Category: Guerilla Christianity

I’m going to go ahead and spoil the whole point of this blog post right off the bat.  We are not in competition with one another.

(Ok – those of you involved in athletics, musical groups, or reality-television elimination shows: you are actually in competition with each other. But that’s not what I’m talking about).

WE.  US.  You, me, that guy over there.  That lady with the cat.  Not in competition.

Why do we do this?  I’m honestly asking.  Why must we tear down those around us?  Why must we snipe and pinch and carp and complain?

Why do we steal our own joy?

I’m going to break it down a bit.  I really enjoy singing.  I will never be a professional singer, but I love it.  If I hear someone else sing, and it sounds lovely, I can say ‘They have a lovely voice!’ and then sit back and enjoy.  But so many times in the past, I felt compelled to nitpick every reason why their voice (or looks, or clothes, or whatever) wasn’t as good as whatever praise they had gotten, because hey – I was good too!

Then, I sat myself down for a little talking to.  Seriously?  Do I want to live with that whiny voice in my head?  Answer: I do not.  Because whining is super-duper annoying, and because it was stealing my joy.

So, if I hear someone sing, and I like it – do you know what that means for my own singing?  Absolutely nothing.  Not related.  Because I am not in competition with that person.

My body does not reflect my observations of the bodies I see.  My clothes do not, my marriage does not, my bank-account does not.

By now, you are asking yourself, ‘why is the crazy lady rambling about competition?’

Because Christians do it to each other all the time.  I’ve shared before, when I talk to people who have either drifted away from the church, or who have run away as if on fire, the number one reason I hear is the hypocrisy of other people in the church.  This is ‘the church’ as in ‘Christian Church’ – not one specific church.  And they weren’t literally on fire.  I don’t think.

So, I was thinking about this, and I think it comes back to competition.  I think we get the first part, ‘For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’  Good!  We understand!  We ALL (I’m looking at you.  And me.  All means all) have sinned.  None of us deserves the forgiveness we were offered.

So why do some insist on looking down on others, as if they are MORE undeserving?  Perhaps because they are still figuring out this whole ‘life’ thing (its HARD!).  Maybe they don’t find a seat in a church pew as often (do you all have pews?  We don’t, we have padded chairs, but I still say pews, and I don’t know why) as someone else.  They aren’t on the church council, they don’t teach in the Sunday School.  They aren’t pillars of the PTA, and they don’t organize the bake sales.

Which is really too bad, because all of those things mean. . . . . . well, nothing.  I don’t mean nothing – those are wonderful things, if the people doing them enjoy it and it adds to their life.

But it doesn’t move you ahead of someone else in the hierarchy of God’s love.  Because God doesn’t have one.  He’s awesome like that.

I guess what I’m saying is – do the things you are lead to do.  Perhaps they help YOU develop a stronger relationship with God.  Perhaps they fulfill you and bring you joy.  I am the first to say – I am happy for you.  I thank you for the service you offer.  I appreciate what you do.

If you are someone who is just getting by, and feels disheartened by all those Christians who seem so much more ‘Christian’ than you?  Don’t worry, you aren’t in competition.  I’m not a huge scripture quoter, but I do know one of the most common phrases in the Bible is ‘Be not afraid.’  Here are my thoughts.

Be not afraid to be who you are.

Be not afraid to love deeply.

Be not afraid that you are not ‘doing enough.’

Be not afraid to follow the path in front of you – walk in faith, and the reason may become clear.

Be not afraid of what other people are doing – that’s their path, not yours.

Be not afraid of what other people think – Christ said ‘follow me’ not ‘follow those people over there.’

Be not afraid that God’s love will be used up on those ‘better’ than you.  First – ‘better’ is competition, and we’ve agreed to stop doing that.  Second- God’s capacity for love is so great that no amount of people could ever fill it.  Third – you deserve that love.

Be not afraid to be.

 

And be not afraid to see the beauty, brilliance, and strengths of others.  When you recognize it and honor it, you open your eyes to a new world.

 

And you’ll win back your joy.

 

Take Care!

Kim

 

If you enjoyed this, or it made you think, or you think I’m nice and I might bake you a cake, please LIKE and SHARE both this and my Facebook page! (Ok, so I know we’re not in competition, but I do kinda sorta want to get this out to more people, and that would be really helpful!).

 

 

Guerilla Christianity

So, there’s someone I’d like to introduce you too.  Whenever anyone asks the question ‘If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be?’, I immediately answer ‘Corrie ten Boom.’

Always.

Why?  Courage. Conviction. Perseverance. Faith. Forgiveness.

She’s written several books, but the one I’ve read and re-read is called ‘The Hiding Place.’  If you haven’t read it, you should.  If you are exploring your faith, you should.  If you are struggling to make sense of circumstances, you should.  If you are seeking peace, you should.

Just read it, ok.

If I told you that this little Dutch woman was a beacon of hope, peace, forgiveness, compassion, and love – that would likely not come as a surprise since I just told you about 6 times to go read her book.

What if I told you that her story includes arrest, imprisonment, and eventually, a concentration camp?

Still, maybe not a total surprise.  There are quite a few stories of amazing individuals who were not afraid to go to prison for their cause and their beliefs.

I think what sets Corrie ten Boom apart for me is the sense of peace.  I’ve seen ‘Schindler’s List.’  I read ‘Night’ by Elie Wiesel in college.  I always had a sense of haunting cold.  That feeling inside that is the absence of feeling – because the real emotion is too painful to comprehend.  The horror of human beings treated with utter inhumanity.

‘The Hiding Place’ doesn’t hide that, but instead re-frames it.  Whenever I set down her book and dry my tears, I realize there is no absence of emotion.  There is a fullness, a peace.  The peace that passes understanding.  It remains the ‘most loaned’ book in my substantial collection, and is completely falling apart.

Obviously, she survived her experiences during the Holocaust, as she was able to write about them later.  Her first goal upon her release was to set up a home for other survivors so that they could receive care and comfort, and so they could heal.  Again – no real surprise there.  At one point she was approached by a cruel former guard, who asked for forgiveness.  She prayed with them.  Ok – surprise there.  The level of faith and forgiveness she showed (not without difficulty – she had her share of anger), continues to be an absolute inspiration.  I am in awe of her.  If she were sitting down to dinner with me, she would smile, then shake her head and say ‘not me, God.’  I can even hear her Dutch accent.  I feel as though I know her personally, though she died shortly before I turned 3, and hadn’t spoken for nearly 5 years due to a stroke.

I am not going to review the story here.  Mostly because I’m going to continue to be bossy and tell you to go read it (you will not regret it!).

I did want to give you a little back-story, though, because I’m going to share some of my favorite quotes.  When I find myself in a dark and difficult place-  I often turn to Corrie ten Boom’s quotes as a source of comfort, perspective, hope, and peace.

These are in no particular order:

 

‘Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow.  It empties today of its strength.’

‘There is no pit so deep, that He (God) is not deeper still.’ (this was originally a quote of her sister Betsie, that Corrie adopted and shared).

‘Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.’

‘Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.’

‘You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.’

‘Happiness isn’t something that depends on our surroundings…It’s something we make inside ourselves.’

‘There is no panic in Heaven! God has no problems, only plans.’

‘Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.’

‘Perhaps only when human effort had done it’s best and failed, would God’s power alone be free to work.’

‘When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.’

‘When He tells us to love our enemies He gives, along with the command, the love itself.’

‘To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.’

‘Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.’

 

These are really just a few.  Just the ones I look to most often.  The ones that remind me how much power we can find if we step out of the false pride in our own abilities, and remember that true power comes when we serve as a conduit for God’s love.

So, in closing, one final quote.  Oh – and go read the book.  ‘The Hiding Place’ by Cornelia (Corrie) ten Boom.  DO IT.

 

‘Don’t bother to give God instructions; just report for duty.’

 

Find your inspiration.  Find your peace.

Happy reading everyone.

 

Did you know that when you LIKE and SHARE, it serves as a good deed for the day? It does!  Thanks!

Guerilla Christianity

I’ve been reflecting this week.  Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  We had some good conversation with our 7-year-old about why we honor Dr. King, and what he fought for.  We also kind of, sort of, made him cry a little bit in describing slavery.  Oops.  Not our intention, but after comforting him and reminding him that we had past that time in our country, we did remind him that we needed to remember how horrible it was to ensure we make better choices in the future.

Its hard to tell him about Dr. King’s work in the 60’s, and answer his questions.  We told him about segregation and ‘separate but equal’ – that was anything but equal.  Of course he asks ‘so its not like that anymore, right?’

Hmmmm.  How to answer him?  Yes, in many ways it is better.  Yet, its not ‘better’ in that we aren’t there yet.  We still have work to do.  A lot of work to do.  And by ‘we’ I mean all of us.  Every single person.  Every gender, every color, every religion and no religion, every income level, every political belief.  ‘WE’ have work to do.  I’m going to make it simple.

‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ – Martin Luther King Jr.
‘Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. . . Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.
‘The time is always right to do what is right.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.
‘I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.
While I submit these genuinely timeless quotes from Dr. King, I find that race is only one aspect that relates here.  Yes, our country – our world – has a lot of work to do in the matter of race.  The reality is, we have a lot of work to do, period.  Hate comes in so many forms.  Jealousy, discontent, bullying, superiority, judgment.
Guerilla Christianity is focused on my path and thoughts on Christianity.  I’ve mentioned before, but it bears repeating – when I talk to people who have moved away from the Christian church, one of the most common reasons is the hypocrisy of other Christians.  Those who stand up in church each week as pillars of the Christian community, but seem to be working from an abridged Bible.
Disclaimer – I remind everyone again that these are my opinions, and I encourage you to have your own.  I do not intend to speak for the entire Christian community – I speak for myself. – End Disclaimer.
Why?  We seem to get so bound up in ensuring that we are ‘higher’ up than others that we find ways to cut them down, even in our own thoughts.  How often do we fail to understand someone who is struggling with mental illness, who is dealing with circumstances they have just chosen not to share with you?  How often do we assume others have knowledge or abilities, when frankly they may not.
‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle you know nothing about.’ – (there is some disagreement about who to attribute this quote to.  Many sources say Plato, but others say Philo.   Ian Maclaren and John Watson are also potential sources.)
Why is kindness so difficult?  Why do we judge instead of understand?  Why do we speak the words of the importance of kindness – especially as Christians – yet fail to show kindness in our actions?
I think its fear.  I think secretly we still see salvation as a Draft.  We know we’re not going in the first round, because – hey, saints.  We just don’t want to miss the cutoff.
Another reason – we don’t really understand how grace works.  We don’t understand the idea of being washed clean through our faith.  We choose to continue to carry the burdens of our sins, and are desperate to reassure ourselves that in our infinite imperfection, at least we aren’t as bad as them.
‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ – Theodore Roosevelt
‘Be kind whenever it is possible.  It is always possible.’ – the Dalai Lama
Embrace your flaws.  Embrace your imperfections.  Embrace forgiveness.  Embrace grace.  In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy was a little annoyed to find out that she could have gone home anytime by tapping her heels.  The ability ways always inside her, but she had to go through what she had in order to believe it.  Each of us who believes in the salvation Christ offers has the ability to release our burden at any time and find our home in our faith.  Some of us need to go through a hard journey to understand that.
‘But God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’- Romans 5:8
Reflect on that.  Close your eyes (ok, finish reading this paragraph first, unless you’ve learned to read with your eyes shut – in which case – carry on), sit back.  Take a couple deep breaths.  Absorb that Christ died for you before you did a single thing to deserve it – with full knowledge that there was no way you every could deserve it.  Reflect on the kind of love that was offered simply as a gift.
If we can offer even a fraction of that perfect love to those around us, with no expectation of getting anything in return, we may just get somewhere in this human experiment.
‘All you need is love.’ – the Beatles.

Guerilla Christianity

It’s Christmas time!  The snow is . . . . somewhere (somewhere that is not Iowa).  The decorations are out.  The mall is a nightmare.

And everywhere you turn, someone, or some poster, or billboard, or TV Movie, or pet monkey (making sure you’re paying attention) is telling you about the real meaning of Christmas.

You know-  the real meaning, remembering a baby born in a manger to a virgin, the star in the sky, the shepherds, the choirs of angels, and the wise men coming from afar.

With that comes the reminder to enjoy your family, remember Jesus’ birth, love one another, and care more about giving than receiving.

Not to make you all hate me, but this is almost entirely incorrect.  Notice, I said almost entirely incorrect.  I don’t disagree with any of these ideas – they are all good things.  Therein lies the flaw.  Too often we find something ‘good’ and say ‘good enough.’  If you have read any of the other Guerilla Christianity posts, you will see a theme.  That theme is ‘use your brain, dig deeper.’

It is a deeply touching image to think of a new baby, heralded by a star and angels, resting in a humble barn, his parents looking on.  Christian Christmas hymns are beautiful and still give me chills.  The problem is that we stop there.  ‘Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus came to be born in a manger?’

Why do we reflect at Christmas time on the miracle of Christ’s birth?  Why do we remember to care more about giving than receiving.  Why do we gather together to enjoy our families.

Why did we ever stop?

Yes, the most important feature of Christmas is the birth of Christ.  Absolutely.  But His birth is only important because of His life.  Because of what He chose to do with the time given to Him on this earth.  He was fully integrated in life.  He led.  He taught.  He forgave.  He healed.  He loved.  He always saw those who were unaccepted by common society.  He accepted those that everyone around him urged him to ignore.  He spoke the truth, even when it angered others.  He provided for those who could not provide for themselves.   He gave every part of himself, even his life.

Why don’t we talk about that at Christmas?  Even at Easter we really only focus on His death and resurrection.  Why?

I remember reading once that a hyphen was an immensely powerful piece of punctuation.  The writer was referencing the hyphen between the birth and death dates on a tombstone.  That hyphen that somehow represented a life.  A life full of happiness, sadness, joy, longing, victory, defeat, despair, and dreams.

So, while we consider that manger scene, I urge you – don’t stop there.  Life isn’t a TV movie, with a neat message delivered in a defined period.  Life is messy.  Life is full of lots of days that aren’t Christmas or Easter.  Jesus’ life was full of many experiences that aren’t His birth and death (and resurrection – that part is actually really important).

Sing carols, read the Christmas story, attend candlelight service.  Give to the poor, enjoy time with your family, stand at midnight on Christmas and look into the starry sky.

When Christmas is over, and the presents have been unwrapped, the tree is taken down, and all the decorations put away, be careful to keep those thoughts and feelings out.  Don’t store them away with your Christmas baubles to dust off next November (day after Thanksgiving, not a day before).

Think about the manger.  Think about the life.  Think about the death and resurrection.  Don’t care for those less fortunate than you at Christmas.  Care for them, period.   Don’t take an extra moment to reflect on your love for your family at Christmas.  Do so daily.  Put a note on your fridge, a reminder in your phone, whatever works.

There’s something about Christmas that seems hopeful.  My hope is that we don’t forget when the decorations come down.

Take care,

Kim

Guerilla Christianity

I’m going to start here by saying that I am expressing my opinions.  You are free to agree or disagree.  I respect that.

I’m kind of angry today, which is pretty unusual for me.  I don’t ‘do’ angry much.  Righteous indignation shows up from time to time.  I sometimes get angry on behalf of others (the marginalized, abused, degraded, ignored – I tend to get pretty angry about those things).

But I don’t consider myself an angry person.  At all.  I process anger pretty effectively.  It doesn’t take over.

Today I’m angry.  I’m angry at a very specific message that we as a community of faith too often send.  I know I have certainly been guilty of it.

For a variety of reasons (which I won’t go into at this time because I don’t choose to), I was dealing with something perilously close to despair today.  That sounds so strange because despair is definitely something I don’t ‘do.’  Its just not part of me.

There I was, at despair’s doorstep.  I prayed (that part is VERY like me, so I know I haven’t been replaced by a clone).  I was in the car and had the radio  on my favorite Christian station.  I asked God for a message.

The next song made me mad.  There was that message.  ‘Sure, its all going to hell in a handbasket right now.  Don’t worry though, because once you’re dead, Heaven will be awesome.’

SERIOUSLY????

Ok – I get it.  I have taken courage from those very thoughts in the past.  There is comfort there, in the reminder that our trials and tribulations here on earth will pale in comparison to the glory heaven holds.

Today, that’s not where I was.  Its not where I’m at right now.  I don’t need a promise of some day and I sure as heck don’t want to talk with a God who is super fine with my despair because he’s got that ‘forever’ thing covered.

I yelled at him in my head a bit.  Swore some.  As I’ve said before – God can take it.  Its not like he doesn’t know its in my head anyways.

After a while I calmed down some.  Enough to get some perspective.  Enough to realize that the promise of what heaven holds is essential.  I just needed a promise a bit closer to home today.

That’s the thing, God hasn’t just said ‘hey, do whatever while you’re alive, I’ve got you covered for later.’  He’s not that friend that constantly promises to by the ‘next round.’  He’s with us through all of it.

Hope ekes through.  Just a little.  That tiny ray of sunlight through the storm clouds.  That reminder that God’s plan for our lives aren’t in the future.  Its not a destination.  His plan encompasses every day, every hour, every minute.

So, today I choose faith.  I choose hope.  I choose to remember that I will learn something from this despair.  I choose to believe it is making me stronger.  I choose for it to make me stronger.

I choose faith because I refuse to let despair win.  And in this fight, it is my choice.

I choose hope because I believe tomorrow will be better.  Even if tomorrow isn’t really tomorrow.  I choose hope because I will not give in.

It occurs to me how faith and hope walk hand in hand.  Without one, I would not have the courage to choose the other.

I’m going to let you in on one of my personal messages.  I know many people use the ‘Serenity Prayer.’  It never touched a nerve for me.  This is my version:

‘God grant me the vision to see Your path before me.  Courage to take that path, and Faith to lead me forward when my Vision and Courage fail.’

Today, I choose faith, and anger loses its power.

 

Take care friends.

 

Guerilla Christianity

Happy Sunday!

I’ll make this one short.  Make a joyful noise.  Could be singing, could be a ‘woot woot,’  could be anything!  I like singing myself.  I really enjoy contemporary Christian music, and while there are a few hymns I love as well, I usually go for the new stuff when I’m in a ‘joyful noise’ kind of mood.

If you’ve been to church recently (ok, ever), you’ve heard people sing hymns.  Now, my experience has been Midwest Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Catholic churches, primarily.  Those folks seem to sing every hymn as if it is a funeral dirge.  I think its a group thing.  Or maybe just a bad habit.  Every time I hear my congregation sing ‘Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee,’ I cringe on the inside.  It tends to be about as joyful as waiting in line at the DMV.  Now, not every hymn is meant to be joyful – that is understandable.  ‘Amazing Grace’ is a somber and emotional reflection on the Grace of God.  There is joy, but it mingles with awe and a bit of pain.  ‘Bourning Cry’ has a touch of joy, but basically always makes me cry.  ‘Here I am, Lord’ is a declaration – also one of my personal favorites.

Contemporary music runs the gambit as well.  There are songs that make me think.  Songs that make me cry.  Songs that make me long.  Songs that awaken deep pain that cries out for relief – and finds it.  Each one carries with it a touch of joy.  I thought I’d share a few of my current favorites.  I promised to make this one short, so I’m going to pick 10 – in no particular order because if I tried to put them in order I would never finish this.  Its a mood thing.

1. ‘Shout to the Lord’ – Darlene Zschech.  JOY!!!  I LOVE this song.  When I want to make a joyful noise I sing this one and SING IT LOUD.

2. ‘Jesus, Friend of Sinners’ – Casting Crowns.  This one is more serious, but a great reminder of what we as Christians should be doing, but often forget.

3.  ‘Glorious Day’ – Casting Crowns (they’ll be back).  Joy is back – with a touch of somberness.  A glorious reminder of a love we never deserved, but have anyways.

4. ‘Beautiful, Beautiful’ – Francesca Battistelli.  The melody is haunting and beautiful.  The lyrics are gorgeous.

5. ‘Blessings’ – Laura Story.  This is a fantastic song to re-center yourself when life gets a little tilted.  Sometimes things don’t make sense until later.

6. ‘Redeemed’ – Big Daddy Weave.  Ok, so this one makes me cry with reasonable regularity.  Its like being given a ridiculously extravagant gift you desperately want, but know is undeserved.

7. ‘What do I Know of Holy’ – Addison Road.  This really speaks to my recognition of how little any of us truly understand God, but in that recognition, peace.

8. ‘Thrive’ – Casting Crowns.  JOY JOY JOY.  If you find yourself struggling to find your joy – listen to this one once a day.  ‘Joy unspeakable, Faith unsinkable, Love unstoppable, Anything is Possible.’

9. ‘The Well’ – Casting Crowns.  ‘Leave it all behind, and come to the well.’  This is a perfect meditation song.  Leave all of the junk behind.  Come to the well of unending peace, joy, and love.

10. ‘Just Be Held’ – Casting Crowns.  This is another one perfect for troubled times, reminding us we stand strongest when we remember what our knees are for. ‘Your world’s not falling apart, its falling into place.  I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held.’

 

I am struggling with keeping this to 10.  I may have to write a Part 2 another time.  This music speaks to me.  Yes, at times it brings the pain into sharp focus – but sometimes we need to face our pain.  Each one of these songs, and so many others, hold joy as well as the other emotions they convey.

Music is POWERFUL.  Listen.  Think.  Pay attention.  You can find these on YouTube if you want to just check out what they are about.  If you want other ideas for songs – email me at quirkandlogic@gmail.com and tell me what you are looking for.  I will try to point you towards some that I think would relate.

The whole point – find music that makes you joyful, and then raise your voice.  Don’t think you sing well?  Who cares – its a JOYFUL noise, not a BEAUTIFUL noise.

And for heaven’s sake, if you are a church-goer – do your best to inject just a little joy into those hymns.  God will notice, even if no one else does.

 

I’m gonna go sing now.  Loudly and Joyfully.

Guerilla Christianity

Howdy,

Today was a rough day.  I have them some days.  See, my health has some quirks as well – and my doctors don’t seem too concerned about how often I feel horrible as long as the tests come back negative.  It is what it is, and I have learned a lot of ways to manage pretty well.  However, today I woke up knowing we would not be getting up, getting dressed, and wrangling the children to church (something that can approximate Indian Leg-Wrestling a giant tarantula).  When we don’t go to church, we have a little discussion at home.  I love these, because its time to really help the kids apply what they learn to other aspects of their life.  As I’ve talked about before, I want their faith to be a living, breathing part of their life – not a one-day-a-week activity.

I typically flip through their children’s Bible for something relating to something we’ve been talking about or working on.  Let’s just say, for example, that today I was thinking about ‘listening and following directions.’  Purely as an example, you understand.  I chose the story about Jesus collecting his apostles, and how they just left everything to follow.  It started off as a good chance to talk about following directions and listening to what God is telling us to do.  However, it also included something I wasn’t intending.  Courage.

Holy cats.  That took guts.  They just walked away from their family, their homes, their livelihood, every single material possession.  They just left.  The Bible’s pretty specific because one guy wanted to go say goodbye to his family, and had to just go.  We don’t really hear about their families.  Were they married?  Fathers?  Did they have families depending on the fish they caught?  Mothers, Fathers, Wives, Siblings, Children – wondering if they were ok?  I can’t really get my head around it.

I consider myself to be a person of strong faith.  But the faith it takes to walk away from everything, and trust that not only will your daily needs be cared for, but that your family will also be provided for?  I hope God never asks that of me.  I don’t know if I have that kind of courage.  I also understand the ramifications that some people ‘believe’ themselves to be following the will of God – and all does not go well.  They lose their home, their family suffers, they are not provided for.  Does that mean they didn’t have enough faith or courage?  No – at least I don’t think so.  I think its more that sometimes we are woefully mistaken about the path God is setting for us.

So, courage and faith?  One of the most important things I am trying to impress upon my children now is the need to be a person of integrity (I use other words because otherwise I would get blank stares), to do what’s right – even when (or especially when) its unpopular and lonely.  Our culture is one of instant gratification, self-absorption, and disinterest.  That doesn’t meant that there aren’t good people out there – there most definitely are!  And it doesn’t mean that good people may occasionally make not-so-great choices – they do!  We ALL do!  Yay being human!  Unfortunately, we are culturally training ourselves to be constantly entertained and have our every passing need met instantly.  This is especially true of teens – for whom conformity and acceptance are almost unfathomable pressures.   We also have a generation of parents who seem to have a high proportion trying to be friends with their child instead of parents.

I am lucky – my kids are little.  I have not yet gone through a period where one or both hate me.  I am trying to make my peace with the fact that it will probably happen.  However – at 4 and 7, we have regular discussions about what it means to respect others.  From listening to Mom and Dad, to watching where you are going in public.  We never correct our children’s behavior without explaining the ‘why.’  We teach.  Exhaustively.  Even when we’re frustrated.  Even when we’re at our wits end.  Even when WE need a time-out first.  Because we don’t just want them to behave.  We don’t want little pod children.  We want children who know how to think about their behavior, and how their choices effect others.  Because someday, that’s going to be tested.  They are going to have an absolutely enormous amount of pressure put upon them to behave a certain way, do a certain thing, want specific things, say things, do things, ignore things.  I am not always going to be able to be there to point them in the right direction.  I want them to have the courage make a choice they can be proud of the next day, or the next week, or 10 years later.  I want them to have the internal compass of faith to guide them.  I want them to know that their actions start with thoughts – and thoughts can be re-thought.

In recent months, I find that I always choose stories from the New Testament.  Typically, stories about Jesus and his followers, during the time he lived on earth.  Talk about a progressive thinker.  He basically told the people in charge of the temples ‘its time to change everything you know about what you know.’  And he never once backed down.  Courage.  It takes courage to teach the message you know needs to be taught – knowing that for some it makes you a target.  It takes courage to preach that change needs to happen now – not be gradually phased in, not carefully planned and carried out, not done by others.  Jesus knew that he would die for his cause.  The Bible clearly shows his anguish over this.  He did not go cheerfully and peacefully to the cross.  He carried its weight far longer than the walk to the hill.   He did it because he knew it was right, and he knew he was carrying out God’s plan.  Jesus had faith.  We might not always have the same clarity of message and direction.  We might not always hear God’s voice as clearly as Jesus did.  But we are all called, if we are listening.  To do something.

‘We were made to be courageous, and we’re taking back the fight.  We were made to be courageous, and it starts with us tonight.  The only way we’ll ever stand, is on our knees with lifted hands.  Make us courageous.’ – Casting Crowns (Courageous)

‘I woke up this morning, saw a world full of trouble now.  Thought, how’d we ever get so far down.  How’s it ever gonna turn around.  So I turned my eyes to Heaven, I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”  Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of people living in poverty, children sold into slavery.  The thought disgusted me, so, I shook my fist at Heaven.  Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”  He said, “I did, I created you” – Matthew West (Do Something)

 

Take care, and be of good courage.

 

Guerilla Christianity

Hello!

I was pondering Guerilla Christianity today.  In church, as it happens.  I just have a brief thought to offer you.

Prayer.

I said previously that real faith is a personal relationship with your higher power.  If that is true (hint: it is), then prayer is the communication needed to develop that relationship.  Real prayer.  Prayer of joy, prayer of sorrow, prayer of hope, prayer of despair, prayer of vulnerability, prayer of anger, prayer of thanks.

Have you ever noticed how many people pray as if it is a duty – one to be completed as quickly as possible.  Just a recitation of lines with less emotion than a middle school play.  The Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, the Prayer of the Day, etc.  All recited from memory without a thought given to the words.  And behind the words – emotions, thoughts, feelings, desires, joys, and pain.

Have you ever had a friend ask how you’re doing, and you say ‘I’m fine,’ even when you aren’t.  Don’t be ridiculous, of course you have.  Everyone has.  Sometimes you don’t want to talk about it.  Sometimes you don’t want to admit it.  Sometimes that friend is not close enough to you for you to share that pain.  Sometimes they have not earned that trust.  But sometimes, that friend calls BS on you, looks you straight in the eye and says ‘nice try, how about you tell me what’s going on.’  We can still ignore that friend, and no matter how much they care, at some point they will probably not ask any more.  Not really.  And you can say ‘I’m not ready to talk about it.’  You can claim that friend isn’t one of your ‘really close friends.’  Its easy to dismiss that friend, despite the fact that they just proved to you they care.  They just stepped up to say ‘I want to help carry your burden.’  Sometimes they can help, sometimes all they can do is hold your hand, cry with you, and make sure you know you aren’t alone.

God wants to help.  He’s NEVER going to stop pushing, prodding, and bothering us.  Sure, we can ignore it.  We can give a bored, passive, recited prayer and pretend we’re developing a relationship.  We can list all the bad things that ever happened to us that prove God doesn’t ‘really’ care (I mean – I totally prayed that God would take away my heartache, pain suffering, etc and He totally DIDN’T).  We limit God with our own limited vision.  And often with good reason.  When we are in the midst of terrible suffering, its sometimes impossible to see past it.  That doesn’t mean you don’t have faith, it means you have more than you can handle.  Yeah – that idea that ‘God never gives us more than we can handle’ – myth.  Well, more specifically mis-quoted and out of context.  There are thousands of examples of people being given ‘more than they can handle’ – sheesh, we’re just humans after all.  But, we have a friend ready to show up the second we ask to say ‘tell me what’s really going on.’  Maybe to hold us, cry with us, and make sure we know we aren’t alone.

Be joyful in prayer, be angry in prayer (God can take it), be vulnerable in prayer, be despairing in prayer, be hopeful in prayer.  Be thankful in prayer.

Most importantly – be REAL in prayer.  Be raw.  If you don’t have the words, just open your heart and ask God to take a look.  Its not about composing a carefully crafted letter (or, heaven help us, a text message).  God doesn’t take things out of context, he doesn’t get offended if we don’t phrase things right, or if we are angry.  Just be real.

No more passive prayers.  No more emotionless repetition.  Its time to take this relationship to the next level.

Its time to get real.

It might be painful, it might be messy.

Its worth it.

 

Guerilla Christianity

So I’ve been thinking about posting in a slightly different direction on Sundays.  Still quirky, just slightly more serious, and dare I say, purposeful?  Yikes.  You may still see regular posts that pop up on Sundays-  particularly if I ever actually get the Facebook link up and going.  After all, I have a big-girl job to go to during the week and much of my writing time is on weekends.

These posts are my personal opinions, thoughts, and considerations.  I encourage you to also have your own.

So, here’s the premise.  I call it Guerilla Christianity.  Its the best descriptor I could come up with.  Many Christians see attending church and participating in church activities as the culmination of their faith.  I want to be very clear – I think church is a good thing, and certainly would never, ever discourage someone from attending.  Church creates community, fellowship, and a place to learn.  It can give people a location, teachings, and a place to explore their faith.  What I am referring to is people who don’t take their faith off the pew.

To me, faith represents the personal relationship we have with our Maker.  You can’t have faith in someone you don’t know.  This is the primary difference between faith and religion.  Faith is a personal relationship, Religion is the set of traditions and teachings that are followed by individuals who choose to adhere to them.  Again – religion is not necessarily bad.  It can be very good!  However, religion is made up of humans, and humans are inherently flawed.  We tend to be even more flawed in groups.  Too many times we place too much emphasis on the trappings and tradition and lose sight of our faith – our personal relationship.

So, what is Guerilla Christianity (or GC – since I don’t want to type more than necessary).  It can certainly include going to church, or being involved in a religion – they are in no way mutually exclusive.  GC just goes further.  Open your eyes and your heart.  See opportunities in every day life.  Act your faith.  Guerilla warfare typically involves small groups of local individuals who can overcome larger numbers due to knowing the terrain, adopting uncommon techniques, and constantly being on the move.  Guerilla Christianity is a lot like that.  Be ready to move, be ready to act, and live your life according to your faith.

Soooooo, does this mean I’m going to start a lot more conversations with ‘let me tell you about Jesus?’  No, it actually doesn’t.  Here’s the thing.  People who are struggling aren’t ready to hear that – or they’ve heard it too many times.  GC is not about converting people, its about loving people.  If you are a person of faith, and you live your faith, you don’t have to tell people what you believe – they will see it in your actions.  Does this mean you should hide your faith or your beliefs?  Nope – not at all.  its about letting that conversation develop naturally.  If you interact with others in a genuine way – basically being in touch with your true self and staying true to it – you build trust.  When someone trusts you, they are more willing to open up hard discussions with you.  Discussions like ‘hey, a lot of my life has been really hard and a lot of bad things have happened.  Why should I believe God loves me?’  Yep, tough conversations.  Tough questions.  Questions that can’t be answered with ‘just have faith!’  They need more.

So, if you are going to be a Guerilla Christian – be prepared.  You may find answers in church, in scripture, in music, in life, from others, and hopefully from ALL of these.  GC doesn’t require you to be perfect (thank GOODNESS! because I screw up all the time).  It does require you to know your true self.

Earlier this year, I went to a Casting Crowns concert.  It was amazing.  Absolutely amazing.  Their lead singer/songwriter (and youth pastor) is Mark Hall.  He brought faith forward in such an easy, natural way.  I’ve never met him personally, but I am just guessing that he is a Guerilla Christian (although since I made that term up a couple weeks ago, he probably doesn’t know what that is.  Actually – he might, I think other people may have made up the term first – but I didn’t look them up or read what they had written or anything, so for my own purposes, I was clearing a trail).  He talked about the focus of their current album ‘Thrive’ (this album is fantastic by the way) being ‘Dig Deep, Reach Out.’  I’m hoping he doesn’t mind that I have adopted that idea and taken it as my own touchstone.  Dig deep – dig into scripture, dig into yourself, dig into your faith (personal relationship).  Reach out – not only reaching out to others, but also reaching out to the highest reaches of what you have to offer.  Embrace your gifts, value who you are.

I may just be writing this for myself.  That’s ok.  I have faith that if someone needs this – they’ll find it.  If this does speak to you – don’t hesitate to reach out.

Dig deep my friends.

Kim

 

Guerilla Christianity