps it was just a fad in the 90’s; a girlish-looking diary with its own key and lock.  I even braided a necklace so that I could wear the key around my neck, or, as my mother suggested, hang it on a secret hook in my closet.
My early entries were brief, and matter-of-fact. My name, my age, favorite color, favorite animal, favorite band (Spice girls), favorite Spice Girl (Posh), a list of “boyfriends”, (it was actually a list of crushes; most of whom I was too shy to even say “Hi” to.), my excitement over summer holidays, then over school and Christmas. That evolved over time into celebrity crushes, embarrassing moments, sleepover secrets.
Then I became a Christian.
Writing didn’t cease for me, but rather, became concentrated on a new concept; devotions. I was given by my friend a notebook, and on the first page she wrote some steps I could follow in beginning this new journey. Things like, read the passage, summarize it, write down what it means to me and any other feelings and thoughts in regards to it.
Time passed by, and I wasn’t satisfied with this new structure. I hadn’t grasped the fact that Christianity is largely pursuing a relationship with Christ. I was stuck on this old idea that, it was my efforts alone in which I could become a “better” Christian; that, so long as I was ‘good’ I was on the right path. I went so far as to assume my shyness was my virtue; I did not say things I would later regret, I did not stab people in the back, and I didn’t give people reason to dislike me.
And then, teenager-ism hit me. Being good wasn’t so easy anymore. I was stressed with assignments, frustrated with teachers; I procrastinated with anything and everything possible. In rare cases, I would simply not do something altogether. I was awkward and self-conscious; my limbs suddenly giraffe-like and uncontrollable.
It just wasn’t enough for me to write about scripture anymore. At least, not in the way that I had been.
So, for a short time, I wrote in TWO journals, almost simultaneously. First, i would do my devotions in one – often with haste – then proceed to my other journal, where I would gush or vent about the happenings in my life at that time.
Talk about dual-personality disorder!
There was “good me”, then there was “emotionally charged me”.
Needless to say, I was unable to keep this up for any length of time.
Journal writing has continued to change over the years. I don’t write because “good girls” do. I generally write because I want to.
I’m kind of back to that old devotions structure. I read scripture, summarize and reflect on it. And occasionally, it might still feel like an obligation. But for the most part, I read and write to learn who God is, to learn who he has made me to be, and to just grow. All in all, I write as I am, and who I am, in that moment. A glimpse of soul captured on pages; be it content, distraught or confused.
I’m thankful for my journals. For this evidence of the girl I was, and the woman I am becoming.
Perhaps someday, something I journal or write will inspire someone else!