Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Road To Restoration

I have written this post 3 times now. Each time I see what I have written and delete it. I'm so frustrated with what is being thrown around about this wonderful word 'Restoration.'

We are in the midst of a restoring war. We argue and squabble about restoring this man or that man.

We are now restoring in public so everyone supposedly knows what is going on. All the sins will be aired. We even get to send in our hard earned money to fund this process.

We are restoring for YOUR EDIFICATION. We are told that this circus is to encourage us, build us up.

We stand on each side of a river with the sinner in the middle and throw mud balls at each other about the restoration process. One one side we have the (purportedly) side of Grace. The other side that of (again purportedly) a Pharisaical spirit. Say ONE word and you are thrown to one side or the other and handed a mud ball to join in the fun.

I know that no one has asked me what I think. But this is my blog so if you are reading you are going to hear what I think.

I think everyone needs to put down their mud. I think we need to go and get the man out of the middle of the river and take him away from all of the circus. He can't and won't be restored while he is standing there. It was the center stage in the circus that helped to create the problem in the first place. In the place of quiet where everything is stripped away and nothing is promised he will find a place of true restoration.

There was a man once named Saul that needed restoration. He was a murderer. I think he disappeared for quite a few years. He somehow found the heart of the Father there. He never had the same stage as he had before. But everyone can agree that he was restored.

There was a woman once that needed restoration. Her name was Barbara. She abused others in the Body. She has gone through a process of about 2 years of what I would call restoration. She won't have the same position as before. Her restoration was TO SOMEONE not to a place or office or a gift.

And therein is what I think everyone is missing. We are not to see the end of restoration as an end of being back at the same place where we started. Sometimes we mess up enough that it physically can't happen. How can you be restored to a wife when you have married another? How can you be restored to a ministry when you destroyed it on your way out. How can you be restored to being fake when everyone now knows who you really are?

The restoration process is to restore our HEART back to the One who loves us. If our goal is to restore a person back to where they started he will forever remain unchanged. If we have any goal other than to restore the heart - to the Father - we will miss our mark entirely.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Loving Others

I love How-To Books. I love the Food Channel. My family loves to watch the show How Do They Do That.

I think I love all these things because I'm at heart a teacher. Even though I hated most parts of homeschooling my kids, I loved the time when I explained a concept and they understood it. Still today, I love to break something hard to understand down into simple parts that can be grasped and then used effectively.

Most of my Christian life I have tried to find someone to break down this life into steps and formulas to live the "Abundant Christian Life." But I have found that this approach is severely flawed. I'm in the process of throwing out all the books on the Christian life, or marriage or child rearing that do this. They are dangerous. They are dangerous mostly because we stop relying on the Father for wisdom and begin relying on a set of rules or principals.

Jesus had this same problem. The religious instutions of his day had broken down life in God into nothing but rules and principals. So what did he do? He said that there were only 2 rules or things to do. Love God and love each other. That is it. Every time you read him saying that we should keep his commands - these are the two he is speaking of. I think even the apostles of old had a hard time just keeping it simple like this, but that is another post.

But at the risk of understanding that rules and principals have their flaws, can I tell you about one that I am using that has been amazing? (This actually came from the writings of Darrin Hufford - not original with me) This one is for the times that I wonder how to love someone - especially if they are being hard to love at the moment or have severly hurt me in the past.

I first think about someone that I truly love from the my heart. For you, pick someone that is easy to love. Someone that you would actually die for. Someone that everyone else knows is your favorite. For me, I choose someone that if they lie to me I am heartbroken, or if they speak harshly to me I am wounded. Someone that can get to me.

Then I take the love that I feel for this person and, like a pair of glasses, I try to view this other person who is being hard to love through the same lenses. I ask myself - How would Love behave to this person? If I loved this person as much as the one I do love, how would I treat them today?

Folks, I'm telling you, this works. It has worked to change my heart about those in my past that have wounded me, it changes my heart about the crazy driver in front of me or the kid on the street that is drunk and throwing away their life. I feel that it works ultimately because it is tapping into how the Father feels about this person.

The greatest thing about this is I have not turned into a mush-ball-of-love-and-gushy-ness. See, the one I truly love is one that I am ready to not only give to but also correct, protect them as well as confront them, touch them lovingly but also discipline them. I want their best and love lets me understand how to do that most effectively. It does not become weak in their presence - It becomes strong!

And don't think that you will become a doormat for everyone to walk over. See, true love has boundaries. Love will not allow someone to be abusive. Love sometimes walks away. It never takes its heart away but sometimes it has to leave for the other's good.

Anyway, would you try it out for me and let me know how it works for you? Ask yourself, "What would Love do here?"

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sin and the Breaking of Relationship

I have a feeling you are going to be reading a lot here about Love in the next little while. It may sound simple and boring but it has absolutely changed the way I think about EVERYTHING. It is like I have had one set of glasses on that colored everything in shades of gray but when these glasses of Love are worn, everything springs to color and life.

I hesitate to even begin to write about this because it feels like I have begun to understand something so very vast that it would be like saying I understand the ocean if my toes have gotten wet as I stand on the bubbly edge of a gentle wave lapping onto the sand.

Let me explain one train of thought as it relates to the concept of Sin.

I have always viewed sin as something that we do that falls short of a rule that God made. Sometimes this was an intentional act on our part, sometimes it was unintentional. Either way when we did this God was anywhere from mildly frustrated to totally consumed with rage toward us. Sin ultimately gave us the death penalty. Jesus had to die to allow God to even have contact with us. He had to kill his Son for our screw-up-ed-ness. No wonder he was pissed off.

But then I put on the glasses of Love and began to understand some things.

I believe the Father made us for relationship. I know relationship. I love it, value it and cherish it. Within this context, take for example that someone I love, someone I'm in close relationship with lies to me. True, there might be some anger, hurt, disappointment and such. But the greatest feeling is that something pure and right between us has been broken. A lie changes things. A lie breaks something. A lie becomes like a cancer - eating away at something that before, was whole.

Or take a situation where I get angry and I say a mean or degrading thing to someone I love. Inevitably something in our relationship gets broken. It is no longer the same and in some sense, can never be the same again even with an apology. The words are out there. They cannot be taken back.

If I understand sin between me and the Father (or another that I love) in this way it changes everything. Through the glasses of Love I start to see sin for what it really is and does. It breaks something valuable. It destroys relationship. It destroys oneness. It it heartbreaking. It devalues what we have together. This happens if it is between the Father and me or if it happens between my child and me or Husband and me.

Could it be that he sees sin like this? Could the act of Jesus coming to die for us be not one of a legal obligation that had to be fulfilled but of consuming love making a way for relationship to be restored? When he looks on our sin could he be looking on with compassion as the same way we would look upon a baby born to a mom on crack or a wasted life of drugs destroying a child's life and potential?

I have come to realize that if I can see sin through the eyes of love I have a small chance of understanding the Heart of the One that loves me and of actually being able to love someone else in the same way.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I'm Glad It Happened

Something is happening with me, or better put, something is happening within me. Both I guess.

I've not blogged for a bit here. I had to reintroduce myself to my blog sign-in page. Fortunately it still remembered me.

I've actually been busy with real life again. Real people that I can hug and touch.

Friends of old returned to stay with us for two wonderful weeks. I visited my Sister in the desert of Mexico and talked and laughed and ate wonderful Mexican food for a week. A former friend is beginning a wonderful new relationship with me. My youngest daughter has moved back into the house to go to school for a year. With her return has come a flood of her entourage (friends). Colorful sort that have cool blue hair (my favorite!), diverse religious affiliations, some with assorted sexual preferences and questionable drug choices but the sort that find myself absolutely loving to feed, hug and provide a place to play and crash. It is a great story of grace to have this child choose to live here again. Fingers crossed as we navigate the relationship in such close proximity.

So what is it that I'm glad has happened?

All of it. The painful last two years. The abandonment of many friends. The loss of all that I was before. The death (at least from what I can see) of Church Lady. The re-evaluating of everything I hold dear. The emptying of my theology. The tears. The repentance. The joy of finding simplicity. The ability to meet you all. So much more.

We were talking about some of those that we love still in the group that we left. So often we want to make contact and tell them that we love them. So often it is on the tips of our fingers to write to them and explain how they are missing out on the very heart of God. Then last night Husband said something that rocked my world. He said something to the effect that God has a plan for each of us to find HIM - to find His heart for us and that if we had not gone through EXACTLY what we went through we would not be in this place now. That it was only through this perfectly formed, sometimes very painful journey that we have come to the place where there is Peace and Grace and most of all Love. He said that if the Father was gracious enough to bring us to this point, he would also have the same plan to bring each of those we love to the same point.

He is so right. Without everything that happened to me through this past few years, I would have been happy to be Church Lady for the rest of my life. I would not have been in a place where I found that I could survive without depending on the 'church' to give me my identity. I would have never explored the depths of the love of my Father. I would have never understood Grace as I do today. I could have never loved like I'm now able to - albeit still faltering. I would have never allowed myself to love my daughters the way I can now. My friends would still be used to pamper my own importance.

So onto Spring. New beginnings. Dear friends are moving back into town. (I can't get over the feeling that this is monumental for us in some way.) A few, and very dear friendships, continue and are beginning. Daughter will fill my house with fire breathing, fire spinning, (See pictures!) kids.

So I am mostly content at this point. The fear of going without is fading. We have found somehow that this is enough - if that makes sense. We are waiting on God to see if there will ever be a "formal" group to belong to. I can see life with it and also without it, so either way is fine with me.

and at the end of it.....I'm Glad It Happened.