Two FRESH new ways to be an annoying Christian

Christianity

I’m good at annoying people. Sometimes I repel people from Jesus, the very thing, the very Person, I’d like to compel them to without even trying. How about you?

I was thinking that some of you may not have the gift of annoyance like I do. #blessed 

This blog is for you, dear brothers and sisters.

Here are a couple of ways that I’ve found are good at repelling people from Jesus.

Do these faithfully and you’re sure to succeed at being annoying for the cause of Christ:

  1. Use Christian-ese or churchy lingo so that ordinary people have absolutely no idea what you’re saying.

For example:

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I’ll use a conversation for a church announcement to illustrate this point.

“Ladies, if you want to be a woman of the Word, come Friday to fellowship with us. You’ll be blessed as we share time together.

Get prayed up and show up, and bring your lost friends because you are the only Bible that someone might read.”

I think this one is self explanatory.

What the heck does this mean, you may ask?

If you don’t know, then you need to get yo-self to CHURCH and start taking notes on our lingo right away so you can speak it fluently.

 

2. Love the sinner, hate the sin. I’ve actually said this. (gasp)

One of the problems with this is that I don’t see it anywhere in Scripture.

Yeah, I’m REAL good at annoying people. I’ve turned off my fair share of people from Christianity and from Jesus when I get all Pharisee-ical. See, I did it again!

That’s Church lingo for: legalist, person who looks down on others for not following the letter of the law perfectly and shuts people out for the very cause they are zealous for in doing so.

Don’t tell me you’ve done it, too? Told someone that you think they are great, but you don’t agree with their lifestyle. If this is you, maybe we can start a support group for Annoyers Anonymous.

How about if we do what Jesus did, and just love people?

Care about them and what concerns them? Period.

Right now, just as they are. Not in spite of a lifestyle, or choices. Because that’s one of the things I love most about Jesus.

He doesn’t require me to clean myself up from my sin before I approach Him, although He is Holy and could require that from me.

He wants me to turn to Him and away from my sin, but He still seeks me and you and each lowest-of-the-low person before we’ve even thought about turning to Him.

He simply loves me, and you, and the person that’s [fill in the blank] just as we each are. Right now.

He doesn’t like sin, but He also doesn’t say stuff like “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

By the way, that’s all of us. Not one of us is without wrongdoing.

When we aren’t able, or don’t FEEL love for people of a certain category, then maybe the problem is us, not them.

This is a red flag to ask ourselves, “What’s going on in my heart that I’m making Christ’s love for them conditional based on _______? (fill in the blank with behavior, lifestyle, or looks)

I don’t have the power to love people without God or without Christ in me. His love overflows from me, out to others.

Don’t be an annoying Christian. Unless you want to repel people from Jesus. If you do, these are two very successful methods I’ve used through the years.

You’re welcome. 🙂

Christine

coffeewithchristine.com

 

 

 

Confessions of a Prodigal Mom

God

Venting the ugly stuff. We all have moments or times of less than beautiful thoughts that flow into emotion.

Who do you tell your most hideous, soul-bearing junk to? When your gut feels tied into knots, or your thoughts and feelings are more complex than a knot of hair that’s got gum stuck in it…

I pour out my heart to God. Cry the ugly cry that has more snot than tears. A guttural cry that comes from the deep place.

The sobs that rack my body, they overwhelm me and it feels like I’ll never stop, yet it’s over just a few minutes later.

I’m spent, yet raw with emotion. I find relief, knowing that He already knew the hurt, the frustration, the sadness that was there.

He didn’t need me to tell Him, but when I did, a knotted place in my soul emptied out and made room for hope.

My mind cannot comprehend His vastness, His great love, or what He could possibly be accomplishing through my life, and yet I know for certain that there is something.

This is my psalm to Him. Crying out, emptying all of my angst to Him, then looking up with expectant hope.

Yes, there is joy amidst the sorrow. For He is good.

 

Strabismus surgery

God, Uncategorized

I’m having eye surgery tomorrow. So what, you ask?

  1. Please pray for me and for my surgeon for a successful outcome.
  2. This is an opportunity for me to be a voice for the goodness of God, even when circumstances aren’t so good.

For 3-4 years now, my vision has been impaired. Often times I cannot drive or do my regular activities because of it. Even so, I believe NOW, more than ever, that God is faithful and good.

One year ago, my eye doctor said that the impaired eye muscle was inoperable. This spring it has healed to an operable state, and I’m a good candidate for the strabismus surgery that I’m having tomorrow.

Did you catch that? God, in his infinite wisdom, has answered my prayer for healing. From inoperable to operable.

What are you praying for and waiting for God to answer?

Will you trust in His goodness if He doesn’t answer the way that you are asking?

Whether my vision is impaired or not, God is seated on His throne.

Whether my vision is impaired or not, He is loving and merciful.

Realistically, I shouldn’t even be alive, much less having a full and incredible life with people I love and an annoying vision/migraine problem.

Yet here I am.

Photo on 3-30-16 at 9.21 AM

Here I am, alive, in spite of destructive choices, addictions, in spite of trying to kill myself when I was young, and years of depression.

All because of Jesus and His mercy to save me and free me.

I’m praying that the strabismus procedure will be successful and that I can ditch the glasses for good.

But even if not, I will still praise and worship the great God who loves me and gave His life so that I could be saved and free.

Not problem free, but free from bondage. We may never be problem free.

If your circumstances don’t ever line up the way that you desire, do you believe that you can have the abundant life that Jesus offers us?

 

If you’ve ever been broken: Kintsugi

suffering, Uncategorized

Are you broken? Suffering, hurting? Going through a trial and wondering how it could all work out okay? If you feel that your situation may be beyond repair, then consider kintsugi, the ancient Japanese art of mending broken pottery:

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The 400+ year old Japanese art of kintsugi (golden repair) or kintsukuroi (golden joinery) is a pottery repair method that honors the artifact’s unique history by emphasizing, not hiding, the break.

An art form born from mottainai – the feeling of regret when something is wasted – the cracks are seamed with lacquer resin and powdered gold, silver, or platinum, and often reference natural forms like waterfalls, rivers, or landscapes.

This method transforms the artifact into something new, making it more rare, beautiful, and storied than the original. source

broken-wood-fired-tea-bowl

Wood-fired broken bowl

wood-fired-bowl-kintsugi-repair

Wood-fired bowl restored with gold

source

I am broken. Yet God has put me back together and mended the broken spots.

If someone were to look at my life before I surrendered my life to Jesus, they would have simply seen broken shards, like pottery in the picture above.

You would assume that these broken pieces were useless, and not fit for repair. You would throw them out, without further thought, and even be responsible in doing so.

Some pieces of my life were thoughtlessly or maliciously broken by others. There was rejection, abuse, and degradation.

Some of the fractures were caused by my own doing. Self-harm, bad choices, self-loathing, and destruction.

No matter how many tiny pieces of shattered fragments were scattered along my life’s path, God has filled in the missing places with His healing resin, His presence and peace.

Even now, there are hurting places that don’t make sense to me. I am sure, because of the kintsugi type of work that God has done before, that it will result in something more precious, even though I cannot yet see it.

You may feel beyond repair, but you have a Great Potter, God, who says that you are surely not, and your pain will not be wasted.

If you and I submit our hearts to God, He will restore and mend our broken places. He will ensure that our suffering has a purpose and our lives will be a beautiful display.

Will you allow God to come in to those broken places? Like kintsugi, your life and story is even more beautiful and has more value when it has been restored.

Kintsugi is a process. At first, it simply looks like what it is, broken pieces glued back together. It must be refilled with resin and sanded several times before it’s ready for the gold dust to illuminate and beautify the scars.

When we allow Jesus’ presence and peace to come into our broken places, He will redeem them and our lives will gleam with the gold of His healing touch. Our pain need not be wasted.

Just ask Him to come in, and He will.

 

Christine

 

 

 

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

Isaiah 64 says:

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

Read all of Isaiah 64 here

 

 

Women of the wailing wall

God, Uncategorized

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We are all different, from several generations.We are the women of the wailing wall.

We are rich and we are poor. Worn hand-me-downs and crisp new trends. Some young and vibrant, some with weathered skin and silver hair, like me.

Although we are diverse in every way, we come in solidarity for one purpose.

To seek answers from G-d.

Purposefully I stride, in my trousers, with large handbag in tow. I pause to grab Torah, the very words of G-d, and slow down as I approach the wall.

Old and feeble, but strong in prayer, beseeching for my granddaughter.

She breaks my daughter’s heart as she is lost and tries to find herself.

I weep, sobbing softly for my daughter’s pain, and cry out for my granddaughter to change her course

To come back to the place that she knows is true.

My heart bows low in reverence though my posture remains standing.

My hands shake as they always do. I gently roll up the message that I’ve scrawled out with my request, tenderly and firmly sticking it into a crevice in the wall.

My lips move as I pray and silent tears fall. My cares and anxious thoughts of the day seem to fall to the ground with each tear.

I look up in thanks. Thankful to the One who hears. The One who sees. The One who cares. I bow my head and smile, then gently walk out backwards.

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Post Script: I wrote this in July when visiting Israel and going to the Western Wall. I was struck by the variety of women that I saw.

Eastern and Western worldviews, from every socioeconomic group and age. Yet many seemed so earnest in their pursuit of an answer from God.

I was struck by the thought of each woman as an individual; each woman had a story, a prayer that they earnestly prayed and wrote, putting the prayer requests into the wall’s nooks and crannies.

I saw many women crying. Some quietly and reverently, some alone, and some with friends or loved ones. I imagined a woman, weeping with expectant hope that God would answer her fervent prayers for her granddaughter.

She is the woman I wrote about.

Christine

Living Out The Journey of Your Calling

Christianity, mission, Uncategorized

Do you feel like your life’s calling is a mystical thing?

Maybe it’s a very simple, practical thing that we can all do, every day, no matter where we are on the globe.

God calls us to Himself. The rest is geography.

fullsizerender5

Keeping it simple and practical.

Be with Jesus.

Know him.

Love him.

Allow yourself to BE loved by him.

When those things happen, we will be compelled to evangelism, and to service.

But first we must BE with Christ. Geography will be less of an issue.

I’m convinced that there’s not a wrong answer of geography when we’re truly abiding in Christ.

This watercolor was inspired by this video on Calling by Propel Women.

Living Out The Journey of My Calling

Thanks. Sometimes it’s not fun getting to that.

gratitude

GIving thanks for a trial and difficult time in life? Nope! I’m not that spiritually mature, and not sure that I ever will be. I’m a regular person who runs like a maniac to avoid any pain at all cost.  The last two and a half years have been the most difficult years of my adult life, and I couldn’t run from them as I have gone through some intense health challenges. However, I can definitely say that I learned to give thanks in the trial and in the painful circumstance.

If you’ve never had a loved one go through a medical difficulty, there is not a place in your heart or brain to understand it. I’m generally a compassionate and caring person. But as far as knowing someone going through infertility, cancer, diabetes, or any chronic or terminal illness, I just didn’t know what it felt like to go through something like that. To be perfectly honest, I was really quite glib about my questions and conversations with someone going through these things. Mind you, at the time, I felt sincere. Looking back, I think, what a clueless wonder I can be. Even with my own son, who has narcolepsy, a disease that affects him every day, I didn’t have a clue.

I am thankful that in the trial of this difficult medical journey, I have learned a deeper compassion for those who are hurting and looking for answers. I can empathize more with the anxiety of not knowing and waiting for a diagnosis, the fear of what diagnosis you may get, your family’s fear of the unknown, doctor visit after doctor visit, blood work, CT scans, MRI’s, medical bills you didn’t expect, the desperation to find answers, questions from people, no questions from people, and well-meaning things people say that through you for a loop.

My brain MRI at the Mayo Clinic last year

My brain MRI at the Mayo Clinic

Most of all, I am thankful in the trial for the constant God who doesn’t ever change. He walks with us through the valley when it’s dark and scary and unknown, and He is always there.

The sad truth is, that if I had read something like this before my own medical trial, I would have skimmed right over it. And that’s just the point. God taught me some really hard and good things through this difficulty that I only could have learned by going through it. So I’m being real and saying that I don’t like this trial and I would have rather fast-forwarded past it. But I’m thankful in it. And thankful for the God who has walked with me and never left my side.

(In case you were wondering what my medical issue is: For the first year and a half of my mysterious and sometimes debilitating symptoms, we suspected I had MS, with no conclusive diagnosis. After many, many tests, and doctor visits, we have learned that I have unusual complex migraines. They usually present themselves without a headache, but with double vision and other neurological symptoms. That’s why it was so hard to figure out that they’re migraines, because of the usual absence of headaches. I am in the process of getting the right medications and feel better than I have in the last two and half years.)

During my most difficult times of this health scare, the first year and a half, when I was so afraid of the unknown, I often recited the verse James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Prayers for healing and health

suffering

If you have every prayed for healing, and not received physical wholeness, you are facing a quandary.  There are many assumptions that flow from not receiving full healing. My previous post doesn’t take you through all of the assumptions, only straight to my acceptance. However, I believe that it’s important to de-bunk these wrong ideas that I assumed about my prayers not being answered the way that I wanted.

I have prayed, my family has prayed, my friends have prayed, and we have done as James 5:13-16 instructs Christians who are sick. We continue to pray for complete healing in my body, yet I’m not fully healed. We’ve prayed for many months, and I have no doubt that most of us praying actually believe that Jesus Christ performs healing miracles. We believe He raises the dead back to life, He makes the blind see, and the mute hear. So when our prayers aren’t answered with a “Yes” it caused me to feel several things:

1. I believed that I must not have enough faith.

2. I felt forsaken and unloved by God. It felt as if I was completely unheard by Him.

3. Deep down I felt that I must have done something wrong to be afflicted physically.

I can’t tell you that I don’t think of these things at all anymore, but something about the truth of hearing Isaiah 55: That God’s ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts resonated deep in my soul. This truth corrected my assumptions when I heard this Scripture related to our prayers for healing, and Pastor Brian answered the BIG QUESTION we all have when God doesn’t heal our loved ones. (See this post to link to Pastor Brian’s sermon)

I still struggle. Sometimes what I know in my head to be truth about God doesn’t match up to my feelings. But today I know, deep in my soul, that God loves me and hears my prayers, even when I’m not completely healed. He’s moved and listens to our prayers. You and I can trust His heart when we don’t understand His ways.

Daily bread and health

Uncategorized

The overall theme of my life right now is daily bread.

bread

Do you ever feel as if you don’t have enough time/energy/resources/health to accomplish your daily plans?

I have felt that way and struggled for the past few months because of health challenges. I have often felt frustrated and incompetent because my body doesn’t always cooperate with my plans. With my health situation, I am not sure from one day to the next if I’ll be able to follow through on my daily plans. This can be discouraging and sometimes makes me downright angry. Until a couple of months ago.

In February we visited our friend’s church and ironically, the sermon was about healing. We were reminded that God does hear and answer our prayers for healing. However, He doesn’t always answer the way we want Him too. I don’t want to sound irreverent, but uggggghhhhhhhh. Sometimes He doesn’t answer the way we want. He still loves us in spite of that and His ways are higher than our ways. When He doesn’t answer our prayers with a complete healing, we can trust Him for our daily bread.

Here’s what I mean by that: Like the Israelites in the desert, He lovingly supplies what you and I need each day. Not what I think I need, but what He knows I need.

This truth from Pastor Brian’s sermon has coincided with a study that I’m doing on the Old Testament tabernacle in the wilderness. Just so happens that I keep going back to the subject of daily bread and manna that God provides for His newly freed people.

I am still facing the same physical challenges and health issues, but I’m not so frustrated and angry for the past couple months. I am trusting God for my daily bread. On the days when I feel like it’s only a few crumbs, I’ve started asking God what does He want me to do with the bits that He’s provided for that day.

If you have thirty minutes, check out this great video of the sermon that I mentioned above.

God’s Plan for Your Life Sermon  Click on 02.03.13 Healed

You’ll be glad that you did!

Photo credit: Vegan Richa  Richa is one of my favorite food bloggers. Beautiful pictures with delicious vegan food.

What if we really believed what God says?

Christianity, freedom in Christ, love, new creation, religion

Have you believed and confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? That He died for your sins and mine, that He was raised from the dead, conquering death and sin? If so, we can walk in a glorious reality. So often we don’t, though. Do you find yourself just shuffling through life, or maybe racing through it? Same old stuff, different day…it shouldn’t be so!

What if we really believed what God says? What if we not only believed it, but knew it, deep down in our soul?

If you and I believed and knew God’s lavish love for us, then we would act and feel differently.

What if we really knew and believed that we are made new when we are in Christ; how would we think and what would we spend our time doing?

What if we were truly free from caring about what others think, and only concerned ourselves with what God thinks about us?

Maybe our lives would be more compelling and maybe we’d walk in the freedom and abundant life that Jesus promised us.

The apostle Paul illustrates this in a tangible way that is challenging. Remember that before he was Paul, he was Saul of Tarsus, murderer and zealous persecutor of Christians. Imagine that there must have been times that he would reflect on some of the horrible deaths that he had been party to. Surely that would invoke guilt or shame from anyone. Instead, Paul had a radical change of heart and behavior. He went on to be a missionary and wrote a large portion of the New Testament, including many letters to other believers. What’s really mind-blowing is the way Paul describes himself in the introductions that he gives in these letters. I think if I were Paul, I probably would have started my letters awkwardly, something like this: You probably remember me, I used to be a murderer. But don’t worry, I’m not gonna try to kill you or anything, I just want to talk to you about Jesus.

Instead, it seems like Paul was able to grasp the reality that God had made him into a completely new and different person. Paul didn’t define himself by his past, as significant as it was. Check out the first few verses of Romans and how it seems that Paul knew and believed God.

Here is how Paul describes himself:

a servant of Christ Jesus,

called to be an apostle and

set apart for the gospel of God—

He goes on to describe Jesus in his introduction:

who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David

who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.

Don’t you love that Paul is firm in his belief of who he is in this introduction, and then he introduces Jesus? Powerful! So I want to believe and walk in this truth, that I am a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, may you believe it too!

God, help me believe you. Help me know you more.