Category Archives: Wisdom

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

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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Covet-Worthy Joy

I don’t ever want to cause anyone to sin. I particularly don’t want to cause anyone to covet. I have a tendency to downplay the awesome in my life so that no one feels like I’m trying to “one-up” them or show off. But it struck me this morning: If ever I want anyone to covet what I have, I would want it to be my joy.

I chose the e-mail user name ashleyishappy in 2004. I had met Jon that summer, and, even if he wasn’t, I was sure I was going to marry him. I thought it a little presumtuous, however, to reserve anything with the last name Andrews, but I didn’t want to throw in Hayes and then have to change it in a year. So, ashleyishappy was born.

When I chose it I was in a state of new love bliss. Now, every time I sign into Facebook, Twitter or wordpress I’m reminded of that time when nothing could have shattered my happiness.

Happipness is fleeting though, isn’t it? I don’t want anyone to covet my username. I don’t want them to covet the moments that produce happiness in my life. I want them to covet a deep indwelling joy. The only way anyone will ever desire the joy I have is if I allow it to bubble up from the source within. And how will they know the source if I don’t daily speak of Him? No one will ever covet a surface level slice of happy. For most of us there have been too many hurts that have stolen our smiles. The way they will ache at the longing for our joy is if we tell them why we are joyful.

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15

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I am not.

I am not. I am not perfect. I am not humble. I am not honest. I am not kind. I am not pure in Spirit. I am not a friend at all times. I am not worthy. I am not broken. I am not whole. I am not trust worthy. I am not holy. I am not righteous. I am not loving. I am not patient. I am not slow to speak. I am not bold. I am not courageous. I am not fearless. I am not wise.

I am loved.

I am forgiven.

I am called by God His own.

Romans 4:17

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The Post-Post

It has been eight weeks since my feet came back to American soil, but I’m afraid I’ve left my heart with the people of South Asia. My words cannot express the gratitude I feel for your contribution to my experience there. I wish I could write you pages and pages of the stories and sights and experiences. I’ll spare you the novella and just give you my deepest impression from my time there:

God is the God of love and thunder. One of my favorite song writers, Andrew Peterson, wrote a song called “The Reckoning.” It struck me as such a summary of the tension I felt there. The presence of evil, the sight of alters to false gods, the knowledge that the people there – poor and educated alike – invite demons into their homes with their worship is only triumphed by the overwhelming peace that our Father placed in my soul. He whispered to me while standing in front of a temple to grotesque statues inhabited by evil spirits that even the one who cuts the throats of goats, sheep and, heartbreakingly, baby girls every new moon cycle can be forgiven if only they knew. The darkness is beyond description. The blindness is rampant. The need is great.

Your prayers were felt. Your money was spent wisely. Your faith was incredible. Jesus name was shared as the one true God of all. People heard His name and His story for the first time and for the twentieth time. Children heard the Christmas story in their language. Women believers were discipled as a rare treat. People came from villages hundreds of miles away to hear the words of our Father.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

The Reckoning by Andrew Peterson

I can see the storm descending on the hill tonight

Tall trees are bending to your will tonight

Oh, let the mighty bow down

At the thundering sound of Your voice

I can hear the howling wind and feel the rain tonight

Every drop a prophet in Your name tonight

Oh, and the song that they sing

It is washing me clean but

How long?

How long?

How long until this curtain is lifted?

How long is this song that we sing?

How long until the reckoning?

And I know You hear the cries of every soul tonight

You see the teardrops as they roll tonight

Down the faces of the saints

Who grow weary and faint in Your fields

And the wicked roam the cities and the streets tonight

But when the God of love and thunder speaks tonight

Oh, I believe You will come

Your justice be done, but how long?

How long?

How long?

How long until this curtain is lifted?

How long is this song that we sing?

How long until the reckoning?

You are holiness and grace

You are fury and rest

You are anger and love

You curse and you bless

You are mighty and weak

You are silence and song

You are plain as the day

But you have hidden Your face –

For how long? How long?

And I am standing in the stillness of the reckoning

The storm is past and rest is beckoning

Mighty God, how I fear You

And I long to be near You, O Lord

How long?

How long?

How long until this burden is lifted?

How long is this the song that we sing?

How long until the reckoning?

And I know that I don’t know what I’m asking

I long to look You full in the face

I am ready for the reckoning

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The one where she gets political

LoveI don’t write out of anger or hatred. I had some thoughts during an annoyance but have taken some time to think them through before posting anything. If you are offended, take heart! That’s the joy of living in America. We get to talk about what we think and how we feel and be offended by other people. That’s freedom!

I’ve come to the point where I am incredibly saddened by politics. I’m not mad or hurt or even annoyed anymore – just sad. I feel that we need to vote. We’ve been given precious freedom that people around the world crave without even knowing they crave it! We should absolutely share our opinions as well. But when did it become ok to be so unkind with our opinions? When did the rule come into play that you can’t be friends with someone across the aisle?

I vote based on my moral convictions – on my faith. That doesn’t always mean voting for Christians (everyone south of the Mason-Dixon is a Christian, right?*) Most often it means voting Republican.  I’ll be the first to admit that there are skeezy politicians on every side and underneath. There are skeezy people everywhere. The part that makes me sad is that there are so many people that dedicate their lives to the message, “Love me for who I am!” that would throw a rock through my window (or at least want to) if they looked at my ballot on November 2.

Tolerance is the word of the decade. I have to tolerate everything that goes against what I believe. That includes being called an idiot, a liar and brainwashed. I have to be willing to listen to every opinion around me and keep my mouth shut. As soon as I voice my opinion I am a closed-minded hick from the “Deep South” who hates everyone.

Have you ever had a disagreement with a friend? Did you stop being friends over it? Most of the time the answer is no. If the answer is yes, maybe we need to reevaluate out heart condition to be sure we are embracing “the greatest of these.”

If love knows no bounds, love me enough to let me have my opinion; I always let you have yours. I just want to be a friend.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

* Please note the sarcasm…

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Truth

Why does truth seem to be the challenge? When we hear untruths we are uncomfortable. Yet, very few stand up and say, “That simply isn’t true.” It should be easier for believers to rebuke a lie than it seems to be. We (myself included) tend to clam up. We tell ourselves that someone else, someone bolder, someone more called by God will stand and speak against the lie, the half truth, the deception.

Or we forget that a lie is still a sin. We make it pretty by saying things like, “That’s not completely untrue” and “A little white lie never hurt anything.” Oh, if that were truth what a false and wretched religion we have! Jesus didn’t take sin sitting down. Jesus said that anger against your brother is murder and lust is adultery. But somehow we forget and justify those things that “don’t hurt anyone.” Sin is sin. Sin is what murdered Jesus. Yes, there is grace. Yes, we fight human nature every moment. But, yes, we are to fight off that sin nature until our last breath leaves our lungs, and we are restored to our perfect union with our Father. I present the idea today that lies, deceit, half truths and bitter words are sins as great as adultery, murder and stealing. I realize the earthly consequences are less public and less physically damaging. Do you realize that each untruth took part in nailing Jesus to the cross?

Truth should be a believer’s foundation. Truth should come naturally as an overflow of the heart. Standing up to deceit is not someone else’s job; it is yours and mine.

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