House of Cards

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Why are we so defensive on God’s behalf?
Why do we become so frightened of hard questions?
Do we think the Bible asks us to defend God’s character, or is it deeper than that?
House of Cards
Not all of the time, but all of us do harbor a bit of the recurring agnostic inside. A tiny voice that says, what if it isn’t true?
What will become of me if it isn’t true?
This flicker of fear lingers so insidiously that when someone asks a questions to which we don’t know the answer, when someone expresses a doubt we ourselves have thought, we tend to lash out, to push away, to shame.
Remove one piece
If this piece of what I believe turns out not to be true, perhaps none of it is true.
Is God so fragile?
Is the God who flung the stars into space, who has the power to overcome sin and death so uncertain that one piece of the puzzle can bring the entire edifice crashing down?
Is our God a house of cards?
just one piece
what happens to the whole
If your God is a house of cards, you need a new God.
You need a God who is big enough to cradle all our questions, deep enough to hold all our doubts.
You need the God who shows His power through the universe we see, who reveals Himself through His Son in Scripture, who speaks to us through His Spirit within us.
When you know this God, you can let go of your need to defend. You can rest easy with, even welcome the doubts and questions of others.
will it crash down
When you are safe and secure in the LORD Almighty, you become a place for others to find rest. You become a safe place where people can sit with their questions and doubts without feeling shamed or guilty.
What if we as a Church became a place where people could question and yet trust, where people could doubt and yet worship, where people could wonder and yet love.
What if we welcomed the not-so-sure rather than driving them away?
What if we could be comfortable with the hard spaces, acknowledging that not everything has an answer we can know right now?
It starts with you and with me. Can we let go of our fear and trust that our faith is not a house of cards?
this house of cards
Imagine a church where people could worship even when they don’t have it all figured out.
Imagine a church where people could love and serve even in the times when they aren’t quite sure about it all.
Imagine a church full of people like…
Well, full of people like us.

Confidence and Humility

I am spending this week waiting on our newest little one to arrive, so enjoy this old post edited from the archives and pray for a safe and quick labor and delivery, please!

There is a paradox in God’s dealings with us that I have trouble understanding.
There is this:
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5.8
And there is also this:
The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. ~ Zephaniah 3.17
This is a hard paradox for me to accept: I am loved and delighted in by God AND I am why Jesus had to come and die.
It is all too commonplace around here for me to hear a thud followed by the cry of one of my little ones. Most often the culprit is a sister, who stands triumphantly clutching some coveted toy.
As I ask for wisdom to know how to teach my children how to love, I wonder how I can possibly teach my children this very thing that I don’t understand. How can I teach them that God created something wonderful when He made them while at the same time helping them to understand that their hearts are ugly with sin and they desperately need Jesus and His grace? How can I teach them to be confident and humble at the same time?
One without the other brings disaster.
If I teach only that they are beautiful and wonderful and children of the King, they become arrogant and self-centered, entitled to the best.
If I teach only that they are sinful and ugly in their hearts, they become depressed and mired in self-pity, losing all confidence in themselves.
How do I teach both humility and confidence?
I must learn it first.
Paul says this in Philippians:
…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. ~ Philippians 3.9
and this:
…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God. ~ Philippians 1.11
Aha. Yes.
I am loved by God and He does delight in me…because He made me.
 I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~ Psalm 139.14
I am pure and clean before God and He does see me as righteous…because of Jesus’ blood.
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. ~ Romans 3.22
All is gift.
Seeing the One behind my righteousness creates humility.
Seeing the cross in front of my sin creates confidence.
All is grace.
I turn and see my eldest giving my littlest one a toy and then a kiss. I smile, knowing that God is teaching their hearts and mine what it means to live a life of both confidence and humility in and through Him.

Confidence

Music, writing, crocheting. Gardening, canning, baking. Volleyball, reading, learning.


There are many things I enjoy doing and I have always done well at most everything I have attempted. I’m one of those who is an expert at nothing but very good at many various skills and activities. The result of this? I am a fairly confident person.


I know that with anything over which I have control, I have a good chance at success. And there you see my trouble: “anything over which I have control”.

For most of my life I have had control over all that I do. Then I became a mommy.


Suddenly I discovered that even when I read all the right books and learn all the perfect techniques, even when I master everything perfectly, my children may or may not respond as I was promised.

You may roll your eyes or shake your head at my naivety, but this truly rocked my world. My confidence had vanished.

I struggled and prayed and sought wisdom from many sources. After one particularly desperate session of prayer, though, my confidence was beautifully restored.

As much as I may have wished, God did not give me the perfect technique for parenting my little ones. My confidence in myself had nothing to do with my restoration.

Instead, God gently reminded me that He loves my girls even more than I do. Which is a lot. God wants, even more than I do, that they should love Him and love people.


And if God wants something to happen, who can stand in His way?

I still have children who refuse to respond properly to my masterful parenting techniques (which often involves stomping my foot at them), but as long as I remember God’s promises, my confidence can no longer be shaken.
But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. ~ Jeremiah 17.7-8

Dirty and Clean

Today I looked in the mirror and saw someone who perfectly loves God and people. At least, I do a lot better than most of the people I know.
Today I need to hear this:

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. ~ Isaiah 64.6

Yesterday I looked in the mirror and saw someone whose heart is dirty and ugly. Someone who consistently fails to love God or people with her whole heart.
Yesterday I needed to hear this:

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5.8

And this:

The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. ~ Zephaniah 3.17

This is a hard paradox for me to accept. I am loved and delighted in by God AND I am why Jesus had to come and die.
I am walking through my day, trying to understand, when I hear a thud followed by the cry of my littlest one. I run around the corner and see her lying on the floor with my eldest standing over her, disputed toy in hand.
As I ask for wisdom to know how to teach my eldest how to love, I wonder how I can teach my children this thing I don’t understand. How can I teach them that God created something wonderful when He made them while at the same time helping them to understand that their hearts are ugly with sin and they desperately need Jesus and His grace?
One without the other brings disaster.
If I teach only that they are beautiful and wonderful and children of the King, they become arrogant and self-centered, entitled to the best.
If I teach only that they are sinful and ugly in their hearts, they become depressed and mired in self-pity, losing all confidence in themselves.
How do I teach both humility and confidence?
I must learn it first.
I turn again to Philippians and find this:

…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. ~ Philippians 3.9

and this:

…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God. ~ Philippians 1.11

Aha. Yes.
I am loved by God and He does delight in me…because He made me.

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~ Psalm 139.14

I am pure and clean before God and He does see me as righteous…because of Jesus’ blood.

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. ~ Romans 3.22

All is gift.
Seeing the One behind my righteousness creates humility.
Seeing the cross in front of my sin creates confidence.
All is grace.
I turn and see my eldest giving my littlest one a toy and then a kiss. I smile, knowing that God is teaching their hearts and mine what it means to live a life of both confidence and humility in and through Him.