Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Spur me

I have a pet peeve. Ok, I have more than one, but I promise to keep this on topic, at least for the most part.

I hate fluffyness. The fluffy God that doesn't care what you do, the fluffy religion that has no requirements, the fluffy Christians that let you get away with anything. (note: legalism is also a pet peeve of mine, keep reading, I make a point)

Know what, in the Bible, Jesus asked people to change, and those who followed Him were told to keep one another accountable. Yes, God loves everyone, no matter what they do. But to take that love and not respond to it in action is....well, just not right.

I have a habit of speaking my mind. Over the years, I've learned that there is more than one way to clearly state what I mean, and so I can usually still get my point across without causing any harm or regrets. However, when it comes to "spurring" on another Christian (have you seen spurs?) I usually end up feeling like I should feel guilty, or checking myself to see if I'm being legalistic or "holier than thou".

Really tho, honestly and truly (and if you can prove me wrong on this, please do), I believe that if there is a Christian I see doing something that is obviously wrong and it's clear they know it (let's say, lying, stealing, sleeping around), then I will probably speak to them about it. Not scold them, not tell them off, but defiantly rebuke them. Why do I feel I have a right to do this? Because they have the right to do the same to me.

We may not like it when someone else tells us what we already know. We may want to justify ourselves or say it's none of their business, but really, honestly, we need to get over it. If we are sinning we need to stop, and the sooner we do that, the better.

I think this is something that needs to change within Christianity. I'm sure every hypocrite that has been exposed by the world could have (should have) been brought aside by a Christian brother or sister and rebuked, helped and encouraged before the problem got out of hand and our God was made to look bad (because really, that's the end result)

So if I am doing something I shouldn't be, please, tell me about it. I'm not saying I'll like it, or even that I'll respond positively (at least immediately), but I will appreciate it. And I'll do the same for you? Deal?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Things on my mind when I should be asleep

I'm going to share quite a bit about myself right now. Thankfully, it seems few read my blog, and so I'm not too worried about what anyone would think. Not that there are things in my life I am hiding or am ashamed of, but I know the picture people have of me is not entirely accurate.

I used to think of myself as a contradiction, there were parts of me that did not seem to fit together. For a long time I thought that made me different, odd, even horrible. Now I see that in reality I was just a teenager, different like everyone else. I did not know who I was, what I was capable of, who I would become.

Funny thing is, a few years later I'm no better off. I've learned from more mistakes, met more amazing people, but I'm still not sure who I am, where I fit in this whole thing. It's not a question of what I'm supposed to do (at least in the general sense), odd thing is I've got that down. But who am I?

I always hate those quizzes that ask a bunch of random questions about favorite things. I can't choose favorites. I have multiple best friends. I listen to almost ever style of music. I watch almost any type of movie that comes out. I can't do favorites, I can't pick something over something else. For a moment I might like it better, but then I know that will change.

That's how I feel about myself sometimes. I feel as though I'm still constantly changing, always moving from one personality box to another. There are people who know me in one context that would describe me in a completely different way than people who know me in another context (as an example, my future inlaws once called me "quiet"). Does this mean I have a problem? That I am not being consistent?

That's something I struggled with for a while, but then I came to the conclusion that there is too much of me to happen all at once. Those who really know me see it all, but some people only see one part.

unfortunately, it seems I don't always have control over which aspect of Stephanie people are seeing.

Not that there is a certain image I want to portray, but I do truly want people to know me. I want to be open, I want to share my life with others, and yet at the same time I know that sometimes people will see a part of me and not like it, no matter what part it is, and that could be the end of it.

And I have to ask myself, do I do the same thing? I try not to make judgments about people, try not to put them into a box (I hate boxes, no one ever fits anyway), but there are those inevitable "feelings" I get about people.

There are people I have gone to school with for 4 years that I do not know beyond an acquaintance, and have not made much effort to know just because I have a feeling we wouldn't get along or couldn't connect or some odd ideal like that. No basis for it what so ever. And I have a feeling some of them have done the same with me (or maybe I'm the only one with that tendency)

so now what? I'm rambling about wanting to share myself with people, and then confessing my tendency to write people off. Another contradiction, but one I can (hopefully) fix.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Holding the hand of a dying man

I had an interesting experience this past week. My grandfather had been ill since Christmas, was hospitalized the beginning of March, and was laid to rest today. Last Friday I got a call from my mother, saying I should go home so I could see him.

I spent the weekend in the hospital. More for my grandmother's comfort than that of my grandfather. He was barely awake, let alone conscious, but still I sat with him, held his hand, spoke softly too him.

It's an interesting experience, being with someone who is dying. I don't know how to describe it really. Sad, but not tragic, not horrible. As a pastor it will be something I'm sure I'll encounter again.

However, I was not there as a pastor, I was there as a granddaughter.

Life is an interesting thing. We live it, we enjoy it, we waste it, but in the end only one thing matters. My grandfather was a wonderful man. He was a unique person. . But of all his deeds, all his accomplishments, one stands out. A few days before his death, he asked my grandmother if God would forgive an old sinner like him.

It amazes me, astounds me and blesses me that God would take a person at the end of his life and still accept him. I know my grandfather, he had no intention of "cheating" God, of making a commitment at the last moment. No, as he looked back over the life that he lived, the life that all who know him enjoy talking about, he knew there was something wrong, something that needed to be fixed.

and he fixed it.

So as I held the hand of this dying man, I felt peace and comfort, I sang praises to God. His life continues now in paradise, he is at rest.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Driving with God

I was in a car last night with a friend, driving back to school from home. We were chatting, there was music on, just us and the road.

then God showed up.

I don't know how i t happened. We weren't specifically talking about anything spiritual, just sharing stories, feelings, experiences, life. But there was no denying the presence of God in that car on that road. I felt comforted, at peace, uplifted, changed and blessed.

I thought about it afterword for a while, and realized that it shouldn't have suprised me. God has promised to be with us. When we talk about becomming a Christian, we talk about "asking Jesus into our heart". So why are we so suprised that God keeps His word, why are we so amazed that he acutally shows up?

Actually, I think amazed is the right way to be. How can we not be amazed that God Almighty, creator and sustainer of the universe dwells with us and is in our lives. However, we should't be suprised when it happens, only humbled and aware of the great blessing and love of God

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

On Passion

I would normally consider myself a pasionate person. Most people who know me, and probably all who know me well, would most likely agree. I get excited about things, I get emptional, I like to experience as much as there is to experience in any situation.

There are other people even more passionate than me, people who's every word drips with meaning and desie and emotion. Their every action is motivated by the object of their devotion, be it an idea, a task, a person, anything.

Is it possible to live continuously at that level of passion? Is passion more than just a response to an emotional desire.

I think of children. There are times when a child will be so consumed with passion for their parent that he or she will burst into heartfealt sobs if the parent tries to leave their side. This is no emotional manipulation (sometimes), it is the result of their passionate love and devotion to that parent. However, there are other times when a parent could be trying (even to the point of bribing) that same child for any sign of affection or any bit of attention.

Does that mean that the passion the child has for the love of the parent is only a temporary thing?

I think of my relationship with my fiance (67 days to the wedding). I am passionately in love with him, there are days when I can not get him out of my thoughts, when I feel the only way I will be content is to see his smile, to be close to him. There are other days when I don't have that same desire to see and experience him, but I feel just as passionately in love.

So what is passion? Must we be continually in a state of exaustive and despterate emotion in order to say that we are passionate about something?

I am passionate about God. There are times when I can not take abreath without saying a prayer of thanks for the very fact that I am alive. Other times, I don't nesicarily feel my passion. THere were times when I would punish myself and feel horrible for having lost my passion for God. Then it would return, and all would be right in the world.

My perspective is changing. Perhaps it is not always necisary to feel such extreme emotion in order to be passionate about something. My devotion, my intense love, my passion (minus the emotion of which) does not change. I just find it near impossible to sustain such a heightened emotional response for any length of time.