What I am about to write may sound like just a bunch of hot air and maybe it is…..but actually I think it is incredibly important. Christianity is not about hating and condemning other people. It’s actually about doing what Jesus said: taking his yoke (which involves trust if you are attached to someone) and learning about him for he is meek and lowly in heart. We spend so much time elevating ourselves and who we are and our accomplishments — our importance.

We’re a bunch of egomaniacs trying to be better than each other and it’s sad. When a person’s focus is on himself and how great he is, others suffer. And from my observation, that’s the heart of what’s wrong with the world and what so many Christians either have forgotten or simply never knew. Jesus lived a life of sacrifice, not self-realization, and He is our model.

The Pattern of Crosses

I have been working on a cross-stitch quilted bedspread for many years. Like many things in life that have the potential to be beautiful, but that take a lot of effort, I find that I actually work on it in spurts. In fact, I’m afraid the truth is that the work spurts are often years apart.

I got on a roll recently. I love watching the neatness of the stitches and the various colors of thread unfold the beautiful pattern another artist created for me to work out. However, a few days ago I discovered a terrible mistake.

At some point I had let another person help me with it. The spread is large and there is plenty of material for two of us to work on, so I put another section in the wooden hoop and we sat and stitched and visited and had a wonderful afternoon. After she left, I decided to continue working on the section she had stitched and over the weeks had stitched a fairly substantial section. Thing is, though, recently I realized I was having trouble seeing the crosses that are stamped on the material. I put it down to poor lighting, but it was really a bummer. I mean, I could see the pattern and worked quietly and steadfastly, but it was always nagging at me that the pattern was faded and not clear anymore.

Well, a few days ago I decided to go back and work on the original section I had previously been working on. And I discovered THOSE crosses were much clearer and easier to see. So, suddenly I had a terrible thought. Was it possible….maybe just possible….that when I had set up the material for her to stitch I had put it in the hoop on the wrong side? That is, that this whole time she, and then I, had stitched the beautiful threads on the wrong side of the spread? And, as you have probably guessed, the answer was yes.

So, now I was faced with a dilemma. I actually had two sections of the same piece that had been stitched. One, rather small, one, rather large. Obviously one would have to be removed, but which one? It made sense to re-do the smaller section, but the problem was then I would have to continue sewing it on the wrong side with a faded pattern that was actually difficult to see. Or I could un-do all the work my friend and I had done on the larger area and re-do it correctly. And trust me, un-doing all those stitches was not going to be an easy task.

Well, thankfully for me, I eventually realized that the pattern was not reversible and actually, if I was going to have the bedspread I had set out to make, then yes, all the work would have to be re-done.

So, now I was presented with another problem. How to undo the work I had done incorrectly so that I could proceed correctly. There were actually two ways of doing it that I could see. One would be to use a seam ripper and cut through all the threads, then pull the small pieces out, bit by bit. Or, pick the various ends of stitching in each small design and literally un-do each section, stitch by stich. Pull out each stitch by hand.

Wow. Both were daunting in sound to me, but after a few minutes of working through the sick feeling in my stomach, I began. First, because I really wanted to re-use the thread, I tried it stitch by stich. And it mainly worked ok, but I ran into a few bumps along the way, and it was obviously quite tedious. Besides, I soon realized the thread was not going to be re-usable. So I tried doing it by cutting through the fibers. Actually, a friend was with me and she began doing the cutting. Both of us worked on then pulling the small pieces, but I could see pretty quickly it, too, was going to be time-consuming. I soon realized that the best way, painful as it would be, was going to be undoing it stitch-by-stitch. There would be no shortcut.

When I was finally finished, there were many small holes left from the needle entries, but I realized that when I re-did it on the correct side (which I now saw was clearly marked and not faded), the holes would disappear into the new stitches and the spread would still be the beautiful covering it was designed to be.

As I ponder over this event, I see a truth begin to emerge, worth my consideration. I could actually draw several different parallels, but the one I am going to focus on is that of a believer, working on the tapestry of her life. She recognizes the necessity of the cross and is working the stitches correctly at first. Then something else presents itself, she goes on a different course, and at some point she realizes that now the going is a bit more difficult. That she is not seeing the pattern as clearly. That something is simply not right. But she is seeing something and so continues to stitch away oblivious to the sad reality that she is now working on the wrong side of the pattern…not on the side it was designed to be. The crosses are not clear any longer. She has the aha moment and wrestles through the gut-wrenching reality that what she has put much effort into must not only be re-done, but must first be undone. In a sense, she must now renounce a great deal of what she has put herself into before she can actually proceed forward, once again following the crosses that had been stamped for her to see.

The analogy ends when we understand the incredible and awesome truth that in our lives it is Jesus who unravels the wrong stitches, not us. Many times we try to use the ripper and cut through sections at a time, but trust me, pulling those teeny bits of thread is a lot harder that it appears.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving us the pattern of the cross. Please help us stay on the right side of the fabric and not let other things take us to the faded side. It looks the same on the surface, but a little bit of stitching soon begins to show us that something is wrong. Thank you for being the Redeemer who then comes in and undoes all the wrong we did, turns the fabric over, and then continues to give us the true pattern to follow.

Easter or Resurrection Sunday?

I once again feel like I’m standing alone on something, but here it is. I love my Lord and I know that Easter is really all about His resurrection, but I just can’t get into this latest trend of calling what I have known all my life as Easter, “Resurrection Sunday.”

Why? Not sure. Well, yes, I am sure from one aspect. When I think of the word “Easter,” I see pastels — pink and yellow and light blue and green and white — happy, soft, cheerful colors, all representing to me the love of my Lord. Yes, I also see Easter bunnies and baskets and colored eggs. I know they are supposedly pagan in origin, but that doesn’t bother me. I also see a cross rising on the hill with a background of a beautiful sunrise. I see them all as representing life. And my Lord is Life. So for me, that is not a conflict.

Unfortunately, the word “Resurrection” just doesn’t bring forth the same images. It brings forth the solemnity of what He did, so probably I am sounding sacrilegious to say this, but there is a subtlety of joy He gives that is absent and that I miss.

However, I think more than all of this is the in-my-face awareness of the Christian community’s pandering once more time to the world, even in their “fighting” back against the secularization of the event. Yes, to the world, it is Easter bunnies and Easter egg hunts, but that doesn’t bother me. It bothers me that I am letting the world once again rob me of something precious; the whole ambiance of what the word “Easter” represents.

So…….friends, you are free to change it all to Resurrection Sunday. But I still see My Lord Jesus as having come forth out of that tomb early on Easter morning, with the beauty of the early dawn and mists, clearing up into a beautiful clear spring day, full of promise and hope and the Life He gives.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for Easter morning and the empty tomb. And all you accomplished on the cross for me.

True Christianity vs New Age

Please NOTE:  In my blogs, when I use the word “Lord,” I am meaning Jesus.

We must be careful to not let church attendance and involvement interfere with our relationship with the Lord. I think for many it has become a substitute.

This was never meant to be.

I say we have substituted church attendance for taking time to know Jesus and letting Him change our lives. Which means yielding to Him. “No thank, you, I will hang on to my Self and who I am. ” And this is the lure of New Age. Self. Worship of Self.

Every day I see friends leaving Christianity because they feel like it let them down. The reality is that the “church” they were a part of and the people in it let them down. But because the way they lived out their Christianity was by attending church (and maybe even being more involved) , they did not realize they had substituted their church for the Lord. So as long as they went to church, they expected the Lord to take of them and meet all their needs. And so, they were hurt, let down, disappointed, and eventually turned their back “on the Lord,” not realizing their real Lord was the church. They never knew Jesus.

And often these now-professed non-believers turn to and embrace New Age gurus and concepts. Why? Because they are hungering for the depth of spirituality that they did not find in the “church.” The tragedy is that true Christianity offers everything the New Age movement does. We have lost the spirituality of it and substituted church attendance (and “fellowship”).

You can read ANY guru’s postings and 99% of what is written is true Christianity. (See link below, beginning at paragraph 4.) The last 1% leaves Jesus out and puts one’s Self in. And therein lies the deception. We are a New Creation, hidden in Him, and it is He that lives in us, to do all the changing that New Age says we can do for ourselves. We can’t.

Please be assured that I am not espousing that we litter and dump millions of gallons of industrial waste into our rivers and streams. That is common sense. I AM examining just how far we take common courtesy (and sense) and calling “going green” a Christian responsibility.

Random Thoughts

I recently asked a question about the scriptural basis used by many calling for a Christian’s responsibility to the environment. A friend of mine responded to this question. One comment he made was:  “Whatever I call mine is from Him and first belongs to Him. At the Bema seat of judgment for believers, our stewardship of all that He entrusted to me will be examined.”

I have decided to publish my response to him as an open letter in hopes that those believers who accept “going green” as something our Lord desires of them will re-consider their convictions on this issue.

Please NOTE:  I have made some minor editorial tweaks for the sake of clarity and anonymity. Please also note that I have read countless scriptures used by believers to warrant their concept of being stewards of our earth. I feel every scripture shared with me is taken out of context and…

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Ah…the tragedy of fear. It enslaves.

Choices We Make

Each day each one of us makes choices. We choose how we are going to live and what we are going to do and be.

We choose whether to be kind or mean. We choose whether to let life’s blows (or blessings) rule and imprison us, or whether to rise above the circumstances. We choose whether to be mindless and follow what everyone else is doing or to think for ourselves and often end up going against the tide of the masses.

(Ironically, in today’s culture, when we “go against the norm,” we are actually still mindlessly following those who “go against the norm.” “Going against” became the norm in the 70’s. “Alternative” has simply become another norm and we are no different from those we so harshly criticize.)

We choose whether to let technology do our thinking for us or to use our own brains, exercising them to keep them alive and active. We choose whether to be a giver or a taker. We choose whether to stay the way we are or to change doing the things we do, often only one little thing at a time.

I used to be chronically late…late for virtually everything. Not much. Maybe only 10 minutes. But late nevertheless. One day a real friend let me know that I would lose my job if I did not make a change in this pattern of my life. So I chose. I chose to be at work 15 minutes early every day. This meant setting my alarm 30 minutes earlier than usual. And it meant getting up when it went off. But I chose to do this, no matter how tired I was.

I was successful in this one endeavor of getting to work early, and began to apply the same principle to other events. This has proven to be of great value to me in life. (Incidentally, in doing this, I came to see that this one “small” area of my life was actually huge, with far-reaching ramifications. I saw being chronically late was just one outwardly visible sign of my being totally selfish, self-seeking, and discourteous to everyone else I was interacting with. No “small” thing after all.)

We can remain the same that we are, often lonely, friendless, and living meaningless lives; or we can choose to seek out ways to better ourselves and begin the journey of living a life of change and growth, learning to put others first, and learning to seek out ways to be of a real benefit to others.