Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Saving intimacy

I'm so glad for who Jesus is. I mess up all the time. I know a lot about how to follow Christ, but I'm always doing the wrong thing, making the wrong choice. And he is so patient with me. I remember, years ago, watching Law & Order, which always made me feel slightly guilty. After all, there is a murder at the beginning of every show. If you have to yell at the kids so they don't accidentally walk in on a scene that will give them nightmares, you should feel a bit uncertain about your programming choices.

I asked him that sort of classic Christian question about behavior, a variation of WWJD: would I watch this show if Jesus were sitting next to me? Before I could answer myself (and the correct "Christian" answer would likely have been NO) I heard my Jesus whisper to me, "I am inside of you. I see through your eyes."

I don't know if I would have answered myself with the correct Christian answer. I am a bit of a rebel, even about following God, so I probably would have ignored the entire question and just kept watching Law & Order with my little bit of guilt. After the first 15 minutes, I was usually able to relax and not worry so much about the kids bopping in (unless I was watching the Special Victims Unit, which is horrific throughout). But when I realized Jesus was watching the show from within me, using my eyes, I felt a little giddy. I felt a little excited. As if the Creator of the World had come to me, and I was playing show & tell: "And this, Jesus, is what cop shows on tv are like now!"

Maybe my reaction came from realizing that he was always with me. I could not turn on my Lord and turn him off like some personal electronic gadget. My watching Law & Order had not banished him from my presence. There he was, watching with me! Since he was already there, I asked him what he thought about it--he never seems to answer those questions directly. I think I ended up telling him why I liked it--I liked considering all the facets of justice that arise in the different episodes. If some verdict doesn't come down on the side of justice, I will get quite steamed; some episodes I almost can't watch for that reason, more than the icky murder part.

I actually don't watch Law & Order anymore. But I do take Jesus with me everywhere, and he looks out of my eyes, and we talk. Saving intimacy...I didn't have to clean myself up before I walked with him. He makes me clean, and there we are, together, looking at the world around us.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I was listening to a cd of Bill Johnson yesterday, who is a pastor out in California. He was discussing the spirit of religion that has beaten Christians down until they are "locked into routines without purpose." That phrase has really stuck with me. When I was telling Johnny about the sermon last night, I started to qualify Johnson's statement by saying, "Of course, I know life has a certain amount of routine..."

Really? Maybe a better word is rhythm. Every year in Oklahoma, we have spring, summer, fall, and winter. It is a rhythm to the year, but there is nothing routine about our seasons. Spring will come sometime soon, but this past week, in our "winter," we have had 70-degree days, ferocious winds, and rains without storms because there was no cold air hitting the moisture to make the nasty stuff. Every morning the sun comes up, but sometimes there are clouds, sometimes not. The temperature is always different; I am always different. Today I stepped outside to watch my daughter's bus wait for her, then move on (because she missed it AGAIN), and the air was damp and alive with a grey, hazy light. It hasn't been light at bus-catching time for months. Is this routine? No, it is rhythm, and each moment is a fresh delight.

I'm glad for the rhythm, the feeling of sameness. Humans like the anchor of "normal." We are comforted by the familiar. But our God, the Creator of the infinitely-detailed, surprising universe, does not condemn us to routine. He has made us creative like Him. I pray that today you would open your eyes to see His beauty around you, to feel the rhythm of the earth, and the Creator of the world in the soles of your feet, your fingertips, even tingling your ears. May the creativity of your spirit wed to His redeem the routine of your day.

Monday, February 9, 2009


I have always made my way through difficult circumstances by complaining. I'm not one of those downer people (usually, I hope). I'm actually quite funny. When I complain, I do it in an exaggerated sense that says, "Yeah, I know this is bad, but I'm surviving." We all laugh & I feel better. I get things off my chest, I am honest about how I feel, and I know I can't take myself seriously.

For some reason (let's say growth), in this season of my life, this tool is no longer useful to me. It is so familiar that I will pick it up almost without thinking, but it is like cussing in front of a child--the inappropriateness of my action, my habit, is apparent to me. It's not an easy one to lay down, but as I make the attempt over and over again, I am starting to realize something. What if the very tool that has helped me survive in the past is no longer a good tool for me? What if God is calling me to lay it down? What was once alright is now simply blocking Him from coming to me...

The thought that what I'm wielding might be blocking God instead of propping me up is helpful to me. I am now motivated to let go of my witty griping. I want God more than my own security, my own comfort. Lots of things that seem part of us I think God can strip away in order to touch our hearts: insecurity, emotions, reasoning, any number of habits. What's yours?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Doing the right thing

Doing the right thing is a trap. When you do the right thing, you feel very secure, very proud of yourself. When you imagine that you know the right thing and have somehow failed to do it, you feel condemned, you blew it, you beat yourself up. (Why am I writing in second-person? I guess I've said this so many times to myself, it now feels like a lecture...)

A better paradigm is to follow after God. If you obey God in a given circumstance, it gives you a deep sense of peace. It is gratifying to please someone else more than yourself. It is a place of humility. If you do not obey God, he is good to correct you. God disciplines those he loves, and if you listen to his conviction instead of the ugly voice of condemnation, you will be blessed even in your shortcomings. If you do not know God's will in a given situation, you can seek him, which is always profitable (remember, if you seek me, you will find me?).

This is Angie, leaping off the Perfection Train to seek the God who doesn't follow tracks. Or even roads.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I don't know why traffic is speaking to me so much lately. Jesus said that we would be accountable for every idle word we utter come judgment day (Matthew 12:36). If he were speaking in contemporary times, I think he would say that we will be held accountable for every word muttered in traffic. Don't think that because you refrain from saying your idle words out loud that you will be okay...see the Sermon on the Mount! This passage is not an issue of salvation. It simply teaches us that as Christ-followers, we don't get time off. Jesus won't be pocketed in our lives.

Coming back from taking my daughter to school this morning (yes, she missed the bus AGAIN) a jeep pulled out of the neighborhood, angling for the turning lane. However, he ended up basically parked in the straight lane, waiting for the light to turn. I was listening to a fabulous worship song on the radio and even tearing up when this guy pulled out into the road like an idiot. Oops, idle word. I was able to drive around him, as did the other seven cars behind me, while Mr. Jeep waited for the light to turn. I've made mistakes like that before; it is embarrassing, and I felt compassionate for the guy. But I also noticed the swell of irritation rising from within me--the same place that tears were rising up a moment before. I feel overwhelmed that Jesus would die for my sins, and overwhelmed that someone would pull into my lane of traffic. To quote James, "Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not be."

Jesus died for me before I was born, before I did anything wrong. He preemptively paid the price for my sins--the accidental ones, the intentional ones, the little ones, the ugly ones. So as I drove around Mr. Jeep I began to ask God for a heart that forgives preemptively. Before anything is done against me, I have filled my pockets with the rich forgiveness of God, ready to distribute. As I waited to turn into my neighborhood, the stream of traffic down the highway was like a pack of buffalo, thunderous and never-ending. I watched each car go by and thought about how dearly God loves each driver, even the few passengers. He knows their hurts and their dreams and their idle words. He has filled his pockets with mercy and grace and help, just waiting to hand out to those who ask.