Teacher As Student

May 27, 2014
Saturday Night.

Saturday Night.

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. Like you, I’ve been busy. I’ve enjoyed two vacations in the last six weeks, a rare variation in our yearly schedule. I’m training for a 10K. I had the unusual privilege of preaching five services at our church on Mother’s Day weekend. Remarkably, while speaking, I didn’t even mention Mother’s Day. Instead, I spoke from a passage our pastor assigned me from his sermon series in Ephesians, entitled Blueprints.

In the process, somehow the Lord used my lesson to teach me a lesson. I think the experience illustrates a passage in Ezekiel.

In Ezekiel 3: 10 you’ll find some of the most profound words in the Old Testament. God says to Ezekiel, “Son of Man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. Then go to your people in exile and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ Do this whether they listen to you or not.”

My sermon came from Ephesians 1:15-23 and includes Paul’s specific prayers for the Ephesian church. When I first read it, I’ll admit feeling a little disappointed. It wasn’t exactly rife with inspiration. I doubt I would have chosen it as a preaching passage.

I spent a week reading the whole book of Ephesians, and the passage as it appeared in nearly every translation. I outlined. I underlined. I cross-referenced. Then, I began to write. When I finished, I went on a dive vacation. Every evening while the other divers went out on their night dive, I re-read and worked on my manuscript. I felt a lot of pressure to do my very best.

Some men in our congregation were concerned about having a woman preach. Back at home, I felt completely pummeled by the few men who wrote to our senior pastor explaining that because it was wrong for a woman to teach men, they would not allow their families to attend the service. I was so beaten by the opposition that I had to ask not to hear about any further “letters.”

I needed focus. I asked for prayer. I cried some. I got angry. I felt misunderstood and unfairly judged. I battled fear and discouragement. The week before Mother’s Day was one of the hardest I’ve known. By the end of it, I just wanted to get it over.

And then I realized that I had not yet fully absorbed my own message. Those three prayers, to know God, to know my place, to know his power had meaning in that week. When I know God and his nature, his purpose, his love for me, I cannot allow the disapproval of men to diminish my value. When I know my place in the kingdom, I can use my gift freely and without fear. HE is the only one who can judge my performance. When I know that HE works through me, I can let go of the crazy responsibility I feel for the results of my service. Spiritual results are God’s business not mine; it is his power working through me that achieves anything at all. “Without me, you can do nothing,” Jesus reminds us in John 15.
When I began applying my own words to my own situation, I felt a new sense of freedom. What a coincidence! (Yes, I am tongue in cheek!)

As it turned out, I was able to do my very best. Was I as good as Lucy Swindoll or Patsy Clairmont? Undoubtedly not. But I was the very best Bette Nordberg I could be. And my brothers and sisters in Christ have been kind and supportive beyond words.

How many of us would benefit from living the words we preach? How about you? Have you had a moment when your own lessons came back to change your life?

 

 

Advertisements

Knitting And Writing. More Alike than I thought!

March 5, 2014

My hubby and I snuck away for a week. While I was resting, I read a bunch of blogs by knitting artists. One in particular really struck hard. I’ll share one of the photos from the blog:

Image

In this particular post, the artist shared photo after photo of her “Swatches.” For the uninitiated, a knitting swatch is usually a 4X4 inch piece that the knitter creates in order to determine if her needles and stitch pattern will create a garment that will fit. In the design world, the artist uses the swatch to envision the finished project. In this case, I was amazed by the dozens and dozens of swatches — all nearly 12 inches square — the woman had knitted in order to eliminate all the problems and capture all the design possibilities of her project idea. 

A single twelve inch swatch, in multiple colors, with multiple design elements — including buttonholes, rib, neck opening, etc — can take several full days to knit. And, in the end, it may be one that you don’t use. 

As a writer, when I finished reading this inspiring post, I felt guilty. Like other writers, I often pray for the Holy Spirit to give me original ideas. I pray about my projects. But I rarely put in the work this woman does. I don’t create “writing swatches,” working out the details of plotting, character, suspense, etc. Compared to her, I’m a lazy artist. 

And to be honest, I cover up my lazy bone with “spirituality.” 

Then this week, I was reading in the book of Joshua, and I noticed this unusual thing. God tells Joshua that he will deliver Jericho to the Jews. And he will deliver Ai to the Jews. In Sunday school, we sing about the walls of Jericho falling down. But we rarely pay much attention to the other half of the story. That’s the half where the people rush in to the city and spend the rest of the day destroying everything. People, male and female, young and old, cattle, sheep, donkeys, everything. While God brought down the walls, the Jews had the real work of taking the city. It wasn’t a walk in the park. 

Neither was Ai. That involved an ambush, a brutal man-to-man battle, taking the city and setting fire to the buildings. God showed the people how to do it. But they did the work. 

Now I’m not discounting miraculous intervention. I’m only convicted by the ways I may hope for miraculous intervention so that I don’t have to do any real work. 

As far as I know, God doesn’t deliver finished manuscripts. He inspires. He encourages. He gives us creativity. But the work? That he allows us to do in partnership with him. I haven’t been holding up my end of the deal.

How about you? Do you need to double down in your partnership with God? Care to share?

Bette

A lesson from the Produce Aisle

January 8, 2014

The actual receiptYesterday I ran into a friend at the grocery store. After the usual chit-chat, I shared something I’ve been pondering lately. I can’t quite get it out of my mind. In Deuteronomy (the second telling) Moses recounts the law to the Israelites who have just suffered through 40 years of desert living. Afterward he encourages them to obey God’s law, listing both the blessings of obedience and the curses heaped on the disobedient.

Now I can almost hear some argue. To be fair, this section of scripture can be viewed in two ways: It was specifically given to the Jews in the Old Testament. It has nothing to do with us; we don’t obey OT law. Or, for New Testament believers, we think of it this way: God blesses obedience. It is His character. If we obey, we can expect blessings. The concept is especially visible in John 14 and 15.

Regardless of your take, I was struck by this sentence (Deuteronomy 28:2):

“All these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God.”

Did you see that word? Overtake?

Lately I’ve become a bit of a runner. My husband calls my technique “dog trotting.” He’s right; I’m unbearably slow. My legs are short. I have the bulky musculature of a linebacker, not the long lean legs of a long-distance runner. I remember a vacation where every morning, I ran along the ocean on a tiny two-lane road. Without fail, within half a mile, this gazelle of a young man bounced past me, catching and overtaking me with the ease of a leopard overtaking a dead antelope.

Not good.

And I have this image in my head. No matter what direction I am headed. No matter how focused I am. No matter what my purpose or intent. If I make obedience my first course of action, God’s blessings will catch up with me and overtake me, just like that lean healthy young man did, every single morning.

Isn’t that a great picture? My friend enjoyed the encouragement and we wished one another well as we headed our separate ways. When I paid for my groceries, the checker taking care of me said, “Well, I think someone should take care of this. I’ve never seen it before.” I didn’t understand. “Look at this,” she said, handing me my receipt. “You got a 15% discount for being ‘crew.’”

I tried to have her correct the error. She explained, “I can’t do anything about it. I don’t even know how it happened. I can’t fix that.”

A 15% discount? I certainly don’t work at that store. I don’t deserve a discount.

I think I may have been overtaken. What do you think?

 

A Hot Mess

September 6, 2013

redhotmessSo, a few weeks ago, I attended the summer yarn sale at a favorite shop.

Though I have a shamefully large stash of yarn, waiting to be knit, I fell for a particularly lovely bunch of dk weight linen/cotton blend. In a slubby off-white, It reminded me of yarn that I’d knit during a 1999 trip to Israel. I loved that sweater. Unfortunately though, the cotton content made that old sweater shrink until eventually it revealed more than I was willing to show! No one wants to gaze at a fifty year old belly button. It went to the Goodwill.

This sale yarn gave me visions of recreating the sweater. Only this time, I determined, I would pre-shrink the yarn to avoid the eventual loss of a too-small garment. I asked the woman who had spun the yarn, “Here is what I’m thinking. I’m going to tie a bunch of little “ties” around each hank and then drop them into a very hot washing machine. Then, I’ll lay them out to dry. Do you think that will work to preshrink the yarn?”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” she said. “This yarn has so many slubs, it won’t shrink like your old yarn did.”

I nodded. Smiled. Made small talk. Purchased the yarn. And went home to do exactly what she told me NOT to do.

I opened the yarn into a very large loop (what knitters call a hank), tied six inch pieces of wool around the loop every eight inches or so (to keep the many loops of yarn from becoming tangled) and threw it in the machine on HOT. Then, to be certain that no more shrinking would be present in the yarn, I let the machine agitate and spin dry. Yup. I did.  (Real knitters are cringing at this moment). You see, I was driven to avoid the pain of losing a garment that takes so many hours to knit.

When I pulled the six hanks out of the washer, my heart sank. Each one was so tangled I couldn’t believe it. There was no longer any sign of my little wool ties (I discovered later that they evaporated in the machine). The picture you see above is the progress I’ve made at rolling just one hank into balls. Every six inches, I have to untangle the whole mess. It has taken more time to untangle and roll than it will to knit the sweater. I have only 1200 yards of yarn left to untangle.

And the whole thing (to my shame) reminds me of sin. As the yarn maker told me, I was headed down a dangerous path, I chose my own way. I thought I knew more than she about the yarn she had created. I believed the danger of shrinkage was worth the risk of disobeying the maker’s instructions. I ignored the maker.

Sin is like that. Often we know the right thing to do. But some fear, or pain, or frustration, or impatience drives us to ignore our maker’s instructions and do it some other way. Our ideas seem reasonable. They ought to work. But instead, we reap the consequences of disobedience. Sometimes, it takes longer to undo the damage than obeying would have taken in the first place. Just like yarn.

I’ve talked to two different young people this week who are in the midst of choosing their own way, rather than obeying the Maker. Both have driving issues that seem huge to them. The pain is so big, this seems to be the only way to ease the discomfort. Neither of them realizes that they will spend much time untangling the damage their disobedience will cause. How I wish I could convince them to reconsider. Believe me, I’ve tried.

How about you? How do you warn someone away from the consequences of disobedience?

Whom Do You Follow?

July 10, 2013

I’m working my way through the book of Exodus. And, as often happens, I discovered something surprising in an old, well known story. It struck me with such truth, I wanted to share it here with you.

It is found in Exodus 32, where Moses goes up the mountain to receive the ten commandments from God. Moses is gone for so long, the people decide that he is not going to return; Aaron makes a golden calf for the people. Every time I read the story, I find myself thinking the same thing:

How could anyone be so stupid?

After all God has done for these Jews, how could they turn so readily to an idol? How can they so quickly forget deliverance from slavery, the pillar of fire, walking across a sea on dry land? Did someone just push the delete button?

And then, this time, I noticed these revealing words. “The people went to Aaron, ‘Look,’ they said, ‘make us some gods who can lead us. This man Moses, who brought us here from Egypt, has disappeared. We don’t know what has happened to him.'”

Do you see the words, “Who brought us here from Egypt?” These people made a common mistake. They confused the source of their blessing. They equated their deliverance with Moses, not God. Moses had led them out. Moses had provided the mana. Moses had led them through the sea.

When you see the story from this point of view, it is easier to understand their demand for another god. They had been worshiping an idol all along. In this case, the idol was Moses.

It seems important to me, because I think we do the same thing today. We confuse gifted writers for God. Gifted preachers draw enormous crowds of people who take their well written sermons as gospel truth. In recent days, I’ve seen so many examples.

Once, at a regional denominational women’s conference, I was introduced as “Bette Nordberg, from Art Hunt’s church.” In our denomination, Art is recognized as the “up and coming” mega success. Do I really attend Art Hunt’s church? I’d have to say no. As much as I love Art, I attend Jesus’ Church. The One who happens to reside in Puyallup, WA.

This last week, I visited on the beach with a man from Saddleback church. In that one word, I instantly recognized the ministry of the man who pastors there. Though I respect Rick Warren, I believe the work of Saddleback is a work of God. I think Rick would agree.

I think the lesson of the golden calf warns us of the danger of following men rather God. As another form of idolatry, men-worship saddens even angers our Heavenly Father. When we confuse the source of our blessings, we are more likely to flounder when the human we adore leaves, retires or fails. Floundering can lead us to quick fixes — another man, another ministry, another “blessing.” Another idol.

So how about you? Do you see “men worship,” in today’s church?

Bette

 

One UGLY shirt

June 4, 2013

ImageYou know what they say about good intentions.

Two and a half years ago, with the very best intentions, I began constructing this shirt for my husband Kim. I can’t remember now whether it was intended for Christmas or his birthday. Whatever my plan, I intended to replace the horrid, moth-eaten wool shirt he’d salvaged from a goodwill bag.

The old gray shirt was his favorite. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d only worn it to change oil on the boat. But no! That ugly thing went everywhere, to dinner at fine restaurants, to church, and to visit good friends. I hated that thing.

I figured if he had something better, something Not-Holey, he would certainly choose to wear the nicer shirt instead. And so I marched down to the Mill End store in Portland and bought this lovely brown wool twill. With both confidence and enthusiasm I cut out the fabric and began putting the pieces together. Of course it would be lovely. I’ve been sewing for more than forty years. What could go wrong?

Turns out almost everything.

For two years, I’ve been alternately fighting with or ignoring that stupid shirt. A less stubborn woman would have thrown it away. Not I! Yesterday, as I was battling my way through the final steps of construction, I realized where I’d made my most crucial mistake.

I chose the wrong material.

What I wanted to create was one of those Pendleton Wool board shirts,

Image

with crisp collars and perfectly aligned top stitching. Mine, of course, would fit Kim perfectly. And, because I’d chosen twill instead of flannel, it wouldn’t itch.

It certainly doesn’t itch. But it also won’t press. No matter how much I steam and clap and topstitch, this twill absolutely refuses to conform. Instead, the fabric springs back, distorting the hem and the collar stand. Not a single seams lies flat. The twill has a mind of its own, and it clearly doesn’t want to be a man’s shirt.

It kind of reminds me of human nature. When sin entered the world, humanity could no longer conform to God’s standards. It wasn’t that we didn’t WANT to obey. It was that sin had changed the fabric of our human nature. What might have once rolled, eased, and lay flat under God’s gentle hand instead resisted. Springing away from his guidance, we (like that stubborn shirt) refused to be conformed into the godly image he had in mind.

Instead, we went our own way.

So, what did God do? Unlike me, he didn’t consider giving up and throwing us away. He didn’t ignore the problem (rolling us up and stuffing us in a box). Instead, God chose to transform the material. By his mighty hand, he provided a way to turn that stubborn resistant fabric into something he could work with. Something compliant. Something beautiful.

That transforming work happens by faith whenever we choose to turn away from sin and toward God. It happens at salvation (Behold all things are made new), and it happens every time we choose repentance over rebellion.

As for the shirt? I’m about to add buttonholes. It will never be the shirt i envisioned. And perhaps it will end up in the Goodwill bag. But the lessons I’ve learned in the process are worth more than the value of the fabric.

Comply or resist? What will you choose?

Walking My Talk

April 11, 2013
I can't lead if I won't follow.

I can’t lead if I won’t follow.

I had a little temptation last Sunday.

Perhaps you’ve had the same kind of experience. As I look back, I have to laugh; God was at work in something so mundane as a knitting show. Here’s what happened:

Tickets to the “marketplace” at the Vogue Knitting Live show started selling months ago at 35 dollars per ticket. 35 bucks for the privilege of spending money on yarn. A bit much for my taste. I didn’t buy.

But last Tuesday, I received an email saying that the tickets were now available for 7 dollars. Much more reasonable. I bought tickets for Saturday and had already closed the electronic ticket window before I realized that my daughter and the grandkids would be visiting on Saturday. No way would I go to a yarn show under those conditions.

Fast forward to noon on Sunday, when I realized that the yarn show was still in progress. I went to my computer to print out my receipt for the Saturday show (remember it’s already Sunday). I worried that the ticket wouldn’t be valid any more, and that after driving one hour to Bellevue, they would charge me the original 35 bucks to get in.

To my surprise, the receipt was a simple PDF file. I said to my hubby, “You know, I could just alter this to say Sunday. It wouldn’t be a big deal. After all, the Sunday price was the same as the Saturday price.”

He agreed, “It’s not like you’re stealing or anything.”

I spent the next 20 minutes tweaking out a new receipt that said, SUNDAY. And as I did so, my heart got heavier and heavier. I was feeling real guilt. “Lord,” I said, “you don’t care when I go to the yarn show. After all, I’m not cheating them out of money.”

The feeling wouldn’t go away.

As I packed my purse, I realized I wasn’t going to use the new altered ticket. Instead I took the original. “I guess I’ll just throw myself on the mercy of the ticket lady,” I said to the Lord,

And he said, as clearly as a voice in your head ever can, “Why don’t you throw yourself on My mercy?”

You know how the story ends, I’m certain. I took my paper up to the lady behind the computer and explained that I hadn’t come Saturday because of the grandkids (oh yeah, I love to have my daughter visit too!!!).

“No problem,” she answered, laughing. “We don’t really care. It’s no big deal.” And she handed me the wrist bracelet that would be my entry ticket.

You know, after so many years following the Lord, I’m a little surprised at how close I came to failing this test. But you know, I wonder if honesty, integrity, truthfulness all demand our constant sharpening. Like a well-used knife, even long practiced virtues can become dull. Mine had.

How can I ask anyone to follow me toward Christ unless I first commit myself to the deeper, truer, more honest path.

So there you know. I fail too sometimes. Have you had a similar experience? How did you do?

Bette

Captured by a Word

April 1, 2013

IMG_0045

Late in 1980, I committed to read the Bible through in a single year. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to finish. For many years after, this became my regular approach to my quiet time. Year after year, I used the same reading program, progressing by alternating Old Testament and New Testament books. I attribute a great deal of growth to this simple program. Eventually, I stopped focusing on the calendar and just kept up the pattern. In the last ten years or so, I’ve given myself increasing flexibility. Though I continue to be in the word every day, I have slowed down, allowing myself to read only as much as I need (on any one day) to “hear” from the Lord.

These days, that includes just one chapter. Sometimes, it means reading the same chapter over and over, pulling out all the layers of meaning and instruction. Once in a while, I get stuck on a single verse.

I highlight it. I write it out on an index card. I personalize it. I try to memorize it.

This year, I’d hardly begun at the beginning before a single word captured my attention.

Hover.

In the New Living Translation, you’ll find hover in this verse:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness. And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface. Then God said, “Let there be . . .” Genesis 1:1-3

Though other translations use other English words, the Hebrew word “Rachaph,” from which the English “hover” is derived (phonetically pronounced raw-khaf), occurs only twice in the Old Testament. In the book of Jeremiah (23:9), it refers to the prophet who says that his bones tremble (rachaph) within him.

So, here we are in April, and I’m still wondering about God-hovering. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

The word is a verb, and as any third grader will tell you, a verb is an action word. It signifies movement. A noun (God) takes an action (hovers). I am struck by the fact that in this apparently significant action, Moses tells us there were no visible results. . .

Yet.

In the context of the passage, I learn that hovering is God’s pre-action, his action taken before the visible results occur. We have no way of knowing how God hovers. We can’t imagine what he accomplishes by hovering. We simply know that in this case, before the important work of creation, God first chose to hover. As a writer this makes perfect sense. Any author will tell you that pre-writing (the action before the writing) is perhaps the most important part of writing.

In pre-writing, we let the subject swirl through out thoughts, imagination, and emotions. We collect ideas, imagine characters, develop plots, and add details. Most of us do this before every writing assignment. Some of us do mental pre-writing for years before we start up our computers and pound out the text. Pre-writing is the action before the action. While I may not understand what God accomplishes by hovering, I do understand the idea of pre-action.

And the whole thing makes me think about prayer. How often does my prayer move God to hover? How often does my prayer initiate the invisible action before the visible results? Have I let the apparent lack of results discourage me from continued prayer? Is God at work in ways I cannot see? Is he hovering over that addiction? Hovering over that unbeliever? Hovering over that next job application? Hovering over my marriage? Hovering over my child’s rebellion?

From this passage, I see evidence that this is indeed one of the many ways that God works. Even when we cannot see it, our God is moving on our behalf. Doesn’t that give you courage? Doesn’t that inspire you to persistent prayer? To have faith that God is acting even when you cannot see?

In what ways are you waiting while God hovers? And how do you manage to sit tight while you wait? I really want to know!

Bette

Truth is a Lonely Walk

February 18, 2013

For a long time, I’ve followed the posts of Heather Kopp at Soberboots.com.

Recently though, after much thought and deliberation, I have chosen to withdraw from her audience. Why? It’s not because she doesn’t write well. It isn’t that she doesn’t have wonderful things to say. It is because of the following words in a blog written many weeks ago.

Here is the quote. Below it, you will find my letter to Heather.

“Silly me, I thought “this year”meant maybe by, I don’t know, November? But here it is, January, and I’m more than ready to tell you that I no longer believe that people choose to be gay. I don’t think gay folks are going to hell. I don’t believe that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transsexual can separate us from the love of God in Christ any more than alcohol can.

But really, who cares what I believe? What matters is who I love, and how. As God would have it, I happen to love a whole bunch of women who happen to be gay. Women who deserve to be claimed and celebrated for exactly who they are.

And while I’m at it, I might as well say that the church Dave and I belong to is an open and affirming congregation that welcomes everyone to worship and follow Jesus, no matter what their sexual orientation. And we like that.”

After many weeks, this was my response to the author. In some ways, I missed making my own point. Don’t you hate it when that happens? See what you think:

Heather,

I’ve put off writing for some time, as I’ve spent a long time thinking about this. I’ve come to a decision which I could make in private. But I feel that you deserve to know about this decision, as it effects you — even if only in some very tiny way.
Some weeks ago, you published a blog article about “maybe I’m a bald gay guy.” It evoked a great deal of response. I read every reply with interest. I was so profoundly disappointed in the comments made by your readers, and especially by you that it took me by surprise. I needed to consider that. After much pondering, I’ve come to a difficult choice:
I’ve decided to withdraw from your audience.
It is not simply because I disagree with your point of view. I’m strong enough to disagree with someone comfortably.
It isn’t even because we interpret a simple section of scripture differently. I’m not that confident of my own work with scripture. I’m open to interpretation. Here is the problem:
In your comments about this particular subject, you indicate by your beliefs that you are willing to disregard whole sections of scripture. In your decision about “not being an evangelical conservative — as you used to be” you have placed your own wisdom (that gays are nice people, struggling in similar issues as you, and they “don’t choose to be gay” they “are born that way,”) abovethe wisdom and truth God reveals to his people. This is a very dangerous place to be.
In my case, I’m not willing to put what “seems obvious” to me above the black and white text. I hope NEVER to become that strong. That prideful stance is dangerous. I truly pray that I don’t come to that place.
In our case, disagreeing isn’t the issue. The issue is that I choose not to read “spiritual advice” from someone who disregards spiritual revelation. I choose not to follow someone who thinks that their own experience is more reliable that the words of God.
If you begin to throw away large sections of scripture, what is left? How can you believe any scripture included in such a flawed revelation?
Do I follow blogs of unbelievers? Yes, many of them. But in that case I know I must discern truth from opinion. However, when it comes to advice for my soul, I choose to listen to someone who buys the whole book, not just the comfortable, understandable, and agreeable sections.
Our God is a loving God. Yes. But he is also a demanding God. He does not ask that we “understand” his point of view. He simply insists that we accept it.
In the case of the gay world, so many of us who believe the difficult word as it appears on the page, have done great harm to the reputation of Christ. I admit that. I accept responsibility for it, and I frequently take the opportunity to apologize for my disobedient brothers and sisters in Christ. I also have gay friends. I’ve written a whole fiction piece on the subject. It is my best and truest work to date.
I know one gay woman who claims to have been completely delivered from her previous life. She is waiting for her husband. I know many gay people who have chosen to abstain from sexual activity. They do not deny who they are. They choose to live an obedient life. (Not unlike an alcoholic who chooses to live a dry life). I have wide experience in this area. I don’t claim to understand it, but understanding isn’t my job. Explaining God isn’t my job. Choosing which scripture I believe isn’t my job.
Faith demands that we obey what we don’t understand. That we trust in a God who has purpose beyond our own revelation. Faith demands that we bend our knees to One who is bigger, smarter, wiser and purer than we can ever be.
I’ve loved your writing. I’ve loved your heart. I worry for you. In revealing spiritual truths to others, you put yourself in a place of spiritual leadership. That position comes with GREAT responsibility. Your current position, of believing yourself wiser and smarter than the words on the page, is a dangerous one. You might want to think about that. The leader is held to a higher standard.
I wish you the best as you seek God’s plan for your life. Thanks for the journey. Thanks for forcing me to reconsider my own commitments. It has been good for me.
Your sis in Christ,
Bette
So my dear readers, how might you respond? Looking back, I realize that my point isn’t that folks must “change” before they come to Christ. It isn’t that I get to decide who is or isn’t a Christian. My point — and I admit, one that I made badly — is that I don’t get to choose what is sin, and what is not. That is God’s job. And, it  is God’s job to point it out to others. My only option is to simply agree with God. I do.
What about you? What might you have said?
Bette

Keeping my balance. . .

December 5, 2012

bike coastI’ve been seeing a physical therapist for three months now. It seems that I’d managed to injure a hamstring tendon badly enough that normal TLC wasn’t enough to bring healing. After years of on-again, off-again pain, I sought professional help.

It seems, after testing, that I have managed to develop some pretty serious muscle imbalances. Though the deficiency didn’t show in my every day activities, when stressed, my right hamstring cried out in pain. For me, the big stressors are climbing a hill on my bike, running and — believe it or not — sitting as I play my cello. It all made my “sit-bone” scream! (that’s ischial tuberosity for you medical folks)

One of my muscle weaknesses has to do with my core strength, my ability to hold my trunk and pelvis still while my legs work to climb or run or hold the cello. It shows up especially in my balance activities, standing on one foot, stepping over obstacles, etc. It turns out that if you can’t maintain your balance, you won’t be able to do the activities that demand strength and flexibility of your limbs. In other words, the productivity of your arms and legs depends on the stillness of the torso.

That small truth echoes a spiritual truth, one I’ve been wrestling with ever since I started writing for publication,.

You see, in the world of publishing, self promotion is highly valued. Publishers want to see writers have a platform, a marketing plan, a series of “endorsements” from highly reputable, respectable and visible people. An endorsement from my pastor has no real value, because he isn’t well known, hasn’t sold millions of books, and doesn’t have a highly visible speaking ministry. As for myself, I haven’t created a foundation. I have no ministry named after me. I speak less frequently, to smaller audiences.

So why the struggle?

It seems to me that self-promotion is exactly the opposite of Godly character. Not long ago, I found this verse in 2 Corinthians 10:18. I think it might become my life verse (If I can manage to memorize it correctly). See what you think: “For it is not he who commends himself that is approved., but he whom the Lord commends.”

It seems to me that in the world of shameless self-promotion this truth is a core strength, one that holds your spirit still while your body seeks to work  to obey the Lord. This truth keeps my ego in check. It stills my jealous heart. It quiets my desire to evaluate my life based on book sales or speaking engagements. It reminds my soul that book reviews don’t count; daddy reviews are everything.

When my soul is quiet, when I am free from the slavery of approval, only then can I listen to the voice of the Master. Then, in the stillness and strength of his value, I can do anything, even the smallest, unobserved, unappreciated thing that gives my Daddy great pleasure.

How about you? What spiritual muscles keep you still enough to be strong in Christ?

Bette