Tuesday, 27 September 2011

.:.fighting on the way to church.:.

"Why do we fight on the way to church
and not the grocery store?
It's the same mini-van!"
-Pastor Steve Aitkins

I have a theory. It's not a very profound idea, it's just a trend I've noticed: Doing things that are good for you takes extra motivation. Exercise .:. Entertaining guests .:. Eating healthy .:. Entering worship with a prepared heart on a Sunday morning.... the list continues.

Ephesians 612 says "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." So why are we surprised? Of course the enemy wants to stop you from fellowshipping with other believers and being fed spiritually. For the most part, he doesn't care about the physical food, so you can go to the grocery store in the same mini-van, but WW3 threatens to break out in your car on Sunday mornings.

Exhausted and worn out parents, I see you drop your kids off in the Children's Ministry. I see the effort it took to get there five minutes late instead of the usual ten. I encourage you to persevere. I don't have kids myself, but I remember arguing with my sister and parents on the way to church.... from the fight at home about wearing nylons, to the one in the driveway about which sister had the front seat last time and got it this time to the battle over my social life while on the drive to church.  

My parents are incredible. No matter how argumentative we were as girls/ siblings/ teens/ every other excuse, my parents recognized the importance of having a prepared heart prior to entering church. They did everything in their power to mediate the important arguments, and disperse the unimportant ones.

Here are some tips I gleaned from my Mom and Dad that turned our family's Sunday mornings from Argument Avenue to Cease-fire Court:

1. We listened to music on the way to church, usually worship music.:.It was Adventures in Odyssey when I was younger. My sister and I LOVED that series!

2. My parents asked questions to generate and control the discussion. These steered away from controversial subjects and were light and fun.

3. My parents used the layaway technique. They don't call it that, but it's what I came to call it when I saw them use it. On the way to church, if a controversial topic emerged and tempers started to rise, they said, "This is obviously important to you that we discuss this, but we don't have time on the way to church, why don't you bring it up after church for us to talk about?" And those times when it did need to be talked about, we then had the time to devote to it. But most often, the urgency my teenage self thought was there on that particular topic really didn't exist, and I didn't bring it up after church.
{As the parent, you set the tone and the standard for what is acceptable. You don't need to engage in that moment. You know that, right?}

4. My parents made Sunday mornings special with special breakfasts we were only allowed on the weekends, and they too would get dressed up, have their Bibles by the door ready to go. Their enthusiasm and example {eventually} were contagious.
{Your relationship with God really is where it begins.}

Don't settle for arriving halfway through the first song.
And don't be disappointed when you do.
Hang in there. It's worth it.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.:.

This post is linked to TimeWarp Wife's Titus 2sday Link up too!
This post is linked to Growing Home's Teach me Tuesdays. Link up too!
This post is linked to WLW's Wednesday Link Up Party. Link up too!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Removing the Veneer

It takes great courage to remove the veneer and let others see that things are not okay. When I first started reading blogs prior to starting Posture of Learning, I was drawn to authors, like Tricia, who blogged from their life experiences, including the good and the bad. I could not read enough posts from authors who were courageous enough to admit mistakes or be honest about the pain they have walked through, because I could relate to them.

I came to realize that removing the veneer can only happen
when you’ve made peace with your story in its entirety.

In my own life, there are times/seasons/experiences that are not okay, like abuse. The abusive behavior I’ve experienced is not okay, but the fact that it has shaped me and that God can use that part of my story, in its full brokeness, for His glory, is what I need{ed} to embrace. Knowing that God is redeeming and healing everything helped me accept and become okay with this being my story.

Only then, did I realize, that I could remove the veneer in my own life. I had to become okay with my own story in its fullness (which doesn’t mean saying the circumstances themselves are okay), before it became okay with me for others to see it.

I will never say I’m glad that my story includes abuse or separation. These taboo words are part of my story, but they don’t define me. And the Lord uses these situations for good. My relationship with Him, my view on life and my ability to minister to others in pain would not be what they are if God didn’t redeem these circumstances. He is working it out and molding me into the woman He wants me to be. You know, God doesn’t entrust journeys like these to just anyone. I doubt I’ll ever be glad, but I am/will continue to be okay with it.

No one's life is perfect, but some people try really hard to pretend their life is that way for fear of what others will think. I would add that there is a fear of what they themselves think. I've been there. I hid behind a veener because I wasn't okay with my own brokeness. But it didn't help me or anyone; veneers are poor coping mechanisms.

Veneers may seem to be protective, but they aren't. They come in all shades and sizes and promise fool proofing and perfection, but they are fake. The overlays don’t help heal what’s underneath. Veneers curtain us from the world, for better and for worse.

I have actual veneers on my teeth. And I get compliments on my smile all the time. But they aren't complimenting anything natural, they compliment the fake, and I know it every time they say it. It doesn't matter that the veneers match the work the braces did that my parents paid for. It doesn't matter that my teeth were naturally this white... the veneers are there, portraying a false sense of perfection.

Our emotional veneers work the same way. They portray a false reality, and some buy into it. But we know deep down that they’re not seeing the whole story. Colossians 39 says, “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices”. There is a sense in which we lie to others when we put up these veneers. At the same time, there needs to be an appropriate transparency. We shouldn’t divulge every detail to each passing stranger, acquaintance and friend. We shouldn’t give our pearls to pigs (Matthew 7:6). And your story is precious, don’t think otherwise.

But maybe, just maybe, our story needs to be shared, for our own sake as much as others’, and our veneers need to be removed… even if it’s just for a day or an hour at a time. Let’s replace false with faith, trusting in God to give us wisdom and discernment on how to navigate appropriate transparency and live with integrity.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.:.

Friday, 9 September 2011

.:.Shining Armour.:.

Last night, I read through Ephesians with some friends. Reading through a book of the Bible in one sitting is very different from reading through that same book slowly a few verses at a time, and both ways of reading are so enriching. This little section stood out to me last night:

Ephesians 610Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God..." (emphasis mine).

Standing and wearing the armour is sometimes enough. Other days, you fight and the battle is long and hard. But some days, just standing with the armour on will scare the enemy away, because you look prepared to fight... even if you don't feel like it. That is good news, friends. Because some days, all my energy goes into standing up and not an ounce of me is left to fight. {But just stand? I can do that! I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...} Thank you, Lord, that you equip us for all situations, and that some days, to stand and wear the armour is all you ask me to do, as you fight the battle for me.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.:.