Five Minute Friday: Open

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Gentle Reader,

You know what time it is. Kate and the crowd and some chocolate. A little humor and a little prayer.

We: open.

Go.

Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out.” 

Rob Bell is causing a fuss again, although I don’t know why anything he says catches anyone by surprise. He hasn’t changed his stance on anything, really. I read Velvet Elvis years ago and wasn’t impressed by either the theology or the writing style. I saw a couple of the Nooma videos and found nothing substantial in them. I perused enough of Love Wins before chucking it across the room to know that it was just the same, tired, old “relevant” religion in a slicker, hipster-pleasing package. (Seriously, where does Bell get his clothes? During his interview with Oprah he sported some pretty sweet cuffed skinny jeans. And, oh, the boots!)

Side note: I won’t even get into how silly it is to take spiritual direction from Oprah right now.

I’ve never met Bell. I have no idea what he’s like in person. But based on his writing, I can say with certainty that what he sells isn’t the truth. The mishandling and even dismissal of Scripture, the constant harping on being “relevant,” (so bizarre to me, because what can possibly be more relevant – and transcendent – than Christ and Him crucified?), the outright call to travel along the world’s trajectory….

There’s nothing new under the sun. This kind of stuff has been preached and plastered everywhere for centuries. Bell is simply the latest, hippest peddler.

We have GOT to know the truth. We have got to be steeped in it. We have to know it backwards and forwards and inside out.

Should we be open enough to consider ideas? To have conversations? Absolutely.

But let’s not be so open we lose that which is most dear.

Stop. 

My journey to faith. (15)

Five Minute Friday: When

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com (1)

Gentle Reader,

I missed the chat last night due to the ongoing love/hate relationship I have with my computer and technology. There are days when the very thought of opening my laptop makes me tense. This wars with my very real need to keep a writing schedule. And the fact that I thoroughly enjoy Five Minute Friday and the authors I’ve met.

Anyway.

Kate asks us to contemplate: when.

Go.

It’s not an “if.”

It’s a “when.”

Unless the Lord sees fit to release me, I will go through periods of intense anxiety. I can’t necessarily predict when they will come (I was blindsided this week), but I know they will. I know that I will wake up some morning in a cold sweat, heart pounding. I don’t know how long it will last. Sometimes a day, sometimes a month.

Oddly, they do not come when I’m actually in the middle of something that should produce anxiety.

Funny how the mind works.

What becomes of the unmedicated? How can we who are forced to ride the chemical brain waves unaided cope?

It’s a whole lot of, “Help me, Jesus.” It’s a lot of, “Let me find something mindless I can plug into so I don’t over-analyze anything” (hence the fact that I’ve now watched 33 episodes of The Blacklist in 11 days; don’t judge me). It’s a lot of talking to yourself – “Okay, I need to get up. Make the bed. Take a shower. Good, I accomplished all that. Now I can eat breakfast…”

But mostly it’s a whole lot of, “Help me, Jesus,” even if you don’t say it out loud. Even if your mind is too rattled to focus on in-depth prayer or Scripture reading. You are very consistently aware that it is Christ who carries you through.

So before those without this struggle judge the worriers of the world, before casting a superior glance toward the hand-wringers, remember this: We know to take it to Jesus.

We’re doing it every second of the day.

Stop.

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Five Minute Friday: Dear

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Gentle Reader,

I’m actually doing this on Friday. What a change. It’s Kate. It’s the crew. It’s: dear.

Go.

The adverb form of the word “dear” is defined as “at a high cost.” When something “comes dear” or “costs dear,” it is expensive. There is a high level of value associated.

I’m thinking about this in two ways today.

First, it cost Jesus dearly to come to this earth. He “poured Himself out” (Philippians 2:5-11) and we may never know what that fully means until Eternity. The infinite scope of His Person was dropped, folded, mashed into tiny, ever-limited flesh. He, who created everything and everyone, was forced into dependence upon others. And this is just the Incarnation. He paid a high price when He became that Baby.

Second, the mind is a dear thing. I am not talking about depression or anxiety and how awful it is to feel like you’re losing your mind, though the struggle is real and deeply personal for me. What I address here instead is the terrible doubt and guilt planted so subtly into the mind by those who seek to pull the strings. This week I had a moment of questioning someone very close to me. It was but a moment; I know this person too well to actually cross over into believing the accusation. Nevertheless, it was painful. Painful to question and painful to realize that I was, indeed, being manipulated.

The two are drawn together today in my choice to turn away from the game-playing and dwell on the beautiful mystery of Christ. My mind is a dear thing and so I shall set it on the Dear One.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

A Theme for Spring

Spring

Gentle Reader,

The level of anxiety with which I live on a day-to-day basis has been bubbling toward the more-than-annoying point lately. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s time to adjust the medication levels. Maybe my diet is off-balance. Maybe there’s something bugging me and I don’t realize it yet. Maybe it’s just me being me.

Anyway, at this juncture I know that it’s not as simple as “just” praying or “just” realizing that I’m safe and that everything is okay. My mom reminded me recently that we all have things to battle, and this ill-defined fear and sense of unease is mine. If I’m not vigilant at guarding what goes into my mind, and therefore my heart, I’m toast. If I don’t take time to process a feeling or a situation, I’m sunk. If I start looking around, hoping to find satisfaction in “stuff,” I’m done.

So, I considered my next verse for this month’s SSMT 2013 carefully, and wound up with this:

To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. – Romans 8:6 (NKJV)

Put another way:

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (NIV)

I’m sure that you know this, but allowing the mind to be governed by the Spirit is no easy task. The other day I was freaking out about something (I can’t remember what) and I found myself actually saying, “But, God! You don’t understand!”

Woah.

He did not strike me dead for such a statement, for He knows how deeply human I am. But that got me to pondering. When I go down the road of believing that God can’t or won’t understand, then I’ve taken a wild step off the cliff. I’ve jumped blindly into that pit of death.

I’d rather that not continue to be the pattern of my life, and so this spring I want to focus on what it means to live under the authority of God, and why choosing to do so (it is indeed a choice) leads to peace. To life. There is no safety, no joy, no breathing space to be found in living outside His loving boundaries.

Stepping outside those boundaries is easy, and it’s not always immediately noticeable. How many of us who claim the name “Christian” go through each day trapped by fear, anger, entitlement, the pursuit of power or wealth? At some point we have to acknowledge whatever it is that’s got a hold on us. Then we have to take another step – turning away from it.

A hard task.

But, after all, what did we celebrate yesterday? The Man who achieved victory over the grave! The Man who rose again! The Man who left His Spirit within us! Surely He will enable me to step out of anxiety’s chains, one day at a time.

Surely He will do the same for you, whatever the chains are.

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