Satisfying

ThomasGary_PurePleasureLast week, in one of her blog posts, Holley Gerth mentioned a book by Gary Thomas called “Pure Pleasure“. I like Gary’s writing, and this book sounded good, so I asked my local library to inter-library loan a copy for me — which they did. And already, it is good! Here’s a quote that I loved:

“We can build lives of true, lasting pleasure, and so fortify ourselves against evil because evil has lost much of its allure — or we can try, with an iron will, to ‘scare’ ourselves away from evil while still, deep in our hearts, truly longing for it. Which life do you want to live?” (p.15)

The book also said:

“In a progressive journey of faith, God gradually re-centers our desires toward holy pleasures, spiritually good and healthy things that leave us satisfied and full, so that sin begins to lose much (but never all) of its appeal.” (p.24)

Basically, it’s saying that we need to be so saturated with God in our lives that we want what He wants for us, and then the joy of living for Him so far outweighs the pull of sin that we aren’t even going to be interested in straying from our faith! It’s like having two platters to choose from: the deep, soul-satisfying life God has for us, or the worldly pleasures… which will we choose?

The world’s problem (and even some Christians’ problem) is that they think the Christian life couldn’t possibly be satisfying enough — it looks boring, dull, and so lacking in fun! But in reality, God’s way is the only way that truly fulfills at the soul level and never leaves you wanting. It is completely satisfying!

If only people could get just a taste of this! Those worldly pleasures would totally lose their appeal.

Taste & see that the Lord is good!” – Psalm 34:8

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Stronger Than It Seems

Today, in my Inbox, I received a post from Sarah Markley’s blog, titled, “When Life & God Split Us“. Reading through it, I was like, “Aha! That is exactly it!

I tried to write a somewhat similar post a while back, but it didn’t come out exactly right. Sarah’s post says it so much better! I liked where she wrote:

And maybe Jesus also sets us free from legalism-speak, and free from extra Praise-The-Lords and If-It’s-In-His-Will’s. Maybe I don’t have to say those things at every breath to still be called Daughter and Sister!

It doesn’t mean that I don’t love God. In fact, for me it means the opposite.

She also writes:

…to show that I can still love Jesus and drink a glass of good wine, that I can still believe well and not use language dripping with Christian-speak...

…and this…

…the Holy Spirit can indwell me even when my faith is a little outside of the box.

Yes, yes, YES! This is just how I feel! Just because my faith looks different from what you imagine it should look like, doesn’t mean that I don’t have a strong faith in God. It doesn’t mean that I am backslidden.

My own faith has always been “a little outside of the box“. I think that’s why I don’t get along well with a lot of other Christians, and why I’ve lost certain friendships — or, as Sarah says, our faith has “split us”. People are always afraid of what’s “different”.

It’s not that I try to be contrary, or different. I just don’t buy into the need to use Christian-speak, or the need to keep my stuff all locked up so that the outside looks “shiny” and “perfect”. I can’t stand people who pretend that their life is totally fine and they don’t have any problems. That isn’t reality. Sure, your outlook on life can be positive! But, you can’t tell me that you don’t have any problems, ’cause I’m not buying it. Not in the least.

Who says we have to pretend we have it all together?

Who says we have to not have any flaws in order to be called “Christian”?

Jesus said, “In this world you will have troubles… but take heart, I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33)

I hate that our faith splits us. But, if it means that my faith is real and authentic, so be it. I’d much rather live authentically, then pretend to have it all together and find out I wasn’t as close to God as I thought.

Asked to Trust

It’s a dangerous thing to walk closely with the God of the Universe. You just never know what He’s going to ask of you next!

God has been teaching me a lot about trusting Him, lately. That’s actually my “One Word” for 2013… Trust.

OneWord2013_trust150

The crazy thing is, you think you can just give God this area or that one of your life, and you’ll be all good. But, no. He then asks you for those parts that you didn’t want to hand over… the ones you don’t think you’re ready to let go of, yet.

He isn’t demanding. He just quietly holds out His hand, and says, “Please? Will you let Me have that?” And, I know that to give it to Him will release me… it will bring freedom and huge blessings. Every one of the people in the Bible who trusted God experienced these HUGE blessings for doing so! Just check out Hebrews chapter 11! But, it’s one of the hardest things in the world to do… to let go.

Just this past week, God has asked me to trust Him with one of the biggest fears in my life. It’s had me under its sway for about 11 years now. And, I thought I’d gotten past the worst of it — until last night, when I fell apart because of it, again.

But, it’s not just this thing, this fear. In the last week, God has asked me to trust Him with three (3) other huge things in my life… ones that I really didn’t want to give over. I realized, though, that I can give them to Him. I know He’ll take care of them. But, this last one — this fear? This is hard… maybe harder than all of the other three combined. 😦

The problem is, I can say I trust God, and that I know He’s trustworthy. I can say that I’m getting to know His character well enough (through my Bible reading, study, and our personal chats). But He will almost always ask me to prove it. I can’t just say it with my lips — I have to live it with my life. As writers often quote, “Show, don’t tell.”

So, it looks like I may have to hold His hand super-tightly, and face my biggest fear. I’ve got a little time to prepare, but I have a feeling He’s not going to let this go. I’m going to have to take a huge leap of faith, and believe that God is who He says He is, and He can do what He says He can do. I have to believe the things He’s promised me, and just go. It’s not going to be easy — at ALL! But, I know — yes, I know — it will be totally worth it.

…close my eyes, and leap!

Discontented

 For a while now ~ years, probably ~ I’ve had a dislike of “religion”, even though I’ve called myself a “Christian” for most of my life, and I was brought up going to church every Sunday.

But, I really have never liked going to church. And, in all honesty, I don’t like hanging around with other Christians.* Too often they are too preachy, or too judgemental, or too “holier-than-thou”. And I just can’t stand it!

For example, I recently posted to my Facebook wall that I was reading L. J. Smith’s series, “The Vampire Diaries“. And a good –Christian– friend of mine left a comment asking why I’d read “such trash”. I laughed it off and said, “Because I like reading vampire books!” Then, a few days later, I went to Bible study, and another (Christian) friend says, “I’ve been seeing your Facebook posts, lately, about the books you’re reading, and the Christina Aguilera music videos ~ why do you choose to fill your head with such garbage? I just don’t get it.” This woman said all of this with such a disgusted tone of voice, too. 😕

Well, I have a question of my own: Who gave ya’ll the right to approve/disapprove of the media I consume? I mean, if you want to confront a Christian sister in love, and remind her that maybe her choices aren’t the most edifying, there are better ways to go about it. But, manipulation and shame aren’t it.

I’m tired of Christianity’s legalism and falseness. I love my LORD, and feel that He and I have a decent relationship. It’s not what I’d like it to be, certainly, but it’s at least a relationship that’s in process.

I want a strong, visible faith. But, I don’t want to be the type of Christian I’ve seen all of my life. I don’t want to be pious. I don’t want to follow a set of rules, or have a mental checklist that tells me whether/not I’m being a “good Christian” and walking closely with God (because I’m reading my Bible, going to church, and praying regularly, etc). I don’t want people to run for the hills when they see me coming — or, at the very least, roll their eyes — for fear that I’m goign to give them an earful about my faith.

I guess I kind of just like the faith that I already have. It’s a quiet faith, where I will share with others if God prompts me to, or if I feel the circumstances call for it; where I don’t go to church on Sundays, but have made attendance at my weekly Bible study a priority (it’s my “church”); where –every now & then– people will hear me talk about my faith and realize that maybe I have a closer relationship with God than they thought (because they were too busy assuming –based on my media choices, and my lack of church attendance– that I have a “weak” faith).

I want to live The Way of Jesus (as seen in the New Testament). I want to have a deep, abiding love relationship with my LORD that isn’t overbearing, but that definitely teases others into wanting the same for themselves. I want people to say, “There’s something different about her,” and then seek to find out what that is. But, the “difference” I want them to discover is an authentic, living, breathing faith in a loving heavenly Father who calls them (and me) to Himself.

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* Note: This does not include my blogging friends. I love reading Christian blogs, but that’s probably because I can choose the ones whose “tone” I like. 😉