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More “Woke” than You?

September 6, 2019

Hi Friends,

Just back from a weekend away and some time to myself. I actually had a whole bed to myself which happens so rarely. Yes, I slept diagonally, on purpose!! I also spent some time wandering around NYC with family and I was able to keep up for the whole day. My body was weary when we got back to the hotel but I made it! I was so very proud. I never know what my body will do on a given day but that day, I felt normal again and it was a joy!

Fast forward to last night and it was not so. My body was acting up so I stayed awake for a few hours after my household had gone to sleep. When that happens I usually think.  I think about some problem in my life or basically think through observations I had tucked away for further exploration when a child doesn’t need a drink of water or a snack. Often, I work out a passage of scripture in my head, working through truths I need to meditate on in my capacity as group discussion leader or worship leader at my church.

This time I was thinking about social justice. I have some millennials in my life-wonderful young people who have a unique view of the world and who are great examples of advocacy and action. As often happens when younger generations observe wrong thinking or inaction in their elders, they take up the cause with all the vigor and strength of conviction of their youth. It is a good thing.

In Christian context, there are many waking up to the fact that wrong and sin have been tolerated in the church for far too long. Waking up to the fact that to be Christian is not to be North American or to be Republican or to be wealthy. Waking up to the reality that  for too long the North American church allowed Christian culture to be mistaken for Christianity. They are NOT one and the same.

The North American church has majored on minors and has been relatively silent over the years on issues of racism, slavery and injustice. Church members sat idly by as their fellow image-bearers  (people made in the image of God) were persecuted for the color of their skin and never said anything because it didn’t directly affect them. Obviously “Love your Neighbor as Yourself” didn’t factor into the equation. Again, Christian culture is NOT true Christianity.

So now, we have a group of millenial believers who aren’t having any of it, and that is good. However…I want to issue a caution to my beloved brothers and sisters. Be careful and guard your hearts against self righteousness. I am becoming increasingly concerned by what I am witnessing and hearing in the way younger believers speak about older ones: “Oh, they are stuck in their ways”, “they are religious like the Pharisees”, “they are legalists” “we want authenticity”, “we are seeking true Christianity”.

Firstly, I am so glad that God is calling his church to more authenticity. Let us be done with the days where people pretend to have their lives together and their squeaky clean exterior becomes the measure by which we judge them. Nobody is squeaky clean. It’s time the church reflected that truth. I am also glad that important issues are being addressed and repentance is being sought for sinful patterns of thinking.

Secondly, I truly believe that religion is the enemy of the true church. We love religious activity: ceremonies, candles, programs, traditions, weird symbolism etc. Our hearts, in their fallen state are wired to love religion. Just read the Bible, you’ll see it everywhere. However, we are taught that no amount of religion can save anyone. The people of God are reprimanded for executing the very thing God commanded them to do? Isaiah 1:10-18

Hear the word of the Lord,
    you rulers of Sodom!
Give ear to the teaching of our God,
    you people of Gomorrah!
 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
    says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
    and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
    or of lambs, or of goats.

 “When you come to appear before me,
    who has required of you
    this trampling of my courts?
 Bring no more vain offerings;
    incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
    I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
 Your new moons and your appointed feasts
    my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
    I am weary of bearing them.
 When you spread out your hands,
    I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
    I will not listen;
    your hands are full of blood.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
    learn to do good;
seek justice,
    correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
    plead the widow’s cause.

 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.

 

God is telling his people that their righteous acts do not save them. These people were obeying in the offering of sacrifices but they were disobedient in their oppression of the poor. Their hearts were not following their God. Only their actions were. The sacrifices were not meant to be used to acquire salvation but to point to the one who saves-Jesus!

So, now we have the opposite-a generation awakened to the injustice in the world, following Jesus, seeing his heart for the poor and the oppressed, and they are indicting the generation that preceded them. The danger now becomes that they become self-righteous about their “wokeness” (the dictionary defines woke as: alert to injustice in society, especially racism). They feel they are better than their elders because they see injustice. It’s subtle but it’s spiritually deadly. You see, if the enemy can’t get you to be self righteous one way, he will do it by deceiving you into self righteousness on the other side. And, just like the people of Israel, you can do right things with wrong heart and God will want none of it. Your motives are what he is concerned with. Humility demands that we relate to one another with love. If your brother or sister has a blind spot, understand you also have some and deal with them in love. God may have opened your eyes to see and understand that we have not been a loving church and have not represented Christ well, that we have given Christ a bad name in society, but remember…HE opened your eyes. You aren’t better or more spiritual or more enlightened. You have been commissioned, not exalted.

So, my exhortation would be this: Act justly, love mercy, walk HUMBLY before your God- Michah 6:8. You may be more “woke” than someone else, but Jesus had to die for your sinful self as well!

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You Can’t Lead Someone to a Place You’ve Never Been

August 12, 2019

This is not my saying… It’s a popular one but I got it from Jen Wilkin. She’s been a mentor lately. I don’t know her at all, but through her writing, podcasts and every seminar I can get my hands on, she has been showing me things…deep and beautiful things. I’ll share them one day but for now, this statement is coming back to haunt me.

Recently my eldest son returned from camp. I sent my kids to a Christian camp because I trust the staff there but more importantly, I wanted someone to show them the love of Christ, someone other than ME. When I sent them, they seemed disillusioned, apathetic and doubtful. I prayed every day for them to get a fresh understanding of the truths that are the bedrock of my life and to taste the goodness of God.

Fast forward 7 weeks….God answered me. More than I could ever imagine. My child is talking so differently about faith. He is enthusiastic about the love he has encountered in the scripture and the love he felt from the staff members. Now, I know that camp is a utopia. You live in a bubble where there are no stressors, no assignments, teachers, kids doing drugs etc etc. Teenagers these days are so down and depressed so I can understand the attraction to camp life. But it is a conversation with my son that still haunts me.

He basically told me that he had never understood that God loved him, that God would leave 99 sheep to rescue him? Really? All those years of talks with me and sermons and youth group and Sunday School and family devotions and his Dad going through Hebrews with him at Christmas time? Really???? I felt the pang of reproach and with it the welling up of self-defense. Not MY fault, you were not listening, son!

You see, I hate religion. I hate anything that smells like it. And, in typing this I realize I need to repent from my religiosity about anti religion! I am all about the gospel- Jesus dining with sinners, loving the unlovely….I LOVE this truth. How in 15 years had it never been communicated to my son?!

But quickly, I knew this was not a time for self-preservation and self-righteousness. It was a time to humble myself and to listen. So I asked him to please explain, asked him what I could have done differently. It is an ongoing conversation and I KNOW I need to hear him and to listen well. I NEED my every failure exposed. To be honest, I am still wrestling with it. How does a parent call a child to a higher standard and teach them to be less selfish, less indulgent, kinder, more responsible while at the same time teaching them that they are not accepted on their merit. They are loved as they are. It’s messy and tricky and I am not doing a good job. But I am praying that God covers my insufficiency. That in me asking my son to explain, to open his heart to me, I can show him a vulnerability and communicate to him that I care about how he feels when he is being disciplined and how his perceptions of my discipline matters. There’s no manual for this stuff folks.

So back to my statement at the beginning….Did my son not get the love of God because I couldn’t lead him there? Because one of MY OWN greatest struggles is resting in the love of God? I can’t lead my kids to where I have never been. Oh how needy I am!

I implore you, parents, no matter how old your kids are, ask them questions. Most of all, don’t assume they understand your faith. They may have missed it completely and there is no more important conversation to have. Be open to their criticism and allow them to speak freely about what they perceive to be your faults. And, when it stings, because it will, bring it to God and repent where repentance is needed and then rest despite your failure. He loves your kids more than you do. After all, they are HIS!

Pam

Persevering through Pain

August 6, 2019

Hi all!

In my last post, I introduced you to my littlest boy, Fiery. Having him was a shock. I remember going to the ER because I really didn’t feel well. My heart was racing all the time and I was tired. Hospital tests showed No pregnancy. A few weeks later, in another ER, the pregnancy was confirmed but assumed to be ectopic. I was closely monitored until finally, weeks later, there was a heart beat. The pregnancy was hard on my body. I had been active, working in a school and had a very busy life. All that ground to a halt as I needed several naps a day and lots of bed-rest.

Since giving birth, my body has not recovered. I have suffered ever since. I remember being in pain for several years after giving birth to my twins. I would wake up in the morning and my legs, feet and toes would be hurting and I would limp through the morning. As the day went on, they would feel better. So, I though, “this is normal, it will pass”. It never did.

I live in constant pain of some kind. My body feels like it was crushed by a car every single day. Have you ever felt like your hair follicles hurt? I feel that often.

Needless to say, that’s discouraging on a daily basis. I find myself refusing to join in on day trips and activities because I cannot handle the pain afterward. It is not where I hoped to be at this point in life. I have a little one that could benefit from a mom that can go to the park and play but this mom can’t.

Slowly, my doctors have been addressing several issues in my body including anemia but the pain still remains.

All this to say that chronic pain is something unseen but it takes a huge toll. I was speaking to a fellow mom the other day who suffers from chronic migraines. She said: “it’s so hard to be a good mom, a patient and kind person when you are in pain!” A truer statement could not be uttered. When your body is throbbing constantly, you snap at people easily, you have no way to cope and so end up taking it out on others. You also live with guilt and shame. It’s hard to hurt all the time. I may want to be the helper and the rock for my family but there are days where I am not good for anything at all.

Another temptation when you live with chronic pain is to check out. But, too much TV isn’t good for anyone’s soul. And so I am perpetually in a needy position. Being needy is NOT my forte. I struggle to ask for help and I feel like a burden to my husband and family. However, this position of neediness has taught me so much! I am learning humility and am learning that I am expected to serve no matter what. If that means serving from a position on the couch by calling one of my kids over to converse or playing little games on the bed with my toddler, I am called to ENGAGE! I am also asked to REST in God’s love and acceptance of me. This is so challenging! I don’t measure up to my own standards, how to I measure up to God’s. BUT we have a gospel of REST. Jesus said “it is finished” and while I am useless  sometimes, I am complete in HIM!  What a counter-cultural concept! My identity is received not achieved (I stole that from Tim Keller)!

And so, for those in the same boat as me…press on! God still has things for you to do and even though seemingly small (sending an encouraging email or prying for people), it is exactly what was ordained for you.

Pam

 

I’m baaaack!

July 26, 2019

Well, well, well…It’s been a HOT minute, people! I am back at my keyboard. I took a break from blogging for a few years. Too many things were happening to me personally and in every area of my life. I decided that writing was not a priority and that if I ever got back to blogging, it would be when I had something to share, to contribute. I’m into my fourth decade of life now ( gulp!) and have learned a few things through some hard knocks. I’m a little slower to speak now and have realized that there is a lot of gray in this world. People and situations cannot be simply put into a category, there are so many factors to consider. I have learned to be a better listener and I have learned to take my time in judging.

That’s not to say my snark is gone…it isn’t. It probably will never be. I think it makes life spicy sometimes. But hopefully, by God’s grace, I can patent my own version of graceful snarkiness. Is there such a thing as sanctified sarcasm? Gosh I hope so!

So, why blog again?

Because my creativity is back. I have been thinking things and feeling things, I have had the privilege of teaching things and modelling things. I have tings to say, if not only to my friends, especially to my kids. And, I want a record of my thought process and my journey.

Speaking of my kids. You all remember Brainy, Grumpy and Jumpy? Yeah, well they are teenagers now! They are growing into young men with their own sets of likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses and they make my life very interesting! Parenting them is challenging and fun. Never a day goes by where I know exactly what to say or do. They are unique, they are skeptics, they are….moody! Man, can the emotional weather change from one moment to the next! It keeps life interesting.

Another thing keeping my life fun is the addition of another little guy into this family. Yup, Surprise! We had another son almost four years ago and he is the joy of my heart. He is sweet but feisty, loving, yet strong-willed. I must admit, there are days where parenting him exhausts me but his cuddles and his love also fill my heart. You’ll be hearing more of my adventures with him. He needs a blog nickname…let’s go with “Fiery”.

So, here I am… Follower of Jesus, wife to Mr. T, mom to Brainy, Grumpy, Jumpy and Fiery, daughter, sister, friend, worship leader, autism mom, Bible teacher and renewed blogger.

Thanks for following me

Pam

Standing in the Gap Between a Rock and a Hard Place

March 6, 2015

So I am hoping to make my return to this blog as unannounced as possible. Those who are still subscribed may have been surprised to see this in your inbox. It won’t be  a regular thing but I had some thoughts and I wanted to record them. Then, I figured they could be helpful to someone else. That’s why I blog. If I have an epiphany, I figure someone may be able to benefit and so I share.

I am an avoider. I avoid all things uncomfortable. I will wait while those who know me have their laugh. The truth is, sometimes, if I feel like the repercussions are small, I may willingly stick myself in a tough situation (pointing out poor customer service tot eh waitress for example) but at the end of the day, the least amount of trouble, the happier I am.

This is the reason I procrastinate. It is also the reason I will avoid people. If I am hurt by someone, I deal with it by staying away for a while while I work things out on my own. It’s my reaction when having to take on a challenge or try something new. Definitely my reaction when I have to get form A to B and take all the side roads instead of the big bad highway. Many times you will find a perfectionist hiding in the skin of the avoider. If you know you’ll fail, avoid! That’s basically where I hang out.

These examples all seem rather benign but the problem an avoider will face in their spiritual life is avoiding the fight. We all know the Christian life is war. If I surprised you in any way with this statement you may need to return to your Bible. Recently I have been thrown into a spiritual war. While my deepest desire is for my family to serve Christ, I have been encountering opposition. My kids roll their eyes at me when I cut into their play time with Bible time. “Moooom, seriously, do we have to? It’s not like God answers us or anything.” These words sting. As your kids get older and you realize that the God you have loved all your life is not their God, that the Christ you worship as Saviour is none other than a weak whimp to them, you come to the point where you have to decide: persevere through or avoid. I justified my avoidance by saying that “salvation belongs tot the Lord”… I can’t save them so just leave it alone. Something inside still wasn’t too comfortable with that stance.

I have been going through the Pentateuch this year with Bible Study Fellowship. One thing that God has been showing me is Moses’ intercession for the people who are so quick to throw him and his God under the bus. His reaction to this people’s unbelief is not to quit- he intercedes for them. He asks God to remember His covenant and he keeps on in obedience.

I had in mind that I would teach my kids to pray. If I wrote down truths of God they could easily read them as prayers and learn how to relate to a God they do not personally know. This was my goal for March Break. On Tuesday, I fell sick, I have been on the couch most of the week. As I watched my kids waste their time away seeking joy in video games and TV, I consoled myself with the fact that it was OK to not stand firm, I was sick after all. I barely had energy to play Tetris on my phon. The Spirit compelled me and kept prompting me and today I got the strength to call my kids to the couch, open my Bible and start telling them of what I was learning. I got the regular eye rolls, the disinterested blank stares, the hurtful comments but I pushed through, begging God to be faithful to my small step of faith. This is the beginning of my fight. There will be many more years. I need to bring my avoidance tendencies to  the cross every day. If I am going to be a faithful prophet in an unbelieving environment, I will have to expect persecution and I will have to be OK with standing alone. I will stand in that lonely and difficult place with my eyes fixed on the Christ who “for the joy set before him, endured the cross”

Just Another Manic Sunday

March 17, 2013

I do not like Sundays. It’s the worst day of the week for me. Day of Rest, Ha!

Right now, my head is pounding and I am tired. OK, full confession, We decided to re-live a little bit of our youth last night and stayed up to watch the “main event” with our friends. It was fun, but now I am tired ( although I did sleep in to make up for the lost time).

Hubby is sleeping, has been since 7 pm. His back hurts.

I am facing an evening of baking and trying to scrape together what I can muster for the kids’ lunches tomorrow. I was supposed to go grocery shopping but it’s too late now. It takes longer to get the kids ready for bed when you’re only one person.Ah, lonely, yucky evening….getting water bottles and thermoses ready to be filled tomorrow, locating mitts, hats and snow pants so that we can make an attempt at being on time for school. Where’s so and so’s agenda? Oh. he decided to take it to the bathroom with him, who knew? Oh, and where are those field trip forms again?

Then there was the homework, the tears… it’s public speaking week so everyone is working on speeches from “The War of 1812” to “Platypuses'” and “Trains”.

Well, at least church was restful this morning you may say. NOPE! Not where I go to church. To keep our church running most of the people do a whole lot! We don’t have our own building. There’s the set-up, the take-down, looking for misplaced curriculum and wondering what happened to the CD player that used to work but now doesn’t.

All the stress causes tension. It’s not peaceful at home.

Of course in my dreams, I go to a huge church where I sing in a choir of 50+ and the music is beautiful. The pews are wood and the building is majestic rousing wonder and awe…

I go to church in Quebec. There’s nothing big, beautiful, majestic and restful about it. It’s a mission field, a grind. If you go to an American Mega-Church, you probably have no category at all for what it means to go to church here. The same ministry needs to happen but with a fraction of the laborers. Whether you have 5 kids in your Sunday school or 105, you’re still called and burdened to prepare a  great lesson for them but you have less volunteers.

Thankfully, most Pastors I know do get Monday off in this province but the volunteer Elders, Sunday-school teachers, musicians, people who worked on the bulletin, people who baked for coffee hour…they all go back to the grind tomorrow.

The day of rest came and went…and I’m exhausted!

 

A Mother’s Prayer

February 23, 2013

I heard Kristyn Getty perform this song  last April. I am learning it to sing to my boys each night.