Don’t mistake your Privilege for God’s Blessing

Luke 15:31 – My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.

This morning in the shower, I thought, “Oh, maybe I should be thankful for my warm shower, it’s such a blessing, there are people who don’t have hot water.”

Then it hit me – that’s not a blessing from God, that is my privilege.

My job house, my car, my safe neighborhood is not a blessing it’s a privilege.

When white upper/middle class Christians manage to raise $3 million for building their middle school a gym, (true story) that is privilege, not God’s blessing.

Maybe if we stop mistakenly identifying our privileges as blessings from God, we can turn and start looking around at the message that God is trying to send us.

I will be the first to admit, I am REALLY new at this, and I have no idea how to start adjusting my perspectives, especially since it’s so hard to think about relinquishing the comfort and seeming stability that I have.

I would love to know if anyone has ideas on how a working mom from the suburbs can start to really join in what God is doing and where God actually is?

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Theology Discussion

Yesterday this was sitting on my twitter feed.

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Link to this Podcast

I listened to it on my way home from work yesterday and then actually woke up wondering something about systematic theology but what I was trying to ask didn’t really fit into a tweet.

It was an interesting discussion. In theory, I’m in favor of the basic conclusions that the two disciplines must work together and continue a dialog.  However, on a practical level, I’m a little mad at systematic theology.  I have a degree in bible and theology from a conservative bible college. We had a full regimen of both systematic and biblical theology.  We had bible classes which covered every book of the bible, and we had theology classes, all of them, Theology proper, Christology, Pneumatology, Soteriology, Hamartiology, Angelology, Eccesiology, and Eschatology.

Even then, the theology and insights gained when expositing a passage a scripture made far more sense than the disjointed proof-texting that seemed to be going on in our theology classes.  Maybe the incoherence had more to do with the fundamental ideologies they were trying to uphold, I don’t know.

My question is: Can you redeem systematic theology for me? Are there insights that we have gained from systematic theology that we wouldn’t have otherwise? If so, what are a couple of good examples?

Thank you to anyone who would be willing to discuss this further!

Aside

Jesus Needed a Nap

After a 3 day stint with #amwriting I am suddenly transported back to those sleep-deprived, moody, dragging days of mothering infants and toddlers. Oh, am I ever so glad those days are behind me.  Having littles that are no longer quite so little, has been no less than a refreshing wave of blessing.

Now, however, I’m left in sort of a quandary. When, then, can I write and study?  There’s no doubt that productive processing has happened in that dark, quiet, beautiful place.  It’s just a logistical issue.  I can’t simultaneously spend those few minutes of couch time with my husband, finish that last load of dishes that I really don’t want to see in the morning, and get up quite that early the next day and still be a functioning member of the work force.

Well, onward we press.  My voice is just warming up.

So, I found this…

Mark 1:35 (NIV) Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

But, when the evening came…

Mark 4:38 (NLT) Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.

I feel for Jesus, I’m sure he needed that nap!

Asking for Living Water

This prayer and reflection is inspired by the Practice sermon series that was done this summer at Sojourn Grace Collective.

John 4:10 (NLT) Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

Hebrews 1:3 (NLT) The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.

Jesus, if I only knew, if I only knew – Jesus, please give me living water.

You said “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10

If I only knew what that meant. If I only knew how to reach out and receive from you.

Have I ever even asked?

Jesus, please give me living water, please give me your rich and satisfying life. Please show me how to practice connection, enthusiasm, and please, please help me find my voice.

Here I am, in my most comfortable place. In an office, an office which I have been now blessed to have in my home.  Completed just yesterday, I wanted to accept the invitation it gives me.  It invites me to be organized and create, with all those little things I need, right at my fingertips.

I have Bibles and internet, paper and books, light and reminders, this new glass surface to utilize.

I have time, everyone is still asleep.

This office brings me a peace I have not known for a very long time.  Here I feel whole, with the ability to connect my physical, mental, and spiritual selves.  Here in my home I am free to seek and explore and find Jesus.

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Jesus, touch my heart, fill me with the purpose you have for me. I am so thankful it will be in keeping with the person you have already made me, who I already am. I already am the love that I long to give. I already am the tasks you have for me to complete. I already am that person.

I drink a lot of water. I drink water and it fills my body, it cleanses me, and refreshes me.  I read and listen to the people of God, I listen and listen as their words pour into my mind. They tell me I am a loved child of God. These are like water for my mind.  I have been encouraged and renewed and challenged.  Now, I want to be a whole person, I want the spiritual water for my soul. Jesus, please give me your living water. I am asking, please give me living water. I want life!

The Fairies and the Friends

Note from Jennifer: I’m so excited to share this guest post today!  It is a little piece of fiction from my daughter, Grace.  She is a ferociously willed little girl, with a creative streak that startles and delights me.  Enjoy her first self-published story! (Unfortunately, my photography equipment could not do justice to the beautiful illustrations, but I may be able to scan those at a later time.)

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Once upon a time there was two fairies named Kyrie and Gracie.

They had a bunch of other friends that were fairies too.

But there was only one fairy that had all the powers in the kingdom called Beautiful Jewels.

The other set of fairies lived in another Kingdom called Pretty Pink.

The king and queen’s names of the first kingdom were Miss Napper and Mr. David.

The other king and queen of the second kingdom had different names.

Their names were Miss Rittenhouse and Mr. Chen.

Then the fairies of Pretty Pink went to Beautiful Jewels.

They were trying to help Miss Napper and Mr. David, but Miss Napper and Mr. David didn’t think that the fairies of Pretty Pink were trying to help them.

But the fairies from Pretty Pink, tell Mr. David and Miss Napper that they are going to help them and not be mean to them and take their jewels.

And the King and Queen believed them and that’s the most happy ending ever.

The end.

My Heart is Exploding!

A few times a day, I feel as though my heart wants to burst open and pour out rainbows mixed with a few of those sad little rain clouds.

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After about a year of social media exploration my heart is bursting with all the new information, knowledge, love and resources of so many good and brilliant Jesus followers that I have been introduced to.  A little sad because I still feel so alone.

I feel like I’m “getting it.”  I’m starting to understand heart of Jesus for women and minorities, the disabled, the marginalized, my neighbors and even my “enemies.”  I am just a white middle class working mom.  I take care of my family and my house, I do my job and watch TV.  I’m so full of angst though, it isn’t enough.  I have so many questions, but don’t know who to ask.  I want to have face to face conversations with people about these things, but it seems like I’ve built myself inside of a little suburban wall.  There is one window, and I see you people out there, the ones that are writing and meeting and talking, and I feel like I’ve lost my voice, and I want to cry out, but nothing is audible.

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I don’t know what to do next.  There is something more, I know it.  God told me that a long time ago.  He’s not done with me yet!  I’m putting these thoughts out to the world now. I’m trusting that honesty and vulnerability will open me up to new possibilities.  Clicking “publish” before I lose my nerve.

Somebody, please throw me a sledge hammer!

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Lack of real Spiritual Leaders

“Spiritual leaders influence more than they direct, and they inspire more than they instruct.”

Why, in all my years growing up in the Christian church, going to, and being involved in many Christian ministries, have I come across so few true Spiritual Leaders, as defined by this article?  I am becoming increasingly convinced that it is because I have been following a religious system called Christianity, rather than the actual person of Jesus.   I attended a retreat with Bob Hamp at the beginning of this year.  He beautifully modeled the type of Spiritual Leader he outlines in the post referenced.  He led me into my own spiritual experience. Leaders, don’t fool yourself into thinking merely instruction is enough to lead someone spiritually.  We need to be led to the ONE who is Spirit and Truth.

Why I love #twitter

TwitterI have a blog, but I don’t fancy myself a writer, it just seems to be a good way to get out all those words that like to swirl around my head from time to time.  I’m not working on my platform or counting new followers, but I have found Twitter to be a fantastic medium to connect with like-minded people.  It has also reveled to me a world of wonderful people who think differently than I had previously been taught to think.  This was fascinating for me, and has caused me to gain a whole new perspective on my life, God, the Bible and our world.

The best part of Twitter is the interaction.  Twitter essentially levels the playing field of social interaction with those beautiful 140 characters.  It is enough to get your point across, but succinct enough not to scare away the people you are trying to connect with.  Twitter simultaneously makes the world larger, opening a whole plethora of topics and ideas, and smaller, creating access to people who otherwise would seem distant and unreachable. I can “talk” to the writer of the book I’m reading, and sometimes, they talk back!  I “meet” people who like the same books, blogs, and podcasts I do.

In this relatively new frontier of the online world, it feels a bit sheepish to say I talked to someone, or met someone on the internet.  Online is not real, we say, and while that may be true in certain instances, I find that interactions on Twitter can be quite real.  There are real people interacting and conversing, and for my part it’s as real as I want to make it.  It’s as real as I push back my fears and write that reply, or tweet that question I have been dying to ask.  For a shy extrovert like myself, Twitter is a unique channel that lets me interact with people thoughtfully and without feeling rushed to just say something, which in a typical social setting usually turns into saying nothing at all, and that is simply no fun.

Fun is tweeting a line from a book, article or blog post and having the person who wrote it re-tweet it!  Fun is getting a book recommendation for a book that blows your mind!  Fun is giving someone specific feedback and then they hit like and you know they actually got the message!

Unlike with Facebook friends sharing things with me, on Twitter I control the content I see. I decide who I want to follow.  I can search by hashtag or topic. When I’m looking for a certain writer, teacher or preacher I always check twitter first.  When I find someone on Twitter, I hope they are there looking for honest feedback.  People putting content on Twitter would do well to heed this advice.  You would be surprised how many well-known people will take the time to read something you have to say and respond in gracious and thoughtful ways.

Because of Twitter I have attended a spiritual retreat, received mentoring, read more books this year than I have read in the last 10 years combined, and found a community of people that never would have been possible in any other setting.  As I scour around, looking for the truth I believe lies somewhere in the center of all the various factions and divisions that have arisen, I have found the platform that is Twitter to be an invaluable resource in that endeavor.

My Girl

These last few summer mornings, while my teacher-husband and the boys are still sleeping, my vigilant daughter wakes and comes to find me. My spunky daughter, my sometimes muse, sometimes nemesis, she came into the world two weeks late, wide awake, and hasn’t slowed down since.

On these summer mornings I start a show for her, prep some breakfast and then we have a few minutes to sit together.

She peppers me with questions,

“Mommy, can you get doughnuts for breakfast tomorrow?”

“It’s NEXT Friday you will leave work early so we can go on our trip?”

“Who is coming to watch us when Daddy goes golfing today?”

She wants to know the PLAN.

I tell people she got the brain parts I lost during pregnancy and childbirth.  Her fresh little mind seem to remember so many things much more easily than I do.  I frequently use that ability to my advantage, she’s like my own little organic day-planner.

She is a mysterious blend of confidence and anxiety, care-giver and egocentric, go-getter and un-cooperative.  As an unfiltered little girl, she just happens to put far more on display than I generally do. It is both unsettling and sobering to see this mini-reflection of my own assets and faults on fully exposed right before my eyes.

As our morning minutes come to a close it has been harder and harder to pull myself out the door to make my way to work.  Working mom, working mom, the words repeat in my head like a chant. I balance the tension and hold onto God’s promises: Psalm 138:8 “The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of your hands.”

It is very important to her to get kisses and hugs before I go. I squeeze her tighter and slowly scoot off the couch, kissing the top of her head.  I pick up my purse, give another kiss and hug, and slowly open the front door.

Today she grinned at me as I walked out the door.  Love and relief wash over me.  At least this morning she seems to understand.  She knows Mommy goes to work and I’ll be back.  At least in this moment there is peace behind her twinkling eyes.

As I’m backing out I realize I forgot my smoothie.  I pull back into the driveway and rush back through the door.  Grab smoothie, another kiss, another grin, another day with my girl