Luke 6:41 NIV

Luke 6:41 NIV
"Why do [I] look at the speck of sawdust in [my] brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in [my] own eye?"

11.27.2008

11.24.2008

Get Over Myself: Transparent Thoughts of a Dense Christian


Thanksgiving's coming this week. Unfortunately I don't give enough thanks the rest of the year. If I had to give thanks for one thing in my life right now, it would be my marriage. My wife and I have walked down some dirty, despicable roads in our relationship. We have survived many battles, addictions, infidelities and the like. For all intents and purposes, it's not really fair for me to sum up almost 11 years in three vague words like that, but this blog is not meant to be a magnifying glass hovering over our personal lives.

However, this blog is, in part, meant to be a testimony to the goodness of God. Since the beginning of my blogging I have attempted to give glory and attention to God through my family and my own experiences. Any further questions about my character can be defaulted to my Personal Profile, found at the left of the screen. Though I do tend to take a cynical approach on some social issues, they ultimately have nothing to do with the big picture. Thus my frustration. But I digress...

Last night I finally finished a three day cleaning spree of our basement. I finally took all the papers and trash and stuff from in front of the fireplace, put all my electronic junk away, cleared the tables, organized the wires of our gaming equipment and "toys" and even adjusted some lighting to make the area more pleasant. My wife had just finished making an excellent steak and cheese sandwich and was just sitting down at the dining room table to eat it. I had bought a little package of sushi from the store, and so I told her to come downstairs and let's eat in the basement. Much to her delight, she came down to a very clean, nice basement. (She thought I had been playing video games the whole time! Oh, and it's a finished basement; it's not as dreary as it sounds...just go with it!

I put one of those little cheap Firelogs in the fireplace, lit it, turned down the lights and we ate our sushi and cheesteak on the floor in front of the fire. We didn't talk about much, it was just nice. It wasn't busy. She asked me if I wanted to watch a movie upstairs. I suggested we blow up the air mattress and play the movie on our X Box downstairs. So there we were, watching a terrible movie on a game console about war on an uncomfortable air mattress and a fire that was barely enough to light a match. But I was with her, and at that moment there was no place I would have rather been. The light of that moment was even more magnified in the wake of our past. We ended up sleeping all night downstairs on the mattress; very uncomfortable and totally NOT recommended.

The goodness of God has taken me and my beloved through some terrifying nightmares in our relationship. It was a marriage that seemed doomed from the start, with most everone we knew totally against it for a myriad of reasons. What with our shady, unfaithful, dirty pasts, addictions and anger problems; we were an interracial couple, and Catholic girl and a Baptist boy. (Though we are still interracial, we are neither Catholic nor Baptist...not that there's anything wrong with that...!) Through forgiveness of each other, and God's grace and direction, we have continued to grow. And fail. And grow more, and for that I am thankful. The divorce rate among Christians mimics that of non-Christians, and the question is, "Are we the difference?" A deeper, and more serious question to ponder is, "Are we (Christians) imitating the world in our divorce rates, or is the world imitating us?" Hmm...

A major turning point in our relationship was when my wife and I sat on our bed one night about 8 or 9 years ago. We had been struggling with some issues already and had recently started going to church and finding out about Jesus and true salvation. In this conversation we both confessed to infidelity; one before marriage, one after marriage, on both of our parts and prior to our devotion to God. Our struggles were such that the future of our marriage was the topic of conversation. Yes, we were discussing the big "D". But I felt a turning point at this moment. I had never seen God present two directions so clearly. The first being divorce, the second being marriage. We discussed the options and what God says about divorce. The thing that hurt and scared us was Jesus actually gives reason for divorce: infidelity. We would be totally and Biblically justified if we had gone through with it. To be totally honest with you, I actually felt as though forgiveness was the only response I could give.

There was a future for us that was much greater than divorce. There was a depth to forgiveness that neither of us had ever experienced until that moment, and we both made a conscious effort to forgive one another, despite the offenses. We both made an effort, and wanted, to honor God in our marriage and let "no man separate what God joined together". Not out of pride, but opportunity to testify about the goodness and mercy of God, even when we don't deserve it. We sat on our marriage bed that night dirty, broken, confused, lost and selfish. We got up out of that marriage bed the next morning clean, healed and forgiven. And for this reason, my heart breaks that much more when I hear of failed marriages especially in the church. Not that I'm better or our situation was any different or easier. I can certainly NOT judge anyone elses personal situations...my heart breaks because I know the power of forgiveness that lies on the other side of the pain, regardless of what hurt has been inflicted.

There were times when she wronged me, and I KNEW that it was wrong in every way, and I would just want to throw the Bible in her face and show her how wrong she was. (I think I did that ONCE and learned quickly it would probably NOT be in my best interests, if I desired to continue to live, to ever try that again.) So I would do the next best thing. I would go tell on her! I would go into my prayer room and begin to open my mouth and tell God to change her. But that prayer never came out. Not once could I ever utter the words. As soon as I hit my knees, I always ended up asking God to change me. Through those times of prayer, God re-shaped my heart and presented her to me all over again for the first time. I saw her with renewed eyes and loved her with a renewed heart. She was still wrong, but I didn't care. I needed her to love me when I was wrong too.

Jesus loves you when you're wrong, and instead of asking God to change you, Jesus asks God to look at you through His blood. And when YOU see that, it makes you want to change. There's a famous movie line in which a man says to his love interest, "You make me want to be a better man". I love that. And when I look at the mirror that is the Bible, that's how I feel. I need to be with God to allow Him to change me, 'cause I can't do it myself.

This place of thanks I'm at right now hasn't come without a price. That's a pretty shallow statement because I've lived a rather "safe", unchallenged existence for the most part. But if I could go back and make things smoother, I would. I would do some things different. But at the same time, I have no regrets about the decisions I've made. I just regret the people I've hurt in the process. It's no wonder that Jesus compares his church to a "Bride". The marriage relationship is such a wonderful example of salvation, forgiveness, love and adoration, humility and many others that just simply can't be found in everyday, superficial social relationships.

So in this season, all you married folk be thankful above all else but God, for your spouses and the marriage that He has blessed you with. And if you're going through a season of winter and death, just BE with Him.

11.20.2008

You've Got Mail

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. - ROMANS 8:1

Several months after arriving at my first Air Force base as an active duty member I received an e-mail from a good friend and "dorm buddy" who I had gone through basic training with. The e-mail was on our government account which, obviously, was to be used for "Official Use Only". This e-mail was less than official. It was something like, "If you send this e-mail to 10 people, you'll receive a confirmation e-mail entitling you to a FREE meal at Ruby Tuesdays". I also noticed the rather LARGE amount of people he sent the e-mail to. We were talking a couple of days later and he informed me that he had received an e-mail from a Lieutenant General (three-star) respectfully asking him NOT to send anymore e-mails like that. He was unaware that he had send the e-mail to the entire WING (thousands of people) rather than just his immediate co-workers (15 people). Luckily no charges were filed or "pink slips" given, and he considered that e-mail from the Lt. General as a warning: DON'T SEND THIS JUNK ANYMORE!

That was in 1998. Here I am 10 years later and e-mails have taken on the form of a spoiled little brat with total disregard to truth. Now I know I'm going to be treading on some thin ice here, but I've gotta say it. So many of today's e-mails represent a metaphor for the whiny attention deprived child who will say anything to get someone to look at them. (I'm saying the e-mails themselves, NOT the people that send them.) A Snopes.com contributor has even identified this garbage as "GLURGE". Glurge is a great example of how children who were never disciplined have grown into adults and begun to spread lies and embellished truths without consequence. Many (MOST) of these e-mails are religious in nature, but all have good intentions.

I want to note here: the senders themselves are not who or what I have issue with. They are usually caught up in the moment and emotion of the e-mail. I have no problem with forwards, or even the emotional e-mails that do NOT contain what I'm discussing here. However...! here's my statement. Quit sending this junk around, and address the people that do. I'm talking specifically about the e-mails that have the wording similar to, "If you love Jesus, you need to send this e-mail to at least 5...10...or 15 people." (By the way...the number is usually directly proportional to the plight. For example, an e-mail regarding someone who lost their car keys, prays to God and then finds them only needs to send the e-mail to 3 or more people to show they love God. But if there is a child who needs a lifesaving surgery in a small village right next to a polar bear cave, then the e-mail needs to travel to a minimum of 10 people...just so you know. The implication here is that the child will not make it if you don't forward the e-mail, as if me not forwarding the e-mail is allowing the child's life to continue hanging in the balance.) First off, if my child ever needs a lifesaving surgery, I'm probably not going to hop up to my computer and start banging out e-mails, complete with my childs entire medical and growth history. And if I do...IF I do...I won't hold you in contempt if you don't send it to your friends. Thanks.

The ending of these e-mails is usually followed up with, "If you delete this e-mail, then you don't love Jesus." Although not in those exact words, that is the "spirit" of the e-mail. And to further kick you in the head, the verses Matthew 10:32-33 are often thrown in for free...mostly in big, bold, different colored letters. In Matthew 10:32-33 Jesus says "If anyone acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge him before the Father. If anyone denies be before men, I will deny him before the Father."

Are you kidding me? Is this for real? Has humanity lost its mind? (...actually, yes, but that's not the point.) How is not forwarding *your* ridiculous e-mail filled with untruths denying Jesus?

It's not that this stuff "affects" me, well... I guess it does...or I am insecure in my relationship with Christ. But in the end, this is condemnation from one Christian to another. We've got enough of that from the enemy. When we forward this trash, we are saying two things:
1) Look at how holy I am
2) You need to be this holy.


Taking these e-mails to what seems to me to be their logical conclusion says that God in Heaven is looking down on me as I am checking my e-mail and waiting to see how much I love Him by whether or not I click the big red "X". As if my entire salvation, my walk with Christ, my relationship with my wife and children, all my sins and compassion and love and struggles and hunger for lost souls is balanced upon the needlepoint that is me forwarding this e-mail to 10 people.

Is there a Bible verse that says "For God so loved the world that he forwarded his Son to all people, that whosoever forwardeth Him to 25 people will not perish but have enough MegaBytes available in their Inbox forever?"

God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins, and to give us eternal life in Heaven with HIM! Your...OUR...salvation is not dependent upon sending that e-mail. Our love for Christ is not determined by how many Contacts we have in our address book. It is determined by the Spirit God has put in each of us. Maybe in a way I've unintentionally turned this blog into a glurge...but this condemnation from Christian to Christian has got to stop.

In addition, what kind of message does this send to the lost? Those unsaved people that read these things and believe them? It's the liberal Christian mentality that encourages them to think, I'm a good person, I love Jesus, I'll send this on and "spread the word". We are actually condoning and even empowering that mentality. God wants a sacrifice. God wants our hearts and lives turned over to Him, and it is not conditional upon encryption or attachments or forwards or the little stupid paperclip-helper-thingy that keeps trying to help me copy and paste stuff.

11.17.2008

Cardboard Testimonies



This speaks for itself. It was posted on my friend Juliana's blog (link on the left) and was done at here church here in Richmond. Unfortunately she couldn't be in the video but her cardboard would read --

Side one: PEOPLE PLEASER
Side two: GOD PLEASER

Mine would probably read --

Side one: MASTER OF MYSELF
Side two: SLAVE TO CHRIST

What might yours say?

11.07.2008

...well?!

IS ALL OF THIS REALLY WORTH IT IF GOD IS NOT REAL?

THIS life?
THIS love?
THIS people?
THIS child?
THIS song?
THIS spouse?
THIS job?
THIS Jesus?
THIS journey?
THIS house?
THIS money?
THIS war?
THIS country?
THIS protest?
THIS poverty?
THIS death?
THIS sickness?
THIS health?
THIS traffic?
see THIS?
touch THIS?
live THIS?
hate THIS?
evaluate THIS?
assemble THIS?
try THIS?
move THIS?
this TEAR?
this LAUGH?
this HEART?
this FIRE?
this ACHE?
this REST?
this CHAOS?

Is any of THIS worth a smatter if there is no GOD?

11.04.2008

What's In A Name?

A couple people have asked me what the title of my blog, "yadahjah", means. It's kind of a play on words, but it does have significance. Allow me to explain.

"Yadah" is a Hebrew verb for praise. Specifically it means to "lift ones hands in praise". It's kind of fitting because God has put me in a place right now where it's not by my might, nor by my strength. It's a place of surrender. When one surrenders, one typically raises one's hands.

"Jah" of course, is a Hebrew word for God. So "yadahjah" is lifting one's hands to God. Yadah is also often associated with "lifting one's hands to God in response to a musical score", which was even more fitting.

Being that a blog is often used for incessant babbling and complaining and what-not, I originally wanted to name it "yadahyadahyadah"...but methinks it was too long, a so surrendered to the name "yadahjah", which I actually took the idea from a friend of mine who has a similar (but not exact) e-mail address.

My name is Christopher, it means "Bearer of Christ"
My wifes name is Carmelita, derived from the Spanish word Carmel, and also associated with the Hebrew word Karmel; it means "Garden"
My daughters name is Teanna; at one point I found that it means "Beautiful" (if you've ever seen her, you'd understand), but for some reason I can't seem to find a meaning for it. The closest I found was "Tia", Spanish for "Aunt".
My first sons name is Ethan; he was a wise man in the Old Testament, and also wrote a few Psalms; his name means "Strength, Enduring, Solid"
My second sons name is Elijah; it means "My God is YHWH"; very powerful name!
My third sons name is Ezekiel; it means "God is my STRENGTH"

If you look at our sons names, it would seem that we "planned" it that way...but we didn't! God is good!

What's your name? Are you living up to it?