Dream a Little Dream...

I had a wee dreamlet last night. I was walking down a sidewalk and the Lord said to me to rest in His grace, to trust in His provision...and as I did, I began to fairly float, as if gravity had no hold on me and the walking was not remotely difficult. It was such a light and lovely feeling, not to be hostage to gravity and striving. Then, I went to church, and Margaret Gaines expressed some of the same ideas...and I felt like I was floating again. It felt like my natural state, as if I were finally doing what I was supposed to be doing...that the walking was weird and the floating was normal.


No sooner...

...do I pray for Holy interruptions, and I get one in the same week! Dear Friend stopped by to drop off some items for a yard sale...gets offered some of our dinner...sits down to eat a few bites before her next event...And ends up encouraging and ministering to us for hours. We were all knocked off our plans to go to a party, clean out a closet, and vegetate on a sofa. Praise God for people who question and listen and grasp tightly to a beautiful, simple faith. Praise God for community, even spontaneous community. And Praise God for country fried steak to share.


Embarrassing Moment

Sheila dared us to write out our most embarrassing moment on our blog and post them to HER blog...ugh. This would have to be it:

When I was working in youth ministry a few years back, it took A LOT to embarrass me. I really have very little shame, and would regularly sacrifice my reputation to keep attention, get a laugh, or make a point. I've even sat in a dunking booth for a good cause...in other words it takes a mountain-sized embarrassment to make me wish for a hole to open up and swallow me whole.

We had just finished up a video scavenger hunt with dozens of students...running around town, capturing THEIR embarrassing moments on video...making them sing songs about vegetables in the produce section of a grocery store, paint fingernails of complete strangers...with bonus points if they could find a guy who would let them paint fingers and toes...you get it. Embarrassment was in the air.
We were enjoying a quick trip to the local Dairy Queen before heading back to church, all of us lined up, laughing, and salivating over impending butterfinger blizzards.
Aaron Yancey (who was a student then) came up behind me and put his hands over my eyes, just goofing around. Being ever the dramatic person, I started saying in some affected accent, "Oh, I can't see...I'm blind...who could it be? I'm blind! I'm blind!" and generally carrying on. I wasn't being particularly loud, but it was loud enough for the couple in front of me to hear.
I knew something was amiss when a hush fell over the entire DQ, and Aaron uncovered my eyes. I was disoriented. Everyone was staring at me...
...including the husband directly in front of me in line. He shook his head at me. ("WHAT'S GOING ON?" I wondered.) It was then I noticed his wife had a blind cane in front of her, and his hand was on her elbow to steady her.
Honestly, I had NOT seen here there, and would NEVER, EVER make fun of someone for a physical impairment. It was a nauseous coincidence.
Needless to say, it was awkward in there for a few minutes. I was speechless. The teenagers were staring at me like I had slapped Jesus in the face. That's what it felt like...I really did want the earth to open beneath me and take me once and for all.


Why I am surprised?

When my day gets rearranged and things seem to fall in place as if by divine intervention...why am I always surprised? God just loves to interrupt me and "my business" and usually leaves a blessing behind like a calling card. And I have a sneaky suspicion it's just because he loves me. I shall leave the door open for him to come and go as he pleases. If he chooses to disguise himself as an interruption or potential irritant in my carefully-wrought agenda, I will breathe deeply and know that my life should be ruled be the Spirit and not by the clock. I humbly submit this proclamation in faith, that my dependence may bring far more for the Kingdom than my usual routine. I shudder to think what might happen next. But I need to be free from the suffocation and restraint of Time and Duty.


The List of Craig

I've been trolling craigslist.org this week hunting for a nice desk. We are rearranging the office space at the house and in need of something smaller. I hadn't found just the right thing at any regular retail outlets, so a few times a day, I'd hit up the online exchange.

What I learned:

The man selling the farmhouse table (which I thought might make a nice computer table) was showing MORE THAN A TABLE. I flagged him and his...well...and the nice people at craigslist promptly removed his posting. Bizarre.

There are words in the English language that completely confound the average joe looking to unload some extra furniture. A sampling:

1. Fruniture for sell--not just a typo, it repeated several times
2. Not selling seperately--Jerod tells me to remember it has "a rat" in it--separately
3. Serious injuries only--YIKES! Fruniture is danjerous.
4. Must sale today--sell, sale, sail--they are different words with different meanings
5. Chabby chic--Chubby Checker, Charlie Chaplin, Shabby Chic
6. Armour--or armoire, it's French, they get a pass
7. Non smocking home--good thing, I hate it when people smock
8. Rod Iron--half pass, as "wrought" is odd, and iron can be rod-like
9. Chester Drawers--had a friend named Chester, didn't know anything about his drawers.

And then...the "Executive Desk Hooker." Upon further inspection, "hooker" is a brand name of nice desks...but I'm fairly sure that wasn't the best headline.


The Anchor Holds

What are Christian mime troupes to do? Ray Boltz, an absolute STAPLE in the cheesy Christian drama genre and a blessing to many...has come out of the closet. The man who brought us "Than You," (which I may have sung to my pastor when I was about 14 for an offeratory), "Watch the Lamb" (which I may have had to learn an entire "routine" to with dowel rods at a drama seminar--oh my), and "The Anchor Holds" (which blesses my dad unlike any song I've ever seen)...is gay.

Click here for story.

This issue is one that Christians must face. How do we LOVE homosexuals in the church? We have not done a good job with it thus far. It seems far more noble to love other people that we label "sinners." This is such a complicated issue, and it seems to be going nowhere. I have dear friends who have been vibrant servants of the Lord, who later come out of the closet in a flurry of confusion and condemnation. Some have embraced the gay lifestyle and have defended their Christianity. One such friend even has a ministry to gay Christians, after he came out in seminary. Another friend has undergone counseling, and felt compelled to reject the lifestyle and embrace the Lord's help in living a heterosexual life with a wife and child. Homosexuality is pervasive in our media unlike never before. If we call it "sin," we are labeled bigots--uncaring, uneducated homophobes. If we call it ok, we are not being true to God's word and laws. Unlike any other issue, I think it is impossible to "win" here. We aren't going to get anywhere by condemning people (have we LEARNED THAT YET???). We aren't going to get anywhere by trying to change people--hello. That's God's job. The simplistic response to an increasingly complex issue is to love them into Jesus' presence. Let Jesus do what He does. We should be responsible for extending God's love, without arguing or condoning. "What if they don't get fixed?" What if...it's God's responsibility to heal people who are in pain or deception? I still wrestle with these questions. I have friends who TRULY wrestle with these questions. What else can I do but love them?


Mishaps in Church

Yesterday's service was a little wacky for me, with my view from the "slide show." I make the media presentations for church each week...patching together some photos, videos, words to songs, and scriptures to make a visual worship experience. Usually, we have a service with very few hiccups.

Then sometimes, things get a little hairy.

Our guest worship leader got lost in Charlotte before service, so the house band was hastily pulling out some oldy-goldies, which put me typing in some songs just before service began. Fast typing, distractions, questions, and confusion leads to songs like this showing up on the screen:

(for context...this was at the particularly serious altar call time)

'I love You, Lord...And I lift my voice...to worship You, Oh my soul rejoice...

Take joy my King...in what You hear...Let it be a sweet, sweet sound...IN YOUR EYE"

I noticed it just before we got there. Behind me, I hear Nathan say, "EYE?" I look over to see Iris and Richard dissolved in giggles. (Iris had to leave service she was laughing so hard). With our new, fancy media program, I can edit without anyone noticing. I debated for a second, and swiftly changed the words for the next run-through to read, "In your ear."

Talk about holy laughter.

Pictured: traditional "God's Eye" art common to Mexican Indians.


Quick Funny

I was getting some online help from Apple yesterday by chatting with a customer service person. My main question was about having more RAM or more hard drive space...RAM is the answer in case you're wondering. I mentioned getting an additional external hard drive. He then reminded me that we should always back up our files on eternal hard drives.
At which point I asked him if I could download directly to God's brain?
How WOULD one retrieve those files?


Lizard Adventures

Sometimes oh so serious, the blog. It's my stopping off place to slow down and gather my thoughts about this life. But today, just a snippet of funny, as my life is so often hilarious...those little moments where you wish someone had captured you on video just so you could re-watch it and laugh again.
My morning routine includes coffee on the sofa, Good Morning America, and putting on make-up while I warm up to the idea of wakefulness. Tink, the Boston Terrier, is usually curled up beside me taking her first nap of the day. Last Friday, however, I was startled to see my green blanket sprout legs and start walking. There was wee little lizard keeping company with me on the sofa. Being the same color as my green throw, I had not seen him.
"Oh crap! Jerod is not here! What am I going to do with this lizard?"
First thoughts run toward just pretending I don't see him at all. Then I imagine him crawling into my sheets and greeting me in the night. That won't work.
Jerod can just pick up a lizard with his bare hands. I cannot do this. I coached myself into believing I could, but when the lizard ran over my fingertips I came as close as I ever have to fainting. I know. It's silly. I know.
I thought to perhaps trap him in a can with a lid previously used for hot chocolate and release him outside. He was having no part of that scheme.
I dried my hair.
Lizard's still in the den.
Ironed my pants.
Lizard is now on my shoe. SHOE! I will carry him outside on my shoe.
Nope. No go.
Tink has yet to bat an eye at me, and is snoozing soundly. Too bad she didn't have it in her to chase him for me! She should be good for something besides napping.
It's now or never. The lizard must go. I need to get to work.
I chased him to the kitchen door! He went behind. Lizard is visibly panting with fear. I feel badly. He does not know that I mean him no harm. I just do not cohabitate with reptiles. He runs up the side, and around to the inside. "RUN OUTSIDE, STUPID LIZARD! YOU ARE SECONDS AWAY FROM FREEDOM!" I was actually talking to him by this point. Telling him it was ok, soothing him, and coaxing him like a puppy. "Come on. You can do it. The outside is nice. You will like it here."
He flew to Jerod's giant black flip-flop. BINGO! Just a foot away from the outside now. And score! Wee lizard is on his merry way with a colossal story to tell his own lizard friends about the crazy lady who chased him tried to trap him in a cocoa can.


Revival in the Land

I am forever thankful for my upbringing in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles. I was exposed to the ideas that God is alive, moving, and present in our lives. I have experienced His power, His guidance, and His grace in amazing ways. I have sung to the highest rafter, hands lifted high, and heart aflame.

I have also watched as Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Larry Lea, Richard Roberts, Fred Price, Creflo Dollar, Robert Tilton, Ted Haggard...and now Todd Bentley...have fallen off pedestals because of egregious hidden sin and lies. There could be many more names on the list, as almost everyone I know who has grown up in this movement has a local man (or woman) to add to the list.

The Pentecostal-flavored Christian faith is not at its core flawed. It is one that embraces the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, as "the spirit that guides us into all truth" (to quote Jesus in John 16:13). We recognize that our power to encourage, worship, correct, admonish, administer, minister, help, plant churches, and prophesy can only come through an active and vibrant relationship with the entire Trinity, and that the Holy Spirit is our power to walk out the Christian faith. It's not "added zest or zeal" as my Pastor reminds, but a real, living and integral part of our relationship with God.

I read a letter today that has peaked my interest. Dutch Sheets http://www.dutchsheets.org/index.cfm has written a letter about the recent downfall of heralded revivalist Todd Bentley of the Florida Outpouring in Lakeland, Florida. Of the many fine points he makes, one of them is the need for actual INTEGRITY among our ranks...(and I would add from the top to the bottom, as it were). So many in our movement follow the show, the big bang-boom-ba, and then blame the show on the Holy Spirit. Most of us know that with the right music and the right smooth-tongued preacher, it is fairly easy to get people worked into a frenzy. Sadly, I think most of the Spirit-chasers have hearts for God in the right place. I think many are seeking to know Him more and to be full of His Holy Spirit. But we have to keep our eyes on the LORD. We have to be discerning. We have to walk into all situations with our ear attuned the STILL, SMALL VOICE of God as much as it is attuned to the yelling and histrionics of some on a stage.

In short, we also have to have our own personal revival of the heart, that comes not in fireworks and parades, and full bands with forty-hundred singers; but in times of meditation on the Word, study, prayer, and reflection...and dare I say...fasting. The Holy Spirit can be present in the quiet. He can teach and heal in a bedroom, a boardroom, or a grocery store. There is no magic or incantation that "calls Him up" when several hundred people get together and have a hoe-down. The Lord desires to be worshipped in Spirit and IN TRUTH. When we are walking in the TRUTH, our worship will be sweet to the Lord, whether we are in a stadium or in a corner of our guest bedroom all alone. The Lord is always looking to "pour out His Spirit" on those who are seeking His heart.

Pastor Sheets makes another fine point. We have all of this focus on being "restoring" ministries or ministries for broken people...certainly!! The church at large must be in the business of restoration. But the other side of the SAME COIN requires us to be accountable and responsible to our community of believers DURING THE PROCESS OF SALVATION AND SANCTIFICATION!!!!! During, not after the tumble. There should be a reasonable expectation of integrity among our leaders. These few examples and countless other leaders have cut themselves off from anyone who will correct them or bring them under spiritual authority. They have shunned true community, and therefore have shunned the power of the BODY of Christ. They have spit in the face of the church, the body that God placed on earth to help us all in our journey. These ideas are the very backbone of the real Christian faith.

I am saddened that Sheets did not voice his concerns earlier. Many people seemingly have been uneasy, but have been hesitant to say anything. Paul would have called it out. He did this regularly in Scriptures when churches were off-kilter or false teachers were spewing lies. We are so afraid to offend sometimes or to squelch a work of the Spirit. We should be more afraid that shysters and unrepentant, unbroken sinners are leading the church into confusion and disarray.

As a body of believers worldwide, we must now more than ever seek the quiet place, where the Lord can speak TRUTH to us through his Word and by his Spirit so we can see our own failings first, and then we can discern the truth of world around us.

I am not pointing fingers. I, too, must submit myself to my own body of believers. I have to make time and space for the Lord to speak. I have to be on guard for heresy and ideas that will crumble my faith. I have, in the past, cut myself off and indulged in a life free from accountability. I thank God that His grace and mercy extends over us, and that He walks us through times when we are stupid. I am thankful for the cross and the atonement. I am hopeful that Spirit-chasers will get tackled by the Spirit and wrestled into a grace-filled, deep relationship with the triune God and will stop looking for hype and highs. Can't we learn from all of this??