Jesus might have been less redundant if he spoke Greek…

Something that I find very obnoxious is redundancy. Often times I am convinced that it wastes time and makes me feel like incompatantcy is either suggested or found in one or the other party. So you can imagine my annoyance with this little story in John 21:15-18.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

Why the heck is Jesus so repetitive and redundant?!

He asks Peter (Simon) whether or not he loves him three times. And he tells him to feed or take care of his sheep the same amount of times.

Why?

“Well today I was gifted with a little insight into this mystery and I would love to humbly share it with you, if you don’t mind”, she said, sipping her Starbucks iced coffee daintily. (See what I did there? For Thirsty Thursday?)!

First of all, in the Greek translation, “love” has different words and meanings. I will give you a brief run down, but I would probably check out C.S. Lewis and his book The Four Loves if you’re interested.

  • Agápe means love in a “spiritual” sense. It often refers to a general affection or deeper sense of “true unconditional love” which is selfless; it gives and expects nothing in return. (The love of God).
  • Éros is “physical” passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. Romantic, pure emotion without the balance of logic. “Love at first sight”. Eros does not have to be sexual in nature, but describing love you have for someone more than just a friend.
  • Philia  “mental” love. It means affectionate regard or friendship in both ancient and modern Greek. This type of love has give and take. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity.
  • Storge means “affection” in ancient and modern Greek. It is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring. In fact, it is almost exclusively as a descriptor of relationships within the family. It is also known to express mere acceptance or putting up with situations, as in “loving” the tyrant.

In the Greek translation, here’s how this conversation with Jesus would go down:

JC: Peter, do you AGAPE me more than these?

Pete: Lord, you know that I PHILIA you.

JC: Peter, do you AGAPE me?”

Pete: Yes, Lord, you know that I PHILIA you.

JC: Peter, do you PHILIA me?

Pete: (a little annoyed and grieved at being asked a third time) Lord, you know all things; you know that I PHILIA you!

JC: Then feed my sheep.

Now, Peter and Jesus didn’t speak Greek, so they wouldn’t have had this quibble over words, but what we have to ask ourselves is why did the writer, John, use the distinction between the two loves?

I believe all scripture is God-breathed and profitable, and I sure hope you do too. So, there is some reason as to why these two words are used in the Greek translation, and I believe is is to get us to understand a little more about who Jesus Christ is.

Jesus, after using one word for love, changed his words in order to meet Peter where he was at that time. Peter was clearly not at the level of Agape love (perhaps because he had just denied Jesus earlier), and so Jesus made the adjustment, came down to Peter’s level with Philia love while at the same time still making it clear that Agape love was the goal for his disciples.

Now, isn’t that beautiful? And isn’t that the way God always works?

love youHe points out the facts of what we should do. He will do that forever, and I sure am glad because I would really be lost with our clear direction! He shows us the kind of love He has for us and wants us to experience the deepest level of for His glory and for our own precious experience of Him.

…and yet… if for some reason we’re not there yet, if for some reason we just can’t get to that deep level in our spiritual walk, God does not just brush us aside and roll his eyes at how immature and stupid we are (even if we truly are immature and stupid). No! God comes down to our level and gives us a hand, gives us direction to get further, and loves us with all of Himself so that we might get to that deeper level.

Sometimes we are like Peter. We love God, we really do, but there is sin in our lives that is keeping us from really truly experiencing God as fully as He wants us to. But instead of sin creating an unbridgeable gap between us and God, Jesus bridges the gap for us. 

I mean, isn’t that why Jesus was sent down in the first place? To not only come down to our human level of experience, but to rectify our sin?

Peter sinned against God three huge times by denying Him in His final hour. This sin put a block up around Peter so he was not able to love God in the Agape sense. If Jesus, who truly deserves the full, selfless, godly Agape love, did not come down and adjust to accept his Philia love, I don’t think Peter would have gone on to do all of God’s incredible work as shown in the book of Acts. He would have no hope of even understanding how to get to Agape love unless Jesus gave him instructions on how to do so (“feed my sheep”).

Now, if God will do this for us, come down and meet us where we’re at, how much more should we do this for others?

Are you struggling with another believer who “just isn’t getting it”? Are you frustrated with your loved one who is stuck in sin or guilt or confusion?

Do what Jesus did. Get on their level. Accept where they are in their walk. Help them in their journey, not by pointing out direction from above, but by coming alongside them and showing them the way.

Perhaps you are the one who needs to be met at your level. Know and trust that Jesus is with you. His Holy Spirit is on you and will guide you to the next step further in your faith. You do not have to work your way up to God. In fact, you will fail miserably if you try! God will meet you where you are and take you higher, just as He did for Peter, Paul, the woman at the well, and countless others!

Today, for Thirsty Thursday, get thirsty for God’s love. His Agape love!

 

Do we really need to give to anyone who asks?

thirsty thursHappy 4th of July everyone!

Today for Thirsty Thursday I am drinking an Orange Spice Iced Coffee with Soy from Starbucks. I received a Starbucks gift card, and I am putting it to good use. Although… when I ordered this drink, the woman apparently did not know they served anything “orange spice”, so I am guessing this drink is not as popular as it should be. So I am doing Starbucks a favor now and letting all of you know that it is a good investment. Go order yourself one today!

Now that you have your fancy drink, let’s get on with the rest of our post…

Last week my church conducted something called “Compassion Sunday”. This is a day when our church members go out into our surrounding community of Roseland on the far South Side of Chicago. Some pray with people, some give food, some provide a service, others visit shut in members or sick members, and some hold services in the local shelters or hospitals.

This particular time, I was in charge of a clothing drive. The process involved collecting clothing donations from the church, sorting them, organizing them into nicely folded piles, and then spreading the word!

The spreading the word was probably the most fun. On the Saturday before the Compassion Sunday Clothing Give-Away, I snagged a neighbor girl along with 40 fliers, and we hit up Michigan Avenue (between 107th and 115th  street, not the Michigan Avenue in the Chicago Loop).

During our jaunt down the block, the two of us just wandered, looking into the famous Roseland Doughnut Shop, watching with several others as men made giant globs of apple fritter. We stopped to talk with a family of 5 who were parked on the side street and eating melting popsicles with open van doors. We tossed out granola bars to men sitting on the side of the street, claiming that they had the “munchies”, and complimented a girl on her nice dress and intricate nose ring.

We stopped to hand one man a flier, and asked if he wanted a granola bar. He said yes, reached in the bag and pulled out two handfuls. My face must have shown surprise, or perhaps even disapproval, because he said, “Oh, I’m sorry. Can I have a few? I’ve got some kids down the block…” I nodded my head and smiled.

“Of course. Take as many as you need.”

My neighbor squinted her eyes; she has been trained (and trained well in my opinion) to be distrusting and wary, especially of men on the street. “You know he was prolly lyin’ right Claire?”

“Oh I don’t think it really matters.” I say, but really it’s not me whose speaking, because…well, me? Well, I’m thinking the same thing in my own head. It was the voice of the Holy Spirit inside of me who spoke, and I was reminded of Jesus.

To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” Luke 6:29-31

Jesus’s instructions are clear. We must give to who ever asks. Even if that man had taken all of our granola bars, I know Jesus would instruct us not to ask for them back, just as this passage teaches.

I was reminded of this yet again during Compassion Sunday. A woman’s hungry eyes were darting all over the clothing racks and tables of purses, belts and shoes. I handed her plastic bag after plastic bag, and she took as much as she could carry.

My natural, judgmental instinct would be to glare at her, ask her if she really needed all of these clothes, and request she think of others rather than herself and to please save some items for the rest of the people.

But Jesus is pretty clear. This woman was asking for more.

It was not my place to judge whether she needed more; it was my job to give her more, and to not even withhold the clothing off my own back from her (if she for some reason wanted to put my shirt in her bag too)!

It is the same with the Gospel. We are to share it– to give it to others. What they do with it after we give it to them is on their own conscious, not ours. In the same way, our job is to simply give to those who ask, never denying anyone. After we give, it’s up to them to decide how they choose to use the gifts. 

Jesus is the joyful giver. He is the Spirit of giving, and He gave his life for us.

How are we reflecting His precious gifts to us by giving to others who ask? How are we using our own gifts from God, including the gift of giving?

The First Thirsty Thursday

thirsty thursAs this is my first post for Thirsty Thursdays, I thought I’d explore an appropriate verse as well as explain what Thirsty Thursdays’ posts will generally be about.

If you’re in college, you might know “Thirsty Thursdays” to be completely different than what might be found on a Christian blogger’s posts. According to Urban Dictionary, Thirsty Thursday refers to “a term normally found on college campuses, the title becoming popular when many students did not have early morning classes on Fridays, allowing them to drink and party on Thursday night”.

Well, this Thirsty Thursday is quite different for several reasons:

Number one, I’m no longer a college student, but I do, in fact, have early morning classes on Friday (I’m a High School teacher), so late night partying is not really something I could do even if I wanted to.

Number two, alcohol and raging parties is just kind of not my thing anymore. And if it still were, would I be blogging about it and glorifying it on a blog that’s suppose to be glorifying my Lord and Savior? Um, no.

So usually, what I will do for Thirsty Thursdays, is I’ll be drinking something. Usually coffee or tea, but sometimes I guess I’ll be drinking Naked juice or Diet Pepsi or a glass of red wine (because drinking alcohol is not a sin, but being drunk is)…. or water. Water is always good. Anyway, I’ll be drinking something and I’ll probably tell you about it (because I know you care!). Then I’ll blog about Jesus.

Why about Jesus, you ask?

Well, number one, because He’s awesome, and He totally deserves a weekly blog post. And so much more.

Number two, because just like I need water to satisfy my thirst and keep me alive, I need Jesus to satisfy my thirst and to give me life.

In fact, this leads me to my verse of the Thirsty Thursday:

… Living Water, that is.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

That first part: it’s it so true? I swear, there are days (usually hot summer days) when I cannot seem to drink enough water. I’m always thirsty, always wanting more.

Water is an earthly substance. Indeed, planet Earth is iconic because of it’s water sources. It means that life can exist.

Our bodies are made of 60% water. We need it.

But, like all earthly things, we can never be fully satisfied with it. Just because we have water to drink, or water near us, or water in our bodies, it doesn’t mean that we’re truly alive.

Here’s where Jesus comes in. Jesus is alive. And because he is alive, we can be alive too!

The Living Water is different than regular water….. but how?

The kind of water which Jesus spoke about was “living” (moving or running) water. During the times of Jesus, water from a cool running stream was always preferred to the still, dirty water one might find in a pond or well; it was cleaner, clearer, fresher, better. The water which Jesus spoke of symbolized the always-moving Holy Spirit. The Spirit part of the trinity is the Living Water, the one who moves us to action and inspires the divine works in our lives. This “water”life makes us a new creation in Jesus Christ.

The Living Water of the Holy Spirit satisfies our deepest desires, thirsts, and longings for God. It is better than any earthly remedy. Like water, we need to drink in the Spirit everyday, multiple times a day, or we will become dehydrated, lethargic, and sick.

Now that you know what Thirsty Thursdays are all about, I will leave you with one deep theological question:

If earthly water makes up 60% of our body, what percentage of our body should consist of the Living Water that Jesus speaks of?

Oh, and also, I’m drinking home made iced coffee from our french press. No big deal.

Satisfaction Guaranteed Part II

When are you most satisfied with God?

pathways

Will you go your own way, or will you go God’s way?

I asked this question to one of the girls I am discipling over these next two months. It is a tough question to ask yourself, especially when you’re not sure how to maintain the relationship with Christ during a day filled with distractions. The students I am working with spend almost all day at ministry sites, evangelizing on the streets of Chicago, or listening to workshops and interviews with ministry workers; their focus is clear. But this kind of situation is not as common for the majority of us.

It’s like going to a retreat or a mission trip and feeling absolutely on fire for God while we’re there, only to come back feeling empty and lukewarm. God doesn’t seem as present as He was when we were in the midst of all the ministry and worship and prayer and people.

Why though? Is one true and the other false? And if so, which sensation is false– the “on fire” passion we felt momentarily, or this halfheartedness that consumes us when we get caught in our daily lives?

There is a true and present danger that can and will cause us terrible loss and pain if we are not deliberately fighting against it.

The danger is our own selves.

We come from a fallen family of sinners, and if we trust out own efforts and strength to live our Christian lives, we are guaranteed to experience failure and frustration rather than intimacy and satisfaction in God.

This is not a completely modern predicament, as Paul was writing to the Galations about this very same thing: “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” (Galations 3:3)

The truth is, human beings have been trying to go it on their own since Eden. We’re all just like the first humans, doing our own thing, thinking that we’ve got it totally under control.

We cannot enjoy all God desires for us if we live by our own self-centered desires.

“For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want” (Galations 5:17).

Perhaps we felt “on fire” for God because, unlike our usual life, we were putting our own selfishness on pause for a retreat or a mission trip or even a church service. Perhaps we don’t feel a connection to Christ afterwards because our own desires are replacing the desires that His Holy Spirit has for us.

Ah ha! The answer is yet again tied to the Holy Spirit. The third member in God’s Holy Trinity.

When we become a Christian, we receive the Holy Spirit, and we commit to walk an intimate journey which we can only walk successfully in the Spirit of Christ. When we walk with Him, we increasingly experience intimacy with God and enjoy all He has for us. When we walk in the Spirit, we have the ability to live a life that is pleasing to our God.

But… how do we live by the Spirit?

Although it may seem as though answering this question might be difficult, it actually is quite simple. Just about as simple as…. well, as simple as breathing!

Spiritual Breathing is a powerful picture that helps us experience moment-by-moment dependence upon God’s Holy Spirit.

Exhale: Confessing sins in the moment you become aware of it, agreeing with God concerning it, and thanking Him for His forgiveness. John 1:9 and Hebrews 10:1-25 explain that confession requires repentance, or a change in attitude and action, so this is a very real and yet symbolic way that we can acknowledge our own need for grace.

Inhale: Surrender control of your life to Christ, and rely upon the Holy Spirit to fill you with His presence and power. Allow God to put His plan for you above your own plan for yourself. Let your faith be bigger than any earthly desire you might have.

The act of simply breathing in the Holy Spirit can bring us back (if we let it) to God’s presence and power within us. For it is by the Spirit that we live the fullest life.

Satisfaction Guaranteed Part I

What words would you use to describe your current experience as a Christian?Growing, disappointing, forgiven, struggling, defeating, up and down, discouraged, intimate, painful, guilty, so-so, frustrated, fulfilled, stuck, joyful, exciting, empty, duty, mediocre, dynamic, vital…?

Each and every one of these words could have been used at one point during these 3 years I have been a Christian to describe my walk with Christ. I would love to say that my walk has always been rewarding and encouraging, but the truth is, my walk has been messy, unpredictable, and at many times unsatisfying.

But… I’m a Christian! Isn’t life suppose to be fulfilling and awesome now?!

I never really went through a “mediocre Christian” walk, where I was half-heartedly following Jesus just because it was expected of me. This was because I was not raised in a practicing Christian home, so I could never simply follow Jesus by default; Christianity was something that was not expected of me. Still, I have felt my walk become lukewarm, even during such a satisfaction-guaranteedshort time following Christ.

When I look at my personal journey, and the journey of so many others, I have to ask myself why? Why do we get so negligent in our pursuit of Christ? Especially if we really are aware of all He’s done for us, why do we so often feel unfulfilled in our faith?

Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:37-38). John explains what Jesus meant, “By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John 7:39).

Jesus promised that God‘s Holy Spirit would satisfy the thirst of deepest longings of all who believe in Jesus Christ as well as glorify Him who sent his Spirit. The Holy Spirit then, has the potential to be the source of our deepest satisfaction as well as God’s!

But just who exactly is the Holy Spirit? God? Jesus? Some kind of ghost?

The Holy Spirit is God’s permanent presence with us here on earth: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17).  And this Counselor is the one who enables us to understand and experience all God has given us. “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians 2:12).

I have met many a person who claim to be Christian and followers of Christ, but who do not live by the Spirit. The Holy Ghost has no real place to live and move in their life because they do not allow themselves to be ruled by God. First Corinthians tells us that the person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God because they cannot understand them and that the spiritual person makes judgments about all things with the mind of Christ.

So.

Spirit= Understanding and oneness with Christ

No Spirit= Foolishness, lack of clarity, disunity with Christ

Perhaps, like me, this is starting to clear up some of the reasons you may have chosen some of those negative words to describe your walk with Christ.

We as Christians cannot experience intimacy with God and enjoy all He has for us if we fail to live by His Spirit. If we trust in our own efforts and strength to live the Christians life, we will experience failure and frustration, as will those who please themselves rather than God.

When I think about my walk with the Lord, there have been dark times and there have been times of illumination. Looking back, I can see that the darkness sprung from me deliberately or accidentally shutting out the Holy Spirit, and the illumination came as a result of relying on the Holy Spirit to guide my actions. It was all about how I chose to live, or rather… who I chose to live for.

Jesus tells us in the Gospel that all who love their life will loose it, but all who loose their life for Christ’s sake will find it. So too, when we live for ourselves rather than for God, we loose our satisfaction in His Spirit, we loose our guidance from His Spirit, and we loose our identity in Christ.

Before I dive deeper into this topic, stop and think about where you are in your walk with Christ. Do you desire more? Are you completely satisfied? How clear can you see God’s work in your life?

Then ask yourself, do you listen to the Holy Spirit?

What’s the Purpose?

Today I was in the middle of a grammar lesson and one of my students sighed dramatically and exclaimed, “What’s the purpose of this?!”

A valid question, to be sure. But when attempting to teach 25 children about misplaced modifiers, it is difficult to explain the relevance of such work early on in the process of learning it. The truth of the matter was that I couldn’t effectively and efficiently explain why this lesson was important. He needed to trust that it simply is important, and in time, he would see why.

In getting slightly frustrated with this boy, I was reminded how God works in the same way, and to Him, I must sound like this irritating child who just couldn’t do the grammar exercise without being explained it’s importance.

So often God instructs me with His Word or His Holy Spirit and I don’t understand the purpose of His instructions. I become bothered by the lack of explanation He provides and my trust dwindles.

When this happens with my students, I, rather exasperated, remind them how well they did on the last exam because of this kind of practice, or I remind them that I graduated with a degree in English and that they can trust me that reading the assigned book will indeed make them more educated human beings.

Then I am humbled, thinking of myself in my student’s place, sitting at my own little writing-desk which God has called me to, complaining about the lack of direction in the open-ended assignment he has given to me. How many times has God saved me? How does it usually work out when I break away from His will and do my own thing? Has He ever allowed me to fall from grace and has He ever left me with plans which hurt me?

 I am reminded that in order to learn something new, you have to trust the masters of the craft. Just as my students can trust me as their guide when writing a reflective essay on internal racism in “The Bluest Eye”, I need to trust God in the work he has for me to do. When my students trust in the process of writing, they soon realize it’s value when looking at the end product. With God, it is just the same.

Since I am seeking to do His work, I have to trust in His process if I want to see the product that He has in mind.

Lately I have been wondering what God’s got up His sleeve. I hear His voice calling me to specific projects and even to avoid specific people or activities, but I don’t know what the purpose is. I feel like that dramatically exasperated boy in class– too wrapped up in the world to open his eyes and see the big picture, or too self-concerned to trust that there even is a big picture to see.

One of His latest assignments, among others, is to plant a garden. My friend gave me a starter kit vegetable garden and it has been sitting in my kitchen looking cute and taking up valuable space for about two weeks. I also have two bags of soil sitting on my porch also taking up space and looking… well, not so cute.

I could not explain to you why God wants me to plant a garden. I even expressed to my husband today how I’m not sure I enjoy gardening at all, and how I would really love to like it, but I’m not sure I do, and anyway, I’m so busy with work and church obligations, and housework and you know, being alive, that I just don’t think I have time for planting things…Well, that may be true in my mind, but to God, I am just that obnoxious student who always vocalizes frustration with not understanding the point of reading such an “old” book!

In short, I am a disobedient and disrespectful child when I question God’s purpose, even if it is in a simple assignment such as planting a few tomato plants. But if I cannot obey God in the small commands, how can He trust me with larger blessings? My students cannot write a full essay until they know how to write a sentence, and if they practice their addition and subtraction, they can soon divide and multiply.

If I want my gifts and blessings from God to multiply, I must do good with the small responsibilities that God grants, even if I don’t understand His purpose. For, as He says, “my thoughts are higher than your thoughts”(Isaiah 55:9); I am not meant to understand His ways, and if I did, He would not be a God worth obeying.

The all-knowing-all-seeing Lord tells me through His Word: “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land”(Isaiah 1:19)…. and in the case of crop-growing, that promise may be very literal.

What assignments is God giving you these days? How have you learned to trust Him without always knowing His purpose?

Truth: I am a weirdo

“Those who are ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the son of man will also be ashamed when he comes in glory of his father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38

There are times when I feel that being a Christian makes me weird. In a world where it’s encouraged to devote your entire life to making money and having fun, my life choices and opinions seem to contradict with the general population, oftentimes making me the awkward Jesus-freak at the party.

Yes, at times I feel confused and outcast when I find myself the only Christian in a group full of people who seem to despise anything remotely religious.

And I’ll admit, there are dark moments when I feel tempted to hide my true beliefs in Christ’s words simply because I don’t want to offend other people or be the odd one out.

Reading Jesus’ words here in Mark have deeply convicted me. I do not want to be ashamed of my Savior! I do not want to blend into an adulterous and sinful nation, even if it means I feel completely outcast.

In reality, Jesus himself was an outcast from the rest of society (that’s why they crucified him). But he shown brightly and stood out like the city upon a hill that he calls us all do be.

I too, am called to stand out and be marked as different. I am a child of God in a world that attempts to make gods out of celebrities’ photoshopped images; of course I am going to seem a little strange to the majority of people.

I am deeply proud of my God’s work, even when I don’t fully understand it. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and will never be ashamed of his unique holiness nor will I shy away from the high standards he holds me to as his follower.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?” Mark 8:34-35

I am a follower of Christ, therefore my life is not my own. My choices are lead by my God and so may look ridiculous in the eyes of many. But since my life is not my own, I do not live it to seek approval of the world–what good would that do me in the end?! It’s Jesus’ approval that I truly desire.

This is not an easy teaching: to place your entire identity in someone that you have not met face to face yet.

But the weight of the world is much heavier than the weight of his cross, the cross that he already carried for us.

I would rather love Jesus and be a weirdo than be accepted into any social group on this earth.

What about you? Is it ever hard for you to admit to those around you that you live for Christ? Do you ever feel yourself hiding your faith or feeling ashamed of your unique calling? How does Mark’s passages speak to you?

Are you a “stalker”?

So, you’re an online blog-reader.

Annnnnd….I know from my stats that most of you get to this blog via facebook.

Have you ever heard someone start a sentence using these words: “so I was facebook stalking the other day…”?

Not you. Oh no, I know you would never partake in such a degrading and time-sucking practice as “facebook stalking”… NEVER!

The truth is, we all have been guilty of clicking through someone’s profile pictures, or following the chain of people who commented on so-and-so’s recent status update, then ended up looking at pictures of a stranger’s baby or dog or….something else equally invasive and downright creepy.

The truth is, we can know a lot about a random person that we are facebook ‘friends’ with. We can know that they like to ride their bike to work or that they are obsessed with One Direction. We can even know who they are dating, when they stopped working at the Dairy Queen, and (if they are as detailed with their status updates as some people I know) how often they go work out at the gym or what they’re making for dinner on Sunday night.

You could know all these random things about complete strangers!

And you’d be considered a genuine stalker in most people’s books.

…Although, social networking and people’s openness about sharing their lives with the world wide web has made this pretty much typical and even expected.

What I’ve found to ring so true for me is this: Often times, we are what I like to call Jesus Stalkers.

We know our Bible verses and our Be-attitudes and we wear our WWJD bracletts (are those even a thing anymore?)– fine. We wear our “Jesus is my Homeboy” tee shirts, and we go to church, and we know about what Jesus said and what he did and who he cured and how he died and how he rose and all of that good stuff.

And that’s good, right?

See, the weird part is that most Jesus Stalkers look like devout Christians who are highly informed about Jesus.

But again, the truth is, you can be highly informed about the dude who sits next to you in Philosophy Lecture hall simply because you’re BFF is ‘friends’ with him on facebook and follows him on twitter.

Knowing a lot of information about someone does not mean you know them. I mean like truly know them. On a personal level.

But see, Jesus wants us to know him personally, intimately, and deeply. He doesn’t want to be stalked. He wants to be walked with, talked with, listened to, and he wants our time.

If you google “stalker definition”, you get this:

stalk·er/ˈstôkər/

Noun:
  1. A person who stealthily hunts or pursues an animal or another person.
  2. A person who harasses or persecutes someone with unwanted and obsessive attention.
 Jesus had a few stalkers back in his day too. They were called the Pharisees. They knew everything he was teaching, what he was claiming, and what he was doing. They harassed and persecuted him because they were obsessed with the Law, which Jesus came to demolish, then rebuild in an even better way.
We are not called to be stalkers of Jesus, we are called to be Disciples.

dis·ci·ple/diˈsīpəl/

Noun: A personal follower of Jesus during his life, esp. one of the twelve Apostles.

Verb: Guide (someone) in becoming a follower of Jesus or another leader.

Synonyms: follower – pupil – adherent – learner – apprentice

This is what we want to be. A follower, a pupil, a learner.

The system of apprenticeship first developed in the Middle Ages. A master craftsman was entitled to employ a young person as an inexpensive form of labor in exchange for providing food, lodging and formal training in the craft. Apprentices lived and worked with the master for years and years until they had successfully mastered the craft completely. The idea of “one teacher per student” was adopted by many Zen teachers in practicing their art as well.

If we want to be true followers of Christ, we have to live and work with Him. We have to be one-on-one with Him. And because his craft is utter perfection, we will never master it completely, so we’ll have to keep learning from him every day, no matter how much we feel we know or how “good” we get at being “good”.

 So how about you? How long have you been a Jesus Stalker? 
What does it mean to know Jesus on a personal level?
What does your relationship with Jesus look like? Are you a true disciple?

It’s been a long time…

Well hello world!

I have been sort of MIA for the past few weeks due to a number of things.

Number one is my Internship. STEP-UP has kept me incredibly busy, exhausted, away from the internet :-), but oh-so happy. I have been learning a ton, and making so many connections here in the Aubrun-Gresham community of Chicago.

Number two has been wedding planning. Most of you who know me well know that Dennis and I have changed our date for the wedding. We are now going to get married this summer!

It has been heavy on my heart…this sense that the people around me must think I am absolutely crazy. I am trying so hard not to play the game of pleasing people, but in the process, I feel I might be hurting people or leaving them in the dark. My family has been so wonderful about helping with wedding plans, and Dennis has become Head Planner while I am here in the city. He is allowing me to be present and to focus on soaking in all I can in this unique and fully immersed program. I know that getting married this early and planning it this way is the best thing. I know that God is blessing it and will make it something I will always remember and smile. It defiantly reflects the adventurous nature of our relationship…. and the unconventional nature of it as well.

I know that the way Dennis and I handle our lives is not always easy to understand. I know that trying to explain it might cause more harm than good at times, but I do know that right here, in this exact situation, with a head so full of information and new names that it might burst, with a heart so aching for time with God and time to breath together, with a body so exhausted and stretched and sore… right here is exactly where I need to be. All I can say is that we will live the way God requires us. We will follow Him in all we do as best we can, and that usually is not logical in the eyes of most.

It is very similar to how I felt yesterday during our Peace Circle Reflection. Mitch asked us to explain why we will be good urban educators, and then why we feel especially and specifically drawn to teach in the urban setting. The truth is that God has chosen this for me; I have not. I can’t explain entirely how I know except that I placed my future in God’s hands about a year ago, with all the ideas and dreams of what I’d like for myself and my career floating around in my head, and my heart has taken me here. God chose this internship for me to challenge me, even more so than my dream role could do in a profession production. He put me in this difficult classroom with a teacher who discourages rather than inspires and in a house without my staple foods to help me overcome the insecurities and crutches which cripple my ability to grow in Christ. I know I am capable of loving through God alone. I know I can teach in Christ’s love. I know I am here because God has placed me here.

While I can’t think of a better reason than God’s plan to be here now, it is difficult to explain this to other people. The same way it is difficult to explain why Dennis and I are getting married now as opposed to later. The same way it was difficult to explain why we spent 40 days away from one another without communication before we decided to say “I love you”, after 2 years of dating…

I can already foresee that the way I live my life, if I live it in Christ, is going to be controversial. The way anyone of God lives their life is radical and sparks interest, and sometimes it comes about as negative. The way Jesus lived was controversial, and it angered many. The way I live should do the same, if I commit to taking up my own cross and following Christ. Living in Truth is difficult to understand….

But I have learned that we must not rely on our own understanding; we cannot be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

 

Today I have already seen the Holy Spirit at work. I know I will continue to see it more and more here, where I, a total minority as a middle class white girl, in an unfamiliar City, am beginning to fee at home.

A Prayer for Healing

I know that most of my recent posts have been very prayerful, and probably not as fun to read as my other hair-dying or salad-making escapades, but please take the time to read. I have a feeling that many of us are going through a spiritual adaptation or wrestling with our faith, or simply seeking comfort, and I know that writing in prayer has helped me tremendously.

It has become so clear that right now the most beautiful thing that I have experienced lately has been healing through Christ.

“Your faith has healed you”

I have heard it so many times in the New Testament, but is taken a while to soak in. There is great healing that still I need to accept from Jesus.

I know I have expressed that I have been somewhat of a mess recently, but I realize that this is almost always the case. I am a sinner. A complete and total mess of emotions, desires, temptations, frustrations, and guilt. These things are a part of my humanness. I know I am in this world, and so I experience them, yet I want to badly to be not of this world, but of spirit, of God. God created us to be human; he understands our suffering and our constant failure, and yet he delights in us in a way that no human can ever do.

I have been taking my troubles to man instead of seeking healing through Christ. I have expected too much of myself and of those I care about, to fix me, to fix themselves, to offer the strength that only God can give.

My Prayer:

I need to be healed so badly. Lord break me down so that I am completely dependent upon you and your grace. Help me to find where I feel most ache and lacking and allow me to let you fill it with your spirit. Let me boldly give myself to you and allow you to love me like I know no one else can. I have been casting my faith on objects and people and things of this world that do not reflect the love you give me freely. I have put myself into this world when I should store my treasure with you. I need your help; I rely on you; I can only be fulfilled through your grace and spirit. Fill me with the holy spirit Lord, I am yours.

It is interesting that I do this so often. I become insecure in myself and then expect other people to help me by making me feel better. I place my identity in earthly objects so as to feel worthwhile in the context of this world. I become dependent upon the praises of men that I do not even seek to please God. This is so foolish. The bible tells us that wisdom is to fear God. How am I a God-fearing woman when I am not aware of the closeness of heaven? Heaven is what I should be using this life to prepare myself and those around me for. It is not the job of those around me to make me feel happy in this lifetime, it is my job to see that we are seeking the to bring the Kingdom here on earth. This life is transitory. Jesus offers me eternal life and so often I am too preoccupied with this meaningless earth and time to prepare myself for when I will see his face. I am so blessed that He is patient and loving with my foolishness…

How easy it is to be caught in this trap. I want my life to revolve around Jesus, but I can never do that when I am serving two masters and leading a selfish lifestyle. Jesus’s apostles sold all of their land and offered their wealth as a sacrifice for the work of the Lord. They did not worry because they knew the Lord would provide for them, and their only fear was that of God.

I know that I am in the process of healing from old wounds and new wounds alike. We all are in some kind of process towards healing. We all hurt and are hurt and so we all live in an ongoing reconciliation with ourselves, with loved ones, and with Christ. We can never gain healing from men. We can never offer healing without the Holy Spirit working through us.

It is Christ’s healing that I am seeking and praying to be found by others through me. It is Christ whom I live for; He is the cornerstone of my life and I will not reject Him.