Friday, July 30, 2010

Wonder What Jesus Thinks???

I have never read any of her books, but I know she is famous for her vampire stories. She is also famous for her startling turn to Christian faith. In 2005 Anne Rice announced she was returning to the faith of her childhood. After years spent groping in darkness and making a fortune writing about the forces of evil and darkness she turned to Jesus, the Light of the World.
On Wednesday of this week she announced, "I quit being a Christian." She isn't done with Jesus. She's done with Christians. She just doesn't fit the mold. She holds to her pre-Jesus values - many of which turn Christians and traditional faith on its head: pro-gay, pro-feminist, pro-artificial birth control, pro-Democrat, pro-secular humanism, pro-science, etc.
While I don't agree with her positions on these issues and others, it saddens me that she hasn't found acceptance for where she is on her faith journey by other believers.
She also says, "I remain commited to Christ as always."
Is she confused and conflicted? Probably, but that's no excuse for the Christians who haven't reached out to be real in their faith toward her. Is her "being done with Christianity" so hard to understand? Not for me, because - even with my own traditional Christian world-and-life views I have experienced a lot of painful rejection from so-called Christians.
Anne Rice and I probably don't know any of the same people who claim to carry the name of Christ and the brand Christian. BUT we've both felt pain and rejection from those who should have been companions on the journey.
I wonder what Jesus thinks about all this. I have an idea that he is very sad. What Anne Rice is looking for is REAL! She wants Christians to accept her where she is not where she may get to be as she gets further along in her faith journey. I'm sure there's a lot about faith and being real she has to learn. So do I!
Jesus came, lived, died and lives forever for people like Anne Rice and me. He always took people just where they were. He loved and accepted them even if they didn't have a set of "acceptable" values. He even defended a woman caught in the ultimate departure from "traditional" values (John 8:1-11) - the adultress who was thrown at his feet by the church leaders of His day. He said to her, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and leave your life of sin!" Jesus didn't give the woman a theological or moral exam. He looked into her heart and saw her pain.
Shame on those Christians who have rejected Anne Rice! In their legalism they have dealt potentially mortal heart-hurts to Anne. They just might get the shock of their next life in eternity when they encounter a gay person or Democrat or feminist or secular humanist walking the streets of gold.
Jesus is perfectly capable of taking care of patterns of thought and lifestyle! He deals with hearts - even when that heart belongs to a head not quite "straight" even by Biblical standards! Who are we to say and do otherwise?
Where is our heart when we "cause one of these 'little ones' (aka new believer in Jesus)to stumble" (Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2)? Jesus doesn't stutter when He says we would be better off with concrete shoes at the bottom of the ocean!
Concrete hearts don't get us very far on our own journey with Jesus! What WOULD Jesus think? What DOES He think about Anne Rice and her rejection of Christianity but not Jesus? I think He's probably willing to work with her right where she is in her head. Jesus does His work in the heart. The head stuff comes along as He changes our hearts! That goes for me too!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Being a Christian Means Having a Wounded Heart

"Conversion (becoming a Christian and the process of being a Christian) is not the smooth, easy-going process some men (and women) seem to think. It is wounding work, this breaking of the hearts; but without wounding there is no saving ... Where there is grafting there is a cutting, the (thin, young branch) must be let in with a wound; to stick it onto the outside or tie it on with a string would be of no use. Heart must be set to heart and back to back, or there will be no sap from root to branch, and this I say, must be done by a wound." (John Bunyan)
Jesus said, "I am the Vine, you are the branches. ... without Me you can do nothing! (John 15:5)
Has your heart been broken so you can love and serve the great King and others with God's love?

Friday, July 23, 2010


I have a very wise son. I'm not sure how he got that way, but he amazes me sometimes. Not long ago he was talking about a "situation" he was trying to work through. It was one of those hard relational things where the other party was totally convinced they were right with a "holy fervor"! It wasn't an easy time for my son and his family, but his response to this difficult, painful relationship was what blessed my heart so much:
"Mom, I just have to think how much Jesus loved me and how much He suffered on the cross for me. If Jesus who never deserved to die could die such a terrible death so I can be forgiven, then who am I to deny grace to someone who has offended me? Forgiveness isn't an option when I consider how much I have been forgiven!"
Wow! I hope I can hold that in my heart so the next time I need those wise words I will remember and respond in kind!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A "Spooky" Love Story

The movie The Time Traveler's Wife is the story of a man who constantly flips back and forth between time travel and his normal life. He never knows where he will find himself next. You might say it's a love story with a sci-fi twist. The time traveler loves his wife. They were childhood sweetheats. His love reached across time and space from his heart to hers. He misses her when he's off on his travels.

There is a time traveler love story in Acts that has a similar twist. (Acts 8:26-40) Philip is a follower of Jesus and a missionary to the half-breed, social outcasts in Samaria. Philip gets a message from an angel to take a walk on a specific road and go a certain direction. He encounters a black man, a eunuch, who is part of the royal court in Ethiopia traveling back from Jerusalem. As this man rode along in his chariot he was reading to pass the time. He chose to read the scroll/book of Isaiah.

Note: This is interesting because it shows God's plan for the continent of Africa. Long before we knew there was a continent or it was named Africa, God knew and was working to bring His Gospel to what has often been called the dark continent. Today the Gospel is growing on steriods in Africa! It is no longer the dark continent to the Gospel.

God's love was reaching across time and space to this man in a chariot to open his eyes and his heart to the good news about Jesus.

In a sense this unnamed man from Ethiopia was reading an ancient love story. Philip climbed up into the man's chariot, rode a ways with him and explained what he was reading to him. The African man believed what he read. When they passed a stream or pond, he asked Philip to baptize him.

Up to this point in the story, God is working outside time and space to change the Ethiopian man's heart. Then the story turns really spooky:

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again ...
(vs. 39-40)

It is spooky for us to think someone can just be gone - poof! - and reappear somewhere else far away in the blink of an eye, but this is God's MO
(modus operandi - mode of operation). God travels through time and space all the time. In fact, the truth is that God goes even farther than that. God can be more than one place at a time all at the same time which is even more spooky!

God is the True Time Traveler! Like the man in the movie, God is after your heart and mine. He loves each of us enough to travel through time and space to woo and win our hearts and bring us into His forever family! God's love is literally an extraterrestral love affair. AND it's so much more than a nice story. The fact that God is the ultimate Time Traveler means that He is already in the middle of your day today, your day tomorrow and was in the middle of your yesterday! In a word, God is in the middle of your story! Think about it! It's pretty awesome! It's a spooky love story of cosmic proportions!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A New Heart!

Once there was a very pretty little pig named Isabelle. Isabelle belonged to Mrs. Lady. Mrs. Lady bathed Isabelle every day and dressed her in frilly dresses. Mrs. Lady and Isabelle took walks together every day. Lady was very proud of Isabelle, her pet pig.
One day when Lady and Isabelle took their walk, they passed some other pigs who were wallowing in a big mud puddle.
That was when the trouble began!
Isabelle yanked her leash right out of Lady's hand and ran as fast as her chubby little legs would go straight for the other pigs and their mud puddle. Isabelle dived right in the middle of the mud puddle!
Lady was horrified! She scolded Isabelle and promptly drug her out of the mud.
Isabelle squealed all the way home. Then Isabelle squeeled some more when Lady started scrubbing all the mud away. Lady scrubbed and scrubbed. Soon Isabelle was her normal pink pig self!
The next day Lady dressed Isabelle in a pretty dress and hat and took her for a walk. As they were walking, they came to a mud puddle ... What do you guess happened?
Isabelle ran as fast as her chubby little legs would carry her straight into the mud puddle. She rolled and splashed in the mud grunting and squealing with great glee!
Of course Lady was horrified. She was mad, too! She really, really scolded Isabelle all the way home!
Lady took Isabelle home and the scrubbing began all over again. This routine went on day after day. Finally Lady was so sad, mad and disgusted with Isabelle that she decided Isabelle would be better off as bacon rather than Lady's pet.
Lady told Isabelle that if she ever jumped into another mud puddle she was going straight to the butcher to be bacon.
Isabelle was sad and scared. She didn't know what to do. In her heart she was a pig, and pigs naturally like mud puddles! No matter how hard Isabelle tried, she knew she just couldn't stay away from mud puddles. Mud puddles are one thing pigs do best.
That night Isabelle dreamed about a beautiful fairy. The fairy asked Isabelle (in the dream), "Isabelle, would you like to change and never want to jump into another mud puddle?"
"O, yes!" Isabelle said to the fairy.
The fairy said, "Isabelle, I can help you. I can give you a heart transplant. I can cut out your pig heart and give you a lamb heart instead. Lambs don't like mud puddles. Lambs like clean green grass."
Isabelle was really scared, but she told the fairy to "go for it"!
The next day Lady and Isabelle went walking one last time.
Lady didn't know it yet, but Isabelle was a different pig. She ran and rolled on the clean green grass. She followed Lady everywhere she went. When they passed some pigs wallowing in a mud puddle, Isabelle didn't even blink. For the first time ever, she had no interest in mud. In fact she wanted to stay as far away as possible from nasty, yukky mud! Isabelle had a new heart! Isabelle looked like a pig on the outside, but she was really a lamb on the inside!
Isabelle and Lady and the fairy are only part of a made-up story. Fairies can't change pig's hearts. Fairies don't do heart transplants except in made-up stories.
BUT Isabelle helps me understand how God looks at my heart.
I am like Isabelle. I like to wallow in the mud of sin. That's just what sinners do, and I am a sinner. I have a heart that "likes" to sin. Trying harder is not the way out of the "sin cycle"!
Only God can change my heart. Only God does heart transplants - cutting out hearts bent to sin. You and I can't stop being sinners any more than Isabelle can stop being a pig.
It's hard to "be good." We all need new hearts. God comes to us and says, "Give me your heart and I will give you a new heart." (Ezekiel 36:26) When God gives us a new heart, then we want to love and obey God. God changes us on the inside!
Just remember: That change is a process not a point action. The good news is that God isn't finished with me yet no matter how much I goof things up! He's in the process of making my heart new.
In Romans 6:1-14 Paul talks about what God thinks:
So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we've left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn't you realize we packed up and left there for good? ... we left the old country of sin behind; ... we entered the new country of grace - a new life in a new land! ...
Could it be any clearer? Our old way was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life - no longer at sin's beck and call! ... When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That's what Jesus did.
That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don't give it the time of day. Don't even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time - remember, you've been raised from the dead! - into God's way of doing things. Sin can't tell you how to live. After all, you're not living under that old tyranny any longer. You're living in the freedom of God. (Romans 6:1-14, The Message)
Jesus said, "I am the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29)