Thursday, June 18, 2015

To Soothe My Soul

To say that I've been feeling spiritually dry lately is an understatement.  I'm not even sure I can point to exactly why.  I know I haven't been spending time reading the Bible or praying like I should.  But, it's a vicious cycle you know.  Hitting a dry spell leads to less desire to read & pray.  Less reading and praying leads to more dryness.  And, so on.

I've been trying to force myself to read a quick passage here and there.  (That sounds terrible doesn't it?  Force myself?  But, being honest here).  Sometimes something speaks to me.  Sometimes I'm just checking it off.  Read my Bible today?  Check.

Well, today I was feeling like I wanted to listen to some music to feed me spiritually.  But (here I am being honest again) sometimes, modern worship music leaves me.....wanting more.

Don't get me wrong.  I do enjoy a lot of it.  And, some of it really speaks to me.  But, a lot of times?  A lot of times it's repetitive and not very...meaty.

One of the things that drives me absolutely batty at church or when listening to certain worship music is saying the same phrases over and over and over and over and over and over.

Sometimes I just want a SONG.  A song written with verses and a chorus and something really substantive to say.

I clicked on youtube.  At first I thought I'd look for the newer worship song 'It is well'...not to be confused by the hymn 'It is well'.  But, that's exactly what happened.  I actually ended up clicking on a Chris Rice version of the hymn 'It is Well'.  And, almost immediately  peace just washed over me.  I sang along. I cried.

Then, I saw that he had a whole bunch of hymns that he had covered.  And, by covered...I don't mean he mangled them & tried to 'modernize' them.  He just sang these hymns straightforward and the way I was used to hearing them....with ALL the verses!  Not just a couple of most well known verses mixed in with some new arrangement.  He sang the WHOLE HYMN.

I listened to Great Is Thy Faithfulness and Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.  I wanted to listen to more.  But, then my husband came home from work and I turned it off so I could talk to him.

But, as I listened to those hymns, I listened as someone who was starving for the nourishment there.  The words are so rich, so meaningful, so poetic & beautiful yet powerful.  This verse from Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing spoke so deeply to me.

"O to grace how great a debtor 
daily I'm constrained to be! 
Let thy goodness, like a fetter, 
bind my wandering heart to thee. 
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, 
prone to leave the God I love; 
here's my heart, O take and seal it, 
seal it for thy courts above. "

I mean that song verse met me pretty much right where I am.

And, I don't want to sound mocking in any way.  But, that meant so much more to me than another song we sing in church that goes round my head so often (probably because it's so repetetive)..."Fill me up God, Fill me up God, Fill me up God.  Fill me up."  Yes, I want to be filled.  But singing those words over and over like a mantra doesn't really do it for me.

But after listening to these hymns today I felt like I had sat down to a MEAL.  In comparison, some modern worship songs are like soda....bubbly, light, and sweet - but not very nourishing.

If I had it my way, I'd love for our church to use a mixture of traditional hymns and modern worship.  But, it seems like so many churches today have abandoned the hymns that I grew up with. 

 I'm not sure what the solution is to this.  But today, I found soothing for my soul.

Monday, June 1, 2015

My Heart Is Breaking For Bruce Jenner

Ok.  Add another topic to 'Things I Wasn't Going To Blog About' that I ended up blogging about.

I know some people who will strongly disagree with me on this post.  I know some people who might even despise me for it...or at least have a lesser opinion of me.

The thing about controversial subjects is that they create such a huge emotional response in people.  And, it's hard to be heard...and not misunderstood...when emotions run high.  I usually try to avoid jumping in the fray.  Chances are people are firmly rooted in their beliefs about a subject and nothing I say will change their minds.  If anything, it will just create ill feelings.

But, there are also times when you have to speak up.  And, I feel like this is one of those times.

Facebook blew up today with the latest 'viral' news.  Bruce Jenner has officially introduced himself to the world as a woman on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine along with his new persona, 'Caitlyn'.  We knew it was coming.  This story has been in the news a lot recently.  But now it's 'official' with this unveiling.  He has become she.

Or has he?

The simple answer is 'no'.  Just as I can no sooner announce that I am now a different race, or that I'm a cat, or a rock, Bruce can't announce that he's now a woman.     I am still a Caucasian human being.  And, Bruce Jenner is still a man.  He can FEEL like he's something else. He can WANT to be something else.  But, it doesn't change who he IS.

For those people who would say that all that matters is how he feels inside, what he most identifies as, I have a few questions.  What is the new criteria for identifying gender?  Is it what someone FEELS?  If so, isn't that awfully subjective?  For a society that so loudly and frequently points to science as being the only measure by which we can determine reality, I thought something more objective (like DNA & chromosomes) would be required.  For a society that frequently bashes Christians for believing in 'fairy tales' that can't be scientifically supported (I disagree on the lack of evidence by the way), doesn't it seem disingenuous to now support this concept of an individual's reality being subjugated solely to that individual's feelings?

But people are loudly cheering him on and congratulating him and calling him a hero.

And, that really makes me sad.  I feel a huge burden for Bruce Jenner.  I am watching as an entire nation is enabling a man with a serious emotional problem. I agree that Bruce is suffering from gender dysphoria.  He feels a disconnect with his body. He truly believes that he will be happier as a woman...that at his core he is a woman.

And the people cheering him on really believe they are helping.  They believe that now Bruce can truly be free and happy.  I know that they believe they are truly showing compassion.  I don't doubt their sincerity.  And, I admire their hearts.  But, sadly, they've bought into the same destructive lie that Bruce has bought into.  That he was born a mistake of nature or creation.  His body failed him.  He was not who he was supposed to be.

That. Is. A. Lie.

Bruce might be happy for a time.  This initial rush of realizing something he's been longing for and all the accolades he's receiving will fill him for a while.  But, when that first euphoria and the media storm dies down, Bruce will still be left with the void and the emptiness that has been haunting him all along.

One day down the road he will wake up and realize that changing his appearance, altering and maiming his body, choosing a new name and 'choosing' a new gender hasn't really changed the pain in his heart.

There is only One who can do that.  One who doesn't make mistakes.  One who knows us even better than we know ourselves.  One who created us.  Each and every one of us with a plan and a purpose.

Only the healing and redemptive love of Jesus can ease the burden Bruce has been carrying.  Only Jesus can bring him peace and true joy.  Only Jesus can help Bruce finally feel like he is who he is meant to be.  Not surgery, not hormones, not make-up.  Jesus.

I know someone somewhere will somehow find my post 'hateful'.  I'm not sure how when I've tried to approach this from a place of grace & compassion.  Please hear me.  I don't hate Bruce Jenner.  I don't hate transgender people. I love them deeply.  And, because I love them...because I know God loves them, I want for people to speak truth and life into their lives.

 I see them as hurting and broken people in this hurting and broken world.  And, yes,  we are all hurt or broken in some way.

But, I can't keep silent when I know

There is a Healer!
There is a Redeemer!
There is Grace and true Peace available to us all.

I will agree with those with more liberal leanings on one point.  Yes, there is IS more to our identities than our physical makeup.  There IS our soul.  And as God knit us together, he formed in each of us a unique tapestry weaving together who we are.  And, at Bruce's core, he is masterfully created and deeply beloved by the one who commands the universe. What his SOUL...what all of our souls groan for is deep communion with God.  The peace and sense of belonging that Bruce seeks does not come from rejecting how he was created but by finding union with the one who created him.

Matthew 11:28 & 29  "  Come to me, all you who are weary & burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Isaiah 55: 2, 3  "Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.  Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.  I will make and everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David."

Psalm 42:  1, 2 "As the deer pants for streams of water. so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."
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