Monthly Archives: July 2013

Why Doesn’t Proverbs 31 Just Give Me Eye Liner Tips?

“Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?

I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.” Galatians 3:1-4 NLT

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 ESV

Mirror

A vendor of exquisite jewels, well made and beautiful, sits at the door of my church. There are necklaces, bracelets, ear-rings, and hair pieces all adorned with black jewels. They are just my style. I walk over entranced and excited as I look at all of these things that are especially enticing for me. You know that feeling when you walk into a store and you find the exact piece of jewelry, that perfect shirt, those awesome shoes, and it is just what you were looking for? Everything laid out on those tables seemed designed especially for my taste and my wardrobe. An ornate black mirror sat on the table for the shoppers to admire themselves and their new adornments. As I entered the area I noticed a feeling. A terrible feeling. These beautiful things that seemed to be made just for me, they were not for me, I should not touch them. These things were indeed black, and black beyond their color. I tried to warn my friends, I tried to tell my brothers and sisters in Christ. Some listened and went into the sanctuary without weighing themselves down with these fake jewels, but others stayed and tried on the jewelry and gazed longingly into the mirror in vain.

Vain. Vanity. God laid those words on my heart last night.

I feel like most of us humans, especially us girls, are constantly trying to improve and update our reflection. We try to become perfect or at least look perfect. Our words, actions, and wardrobe are all carefully weighed and measured. I know that I am guilty. I hate letting the world see me in sweatpants. If I do go out in my comfy, alma mater’s sweatpants it will be offset by a cute top. Even rarer than seeing a Kristin out in the wild in her sweatpants, is spotting the almost extinct Kristin-Without-Eyeliner. You can take away the rest of my makeup, but please leave my onyx black eyeliner! I have realized that it is very hard for me to look at myself in the mirror and think “Wow, I am beautiful.” Unless I have my eye liner applied just right I feel like I look like a zombie.

One of my college friends rarely wore eyeliner, or any make up at all really, and I always thought of her as so beautiful and I always wished I could be as confident as her. But when I would looked in the mirror every morning I would see tired eyes and imperfect skin and I would apply my foundation and eye liner to cover it all up. My efforts were in vain, in both senses of the word.

You see the word vain is an adjective that has two meanings:

  1. Having or showing an excessively high opinion of one’s appearance, abilities, or worth.
  2. Producing no result; useless.

I was lead to Galatians 3 this morning and it made sense to me. Not only because God had laid the word “vain” on my heart the night before, but because I am struggling in this transitional period I am experiencing spiritually. I grew up in this Christianity formed in this pretty white box. It was a safe box, filled with WWJD bracelets, teen devotionals, lock-ins, Christian music, and no clapping in Church. It was a Christianity that expected you to sit up straight, act all nice and normal, and whatever you do, do not express any spontaneous joy during the service.

It was a nice Christianity. It was a great place to grow up. It was a wonderful place for me to start my journey, but I am moving forward now, and struggling with that forwardness. Behind me lies a world that I had nearly conquered, I was capable of appearing nearly perfect. I could perform the niceties and give my Sunday school answer to applause.

But if I go back now, all would be lost. Anytime a Christian moves closer to God, when they journey down the path of righteousness, they will meet trials and they will be under attack. It would be much easier to turn back. But if I, if we, turn back now, now that we have suffered for good and for His glory, it would all be in vain. Our journey would be empty.

If I turned back now, it would show my conceit. Behind me is someone who could fake a bit of perfection, but going forward I have to leave that behind. There may be some mornings that I must face myself in the mirror without my eye liner. I must look at the true me, the bare me, and I must love myself. We must continue forward past the tempting jewels that this world has set before us and into the loving embrace of our Creator.

“She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.” Proverbs 31:17 ESV

“Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:25 ESV

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Free To Struggle

Christian do you struggle, on the battle ground, ‘gainst the powers of darkness closing in around? Christian rise, take armor, soldier of the cross; for the sake of Jesus count your gain but loss.

I struggle. I am sure that comes a shock to a lot of you. I know, I know, I come off pretty perfect but . . . oh who am I kidding, if you have read even one of my posts on this blog or my  Ripple In Culture blog you know I am a jumbled mess of chaos and crazy. It is the fact that other people struggle, especially those that have influence and seem to have an extra dash of spiritual, that has my mind in a tizzy.

From the pulpit of church I have heard them confess “I am not perfect.” From the stages of Sonshine and Lifelight I have heard them sing “I too am searching for the light in this darkness.” From the pages of their books my eyes have read their words “I am not always fully walking with God.” But I am not sure that I really grasped their meaning. I never truly believed them. The people that I see as super spiritual, they must have it all together. They have reached the place of walking hand in hand with God. They have reached the destination that is openly hearing God and following him all the time.

Nope. I think it finally hit home when I started to become close friends with people that I have dreamed my spiritual leaders. We have become close enough friends that I have started to feel towards them special feelings that we primarily reserve for our friends. That is right, disappointment. One day I was obviously hurting, but they did notice or reach out too me. One day a tricky situation presented itself and I did not think they handled it with the measure of grace I believed they were capable of. One day I heard them complain, I saw them be human, I watched them struggle.

My spiritual leaders are indeed struggling humans. They have been under a hard battle of spiritual warfare lately and it disappoints me. It disappoints me not in the way that makes me disappointed in them. I am not worried that they are weak or failing. In fact, just the opposite. Their strength is what is drawing these attacks. They must be walking close to God if Satan is trying to stall them and hurt them like this. I am disappointed, because if they are still being attacked by lies and past hurts, then there is very little hope for me to reach this perfection I figured most spiritual leaders possessed. I am disappointed that I had myself believing that one day I would wake up and I could just be happy. That I would somehow work myself to a place where I could hear God’s will perfectly and never stumble. That I could be perfect.

It is okay though. Oddly enough I am finding peace in this realization. There is no longer any pressure for me to reach a certain level of perfection. When I have a weak day, when I am feeling attacked, it is not because I am sinful and terrible, no. I am sinful of course, but sometimes being attacked means that you are on the right path and your personal demons are just trying to derail you.

Christian do you battle Satan’s power within, all his striving luring, tempting you to sin? Christian, do not tremble, do not be downcast; arm yourself for battle, watch and pray and fast.

Christian, do you wrestle those who taunt and claim, “Why keep fast and vigil? Prayer is said in vain!” Christian, answer boldly: “While I breathe I pray!” Peace shall follow battle, night shall end in day.

Peace shall follow battle. Night shall end in day.


It’s Okay, I Googled It.

Intentionality. That word sits there with those red squiggles that warn. So I did what I usually do when I am certain that all the letters are there and in the proper order; I googled it, just to make sure I did not make it up.

in·ten·tion·al·i·ty  (n-tnsh-nl-t)

n.pl.in·ten·tion·al·i·ties

1. The state of having or being formed by an intention.

2. Philosophy The property of being about or directed toward a subject, as inherent in conscious states, beliefs, or creations of the mind, such as sentences or books.

It may not be a word used much, hence the red squiggles, but there it is. It is a word and I used it with intent.
One of the saving graces of Sonshine was the air-conditioned lounge that youth pastors and leaders could take advantage of. Our pastor said that since James and I were helping with the youth this weekend, we totally counted as youth leaders. Not only was this a spot of cold air, sugary snacks, and comfy sofa’s, but they would bring in bands from time to time for a meet and greet. On Friday I sat in with Hawk Nelson, Building 429, and Petra.
I was excited to see them all in concert later during the day, and it was great to meet them face to face and see how human they were before hand. Hawk talked about how they are trying to transform from just being a silly band with fun songs into a band with a purpose and intent. They thanked us for leading the youth and how they strive to lead the youth as well through their songs. They explained that their new album Made is trying to convey the message that God has created us just as we are. We are not a mistake. We were made with intent.
Building 429 said a lot of the same. They were constantly and intently searching for God’s will for their band. Since they are family men, having wives and raising children they talked about how as soon as one of their wives say they are done, they are done. This walk, this band, is one that is constantly searching for God’s will and will only continue to put out songs and do concerts if they believe that is God’s plan for them. They told us they are not living the dream, as many people think bands are. Their dream is to one day go home and be just husbands and fathers and to be able to have more time there.
The lead singer of Petra, John, was in the room later that evening. He talked of the early days, as they were the first Christian rock band to come out. He talked of how they were picketed, they were told they were going to hell, and how they overcame it. They loved what they do. They felt a calling from God and overcame great adversity to be able to get where they are, to get Christian music where it is. He realized that the group they are so longing to reach, the youth, are not their main audience anymore, but they still feel that they have a message to share and are excited to go out and still share it.
All of these bands, all of these people were so human. They discussed their faults and their humor. They laid bare some of their difficulties and struggles. They were there, sitting on those couches, and I was there, sitting on those couches. There was very little that separated me from these men. I have just as much faith; I am searching just as hard as God’s will. Why then do I feel like I am not worthy of being used to spread his word? Why do I feel like I am too much of sinner to be a shinning light?
I am beginning to realize that I am a useful vessel to God. I am one of His children, His princess, and I have all the heart needed to go out into the world and do huge and amazing things to His glory. I must search for His will for me. I must search and work with intentionality.

There is a reason. There is a rhyme.

Plans

Last Thursday morning I woke up early to the morning sun shinning through the walls of my tent. I had a morning prayer and then laid there for a while. In part to open my ears to God’s voice and in part to relax yet as I heard no one else stirring in our campground.

When I did hear stirring I got up and put on my running gear. We, two of the women leaders and I, went for a nice 2 mile jog. We got back, slightly sweaty and hot, stretched out and got ready for breakfast. It was going to be another wonderful day filled with fellowship and music here at the Sonshine festival. I was enjoying getting to know the youth group that I was helping to watch over.

Fast forward a couple of hours. I am sitting alone, leaning up against a tree. Crying. I had been crying for at least an hour and I could not stop. I was feeling like a high school girl again. Left out and forgotten. Why could I not seem to cement together a friendship, why was I always the person on the outskirts. Most of these feelings were completely unfounded. A demon or two had managed to find me here, tap me on the shoulder, and whisper in my ear. My friends were trying to get a hold of me, even though I told them I wanted some space. I did not want anyone to see that I had been crying. I tried and tried and tried to shake these feelings. I prayed, I talked to James on the phone (he would be arriving at the festival tonight) and I asked God why I just could not feel better right now. Well, He knew why.

I eventually pulled myself together and headed back to the group. Despite that little upset, the day went wonderfully from there. We watched more bands and I learned some new games with the youth group.

Evening came and we gathered at the tarps by the main stage. After a bit the main female youth leader, who is also one of my closest friends up here, came over and sat by me. One of the girls in the youth group is struggling greatly with depression and cutting, I knew this, it was part of the reason I gave my testimony in church a few weeks back. It was something I struggle with as well. Anyway, the youth leader had noticed the girl seemed to be struggle today. With all the spiritual and emotional stuff going on around her, I am sure her spirit was trying to break free and feel the joy of the day and I am sure her darkness was trying to drag her down. The youth leader told her that she knew she could come talk to me, but this youth was worried that I was fine, that I now had it all together and wouldn’t understand anymore. Ha. So the youth leader asked if I would watch for an opportunity to talk to her and see if I could connect and help. I said sure.

As LeCrae, a rapper that one of my friends was excited for, was ready to take the stage a bunch of us went to head to the front. Only one youth group kid remained, the one who was struggling. I stopped and asked her why. She had wanted to head back to the campground to grab something she had left behind and was waiting for a time to ask the female youth leader to go back with her. I said, oh you could probably go ask her now, and as she got up to ask I turned and continued heading up to the stage, not really thinking.

WHACK. Spiritual two by four to the head. Oh, Oh yea. . . um that probably was my opportunity wasn’t it God? Oops. I turned around and caught them just in time and I offered to take her, since the female youth leader had already walked three other kids to the camper and back this evening.

The youth and I gabbed all the way to the camper. I really didn’t know how to start this conversation. I am not sure if she even knows that I know about her depression. I just kept the conversation going hoping to find an opening. On the way back she quietly asks, “Were you scared when you gave your testimony?” Here goes. I talked about my thoughts on giving my testimony and the conversation went into more of my struggles and how I feel when I am depressed. “That’s how I feel too!” She actually seemed to have a little excitement in her voice.

I did not try to help today. I did not try to tell her what to do to feel better. We just talked about what we feel and what we think and she was comforted to know that she was not alone. That these problems were not just her own, but that for once she had found someone who could relate with her. I told her I had broken down earlier that day and that even though I haven’t cut in over six years I still struggle with depression. I told her it gets better. Some days I can manage it better.

I am the way I am for a reason. I am broken. I am perfect.


Worshiping with Crouton, Slow Glow Activatur, Fatty, Nadaddy, and Chap Stique

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:23-24

Sorry for the delay in the posts, but I was far too busy walking like a zombie, becoming a pro at the wobble, learning to crank it like a chainsaw, and enjoying the after affects of hitting the cray button. Well, at least that is what I did on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning I woke up bright and early, actually rolled out of bed at 6:30 and quick went for a short one mile run. After that it was time to get ready for a crazy weekend. I finished packing, ran some errands, and headed to church.

That is right, to church. Surprised? Well that is where it all started. I met up with the youth group and their leaders and watched them window paint the church van. The back window sporting the words “Sonshine Music Festival”. We were heading out for a weekend of worship, but not your typical worship, oh no. You might hear a hymn and church whorship song or two at Sonshine, but they either have a dubstep beat drop behind it or a man in a beard and steel strings playing it.

After the three-ish hour drive to Willmar we set up camp and got ready for our minds and our souls to be rocked. The lineup is a little light on the first day, being the party is just getting started but I was looking to finally hear Family Force 5. I had heard they were crazy and I had heard that some people did not approve. Perfect.

Family Force 5 is all about worshiping God, through ridiculousness. As I stood there I enjoyed learning how to wobble and crank it like a chainsaw. I watched the lead singer hit the cray button with his american flag painted hulk hands. I jumped, I head-banged, I screamed. But I felt out-of-place. The little Dutch, conservative, hymns only, don’t raise your hands in church girl was having some issues. Most of their songs didn’t even have the word God in them.

And then he explained. The lead singer, alias Slow Glow Activatur, talked about how if his little two-year old boy were to walk up to Slow Glow and say that he didn’t want to play with his toys anymore, he wanted to die for everyone, Slow Glow would tell him he was crazy. Slow Glow could never imagine having to watch his own boy die for someone else. But God did. God did this crazy thing for us and that is the message that they are sending.

Worship does not have to take place in church. Worship does not have to have “thee” and “thou” in it. Worship does not have to come out of a gray psalter hymnal. Worship does not have to be quiet and still. Worship must be in spirit and in truth. If you are worshiping in spirit and in truth well then you can sing Amazing Grace or you can sing Cray Button and the angels in heaven will rejoice at your song and God will smile.


Haters Gonna Hate. Proverbs Nine Eight.

“Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
rebuke the wise and they will love you.” – Proverbs 9:8.

Parachute

I have this problem. Well I have many problems. But I have this one in particular where I like to tell people what to do and what to think. It stems from this belief that I am pretty smart and that means people should really take my advice.

Now there is nothing wrong with dolling out some sound advice. Even some un-sound advice is okay to give out. The problem really lies in the delivery and the audience. That is usually where my problem lies. My audience, usually is not super impressed with my advice. I like to pick the ones who are stubborn and I like to pick the times when they are unwavering. I seem to deliver it with the worst possible tone, an air of arrogance, that makes them put their guards up.

I like to learn. I love to discuss. I even tend to argue. The exchange of ideas is an amazing thing. Minds are like parachutes, they work the best when they are open. I have to start finding some open minds, and I have to start opening mine more often.

There are a couple of seminars, summits, and power lunches happening in the area. Part of me wants to go and they other part of me somehow feels like if I go I am admitting that I need help. That my advice is not good enough as I have to rely on the words of others. I have to change my attitude about advice if I want anyone to start accepting mine.

You see athletes have coaches. Now when you are little you need one to teach you the game and set up drills so you know how to play. But even the top athletes have coaches. These athletes know the game, sometimes better than their coaches. They know what drills need to be done. They can really almost coach themselves. Almost. Even the best need an encourager. Even the greatest need to hear and see from a different vantage point.

I hope that I can fix my problem and start realizing that when I want to discuss, argue, and advise I need to be around people who have open minds. And I need to make sure mine is deployed as well.


Kicking Spiritual Butt

“Have fun kicking boxes!” That is the usual dismissal I hear as I leave my apartment dressed to sweat. My wraps and gloves bounce gently in the bag on my back as I hurry down the steps. I hop into my jeep and crank some adrenaline pumping music as I head down to the Fargo Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & MMA Academy.

As I step inside a quick memory of ball pits and plastic slides with the slight smell of shoe-less adolescents meets me at the doorway. I slip off my flip-flops and add them to the pile, grabbing my membership card. As I wait off to the side for the kids bully-proof jiu jitsu class to end I start wrapping up my wrists. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday you will find me here, practicing kickboxing.

And I think as I warm up with a jump rope, have I been working out my soul and preparing it to fight as much as I am working out my body?

Ephesians 6:10 – 18. (NIV)

The Armor of God.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Hmm. Now how to make this idea a bit more palpable, a little bit more relevant. We obviously do not don the type of armor or weapons described above to do battle anymore. Let us see what some paraphrasing will clear up for us.

Ephesians 6:10 -18 (The Message)

A Fight To The Finish

“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”

The old school in me still loves the NIV version, the imagery of putting on the battle gear is awesome, but even though I am not the biggest fan of The Message the images it stirs up are ones I can relate too.

Last month I ran a 4.something mile muddy obstacle course. It was called the Hard Charge and it was hard, and awesome! Out of the three of us girls I had done the most running, Ann was probably the most athletic, and Monica had the most drive. We waded through thigh high muddy ditches, army crawled through mud on multiple occasions, dunked ourselves in icy water, climbed a cargo net, belly crawled through sand, carried a tire, climbed over many, many walls, and slide down a fireman pole to finish, well not to finish, to earn. Our shirts and the banner across that finish line held the one word motto of the Hard Charged, Earned.

That is me attempting the muddy monkey bars.

That is me attempting the muddy monkey bars.

Now to earn this we ate mud, we felt like our legs were going to fall off, I tried to cross the monkey bars only to drop 20 feet into muddy water. I boosted Ann and Monica over walls and got over one big one by myself. On the second big one Monica came back around and helped boost me over. It was the best team building thing I had ever done.

It took determination, strength, and drive. Our spiritual warfare takes the same. We have a race to run, and I hate to break it to you, it will not be one of those fun colorful ones. We will have walls that we will have to help others over. There are some we can tackle ourselves and there are some were we will have to admit we need help. We will face some fears and we will want to quit, but there is no turning back.

Now before some obstacles we had some time to wait, things would get a little backed up and we could rest a little. There are times between our spiritual obstacles as well, and this should give us time to pray and rejuvenate, because it probably means a big one is coming up.

In the end when we cross the line we can look at God and know that we have earned this, only not by our own strength but by his grace. He has to help us over that big wall, we cannot do it on our own.

So, the term may be spiritual warfare, but I like to think of it as spiritual kickboxing. It is said that we are running a race, but I know this race is in the form of a muddy, obstacle course.

Time to prepare to kick some spiritual butt and fight to the finish.