Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sweater Sin.

I own a wool sweater.
I wear it everyday.
I've tried to remove it time and time again.
Yet, it stays.

I own a wool sweater.
It fits perfectly on me.
I suffocate and fall under it's weight.
Chains bind the seams.

I own a wool sweater.
I knitted it myself.
The thread I chose is my hate, my jealousy
My lust for filth.

I own a wool sweater.
Unraveling at such slow pace.
Threads slowly fall to ground as I stretch
to touch that gift of grace.

I'm owned by a wool sweater.
That I knit and mend.
My sweater owns me.
I'll wear it again and again.

I'm enslaved to my own creation;
though it slowly crushes my heart.
But, I'm comfortable in my cell, snuggled in.
Cozy in my art.

Save me from my sweater.
Save me from my sin.
Free me from this weight I wear,
and I'll finally know heaven.

I long to rip it away.
I'd gladly shrug it off.
Save me, free me
from the weight of my self-inflicted cross.

His cross is the first hole.
His death is the first pull.
He rose and the sweater unravels for good.
My freedom now is full.

I owned a wool sweater.
He wore it just for me.
He bore the weight, my addiction.
And now I'm eternally free.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Month on a Deserted Island: Week 2.

The world has changed. A Facebook fast makes TV news not really relevant again, but a revived necessity, and I am not impressed. I miss my friends' commentaries and the timely posting of news and/or updates from friends. Thanks to social media all you have to do is sign in to that blue news wonder and voilĂ  you know if your friend in Japan survived an earth-axis changing, island moving 8.9 earthquake (provided they can get to a computer). Why exactly would I choose to sit through our local traffic report when a friend across the ocean may or may not be in a life threatening situation? Internet news sources continue to threaten the populous' opportunities to improve patience.

Please continue to pray for the people of Japan.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolation he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.

He says, "Be still, and know that I am God";
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

~Psalm 46

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Month on a Deserted Island: Definitions.

Superfluous communication, constrained intimacy, imaginary commitment and zero accountability: that's what I've decided defines that majority of Facebook relationships. I am the last person on earth to completely trash the medium. I love it. After being without it for almost week, I miss it. I still believe a good lunch date wins in a death match between the two relational options.

Superfluous communication, constrained intimacy, imaginary commitment, and zero accountability often define something else: the church.

As soon as the name Jesus is out there brains everywhere make the decision to turn off or look away. It is not surprising that is the case. It is a divisive name, and has been since the first miracle, I suspect. I don't really want or expect that response from the church, however. There are two issues I've struggled with over the last few years regarding the church. The first has to do with our lack of intimate relationships with each other. The second regards our lack of commitment to our creator, our Savior, and the church in general.

Are we recreating the flaws of digital media within our church walls? Is our goal to please the masses and ignore the life-change that Christ expected? Is our goal to create a safe haven for social networking rather than an intimate family of believers? Is our goal to quietly blend in with our cultural surroundings and never make definitive statements to avoid controversy? If so, I'm on the wrong ship and need to get off. I do not want these paths away from scripture to define my faith system.

You see, I shudder to think that this miraculous provision of grace becomes our permission slip to neglect our walk with the Savior and our commitment to His body, the church. In my favorite gospel, John, is the beautiful story of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus draws a line in the sand separating this woman from the onslaught of Pharisees standing ready to throw stones. He saves her in two ways, he silences the accusing crowd by asking the first sin-free person to take the first shot at this woman. Secondly, He saves her from the path she was on when He says, "I don't condemn you either, go, and from now on sin no more."

Friends, he expected her to change her life. He didn't say, "yep, you are OK right where you are. We don't expect anything out of you!" He said, "Go, I'm not condemning you, but cut it out."

When Jesus fulfilled the law, his expectation for how we live did not change or diminish. Rather, he expected more out of us. He expected our thoughts, our actions, everything in our lives to be focused on living for and loving our God. He did not abandon us to depravity or to addiction. He freed us from the bounds of eternal damnation, thanks to grace. But He also didn't give us a free pass to live in sin! Read the gospel of Matthew, if you disagree. Christ was all about the denial of self. Unfortunately we live a culture that is all about pleasing self. Do we adhere to happiness doctrines rather than holiness requirements?

I am a sinner. I fall short every day. I don't excuse myself for that behavior. I know I will mess up again. I won't excuse myself from that either, none of us should. Thanks to Christ! He set me free from the punishment of the law. Grace covers my sin, but does not assume I'll still live within it. Romans 6:1 states, "Are we to continue in sin so grace may abound? By no means~ How can we who died to sin still live in it?"

I suppose what I'm looking for is an authentic search for what Christ desires from us. I long for a renewed commitment to the word of God. I seek a passion for reverent and spiritual worship. Really, I never want our churches to reflect a convenient digital connection. I am ready to define our churches as deep, challenging, authentic, and devoted.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Month on a Deserted Island: Day 1.

Cutting an addict off, cold-turkey, of social networking is deadly. OK, maybe not deadly, but at the very least ridden with emotional compulsive eating. A few weeks ago I decided to give up Facebook for lent. I’m not Catholic, but I love the tradition of sacrifice preparing for the joy of the resurrection. Last year I gave up sweets and it was no big deal with exception of the lack of Cadbury Eggs in my pre-Easter diet. This year I wanted to dig deeper and choose something that affected my daily life, something big. So, I waved goodbye to Facebook almost 48 hours ago.

Day one flew by with no problem. My best friends and family have my phone numbers and email so we are keeping in contact that way. (I developed a quick resentment of email now, by the way, but hesitate to say anything too harsh as it is my sole digital communication with the world outside of this blog and recognizing I could still be waiting for a guy to show up on a horse with a handwritten letter without it.) What in the world did we do before email? I mean, really, I wrote letters to pen pals in the third grade and waited for weeks to hear from them. Weeks! Now, if my best friend in Germany needs me she pushes a button, and there I am staring at her thanks to Skype. Thank you God for computers!

The worst hit me today. I made a new friend and we had a fun lunch together watching our boys gather germs at our local McDonald's. She tells me how much she loves Facebook, and I think to myself “Yes, a new Facebook friend!” It was actually an awkward moment in the conversation, when I’m supposed to say, “Hey, I’ll be your Facebook friend!” Instead, I opted to just change the subject rather than try to explain why I would do such a ridiculous thing as to give up my digital life for a month. Hopefully, it will work out and I won’t have a friend request waiting for four weeks. She’ll probably wonder why I won’t friend her right away and decide I'm a social network snob.

Facebook is clearly a waste of time. Yesterday I did four loads of laundry, cleaned the house, and mended a Hockey Jersey for my husband, a housework feat previously unrivaled in our home. However, I missed my friends, and I am not too proud to tell you I missed reading status updates. Wow, I feel like a loser now.

Facebook cannot nor ever will make you a better person, but I believe that for folks like me who have moved all over God’s creation, it is a huge blessing. For friends who are separated by oceans, it is God-send. I am thankful for it, and yesterday I was reminded of how I am not an island. I need people, even if just digitally. Clearly, previously established relationships make social networking more fruitful in my life. I don’t believe purely digital relationships are healthy or even 100% genuine, but for maintaining, and I would say even building on established relationships, Facebook works.

I believe God made us this way, to have real connections. We need each other, but we need more than status updates. Having lunch and laughing with a friend warms and feeds the soul so much more than checking in on profile picture changes or reading 500 fairly impersonal birthday wishes. Birthdays are much more fun when you share cake with friends.

I don’t believe the digital world will ever conquer the real world and I am so thankful to live in and have access to both. The relationships I have with my Tuesday Ladies Bible Class are so sweet and you just can't replace those kinds of relationships with well-written blogs or funny viral Youtube videos. It is so much more fun to hear laughter and to feel hugs rather than just accumulate fake pokes and useless garden apps. Today I was reminded that yes, I love my Facebook account, but if given the choice I will choose a greasy burger lunch date every time because words on a screen never actually replace the people who type them.