Holy Extremism

Hey Friends,

I hope you are well. I’ve been taking a little break from social media. I’m wondering if maybe Facebook and Instagram should never make their way back onto my phone. It really does make a difference to stand in line and look around, instead of mindlessly scrolling.

But anyway last year I ordered the A. W. Tozer book above to read during Lent. I thought it was fabulous then. This year I’m enjoying it even more. I snapped this pic last week as I read it at a swim meet between events. There are daily readings and each day is profound, but one I found particularly convicting was on contentment versus being extreme.

Tozer wrote, “We fear extremes and shy away from too much ardor in religion as if it were possible to have too much love or too much faith or too much holiness.”

What greater insult is there than being accused of being “holier than thou”? But I think maybe we’ve conflated things. Being judgmental is not at all the same as being holy. Tozer was right. It’s absurd to think we can be too holy.

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.””

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:14-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

May we not be bamboozled into believing we can ever be too full of love or faith or holiness. Instead may we press on toward the prize that is ours in Christ Jesus.

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: A Fabulous Paradox

Hey Friends,

I hope you’ve had a good week. We saw the sun quite a bit here in Tennessee. Praise God. But it’s raining again today and I’m thinking about other mood-lifting sources. You know what’s typically not one? Social media. Once in a great while I’ll get a good laugh, or delight over someone’s baby. I love when people post pics of interesting places, and I greatly appreciate knowing how to be praying for those facing heartache. Still, the vast majority of scrolling is joy-robbing, it showcases the unraveling of society, There is a growing lack of logic, morality and humor. Honestly I feel like my feed is dominated by anger, and I’m increasingly down on anger. No one who is angry exudes the peace of Christ, and that’s the aim, isn’t it?

So, it’s about time for me to take a break. The problem is that social media is how most readers connect to this blog. Can you do me a favor? Can you subscribe to the blog instead? I am pretty consistent about posting on Fridays but subscribers get an email whenever I post.

Right now I’m sitting in my very favorite coffee shop. This is my second morning here this week. On days I take Nate and/or Sam to school, the magnetic draw of it is intense. I often hang out here and read before heading back up the mountain. It’s such a peaceful little spot.

Usually it is. On Tuesday it was not. At the table next to me was an angry man yelling at his friends about God. He was referencing some Old Testament passage he found objectionable and getting louder and louder and more and more animated. I was having a hard time not laughing as I sat there literally reading Genesis.

“C’mon,” he ranted. “If that’s God then that’s f-ing stupid!”

I oddly found this first all out f-bomb at this peaceful little coffee shop hilarious. But I know I should have more compassion.

I’m certain the anger of this man is not amusing to those in his life. And sadly there are many people just like this guy. Someone in the church has hurt them or hurt someone they care about. Or maybe they feel abandoned by God.

But however this man arrived at this posture of hostility, of defensive anger, the solution is always the same. And it’s both the easiest and hardest thing to do. The solution, paradoxically, is to surrender. The truth is no matter how many f-bombs you direct at God, no matter how angry and hardened your heart, Jesus stands at the door and knocks. He loves you. No matter what. Freedom is found in surrendering to Him, His way and His Word. My prayer for this man is that he’ll surrender to the Person who knows him the best and loves him the most.

It’s a prayer for the world.

In the meantime, may the peace of Christ rule in our hearts and may we cast any and every burden at His feet.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭

We are called to peace and called to be thankful. Amen!

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Seasons of Waiting

Hey Friends,

Do you want to know what I’m waiting on this week? I’m waiting to see a single ray of sunshine! I truly have grown in my appreciation of the beauty of fog, but I have my limits. Endless fog and rain this week, and I’m so ready for blue skies. If you know me, you’re probably thinking, “Here she goes. She says this every spring.” I think I do. I cannot seem to overcome being overly influenced by weather. I’ve passed this along to at least one son too.

But waiting for fairer weather is one thing, sometimes waiting is much heavier. Do you have some unresolved issue that weighs on you? I do. Well, sort of. There is an area of my life that is aptly described as unresolved. It’s been a true season of waiting. But paradoxically the longer it goes on, the more peace I have. God’s plan is good. I don’t know what it is. But I trust it’s exactly the right thing, and that the timing, despite what feels like a long wait, will also be utterly perfect.

Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” If you are in a season of waiting I hope those words will comfort you. God has a plan for you and I’m praying you’ll trust Him.

Have a fabulous weekend. Sunshine is forecast for Sunday!

Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Solve the Riddle

Hey Friends,

Hope you’ve had a wonderful week. Honestly, I’m still recovering from last weekend when my oldest son’s swim team won the state title. It was such a great story of guys overcoming adversity, and swimming out of their minds. The 4 x 100 relay was the last event of the night. So long as they logged a decent time and didn’t DQ, they knew they’d win the state title. Video reveals just how long they waited on relay take-offs just to be extra, extra sure. Still, amazingly, their time was the fastest in the country recorded so far this year by a high school relay team. I screamed so much that I’ve been dragging all week.

I did manage to browse through a book I ordered: Frederick Buechner’s The Magnificent Defeat. It contains the riddle. He writes “It is so hard and it is so easy. And everything depends on it.”

Any guesses? Do you know what Buechner is referring to when he says it’s both so easy and so hard, and that everything depends on it? He is referring to prayer. And I could not agree more.

In some ways, praying is so very easy. Someone or some need can cross our minds, and we can so easily shoot up a prayer. But focused and consistent prayer is super challenging, even when we firmly believe nothing could be more important.

Ephesians 6:18 says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Yes! May we all always keep on praying.

With Love,
Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: My People

Hey Friends,

I’ve had an epiphany: my kind of people are more likely to be cashiers in gas stations than zookeepers. Let me paint for you the difference.

I saw that a zoo in El Paso has a vindictive little program coming up this week for Valentine’s Day. You can have a cockroach named after your ex and then they’ll feed it to the meerkats. Seriously. Our culture loves to find ways to fuel rage. I wonder how many cockroaches will be named Donald Trump. I’m also curious how many of those who submit Trump’s name also have a “Hate Has No Home Here” sign in their front yard. Meanwhile, the Bible requires that we love and pray for our enemies. Zookeepers may not be “my people” but I’m committed to loving them and praying for those like them, are you?

Then this morning I had the most delightful three minutes in a gas station. It was a Pilot/Dunkin’ Donuts Express. It was early and I was grabbing some muffins while Will poured our coffees. I walked a few aisles over to grab something for Sam, when a woman yelled out in an extremely loud voice, “Oh my Gosh!”

Will, still back at the coffee station, somehow thinking I was the yeller, answered back very loudly and perplexed, “What???”

I’m easily amused, but the whole thing cracked me up. Then we headed over to the checkout counter, where a man and a woman, both Caucasian, were manning the desk.

The woman said to the man, “Will you call Tommy for his shower.”

“Sure thing,” he said, cheerfully and then boomed into the speaker, “Tommy your shower is ready!”

The woman rang us up. The man took the next customer, an elderly black gentleman.

The black man asked the cheerful white man, “How are you today?

“Better than I deserve, better than I deserve,” he answered with a smile.

“Me too, brother,” the black man said. “If only we could convince more people it’s true, the world would be a better place.”

I don’t think these two are feeding their exes to meerkats, do you? They exude joy and gratitude. They are my people — at least I pray that I am even a tiny bit like them.

One thing is certain: I am a sinner and every minute of every day I get better than I deserve. In eternity the discrepancy will be infinitely wider. Jesus paid it all. I’ll never get what I deserve.

“But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!””

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭40:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Yes, may every person — from gas station attendant to zoo keeper, and all those in between — rejoice, be glad and say “The Lord is great!”

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Cilantro and Parsley

Hey Friends,

Last night I made some yummy tacos. We had both blackened mahi (leftover from Wednesday night) and spicy shredded chicken. The vital topping for these two taco varieties is, of course, cilantro. However, even though I popped in the grocery store yesterday expressly for cilantro, at dinner I was devastated to learn that I had grabbed Italian parsley instead. Maybe devastated is too strong a word. Maybe. The parsley was in the section labeled cilantro. But I didn’t have my glasses to read the tiny label. I think the mistake was especially deflating because I’ve done this before. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is the third time I’ve made this mistake.

But there are at least two spiritual lessons in my errant endeavor to properly top tacos.

First we are slow learners. I have discovered the triple-home-button method to magnify anything on my phone. I also possess a perfectly functional nose. I could have confirmed it was in fact cilantro with either of these reliable tools. But, I didn’t. I’m stupid and forgetful. Spiritually, we all are.

We never graduate beyond needing the most basic refreshers. God is holy. You are a sinner. But God loves you so much He sent Jesus to die for you and to pay the penalty for all your sins. You can live forever with Him but you have to lay down your plan and your way.

In my Bible study last semester I heard a simple illustration. Have you ever watched a two-year-old try to tie shoes? I think it’s possible you haven’t because praise God for Velcro! Anyway a two-year-old cannot tie shoes. But some will try for a while. Eventually the shoes get tied when the child is ready to admit they can’t on their own and asks for help.

Have you told God you can’t do it on your own? Or are you still flailing around, trying to tie the shoes of your life? God is ever-willing to help you, but He doesn’t wrangle you or force anything. Thankfully He is patient, and faithful, and full of love.

What are some other basic lessons you are apt to forget? I am inclined to forget that laying down my plans is a daily discipline, that each and every person (even those who propose or support legislation to kill babies) is made in the image of God, that I can’t earn God’s love or orchestrate how anything goes.

A second spiritual lesson from my parsley calamity, is that sometimes what you need looks a lot like what you do not. We need to pray for discernment. There are loud voices in our culture, probably all cultures, that say just what the serpent in the Garden said, “Did God really say?” And then after planting seeds of doubt, they follow up with harmful ideas and persuasions that are far more injurious than parsley on tacos.

Thankfully Jesus showed us how to refute those who would lead us astray. I’m sure you know what He said. He said, “It is written…”

Using God’s Word to fend off temptation and corrupting influences is always the answer. But to use God’s Word, you have to know God’s Word. Are you saturating 2019 with Scripture? I can always do better but have recently had success with a morning routine using the structure of the CBR Journal (www.thecbrjournal.com).

But whatever works for you, find it and do it. It’s time spent there’s a zero percent chance of regretting!

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Have a fabulous weekend!

With Love,

Kristie

Jackson Five Friday: Two E’s

Hey Friends,

Hope you’ve had a wonderful week. Mine flew by and the clean laundry mountain that resides on the guest bed only gained breadth and elevation. I need to get on the simplifying bandwagon because clearly I ain’t folding it.

Of course I could make a better effort. Throwing my hands up in defeat is not the answer for laundry nor for life, and definitely not for faith. Yet that is a pretty common mindset: Christ did it all, there’s nothing to earn, so why put forth any effort? But as one of my pastors recently pointed out, the Christian faith is opposed to earning, not effort. Throwing in the towel on effort is always a big mistake but especially when it comes to living godly lives.

I am so convicted by Foster’s Celebration of Discipline because it lays out how important discipline is in the life of disciples. Still my slide back into cruise mode pervades.

This afternoon I read C.S. Lewis’s essay A Slip of the Tongue. It’s brief but packs a punch about being wholly devoted. Lewis quotes William Law who said, “If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead.” Lewis adds, “Will it really make no difference whether it was women or patriotism, cocaine or art, whisky or a seat in the Cabinet, money or science? Well, surely no difference that matters. We shall have missed the end for which we are formed and rejected the only thing that satisfies. Does it matter to a man dying in the desert by which choice of route he missed the only well?”

Only Christ provides ultimate satisfaction. Yet I am so guilty of failing to give Him my whole life on a daily basis.

Again Lewis’s words are apt: “I do not think any efforts of my own will can end once and for all this craving for limited liability, this fatal reservation. Only God can…[yet]…the process of doing it will appear to me (and not falsely) to be the daily or hourly repeated exercises of my own will in renouncing this attitude…”

Where do you have a “fatal reservation”? In other words, where are you refusing to fully submit to God’s plan and authority? Can you allow God to work through you to root out this resistance? Even if it looks and feels like human effort?

Because it may seem like we are dragging ourselves to the well, but it is God who pours down the blessing. He does the work. We can’t earn anything. But it does not follow that we should just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. After all no one’s default destination is godliness!

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”

‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭1:5-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The end goal is love. God does the work. But we should make every effort.

May this weekend be one of full surrender, fervent pursuit and, if necessary, a smidge of folding.

With Love,

Kristie