Saturday, May 16, 2009
RELIGION: “I obey-therefore I’m accepted.”
THE GOSPEL: “I’m accepted-therefore I obey.”
RELIGION: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.
THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy.
RELIGION: I obey God in order to get things from God.
THE GOSPEL: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.
RELIGION: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.
THE GOSPEL: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.
RELIGION: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
THE GOSPEL: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.
RELIGION: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.
THE GOSPEL: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.
RELIGION: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel insecure and inadequate. I'm not confident. I feel like a failure.
THE GOSPEL: My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am "simul iustus et peccator"—simultaneously sinful and lost yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.
RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other.’
THE GOSPEL: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.
RELIGION: Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God.
THE GOSPEL: I have many good things in my life—family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.
HT: Vitamin Z
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Good intentions behind it, I'm sure, but it's left us with a lasting problem because we're not children. And the allowances that were made for us then should not be made for us now while we're in our 20s, 30s or (Lord, please, please, no) our 40s. I thought of this just this morning as I looked on Facebook and saw that some younger friends of mine are getting together for Bunco tonight. (P J Bunco...whatever that is...do you win them? Wear them? Would I feel the pressure to go buy something new so that everyone thought that's what I actually wear to bed??)
I think I've played the game before. I can remember something years ago...maybe at a women's night out sometime. I get the point...roll a certain number in a set time. Yea. Okay. I can do that...but not for long. And knowing me as these ladies do, I thought it would be fun to write a little comment under the post that said something about my not being invited, don't they think I'd enjoy it, promising not to lecture on Romans 9, etc. But besides not being able to lie about the lecturing part, I hesitated in the middle of typing. Why did I stop? Why wouldn't that be funny?
Because we are grown women who don't obey the commands of God. Read these:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit,
but in humility count others
more significant than yourselves.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests,
but also to the interests of others.
But our problem is that we read those Scriptures and wonder why no one's doing it for us. Who's looking out for my interests? Why aren't they humbling themselves to serve me? When am I going to get mine? Why don't they want me around? When is someone going to think about me?
He did, ladies. He did think about you. From eternity past, you've been right before Him. He knit you together...wonderfully, beautifully made my the hands of the Creator of stars and atoms. He took the time to not only plan your form but also your times and places. And then He carefully selected the opportunities you'd have in life, in His church...things that He knew you could do so well. And then...to seal the idea to us...to show us the depth of what He's willing to give us...He did not spare His own, only Son for us, but freely gave Him to die for us. Will He not together with Him freely give us all things?
Yeah. We get it. God loves us. But...sometimes it's just not enough for us, is it? We still feel so empty that we seek others to fill us up. And it makes us selfish, selfish creatures who can not rejoice when others rejoice. Instead we notice their rejoicing and turn it into a mirror, a reflection of our worth or of our lack. A house purchase makes us discontent with where we live. A child's grade on a test makes us feel like failure parents. A talent, a party, a dinner...good grief...even mentioning running errands with a friend or a date with a spouse brings envy. Not because we don't want good for them...but because we are so far from humble that others needs can not surpass our own. Consider them MORE important than ME?? Are you kidding?
But Christ didn't leave us here to memorize His commands, but to obey them and to teach others to do so. So, how do we start on this one? Paul already told us. Consider Christ. Think of the gospel. Know who we are...worms, broken pots, wretched women. Know what He did. Know what He left...honor, glory, riches, might, worship, comfort, peace, affection. Jesus gave up the party, gave up having others think well of Him, gave up being included, gave up the mansion...for us. And then know well who we are in Him...and pray to have it matter. Pray that God would make us servants as Christ was that we might truly want more for others than we do for ourselves.
Rejoice with them as they play Bunco tonight. Hope that they have a great time. Pray that it encourages them, refreshes them as young moms. Ask Him to bless them, build them up, and to make their words and actions so reflect the truths of the gospel that they leave knowing Him better than they did when they arrived.
And rest deep within you, knowing that Christ's death gained you more than the forgiveness of your sins. It gained you freedom from yourself, from your selfish agenda, from being a slave to sin...and made you...you already are...alive together with Him. Are you so filled with the wonder of that truth that you are not in need today of Bunco? No? You know what to do. Click some links above and listen, yield and repent with me.
Then maybe we can log on to facebook and find a friend to encourage. Maybe, just maybe, one day a comment about not being included can just be funny because we'll all know the love of God for us in Christ Jesus. And that will finally be enough to make us full...and fully servants of others.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Twilight Part 7
(Previous Posts: Really? You did see that this is number seven? You want to read six more? I didn't think so. If you change your mind just click the "Not As Silver" words at the top of the blog and scroll way, way, way down.)
More fun from my new friend (And I'm done. Promise. At least until the next time I hear what your book club is reading!) and after you read it, click here to view the cake I made to celebrate the end of this series. I'm available for your next book club gathering. (No. I won't stick around, Candace...geez...) Bon Appetit, Edward!
Edward leaned toward me, his perfect face inches from mine. His sweet, delicious breath ghosted over my face. His golden eyes glowed with love.
“How do you like it?” he whispered, his velvet voice purring in my ear.
I couldn’t respond, so dazzled was I by his sparkling skin. He shone like a diamond in the sun, a godlike creature before me.
He smirked at my befuddlement, but then his face darkened and he thundered, “Don’t be difficult, Bella!”
I cringed, but he instantly softened, chuckled his bell-like laugh, and leaned toward me again. His cold, pale fingers brushed my cheek. I stopped breathing.
“Come here,” he said, bounding up in one of those blindingly-fast movements I’d grown accustomed to. “I want to show you something.”
He led me to a small creek and sank gracefully into the grass at its edge. I tripped over a pebble and landed on my face in the mud. Edward laughed. How could he love me? He was so beautiful, gorgeous, and perfect. Like the statue of David come alive. Like Adonis, a god, an angel.
Edward removed his shoes and rolled up the cuffs of his jeans, and I gasped at the sight of his white, smooth ankles. Sunlight reflected off his toenails, each an ivory glint of perfection. I’d never seen Edward’s feet before. I hadn’t realized he could be more beautiful than he was, but there seemed no end to his beauty.
My heart beat madly in my chest, bounced up into my throat, ricocheted off half a dozen ribs, and finally settled somewhere in the vicinity of my kneecap. I collapsed.
Faster than a speeding bullet, Edward had lifted me in his marble arms and cradled me to his granite chest. “Bella? Bella!” he screamed. “No!”
The sight of his perfect, glorious face so twisted in anguish sent waves of torture through my body. “Edward!” I gasped.
His cold, unyielding lips pressed to mine, but I dared not move for fear of breaking his control, so irresistible did he find the scent of my blood. I could not bear knowing I had caused Edward pain by forcing him to eat me. My heart fluttered around my kneecap.
The kiss done, Edward set me on my feet. Without moving, I tripped over a stick and would have fallen in the stream had Edward not caught me in his iron embrace.
“Will you answer a question?” I asked.
“Of course, my love, my life, my forever,” Edward said, casually tearing boulders apart with his toes. I watched, spellbound for a moment, before remembering myself.
“I once asked if you could turn into a bat, and you just laughed.”
Edward smirked. “Because it was a stupid question. We don’t turn into bats. Why would we want to turn into bats?”
“But can you turn into something?”
“Of course.” He stood, stretched, and his shirt rose enough for me to catch a glimpse of his sculpted abs above his waistband. I hyperventilated and passed out.
When I awoke, Edward was speaking.
“What?” I asked breathlessly.
“I said, we turn into fruit. It’s great for disguising yourself.” He watched me carefully, to see if this revelation would finally be the one that convinced me he was a monster, that sent me screaming from him.
“Oh.” I said. “What kind of fruit?”
He looked frustrated, annoyed, euphoric, scared, nervous, grumpy, amused, sleepy, and sad. Like an archangel come down from heaven to bless me with his presence. “An apple.”
“Oh. Can I see?”
Rage colored his features. “No! Why can’t you understand? I’m a danger to you! I could kill you! I should leave you forever!” He threw himself forward and wrapped his arms around me. “I should go – right now! It’s the only way to keep you safe!”
Despair settled over me, so thick and heavy I could hardly see. “No, Edward! Don’t leave me! I know we’ve only been together for three hours, but I want to spend forever with you! Please!”
He pulled back and looked at me, thousands of emotions roiling in his liquid topaz eyes. “Do you mean that, Bella?”
His perfect, glorious, heavenly face dipped toward me, and he touched his cold lips to my neck. He growled deep in his throat, a sound that traveled up and down my spine like lightning.
Then came a sharp pain. His grip tightened. I gasped his name. My sight dimmed until all I could see was the sparkle of his skin, calling me to paradise.
Edward looked down at the body of Bella Swan, pale and lifeless in his pale and lifeless arms.
His sobs shook the forest for six long seconds, and then he stood, wiping a drop of blood from the corner of his mouth.
He sprinted for the edge of the forest, moving faster than any living creature, and wondered if that Angela girl would be his new lab partner.
And now you don't have to read the book. Your brain will thank you.
(Previous Posts: Go to this one and start reading!)
Come on. Just a little fun? It'll only take two posts. I mean, we’ve got 11 year olds and 30 year olds tacking up the same posters. (And I’m not kidding. I can show you it in the classroom where she teaches.) I’ve got to have some fun with it. And a great gal out there provide that much needed levity. I don’t have a clue if she loves Jesus, but she might. I haven’t checked her out much. But I do know that we could enjoy many cups of coffee together ripping apart Bella and Edward.
Here’s a couple of great parts to her post on Twilight…
Number of Pages in the Book: 498
The First Hint of a Plot that Is Not Bella and Edward's Romance: page 328
When the Plot Actually Arrives: page 372
Boys that Totally Love Bella (including Edward Cullen): 5
Approximate Amount of Time Bella and Edward are Romantically Involved Before Bella Is Begging Edward to Turn Her into a Vampire so They Can Be Together Forever: Like, two weeks. Maybe three. The timeline's a bit fuzzy.
References to Edward's Beauty: 165…Broken Down into the following categories -
- Face: 24 (Favorite adjectives: glorious, heavenly, seraphic)
- Voice: 20 (The voice of an archangel, donchaknow.)
- Eyes: 17
- Movement: 11
- Smile: 10
- Teeth: 8
- Muscles: 7
- Skin: 7 (Note: This only contains accounts of Edward's skin being beautiful. I didn't count references to it as "pale," "cold," or "white." If I had, this number would be about ten times larger.)
- Iron Strength or Limbs: 5
- Breath: 4 (EVEN HIS BREATH IS AMAZING.)
- Scent: 4
- Laughter: 3
- Handwriting: 2
- Chest: 2
- Driving Skills: 1
The Number of Times...
- Bella Is Clumsy or Makes a Reference to Her Clumsiness: 26
- Bella Sneers at Forks or Its Inhabitants: 22
- Bella is "Dazzled" or Rendered Speechless by Edward's Beauty or Touch: 17
- Edward Tells Bella to Stay Away from Him While Completely Contradicting Himself with His Behavior: 16
- Bella is Utterly Desolate at Edward's Absence: 12
- Edward and Bella Kiss: 8
- Bella's Hormones Get the Better of Her and She Attacks Edward, Almost Causing Him to Eat Her: 2
- Edward's Kiss Makes Bella Faint: 1
- Edward's Kiss Makes Bella's Heart Literally Stop: 1
- Bella Thinks She Isn't Good Enough for Edward: 6
- Edward Is Referred to As Godlike: 5 (Note: This number might be off, as I didn't start counting until three or four mentions in.)
- Edward Tells Bella She's Unnatural: 5
- Edward Sparkles: 3
- Bella is in Mortal Danger: 3
- Edward Saves Bella from Mortal Danger: 3
- Edward Stalks Bella, For Real: 2 (Note: One of these instances involves watching her sleep every night for, like, months.)
- Bella and Edward Argue About Who Loves the Other Most: 1
- Edward's Inability to Read Bella's Mind is Explained: 0
I would have kept track of how many times Edward's mood shifts unexpectedly and for no reason, but I didn't have that much paper. I am sad, though, that I didn't keep track of how many times words like "granite," "stone," and "marble" are used in reference to Edward. His arms, his lips. Explain to me how kissing cold, marble lips is at all appealing. And yet it makes Bella faint. I give up.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Twilight Part 5
(Previous Posts: Wall-E, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)
I'm going to use this post to answer some questions and some concerns that y'all've been so gracious to send to me (if you're not from the south that would read...that you have all been so gracious...). I'll give a sample comment or question and then provide a brief response (Hey. I heard that.).
So, if I read the book and liked it, I'm in sin.
I have no idea. I'm very, very clear that all I could look at is the outside. It's God that would have to see into your heart to know it. You probably do, too. Let's say you were reading along and thought...Seriously, around here we call sneaking into someone's house to watch her sleep, stalking. Or you thought...Okay. Come on, Bella. Enough about his breath. Or perhaps it passed through your mind...if my daughter thinks this is what it's going to be like when she's 17, she's in for a huge disappointment. But the story's fun. Or even...She's in love with another. Good grief, that's bad. Then you may not have swallowed it whole and put up posters inside your closet door so your friends don't see it. If you keep justifying everything they do in the books as right? You find yourself wanting to be in their world rather than yours? It's a problem you should consider.
And if in reading them, you keep thinking that I'm going a little far and you really don't think this is such a big deal? Well, if we live near each other then I hope to see you soon, give you a big hug, and ask how everything's going. I hope to love you well, and that you'll do the same while we both keep in mind that God is faithful to us both to bring us to completion. He'll get it right in us both eventually. I can be patient...how 'bout you?
What about the good stuff that's in it...the way Edward keeps her from giving in...the fact that he loves her for who she is not what she does...that he delights in her...etc.?
I'm right there with you. Good stuff. Call good, good. Call evil, evil. (Isaiah 5:20)
Shouldn't we let our girls read it so they see those good things?
How discerning is your daughter? How settled in Christ? How content with the way God made her? Struggling to awaken love before it's time? (Song of Solomon 2:7) Content with the way God made her and firm on how God instituted marriage and why it exists?
Do you talk with as much passion about the Word to her? Have you read the Bible with her...talked about it the way you talked about the book?
That's more what's on my mind than whether or not she's read this specific book. But shouldn't we show her good models of values we're looking for? Sure. But can't you pick a better book that doesn't need as much explaining and filtering and searching the Word??
On a side note, one mom commented that Bella does nothing to attract Edward and wanted her girls to see that. I looked again at Twilight and read a ton of quotes from the other books (haven't read them), and I've got to say I strongly disagree. If I'm watching Cassie and guy and she says and does what Bella does, I'd...well, she knows what I'd do...and it won't be pretty. I find out she's got journal entries like this? We've got so much work to do in understanding what responding looks like. One wise woman said it like this...Guard your heart. Some courtships advance all the way to the altar. Some don’t. Keep your heart at the same level as the commitment. Don’t let your heart race ahead. Sound like Bella??
Okay, Kim, but what about Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, etc.? Or Christian books like Redeeming Love? If we take this tack, should we ban all romance movies, TV and books?
Maybe. I have no idea how they're affecting you or how poorly they reflect Christ. When it comes to a movie like Pride and Prejudice (and I'm thinking of the book and BBC series...so good, by the way) which all my girls have seen several times, there were several places we've talked...Lydia and Mr. Wickham's relationship and the pushy aggressiveness she and her sister display...Elizabeth's tendency to jump to conclusions without getting to know what motivates people...her and Mr. Darcy's pride which stand in the way of communicating...willingness to wait and grieve deeply but reflectively like Jane...Mr. Darcy doing good quietly behind the scenes, not wanting applause from men...Elizabeth's admission that she was a fool and her willingness to say so to everyone.
Love that book. And there's some problems with it, when it calls good what is not reflective of Christ's marriage plan for us (e.g. whiny manipulation isn't seen as good, but not ever seen as anything but expected). We talk about those as well. But for me, the time spent talking and pondering those issues are worth the effort. Maybe you wouldn't think so or it would feed some desire within you that would make you weaker to temptation. You decide.
At least we could say that Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love was written with the Word in mind. You can read the book of Hosea to see what it portrays. I wouldn't let your jr. high daughter read that one either. Cassie has, but I'll wait a few years to even offer it to Aisley even though it's great. But the same holds true. Michael, the main character, is a strong leader, full of faith. And I remember when I was reading it that it moved me in good ways, but I know that I am also sometimes tempted to dream about what it might be like to married to a guy like him instead of Wayne, especially during football season! It is not good for me to read most fiction at night during the fall. I'm just more tempted toward discontentment. I have to know it and fight it by fleeing from these sorts of things. You decide how you might do right now.
I'm with you...but she's already read them. Now what?
Read them. Talk about them. If in reading them you feel the conviction that you shouldn't have allowed that to happen, at least without reading them together, please just tell her. Tell her that you're sorry. She'll probably brush it off a little...saying she really liked them. Just say it again and mean it. Tell her you'll try to do better next time. Then tell her you'd like to spend some conversations with her talking about some of the ideas, propositions and scenes and how they match up to or oppose Scripture. Then you gotta get busy in the Word, don't you??
Will I ever get to read a book or watch a TV show or movie if this challenge is true?
Sure. Do so without thought, discernment and a renewed mind? Hopefully not. Rejoice in what is darkness and bitterness in God's view? If He is so gracious, we'll all grow to approve only of what is excellent...and so be pure and blameless in the Day of Christ Jesus. I'm right there with you. Let's keep running together.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
(Previous Posts: Wall-E, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
So, if it's not really about this book or any other, why am I picking on this one? It's a good question, but probably a more personal answer as a woman, a wife of 20 years and as the mother of three girls, ages 11, 13 and 18.
There's a reason I posted first about the analogy between our physical obesity as a nation and our spiritual obesity as a church. But what I didn't point out that we're all seeing is that it's not just the adults in our nation that are growing heavier (over one third of the women in our nation are statistically obese). The real tragedy in the last 20 years is that childhood obesity has tripled. So, it's not simply what we as adults are choosing for ourselves that's the problem, is it?
Can you make the jump with me to our young girls and their entertainment? Back in the old days when I was a young'un, homosexuality was opening criticized and mocked on TV. When Mike and Carol Brady showed up in the SAME BED together...well, I can't tell you the furor it raised. The only movies I ever saw were Disney and that was few and far between...no VCRs, remember? (Yes. I'm that old.) The only time we got to see any late night TV was occasionally at Grannie's, which is probably why I can still remember some images of violence and sex. Problem is...those images are much less violent and the sex much less tame than in the Twilight series and certainly less than normal nightly programming. (And since Bill Clinton isn't here, let's not get into definitions of sex.)
Then there's the other reason that flows from this one. My girls aren't going to stay girls forever. Cassie's already voted. They are becoming women...who will give themselves to their husbands, raise children and serve the body of Christ. And they will struggle, won't they, in all these areas...none more so than in their marriages.
I know this because I'm in it. And I know it because of the woman after woman after woman with whom I talk about their struggles. I know it because of dear friends I walk beside and pray with and who listen to me and encourage my faith. And I know that our hearts are a problem when it comes to romance and fantasy. I know how discontented we can be with our spouses. I know that feasting on the world and snacking on the gospel makes us fat, lazy and ineffective for the Kingdom...especially for transforming our homes for the Kingdom.
Books like Twilight tell about our inner world. They describe feelings, sights, sounds in rapturous, dramatic ways. They take us to a place usually far, far, far away from the daily sights and sounds of toddlers crying and poopy diapers. They take us to a place where men see us...love us...fight for us...declare that no one has ever caused him to move outside of himself like we can. TV shows like the Bachelor pull us not just to watch, but to delight in what we watch. They're not asking us to observe them, but to like them. And if we go there? We enter back into our reality with a skewed perspective. We can't see as clearly as we should why we're there, what our marriage is for, what Christ would call us to as disciples. Are you tracking with me?
Back to the girls. They are young disciples, not fully formed...much more easily deceived...much less sure of the Word. They're still on a mostly milk diet...sometimes not yet able to handle steak. Cassie's chewing on a lot. Aisley's coming along so well. Brennan's still the same...calling black, black and white, white. Things aren't real complicated for her.
Want me to change that? Want me to introduce a book to her that has some good things happen like a guy who is drawn to a girl just for who she is and not for what she looks like or does for him...but a girl who also gives herself in such a way that she'd renounce her parents...even her very soul for him?
Want me to give Aisley...who is so empathetic to people that she can side easily with them in their sin if they're hurting bad enough...want me to give her a character who will easily feed that part of her that chooses people over the Words of Christ?
Want Cassie who's entering that great time when she'll be ready for love (Song of Solomon 8:4, Ezek. 16:8, Gen. 2:24) but is holding on to the hope that she'll find a guy who's actually a man...want me to feed her this as she goes from our home next fall? Really? That's the image? That setting? Those are the words you think should ring in her head as she readies herself for Christ's call upon her life?
Not sure what to think? I’m just going to start with some quotes and am assuming that you’ve read all the previous posts. Once again, they are 17 in this book. Not married. In high school. Okay, okay. I'll quit. With that set up…can you see what effect these might have?
Referring to Edward…
He lay perfectly still in the grass, his shirt open over his sculpted, incandescent chest, his scintillating arms bare.
The meadow, so spectacular to me at first, paled next to his magnificence.
As I had just that once before, I smelled his cool breath in my face. Sweet, delicious, the scent made my mouth water.
I could smell the unbearably sweet fragrance coming off his chest.
He pressed his cool lips to my forehead, and the room spun. The smell of his breath made it impossible to think.
If I stopped looking for him, it was over. Love, life, meaning… over.
Because there was just one thing that I had to believe to be able to live—I had to know that he existed. That was all. Everything else I could endure. So long as he existed.
Because, through the heavy water, I heard the sound of an angel calling my name, calling me to the only heaven I wanted.
Bella’s words to Edward:
Don’t I taste as good as I smell?
You are my life. You’re the only thing it would hurt me to lose.
If he’d asked me whether I would risk my soul for Edward, the reply would be obvious.
I don’t care! You can have my soul. I don’t want it without you—
(Can I get some props for not making sarcastic comments all the way through?? Come on. His chest glows??)
But does it get better in the next books? Well, how about one preview quote from Bella in Eclipse, speaking about Jacob Black...
He was more than just my friend. That’s why it was so impossible to tell him goodbye — because I was in love with him. Too. I loved him, much more than I should, and yet, still nowhere near enough. I was in love with him, but it was not enough to change anything; it was only enough to hurt us both more.
Yep. After all that, she's torn between two and that tension even lasts after they're married in the book Breaking Dawn (Yep. There are sex scenes in that one where they go all the way albeit after marriage. Though you get references to the taste and feel of bodies, they do refrain from actual descriptions at a certain point.) Okay? I've got problems and so should you.
Or how about Bella's high view of marriage...biblical?But more than that, I just couldn’t reconcile a staid, respectable, dull concept like husband with my concept of Edward. It was like casting an archangel as an accountant; I couldn’t visualize him in any commonplace role.
And then there's the descriptive quotes I left out. Picture the scenes between them that these all went in. Picture her offering her virginity to him...trying hard to get him to give in. I feel like surely you see it now. Surely you know that this kind of obsessive…I’ll give up my own soul for him…I’ll defy my parents…I’ll give my own life to have him…that kind of love is reserved for One, right? You have been crucified already. Your life is already demanded. You have been claimed. You must forsake all others for Him. All others. No one else in your eternal existence gets what Bella offered to Edward. (And then for Jacob...sigh...)
But that’s the temptation. To give up what is inside of us that belongs only to Christ and offer it to another who will really satisfy us. To believe that human love…the love of man with a woman…can be what only Christ can be for us.
Wayne will die. Today. Tomorrow. In 59 years if God is so gracious. And if I am alive, my life is not over. My hope is not gone. I remain standing on solid ground. Wayne is a gift…more gracious than any other earthly gift I’ve received. But he is not my passion. I am joined with Him to represent my passion. He is not my highest treasure without which I am lost. He and I are together…I am so in love with Wayne 20 years into our marriage. I can’t imagine even knowing where to begin if you ask me about how I feel about him or how he’s been used in my life. I am unendingly grateful.
But he only gets what’s his. My devotion is God’s. My life is God’s. To paraphrase Mark Driscoll from a sermon a couple of weeks ago…If Wayne follows Jesus, I follow Wayne. If Wayne stops following Jesus, I’m still following Jesus. He gets his. Christ gets all. (For more on this idea, please see this little 3 minute clip...or better yet, buy this book or read it free online here.)
That’s the gift of God in marriage…in that deep, deep relationship between man and woman. Everything else we keep creating in our fantasies only fuels our desire to have more than what God’s given us in this creation. He has told us to keep pure what is His. And to keep pure from any other until that day when He seals the relationship. Our hearts are supposed to be given at the same level as the commitment. Bella gives what is not hers to give…herself. We’re God’s. He owns us. He gives us.
And any book that goes into rapture about any other way…that calls good what God calls evil…is not to be rejoiced in. But it’s just a book, right? Yep. And donuts are good for you. So, I wonder why these pants don't fit? It's a mystery.
Q&A coming next...
Friday, April 24, 2009
(Previous Posts: Wall-E, Part 1, Part 2)
Stephanie Meyer did good, didn't she? Millions love it. Bella, her lead character, is funny, capable, quirky and hopelessly klutzy. She's trapped in a dismal existence...a flower waiting to bloom, unappreciated by all those idiots in that dull town who can't see her true beauty. In other words, she's what we all think we are.
No matter how pretty...how popular...how talented...how lovely...how compassionate...how together and fashionable a girl seems, there is a deep, dark secret we all carried as we grew up. Funny isn't it that we are all quite sure we're the only one who did. But here it is in a nutshell...What if no one ever picks me. What if no one sees me...desires me...thinks I'm smart enough, pretty enough, cool enough...what if I'm the one…the wrong one.
Aisley and I have been talking a lot about it because she’s beginning to see it. If you’ll remember, this is her first year in public school after 7 grades at home with me. Lots of revelation going on for her…and some of it’s even good! One is that even girls who seemingly have it all are riddled with insecurity. Girls who we all look at and just know get a pass on that deep heart longing? Come to find out, they don’t. We all are together, ladies. We all are standing together, young and old, vulnerable to becoming Bella…even if only in our minds.
I say this as a final thought before the actual concerns of the book (don't sigh at me!) because if we women don’t see this, we’ll never awaken from the deception in our flesh. We’ll never know why this stuff resonates so strongly, so clearly within us…beyond how it should…beyond the truth…beyond godliness. We’ll never begin to filter our emotions through the grid of the gospel. When the Bible goes on about how we women are prone to being deceived, it’s not an insult…it’s a revelation for the good of our souls. We will fight when we believe there's a problem. Deny it and we perish without raising a sword.
But we do know how it can go inside of us. We see something…we feel something about it…we move based on how we feel…and we might think about it later if the consequences are bad enough. This attuning to emotion is wired into us and is meant for the good of the body...to see hurt where others might just pass by...to stay and remain because of depth of affection. But we were never meant to be ruled by it. That’s not how the gospel is to work in us.
Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed
by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern
what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Instead of being ruled by our feelings, we are instead supposed to be transformed first by the renewing of our minds. Then and only then can we test and feel…the Word says discern or approve…get our heart behind…feel our souls rejoice and be able to know deeply that this is worthy of being rejoiced in…for it would match our Father in its goodness and perfection and be pleasing to Him. Paul said it again to the Ephesians that we are supposed to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
I’ll show you evidence of what I’m talking about in the next post. I know that’s number five. Try to go with me. But for now listen and see if this doesn’t resonate. When we read books like Twilight, we’re not caught up in the uniqueness and structure of its high prose. Even those who praise it don’t try to make it more than it is. What catches us is that it allows us to feel what we all long to feel…caught up…taken away…given to something more than we have…more than we could ever be alone. We are given not to visuals but we are given to fantasies…thoughts…dreaming about what could be. Books like this feed that. They give word and picture to what lies within us.
And again, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing…as long as what is resonating with us is resonating with the good that God is in us…when it stays in its place…when it doesn’t seek what is not ours…when it keeps us eating from the trees God has given and doesn’t tempt us to take what is not ours to have. When our souls rejoice where goodness, rightness, justice, truth are found? Good stuff.
So let me ask you to discern...Do the characters who are given for us to cheer for, are they worthy of cheering? Is evil really evil? Does good shine as good? Are they expressing longings unchecked by a renewed mind or are they actually fighting to overcome that which they know is sinful? Do the characters you love stay within the bounds God’s given? Or do they reach beyond what should be and make you feel like that’s not only okay…it’s what you deserve, too?
And no. I'm not asking if the characters are Christians. I'm asking if they reflect God's truth rightly. Is justice upheld? Or are you asked to sympathize with rebellion against God's ways? Some places in the book, you could say a resounding YES! That's good stuff. Others? Maybe even lots of others? Not so much. The relationship between these two as a whole? Not what we're aiming for with the Ransleben girls. The point is as Paul says...test it...Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
It's not about what we read really, but checking our hearts as we read so that what is there is filtered through what should be. It's not about the TV show really. Or the movie. Or that conversation. Or anything other thing in the world. The things in the world are neutral...how we use them, delight in them, approve of them. That's a problem.
God told Isaiah to tell His people this...
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
P.S. So many of you have been gracious to write me your questions and concerns. I'm hoping this as well as upcoming posts hit some of those issues, but am also preparing a Q&A post for the end. Please keep them coming and we'll see what you think!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
(Previous Posts: Wall-E, Part 1)
So, we've got little girls tucking their hair and watching every move he makes. Good stuff, isn't it? I mean it. The writer of Proverbs 29 says that there are four things that are too wonderful for him...the last is the way of a man with a maiden. Makes us smile to think of it. (Or scares us to death when the little girl is your teen daughter.) What am I saying could be so wrong with that desire?
Nothing...when it's accepted as a gift from God...to be used and exalted under the guidelines He gives. When it's embraced so that the two don't become more than they are for themselves, but so the watching world sees...Paul says they literally can see...the joining of Christ and His Church. When God is exalted, Christ is honored and the Spirit reigns in the joining? That's good stuff. And if that's our highest goal...our only desire which keeps all those other desires in their place...it's very good. God said so Himself in Genesis 1:28-31, didn't He? He's the one who brought Adam and Eve together. He sanctioned that joining Himself. He made us this way as women. And He did good.
But then came Genesis 3 and that which was only good became tainted...poisoned...not by the fruit that was eaten but by the desire in her that caused her give birth to sin and to reach out for it. When she was created, Eve had in her a desire but it was a desire that was overruled by her allegiance to her God. She knew what she could do with it and what she couldn't. She knew that if it was used within the bounds given, good followed. And she knew that if she went outside of it, she'd die. And that mattered to her...for a while. We don't know how long. I'm guessing it didn't take too long. It would have been a matter of minutes if it had been me. I'm really excellent at thinking I know better than God.
But then the Bible says that a serpent came and spoke to her...challenged her view of God and the goodness of His commands...and she saw things differently than before. That's the important part...how we see. Not how we see physically, but how we see God. There's a reason that Paul prayed that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened. He knew that our hearts are more than blind...they're stone...dead rock...unable to love and obey God. And so we can't see like we need to see when it comes to love...to romance...to this thing that rises between men and women.
If we could just get that then the battle is mostly won for we won't assume that if we love it then it must be great...if we are moved then it must be good for us...if we feel ourselves softening at words spoken by a man in a book we will remember that it may be good...but maybe not. Maybe it's just hitting us like that fruit hit Eve. Remember what she said deep in that heart of hers? She saw that it was good and would help her and besides, look how pretty it is. How...tell me...how could anything like that be bad for her??
So, here we are with Twilight. And there's all the excuses you've heard or given. Some of them are good questions and some of them sound a lot like Eve's rationale in the garden...how could something so good be so bad? Just a little taste won't do any harm.
- It's just a book.
- I know there's some things in it that they do that aren't okay, but it's full of great stuff that is okay.
- They don't have sex. He really loves her and is committed to waiting until marriage to have her.
- Besides, it's really well written. It just grips you from the start and you can't put it down.
- He's so great...protects her...cares for her...sacrifices himself for her.
- And she loves him so much she'll do anything for him.
- They are devoted to each other.
- It hasn't done anything bad in me that I can see. It's just for fun.
- Or as a couple of girls have put it...Come on, Mom. It's not like I'm going to read it and go out and have sex. I just want to read it.
We'll get to that...and to the specifics about the book…promise.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
(Previous Posts: Wall-E)
Here's the bottom line. Don't read the Twilight books. Please don't let your young women read it. Don't pour over it in your book clubs. There. I said it. Now, I'm sure you'll walk away from them and go on with your life.
Well, those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about might go on your way. Or if your male, you probably will. But if you're a female between the ages of 10 and say, 40ish, you might need a little more to convince you. I'm warning you now, I'm going to try...hard.
Let's get this part out of the way. It has nothing to do with vampires. They worry me about as much as aliens and swamp monsters. Why you would set a romance book around a group that sucks the life blood from people...that's a whole 'nother post. But I couldn't care less. They're made up. I don't care where it's set...what kind of creatures it involves...or what action it involves. It's fiction. Got it. No problem.
But what happens between Bella and Edward isn't so fictional, is it, ladies? And what happens inside of us when we read it isn't fictional either. And there's the problem with the books. You can see the symptoms of it everywhere. Grown women sighing over the same thing jr. high girls are. Faces softening when you say...Edward. Everyone asking have you read it yet?? They love the character of Edward. In a sense, then, I guess I could say that he's the problem. But really, that's way too shallow of an answer.
Besides, the Bible declares some really great truths like Paul told the Romans...
I know and am persuaded
in the Lord Jesus
that nothing is unclean in itself...
Oh, good...I hear you say. I promise I'll keep reading the Bible and praying, so I'll just go grab book 3 real quick. I wish it were that easy. But the Bible proclaims a few more truths to keep the balance. And here's the root problem...Everything created by God is good,
and nothing is to be rejected
if it's received with thanksgiving,
for it's made holy
by the word of God and prayer.
But each person is tempted
when he is lured and enticed
by his own desire.
Then desire when it has conceived
gives birth to sin,
and sin when it is fully grown
brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.
I saw this happen so clearly just last week as I was dropping off a friend's son back to school after a orthodontic appointment. She and I watched him get out as we made plans for after school. I noticed peripherally that two girls were walking on the sidewalk near the school door. I saw them glance at the van and look away...not even noticing or caring who we were...until little Jimmy stepped out. Then they glanced again when they heard the car door opening...and stopped dead in their tracks as each of them started tucking back her hair. I'm not kidding.
Oh, yeah. Have I mentioned that little Jimmy is about 6 feet tall and is almost 16...plays in the secondary on the football team...great student...is so compassionate, quiet, and kind...unassumingly handsome with a great smile...humble and gracious. (Yeah. You're tucking your hair, aren't you? Quit it.)
But wait. Am I saying that what a female feels for a male is wrong?? No. Promise. Just stick with me. We have that pull toward men...that softening toward them that is almost indefinable, but unmistakable when you see it happen. We have a longing...a deep longing to be the one. To be chosen. To be seen, loved, lifted beyond where we are to a whole other level of being. We are somehow more when we are loved. And we know that somehow when two become one...they are more than just the two. They create a whole new level of existence.
Again...it's God placed. It's normal. It's built into the system. I got it... really. Everything's good...so far.
The Israelites apparently weren’t enough of a clue for us as they sold themselves slowly and incessantly to the culture that surrounded them.
So, let me be very blunt. Our nation is becoming more obese every year while we spend more and more…now in the trillions of dollars…on dieting and exercise. And I actually heard a TV promo for a show on it…one of those 20/20 sort of things…the commercial actually asked, “How is this happening?”
WE EAT TOO MUCH!!
I put too many calories and the wrong calories in my body. I don’t work hard enough to burn what I take in. Let’s not be deceived. I know I’m 41. I know that I used to be able to burn it off faster and with less effort than now. But don’t let me fool you. I weigh what I weigh because I eat what I eat.
If I could snapshot your spiritual body? What would I see? What are you eating? What do you snack on all day? What’s the balance between the healthy food you intake and the desserts in your life?
I told a lady yesterday about two passages of Scripture. And I told her to memorize them. Ten verses in one book…seven in another. When I mentioned the second set, she immediately interrupted and said, “Don’t you know I have a life?” Can you relate?
Now, she was just joking…sort of. Don’t you dare cast a stone. I bet she’s doing it. I mean it. She loves her Savior and she knows she’s in need of His Word. But that default reaction is just the same as when someone calls us to discipline our bodies for health.
What you see…what you entertain yourself with…what you listen to…what thrills you and moves you and interests you and pleases you…it all matters. And sure, one time is probably not that big of a deal. I say that every time I eat a donut. But there’s a difference between eating a donut and loving donuts…and telling others how to find the donut shop…and asking if they want to get together to eat them and talk about them…and see if we can search the internet to find more of them. That’s got to stop.
I’m not concerned about our once-in-a-whiles…I’m concerned about our passions and joys. They reveal a more insidious obesity in our lives than a scale ever could.
Why am I bringing this up? Well, there’s a series of postings coming about a wave that’s swept up our girls and grown women, and I’m jumping into the fray.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
But I had to share the new release of the Don't Waste Your Life music video that Lacrae put together with Desiring God. They are on tour now together, getting music and Piper's book in the hands of whoever will listen. They just finished up at Angola Prison and are headed around the country. Check out this link to see when they head your way. We managed to see them in concert in Waco and were so grateful for the clarity of the gospel not only in their lyrics, but in the words they speak boldly to the crowd.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
See, what a morning, gloriously bright,
With the dawning of hope in Jerusalem;
Folded the grave-clothes, tomb filled with light,
As the angels announce, “Christ is risen!”
See God’s salvation plan,
Wrought in love, borne in pain, paid in sacrifice,
Fulfilled in Christ, the Man,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!
See Mary weeping, “Where is He laid?”
As in sorrow she turns from the empty tomb;
Hears a voice speaking, calling her name;
It’s the Master, the Lord raised to life again!
The voice that spans the years,
Speaking life, stirring hope, bringing peace to us,
Will sound till He appears,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!
One with the Father, Ancient of Days,
Through the Spirit who clothes faith with certainty.
Honor and blessing, glory and praise
To the King crowned with pow’r and authority!
And we are raised with Him,
Death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered;
And we shall reign with Him,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!
Saturday, April 11, 2009
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
by Stuart Townend
Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
On the Sabbath the women and disciples rested according to the commandment.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour while the sun's light failed. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.”
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished." Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” He bowed his head and yielded up his spirit.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake, what took place and saw that in this way he breathed his last, they were filled with awe and said, “Certainly this man was innocent! Truly this was the Son of God!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.
There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and Salome, the mother of the sons of Zebedee. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph who was a disciple of Jesus but secretly for fear of the Jews. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. He took courage and went to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph.
Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. They bound Jesus' body in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden Joseph had a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
They rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb and saw how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.
And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull which in Aramaic is called Golgotha, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,
“They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.” Psalm 22:18
So the soldiers did these things. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
Those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!”
Others stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One, let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.