Absolute Truth

There are some people who believe that truth is relative. That there is no absolute truth. I’ve thought about this a fair bit. Can’t quite wrap my head around it. For me, not believing in absolute truth is an impossibility. I believe without a doubt that there is such a thing as truth, and yes, right & wrong.

Recently however I have discovered that though I believe in absolute truth, I am INCREDIBLY wary of anyone who claims to know it.

Now, I still believe in the Bible and I still consider myself a Christian. I’ve just been feeling kind of unorthodox lately. It’s always bothered me that there are so many different denominations, and that they all seem to believe they have some sort of corner on the truth. It just doesn’t sit well with me.

Honestly, it almost feels like I’m experiencing a second crisis of faith. If you grew up with Christianity (or any religion I guess), you may be familiar with the fact that no matter what you were told when you were growing up, you reach a point in your life where you have to look at everything critically and decide whether this is something you are truly going to believe or not.

I experienced that as a teenager, and now it seems that I am experiencing it again… In a whole new way.

My father seems to think it’s because I’ve felt rejected and my response to that is to reject those I feel rejected by. I disagree, though I did consider it as a possibility.

More though, I feel like someone pointed out to me “Hey, maybe you don’t belong here” and it has helped me to see that maybe I DON’T. I feel like I am now in the position where I get to evaluate things that I have always accepted as truth but been uncomfortable with and say “Hey, I don’t think I agree with this!”

Who knows, maybe I’ll come around and end up embracing it all again, but at the moment it doesn’t seem like it.

I’m disillusioned with church, disillusioned with 95% of what is called “Christianity”. I am sick of what seems to be an incredibly self-centered, judgemental, and ineffectual club.

It seems that most often when someone enters a church they are offered a culture and list of rules instead of a powerful God.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are some churches that are different. It just bothers me that I’ve seem more death than life in many of the churches I’ve been to. More judgment and gossip than love and wisdom.

So, right now, I’m on a quest for life. For wisdom, For Love, For more GOD than culture. I believe that Christianity should hold the key to powerful, change-bringing life… And have decided to leave the “box” that I’ve always known it to exist in… Because in the box, it’s seeming pretty dead.

I have a couple quotes that never leave my desktop. One, “Just do the next right thing” the other –

“As long as you, like Abraham, humbly seek, listen and obey God, He’ll take the responsibility to teach you the crucial details, point you towards his Words, and direct you to healthy communities of truth seekers. And slowly, most things will come into focus”

Unfortunately, I no longer remember where I got them from (I think the first is Michael Hyatt the second from the “Frequently Unasked Questions” blog, but I’m not sure).

However, I’m clinging to the truth of the second one. And I’ve definitely noticed that once I stopped limiting where I thought God would show up, he’s showed up in all sorts of places and spoken through all kinds of people. I like having a limitless God who talks through donkeys (Numbers 22) and Angels alike ūüôā

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Searching

It’s been over 6 months since my last post.

The main reason it’s been so long? I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

NO IDEA.

Life has definitely handed me a lot of changes in the past six months to a year…

Quitting the ministry, two deaths in the family (My Aunt Jan in September and my Grandma the day after Christmas) moving twice er, three times if we are going with the year time frame. With one more move to come!

Oh yeah, and I’m gonna be a mommy in April.

I’m normally pretty good with change, but I’ll admit, all this has definitely been a stretch for me!

Right now I’m sitting in the Toronto airport, ready to fly back to Thunder Bay… Having just flown back to Southern Ontario for my Grandmothers funeral this Thursday.

I’m TIRED. I am very glad I was able to fly down for the funeral, and grateful for the added bonus of being able to see my husband for a few more days (oh yeah, did I mention that until I go on Mat Leave my husband and I are now living in different cities?) But still. I’m tired. Honestly, I think that whole side of my family is tired, so prayers are appreciated.

I had the honor of speaking at my Grandmothers funeral, and as I was writing my little speechy-thing, I realized that my Grandma was a ripple-maker.

Grandma was what you’d call shy, she was never the centre of attention, she would have hated that – and yet, I know that there are people she made a lasting impact on. Even if you only count her kids, they have her fingerprints all over them! They are all some pretty amazing people, and who they are was impacted by who she was. That’s pretty cool.

It’s an interesting thing to think about, especially now as I am looking forward to being a Mom myself… At a time when, for the most part I’m feeling pretty lost and wondering anew what my purpose is.

Anyway, it’s my hope that for the next couple months as I’m preparing for baby’s arrival and my own move (AGAIN) I will have more time to think some things through. Here’s hoping! If I do, I’ll be sure to keep you guys in the process.

Until then… May your own quest for answers in life be fruitful as well!

First Video Blog!

Hello peoples!

So, here is my very first attempt at “vloging” hope you like it – I was a little nervous, I ramble a bit, the sound needs some work, and have never played with video editing before, but here it is – my face & voice for your viewing pleasure!

Let me know if videos are something you’d like to see more or less of – I’m on the fence about it.

Oh, and here is the scripture that I read, for the more visual than auditory ones amoung you:

Psalm 119:73-80

73 You made me; you created me.
Now give me the sense to follow your commands.
74 May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy,
for I have put my hope in your word.
75 I know, O Lord, that your regulations are fair;
you disciplined me because I needed it.
76 Now let your unfailing love comfort me,
just as you promised me, your servant.
77 Surround me with your tender mercies so I may live,
for your instructions are my delight.
78 Bring disgrace upon the arrogant people who lied about me;
meanwhile, I will concentrate on your commandments.
79 Let me be united with all who fear you,
with those who know your laws.
80 May I be blameless in keeping your decrees;
then I will never be ashamed.

Light & Easy (Part Four)

So, we are busy people. Very busy people. But why? How come so many of us feel like we have so many things to do and as we look around all we see is more that needs to be done, or more that we need to become?

Now, I’m warning you right now, I don’t have this all figured out. I think the problem we are all experiencing is much more complicated that what one little blog post can diagnose…

However, lately, as I’ve pondered this, 1 Corinthians 12 has been on my mind.

I was reading my NIV Application Commentary on 1 Corinthians, and, even though they were things that I already knew, the phrases that particularly stood out to me were the ones that suggested that not only are we all part of the body of Christ – not only are we all given gifts – but it is our responsibility to use them for each other.

For example: “Romans 12:3-8 suggests that determining and faithfully using one’s spiritual gifts is the next most important task in a Christian’s life after the fundamental… transformation that accompanies conversion” (p250)

In both 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 Paul uses the image of us all being part of the body of Christ – that we all have a part to play, that we are all different – that there is no part that is more important, we need them all… here is part of the clincher though, we NEED all the parts. We need to be able to appreciate all the parts – all the body parts need to be free to be able to do their “thing”‘s.

The way that churches are right now though – well, you know that saying, that we only use a small percentage of our brain (the insinuation being that if we could tap the rest of it, we would be able to achieve so much more?)? It seems that we are only tapping a very small percentage of our “body” in the body of Christ. Yes, there is SOME movement, but it seems to be a very small percentage. We are paralyzed in about 75% of our bodies, and it is hurting us, hindering us in so many ways, the entire body is feeling it. We are in pain, that 25% that is moving is feeling a crazy heavy burden of trying to carry the rest of the bodies weight, trying to do a whole bodies work. My friend Evan expressed frustration to that end in his own blog recently… but it’s not just those 25% that suffer because of the way things are.

Here’s the thing. I think we need to be able to discover our purposes – on personal and corporate levels. I think that the reality of us being family – being a body of different parts, with different personalities, different gifts… it needs to sink into our¬†consciousnesses.

We all need to be able to listen to God and ask Him what it is that He wants us to do.

We could ask Him what He wants us to be, but that doesn’t really work – sometimes it does, but the WHOLE point is that He is bringing each one of us on a journey with Him – sometimes He reveals to us where He is taking us, but more often than not, he simply directs us one step at a time.

We need to learn how to walk with Him and work with Him… and learn the unforced¬†rhythms¬†of grace.

We just don’t seem to be able to fully grasp the whole we-are-a-body-with-different-parts thing.

Sometimes, we seem to consider each different “church” to be it’s own¬†separate¬†body. ¬†We think that every church needs to have a head, arms, legs, feet, etc etc. Of course, for us, that translates to worship programs, a good speaker,¬†children’s¬†programs, etc etc.

We think that if we do not have all of those things, we are incomplete.

Does it need to be that way though?

I am concerned that because of what we THINK each of our churches need, what we think a church is supposed to look like, we harm ourselves. We have people who are dedicated to live for God doing so much because it “needs” to get done. They are getting overworked and overwhelmed – and start running out of space in their lives to give to God for His spontaneous direction – because of the idea we have of what needs to be done.

What am I trying to say? Do you need to get used to the idea that maybe your church is not supposed to have a “leg” because God has not called the people in your church to be legs? Do we need to get used to the idea that maybe the “arms” don’t work every Sunday because they need a rest?

That paragraph makes no sense – here is some examples to explain what I am trying to say. Are you having trouble in your church putting together a typical “Kids program?” maybe that is because God hasn’t ordained your church to BE that church, maybe He has called the church up the road to be the ones that are good with kids. They are a part of the body too.

Are you having trouble getting enough people to do the worship music every Sunday? Could it be that maybe, just maybe, you aren’t supposed to be having music every Sunday? Maybe just every other? If you didn’t have music every Sunday – would there be more “space” in your volunteers lives to follow the¬†spontaneous¬†leadings of God – and would there be more space in your services for others to follow God and move in their non-musical giftings?

Yeah, I know that sounds kindof crazy…. it’s just… my concern is that we are trying to fit our churches into the molds of what we think a “good churches” are, and all of us are trying to fit ourselves into the molds of what we think “good Christians” are instead of the much more organic – and, basic route – asking God what He wants us to do, and who He¬†wants¬†us to be.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.(Romans 12.4-6)

I think we can apply these words to ourselves individually, AND as churches. Why are we trying to be something we weren’t necessarily made to be? YES, others have been created to be those things, but we are not them. We need to be who WE were created to be. ¬†As individuals and as churches.

Light & Easy (Part Three)

I left off yesterday having just finished saying that I believe the knowledge of knowing that you did exactly what God asked you to do when He asked you may be the key to the light burden and easy yoke that Jesus talked about.

The difficulty is life, and ministry, don’t always seem to lend themselves to allow the – what would be a good word – space we need in our lives that aides us in hearing and obeying the voice of God.

We are busy people. Work, meetings, volunteering obligations, family, etc etc… sometimes it seems we can never get a moment to ourselves, and this hurts us in many ways. Among them, it hurts our ability to hear, and obey, God.

Psalm 46 has a famous line – “Be still and know that I am God” (v10). ¬†When we don’t have much time to be still, it gets harder to hear God’s voice.

In our efforts to do what is right, to be what we think a “Christian” should be, to be what we think/are told a “pastor” should be – to help our church be all that we think a “church” should be – we can get overwhelmed, overworked, and not have any time (or just not enough) to Be Still and Know God.

Knowing God’s voice takes practice – and honestly, I believe that it’s something we can get out of practice with. When we start getting busier and stop listening as much, it gets harder and harder to hear Him. ¬†When we are starting out, there are times when we have to take a step of faith and say “God, I think this is you, please let me know if it is” and take that step we think he is asking of us. After time and neglect, we need to get back into that careful evaluation of what we are listening to make sure again that it IS God’s voice we are listening to, not just something we want to hear.

So, being too busy makes it more difficult to HEAR the voice of God, but I also believe it makes it more difficult to OBEY the voice of God.

When we don’t have the luxury of extra time in our lives, when we start to feel the prompting of God to do something, we can start to dismiss it because it doesn’t fit in our schedules. The struggle with our selfish natures becomes more about our concern with our own survival then just our own desires. Our response may not be “I’m afraid” or “I don’t know if that’s you Lord” but becomes “I’m so busy I don’t think I can do that” or “Lord, I have so much on my plate right now there is no possible way I can add that too.”

And our busy schedules become our undoing because they wear us down by their very nature, but they also prevent us from pursuing the voice of God and filling our days and lives with all of those things that He has for us – we miss out on living with God in our attempt to live for Him. The work becomes too much – especially because the moments of ecstasy, those highs of knowing we are doing exactly what He wants of us at exactly the right moment – we do not get to experience them, or not as often as He wants us to.

This is just my thoughts on the whole idea so far. I have a feeling that God is going to keep teaching me about this, so right now, these are just the raw ideas. I welcome your feedback and ideas on any of this – do you find Christianity Light & Easy? Why? Why not? Do you think it actually is supposed to be?

Part Four will be about WHY I think ¬†we tend to be so busy working in the church, and what God’s design for His “body” is.

Light & Easy (Part Two)

So, in my last post, I started talking about, given the evidence, Light & Easy Christianity sometimes seems like a paradox.

I left off quoting Matthew 11.29 in The Message. ¬†“Walk with me and work with me‚ÄĒwatch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

As I said, there is so much about that statement that is beautiful.

You see, God’s been showing me lately how he wants to teach me things by getting me to LIVE them, to PRACTICE them, not just to talk about them or try to understand concepts with my head. He wants me to learn lessons with my heart – He wants to mold me into something awesome, and He’s not going to do it while I stand passive – He’s going to take me to different situations and help the lessons I learn become a part of my being, not just a part of my “beliefs.”

I just love the line “Walk with me & work with me” – it’s so much like the invitation that Jesus gave his disciples when he first called them – He called them to follow him – He SHOWED them his heart by living and working with them, and then he sent them out so they could do it themselves. These guys weren’t perfect yet – one was going to betray him, one was going to deny him… and those are just the big flaws that made the book. They weren’t perfect, but that seemed to be the point – he sent them out as part of their growing process!

And to be honest, I think He still works that way. He wants to teach us by SHOWING us. It’s not about how much scripture we can memorize – or how many of the fruit or gifts of the spirit we are demonstrating in our lives.

Those are not the primary ways we learn – and the fruit are actually just by-products of us actually having learned our lessons, not badges we need to be striving for.

The primary way that God seems to want to teach us – at least that I am starting to realise for my own life, is to get me to follow Him, so he can SHOW me.

I am in the middle of a great book right now – The Power of a Whisper by Bill Hybels. I ‚̧ this book, and I haven’t even finished it yet. It’s just such a beautifully simple yet POWERFUL concept. ¬†Hearing the voice of God, and responding to it.

I can’t speak for anyone other than myself – but I have a feeling that the more I get the hang of this, the lighter and easier my Christianity is going to be.

The book is full of stories of people who heard God – in different ways, and obeyed him, and the difference it made in different situations, and in their lives – or in the lifes of other people.

Near the beginning of the book Bill tells a story of shortly after the had made a pact with God telling him that he would do anything God asked of him, he was leaving a funeral and noticed an elderly lady pulling into her apartment buildings parking lot with a bunch of groceries – and he felt God telling him to go offer to help. For the sake of brevity, I shall skip to the end – after he had helped her, she told him “I will believe until my dying day that God sent you to help me just now.”

I wrote “wow” inside my copy after that story. Some people might hear that story and think about the power of Random Acts of Kindness (btw – RAK week starts today!) but the true power in that story is the fact that it was something lined up by God.

At least, the power of light & easy Christianity lies in the fact that it was lined up by God. This is where I get back to what I was saying previously about always trying to do the right thing is sometimes what can create a heavy burden.

You see, Bill could have left that woman thinking “Wow, helping that woman meant so much to her! Now every time I see an older lady with groceries, I’m going to help her!”

WRONG! (I mean, there is nothing wrong with helping people with the groceries, by all means – help when you can!) It’s just that there are so many good & right & “needed” things in the world, that if you try to do them all, you will get overwhelmed and burnt-out pretty quickly. If you start thinking that you need to be a certain kind of person because that is what a Christian is, you are placing a very big and heavy burden on yourself, thinking that it is God’s will when really he has a different plan for you.

There are (at least!) two problems with deciding what a Christian looks like, and thinking that you need to pursue that model.

One: God has created us all with different natural abilities, and has different spiritual gifts for each of us – making us different parts of a complete whole, and sometimes the “Christian” we think we need to be is more than God intended for one person to be. He designed us to work together and bless each other – he never expected one person to do everything (I will be writing more on this amazing concept later this week).

Two: there is an amazing supernatural high that comes from knowing that you’ve done something that God directly asked you to do. No matter how small, when you get those leanings on your heart that God wants you to do something, and then you do, you get overwhelmed with a feeling of excitement, a feeling of refreshing. An amazing release knowing that in that moment, for that period of time, you did the EXACT RIGHT THING, no matter how small it was. I believe that that feeling can carry you through the difficult times. Jesus promised hardship to his followers, but I believe that the knowledge of knowing that you were doing EXACTLY what God wanted you to do, can keep your spirit light even under death threats (not that I particularly want to experience those).

That’s it for now – Stay tuned for Parts Three and Four of Light & Easy Christianity.

Light & Easy (Part One)

I learned a lot in church today.

I was the one speaking, but really, sometimes it doesn’t matter who the one doing the talking is… the things that are said can grab you and make you think.

It seems silly to say that, but honestly, today was one of those days when the sermon wasn’t quite the same spoken as it was written down – things changed between the pages and the air. ¬†Sure, same basic concept… but some of it – well, the best way to say it, was it wasn’t me. It was stuff I needed to hear just as much as anyone else.

The sermon was based on Matt 11.28-30.

”¬†Then Jesus said,¬†‚ÄúCome to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.¬†¬†Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.¬†¬†For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.‚ÄĚ

My thing is, when you look at how so many Christians start to feel, and what the stats for pastors are… it’s hard to believe that Jesus actually said that his yoke is easy to bear and that his burden is light. Really? ‘Cause people don’t seem to be feeling it. As I said in my sermon – I think those stats about Pastors are probably applicable to most people who devote a lot of themselves to volunteering/working in churches. Only, for them, the stats aren’t being recorded.

So many people who are trying to live for God, trying to advance the kingdom – all getting worn out, overwhelmed, being¬†under-appreciated,¬†misjudged and misunderstood… to be honest, things seem way more “heavy” and “difficult” than “light” and “easy”.

Not that Jesus said everything would be perfect, he said their would be troubles – goodness, even one chapter before this promise of light and easy he says that they will be flogged and put on trial and a whole bunch of other stuff.

So, it’s always seemed a paradox to me that Jesus said things were going to be light and easy – because there don’t really seem to be many people that are giving the church so much of their time who are having that type of experience.

So, I was trying to figure it out, and I thought of one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, and how he’s said that we seem to try to approach the Bible as a how-to manual or a self-help book instead of a love story – instead of a book on building a relationship.

So I thought about it a bit in context of this heavy burden that is actually supposed to be light – and I thought, maybe that’s part of it. Maybe we look at the Bible like it is this manual for how to become who we are supposed to become, and we think that we think – all these traits, all these “fruit” we need to have them in our lives. We try to achieve them. We try to become a certain way so that we can please God.

The easiest way to say it – we’ve reached this place where instead of living with God, we are trying to live for Him.

You might think they are the same, but really they aren’t. You can do all sorts of things for someone, thinking they are the right thing to do, and they might even be good things – but that doesn’t mean they are the RIGHT thing. Add in church culture, (which we can all admit right now has flaws) – and then you don’t just have the things that you think are the right thing to do, you have what everyone else thinks is the right thing for you to do.

That right there is enough to create a whole bunch of heaviness. Trying to live FOR God, and coaching others to live FOR Him, could be making things extremely difficult for ourselves.

I really really like the way that Matthew 11.28-30 is said in The Message (especially 29!)

“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‚ÄĒwatch 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.”

There is so much of what is said in that passage that is so beautiful – but I especially like the middle part there – I’d type it again, but I really think that the bold and italics might be enough of an emphasis.

I’m going to stop there for now – but tune in tomorrow and I’ll continue my thoughts on the majesty of that statement – and how I think it holds the key for light & easy Christianity.