Just living my life, and making it work!

Posts tagged ‘God’

For Such A Time As This

This morning my Facebook feed started blowing up that a man with ties to ISIS opened fire at a LGBT night club this morning. This tragedy is being billed as the largest mass shooting in our nations history. There is so much going on in this story that I’m not sure where to begin, so I’m just gonna.

Dear ISIS,

You go about creating these “terror” attacks in hopes that the fear you are perpetrating will force some kind of change. Let me be clear, greater is He that is living in me than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). I am sure that whatever plots you design, and carry to fruition CAN and WILL be used for GOOD, even though they are conceived by you in hate (Genesis 50:20) God is our protector, and healer. Just as He rescued the Jews time and time again, so He will deliver us from the likes of you. I serve the God who is filled with grace, and mercy, and everlasting hope that none should perish, but CHOOSE to follow Him (2 Peter 3:9). Your god teaches you to terrorize and murder those who do not follow him. By your fruits are you known. (Matthew 7:16)

Dear Christians saying the LGBT community got what they deserved,

If sin makes you deserving of being shot down in cold blood by a mad man, we’d ALL BE WEARING BULLET PROOF VESTS. I have a tattoo on my wrist. It has a cross with the words “Romans 3:23”. This serves as a reminder to me that we have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are ALL in need of Jesus, because we are ALL sinners. Keep your eyes on your own paper, and don’t’ act like you know the smallest thing about the hearts and minds of those who were tragically killed this morning, because you don’t. But, God does, and he expects  Christians to offer the same sort of grace, mercy, and forgiveness that He gives to us daily…..some times hourly. Jesus himself said the two greatest commandments are to Love God & Love Others. (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12 :30-31,  Luke 10:27)  If you are unclear about how God defines “love” please see 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

Dear Christian America,

Do not let this tragedy steal your love away from immigrants or make you fear them. First, this particular criminal was a natural born citizen. This tragedy has more to do with the general decline of patriotism than it does immigration. Second, unless your blood line is exclusively Native American or Mexican, you are from an immigrant family. Third, America has long been a refuge for the oppressed, and those who lack opportunity in their native country. . Let the immigrants from these war torn Muslim countries who need refuge come. Just as God used Jonah to turn Nineveh towards Him, so can He use this opportunity we have to pour love, grace, and mercy into the hearts of this immigrant population. Matthew 5:14-16 says “Your are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people hide a lamp, and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

 

I’m a Tax Collector

A few Sundays ago I was in church discussing the fact that Jesus associated with sinners and tax collectors. Tax collectors were thought to be particularly  terrible people as they got rich from taking more taxes than they were due, and by collecting taxes for the Roman Empire they were assisting in the oppression of their own people.  Matthew, Levi, and Zaccheaus were all used as examples of  tax collectors who Jesus spent time with. In Mark 2:16 the Pharisees called Jesus our for eating with “sinners and tax collectors”. The implication of this study being that as Christians we should climb down off our high crosses, and  reach out to the lowly sinners and tax collectors to show them the error of their ways. Are you kidding me?!?!  I find this sentiment especially  repulsive, because guess what ? We are all tax collectors.

In case you missed it I’m gonna say it again.

WE ARE ALL TAX COLLECTORS!

I can clearly remember being 15, sitting on my bed with my BFF discussing everyone else’ sins. We were patting ourselves on the back because we didn’t smoke, or drink, or sleep around, and we were absolutely judging those we knew who did. I had a list of do’s and do not’s, and I felt my list of do not’s was pretty clean (at least on the outside). It wasn’t, but I felt it was especially when I compared myself with the other kids I knew. In reality, on the inside, I was judgmental, manipulative, gossipy, prideful and self-righteous. I was every bit as big of a “tax collector” in need of redemption as the kids we were trash talking. The only difference was my sins are not as easily detected by others from the outside. And by the way over the years I have participated in more than my fair share of those easily detectable sins as well.

The point is all of us have stuff that puts us at odds with God’s standards. Even those who we would consider to be really “good people” are not. Isaiah 64:6 says “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” Furthermore, Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” We are ALL sinners and tax collectors in need of reconciliation with God. Even our very best attempts at living a Holy life falls so incredibly short of God’s standards that it is compared to “filthy rags“. Our hope of redemption does not depend on how clean our list of do’s and do not’s is, but from accepting the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and the resulting infusion of the Holy Spirit within us.

I see people all the time standing on street corners throwing people’s sins up in their faces. They are ranting about sins like alcoholism, drug addiction, prostitution, homosexuality, and promiscuity. They call these sins abominations, and tell people that if they stop doing them they can come to know Jesus. I’m sorry, but Jesus is not a 10 step program. John 3:16-17 does not say “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and  only Son, and whoever  shall not drink, smoke, engage in homosexuality, fornicate, engage in adultery……. will not perish, but have ever lasting life….” Instead it says ” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” It is impossible for people to overcome sin and then come to Jesus, as it is only through Jesus that sin can be overcome.

So instead of thinking of ourselves as Christians reaching out to the “lowly” sinners and tax collectors how much more amazing would it be if we said “I am a sinner and tax collector too. This is my stuff, and this is how Jesus has brought me through it, and continues to bring me through it every  moment of every day of my life. AND this is how you can lay your stuff at his feet too.” Instead of putting on a face of perfection so people will see how Holy and self-righteous I am, I need to be showing people my brokenness so they can see how Holy and righteous my God is.  When confronted by the Pharisees for eating with sinners and tax collectors Jesus simply replied ” It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” I don’t know about you, but I’m just another sick tax collector patient in the hospital of life in need of a cure named Jesus.

 

 

A Simple Book Of Stamps

After my mom’s death I found a book of stamps in her wallet. The receipt was next to it showing she had purchased these stamps just a couple of weeks before the cancer diagnosis. As I placed one on yet another envelope I wondered what she was thinking when she bought them. Was she excited about visiting for Keegan’s first birthday? Maybe she was irritated that the line was too long, or overwhelmed with the number of errands she had to accomplish that day? The point being that I am sure she wasn’t thinking that in a few short months her daughter would use them to mail her death certificates. The day she bought those stamps was like any other of the thousands of days before it. In fact she had 55 years 10 months, and 4 days to live her life. Once it was over it was over. No take backs or second chances.

My parent’s deaths has made me acutely aware that my life will end one day. Days have a way of trickling into weeks, winding through creeks of months, and emptying into a sea of years. Someday God will call me home. I am no Biblical scholar, but when I leave this world, and stand before God He is not going to ask me how large of an inheritance I left for my children or how updated my kitchen was. I even have a feeling that we won’t spend that much time talking about my sins or shortcomings as a human. After all he sent his Son to be a sacrifice for my sin, and make me clean once more. Instead I think He’ll ask me what I did to serve others, and make a difference in the world. He’ll probably talk with me about the missed opportunities I had to serve others, or the excuses I made when I felt His calling me to do something. Excuses like ” I’ll do it later when….I have more money….more time….my children are older…I retire.”

I now realize that ” someday” will be my day, and my time on earth will be up. No matter how much money I had, how smart I was, or how much stuff I accumulated my life will forever after be measured by the memories of others. I better start figuring out what impact I want to make on this world. I am only one person, but God can accomplish much through one person. God is preparing each of us for a journey. For me, adoption has always been in my heart. It wasn’t until after twelve years of marriage, three biological children, and the death of my parents that I became financially, and emotionally stable enough to pursue an international adoption.

Before my parent’s death I would have been much too fearful of the unknowns to adopt; especially a child pushing six years old. I would not want to disrupt my life meeting the possible emotional needs of an adopted teen. I would have felt like it would put too large a financial burden on my other three children. I didn’t realize this at the time, but my highest priority was making as comfortable and easy a life for myself as possible. I was pursuing the great American dream, and serving others along the way as long as it didn’t require any real sacrifice on my part. Once my parents died I realized people and relationships are sooooooo much more important than “stuff”. We had talked about a third child , but decided against it. Not because we felt complete with two kids, but out of fear that it would mess up the nice little life we had going. Now I know there is nothing more that you can give your children than each other. We took a leap of faith, and was blessed with Ainsley.

Now we are taking another leap of faith to adopt Kai. I know that the journey to morph Kai from a Chinese orphan into a Chinese American with parents and siblings will be a huge challenge. But, now I know that God has made me strong! I also know there is a greater purpose here than our family gaining a fourth child, and Kai gaining a stable family environment. Through this little boy God has given me a heart for the Chinese people, and a sympathy for those who abandon their children that I never expected. I have no idea how, but I am sure at the very least we will continue to donate to the orphanage that raised our son the first 5.5 years. I already feel completely blessed and overwhelmed that God is asking me to participate in this amazing life journey of this little boy!

In the Bible God commands us specifically to care for orphans, and he has put that burden on our hearts. To be sure my husband and I are not super human altruistic beings. I am sure there will be those “What were we thinking?” moments. However, with much sacrifice comes much personal growth and blessings. This may be only one child, but like I said you’d be amazed at what God can do with a relatively simple act of kindness and love.

On The Other Side of the World

Somewhere on the other side of the world there is a four year old boy. He lives in an orphanage in China. It is about four or five in the morning, and he is probably still asleep on a mat in a room full of young boys. What separates him from the countless other orphans in the world is we are in the process to adopt him. We are two months into a year long journey to make him our son. We have never met him, but he has already found a place in our hearts. We think of him and pray for him daily. There are many people hard at work to bring hin home to us.

One of the many things I find amazing about this process is he has no idea we even exist. He’ll get up today, eat breakfast, and generally go about his day never knowing how hard we are working to give him a better life, or how much we love him. Even when we bring him home he won’t fully understand why his life has to change so completely or how this change will give him a far better chance at life. To him it will seem that we are simply pulling him away from EVERYTHING he has ever known. It will take years for him to realize that even though he had to endure the loss of his former life that the blessings of being part of a forever family, and being an American will far outweigh any hardships he’s endured.

Yesterday I was thinking about all this, and Jeremiah 29:11 just popped into my head. It says ” For I know the plans I have for you, declaires The Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” Just like this little boy’s transition from China to America is a difficult but necessary part of a bigger plan so are the dark times in our lives. I clung to this Bible verse when I lost my parents. I have no idea why God decided to take my parent’s home so soon. I miss them daily, and am heartbroken that my children have lost them as grandparents. However, I know that God has a plan. Just as this little boy has no idea what plans we are making or how they will prosper him I have no idea the plans or knowledge of the Lord. I just have to have to trust that those plans are to give me hope and a future even during the times that are difficult.