The Saga of Good and Evil

Life is not beautiful. It’s messy and ugly and broken. It hurts. Lately it seems even messier and uglier. Over the last year or so God has been teaching me how much he hates sin. He has been trying to help me hate sin as much as He does. 

“The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.” Proverbs 8:13

I know that there is beauty in life. We serve a God who loves beauty. He created all things beautiful. Some days it is hard to find the good to love. I cling to the thought that God doesn’t give us instructions that we cannot follow. He isn’t asking us trick questions. He is not the author of confusion.

“Hate evil, love good…” Amos 5:15

My own sin and selfishness have often blinded me from truth. Our pastor references a motivational writer (who I can’t remember or find on the internet) who says that to stop feeling guilty about doing the wrong thing, just keep doing the wrong thing until you don’t feel guilty anymore. We can always find someone who will affirm our choices. We choose to expose ourselves to the people who tell us what we want to hear. Often we know the truth and simply choose to ignore it. Sin is not only ugly but deceitful, crafty and destructive. It destroys relationships with those who love ua and replaces them with those who give us a warm fuzzy.

“In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.” Psalm 36:2

We cannot love Jesus and sin at the same time.

“Oh you who love the Lord, hate evil!” Psalm 97:10

Lord, teach me to hate sin with the same zeal that you do. Create in me a pure heart. Give me the wisdom to walk in beauty and grace and avoid the paths of destruction and desolation.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9

 

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The Art of Words

A couple of weeks ago the wonderous folks over at the Rabbit Room posted an amazing video that made my heart happy. Jake Weidmann is a master penman. I’ve always felt that there is beauty in every stroke of a letter. He makes that beauty visible.

Be inspired:

Now visit Jake Weidmann and be amazed!

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Zombies and Despair

I will not survive the zombie apocalypse. Most likely, I won’t even know it’s happening. My dear sister has promised to call me if Patient Zero starts a raging campaign against humanity because she knows me well.

My big sister knows that I am poorly informed about the horrors of our world because I do not watch the nightly new or subscribe to a newspaper. I get snippets of news here and there. If I need to inform myself on a topic, I do the research. If there is a hurricane heading to my particular part of Florida, my parents call me. If I need to take action in the form of writing representatives or choosing a position, I do so. However, I am simply unable to regularly process the daily terrors that invade the world around me. The monsters under our proverbial beds are real and more terrifying than fiction. The forces of evil that wander unseen in the realm of the seen are beyond anything scripted by the best novelists or screen play writers.

I think I knew, even as a child, that I never really wanted to grow up. The more I grow up, the more ugly life is. My 27th year on this planet has taught me the weariness of the soul that I’ve read and heard of but, by grace, avoided until this year of our Lord two thousand thirteen. I’ve seen people I love succumb to sickness, sin and selfishness. I have found myself drowning in the misery of my own sin and selfishness. I have cast into the middle of the ocean, found myself grasping for invisible life rafts, knowing and ignoring the Coast Guard right behind me.

I am thankful for the love of my Savior and the hope of the Gospel that saved me and continues to save me. I cling to John 1:5 that tells me, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5 is the reason that if ever you meet me, I can smile at you, welcome you into my home and try to bring a ray of joy into the world around me. It is why I do not lock myself in a room and cry myself to sleep every night. It is why, as I sit here with full knowledge of the ugliness all around, I can feel at peace.

The world is in no worse condition than the day Adam and Eve found out they were naked and were ashamed. There is no more sin than there ever has been. Unfortunately, we live in a society that has decided to celebrate the darkness, to revel and wallow in the things that should bring shame. The invisible predators of the evil realm no longer have to pursue us; we pursue them. We invite them into our daily lives. The more I read of evil, the more I feel the darkness try to overwhelm me. Because of the hope of a loving Father, a rescueing redeemer, I do not fear that evil. I do, however, choose to focus on the light rather than the darkness.

So, maybe I don’t know the most current political opinions to debate. Maybe I can’t have an informed conversation about current events. Maybe I’m wrong to try to avoid the ugly. Perhaps I will be so ill-informed about the zombie apocalypse that I’ll be Patient Zero. But, for now, I will cling to what is good to avoid drowning in the fear around me. When I hear the sounds of sorrow I will fight the evil with good. I know that my most powerful weapon is prayer. The only sword worthy of the fight is the Word of God hidden in my heart. The only way the world will see the light again is if we shine the light in the darkness.

*Note: I wrote this post on Thursday. It’s amazing how God orchestrates even the little things. My heart goes out to those injured and those who lost dear ones in the Boston bombing yesterday. God is the author of peace. I think we can all agree that saturating ourselves in 24-hour news coverage of the macabre will do nothing to usher in peace for those hurting. May we seek His face now.

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April 16, 2013 · 10:00 AM

Guest Blogging

So, apparently, I’m more motivated to blog for someone else’s blog than my own. I’ve got a guest post up at my gracious, lovely and wonderful big sister’s blog.

Click here to read it.

You should also know that, based on her intro, she is a liar. A sweet liar, but a liar nonetheless.

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A Hymnal in my Soul

I’ve been singing hymns this morning. Last night some of the students in our ministry wanted to look at our wedding album. After that came the childhood albums. Looking through the pictures of my family from birth to elementary school*, high school, college and present day I realized that most of my childhood revolved around church activities. Of course there were also extracurricular school activities like marching band and service clubs, but I would say at least 75% of my childhood photos are somehow related to church.

As I thought back through some of those years hymn after hymn started to play through my mind. I loved those hymns as a child and as an adolescent and even as a college student. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to love them. I didn’t know I was supposed to only enjoy contemporary worship songs played on a guitar with at least a djembe in the background if not a full drum kit. For my ignorance I am grateful.

I, as most of my generation, eventually landed on the thought that antiquated forms of worship were somehow inadequate, somehow lacking in the Holy Spirit’s blessing. Something about that never felt quite right but everyone my age thought the same way so outwardly I, too, agreed that hymns simply weren’t meant for modern worship.

God never allows us to stay where we are for long if where we are is a dangerous path leading away from true worship. He is always teaching. For our family God used a period of about 2 years to teach us. God took us away from our church family and moved us to churches that taught us truth about worship. What I came away with was an invaluable lesson that fills my soul every Sunday morning and every time a song of praise runs through my mind. If my heart is not worshipping because of the song being sung or the music being played it is not the music or musician’s fault. The only one at fault is me and my prideful heart. And with that thought the hymnal in my soul springs to life allowing me to connect with my Creator who fills me – Deep within my heart a melody, Jesus whispers sweet and low. In those moments I find myself reaching into the index of my brain and turning to page fill-in-the-blank to sing the first, second and last verses of the sweet melodies that pointed me to Christ as a child and will continue moving me toward him with each refrain.

The Lily of the Valley

I have found a friend in Jesus,
he’s everything to me,
he’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
the Lily of the Valley, in him alone I see
all I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow he’s my comfort, in trouble he’s my stay,
he tells me every care on him to roll.

He’s the Lily of the Valley,
the bright and Morning Star,
he’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul. 

He all my grief has taken, and all my sorrows borne;
in temptation he’s my strong and mighty tower;
I have all for him forsaken, and all my idols torn
from my heart, and now he keeps me by his power.
Though all the world forsake me, and Satan tempts me sore,
through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal. 

He’s the Lily of the Valley,
the bright and Morning Star,
he’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul. 

He will never, never leave me, nor yet forsake me here,
while I live by faith and do his blessed will;
a wall of fire about me, I’ve nothing now to fear,
with his manna he my hungry soul shall fill.
Then sweeping up to glory, to see his blessed face,
where rivers of delight shall ever roll.

He’s the Lily of the Valley,
the bright and Morning Star,
he’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul. 

*Note to self: seriously bad fashion choices, Ash.

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A geeky phenomenon

Apparently there is a raging debate across the world wide web about what it means to really be a geek. (If you’s like to fill in the gaps for yourself I started here and worked my way back to the beginnings of the quickly escalating discussion.) It seems that there is some question as to what it means to be a “fangirl.” On some level it seems our feminine wiles have thrown a serious wrench in the interworking of the geek universe.

The funny thing about the diatribes written on both sides, besides the fact that a good chunk are written by men, is that somehow being a geek, male or female, has become an effort to be geek chic. It’s almost cool to be geeky. Alongside this new found popularity it appears there is some kind of rite of passage that takes you from being an introverted fan of science fiction to a supreme geek targeted by marketing strategies and glittery cosplay. There are levels of coolness infiltrating the geeky realm.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love looking at the photodumps of con attendees, cosplay and celebrity panels. I even made a foray into cosplay with my proton pack for my (in my opinion) seriously awesome ghostbuster Halloween costume. But when did the shift come that required credibility to be a geek at all?

Am I a geek because I grew up watching Star Trek:TNG with my dad and continued to enjoy it as an adult? Is it because I have a giant map of Middle Earth on my wall? (A lot of people think that I simply tolerate it for Jon’s sake; those who know me know the truth.) Maybe it’s because I would just as well spend every evening with my nose in a book as anywhere else in the world?

Does this mean that I’m naturally predisposed to have a geek gene? Shhould we start an debate about geekery as a nature versus nurture scenario? Am I more of a geek because some of my earliest memories involve Lego, The Incredible Hulk and a Kermit the frog guitar?  Or is someone who does serious cosplay at all the major cons more of a geek because they invest more time, money and energy in the geek empire?

Let me just sum up my somewhat scattered thought process with this: if being a geek is something you have to work for, maintain a resume on or justify to the world around me, consider this my resignation. I don’t feel the need to manipulate my interests in science fiction, stretegy board games and superheros into something cool. It’s not for me to make my lunch room table the “cool kids” table. I would much rather sit at the least exclusive table. Lunch time will be more fun if I do. I vote we all continue in our quiet geeky goodness and enjoy what we enjoy for no other reason than that.

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Christmas

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It always has been. Santa was never a vital part of the tradition at our house,  and while I’m convinced my parents are selling drugs to pay for their Christmas habit*, the presents are not the things that have stuck with me from years of Christmas past.

Over the past couple years I have continually heard people talk about how much they despise this time of year. Ninety-nine percent of those people have been true believers in the Christ of Christmas. They talk about the consumerism and materialism and all the other worldly isms that have ruined the holiday. I absolutely ackowledge and take issue with the blasphemy of making Christmas consumer driven. However, I also take issues with believers writing off the entire season.

If we are truly offended by the disgusting distortion of Christmas presented by our culture, what are we doing about it? It isn’t enough for believers to “just get through the holidays.”

If we want Christmas to be a celebration of the Word of Life, entering our depravity to save us from our wretchedness it will take more than skipping Black Friday sales.  We will have to do more than avoid consumerism by creating a culture of Christ-centered celebration within our circles of influence.

The culture my family has created is that of joy and peace at Christmas. Part of that peace is skipping the “Christmas loans**” and worries about needing to one-up Aunt Judith*** with the latest and greatest gifts. The joy comes from an active participation in the holy parts of the holiday – honoring the Word made flesh, the living and breathing Gospel, the Way of salvation opening to all would believe.

It’s time to take back the holy days. It’s time to stop sitting back and complaining. It’s time to offer the world an alternative to the over-spending, the stress and the selfishness of the culture’s Christmas.

It’s time to offer them Jesus.

*This is an completely unfounded and unrealistic accusation that I am at least 99.9% certain is untrue.

**I seriously saw a sign in town advertising Christmas loans. There simply aren’t words strong enough to address that nonsense!

***I do not have an Aunt Judith. If you do I promise I mean no offense. The name has been made up to protect the innocent.

 

Edit: I’ve been told that my parents do not, in fact, sell drug, but they may possibly have sold a kidney or two on the black market to support the Christmas habit.****
****I think they were just joking…

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