The Accidental Pharisee

Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It's been quiet on this blog for several months now as I re-evaluate my writing and speaking commitments.
I'm continuing that theme of "rest" while I enjoy the holidays with my family. I hope your time is joy-filled--and hope we'll connect again in 2009.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thankful Thursday # 21

"We become what we think about all day long."
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

It's Thursday--and thanks to Iris at Grace Alone ... women all over the world have a chance to meet via the Internet and share what we're thankful for. It's always a delight to visit other women's blogs and read their TT lists. I find myself smiling and thinking: Oh, I'm thankful for that too! My TT list grows longer as I add more and more reasons to be thankful. I guess gratitude begets gratitude.
Iris is thankful for her 5 senses this week--and all the things she see, touch, taste, smell and hear. And, spinning off in a totally different direction, her post made me thankful for the intangible things in my life. The things I can't see, touch, taste, smell and hear--and sometimes take for granted. I'm thankful for:
  • Grace--God's grace is the opposite of Law. I think of Law as a confining fence made up of all the dos an don'ts that crowd me, surround me, box me in. Grace is wide open spaces that allow me to spiritually breathe and be who God made me to be. (Romans 5:2 MSG)
  • Forgiveness--I don't think people can truly understand forgiveness. We operate more from a "You owe me" mentality. God shows us what true forgiveness looks like--offering it before we even ask for it, before we even know we need it. He knows the true sacrifice that forgiveness requires because it looks like his son.
  • Reconciliation--There are a lot of amazing concepts in the Bible, but reconciliation is my favorite. Reconciliation: Enemies being made friends. I know God offers us salvation. I know he offers us eternal life. I know he justifies us and sanctifies us. But when I think about the truth that he reconciled me to him--then I feel his arms around me.
  • Relationship--I know what a relationship is when I'm in one. I know what a relationship is when it's been broken and I ache somewhere so deep in my heart I don't know if it can ever be reached, ever be healed. But relationships are intangible in so many ways. They are born in hearts and lived out through trust and hope and love and forgiveness. Scripture says we are made in the image of God. Well, he must be a God of relationships because we certainly are people made for relationships.
  • Hope--Sometimes hope doesn't make sense. When you're sitting in the midst of heartache and discouragement and you have real reason to give up--there it is...hope. You finding it--maybe the tiniest ember in your heart--and you realize you still believe that life could get better. Or someone comes along and sits down beside you and wraps their arms around you--and holds out hope to you. Offering to share their hope. Hope is a miraculous intagible.

May you find many, many reasons--tangible and intangible--to be thankful today!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Waking Up, Getting Up, and Choosing Gratitude

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."~ Thornton Wilder

Mornings have been tough of late.
To be honest, most days I want to pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep.
Rather than seizing the day, I want to ignore it.
But that's not really an option, not when there's a raring to go 7-year-old waiting for me!
This morning was more of the same.
Waking up and thinking, "I'd rather stay asleep."
And then the thought flitted through my brain: You know that grace you talk about, Beth? That grace that is sufficient for your need? It's sufficient for the needs of today too. The little ones and the big ones.
I have been talking about God's grace lately at several women's conferences. I'll be talking about it again next Monday night.
And I do believe God's grace is sufficient for me.
I just forgot about it for a minute. I let my weakness overshadow God's grace.

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness " Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 NAS)

The truth is, this has been a tough season for me, a season of skimming low emotionally. Wise Guy would say, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all."
Well, I'm not arguing with him.
But right now I have to finish what I've started and then I can rest.
Until then, I will set my heart on the treasure of God's grace--trusting that God's power will be perfected in my weakness.

My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 MSG)

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thankful Thursday #20

Another week has gone by and my only post this week will be the Thankful Thursday entry. I hope life will settle out here soon and more musings will fill this blog. But until then, I'm thankful for Iris at Grace Alone... who faithfully encourages so many of us to be thankful.

This week I've spent some time talking to my ever faithful Wise Guy (folks who've read other blog posts will be familiar with Wise Guy.)

I've revisited the concept of validation. To validate something means to endorse something, or to verify something, or to approve something.

You know how parking tickets can be validated? You go to a restaurant and the restaurant will validate your parking ticket--stamp it somehow so you don't have to pay your parking fee. You're endorsed or verified or approved by the restaurant--and you don't owe any money to the parking garage.

Sometimes I treat myself like a parking ticket. I run around and try find someone to validate me.

And sometimes I go to the wrong people to validate me. I go to people who will never, ever really see me for who I am and never, ever approve of me.

And then I think, "Ooops! I just tried to get my ticket validated at the wrong window!"

I make a little joke--but the truth is being invalidated hurts.

All of this to say:

  • I am thankful for God because his actions validate me. He created me in his image (Gen. 1:27). He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Yeah, I have a hard time believing that, but who am I to argue with God? He loved me enough to send his son to die for me (John 3:16)--and if that doesn't validate me, I don't know how anything can.

  • I am thankful for the people he has sent into my life who have validated me. Sometimes we need "God with skin on." Friends who love me--the good, the bad, the ugly, and the me I so want to be--validate me. They tell me I have worth. They reflect God back to me and make me believe that I am made in his image. They help me believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Sometimes they even say they're sorry that other people have invalidated me. And the hurt is a little less.

And just in case you've forgotten, let me remind you: You're made in God's image too. You're fearfully and wonderfully made. Jesus died for you too.

God's validated your parking ticket.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thankful Thursday # 19

Over at Grace Alone ..., Iris is thankful for joy. That brings to mind this verse:

" ... the joy of the Lord is your strength." ~ Neh. 8:10c

Here's what Charles Spurgeon, a preacher in the late 1800s, had to say about the joy of the Lord:

(The joy of the Lord) springs from God, and has God for its object. The believer who is in a spiritually healthy state rejoices mainly in God himself; he is happy because there is a God, and because God is in his person and character what he is. All the attributes of God become well-springs of joy to the thoughtful, contemplative believer; for such a man says within his soul, "All these attributes of my God are mine: his power, my protection; his wisdom, my guidance; his faithfulness, my foundation; his grace, my salvation."

I missed Thankful Thursday last week because I was getting my life back on an even keel after speaking at the Hearts at Home conference. I am thankful for:

  • all my TT friends who left such encouraging messages for me and who promised to pray for me as I spoke about how moms can help their sons choose purity versus pornography & about how motherhood is not about being perfect. The workshops went well and I received positive feedback from moms who were encouraged.

  • that I made it home even if it was 7 hours later than planned and via Milwaukee and Dallas. After my flight was canceled, some passengers weren't getting flights out until the next day!

  • my friend, Wendy--that's her in the photo--who traveled with me and surprised me with chocolates and a lovely scented candle for our room and helped at my book table and who kept me sane while we stood in line for more than 2 1/2 hours trying to get a flight home!

  • for an understanding husband who let me take a few days off while I caught up on lost sleep and recovered from a migraine.

  • life getting back to normal. I've got one more conference to speak at in November, but until then, I'm just being a mom and a wife and, oh,yea, an editor ... the magazine's on deadline again. But, that's normal for me.

  • I am thankful for God's attributes. He is Eternal (Ps. 90:2), Unchanging (Mal. 3:6), Holy (Rev. 15:4), All-Powerful (Joshua 4:24), All-Wise (1 Cor. 1:25), All-Knowing (1 John 3:20), Good (ps. 25:8), Loving (1 Jn. 4:8), Gracious (Jn. 1:14), Merciful (Neh. 9:31), Just (Deut. 32:4), and Sovereign (2 Sam. 7:22).

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Thankful Thursday # 18

"The eternal God is a dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms ... " ~ Deut. 33:27

How fun it was to visit Iris this week and see her beautiful new blog, Grace Alone. . ., the new home of Thankful Thursday! It was a joy to read her post Welcome to Grace Alone. . . and hear all God has been doing in her life.
I am heading out Friday to teach two workshops at Hearts at Home's Regional Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Anybody out there in blogger land planning on attending?
I'll be talking about how our children change us--and how God works in our lives during those moments of change. My other workshop is called "Helping Your Son Choose Purity Instead of Pornography." It's straight talk about how moms can help their sons make right choices when it comes to the temptation all boys will face to one degree or another.
All that to say,
  • I am thankful to God for the opportunity to connect with moms this weekend. I am thankful to share from my heart, and to encourage other women--just as other women have encouraged me.
  • I am thankful for my "spiritual ground support": some special friends who have prayed for me as I prepared for this weekend.
  • I am thankful for how God used my children to change me--rubbing of some rough edges and revealing some unknown strengths.
  • I am thankful for the truth of Deuteronomy 33:27: That God can be my dwelling place, a place of shelter, and that his "everlasting arms" are always there to hold me up.
  • I am thankful for my husband's help the past weeks as I've prepared for the workshops. He's given me time to myself to get ready, helped with logistics and all the "To Dos" on my list. I married an amazing man with a servant's heart.


Jesus and Pharisees

Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. Luke 7:36 (NAS)

I'm reading through Luke, just trying to draw closer to Jesus by viewing his life through the eyes of Luke.
(I bet a lot of you know Luke was a physician--but did you know physicians back in New Testament times were slaves? I learned that at a recent conference.)
In Luke 7, I re-read verse 36:
Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.
Whenever I think of Jesus and Pharisees, I think of adversaries, I don't think of a host and a dinner guest. If you read the passage through verse 50, it doesn't sound like the Pharisee, Simon, was a very hospitable host. He didn't wash Jesus' feet when he entered the house, as was customary, and he didn't greet him with a kiss, also the custom of the day.
Maybe Simon the Pharisee was only pretending to like Jesus. Maybe he was only trying to set him up to put him down. Or maybe he was curious about what Jesus was teaching and wanted to spend some uninterrupted time with Jesus.
I don't know and guessing would be reading between the lines.
But, whatever the Pharisee's motives, Jesus was willing to spend time with him. Pure or impure of heart, Jesus was willing to break bread with him.

Thinking Out Loud: Jesus looked past labels--the ones we put on ourselves and the ones others put on us. Simon the Pharisee probably was proud of the label "Pharisee". He was also quick to call another person "sinner" (verse 39). Jesus looked at each individual person--not any man-made title--and saw value. Sometimes I still feel ashamed that I stumbled into Phariseeism without even realizing it. I need to remember Jesus doesn't see me as "The Accidental Pharisee". He sees me as Beth. Just Beth. And in his eyes, I have value.

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