More than fables or fairy tales

As a child growing up my family had a book called, “The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes” by Kenneth N Taylor. You can find the version we had on eBay and Amazon these days. Even though they have a 2002 version selling today, it is very different than the one we had as children.

This book gathered very realistic oil paintings of Bible stories from artists over the years. The pictures looked more like photographs than the pastel cartoons that the other Bible story books we had. It was a lot of dark, warm colors that were in stark contrast to the fairy-tale-like stories I saw elsewhere.

The main point of the book was to give realistic illustrations and ask real questions about the account in scripture. It pulled no punches. I can still close my eyes and see the picture of the ground opening up to swallow the Israelites who did not follow what God had said (Numbers 26) or the ones with people escaping the death of snake bites by looking at the bronze pole God allowed to be their salvation (Numbers 21).

Old Testament is brutal at times, but there was grace in it too.

Each picture had 3-4 thought-provoking questions about the scene. One such painting had the story of Abraham sacrificing Issac. The question that will always remember was, “Do you see the lamb? Do you see the lamb hiding in the thicket?”

Now before you start thinking about how this must have scared me as a small child. Let me reassure you. Before coming to know Christ I was very sanguine and am still quite morbid, so it was right up my alley. It did something else too (the thing intended by my mother and aunt who found it in the first place). It made it more realistic.

Even today I view scripture differently. I can see the melodramatic escapades of the Hebrews. Or the real fear in the eyes of Peter as He is sinking into the sea he had just walked on. I still read passages and find myself asking real, hard, and truth-digging questions.

Now the question arises, when did we relegate the power of scripture to fables or fairy tales?

Maybe with our pastel story books we have viewed them that way a bit.

But for those who grew up in the church and could really picture the giant fall or the lame man rise, I ask, When did it begin to be just be a story?

When did we start reading these for the morals instead of for the powerful work of God?

When did we start reading the Bible like it was about us instead of about Him?

When did we start to water it down into fables for good people or fairy tales for people who don’t live in the hard circumstances we are trudging through?

I pray we can shift our focus, because it is a God who calmed seas that can help our difficult circumstances. It is a God who came for the Jew and the Gentile who can help us understand racial reconciliation and refugee help. It is a God-man who cried over the death of a friend.

Father, help us see your word with new eyes and teach it to each other with the bold power you began it.

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Obedience isn’t legalism

At my core, I am a rule follower and a recovering know-it-all.

I fight her daily… the old Christina. The one who thinks she’s in control of everything, and that if everyone did things the “right” way everything would run smoothly.

I will be the first to tell you that being anything like my sinful self is never where I want to be and wouldn’t be beneficial for anyone.

But I have noticed a trend. It is the idea that anything that is submissive to Christ is legalism. It is thinking that if God asked me to work on studying God’s word in a deeper fashion that this is in some way an expectation that I expect everyone else to do it, too.

The trend leads people to believe that if God calls me to a need for service that I am judging others for not doing it too.

I will continue to fight to make sure that I am not doing things for rule’s sake. Law is not my Lord, but I must intervene for those thinking that any form of following Christ is legalism.

As we follow Jesus, we will discover that there are both commands and convictions. The danger is in the either/or people. For them, it’s either all commandments or all convictions.

Old Christina would tell you that it was all black and white and that all things were commands. This helps the Christinas of this world feel secure in their legalism. It helps to have a clear measuring stick to see how much better I am than those next to me.

However, there is also a danger in thinking everything is all convictions and swinging over to moral relativism.

James hits the nail on the head when he says we are to be doers and not hearers only.

But obedience is not legalism.

Let me say it again… OBEDIENCE IS NOT LEGALISM.

Jesus filled ALL of the law without one drop of legalism.

Now sometimes obedience is following the law, but not because it’s the law or the right thing to do but because the Spirit is prompting.

Obedience at first glance has some similarities to following the law, but as we look closer we see distinctions.

Obedience is Spirit driven while legalism is self-driven. Obedience frees where legalism binds up. Obedience is following Jesus to be where He is while legalism is doing what Jesus did to get what Jesus got.

Let this picture help you understand. Psalm 119:32 says, “I will run in the ways of your commands.” Legalistic people don’t run because they are too tied up.

So RUN! You don’t have to obey the rules. You GET to follow Jesus.

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Jesus girls live Titus 2

Two years ago, as I started thinking about our 2016-2017 school year and all of the changes that a baby turning into a toddler brought. I felt God leading us to be a part of a homeschool co-op.

This is not something I had desired or felt the need for until this point of our journey. The shift happened when God sent us our surprise, Snickle.

As I began to pray I was nudged by the Spirit towards our co-op.

As most co-ops require, I had to apply and go through an interview process.

My sis-in-law was already a part of it and I had heard amazing things about it. (Once even from a hairstylist when taking Sonic in for a cut.) I really felt that this was the fit for our family.

Soon after our application was accepted.

It is an amazingly encouraging place, and a well-oiled machine.

These Mamas get it done!

Towards the end of the school year, they had a sign up for a moms retreat. I really didn’t know what to expect, but God had already shown me so much about these women and their hearts. So I signed up and made my preparations to go.

What I have loved about this group (from day one) is their authenticity. They were welcoming and real. This combination is powerful.

This weekend was no different. The authenticity during our group times was refreshing.

I am convinced (as much as ever) that there is no truer authenticity than a Jesus girl.

Church girls and religious girls are not the same as Jesus girls, but Jesus girls, MAN!

A lady who follows Jesus is powerful. She knows who she is. She steps out in faith. She does the hard work when sanctification comes along to sharpen her.

I didn’t sit at a table where the leaders acted like they had it all together or hid things. This weekend I SAW them.

I would imagine that people who do not follow Christ would have a much harder time sharing the truth. Since Jesus is the TRUTH, I would imagine it next to impossible to share the truth of yourself with even one person.

But I sat at a table crying for women whose hearts were just like mine. I watch their steps and envision my own one day. I pray that I am still loving my children, husband, and parents well. I pray that I will walk the road of release as honestly and as beautifully as they do. I pray that I am still putting myself in the perspective that God has for me when I am in their shoes.

It is their authenticity, the ladies at my church, and the ladies at Lunch with the Girls that answer the call of Titus 2. I have never known anything better than authenticity to help teach the younger woman to love her husband and children well.

President James Garfield said, “There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they are. They have the gift of kindness or courage or loyalty or integrity. It really matters very little whether they are behind the wheel of a truck or running a business or bringing up a family. They teach the truth by living it.”

Thank you, God, for the hearts of women. Thank you, God, for the hearts of my friends.

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How they see Jesus

In the spring at BGCO Women’s retreat Lina Abujamra said something like this, “If they know your name, they should know your Jesus.”

It got me thinking as a churched person. A lot of people know I follow Jesus, but that’s because they are following him, too.

But how often do we give credit where credit is due?

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Be careful not to rob their testimony

My friend was sitting on her couch in tears telling me about the hardships her daughter was going through.

My mother sat with stacks of books on Dyslexia when my brother was diagnosed.

The defensive mom came to the “rescue” of the child who did not turn in an assignment on time.

My friend’s arms are still empty

I said “no” to those children in child services.

The adventure of the Bible is the underdog being supplied with a supernatural ability that allows the ordinary to be a part of an extraordinary purpose.

But are we praying that our loved ones won’t actually need him?

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