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Just DO Something–Finding God’s Will

January 27, 2010

Questions:

Is God’s will meant to be “found?”

Is it mysterious?

Are we to search for his will, not making decisions about life until we’ve discovered it?

Answer:

I’m not sure.

Oh, I know. Profound. But as I’ve said a time or two before, I’m not one to have many answers these days.

This is why I jumped at the chance to review Kevin DeYoung’s new book Just Do Something, in audio book format from Christianaudio.com. I’m a big fan of audio books, being I don’t have many blocks of time to sit and turn pages, but I DO have a lot of time when my hands are busy but my ears are still available. When the narration is well done and the book isn’t too long–which were both true in this case–the situation is ideal.

They call it multi-tasking. I call it… survival.

Kevin DeYoung puts forth the premise of God’s will being straightforward, predetermined and easily understood: to love God with our whole hearts, serve him, obey him as outlined in his Word, and after that… to do what we like.

I wasn’t sure what I thought as the book began, being I’ve always heard Christian-ese conversations peppered with phrases such as, “Just pray about it,” “I can’t make a move until God shows me his will,” “I don’t get why I’m doing this, but God’s telling me to do it,” and, “I need to wait until I have a peace about this.”

Of course each of those have a grain of their own merit, being we are told to ask God for wisdom, we shouldn’t make decisions until we’ve figured out God’s will on a matter, and sometimes God’s way doesn’t make sense to us.

But, as DeYoung points out, many, many modern Christians are paralyzed by fear–albeit, fear with a good cause–of doing the wrong thing because it just might not be God’s will. They pause, searching, waiting to have “a peace” about a situation, or for some special revelation from God.

God’s will is seen as mystical, mysterious and something he expects us to search for endlessly. It’s as if, DeYoung describes, God is dangling his will in front of our faces, then playing hide and seek with it.

I don’t see the God of the Bible having a character that delights in tormenting his children after he tells them to obey.

Instead, DeYoung suggests, God has a definite will. But it’s much more concrete than we imagine. Throughout the Bible, God always connects direct statements about finding his will with statements about following his commands. He has asked us to obey the basic statutes given to us in his Word–to love him, to love others, to follow his principles and seek to become more like him. But he doesn’t tell us to live on an endless quest, trying, searching, hoping, always unsure if we’re doing the right thing–if we’ve found God’s will.

DeYoung tackles the hard stuff–jobs, marriage and personal responsibility with a clarity I’ve never heard before when dealing with the topic of “finding” God’s will. He offers the idea that God has given us clear principles in his Word to live by, and as long as we are obeying him in those areas and are seeking him, walking closely with him, we will have the wisdom needed to make decisions that are in line with God’s will. When we’re following his direct will, we can have any number of good possible options available to pursue, and any one of them could be God’s will–but that doesn’t mean that only one of them is God’s will.

My retelling may be clear as mud, though I have to say that this book definitely solidified answers to some questions I’ve had churning for several years regarding the way God works. I’ve been talking with various friends for years about the question of whether or not, when a person marries, those two are God’s one and only for each other. Is there really one person on the face of the planet for every other one person, and we are supposed to hope we find that person before we die, possibly in the general vicinity of our 20’s?

Um, I don’t think so.

God gives some pretty clear principles to live by regarding finding a spouse, and if the potential partner in question matches that standard he’s set and we, you know, like the person, then God gives the go ahead, and that person is now God’s will for us.

(Conversely, just because the person in question matches that standard, doesn’t mean that person must certainly be God’s will for us. Especially if we don’t like them. We also have to be sure we’re using God’s standard and not one we’ve concocted on our own or someone else has made for us… but that’s a rabbit trail I won’t head down today!)

In keeping with this school of thought, it would mean that perhaps we’re attributing too much to God’s will. We’re telling ourselves everything that happens must happen for one specific reason and that it’s always God’s perfect will. The fact of the matter is that we live in a world that has been corrupted by sin and sometimes bad things just happen. People make wrong choices. Other people end up hurt. To say that God specifically ordered all of those tragedies, catastrophes and difficult times would be a cruel theology.

Yes, he may ultimately use them for our good, but I don’t believe it’s all part of his perfect will that we’re just too human to understand. But that gets into the issues of God’s permissive will and his perfect will, which I’m simply too day-worn from packing boxes to tackle right now, especially when DeYoung already does it so succinctly in the book.

I don’t necessarily have it all thought out fully, nor do I think these ideas are flawless. I personally believe the will of God might just be one of those issues that is simply too high for our finite minds to fully comprehend on earth. So in the mean time, we use our minds to the best of our abilities and continue to walk closely with him.

What I will wholeheartedly agree with Kevin DeYoung on is the idea that we need to stop waiting around for God to suddenly speak audibly to us, or to necessarily give us a feeling of calm before making decisions. I know people who have waited around for years, trying to figure out “God’s will for their lives.”

With DeYoung, I say, follow Jesus and just do something.

What do you think? Is God’s will already laid out in scripture or is it something we’re to be on the lookout for?

Do we find God’s will or has it already found us?

Whether well-rehearsed or just tossing a thought out there, hash it out with me in the comments!

So, About Those Boots?

January 25, 2010

Well, they came.

Behold, The Fake Boots.

Fake_Uggs

I guess technically they aren’t fake boots. Because they’re still boots. They’re just fake Uggs.

Or are they?

I really have no clue.

I haven’t studied real Uggs enough to know whether or not these are noticeably counterfeit, or if they’re going to scream “KNOCK OFFS” with every step. Perhaps you people with, AHEM, real ones could tell me? Do they look real?

In the same vein, I do have a bit of a winter shoe related problem.

(A brief note: I do, in fact, realize that it is almost February and that winter is on its way OUT in most parts of the country. Or at least headed in that direction, especially if we used the clothing stores as a guide, what with their SPRING!! clothes on the racks while we are all still freezing our toes off. BUT, in the mountain town of 10,000+ feet elevation where I’ll be living as of next week, winter is in full swing. And will be. Until May. Just to clarify. Move along now.)

Apparently, according to the Australian vs. American duel that went on in the comments of the last fake boot related post, these boots may or may not be the way to go for a winter shoe. Now, keep in mind, I’m not at all planning on wearing these as a snow boot, per se, as I have spent enough time in snow to know that these aren’t exactly fit for glacier scaling or even really doing much outdoor walking. But I wanted something warm for places where my real snow boots, fashionable though they are, aren’t very appropriate.

But it seems people (and by people I mean my mother as well as certain blog readers) have very strong opinions on the winter shoe.

So I ask: What do you wear for a good winter shoe in times that do not involve landing your foot in knee-deep snow, but still require more than, you know, a flip flop?

Help a SoCal girl out. Please and thank you.

Also, it is very evident to me that I need more shoe suggestions being that when packing my closet tonight, I discovered I own no fewer than…

…wait for it…

FIFTY-TWO pairs of shoes.

That is not a typo.

Being that (disclaimer ahead) at least a third of those are flip-flops or flimsy sandals of some sort, and the rest are either some sort of heel and such or one of the pairs of really nice western boots I bought and wore once or the crazy expensive suede clogs I’ve had for ten years and have worn thrice but don’t have the heart to part with because they were from my grandmother or they’re fancy ball gown wearing shoes or they’re Easter-to-Labor Day-only shoes (pause to breathe) I clearly need some suggestions for wearing-in-a-mountain-town-in-winter shoes.

Clearly.

So, toss some suggestions at me. Mostly because I’m just curious and want to know how many pairs of shoes you own or what types of shoes you like to wear.

Also, today I’m over at YLCF talking about the complete wonderfulness (word invention comes naturally to me) of having a mother’s helper. Which is fitting because, this very week, one of the very girls I mention in the post will be a blessing of that exact sort while I run some last minute move-related errands, get my three-inch-long roots re-colored, drink some Starbucks and, well, to be honest… look for a new pair of shoes.

Red ones, as a matter of fact. Platform, preferably. For an event.

There aren’t any of those in my footwear arsenal.

Fifty-THREE. Ba-da-BING!

Best For Clickin’ and Other Such Matters

January 22, 2010

I keep re-reading the thoughts and comments and resulting emails from the Lost Innocence post.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the ability to be honest and share my journey in this space. I know there are people who think I’ve jumped ship or that I’m abandoning all and, even, abandoning God.

Nothing  could be further from the truth.

Again, an untested faith isn’t much of a faith at all. It’s simply believing something, without experiencing it firsthand. Remember God’s gold refining analogy? Fire brings forth beauty.

God is taking me back (forward?) to the beginning, showing me Himself in ways I’ve never understood before. It’s breathtaking. It’s beautiful. It’s painful. It can be exhausting. It’s always so much easier to have the answers handed out on a silver platter than to have to go cook it up for yourself.

But I can tell you this:

I’ve never known my Jesus like I know Him now. I’ve never been as close to Him as I am today.

Even if only a few people stick around here while I sort out the questions swirling through my consciousness (I’ve had more than a couple recent unsubscribers!), that’s okay. I believe in the power of story and the fact that God uses our journeys to encourage and challenge each other. Your stories–about loving the Lord, about disillusionment, about divorce, about leaving legalism or forms of it, about finding Jesus in the midst of it all, often shared through comments and numerous emails–remind me that I’m not alone. And that God does call us into a simple, wholehearted relationship with Himself.

I know I’m not always right. I may take a wrong turn here or there. I will certainly make mistakes. But you can be assured that here, in this space, you will find honesty and transparency. And a girl who is seeking Jesus–He who is the Truth.

My sweet blog friend Katie left a comment on the Innocence post, and then came back a day later to share another thought. I wanted to be sure everyone saw it, because she managed to say in a few sentences what I couldn’t seem to make clear with 800 words.

Perhaps the faith we have as children is innocent and naive, and we lose that innocence as we grow.

Getting BACK to that childlike faith isn’t necessarily a return to innocence, or a “going back” – but a wisdom that moves beyond what people tell us – and takes us back to what God tells us.

So maybe it’s not so much a going back as it is coming full circle.

YES. What she said.

Now for some good linkage:

A tidbit:

A writer doesn’t become a writer by getting a steady stream of comments or a high-profile agent or a higher-profile publisher.

A writer becomes a writer by writing.

Someone else basically said the same thing to me last summer and it kinda sorta changed the way I think about… well, writing, obviously. But, truth be told, it challenged my thinking a lot of other things as well.

  • My dear and beloved friend Gretchen (who often puts up with my jaded ramblings and figuring out of  The Crazy) posted an excellent review of Josh Harris’ new book Dug Down Deep. She actually posted two, one at YLCF and one on her own blog–but it’s the latter that really hit home with me. Especially the quotes about “holding our beliefs with charity and kindness” and the reminder of the incredible necessity to figure out what we believe about God. I’m picking up a copy of this book ASAP. Go read the review.

That’s all I got, folks!

Except for this: On Monday I’ll have the update on the boots situation. And I’ll be in need of some help.

And this: We are kinda crazy people around here. Especially on Day 5 of the SoCal torrential downpour. For example, THIS.

Now really, that’s all I got.

A Lost Innocence

January 21, 2010

Sometimes I wish I could reclaim my innocence.

I don’t mean I grew up too fast. Or that someone took my childhood by force in a heinous act.

I was lovingly protected in every way as a child and was sheltered from many of the world’s atrocities. I was the girl who left my American Girl dolls sitting out well past ten years old and who, to this day, tends to be the most naive person in a group of friends when it comes to worldly wisdom.

No, it is not an innocence of age or experience I wish for.

I wish for a spiritual innocence.

I yearn to push rewind. Go back to a time when I thought being a Christian meant–really, truly meant–loving Jesus and loving people. I want to move backward to the time before I gauged a person’s spiritual maturity based on how many controversial topics they were aware of and how well they could defend their position.

~~~

There is a tiny spot in my memory of being a little girl who simply loved her Jesus. One who danced around the living room singing made-up songs about Him, for Him. She was happy and she laughed freely. She was always excited to meet people who also loved her Jesus.

Somewhere along the way, someone told her–through words, through actions, even through facial expressions–that simply loving and serving Jesus wasn’t enough.

A real Christian, she was told, A growing and mature Christian has many important things to contemplate.

There were many, many weighty matters to which she needed to turn her mind.

She needed to worry about the length of her skirt. At the knee, below the knee, or to the ankle? She needed to be sure the person who led her to Christ read to her from the right Bible version that night. Here are the correct words to the sinner’s prayer. She needed to study a chapter of the New Testament and decide whether or not she would wear an outward symbol of authority. Should it cover all of the hair, or just the top of the head? She needed to have strong opinions on schooling, government, political activism. Government schools will ruin the children–the children we need to raise to take over that very government. She needed to think about the number of children she’d have one day, the skills she’d need to care for them and the spouse she’d need to have them. Courtship? Betrothal? She needed to figure out whether a person chooses God or if God chooses the person. Five points or free will? She needed to stick to one type of music. Rhythm… friend or foe? She needed to know what kind of worship style was the most like the New Testament church. Liturgical, Traditional, Contemporary… or no church? She needed to figure out what was the most Biblical way to raise her children. Spank? No Spank? Cry? No Cry? She needed to label her marriage. Is the wife equal, lesser, or just different?

She needed to do… and be… and fit… and try.

She needed to never stop striving to figure it out and to develop a passion for any and all of her opinions and conclusions.

Soon, she looked around and realized the Jesus she’d loved as a girl was nowhere to be found.

At least, she couldn’t find him in all of her doing and being and trying and striving.

~~~

I talk to people who are simply Christians.

They love Him. They love His people. They walk hand in hand with Him every day. They deal with the hardship and heartache, they live normal lives, but they are so wrapped up in Jesus that He encompasses their vision. They look at His beloved ones, and they find Him.

They’re unaware that it might not be that simple.

They may or may not hold opinions on any number of Christian doctrines and teachings. They may or may not have taken Bible courses. They may or may not have read multiple books coming from every angle. They may be a veritable fount of Biblical knowledge or they may be new in the faith.

But either way, they simply, beautifully love Jesus. They serve Him. They act as His hands and feet. They passionately tell of Him and His sacrifice. They just love Jesus. And they live Him.

Don’t they know it could be more difficult than this? Aren’t they missing something?

Don’t they realize there are so many issues to sort out before we can live that way?

I talk, I smile, I watch, I wonder.

A wistful vision flashes before me, of a little girl, happily twirling, singing, “My Jesus! My Jesus! My Jesus!”

And I envy their innocence.

All I Wanted Was A Pair of Boots

January 19, 2010

In less than two weeks, we’re moving to a snowy place. A place covered in white more months than not. A place that has been known to see flurries on the Fourth of July.

I’ve lived in Southern California my entire life. A place without snow. A place where, when the first solitary snowflake is seen at higher elevations, the roads are abandoned, offices and schools become ghost towns, and we sled down dirt or grassy hills on our trash can lids.

As a SoCal girl (like, totally, I mean, like, oh my gosh) my snow shoe collection consists of one token pair of snow boots. Cute snow boots, I must say, but snow boots just the same. Heavy, waterproof, thick soled, fuzzy fleecy lined snow boots. Great for tramping through snow, but necessarily much else.

So, I wondered to my San Diego self, What will I wear in Snow Land when I want to run to the grocery store? Or when I’m just stepping out to the mail box? Or when I’m hopping over to story time at the library?

I decided my flip-flops weren’t gonna cut it.

The alternative wasn’t hard to figure out, of course, being that even here in the Land of No Snow, people are wearing “fashionable snow boots” to walk the sunny streets every day. Our malls and sidewalks are peppered with faux fleece and colored suede, along with the customary crocheted scarves and colorful knit stocking caps.

You know, necessary stuff for 65 degree weather.

But I’d seen a wide enough array of boots to know what would be the best combination of style and practicality for me. I’d just get myself a pair of those and call it a day.

So I opened my laptop one evening and looked up the boots. I choked. On the price. Are there really THAT many  sheeples out there paying THAT much for a pair of boots that, frankly, aren’t even THAT cute?!?!

Apparently so.

But I wasn’t taking the bait quite yet. I started Googling. Clicking here, bookmarking there. I’d find them on sale somewhere. I wasn’t going to shell out that much dough on anything meant to cover my toes.

What I didn’t know was that a product in higher demand than bread or water–being I clearly don’t buy into fads all that often–never goes on sale.

Until–lo and behold–there it was! A Sale! A Big Sale! On the actual brand website!

I hadn’t even bothered looking at the company website in all my surfing and clicking, being I just assumed the people who made the boots would ask top dollar. Oh, how gullible and prone to prejudice! Here they were, having an after Christmas 50% off sale and I was just going to pass them over.

P’shaw. I seriously need to get over my judgements. Who was I to think they would be the bullies with the monopoly on the fuzzy warm boot market?

John was sitting beside me at this point. We rolled our eyes at ourselves and clicked ahead through the checkout pages.

Ridiculous us. We always look for the harder, more obscure way, instead of looking at the normal, well traveled path staring us in the face. There’s gotta be a life lesson or analogy or at least a blog post outta this one. I mean, seriously…

Click. Click. Type. Click. Order Placed. Confirmation email on its way.

I grinned. I’d have my boots. Warm. Fuzzy. Tall. Tan. And best of all, they’d look great with a pair of straight leg jeans tucked into the top.

John grinned. One more thing to make life a little easier on his wife as she moves to his frozen hometown during his year-long deployment. And best of all, we’d only paid half the standard price for them.

We heard the blllling of the confirmation email hitting my inbox.

We opened it.

The return email address was something about authenticboots@blahblahblah.blah.

It was all in Chinese.

~~~

The boots from the lookalike site are supposed to arrive–from China, instead of Australia–today. If, that is, there’s anything more than styrofoam peanuts in the box. We’re still not sure if we’ll be able to get our money back being, that we did, you know, place the order.

Although I’m kinda thinking I might keep them.

And wear them.

And remind myself every time I step outside in the Land of the Snow that perhaps it’s not always better to follow what appears to be the mainstream crowd with the easier plan and promises of less sacrifice. Counterfeits abound.

There’s that and about fifty other life lessons and analogies in this one. And yes, even a blog post.

And here all I wanted was a pair of boots…

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