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I’m sitting here in my living room listening to a really good singer on American Idol. It’s embarassing, but I kind of like that show. It’s entertaining. And my Nana and Grampa love it, they enjoy “seeing the kids’ personalities”.  I don’t mention that as if it’s supposed to prove I’m not as big a dork as you might think, rather I just post it because I think it’s funny.  I might well be the only one, but I guess you’d have to know my family.

I just finished doing the dishes, am about to fold the laundry, and I’m not falling asleep as I type. Oh, and I already made my lunch for tomorrow. Hurray for me.

No stretch marks (yet), no morning sickness, just a few other minor complaints that no one really wants to read about… I can hardly believe how uneventful my pregnancy has been thus far. Let’s pray it stays that way until birth day. The latest amazing thing is feeling the baby’s movements (as of yesterday). It’s incredible, really.

As I sit here, with the TV on for background noise (as I always do when Chris is out), twilight rapidly seeping into my house, and just enjoying a quiet night to myself, I realize that I’m content. And it’s a nice place to be. I’m thanking Jesus for the life he’s given me, and pray that I can be content even in the hard times too.

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Sunday School taught me that a Christian is a person who has “asked Jesus into their heart”, has done the ABC’s: accept, believe, confess.  I am wondering if this was perhaps an incomplete explanation of being a Christian (By “Christian” I mean one who follows Christ, not necessarily an adherent to the established religion called Christianity).

The Bible says that even the demons believe.  According to my upbringing (and I believe, according to Scripture), we are to accept Jesus as our “personal Lord and Savior”.  I’m definitely not the first one to say it, but I think it’s pretty obvious that many who call themselves Christians embrace the “Savior” part, while the “Lord” part falls by the wayside.  I think Jesus was pretty clear on expressing that he desired for the church (his bride) to be set apart, to be a light in the world, to be different from everyone else.  It looks like that’s where the Lord part comes in.

Being a Christian is not just accepting the potential risk and purchasing fire insurance.  It’s not a “get out of hell free” card that you get and keep for later.  It is obedience. 

Of course we aren’t perfect, and He knows that, and has already allowed for it within the gifts of grace and mercy.  However just because the parent of a 3-year-old knows that their child will not be perfect in obedience does not mean that the parent does not still expect it.  The parent expects obedience, but realizes that their child is not perfect.  If the standard was lowered, then would the child still have something to strive for, something to encourage continual improvement?  If the standard was lowered, then perhaps the behavior would worsen accordingly.

Just throwing a theory out here… perhaps the reason God holds such high standards for His children is to give us something to strive for.  It seems to be human nature to adjust our efforts to the expectations.  If the expectation is a fourth-year university-level paper, then we have a certain level of effort.  If however the expectation is an explanation of why you didn’t enjoy your chicken carbonara on a restaurant customer satisfaction survey, then you likely won’t be pulling an all-nighter surrounded by stacks of reference materials and resources, with your handy reference guide at hand to ensure your citations are correct.

That said, I want to ensure that my efforts in following Christ (which is simply a natural response to the grace that He has given to me) are less and less hampered by sin.  I want to be continually transformed to be more like Him, and for this I must resist the devil.  I must believe the Truth of Jesus Christ over the lies of Satan.  I choose to continually resist my sinful tendencies and allow Christ to mold me and use me, making me into the child He desires me to be.

Perhaps that’s a better definition of a real Christian.  It seems to have less to do with what you believe, and more with how you live.  Don’t get me wrong – I think certain beliefs are necessary for a Christian… but I do not think they are the foundation on which a Christian is judged.  As I mentioned above, even the demons believe.  So what makes us different?  I think it’s the way we live.

I love Christmas.  Who doesn’t?  (That’s a rhetorical question).  In honor of this super-duper holiday, I give you… my top ten best things of Christmasy Christmasness:

10. Lights (so pretty. too bad the LED money-saving ones are ugly. oh well, I sucked it up because I’m cheap frugal).

9. Turkey Dinner (nothing beats Mom’s Christmas turkey dinner with everything just right… East Coast style dressing, dill pickles, and all the vegetables you can eat!  Of all the moves and changes throughout my childhood, this is one very yummy thing that was constant every single year).

8. Snow (I remember looking out the window framed with Christmas lights and seeing the freshly fallen foot of snow sparkling in the light of the street lamp… along with the awesome snow fort I had built with my friends earlier that day).

7. The music (I start listening to my Christmas music on November 1st each year, and I NEVER get tired of it.  Favorite song is the Hallelujah Chorus.  I love them all, really.  Except the Christmas Shoes song which I hate so much it makes me want to scream).

6. Real Christmas trees (I’ve had a real one every year of my life.  One year, my Mom wanted to get a fake one, so they bought it, set it up, and it was so amazingly terribly ugly and wrong.  All 5 of us stood around it for about 6 seconds, then promptly jumped in the car and went and bought a real one.  The fake one was never seen again).

5. Giving gifts (I hate the commercialism associated with Christmas, but I have to say… it’s awesome getting a little something for someone I care about, and seeing them open it and be happy! I love it!  It’s especially sweet when you get unique gifts that you know they’ll totally love… like when I went to Kenya last month, and “may or may not have” bought some Christmas gifts there).

4. Candy Canes (my family is obsessed with “real” candy canes, with all the proper stripes, etc.  The fake ones are quite reprehensible, and frankly not worth the energy required to consume them, in our opinions).

3. Christmasy specials and movies (The cute ones like The Grinch and Miracle on 34th Street, and It’s a Wonderful Life, not the creepy/weird ones, except Elf, which is weird, but somehow heart-warming).

2. Family & Friends (predictable? Maybe, but I bet most people don’t really realize how fortunate they are to have family and friends… I don’t usually… but Christmas makes me remember and be thankful for the amazing gift that they are).

1. Jesus! (Of course you knew that I had to put Jesus, didn’t you.  I blame Sunday School. Honestly though, it’s true. It never ceases to amaze me that God loves me so much that he came to earth as love incarnate, just to pay my debt).

Merry Christmas!  May you know the joy and love that is our awesome God desiring a relationship with you and demonstrating His love to you with a baby in a manger 2007-ish years ago!

 

Well, I think I have a case of “greener-grass-itis”.  It’s inevitable, isn’t it?  I just got back from a 2 week business trip to Kenya for meetings, and I actually had the nerve to think my life is uncool?  Geez, what is wrong with me??

My life rocks.  I love my husband more than I ever thought it was possible to love another human being (Jesus excluded, of course).  I love my job, and consider myself to be the luckiest (or “most blessed” for those of you who only speak christianese) person for this time in my life.  I have an amazing and cozy townhouse to live in, enough food to eat and then some, and hopes and dreams to keep me motivated.

Sure, the weather may be freezing (especially compared to Kenya), and life has a way of throwing curve balls at you sometimes (my sister), and there is so much garbage that goes on in the world.  Nonetheless, I’m pretty sure everyone else’s grass is no greener than mine.  I deliberately choose to be JOYFUL in ALL circumstances, placing my trust in God ALONE, and building PERSEVERANCE!

Merry Christmas everyone.  Yeah, that’s right, I said it… MERRY CHRISTMAS.  Not “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings”.  Summer and spring and fall are seasons too, and Victoria day is also a holiday.  IT’S NOT LOGICAL to celebrate the CHRISTMAS season without calling it CHRISTMAS.  If you’re Jewish and celebrate Hannukah, then fine.  Say “Happy Hannukah”.  But don’t deny me the right to say “Merry Christmas” if you’re just some burnt-out, cynical, secular atheist who can’t face the facts and admit that there’s a God, and it’s HIS son’s birthday!

And that’s what’s in my head right now.  Got more than you paid for, didn’t ya?

Is it possible that I’m the one with a skewed idea of what a follower of Christ looks like? Not that I am ungrateful for the way I’ve been raised and the things I’ve learned by being a part of the machine known as the protestant evangelical church in Canada, because I surely have seen countless examples of what I should not do. I don’t blame my parents or grandparents, for they were indeed victims of their own generation, just as I am becoming one of mine. Nonetheless I think it is time to break away from the accepted realm of “Christianity”, and begin to search for who Jesus really is. I have some ideas, but if I claim to really believe them, then my life needs to reflect that. Am I worthy of this quest? No, but Christ living in me is, and what am I but a sinner saved by grace, made possible by Jesus’ death on the cross?

Outrageous question number 1:

Could the rockstar Bono from the famous rock band U2 truly have a better handle on what it means to be a follower of Christ than 98% of my Christian bubble, including myself? Check out the link:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/music/interviews/2005/bono-0805.html

By Brian McLaren

(with comments below by the author of this blog)

***

Once upon a time, in a land of boredom and drudgery, exciting news spread: “There is going to be a race! And all who run this race will grow strong and they’ll never be bored again!” Exciting news like this had not been heard for many a year, for people experienced little adventure in this ho-hum land, beyond attending committee meetings, waiting in lines, sorting socks, and watching sitcom reruns.

Excitement grew as the day of the race drew near. Thousands gathered in the appointed town, at the appointed place. Most came to observe, skeptical about the news. “It’s too good to be true,” they said. “It’s just a silly rumor started by some teenaged troublemakers. But let’s stick around and see what happens anyway.”

Others could not resist the invitation, arriving in their running shorts and shoes. As they waited for the appointed time, they stretched and jogged in place and chattered among themselves with nervous excitement. At the appointed timethey gathered at the starting line, heard the gun go off, and knew that it was time to run. Then something very curious happened. The runners took a step or two or three across the starting line, and then abruptly stopped. One man fell to his knees, crying, “I have crossed the starting line! This is the happiest day of my life!” He repeated this again and again, and even began singing a song about how happy this day was for him. Another woman started jumping for joy. “Yes!” she shouted, raising her fist in the air. “I am a race-runner! I am finally a race-runner!” She ran around jumping and dancing, getting and giving high fives to others who shared her joy at being in the race.

Several people formed a circle and prayed, quietly thanking God for the privilege of crossing the starting line, and thanking God that they were not like the skeptics who didn’t come dressed for the race.

An hour passed, and two. Spectators began muttering; some laughed. “So what do they think this race is?” they said. “Two or three strides, then a celebration? And why do they feel superior to us? They’re treating the starting line as if itwere a finish line. They’ve completely missed the point.” A few more minutes of this silliness passed. “You know,” a spectator said to the person next to her, “if they’re not going to run the race, maybe we should.” “Why not? It’s getting boring watching them hang around just beyond the starting line. I’ve had enough boredom for one life.”

Others heard them, and soon many were kicking off their dress shoes, slipping out of their jackets, throwing all this unneeded clothing on the grass. And they ran—past the praying huddles and past the crying individuals and past the jumping high-fivers. And they found hope and joy in every step, and they grew stronger with every mile and hill. To their surprise, the path never ended—because in this race, there was no finish line. So they were never bored again.

***

I love this story. It may seem overly obvious to some, but for me it is an excellent reminder and encouragement to keep plugging along on my spiritual journey, and to not become complacent, thinking I’ve done the “minimum requirements” to get to heaven.

There is so much more to the Christian life than stepping over the starting line. It is a whole incredible journey that I don’t want to miss. I want to travel as much as I possibly can on the journey, seeing all the scenery I can, experiencing all that I can, and learning new things every day.

In this way then, I need to continue to grow and move forward in my journey. This is where spirituality comes in. As I walk/run/am carried down the road, I grow closer and closer to my saviour, thus becoming more and more like Him, glorifying His name like I was created to do.

This is my purpose.

In lurking on other peoples’ blogs, I came across a fascinating discussion.

I find it interesting that the advice columnist identified himself as “non-religious”, and yet seemed to offer much insight into the writer’s dilemma, even seeming to “get it” much more than many Western Christians today. A blogger has commented on it here, and the commentary and discussion are quite interesting.I have struggled with this issue for several years now. I don’t know anyone (besides my husband) who is willing to engage in this sort of discussion. I am glad to find this blog and some people who are at least willing to raise the questions, not fearing the possibly uncomfortable response.

It is in fact an uncomfortable discussion for most of us middle-upper class Christians. I ask these questions with as much criticism of my own lifestyle as of anyone else’s, and desire to find a satisfactory answer for my own conscience before inspecting the speck in everyone else’s eyes. I live a fairly comfortable life. I can’t afford to buy a house, but I can afford to rent. I never go hungry, or have to wear clothes with holes in them. Though it would not be the most financially wise decision in terms of trying to save for school, etc, I can afford to go out for dinner or a movie pretty much whenever I feel like it. I could go to IKEA and spend $30 here and there, without landing myself on the street next month, without money for rent. I have access to credit cards and bank loans in case of emergency, and am never lacking the basic necessities of life (water, food, shelter, medical care).

Here is my question: Is it right/moral that I should live with excess (going to movies, eating dinner out regularly, buying “wants” in addition to “needs”, etc) when so much of the world is living and dying of starvation, preventable diseases, etc? And only because they lack money. Money that I spend carelessly on myself, which could instead be saving lives. The Bible commands us to help the poor, seek justice, and love one another as ourselves throughout the scriptures. Clearly we have some sort of moral obligation. I just don’t know where to draw the line. Do I have to stop spending on everything except the basic necessities, and give the rest to the poor (become Mother Teresa)? Are we all supposed to live like Jesus? Or Mother Teresa? I haven’t ever met a Christian who would say yes to that question. And yet none of them can tell me why not.

I’m seriously needing some answers here.

I'm Red, he's Honey. I'm the writer of this blog and the source of your entertainment and/or boredom. We're parents of an exceptionally adorable child, and we have no idea what we're doing! This blog is the outlet for my thoughts along the way - welcome! Pull up a couch, grab a cup of tea, and stay a while! Or back away slowly. Whatever works.




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