Archive - November, 2010

a room with a view.

The contest begun. The visage that remains inconspicuous the longest wins. Only a few seconds had passed when my opponent folded. The mysterious hue of green returned. Quivering, withholding either tear or rage.  Unwilling to glance upon these eyes with disdain, I darted my gaze… examining the scenery.  Blades of light exposed the holes behind the recklessly applied plaster. The ceiling’s aeration was less covert. Mildewed reams of pink insulation struggled to remain snug between the exposed rafters. Drip, drip, drip… apparently neither the roof nor the pipes were sealed properly. In disbelief, I stepped  back toward the defeated- balancing my weight across the rotting floor boards. Our eyes locked once again. “You must not cry,” I reminded her. She nodded in agreement, wiping away the remnants of weary eyes.  A deep sigh for the sake of composure, and then her reflection faded from view.  Grasp, pull, step through… and off we go, back into reality’s facades – where every room cries out for repair, and every face longs for release.

My mother’s daughter.

T-minus circa one hour until I begin the 4-5 hour drive back home for Thanksgiving.

Just spent the last hour crying because I suddenly I realized how much I miss my mom. A few weeks ago, one of my roommates told me that she would have never guessed how close my mom and I are until she lived with me. Yeah, I guess we are, but not nearly as close as we used to be.
Some days, I am afraid I am becoming my mom… other days, I pray that I will be just like her.
I remember growing up how my mom was the strongest person I knew. She had been through so much, but always seemed to think that God had it under control and everything happened for a reason. I never understood how she could find hope in even the most dismal occasions. And, her laughter and joy were contagious. I used to roll my eyes as she told my friends stories about answered prayer, prophetic dreams, visitations from angels, and the haunted houses that we’ve lived in…. and I cringed when she insisted that we go to midnight mass every Christmas Eve and watch Jesus of Nazareth on VHS every Good Friday. My mom was the hardest worker I knew, and always creative. Her artwork and poetry and sense of humor were things I admired more than words could express.  She always pushed us to do our best, and to give up what could be good to achieve what could be great. She never showed that she cared what others thought because she was confident in who she was and what she valued. And, she gave selflessly everything she had to her kids and our friends. Though she had her struggles, my mom was a incredible parent and an inspiration in my life.
I miss her. Though many of those attributes still hold true, I slowly watched as she neglected to follow her own advice. The troubles of this world and the opinions of others got the best of her. She loves people so much that she allows them to take advantage of her.  It breaks my heart to see her search for meaning and acceptance in all the wrong places… and it saddens me even more to know that much of her heart break can be attributed to choices I have made. I still love my mom, more than she knows…. but who she is now is just a fragment of who she once was… and I think the fragments she has lost are the aspects of life that I have recently gained. 

Here are some examples: I grew up in a house where drinking was frowned upon because it’s negative effects were known to outweigh the perks of a buzz. I once scoffed at that sentiment, but now I know how true it is and choose not to drink. I grew up in a house where the foundation was faith, and I finally I can say that I have an unwavering trust in Jesus. Though we went to a church that never discussed it, I grew up in a house where talk of angels, demons, and answered prayer were common place. It’s funny how those types of conversations follow me nowadays. I grew up in a house where art, poetry, and creativity were celebrated. Where dance parties were a daily occurrence, and I was always taught that a little hug goes a long way.  And, those are the little truths that I am slowly reincorporating into my life. 
But I fear, that I too will lose pieces of myself along the way… that I will allow the hardships of this world and the opinions of others to tamper my personality and extinguish both my personal ambitions and my steadfast faith. I fear that I too will slowly fade away, and never regain the hope that I once had. 
My fears are legitimate because I can see the potential of fading  in my own life… even now… as I had already begun to forget who I am. I am thankful for the  continual reminders. I am even more thankful for my family.  
Catherine: I think I’m like my dad. 
Hal: I think you are, too. 
Catherine: I’m afraid I’m like my dad. 
Hal: You are not him. 
Catherine: Maybe I will be. 
Hal: Maybe, and maybe you’ll be better.  - Proof 

You see,  in many ways, I am definitely becoming my mom. And, in many ways, I’m not. 


Any way you look at it, I have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving! =]

To sound the shofar? [problems in communication]

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place…” -George Bernard Shaw.

Personally, I believe that communication is simultaneously my greatest strength and my greatest weakness.  I simply don’t articulate what I know should be articulated … or I only half explain an idea that needs elaboration … or I substitute a colloquialisms for a coherent thought.  The heart of is communication problems that we fail to take John Mayer’s advice and don’t “just say what you need to say”.

And, honestly, it’s not the things that we consciously and intentionally say or refrain from saying that instigate problems. Lapses of communication often result in conflict when there is an illusion that an idea has actually been fully communicated. 

I just finished reading a book called The Happy Intercessor by Beni Johnson. I usually don’t discourage people from reading books, but honestly I would not recommend reading this one.  To summarize the premise, the book is supposed to encourage the reader to find joy in intercessory prayer. It’s author Beni Johnson leads the intercessory prayer ministry at Bethel church, and is known for her fervent prayers and fruitful ministry. I have heard Beni speak, and I truly believe that her ministry is doing the work of God… but, if I were to read this book with no back knowledge of their ministry, I would honestly conclude that she was a crazy hyper-charismatic with little discretion.

In her book, she details numerous stories from her experiences with intercession. The stories have incredible outcomes, but Beni’s writing doesn’t do any of them justice. She uses lots of pentecostal jargon  and randomly throws out her eccentric ideas as if they were commonplace without any explanation. I do not question whether the methods to her madness are the promptings of the Holy Spirit, but I am questioning how her editors allowed her to publish the stories in their current form because they don’t communicate her intentions to her readers. For example, quite a few of the situations involve traveling somewhere to pray and then blowing a shofar to declare the victory of God over the land. That’s fine. Shofars are biblical; God does have us do seemingly silly things in the natural as prophetic signs of what is happening in the spiritual and/or as a reminder of what He has already accomplished (see comment section for a description of the shofar thing*). The problem is this: the book inadvertently seems to make the act of blowing the shofar the climax of each tale rather than obedience to God’s will and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Taken by Olve Utne, found at wikicommons

I believe that Beni’s overall message could be summarized in one sentence. “Seek the Holy Spirit’s involvement in your prayer life, and you’ll joyfully see the fruit of God answering your prayer as you follow the Spirit’s leading and pray in agreement with God’s will.” I believe that her publishing team is under the impression that this is the sentiment the book conveys. However, that assumption is an illusion.

There are concepts left unexplained, intentions undefined, and implied presumptions that may not be inherent to readers. This book taught me little about intercessory prayer, little about joy, and a lot about how a shofar and randomly anointing the ground with oil are essentials in my prayer life. (No, I will not be purchasing a shofar any time soon.)  I actually highly respect the ministry of Beni and Bill Johnson, but it saddens me to think that poor communication leads people to thinking that they have gone astray from biblical Christianity and may inadvertently lead others awry.

Another example, from the same ministry: Bill Johnson is quoted with saying:

“It’s difficult to expect the same fruit of the early church when we value a book they didn’t have, more than the Holy Spirit they did have…”

At first glance, some of you are probably appalled at his statement. “How can a pastor question the value of scripture? Is he saying our charismatic experience is more important than God’s word?” Well, given this quote alone, I would be skeptical of their ministry because I’m not sure if the biblical truth is the lens through which they interpret their experiences.

Now, let’s examine the illusion that may be conjured by the reader perspective. “Bill Johnson’s ministry must be heretical because it doesn’t consider God’s word as valuable as their emotional and supernatural experiences”. Well,  Beni addresses this in her book. In the appendix, she address the question “How do we know that we are praying to God’s will?” She writes “we must always use the Bible as a guideline.” So, the Bible is their guideline? Why not mention this earlier? It seems more important than shofars and anointing oil, right?

I think Bill’s point is that the church relies more heavily on the religiosity and legalism it has derived from scripture than it relies on the Holy Spirit that inspired scripture. His point is that we forget that the same Spirit that inspired those words is still at work to day and wants to partner with us. The Holy Spirit never acts contrary to scripture because His purpose is always to glorify Christ and scripture is the gift of God that details the story of Christ’s redemption of the world. I believe that the Johnsons’  point is that we need to actively partner with the Holy Spirit in order to see a fruitful church,  but they fail to communicate that idea fully. And in the confusion,  he loses the opportunity to communicate it at all.

 I completely agree with the Johnsons’ underlying sentiments. We do need to prayer more. We do need to intercede. We do need to rely on the Holy Spirit’s leading- both through the context of scripture and personally as He guides our lives. However, my fear with the publications from Bethel is that the focus is seemingly on the supernatural results and the means of achieving those results, rather than glorifying God.  Though I believe that this ministry (like any other) has its flaws,  I highly doubt that this message is their intention. The problem isn’t that I disagree with what they are attempting to say; the problem is that they aren’t saying it. There is a false illusion of communication. 

We are all guilty of conjuring illusions both as the communicator and the interpreter of communications. What God is revealing to me is the importance of allowing Him into not only my thoughts, but also the way I articulate them. Where we fail in communication, He is more than capable of getting His point across. Even so, wouldn’t it be more effective and efficient just to communicate in accordance with the will of God to begin with?

I’m grateful for God’s grace in this regard, and I am truly sorry for all the miscommunicated illusions  I have created.  If you are reading this, I am sure at some point in time, my communication flaws have hurt or hindered you. Please forgive me for these instances. My prayer is that God will continue to work in me, so that I can better articulate His message and better communicate how His Spirit is moving. My prayer is that God will be the center of all my communication so that I can truly be a mouthpiece of the Gospel. 

potential.

Earlier today, a friend and I were having a conversation over coffee about our future relationships and careers.  Kinda standard for most single girls in their twenties, right? Yet, there was one observation from our discussion this morning that has been haunting me all day. My friend summarized it best: “we can’t date potential”. 

In other words, you can’t consider a relationship with someone because you like who they could be later down the road. When you begin a relationship with someone, you need to like who they are now and the possibility of the two of you journeying into the future together.

I totally agree, but I hadn’t considered the reciprocity of that statement: no one can date potential.

The bottom line is this: no guy should even consider beginning a relationship with me. Why? Because he shouldn’t settle for dating potential either. At this point, I have the potential to be a great partner in life and ministry … but, right now, it is just that- unrealized potential. I’ll be the first to admit there are some significant areas of growth in my transformational process that need to be tackled before I would even consider myself dateable.

Despite the fact that I don’t see myself in a relationship in the immediate future,  I still need to begin seriously considering the fact that my future husband deserves way more than just potential. 

And, more importantly, God is worthy of so much more than potential. So, here’s to working towards making that potential a reality.

Mutual?

I love xkcd. Today’s comic is by far my favorite… 

“A universe that needed someone to observe it in order to collapse it into existence would be a pretty sorry universe indeed.”

Page 1 of 212»