Sunday Thoughts: Boredom

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Sometimes the everyday hustle and bustle of life rubs and rubs until you become blind, deaf, and dumb with the wear. You stop seeing magic. You stop seeing joy. You stop seeing life.

But, what has truly happened is you’ve stopped seeing by faith and started seeing with fallen, old-man eyes. Faith no longer clouds your view. Only deep dark shadows fill your world. You fall before the boredom and monotony of eating, sleeping, cleaning, chores, bills, needs, election cycles, loads of laundry, care for the young and old, wars and the rumors of war, birth and death. The repetitiveness of the world weighs down on you until you forget.

(NOTHING CHANGES!)

This malaise seeps into our churches. The preaching becomes only so many words falling together, powerless as autumn leaves. The saints are no longer a glorious army of the Lord riding forth on white steeds under Christ’s mighty banner. They’re dull, ordinary, offensive people you no longer wish to be with. Sunday isn’t our day of rest, or the Lord’s Day. It is an interruption, taking away hours that could be spent trying to maintain control of everything else in life, or actually resting.

Believers see with eyes of the world. Our old, dead eyes. We get lazy. We stop being Vigilant. Our Christian-colored glasses slip off our nose and aren’t pushed back up. We haven’t stayed in the fight. We haven’t kept the hope.

The regularity and rhythm of life bows us down.

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Awake! Awake! Awake, my soul!

Renew. Refresh. Push your glasses tight against your nose and SEE by FAITH!

The Kings of the earth rage and God laughs.

His hand isn’t weak. His kingdom isn’t failing or even losing the battle.

Put back on your armor and fight! Fight, by God’s grace and in His might, the temptation to see life with dead, old, rotten eyes. They lie.

See with truth!

The preached word is our mighty King speaking to us. The church is the body of Christ and our true family. Do not let the world push you down in the rut of life and cover your eyes with the muck at the bottom. See the world around you with the light of the Word! Christ has already won the war. He is King over-all and He is saving His people!

This is our true reality, our true eternity.

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(Inspired by Dr. Robert Oliver’s preaching on Psalm 2)

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Rachel Atterholt’s Graduation

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Rachel on the right.

My dear friend, Rachel Atterholt, graduated from High School and I was honored to be asked by her parents to say a few words at her Graduation Party. I just thought I’d share them here:

I want to start by saying Congratulations on Graduating from High School and getting your GED! That’s one of the first milestones of life with many more to come! You stand at the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood with adventures, battles, sufferings, and great joy ahead of you.

One of your favorite quotes is the well-known line from Robert Frost: I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood an I – I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.

So, what do I say as a woman with a few more milestones under her belt, to you a woman about to face them? What do I say about the ‘road less traveled’?

Here’s the advice I wished I had heard…or in reality, what I wished I listened to:

The true road less traveled, and more important than any career, friends, dreams, aspirations, life goals or your family is your church. All around you the world is screaming to at you to pursue happiness, pursue your dreams, live life, get out there and be a roaring woman.

What you need to do is invest yourself in your church. Look, listen, pay attention, and figure out how you can serve your body. Value the preaching of the Word. Make this your life’s priority and you will be on the narrow, less traveled road.

This is more important than a boyfriend, romance, true love, getting married, having kids, your sisters and your parents. Your church is your first thing. Not second. Not third. First.

After that and only after that comes everything else.

This is the best advice I can give you as you graduate from high school and face adulthood.

Your favorite Bible verse is, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.

You have faced trials already—health issues, relationship issues, life issues—and, I hate to tell you, you will face many more. Life here on earth is a constant battle, constant hand-to-hand combat between our remaining sin, the sinful world, and following Christ. But God, who is rich in mercy, is working all things for our good. Each trial, each bit of stress, each battle is working to make us more like Christ. More battles are coming in your life. Cling to Christ and his word.

Rachel, I’m privileged and honored to be your friend, to read your writing, to share movies and music with you! More than that, I’m thankful to watch you seek the Lord, attend church regularly, host teas, help in the kitchen, and be involved.

I hope and pray that as you end one stage of your life and sort through what you want the next stage to be that you’ll be a faithful church member, feed on the preaching of the word, and grow in wisdom and grace.

Happy Graduation!

 

Writing Journal: Trees

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Trees are very important to me. They are mighty, knurled, fruit bearing, warmth-providing plants with rings counting back the years. They survive and grow into the heavens. Other than about six years living in Los Angeles, I’ve spent most of my life in the beautiful South. From northern Arkansas right in the middle of the Ozarks, to South Carolina and our quirky house that butted right up against a small bit of forest, to Fort Worth with her Botanical Gardens, to my first home with 11 trees surrounding our house, I’ve lived around lots of trees. Not everyone thinks the South or even Texas are beautiful, but the connector between all those places that I’ve loved is tress, trees, trees. (Obviously, besides my church and family.)

In my fairy tale, I’ve opened the floodgates on this love by having two main characters tied to tress. One is a mother with a special magical connection to trees. The other is the dryad Guardian, master of all trees—Oak! (Oak is captured, locked far away from his trees, and tortured. It isn’t pretty.) I have enjoyed writing about trees and about people who love trees. The more I learn about them the more amazing trees become. Getting to pour that out into my book is delightful!

One of my goals as a writer is to write stories from a Christian worldview. That’s doesn’t mean everyone is blatantly a Reformed Christian (I’ve tried to do that and it’s very hard to write…they all just go live quiet lives) or that the story is blatantly Christian, but that the themes, the guide, and the defining of right and wrong are Christian.

I love it when a sermon confirms how I’ve done this or directs me into a new path. For example, one of our elders defined grace as an undeserved rescue. I wrote a whole story around that concept.

I hope to write a series someday entitled The Deacon, The Pastor, and The SoulDefender. So sometimes sermons confirm the direction my stories take, sometimes they correct it, inspire it, and sometimes direct it. I actively seek to submit my writing to the preached Word.

A few Sunday’s ago, Pastor Jarrett preached on Hebrews 10/32-39 and the encouragement, the soothing balm the Holy Spirit brings us, through the Word, after the sharp and terrifying warning against apostasy. If you fear this damnation, you are to:

  • Remember your salvation and look back to see your endurance. (v. 32-34)
  • Remain steadfast in your endurance. (v. 37-38)
  • Root yourself in faith in Christ (v. 37-38)

“my righteous one shall live by faith.”

Right there, a connection was made in my mind. Root yourself in Christ. Let him be the anchor for your soul. In my story, my tree Dryad, Oak, endures some great suffering. But he always holds to the idea that “deep roots don’t fear the wind, and trees by water don’t wither.” When Pastor Jarrett said “root yourself” I thought of Oak because he is in a dungeon chanting to himself “root and water” while he’s lost in darkness.

This sermon helped confirm in my mind that I’m showing a Christian worldview in my fairy tale. It is subtle. It is hidden. It doesn’t preach or scream. It is a strong man, broken down by evil, who has a faith in the King that the villains can’t touch. His roots are deep and planted by water. Roots and Water.

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Oak will endure because his roots are deep. This will confound his enemies. May it do the same in our lives.

Thanksgiving 1

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Last year, I had a new Thanksgiving go up every single day for the month of November. This year, the idea seems overwhelming. It’s funny how life ebbs and flows sometimes. I still wish to express my thankfulness, especially for those of you who know how much I love Christmas and may think of me as a holiday skipper. I promise my tree doesn’t go up until after Thanksgiving. 😉

This year I am thankful for the means of Grace, the Preaching of the Word. The older I get and the longer I live on this earth, the more attached my heart grows to the Lord’s Day and to the Preaching of His Word. It is here that I find help in my battle against sin, it is here that I’m armed for the fight and given courage. It is here that I’m reminded of my standing as an adopted child who has been given great mercy. It is here that the truths of God are made understandable. I long for each Sunday. In this, I’m thankful for faithful men who spend themselves in the study of the Scriptures for the sake of our little flock here in Texas. I’m thankful for fellow saints in the trenches who encourage me with their faithful attendance. God is good to us!

Happy Thanksgiving!