Christmas Traditions: Christmas Carols and Two Kingdom Theology

A better translation.

A better translation.

“Glory to God in the Highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill towards men!”

 I love Christmas carols and Christmas songs. I love the very Americanized version of this Christmas holiday with songs about snow and Santa and presents. I love the Christian side that rejoices at Christ’s incarnation. What could be more wonderful than celebrating the first Eucatastrophe in human history: God became man and dwelt among us? We should be humbled and awed by this turning point in history.

And yet, as I grow in my doctrinal understanding, I often have to sing and enjoy these songs through heavily shielded Two Kingdom Theology Goggles. So many of them seem to think that the above passage means that at some point in our earthly history there will be no more war. Many Christmas songs seem to believe that God is in the business of saving this world.

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My response, as I hope to have a character in my story say, “The King isn’t in the business of saving this world. This world isn’t going to be saved. The King is in the business of saving his souls. That’s what he’s doing. He saving his souls out of this world. Not saving this world.”

There will never be peace here, on this earth, but that doesn’t mean God is dead. “God is not dead, nor does he sleep. The wrong shall fail, and right prevail, with peace on earth.” This line is true. Just not in the way intended in the context of the poem. God isn’t taking sides in man’s petty wars. (Though I believe in fighting for what’s right.) So that the good guys win. (Thought I’m thankful when they do.)

This is one of those cases where you have to understand and define what’s being said. And dear reader, if you do, the world makes more sense, and the Christmas Carols take on a whole new depth of joy!

Peace on Earth isn’t about a lack of bickering and fighting. It is about God himself breaking into time and into our hearts and ending the war between us. From birth, we have all in a bitter, violent war against God that we are going to lose. You can’t win a war against God, but we’re fighting it anyway. And we’re not fighting it in a valiant Ragnarok/300 way: fighting because it’s right even if there’s no hope of winning. This is outright rebellion against good, right, light, and hope. This is us clinging to small rebellions when better has been offered to us. This is your three year old throwing a fit over a small piece of trash when you’re trying to offer her a new toy. It’s mean, petty, and ridiculous. Honestly, it’s sad. And yet we keep proudly plodding along in our fight against God.

Who would save us? We wouldn’t, couldn’t stop. We are at constant war with God.

Eucatastrophe.

God came to us.

He didn’t come in pomp, or pride, or might…which he could have. He came in humility, born into this world like we are, born in a cold dirty place, and living a cold dirty life, and dying a tortured death. All this and more he endured for us! To bring peace. We couldn’t bring peace, so God himself brought peace.

“Peace on earth, goodwill towards men” is one of the greatest lines in all of history. For some of us, those called, chosen, elected, the war is over. Gently, God has taken the trash we so vainly screamed over and given us something better than a toy.

So, Joy to the World, the Lord has come! Good Christian men rejoice, with heart and soul and voice. God rest ye Merry Gentlemen, let nothing you dismay, remember Christ your Savior was born!

Could there be a more amazing, awesome, joyous event to celebrate than God ending the war that we started?

This earth will burn. It will be judged. God isn’t here to save this place, or make it a nice place to be, or make us nice to each other. God is here to gather His people home. The people He is now at peace with. Those who still fight this horrible war against Him aren’t at peace. There is no goodwill. They have refused to repent. They have not had their hearts broken by God.

But, for those of us who have had their hearts broken, who have agreed with God’s assessment of the vile wickedness of our sin, who have experienced an undeserved rescue:

“Glory to God in the Highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill towards men!”

are some of the most beautiful words in history.

 

Merry Christmas!!!

 

There is Beauty Even Here: All the Light We Cannot See and Hamburger Hill

 

It seems odd to connect the book All the Light We Cannot See with the violent war movie Hamburger Hill. One is filled with elegant and gripping prose. The other reeks of dirt, blood, gore, language, and nudity. And yet, a beauty resonated within them both.

All the Light We Cannot See is the story of a blind young girl, and a smart, small boy caught up in WW2. Werner is a German and Marie is French. Their lives touch for the briefest of poignant moments. Instead of getting down in the muck of war, Doerr captures haunting horrors in words of longing, and broken grace. You know all that is happening is gross, mean, and destructive, yet you are removed from all that by a prose that takes you higher. And somehow this lofty view makes it all the more terrible. It paints death with beauty which only makes the death more jolting, more revolting. Your heart weeps at the loss of innocence, family, goodness. You see souls torn more deeply by the careful choice of each perfect word.

Hamburger Hill is as opposite as you can get. There are no majestic shots, no moving music, and no quotable dialogue. All there is is a handful of very young men cussing, fighting, and lusting. They are covered in dirt, sweating, and unattractive in every way. But, as the movie culminates, beauty blazes through. It is seen in the worst guy who hasn’t said one pure thing about a woman, hugging the other guy who’s girl just dumped him. It’s seen when a Lieutenant weeps as his men are mowed down by friendly fire, when a sergeant explains why he came back to Vietnam, when race is sponged away between white boys and black boys cause they’re all dying, when a private wipes his sergeant’s face, and when a man holds so gently his dying buddy. Great tenderness blooms between these men as they attempt to fight their way up a hill for ten days.

Beauty is found even here.

Two stories of war, as different as can be, and yet both show a light burning bright in the darkness.

Reading/watching these back to back was emotionally taxing, and yet it reminded me of why I’m drawn back to war stories over and over. I love seeing the light in the darkest moment. I love the beauty that blooms in battle. I love brotherhoods. There is something magical about men who have fought together that we’re losing in our feministic culture. I plan to go down kicking and screaming. I will be a woman who honors warriors without demanding to be one.

I love these stories because they capture the reality of my existence. I am not what I seem on some level. It’s true, I am a middle class, white, suburban housewife. But, I’m also a saved sinner, a healed monster, and a warrior in the battle against sin. War movies are my unseen reality and my church family is my band of brothers. I may not want women to be forced into the bond of battle formed between men, but I can also be part of that great friendship in the spiritual army of the Lord. When I see them fighting down in the dirt, when I see two children suffering all that war brings, I look with my Christian-colored-glasses and see the spiritual battle I engage in every day.

Life is more than it seems, both uglier and more beautiful.

Sometimes as a writer, I lose my way. I forget what story I’m telling when I’m in the middle of plot lines, time lines, and commas, but movies and stories like this help re-align me. They help me keep fighting. They help me to pray for my family. They remind me to hug and hold cause I don’t know the battle my fellow soldier may have engaged in this week.

There is beauty even here.

 

Sunday Thoughts: Training

steve-rogers-i-understood-that-referenceA few weeks ago Pastor Eddie Florentino used an illustration for affliction that really stuck with me and has been a source of encouragement to me over the last few weeks. The passage for that morning was Hebrews 12: 4-11:

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

While walking us through the text from Proverbs quoted in Hebrews during Pray Meeting, Pastor Eddie asked if we expected Navy SEALs to get easy training? Do we expect their training to be hard or just a walk in the park?

Well, the obvious answer is we expect their training to not only be hard, but the hardest. These men are supposed to be the elite of the elite. They are supposed to make all our other soldiers look like guys hanging out for the weekend. No soldier should have it easy in basic training. To make it easy on them is to do them a disservice because it leaves them open to attack when they go to war. The better trained our soldiers are the better chances they have of surviving and coming home to their families. (You should always worry if the standards of training are being lowered. That means someone is not getting the training they need. That puts them and  everyone around them in danger.) The Navy Seals and all our other special forces should, and do, have training that makes basic look easy. We should hold them to a high standard and we should expect lots of men to be unable to cut it. If just anyone can make it through Navy SEAL training than we have a problem.

So what does this have to do with affliction and why did it stick with me?

It says in Hebrews that our affliction is God’s disciplining and training for us. It is how God molds us and makes us into his children. This world, in some ways, is our boot camp, our basic training, and God uses trials and and sufferings to get us in shape.

Yet for some reason we always complain that our “training” isn’t easy. Why oh why am I suffering?? We moan and complain when the Bible makes it very clear that God is perfecting us. You see that? Perfecting!  I don’t know about you, but that seems like something that would require a lot of work. Perfection isn’t easy.

For six months, I’ve been struggling with health issue, and yet when I put my mind on them as training, as my spiritual boot camp, I find them much easier to bear with hope. I have hope in my trials because I know God is using them to make me a better soldier.

Navy-SealSee, I’ve read Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell (one of my top 10 favorite books) and American Sniper by Chris Kyle. Through their books, I have gained a very small understanding of what our Navy SEALs do in their training. I have vicariously experienced the mental and physical strength needed to survive to become a SEAL through their stories. Pastor Eddie’s illustration really struck home with me. I truly felt like Captain America in the picture above. I got that reference. It made many things click into place in my head. Their training is hard for a reason and our training by God is hard for a reason. It made my trials logical because I understood they were God’s work in my heart. God is not perfecting everyone. But, He is perfecting His people and that means my life is going to be a struggle, a battle, filled with trials and afflictions, because He loves me and isn’t going to leave me to myself.

That, my dear brothers and sisters, is hope!

Hope!

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are here to make me more Christ-like, not give me an easy life, and just like a Navy SEAL, I’m in for a world of hurt. Not because instructors or God is mean. No. Quite the opposite. The instructors what to make sure each SEAL is the best he can be so that he survives and helps bring everyone home. There is a point to the suffering the SEALs endure in their training. There is a point to my trials and suffering. God is loosening my grip on this world, making me holy, and teaching me about Himself. One day, He will bring me home.

We are being trained. That is a hope-filled thought.

I may never have gotten to be a Navy SEAL in this life (that’s another blog post for another day) but, God is training me as a soldier of the Lord in a much bigger war with a much greater Captain.

Quote of the Weekend

“. . . People. The guy bent over at the sink trying to work the sludge out of his knuckles with solvent, and his wife at the stove with her hair in curlers, shushing the kids over the booming racket of the radio. Her faces catches the light in a certain way, or that tender, dreamy look comes over it as she watches the baby, and the guy at the sink straightens and moves up behind her and steals a kiss, and she laughs, fussing a little because he’s still wet and soapy–and then turns and hugs him in the middle of the kitchen floor, wit the kids squabbling over the toys and the radio yammering away . . . All the men and girls with their with their dreams and derelictions, their quarrels and reconciliations, wrenched away from those intimate things now, those naked things, snatched up and flung harshly into jungles, mountains, burning desert sands for the preservation of this way of life we believe in so passionately–and which has so many glorious things about it that the simple contemplation of it, late on a hot, still night like this one, between the jungle and the see, 10,000 miles from home, can move you almost to tears . . . .”

Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer

(People. I love the beauty of this paragraph.)

Quote of the Weekend

“Only here, before his eyes, were there no distinctions of race or breeding. Here they slept together, not berthed separately under the neat aeration of the crosses but rolled together in one long trench–Christian and Negro and Jew, patrician and laborer: all of them were good enough to die, to sink to mortality and lie together.

Only in time of peace were they unworthy.”

– Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer

(Death, the great equalizer.)

Thoughts on the 2015 ARBCA GA

I just wanted to share some thoughts about this monumental week. I, along with so many others, have prayed and prayed for this General Assembly for the weeks, months and the year leading up to it. I prayed for unity, yes, but more than that, I prayed for our men to stand. I prayed they would stand for the truth and for God. I prayed that they would have the boldness and courage to face their brothers and, lovingly but firmly, stand for the truth.

That prayer was answered.

There are moments when you get to see history and you get to see heroes: 9/11, Pearl Harbor, VE-Day. This week I got to see church history. Real history. History that will last for eternity long after the broken history of this world is forgotten. I got to witness the heroes of my generation stand for the truth about God and not cave to the spirit of the age: Brandon Smith, Steve Garrick, Stefan Lindblad, Ron Baines, Rich Barcellos, Jim Renihan, Mike Renihan, and Jim Butler. These men served on the Theological Committee and spent two grueling days defending the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility. They were joined by John Giarrizzo and Doug VanderMeulen as men who did not cave. These men, and many more like them, are the heroes of my day. How blessed am I to have enjoyed a front row set to watch them and pray for them.

It’s funny to me to watch this church history unfold, because many of these men are not just names on a computer screen, but men I know. Some I have had in my home, some I have treasured silly stories about, and some are more like extra dads—looking at you Steve Garrick and Ron Baines—than they are mighty heroes. And yet, I find great beauty in the everydayness of these men. I imagine the counsels and synods of the past where Christ and the Trinity were defended were also filled with everyday men just doing what they were supposed to do.

But isn’t it always that way with war and battle. Are there any real superheroes? Usually there are just men doing what men needed to do. The ordinary forced to do the extraordinary because they were there, because this happened in their time.

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I’m thankful God graced us with such men.

I’m thankful for the care and time our elders and teachers have taken to train and guide our church in the doctrines of God, simplicity, and church history. Who would have thought doctrine would be so important? 😉 I’m thankful they never gave up on the mundane teaching of their flock. I’m astounded and speechless, almost unable to describe, the joy and thankfulness in my heart for God’s gift of pastors and teachers. He has been so kind to us.

After a day and a half of deliberation, The Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America voted. It voted to stand. It voted to cling to the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility.

Thank the good Lord for answered prayer.

Thank the good Lord for men who stood.

The praying hasn’t stopped. There is much left to do, many men going home to their churches who don’t hold to Impassibility with tough days ahead, and the Devil is always at work to divide us and destroy us. We still need men in this war and we still need them to be bold, courageous, and to stand.

 

 

Quote of the Weekend

“So we cannot flinch from war.  We cannot hide from its cruelty,  its blood, , its stench,  its vileness or its joy,  because war will come to us whether we want it or not.  War is fate,  and wyrd bid ful areas. Fate is inescapable.”

– Sword Song by Bernard Cornwell

(I’ve really enjoyed Cornwell’s Viking Saga. He tells rich stories.)

Movie Series Review: Rambo: First Blood

Sylvester Stallone Rambo First Blood movie image

I’m going to do a four part series on the Rambo movies. This may seem like an odd thing for a blogger who titles herself a gentle and quiet spirit, but I think women play a significant role as memory holders. I think it’s important for all of us to remember. And, I think it’s important for women to have a heart for warriors because we’re the ones who raise them. Women can make or break the children they have. Many of our best officers will tell you their mothers influenced them the most, and serial killers will say the same thing. Thus, I think it’s important to study these things. Even though I don’t have sons, I do have nephews. On the other side of my love for warriors is the Bible’s teaching about spiritual warfare. We’re at war, as Christians, and it doesn’t do to forget that—whether we’re pastors on the front line or housewives. These are purely the thoughts of an amateur theologian and amateur modern military historian. If any pastors or soldiers would like to weigh in, please feel free.

I found a love for action flicks in the mid-to late ’90s as a teen. I regularly watched Terminator 2 and Predator. For years I disregarded anything and everything Stallone ever made. I constantly thought of him as the Arnold wannabe. For a few years in my early-married life, I moved away from action flicks thinking I should watch deeper and more artistic films. Jason Stathem’s Transporter movies reignited my love of cheesy action flicks, and warrior stories. There’s been no going back since. Once my husband and I started watching action flicks again, he suggested we watch Rambo. I made my usual snide remarks about Stallone being an Arnold wannabe and dismissed the idea. He kept pressing, sighting it as a necessary point of Action Flick Education. Finally, I caved and we got our hands on First Blood.

I was in for a big surprise.

First Blood is not a cheesy action flick.

First Blood is a true and real drama.

It has real people with confused and mixed up morals. It raises interesting questions. It tracks the life of a man abandoned by his country and pushed to the breaking point. First Blood isn’t about big explosions, big guns, or body count. It’s about a part of our society which wasn’t popular than and isn’t popular now.

I’m not talking about soldiers.

We live, thankfully, in a day and age when it’s very in vogue to support the troops. It only took Vietnam for us to realize how much these men and women need civilian support. It only took that war to make us realize how sick a country is that spits on its soldiers. To this day, it nauseates me to think about what our boys—and I say boys because most soldiers are boys—went through in Vietnam and what they went through when they came home. I’m very thankful we live in a society that goes out of its way to show support for our troops.

But I’m not talking about our everyday soldiers.

I’m talking about warriors.

I’m talking about the men who give up everything that seems normal and safe to do all the hard things none of the rest of us want to do. Many of the everyday citizens must appreciate these people or shows like 24, Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp novels, and action flicks wouldn’t be popular. I think it’s our media and our elite academia who don’t appreciate these people. How can I say this?

Try reading a novel called Lone Survivor and you’ll see why we lost four of our warriors due to their fear of the liberal media. There I said it. Done soap boxing. Back to Rambo.

So, what happens to a society that pats itself on the back for supporting its troops, but doesn’t understand the blood and guts on its warriors’ hands? What happens when a man is trained to do one thing, wired to excel at that one thing, used to do that one thing, and then told what he did and what he does and what he’s good at is wrong?

What happens to a society when we start doing this at the earliest stages of boyhood? When we teach boys to be gentle to the point of emasculating them? I’m all for teaching boys to control their strength, but I still want boys to be boys. Instead of understanding that boys are uniquely different from girls in the area of physical and mental strength in a way that allows them to go and fight wars, evil, and meet violence with violence, we teach boys that they need to be medicated. We teach them that they need to be safe. Oh safety, you dangerous dangerous thing.

Do we do this only to our men? Nope. We do this to women too. Women are taught that the one thing we do in an amazing and only female way is valueless, or just not that important. Hello! Women have children. We create life in our bodies. We nurture. We sacrifice the ‘best’ years of our lives to raise up the next generation. Could we have a higher calling? Even I, a woman without children, count herself blessed to aid and help women who do. I still believe I’m strongest in my ability to support my husband, cherish life, nurture, and instruct. Just because I haven’t created a life in my own body yet, doesn’t mean I don’t have intrinsic female uniqueness. Same for a man, you may not get called to creep through jungles or fight in the sands of the Middle East, but you are still called to defend. You are still called to use your strength for truth and justice.

Now, back to Rambo First Blood.

John Rambo comes home after fighting in Vietnam. The movie opens with him finding out that the last man in his elite unit has died. Vietnam killed him too. He may have made it home, but he couldn’t escape the long dark reach of war. This information demoralizes Rambo. He hoped to find one of his brothers. Instead, he found he was truly and finally alone.

The sheriff picks Rambo up on the side of the road and encourages him to stay out of his town. Sheriff Will Tease is not a completely evil character. Imagine the whirlwind of emotion he struggles with as he does what he thinks is right for his quiet little town only to have it blow up in his face. Repeatedly, he gives into his own pride even at the cost of his men, but he does try to do the right thing. He tries to keep his men under control so Rambo isn’t killed. He tries to patch things up with Colonel Trautman. The Sheriff tries multiple times to do the right thing. He’s not a flat character. This movie could easily be told from his POV with him as the underdog hero instead of Rambo.

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Rambo gets pushed by Sheriff Tease and he pushes back, but it’s the moment he’s arrested that clicks Rambo’s training into high gear. In a way, Rambo looks for this fight. He could have avoided it. He could have kept walking and just shrugged the Sheriff off. But without hope, he goes back to the only thing he knows: fighting. Unfortunately, the Sheriff’s men don’t realize who they’re dealing until they’ve already shed first blood. They’ve already fired the first shot. If the Sheriff had kept his men in control, done a little research on the drifter they picked up, and had a little less pride on the line, Rambo could have been defused easily. Blinded by their arrogance, and the spirit of the day and age that hated both hippies and soldiers, Rambo’s training is switched on. The treatment Rambo experiences in the county jail makes him flash on his time as a POW. Escape becomes paramount in his mind.

The situation escalates. Rambo tries at one point to diffuse it after the first civilian dies. The Sheriff’s men open fire on him settling in his mind that he is at war.

The tension continues to build with the civilians bumbling around, Trautman trying to explain that it is the Sheriff and his men who are in danger not Rambo, and Rambo doing exactly what he was trained to do: fight.

FirstBloodRambo_067Pyxurz

Then you reach the end. This is the moment you realize this movie isn’t an action flick but a real drama. When Rambo’s about to kill the Sheriff, Trautman finally stops him. Rambo yells at him, “It’s never over.” And then, surprise of surprises, this great warrior breaks down in tears.

Why?

He’s alone. Rambo’s terribly and horribly alone. None of his friends made it out of the war. The nation he sacrificed so much of his humanity for does things like throw him in jail, rough him up, deny him food and work, shoot at him, and tries to kill him. They don’t honor, respect, or even care what he did. (Christian-colored Glasses: Many pastors face the same thing. They battle. They fight. They seek to defend their churches. And many times they aren’t respected, loved, or supported.)

I think this is why we see so many soldiers in our special forces go back. They go back to where they’re respected. It may be hell on earth, but for them it’s where their families are. It’s where their skills are used. It’s where they can do what they were made to do.

The question posed by Rambo, that I think we’re still asking ourselves today, is what do you do with the warriors when the war is over? Where do you put them? How do you utilize their skills so that they’re respected and honored?

What do we do with our warriors?

I found this video very interesting. Every mother, especially if you have sons, should watch this: Why do Veterans Miss War? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGZMSmcuiXM

This video asks a similar question to Rambo First Blood. I don’t believe, as a Christian, that by understanding war can we eradicate it. War is a result of sin. We can help our warriors, or soldiers, return to civilian life in a healthy way, giving them a chance to use their skills instead of telling them that what they do is unimportant or downright bad, if we understand that they were made to do this and that part of them loves doing it.

Watch First Blood. It is a well-done and amazing movie.

It made me finally place Stallone over Arnold. I’ll take a Stallone movie any day! Join me tomorrow for my thoughts on Rambo 2.

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Movie Quotes:

Trautman: Company leader to identify Baker Team – Rambo, Messner, Ortega, Coletta, Jurgensen, Berry, Krakauer confirm! This is Colonel Trautman. Talk to me, Johnny.

Rambo: They’re all gone Sir.

Trautman: Rambo! Are you all right?

Rambo: Baker Team. They’re all dead, sir.

Trautman: Not Delmar Berry, he made it.

Rambo: Berry’s gone too Sir.

Trautman: How?

Rambo: Got himself killed in ‘Nam, didn’t even know it. Cancer ate him down to the bone.

Trautman: I’m sorry, I didn’t know.

Rambo: I’m the last one Sir.

______________

(Language warning!)

Rambo: We were in this bar in Saigon and this kid comes up, this kid carrying a shoe-shine box. And he says “Shine, please, shine!” I said no. He kept askin’, yeah, and Joey said “Yeah.” And I went to get a couple of beers, and the box was wired, and he opened up the box, f–king blew his body all over the place. And he’s laying there, he’s f–king screaming. There’s pieces of him all over me, just…

[Takes off his bandolier]

Rambo: like this, and I’m tryin’ to pull him off, you know, my friend that’s all over me! I’ve got blood and everything and I’m tryin’ to hold him together! I’m puttin’… the guy’s f–kin’ insides keep coming out! And nobody would help! Nobody would help! He’s saying, sayin’ “I wanna go home! I wanna go home!” He keeps calling my name! “I wanna go home, Johnny! I wanna drive my Chevy!” I said “With what? I can’t find your f–kin’ legs! I can’t find your legs!”

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0004Z33EG/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0004Z33EG&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=GLCNQKHVIK4CUUIC

A Simple Tribute

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Many of you know I’m a huge Band of Brothers fan.  On Saturday we lost one more of these few remaining heroes.  My heart goes out to his family during this time of loss and I hope the Lord uses it to effectively call his own as they ponder the shortness of even this great man’s life.  I’m thankful that I had the honor of even knowing this man’s name and parts of his story.  I’m thankful for his sacrifice for our country.

When I went in, I was eighteen. I thought it was all glory and you win lots of medals. You think you’re going to be the guy. Then you find out the cost is very great. Especially when you don’t see the kids you were with when you went in. Living with it can be hell. It’s like the devil presides in you. I knew what I sighed up for, yes, and I would do it again. But the reality of war—words can’t begin to describe it. – Bill Guarnere
“I treasure my remark to a grandson who asked, “Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?” “No”, I answered, “But I served in a company of heroes”.” – Dick Winters

God’s Generosity Praised

All that is gold does not glitter

All that is gold does not glitter…

I don’t usually post on Thursdays, but this struck me so strongly this morning that I just had to write about it and share it now.

There have been several times in my life when I’ve had a choice between what I want to do (also what the world would tell me is following my dreams) and what the Lord commands me to do.  This has happened three big times in my life.  In these three big moments, God has blessed me beyond anything I could have planned or imagined.  God isn’t beholden to bless me with things or events that make me happy, but I’m thankful He does.  Of course, God is multi-tasker, so while He blesses me with a happy providence, He also sanctifies me through that providence.

I want to share one such situation for our mutual encouragement.  I’m a writer.  I would love nothing better than to hide in my house day after day and write stories of imaginary people.  Then, I would like to be able to take those stories and share them with others.  To be honest, I long for a day when I can walk into Barnes and Noble and pull a book off the shelf with my name on it.  I long to write a story that millions of people read.  I long to write a story that reverberates through people’s’ lives.   I long to write a story with the impact of Tolkien, Lewis, King, and Koontz.

But God.  God has providentially placed me in a life where that is going to take time, and lots of it.  First, we had a business were I was the face.  My husband was the brains and I was the brawn, so to speak.  Now that we’ve sold that, my focus is serving my church and maintaining my home.  (Clean, cook, upkeep, remodel, budget, etc.)  This is a full-time job.  My writing has changed, further hindering publishing.  I’ve gone from medieval fantasy, to urban fantasy, to YA and children’s stories without a book to hand to a publisher.  I’ve switched blogs and I’ve switched focus.  These things  set me behind every time I get close to the publishing wire.

God has commanded me to submit to my husband as to Christ.  Part of this submission is working to stay on board with his life.  His life, my husband’s, has changed focus in the last year or so.  It has gone from business to theology.  To be able to serve our church through study and teaching, he needs me to tend to lots of matters.  He has also asked me not to make writing a second career.  I’m in full agreement with him.  But, this leaves me with being a writer who can’t spend her days writing and marketing.  I get a few hours here and a few hours there.  I have limited time and resources.  This struck me when I tried to share my blog on Goodreads and realized I can’t unless I have a book published.  There are limits to what I can do.  I read other successful writers who talk about the amount of time it takes to be a published author and I think to myself, “I can’t do that.  Not now.  That’s not my focus.  God has called me to serve my church and obey my husband.  I can’t do those things well if I’m also trying to have a career in writing.”  So, I leave it alone.

Don't let me fool you, this is not me.

Don’t let me fool you, this is not me.

Please don’t think I left it alone like some Elsie Dinsmore type.  It wasn’t a calm folding of the hands.  It was a storm raging in my heart.  It was a battle between desire and command.  It was a weaning from this world.  It was a war of trust.  On one side sits my yearning to be a published author.  On the other side sits the commands to put the church and my husband first, to pour myself out, and leave this world.  I so want to go to the published author side.  I so want to forsake everything and do what I want.  The world screams at me that anyone standing in the way of what I want is an enemy.  But over on the other side, stands my humble Savior who gave everything for me.  Over there, stands my mighty Captain who died for me.  With Him stands all of eternity.  With Him stands my family, my church and my husband.  With Him stands everything I would forsake for my own gain.

This is more what I feel like inside.

This is more what I feel like inside.

The world shouts, “But this is your dream!  Follow your dreams!”

Christ holds out His hands, scarred for me.

Only by His grace, only because of Him and nothing else – family, church, husband – do I take His offered hand and flee to Him ignoring the world’s cacophony of noise.  And what do I find on the quiet, gentle side of the war in my heart.  I find love.  I find hope.  I find joy.  I find peace.  I find my friends, my family, and my church.  I find my husband.  And in God’s grace, I find people to write for and to.  God is so good to me.  Early this week, through His providence, a guest post I wrote was shown to a well-known reformed writer (Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Vidal!).  This writer shared my guest post with his audience.  So many people came to read what I wrote.  So many to me anyway. 🙂 The next day a blogger who only posts quotes from men like Calvin and Bunyan posted my article on his blog.  I was dumbfounded.  I was elated.  I was humbled beyond belief.  (Which is funny cause the article was about humility.)

God didn’t owe me one single reader.  I would have happily followed my Brother, my Captain, my King without another word written or read.  But God.  God who is rich, rich in mercy, saw fit to do this for me.  How can I not love and trust Him?  He not only saved my soul, not only adopted me, not only sustains me, which is far and above anything I deserve, but He also blesses me.  He takes care of me when I obey Him,  when I trust Him, just like a tender father.  How mighty a King, how kind a Lord, how generous a Brother, I have.

He has preserved me and is continuing to make me more like Christ.  I lay all that I am, all my dreams and desires, at His feet and trust Him to do with them as He will.  I praise Him now for the increased exposure and encouragement, and I will praise Him still even if no one ever reads a word I write.  It’s not about me.  It’s all about Him.

Just had to share it.