Thursday, August 8, 2013
I am so excited! I am finally having the courage and determination to do something that I’ve always wanted to do: write and share a devotional with all of you! Word of warning, while I am a writer, and a theologian, I am no where near perfect. I, too, am on this journey and I ask you for grace as we step into this first series together. (And any and all series, writings, blogs, etc. after that.) But, I think that we can have fun. I think we can learn a lot from one another, as long as we are open to it.
So, here we go!
The Gospel of John is one of the most read books of the Bible. People are always telling others to have it be the first book that they dive into when they are becoming acquainted with this Journey. And I am not sure where you are in your journey with the Lord, but I do know that the books of the Bible never get old. Because we believe that the “word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12) then what can we know each time we read a book of the Bible that we’ve maybe read 1,000 times before? That it’s alive, and the Spirit is speaking to us as we read, and that it’s active in our lives. It’s sowing seeds in our hearts, and because we are not in the same lifestage as we were when we’ve read it before, then different words, phrases, and meanings will stick out to us. So, if you’ve read it before, or this is your first time, welcome!
This is your first time in this moment in your life. And this is our first time going through this book together!
“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,and his own peopledid not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ’He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side,he has made him known. ” John 1:1-18, ESV
John is writing this letter to the Gnostic community. The Gnostics were a group of people in the First Century that believed the spirit world was something to embrace, but the material world was evil. Therefore, their beliefs in Jesus were vastly different than what the disciples preached. Because Gnostics had such a fear of the material world, they could not wrap their minds around a God who was fully Divine and fully human. Because human was material. And all things material were evil and bad.
So picture this, John is there, preaching to a crowd that believes he is a crazy man and they have already made up their own version of Jesus. It’s his main goal in these first few chapters to reorient their thinking, to teach them to turn their logic upside down, and to see Jesus for who He really is.
He begins by echoing the verses in Genesis 1: “In the beginning…” which from the get-go commands attention from his audience. This guy, he knows his stuff. And from there, he begins to assert something that is the unthinkable: “All things were made through him and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (v.3) John confidently asserts that everything, material and spiritual, the whole essence of creation, was made by Christ.
For the Gnostics, this was crazy. How could something so evil be made by God? And there in lies the rub. I read this, and I can identify with what they are probably thinking. I think about all the good in the world and I want to take those things and give them to Christ. But when I look at the bad, I want to say, “No. Not the Jesus I know.” And those things, I want to claim for evil. Are you with me?
And so here we are, with this subject that has been debated for centuries: If God has created everything,and He is good, why is there so much evil in the world? This is hard stuff. We see in the book of Job that God actually allows Satan to torment Job. What is that about? Let us not forget that the world is sinful, which, of course, plays a part as well. So how does this all fit together? And in this minute, we may find ourselves with a little Gnostic in our theology.
God’s sovereignty is something that we can talk about, read about, and even believe in, but when it comes down to something personal in our own lives, it’s a hard and terrifying concept to wrap our hearts and souls around. Let alone put all of our confidence and faith in.
Can I get an “Amen”?
And John knows that this is what the Gnostics must feel as well. In only a few short sentences John turns their world around. Just as is mine and yours when we are living our lives, believing something about God, and then running into a seemingly dead end. You lost your job. Someone you know has been hurt. Or, on the global scale, you see those suffering and you can’t figure out how this could be true. But John says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (v.4)
A commentary I’m reading explains that John’s words in these first four verses and through the rest of this introduction describe Jesus as “eternal”, “pre-existent”, and “incarnate” (v.1, 14) In contrast to whatever road block we’ve hit, these qualities should teach us to hold on to hope. ‘The light shines int he darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
No matter what darkness we see, what darkness we are facing, John tells us that the darkness (evil) has not (and will not) overcome the light (Christ). We most hold on to the characterisitics of this light in order to know why it will prevail:
Christ is eternal. Genesis 1 and 2 are a beautiful picture of the Garden of Eden, before the Fall of Man, and before there was any evil, or sin in the world. John tell us that Christ was with God at the creation of the world. And, in the book of Revelation, Christ describes himself as the beginning and the end. His kingdom is the only one left standing. Therefore, let us remember that the darkness we are facing, the darkness we see, is not eternal. Hold on to this hope.
Christ is pre-existent. Genesis 1 tells us that in the beginning the wary was “without form and void”. The only person or entity present here is the Spirit of God. Therefore, let us remember that the darkness we are facing, the darkness we see, has not always been, and will not always be. The Bible begins with a Garden and ends with a City. God specializes in redemption.
Christ is incarnate. ”The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”(v.14) God dwelling among His people is a reminder that we are not alone. God dwelt with His people in the wilderness (Exodus 36-39), humbled himself and walked among us through the life of Christ, and has now given us the Holy Spirit to continue to dwell among us (John 14:26). Therefore, let us remember that we are not alone. The darkness we are facing, the darkness we see, will not overcome because we are not alone.
And in the words of Mumford and Sons, come out of the cave, you Gnostics. You, and me, who can not understand how evil and God can co-exist and want to debate whether it’s been ordained by Him, allowed by Him, or makes Him weep. I am comfortable with knowing that this is something that God is working with me on. I am learning, growing, struggling and stumbling around a little bit. But that’s ok.
I am at peace knowing that the thing that I must do no matter if I understand completely or not understand at all: the darkness will not overcome the light. I must begin to see the world hanging upside down. That it wont end the way the darkness tells me it will: with no hope, with no redemption, with no live, no love, no joy. The purposes of Christ as upside down to threats of the darkness. He always redeems.
Hold on to this hope.
I must begin to see that the Word of God is speaking to me today, to where I am at. And it’s doing the same for you. There are darknesses that have been explained to us and some that never will, until we are seating at that banquet table weeping at all the ways God was working and how much we missed it, but how much His grace covered it all.
And to the darkness? Let’s raise our fists, plug our ears,and sing along: “I have other things to fill my time. You take what is yours, and I’ll take mine. Let me at the truth which will refresh my broken mind.”
Hold on to Hope. Hold on to the things that are eternal. To those that are pre-existence. And to the incarnate presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
If you are doing this with me, please comment so we can grow together. If you are a social media type, please share it if you think people will like it, and #HoldonHope so that I can see what God’s doing in your life!
Monday, March 18, 2013
I am a runner. I don’t usually run because I feel like I need to work out. I mostly run because it’s the time that I feel most alive. As my feet hit the pavement, I am able to let a few things out, and I imagine stomping my frustrations below my feet. I like the feeling of getting somewhere fast, of getting nowhere, fast. I run with our stroller, I run without it. I run trails and I run pavement.
But, running makes me hungry. Like, really really hungry. And I have a major sweet tooth, which I have my mother to blame. She claims that she ate lots of sweets when I was being formed, so this is all her fault. Think that’s a myth? My doctor told me that after 13 weeks I could have one cup of coffee a day as long as I had an extra glass of water that day as well. My two year old? Love the taste of coffee. I only know this because I caught him drinking it, followed by a loud “YUM!” when my back was turned.
Thankfully, this little snack is about as healthy as it gets for a sweet treat. It’s bananas, dark chocolate, walnuts and then a few sprinkles for good measure. This way I can run, and pop some of these into my mouth to satisfy my sweet craving, but not feel weighted down and lethargic.
Plus, Chip and I made these together, and had tons of fun. They are super easy and a good, healthy treat for the little ones as well!
Chocolate Covered Frozen Banana Bites
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes, plus freezing
1-3 ripe bananas (just yellow)
1 cup dark chocolate (75% or higher) squares
nuts of your choosing for sprinkling
sprinkles for fun
Set up a double boiler but filling up one sauce pan half-way with water and then placing a small pan inside. Place both sauce pans on stove and turn heat to high. Place dark chocolate squares in top sauce pan and allow water to boil. The dark chocolate will begin to melt slowly. Stir occasionally to keep chocolate from getting too hot.
While water is boiling and chocolate is melting, place one piece of parchment paper onto a baking sheet. Then, slick your bananas about 1/4 inch (thinner or thicker if you'd like) and place on your baking sheet on top of parchment paper.
Once chocolate has been melted, turn down heat to low. Using tongs, pick up each piece of banana and drop into melted chocolate, and turn over so the banana slice is fully covered. Once covered, place back on baking sheet with parchment paper. Repeat for all remaining slices. Warning this chocolate dries quickly, so I would put your sprinkles and nuts on at this step so that they stick. If you have any chocolate left over, I'd recommend just drizzling it on top of slices, and either adding your nuts and chocolate here, or doing it before hand. The nuts and sprinkles will only stick to chocolate that has not hardened, so it depends on how many fixin's you want on there!
Place entire tray into freezer and allow to freeze completely. You can leave them on there, or to save space, place them into a freezer bag! Take them out one by one and enjoy!
Monday, March 11, 2013
I woke up this morning and was craving a big breakfast. The problem, however, is that big breakfasts generally don’t sit well with me. I always feel full, bloated, and super tired no matter how many cups of coffee I have. It’s those dang carbs! They taste oh, so good but they feel oh, so bad! I’ve been Gluten Free for a few weeks now, and the other day I had some gluten for dinner and my body was in shock after. As good as it tasted going down, I swore I would never have gluten again!
These pancakes are made with gluten free flour and coconut flour, and they tasted IN-credible! They are fluffy, light, and full of flavor. I added the juice of a whole lemon and coconut extract to give these babies an extra kick. These are the perfect pancake for spring, and give you a little break from the ordinary buttermilk. I also used coconut sugar instead of refined sugar, and coconut milk as well. Natural sugar and non-dairy milk also help in allowing your food nourish you instead of feeling full, tired, and unsatisfied.
And to change the pace for the syrup, I made mixed berry syrup and served it warm. The berries were the perfect addition to the lemon flavor, and I think next time I may get real crazy and add some powered sugar! Livin’ on the edge over here.
I hope you enjoy these pancakes and please let me know if you feel a difference in your energy and digestive track!
Gluten Free Coconut Lemon Pancakes
Yield: about 9, 6-inch pancakes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 mines
1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour (I used Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup coconut flour (I used Bob's Red Mill Coconut Flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
2 tablespoons plus one teaspoons coconut oil, divided
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
juice from one medium sized lemon
1/2-1 teaspoon coconut extract
For the syrup:
1 cup 100% pure maple syrup
1/3 cup frozen mixed berries
Mix together all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Measure out two tablespoons coconut oil and then heat in microwave until melted. Add coconut oil, eegs, milk, lemon juice, and coconut extract to the dry ingredients. Mix until completely combined. Place large skillet on stove top, add the two teaspoons coconut oil, and set to medium heat. Once coconut oil has melted, turn the pan around to make sure that the entire bottom is coated. Now, using a 1/3 measuring cup, measure two to three pancakes into pan and cook until you see bubbles on the top of the pancake and edges begin to golden. Flip and cook until it is cooked through. Cook as many as you'd like, serve and enjoy!
I also like to heat my oven to 350 and put the pancakes I've cooked into a serving dish with a lid into the oven while the others cook. That way, my first batch doesn't get cold and we can all eat at the same time.
While pancakes are cooking, place maple syrup and frozen berries in sauce pan on stove. Turn to medium high heat and allow berries to melt, smashing them into the syrup occasionally to spread the flavor. Once syrup begins to boil, turn to the lowest setting. Serve warm.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
My husband and I, 2009. Photos courtesy of Stephanie Fay Photography.
A battle of the wills is constantly going on in my home. I have a toddler; so that’s self explanatory. And a man and woman who are wired completely differently live in the same space, share the same bed, and we all share one bathroom. I like to just grab the toothpaste in the middle and squeeze, while my husband prefers to roll it from the bottom. Both methods drive the other crazy. And on a given day we all have our desires of what we want to do, what we ought to do, and what we have to do.
But the biggest battle comes form within. The minute that I get space and quiet, I can feel my two wills rising up to argue with one another. One the one hand, I need to get things done. I need to work. To clean. To cook. To call her back. To write them that email.
On the other hand, I can feel the groaning of the Spirit tugging on my heart. That can wait. I really can’t explain this feeling, but it’s a pull and sometimes I am so thankful for this, albeit annoyign when I am trying to do what I want to do, because it gets so strong that I must stop and spend some time. In prayer. In worship. In my Word. I am forced to set down what I am doing, enjoy the moment, and to embrace what He has for me in that minute.
Before you go thinking that I sit beside my bed, pray for hours and churn my own butter, let me set the record straight. I am too busy in so many ways. I have timers to ensure that I am spending enough time with the Lord; so being saintly isn’t the issue here. It’s out of necessity, for my sanity and so that my family and friends still want to be with me that I have learned to drop what I am doing and take a minute.
Don’t stress yourself out here. There is a time and place for longer times in communion with God, and there are times for shorter ones. On a daily basis, spend five minutes. Notice the change in yourself, in your attitude, and in your relationships. Try to go longer. Or not. But commit that five minutes to truly immersing yourself. As time goes on, and seasons change, you can spend longer time as the Lord calls you to do so.
So let’s do this. Let’s set aside 5 minutes and spend some time with the Lord. Before your day, in the middle of it, or at the end. It doesn’t matter.
But here me in this: give yourself grace. Breathe. You don’t need to do it all in one day.
Daily 5 Minute Breath Prayer Devotional
In the book of 1 Thessalonians Paul gives instructions to “pray continuously” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and while this is an ideal, to actually pray continually is a hard feat to achieve. As humans we have needs that need to be met: we need to eat, we need to sleep, we need to breathe. And, as relational beings who are in friendships, relationships, families, school and work places, we have other tasks which demand our attention: we talk, we sing, we think about the tasks at hand.
However, if Paul tells us that we should pray without ceasing then we absolutely should! The discipline of Prayer is so important as it opens our minds and hearts to God, and Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing” and to be “joyful always” and “give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) This command can be hard when we don’t feel joyful or when we aren’t sure what there is to be happy about. This command is easier to keep when we are happy or when things are going our way. However, Jesus is with us always and the book of Acts tells us that in Jesus we “live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)
Prayer often feels like something we must do in a quiet place, silent, and alone. It also often feels as though our prayers should be long and involved, and sometimes we don’t have the energy or the words to explain to God how we are feeling. Praying without ceasing, no matter what the circumstance, reminds us that God is with us, living and present within us. The discipline of Breath Prayer reminds us to pray to God, just as easily as we remember to breathe. Below is a list of names or characteristics of God. Spend a few minutes reading through this list and look for a name of God that you can relate to in this time in your life. Perhaps you are fearful about a situation so the name of God, “Great Shepherd” stands out to you. Or maybe you have felt very close to God recently, and so the name “Comforter” is what resonates with you.
Take your time here. Pray that God would reveal his characteristics and attributes to you as you read through the list. Look up the verses that correspond with the name so that you can better understand why this is a name of God. If none of the names below stand out to you, most Bibles have a concordance in which lists names of God, or reading through the Psalms or the Gospels will give you even more examples of names and characteristics of God.
Names of God
- Advocate - 1 John 2:1
- Almighty - Revelation 1:8
- Alpha - Revelation 1:8
- Amen - Revelation 3:14
- Angel of the Lord - Genesis 16:7
- Anointed One - Psalm 2:2
- Apostle-Hebrews 3:1
- Author and Perfecter of our Faith - Hebrews 12:2
- Beginning - Revelation 21:6
- Bishop of Souls - 1 Peter 2:25
- Branch - Zechariah 3:8
- Bread of Life - John 6:35,48
- Bridegroom - Matthew 9:15
- Carpenter - Mark 6:3
- Chief Shepherd - 1 Peter 5:4
- The Christ - Matthew 1:16
- Comforter - Jeremiah 8:18
- Consolation of Israel - Luke 2:25
- Cornerstone - Ephesians 2:20
- Dayspring - Luke 1:78
- Day Star - 2 Peter 1:19
- Deliverer - Romans 11:26
- Desire of Nations - Haggai 2:7
- Emmanuel - Matthew 1:23
- End - Revelation 21:6
- Everlasting Father - Isaiah 9:6
- Faithful and True Witness - Revelation 3:14
- First Fruits - 1 Corinthians 15:23
- Foundation - Isaiah 28:16
- Fountain - Zechariah 13:1
- Friend of Sinners - Matthew 11:19
- Gate for the Sheep - John 10:7
- Gift of God - 2 Corinthians 9:15
- God - John 1:1
- Glory of God - Isaiah 60:1
- Good Shepherd - John 10:11
- Governor - Matthew 2:6
- Great Shepherd - Hebrews 13:20
- Guide - Psalm 48:14
- Head of the Church - Colossians 1:18
- High Priest - Hebrews 3:1
- Holy One of Israel - Isaiah 41:14
- Horn of Salvation - Luke 1:69
- I Am - Exodus 3:14
- Jehovah - Psalm 83:18
- Jesus - Matthew 1:21
- King of Israel - Matthew 27:42
- King of Kings - 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16
- Lamb of God - John 1:29
- Last Adam - 1 Corinthians 15:45
- Life - John 11:25
- Light of the World - John 8:12; John 9:5
- Lion of the Tribe of Judah - Revelation 5:5
- Lord of Lords - 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16
- Master - Matthew 23:8
- Mediator - 1 Timothy 2:5
- Messiah - John 1:41
- Mighty God - Isaiah 9:6
- Morning Star - Revelation 22:16
- Nazarene - Matthew 2:23
- Omega - Revelation 1:8
- Passover Lamb - 1 Corinthians 5:7
- Physician - Matthew 9:12
- Potentate - 1 Timothy 6:15
- Priest - Hebrews 4:15
- Prince of Peace - Isaiah 9:6
- Prophet - Acts 3:22
- Propitiation - I John 2:2
- Purifier - Malachi 3:3
- Rabbi - John 1:49
- Ransom - 1 Timothy 2:6
- Redeemer - Isaiah 41:14
- Refiner - Malachi 3:2
- Refuge - Isaiah 25:4
- Resurrection - John 11:25
- Righteousness - Jeremiah 23:6
- Rock - Deuteronomy 32:4
- Root of David - Revelation 22:16
- Ruler of God’s Creation - Revelation 3:14
- Sacrifice - Ephesians 5:2
- Savior - 2 Samuel 22:47; Luke 1:47
- Second Adam - 1 Corinthians 15:47
- Seed of Abraham - Galatians 3:16
- Seed of David - 2 Timothy 2:8
- Seed of the Woman - Genesis 3:15
- Servant - Isaiah 42:1
- Shepherd - 1 Peter 2:25
- Shiloh - Genesis 49:10
- Son of David - Matthew 15:22
- Son of God - Luke 1:35
- Son of Man - Matthew 18:11
- Son of Mary - Mark 6:3
- Son of the Most High - Luke 1:32
- Stone - Isaiah 28:16
- Sun of Righteousness - Malachi 4:2
- Teacher - Matthew 26:18
- Truth - John 14:6
- Way - John 14:6
- Wonderful Counselor - Isaiah 9:6
- Word - John 1:1
- Vine – John 15:1
What name of God resonates deep within you right now?
After you choose the name that is meaningful to you, ask yourself “why?” What desire of your heart does this name reveal in you? For example, if you chose the name “Great Shepherd” it might be because you need guidance about an upcoming decision so your desire would be “guide me.” Or, if you chose the name “Comforter”, maybe it’s because you feel His Fatherly protection around you and so the desire might be, “I am yours.”
These two simple statements is what makes up your breath prayer: Name of God + Desire of your heart = breath prayer
- Practice this prayer by saying the name of God slowly as your inhale deeply, and then saying the desire of your heart as you exhale. Do this many times until you find a rhythm doing it, just as natural as your breath.
- Now, make a list of times in your day or situations in your life that you can use the discipline of Breath Prayer as a reminder of God’s presence within you. Then, think about a specific situation that causes you stress, joy, fear, excitement or any other strong emotion, and find a breath prayer that would be perfect for that setting. Write it down, and have it ready in your heart and mind before you enter into that situation, reminding yourself to pray through it.
Let’s do this daily, for one week and check in with each other. How has it helped you? What name of God did you choose?
Friday, January 18, 2013
It’s 105 degrees in the room and I find my self inhaling and exhaling in the middle of a yoga class. Sweat is dripping out of pores that I didn’t know I had and I am wondering if it’s too late to sneak out and get my money back. So let me rephrase: I put myself into that hot room. I have a love/hate relationship with a self-inflicted rough road. I had friends in high school who would look at me crazy as I would pray for God to “wreck me.” And still, I grimace when I pray these words. I know I need a wrecking. I know I need a good sweat. A chance to be uncomfortable, a chance to sweat out the bad and be replenished with the good.
As I’m in there sweating, Im staring in the mirror and all I can think about is the fact that I chose to wear gray pants to a hot yoga class. Groaning inwardly, I just picture the inevitable sweat marks that will appear on my pants and I grimace. Maybe, if I have any luck at all, I will sweat so much that my whole pants will turn black and thus, no awkward dark areas. But the chances of that are about as high as my hopes for my first day of grad school: I had stepped into my first class at seminary and after one look of my large sunglasses, pink laptop case, and over-sized earrings my professor kindly asked me if I was lost. I think he thought I still was until I turned in my first paper. And as I’m sitting worrying about my sweat lines, the voice of the teacher interrupts me: ”try to find some ease during your effort.” And I begin to deeply inhale and deeply exhale and I close my eyes so that I can’t see my pants in the mirror anymore.
I started a book study with a group of women today. We are reading through the book “7″ by Jen Hatmaker. She’s a woman who has identified 7 areas of excess in her life and purged, spending one month on each area. Trying to create space for God to move, and get rid of distractions so that she could hear the voice and calling of her Creator a bit more clearly. We will be going through this book together and doing a modified version of it, hoping to purge and create some space.
Inhale. Exhale. Flat back, engage those hamstrings. I’ve been to yoga enough times that these instructions can play in the very back corner of my mind reserved only to instruct my body; much like tying my shoes or eating cereal. Thoughts that are there just to manage movement. What’s on the for front of my mind, of all things, is the seven woes that Jesus lays out in a not-so-cherry manner in the book of Matthew (or Luke. You choose). The back corner of my mind is directing my body and as I inhale and exhale deeply, I just keep thinking about those stones.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I havegathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate…Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Matthew 23:37-38…24:1-2)
An entire city, an entire religious system of the Pharisees that kills the prophets that are sent to them. Stoning was used to condemn and to kill others. Stones also happen to be the state of the Pharisee’s hearts: hard. unwilling to repent. And it’s also the same material they use to build their temple. Jesus, in addition to my Savior, is my literary hero. His play on words in a situation like this is so masterful, that the wordsmith in me reads passages like this and shouts “Bravo!” Which, I am sure, He gets amusement from. I digress.
Jesus spends the first part of Matthew 23 condemning the Pharisees for what hypocrites they are. He ends this admonishment with the passage above: talking about stones. The act of stoning. The stones that built the temple. And what they represent: nothing but a beautiful, but desolate temple. The Pharisees have spent their life in a religious system that had everything to do with legalism and nothing to do with Christ. Of course, Christ has just entered the scene, but still, their hard hearts are not willing to put these stones down and repent. Instead, they insist on holding these laws…these stones…these things that they insist are most important and aim them at anyone who disagrees. As laid out in the many verses prior, they are stoning those around them by their judgements and insistence upon following their way of life. And the worst part is is that these stones aren’t necessarily in their hands, but represented in their hard, hard hearts. They have no idea that they are carrying these heavy burdens around, and that an easy yoke is right in front of them.
I’m now dripping sweat and I’ve forgotten about my pants. It’s a balancing class which seems quite humorous to me as I begin thinking about the book 7 and the areas of excess, the places I need to purge and find more balance. Mrs. Hatmaker gave up physical things because she needed to declutter and make space. And while I am on board, I fear that the “things” I will give up will have to be because of the stones that I carry. As I am controting my body in different poses and shapes, I have to let go of some muscles and engage others. I have to concentrate on one point in front of me or I will tumble over. I have to be firmly grounded in my foot that is holding up my body, and light as a feather in every other muscle. I can’t let any part of my body hang with extra weight or it will throw off my balance completely. And it’s in that moment I realize why our journey through 7 will be so very hard for me: I have stones that I throw. I have stones that weigh me down. I have places of my heart that are as hard as stone. And, like the Pharisees, I have built my own place of worship out of these. same. stones.
You see, Jesus called the temple desolate. It was beautiful, make no mistake, but it was empty. And in His genius, literary, oh-my-goodness-God-is-the-best-writer-EVER way, this very passage ends with Jesus promising not one stone will be left standing. Yes, historically, not one stone of the temple will be left standing. But more importantly, not one stone of the Pharisee’s legalism, their own religion they designed and built places of worship, their hard hearts, will be left standing. They will crumble. They will fall. In the face of the glory and supremecy of Christ, their “religion” can not stand.
And as I tumble out of my balancing pose, I realize, that this will be true for me, too. That all my stones, the religion I’ve built that has everything to do with everything else and nothing to do with Christ in many areas will come crumbling down. That not one of those stones will be left, and the desolate temple that I walk in so many times a day, when faced with the magnificent splendor of Christ, can not…and will not stand .
Monday, December 10, 2012
Today I have a special treat (no pun intended) for you! My sister in law Mariel has an amazing Paleo food blog. I have been so inspired by her creations that this week I made a Vegan and Paleo Ice Cream Pie, and she offered to have me guest post on her site! Here is an excerpt from the full post:
At what point in our lives do we go from having opinions to have convictions? An old pastor of mine once said that as he got older, his list of convictions got shorter and his list of opinions got longer. I guess this means that as he learned more and more he allowed his mind to be changed, and things that he once felt very rigid about became a part of a category in which he held his thoughts loosely. On the other hand, his list of convictions were few, but that much stronger.
You see, the thing about opinions and convictions are that opinions are often determined by our life circumstances while convictions are time-tested, well thought out, I’d-die-on-that-hill, beliefs. It takes a strong person to have well-educated opinions and an even stronger one to have firmly established convictions.