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Archive for July, 2013

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Nearing the end of the last stop on my one-to-many-errands-with-three-small-children-in-tow list, Addie, my six year old, decided it was time to play hide and seek.

With patience worn paper thin from sheer mental exhaustion as well as the insomnia of the night before, all patience and pretense was as spent as my very empty bank account.  Making a scene wasn’t even an afterthought as I began to shout her name throughout the moderately crowded aisles of the store.

 “Addie!”

No answer.

“Addie!  Where are you?!”

No response.

Diligently searching every last aisle while carrying a giggling four year old and half-answering an inquisitive eight year old who repeatedly informed me it was time to call the police, minutes felt like hours as every Amber Alert I’d ever seen played like a horror film in the back of my mind.  I began to look at people, cars outside, suspicious bumper stickers, employees.  I’m sure I felt time stop as everyone and no one saw me in my desperation.

Finally, in the moment just before full blown panic took over, an accomplished, smirking Addie emerged from her well-planned nook.

“I win!”

After attempting to restore proper oxygen and blood flow in my anxiety ridden body, and holding back the temptation to use my last stitch of physical energy to discipline mid-supermarket, I responded.

“Come here.”

With smuggish smile she folded her arms and stood still.

“Addie Elaine.  Come here, now!”

She sat down on the dirty floor mid-aisle.

The gig was up.  Placing my squirming four year old down and hoping to God she wouldn’t follow suit, I walked towards Addie, took them both firmly by the hand and attempted to purchase what no longer seemed to be necessities.  Realizing I’d left my bank card in a jacket at home, I exited the store with only, but thankfully, the cargo I had entered with.

Once the seat belts were all buckled and I began to recollect what on earth just went wrong, I was wrecked by the revelation of my own heart and the realization that I am Addie.

I am the one who hides defiantly as my Father seeks me diligently.  I am the little girl with the rebellious smile who sits down across the room when he calls me to come stand next to him.  I am the liar who denies my own deviant dereliction.  I am the insurgent who disregards the voice of my Daddy to the place where he must drag me out of my improper position kicking and screaming.

I start the car and I hear him.

“Come here, Lori.”

I emerge from my hiding place and with grateful tears I finally come.

“Forgive me, Father.  I know not what I do.”

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” ~Genesis 3:8-10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1T-VfypD8j4

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“Oh that I might have my request,
    and that God would fulfill my hope,
9 that it would please God to crush me,
    that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!
10 This would be my comfort;” ~Job 6:8-10a

 It’s no secret that Job is hoping for death.  After the false accusations, repetitive berating, and deceitful condemnation of those who should have been comforting him in compassion, from a human level, he has even more reason to abandon all hope and plead with God for his end.

Job refers to his own death as his comfort.  Clearly, Job had no earthly comfort.  Even what was spared became his torment (his wife, his friends.)  But why did a man so devout and in love with his God not see hope in hopeless circumstances?

Well, that’s the million dollar question isn’t it?  Fellow geeks, I can give you my best textbook answer, but I cannot say with honesty that I know. I often wonder why I can’t either.

Job was righteous in as much as a man ever was, yet he was condemned as a hypocrite.  He lost every earthly blessing through no fault of his own.  He did right and was ever accused of wrongdoing.  He was justified in his complaints and innocent in his defense.  He continually, sincerely asks, “What have I done? How have I sinned?  Where did I err?”  (Job 6:30)  Yet the responses he receives are all hollow, straw man lies.  Surely any man would lose hope (and sanity!) in this place.  But what of a godly man?

Perhaps Job, even in all his piety and God chasing, had his hope stayed on God and his comforts.  Maybe Job indeed had his hope built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…and a few favorable winds.  Or maybe Job just wanted a break.  I’m sure of one thing: Job wanted desperately to hear from the God he had so faithfully loved and served.  He just wanted to hear the right answer.  Then again…so did Jesus when he was falsely accused and prayed for the cup to pass from him.

Instead, God eventually shows Job who gets to question and who must give an answer (Job 40:3-5, 42:1-6.)

So here’s the difference between a godly man and an ungodly one:

I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
    but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
    and repent in dust and ashes.” ~Job 42:5-6

In the beginning, Job saw God (Job 1.)  In the end, Job saw God (Job 40:6.)  The only time Job lost hope was when Job misplaced God.  Yes, his friends were wrong.  But his friends’ opinions weren’t gospel.  Job had to trust more in God than in what other people thought or didn’t think about why he was suffering.  He had to draw his strength and comfort from God alone because men failed him every single time.  Job had only one option:  trusting his Father for all things.

Hopelessness, materialism, anger, jealousy, unbelief, rage, lust, and every other sinful action springs from misplaced trust.  We fail to trust in God and his Word and we place our trust in blemished, broken people and things.  Therefore, we rage.  We lose hope.  We hate.  We disbelieve.

But there is only one true hope.  There is only one real answer.  There is only one who is authorized to question.

God!  Forgive my foolish questions and be my only answer!  Unveil my eyes that I might see you again!  Remove my trust from broken cisterns and place it in you alone!  Lord, the wretchedness of this world and the words of men seek to render me hopeless.  Please!  Restore my hope and keep me from being tempted to take comfort in death.  Albeit undeserved, give me yet even more grace.  Amen.

“If we build a house upon the sand we shall certainly be confounded, for it will fall in the storm, and we must thank ourselves for being such fools as to expect it would stand.” ~Matthew Henry

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XZ3ja-quhA

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No matter how many titles an infant is given, he’s still an infant…unable to do much of anything on his own.  Prince or pauper, he still needs a diaper.

That said, I get stuck with a lot of labels.  So do you.  Whether they are given to us or self-proclaimed, help or hinder, somehow they tend to stick.  Honestly, I don’t like ’em.

Leader.  Laborer.  Player.  Mother. Father.  Provider.  Winner.  Loser.  Teacher.  Student.  Fat.  Skinny.  Cook.  Waitress.  Driver.  Shopper.  Maid.  Mechanic.  Runner.  Writer.  Best.  Worst.  Hero.  Failure.  Pretty.  Ugly…

There is one label that causes quite a commotion for many both who wear and who reject it: Christian.

There are a few problems with this name.  It’s not the title itself that’s troublesome, it’s when the title becomes attached to humans that difficulties arise.  Generally, one of two main assumptions follow after one who is deemed “Christian.”

1.  The said specimen is flawless.

2.  The said specimen is flawed.

With the former assumption, one is prone to despair for lack of hope.  Clearly, someone like me can never be perfect like Mr. Christian.

With the latter assumption, which just so happens to be inevitably correct, one refuses to allow for human error and instead wallows in his failed expectations, indifference, and cynicism.

I’ve been misled by both mindsets, so, brothers and sisters, here’s a few things that may be helpful to keep in mind…

I am a Christian.  I have been made perfect forever by Christ, who is in the process of making me holy (Hebrews 10:14.)  I cannot fall out of this place because he who holds the world also holds me in grace (Jude 1:24.)  However, I still fail to buy milk on the proper day.  I lose my temper more than I’d care to admit.  My default button is always set to take more than I give.  Some days I even follow temptation’s trail like a bloodhound.  Who will rescue me from this body of death?!

I am absolutely, altogether perfect in the sight of God.  I am notably, exceptionally flawed in my humanity.  If this sounds schizophrenic, read Genesis 3 and Romans 7 repeatedly.

No matter how flattering my titles and labels may or may not be, they cannot change me on the inside.  Even if I wear the “Christian” label, buy a Jesus t-shirt, and stop swearing, I am prone to remain wholly unchanged.  External things are just that: external.  There is only one who fits the description of a real-life transformer and who can change us from the inside out, forever.  It’s not Optimus Prime.  It’s he whose titles are ALL exceptionally true:

Advocate.  Almighty.  Alpha and Omega.  Amen.  Apostle of our Profession.  Atoning Sacrifice for our Sins.  Author of Life.  Author and Perfecter of our Faith.
Author of Salvation.  Beginning and End.  Blessed and only Ruler.  Bread of God.  Bread of Life.  Capstone.  Chief Cornerstone.  Chief Shepherd.  Christ.  Creator.  Deliverer.  Eternal Life.  Everlasting Father. Gate.  Faithful and True. Faithful Witness. Faith and True Witness.  First and Last. Firstborn From the Dead. God.  Good Shepherd. Great Shepherd. Great High Priest. Head of the Church. Heir of all things. High Priest.  Holy and True.  Holy One.  Hope. Hope of Glory.  Horn of Salvation. I Am.  Image of God.  King Eternal. King of Israel.  King of the Jews. King of kings. King of the Ages. Lamb. Lamb of God.
Lamb Without Blemish.  Last Adam. Life. Light of the World. Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Living One.  Living Stone. Lord. Lord of All. Lord of Glory.  Lord of lords. LORD [YHWH] our Righteousness. Man from Heaven. Mediator of the New Covenant.  Mighty God. Morning Star.  Offspring of David. Only Begotten Son of God. Our Great God and Savior. Our Holiness.  Our Husband. Our Protection. Our Redemption. Our Righteousness. Our Sacrificed Passover Lamb.  Power of God. Precious Cornerstone. Prince of Peace. Prophet.  Resurrection and Life. Righteous Branch. Righteous One. Rock. Root of David.  Ruler of God’s Creation. Ruler of the Kings of the Earth. Savior. Son of David. Son of God.  Son of Man. Son of the Most High God. Source of Eternal Salvation for all who obey him. The One Mediator. The Stone the builders rejected. True Bread. True Light. True Vine. Truth. Way. Wisdom of God. Wonderful Counselor. Word. Word of God.

JESUS CHRIST.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=047jbfCE4p8

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I stepped off of a 30 foot drop into the water the other day on one condition – that someone wait at the bottom to help me when I hit the bottom and freaked out.  I drove a motorcycle on the highway for the second time in my life for 110 miles for one reason – because someone led my way, watched out for me, and let me follow.

con·fi·dence  [kon-fi-duhns]  noun – 1. full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing

Confidence.  It’s the primary factor I lack when I fear.  Lack of confidence has plagued me since I was a little girl.  When I couldn’t figure out my projects or failed to complete a task with perfection on the first try, I’d cry and give up.  I’d overhear teachers murmuring about how I just needed some confidence.  I did not act with faith because I did not know how to act with God.

 As I got older I either made sure I avoided failure at all costs, or lost all hope when failure inevitably, eventually came.  Or worse, I would attempt to do things that I was almost positive I could not do just to prove something to myself.  I still do.  What can I say, I like a challenge I suppose.

Even today, I find myself longing to believe I can be a better person, yet failing to possess the faith and hope in God needed for change.   I lack faith in myself when I haven’t spent enough time with my God.  Instead, I find myself recognizing purity or goodness or honesty or greatness – or any virtue that I often lack – in others and shrugging my shoulders in hopeless uncertainty.

This character flaw may often even be mistaken for a strength.  Where lack of confidence causes some to quit, it produces a ceaseless drive in me – an ever-motivating force to try; to attempt; to prove; to win; to conquer.  Just try harder, right?  Just do something new.  If no one is beside you believing in you, if you lose, no one really cares anyway.  If you win, you become your own hero.  Risk-takers have strange circuit boards.

And sometimes I do win…at least outwardly.  I may even appear at times as one of those people who is potentially good at lots of things…but the truth is that learned skills and outward victories do not equal inward confidence.  All those do is leave me with dusting trophies of self-absorbed memories.  And self-absorbed memories don’t make people happy, they make people regret.

Confidence, in every sense of the word, has to do with faith, belief, and partnership.  I only ever truly feel as though I’ve won when I win holding hands with courage, with faith, and with God.

My name, “Christian,”  teaches me something essential about confidence.  If you bear that name – the name with “Christ” first, hear me.

In Isaiah 48, God is refining his people, just like he does today.  He calls them his people, yet points at their failure to act like it (Isaiah 48:1.)  He calls them obstinate, thick-headed idolaters; rebels even.  (Since I’m a biker now, I knew this had to be for me.)  But just when you think he’s going to cast them out and make them change their name, he says this instead:

“For my name’s sake I defer my anger,
    for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
    that I may not cut you off…”

Why is he mad?  Because of all of the stupid, selfish stuff we do of course.  Nonetheless, Christian, your name represents His name.  You have already won.  You have not won because of your own skill, your own gifts, or your own name.  You have not won because of your self-confidence.  You have not won because of your own righteousness, truth, or goodness.  You have won because he has won.  For Christ’s namesake God has deferred his righteous anger against you; for the sake of Christ’s praise he restrains it to keep you from eternal death.

 Rejoice.  Not because you win, but because He did.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oUIlWexNew

 

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“The skill of a rider is not seen in how well he can ride fast, but how well he can ride slow.” ~Rider Coach Roy

As I embarked upon my first not-in-a-parking-lot motorcycle drive, I recognized how true this statement is.  Little wonder why the place credited with the most potential for danger for bikers is at intersections.  Anyone – ok not anyone – but most people can ride forever on wide open stretches of highway, but when it comes to tight turns, stop and go traffic, starting out on a hill, or figure 8’s inside that way-too-small box at 6 miles per hour, it takes a bit more practice and skill than meets the eye.  Generally, the faster you go, and the more momentum you have, the easier it is to maneuver.  

Yesterday I pulled out of my driveway (a steep downhill) and onto the real road (just over a hill crest, narrow, country, back road that is) on my motorcycle for the very first time, and, unskillfully and dangerously turned far too wide into the wrong lane.  Acceptable if no one is coming in the other direction.  Roadkill if someone is.  Yeah.  I need more parking lot practice, not to learn to ride fast, but to learn to ride slow.  

After I foolishly convinced myself that continuing this hobby would not end in imminent death, I got to thinking…how often do I recognize Rider Coach Roy’s wisdom in daily life?  And how often do I recognize skillful slowness as a valuable asset?  And how often do I foolishly assume that multitasking at the speed of light is superior?  Like, well, never.  Right.  Way to miss the forest for the trees, Lori…er…uh…perhaps these days I should say, “Watch out for that tree!”

My thoughts turned back to my Saturday night out with Mr. Rodeheaver.  My 9 second street car chauffeur, who, I’m pretty sure caused my heart to stop dead at least twice on that exquisitely romantic tire burning session he called a date.  Fast.  Too, too fast.  Ridiculously, dangerously fast.

Being the good car guy’s wife that I am, I stood in my favorite parking lot and I scanned the faces.  Yes, this is what space cadets do when we can make absolutely no logical sense out of the endless jargon regarding nuts and bolts for hours upon end.  Do they know the truth?  How fast should I bring it to them?  How slow?

In that split second before the utter urgency overtakes me and I interrupt the fluid flowage of the gearhead galaxy with the the gospel, I pause.  Where ten years ago I’d fly in and feather homemade, wild-eyed-man-on-the-street-corner tracts through the crowd like funfetti, I stop.  I remind myself that slowness is a skillful virtue.  I wait.  I smile and extend my hand.  “I’m Mrs. Rodeheaver.  Are you into fast cars?…”

Am I maturing?  Progressing?  Or am I losing my zeal?  Declining in the good fight?  Because all too often the conversation never turns.  Even though it’s taken everything in me to suppress the truth for this one moment, I continue.  Slow is good.  Too slow is bad.  Really bad.  Ask Rider Coach Roy.

Oh!  To cease being extreme and learn to be steady!  To put away pragmatism and pine only for precision and penetration!  Practicality and passion must kiss if Christ is to have any presence in my parking lot.  This is my intersection.  I must learn to navigate and maneuver in new and better ways.  

I climb into the 9 second street car and I place my ball cap over my face.  Prayer.  Prayer will save me from my slowness as well as my speed.  I need both attributes to be skillful if I’m going to ride, and live, effectively.  Like the preacher said, it’s not ok just to begin well, we must finish well.  And I don’t want to be roadkill.  Teach me, Lord, how to drive.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXbA_A3eTGw

 

 

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In Job 6, Job replies to Eliphaz’s condemning reproof.  He begins by defending himself logically and trying to help his accuser see his position more clearly.

Then Job answered and said:

2 “Oh that my vexation were weighed,
    and all my calamity laid in the balances!
3 For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea;
    therefore my words have been rash.
4 For the arrows of the Almighty are in me;
    my spirit drinks their poison;
    the terrors of God are arrayed against me.
5 Does the wild donkey bray when he has grass,
    or the ox low over his fodder?
6 Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt,
    or is there any taste in the juice of the mallow?
7 My appetite refuses to touch them;
    they are as food that is loathsome to me. ~Job 6:1-7

Job insists that his lot is far more grievous than his friends recognize.  Doubtless, it is.  “Heavier than the sand of the sea” is his description…and it doesn’t get much heavier than that.  As Matthew Henry rightly observes, “It is seldom that those who are at ease themselves rightly weigh the afflictions of the afflicted.

Furthermore, Job depicts his suffering as being arrows shot at him from His God.  Doubtless this is the most difficult pain of all for a godly man – a man who lived and breathed to please and honor God.  To think his Lord was laying injury upon crushing injury on him out of displeasure was downright maddening.

Job, in his great suffering, cannot see past his pain even for a moment.  He can neither overlook the foolish words spoken to him nor receive the wise ones.  Instead, he pleads for death (Job 6:8-13) and exposes his friends’ foolishness in self-defense (Job 6:14-30.)

When God lays heavy trials upon us, it is painful enough when friends accuse and misrepresent us because of them, but it’s altogether unbearable when we cannot see or understand why the God we love would seemingly cease to be our advocate in them.  Welcome to Jesus’s world.  It is in this place that we learn obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8) and how to trust without understanding (Proverbs 3:5.)  This also just so happens to be the moment when we most closely resemble Christ.

At the risk of sounding like an insensitive Eliphaz, this is what I gather this morning: No matter how difficult and painful life becomes, let us be encouraged in that the Word of God, as well as Jesus’s example, assures us that suffering is a privilege by which we have the greatest opportunity to look like Our Lord.  If you are there, seek to embrace it with confidence in a Father who never leaves or forsakes his children.

 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. ~Romans 8:16-17

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IXZIqxrj5E

 

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My jersey generally read #13.  So did my attitude.  I chose #13 because I never believed in luck, and, as far as I was concerned even if it did exist, I was most certainly on its bad side.

Almost twenty years later, I still think “luck” is either imaginary or, more probably, a derivative of its root word – Lucifer.  When people offer me a shiny verbal token of “good luck” my response is always the same.  I reply respectfully, “There’s no such thing as luck.  All there is in life is blessings and curses.”

That said, after a particularly trying year of personal struggle, I have an unmitigated pile of blessings I simply must give thanks for and credence to publicly.  I honestly cannot believe how good God has been to me.  I guess I don’t know him as well as I thought.

God, the maker and redeemer, has arranged my circumstances in such a way that I cannot be silent about his goodness for one more second.  In so many days past I’ve been apt to see only the dim, the dark, the wrong, and the unjust.  But day by day I see more grace.  Grace upon grace.  Grace unfeigned.

 Each of the following gifts were brought absolutely from and altogether by God himself for my good as unbelievable, undeserved graces.

1. Knowing and believing the true God.  Not everyone does.  God alone initiates, instigates, and induces men to faith.  Thank God he has done this for me!

2. My tire fixin’, tick removin’, bacon makin’, Christ lovin’ husband.  God has given me a hard working, tender-hearted, fun loving, good lookin’ Christian man to share my life with.  He tirelessly works day and night to provide a good life for his family and earnestly tries to spend quality time with us.  I am thankfully smitten.

3. Three beautiful, healthy, intelligent little girls who daily convict and sanctify me.  For a girl who never wanted children, they are the “more than you could ever ask or imagine” God loves to lavish on his children.  He gave what I needed and somehow turned it into what I desperately wanted.  How else could a raging tomboy learn to nurture?

4. A live-in mom who generously dotes on, babysits, plays with, and entertains said little girls.  Little wonder why other cultures live-in generationally by choice.  I’ll be the first to tell you I wasn’t always a believer, but once you work out the kinks, life thrives through cooperative love like you cannot ever learn through weekly visits to apartment #9 or the nursing home.

5.  Pastor Dennis Cox who has faithfully, patiently, gently, and lovingly taught my husband and I every week individually for the past six years.  God broke the mold when he made this diamond.  What grace I’ve been afforded to have the privilege of being his student!

6.  Crossroads church community.  I’ve never been more challenged, felt more loved, heard more truth, or been more anxious to engage in a working body than here. The godly wisdom and prodigious intellect Pastor Chris shares is unmatched in my history–which, if you know me, you know is quite resume worthy.  I’m sincerely thankful to be a part of this amazing body of Christ.

7. My homeopathic practitioner, Betty Magill.  Thanks to the electrodermal screening, minerals, and supplements she has given me over the past year, every health problem I had has been resolved.  Thanks to her generosity in allowing me to clean for her, we trade and keep my cost down.  From GI issues to fatigue, to thyroid problems to plantar fasciitis, I’m completely restored physically and feeling amazing.  I am extremely thankful for alternative medicine!

There are so many more blessings I could list.  I’m thankful for my home, my wild blackberries in the backyard, my ability to run, my freedom, my bible, the Herald-Standard for giving me opportunities to share truth, morning stillness on my deck, wildflowers behind my fence, old and new friendships, ample food, working cars, hardships I haven’t faced, good health, music, water, life.

Oh!  How broken I am under the weight of gratitude and undeserved blessings today!  I want to cover my face and repent of my long-enduring ingratitude and lack of thankfulness!  What a fool I’ve been so long failing to see the glorious good my God has given to me!  God forgive my attitude of entitlement arrogance!  I am altogether humbled and utterly crushed by your great mercy!  Here I stand with arms extended heavenward with a long overdue “THANK YOU!”

 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDp6F_Baf5I

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