The Accidental Pharisee

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thankful Thursday # 9

With thanks to Iris at Sting My Heart for an opportunity to stop focusing on all the things I have to do--and instead consider all the reasons I have to be thankful!
Iris is talking about relationships this week over at her blog, so of course, I started thinking of all the relationships I've had in my life, both good and bad. And then I realized I have a lot to be thankful for because God has taught me all I ever needed to know about what makes a relationship good.
This week, I am thankful that God taught me that a good relationship is based on:
  • LOVE: Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:2
  • FORGIVENESS: Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. Micah 7:18
  • MERCY: ... he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit ... Titus 3:5
  • STEADFASTNESS: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end ... Lamentations 3:22
  • SACRIFICE: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

God forgives me when I don't get the relationship thing right--when I am unloving or unforgiving.

I am so thankful God isn't a 50-50 relationship kind of God--you know, where He waits for me to throw in my 50 percent of the effort before He does his part.

God gives more than 100 percent to have a reconciled relationship with me. If I keep my eyes on Him, I can learn alot about how to be in right relationship with others.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Need a Hero

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son ... Colossians 1:13 (NAS)

I confess: I read romance novels.
I've discussed my romance reading habit with my two writing buddies, Tiffany and Scoti. Tried to explain why I like stories with a hero and a heroine and--most important of all--a happy ending.
when I pick up a romance novel, I know I am guaranteed a happily-ever-after.
Oh, sure, there will be trials and travails and misunderstandings along the way. Why don't Mr. Right and Miss Perfect for Him communicate?!
But, in the end, love wins out and wins all.
Ah--happy endings.
Why do I long for happy endings?
Because I didn't get them in my life.
Don't get me wrong here, friends.
I am married to a wonderful man who has loved me in a sacrificial, unconditional way.
But, we've had our portion of trials and travails.
And, as I've shared in this blog before, my heart has been broken by abuse and things that were anything but happy.
I guess you could say reading a romance is an escape.
And that's not such a bad thing, so long as the escape doesn't become the way of life.
Maybe my longing for a hero is why Colossians 1:13 is my favorite verse in the Bible.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son

Take a moment and read that verse out loud.
Doesn't it sound like something out of a romance--a daring rescue, darkness being replaced with light, love conquering all . . .

Just Thinking Out Loud: As I continue to accept my-story, I need to embrace all of it--the good, the bad, the ugly--and how God stepped in and brought the light. Yes, I need a hero. In God, I found a Redeemer. A God who reconciled me to him. A God who was bigger than all the unhappy moments in my life. My longing for romance just might be a God-created longing for him.
Fascinating, isn't it?

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Fighting History

I was flipping through my journal--one of my various journals, to be honest. I can never seem to have just one journal at a time.
Anyways, I was scanning over notes from one of my sessions with Wise Guy and came across this quote:

"...trying to make life what it can never be because your history is what it never should have been."

I'm pretty certain that's a direct quote from Wise Guy. I marked it with an * and then I underlined it.
I spent too many years trying to make my life what it can never be because my history was what it never should have been.
Now, truth be told, there were alot of years I denied my history. I didn't admit to my sexual abuse until I was in my mid-30s. (That's another blog post.) I told myself for years: I would never be one of those sexually abused people.
Now, why did I not even recognize that wasn't a normal thought?
I didn't like my history. That's an understatement. My history broke my heart. Damaged my soul.
There were too many years of my life I walked around pretending I was someone I wasn't. Is it so surprising I carried my pretense over into my relationship with God? I was presenting a false front to everyone else, why should it be any different with God?
But faking my past affected my future too. There were lies everywhere: past, present--and if I didn't change things, in my future.
I recall one morning sitting in my living room and trying to be still before God. Trying to listen to what He might say to me.
I heard the word Freedom.
It sounded as if someone standing right next to me whispered that word--and I opened my eyes and looked around.
I believed then, and I believe now, that God's Spirit whispered to my spirit: Freedom.
He wanted me to experience freedom.
But to do that I had to accept the harsh reality of my past. I had to stop pretending.
And I had to stop pretending day in and day out. I had to be the Beth he created me to be. Not the Beth I thought would impress others. Not the Beth I thought he wanted me to be. Not the Beth I wished I was when I looked in the mirror.
I'm still learning how to live in the light of that truth.
That's why I hang around Wise Guy. He's helping me figure it out.

Just Thinking Out Loud: The apostle Paul said it himself: He was a Pharisee of Pharisees. And there was no way he could change his-story. He killed believers. And yet God . . .
We Accidental Pharisees may be trying to alter our stories by being on our best behavior and glossing over the parts of our lives we wish had never happened.
And yet God . . .
We need to stop fighting history--my-story, your-story--and let God be God in the story.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thankful Thursday # 8

With thanks to Iris over at Sting My Heart, for a chance to practice "random acts of thankfulness" on this Thankful Thursday!

I've many little things to be thankful for this week--and one huge reason!

I'm focusing on the huge reason: my husband, Rob. We celebrated his birthday yesterday--and will celebrate again on Saturday when we meet up with our son and "daughter-in-love" for a day at WaterWorld. Our family believes there's no reason to limit birthday fun to one day!

I am eternally thankful for my husband because:
  1. He told me how important his faith was to him--and challenged me about what I believed. All of this on our second date! Because of him, I became a believer--and we now have four children walking out their own faith journeys. Rob began the legacy of faith for our family.

  2. He loves me just as I am--and it ain't always pretty. Living with a woman who has abuse in her background is a challenge for the most patient of men, which my husband is. He has loved me as Christ loves the church, sacrificing his needs for mine.

  3. He makes me laugh harder and longer than anyone I know. Sometimes it's with just the right punch line--sometimes its just that certain look.

  4. He dances with me in our kitchen--and with our daughters too.

  5. He's always been willing to say "I'm sorry" first--even if I should have been the one to step up and admit to being wrong.

  6. He supports my dreams.

  7. He holds me when I cry.

  8. He is man enough to watch a chick flick with me--and has taught me how to enjoy a good action movie every now and again.

  9. He knows how to fix things and he knows how to ask for directions when he gets lost.

  1. He is a man of deep faith, and God has used him to show me what unconditional love looks like.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Learning What to Wish For

"Do not wish to be anything except what you are."
~St. Francis De Sales

If I could, I would like to ask St. Francis what prompted him to say, "Do not wish to be anything except what you are."
Oh, really? And why not?
There's a part of me that wants to argue with that statement. I want to insist that surely I can come up with a new-and-improved version of me.
Sound like a Pharisee, don't I?
There's part of me that has to confess that "me" has been distorted--by the actions of others and by my own actions.
There are days I am not even sure who or what I am, it's all gotten so horribly mixed up in my circumstances and my own efforts to fix things.
And then I remind myself that it's not all up to me to figure out who or what I am.
I have a Creator-God who made me in His image. Who made me with a purpose in mind. Who knew exactly what He was about when he formed me in my mother's womb (Psalm 139).
And those truths give me hope.
Just Thinking Out Loud: So maybe this Accidental Pharisee got lost along the way. Maybe when I look in the mirror I'm not too certain who is looking back at me. Is that the woman God intended me to be or is it the woman I thought I was supposed to be?
It's not irrepairable. God is a God of miracles--and he can help me see myself more clearly. He can teach me who he made me to be. He can show me what his purpose is for my life.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thankful Thursday #7

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all.

Proverbs 3:5-6 The Message

There was a time in my life that I ignored the wisdom of Proverbs 3:5-6. I leaned so heavily on my own understanding that I fell right into doubting God.

Another less than shining moment in my life.

But here is the amazing thing: God loved me through my time of doubt. He forgave me my time of doubt. He restored me into a right relationship with him when I asked forgiveness for doubting him.

And for all of that amazing, lavish grace, I am thankful.

I am also thankful for my friends who keep me steady when I feel unsure--when my walk of faith feels a little shaky. God has blessed me with sisters in Christ who surround me with prayer, who point me back to him when I wander a bit off course, who remind me of what I believe in when I forget, who hold out hope when mine is fading ...

Faith, Pamela, Cheryl, Chris, Fran, Terri, Barbara, Susie, Margo, Gloria, Scoti, Tiffany, Tami, Beth2, Kristen, Sue, Jeanne, Melea, Francie . . .

Where would I be without these women? Leaning too often on my own understading!

I am thankful for the use of my daughter's laptop to post this blog. We're vacationing in Estes Park--a beyond beautiful spot in the Rocky Mountains. Another reason to be thankful!!

Iris over at Sting My Heart, the wonderful sponsor of Thankful Thursday, blogged about Proverbs 3:5-6. Interesting--because Andy Stanley taught on that same verse this past Sunday. Not leaning on my understanding, but realizing God knows better than me.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Stained Glass Windows

"The Lord takes broken pieces and by His love makes us whole." ~Stained glass window made from shattered windows, First United Methodist Church, Oklahoma City, across from the Murrah Federal Building

I've always loved the beauty of stained glass windows. And yet, the truth is, when I am gazing at the artistry, I am not thinking about the fact that such stunning creativity comes from brokenness. Bits and pieces of glass pieced together just so by a master craftsman.

There are times in my life when I have felt shattered into a thousand little pieces.

Broken beyond repair.

My heart has been wounded, overwhelmed by too much heartache. I've held a precious friend as she's cried--or wished that someone would hold me while I cried. I've been hurt, or I've realized that I've hurt someone else.

Moments like these are devastating.

And into such moments, God steps and offers his love. His hope. He takes my shattered life and makes it whole again.

Like a master craftsman, he pieces together the fragments of my life and makes them something beautiful--something that reflects his glory.

Just Thinking Out Loud: We Accidental Pharisees need to remember "But God . . ."

Life is so very painful . . .but God offers hope in the midst of our pain. Life is so wearying . . . but God offers his strength. Life is so disappointing . . . but God promises to wipe every tear from our eye and to never leave us or forsake us. He promises to be our refuge and our strength. When our lives are shattered, we need to offer the fragments to our loving God and ask him to create a stained glass window that reflects his glory.


Monday, July 14, 2008


My friend Kristen and I are doing a Bible study together. It's Kay Arthur's Lord, Give Me a Heart for You, a study based on 2 Corinthians.
Thanks to it being summertime and the fact that Kristen and I are both moms with kiddos who keep us hopping, we're not racing through the study.
And I'm okay with that. I'm thankful I'm taking it slow because it gives me more time to think about the truths I'm discovering--or rediscovering--and to make them personal.
The most recent truth is now emblazoned on my computer screensaver:

I am adequate because I am a child of God.

Pretty simple statement, that.
There's no additional clause added on, stating some thing I have to do or not do to make me adequate.
And, to be quite honest, that blows my whole Accidental Pharisee way of life right out of the water.
My relationship with God makes me adequate.
There's alot of things that have happened in my life that have told me I'm inadequate. Things I've done. Things that were done to me--like the abuse. People's less than favorable reaction to me. My own less than favorable reaction to me.
And, as an Accidental Pharisee, I wasted alot of time and effort trying to make myself feel adequate. And then I hoped someone noticed. I hoped God noticed.
Once again, I made my life much more complicated than it needed to be. The truth is, my adequacy comes from God, not from anything I do. Who says? God does in 2 Corinthians 3:5:
"Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves , but our adequacy comes from God . . ."

Just Thinking Out Loud: Am I adequate? As a child of God, the answer is yes. I am adequate because I am God's daughter.
It's a simple--and as amazing as that.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thankful Thursday # 6

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."
~ Henry David Thoreau

With thanks to Iris over at Sting My Heart for hosting Thankful Thursdays--and encouraging women all over the blogosphere to be grateful.
I saw two double rainbows this week--on two separate days. Both times, they disappeared into grey clouds only to reappear again. And both times, I tried to capture the sight with my camera, with little success. You have to be at just the right angle to get a good photo of a rainbow.
There's a life lesson there.
There were some difficult times this past week. Grey clouds.
But God always provided rainbows during those times--reasons to be thankful. I just had to be looking for them.

This week I am thankful for:
  • my friend, Tiffany, over at Tea with Tiffany, who encouraged me to become a part of Thankful Thursday. She was right--this is a good, good community to be a part of.

  • my "running partner" husband, Rob. The fact that I can even call him my running partner is amazing. He's encouraged this oh-so-beginning runner to keep on through cold and wind--and that's in July in Colorado!

  • my family--my grown children and my caboose kiddo. That whole "through thick and thin" idea? We live that out with one another.

  • the just-too-trendy box of clothes my younger sister sent to my 7-year-old. The entire time we unpacked it, Christa jumped up and and down and started sorting out which outfits to where when.

  • an early to bed night finally!!

  • the reminder that in oh-so-many ways, I am living my dreams. I found my true love. I have wonderful kiddos. I'm writing and I'm published.

  • the constant truth that God's mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is great and that He lavishes His grace on me.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It Don't Come Easy

"Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness." ~H. Jackson Brown Jr.

I am about to share a less than wonderful truth about myself.
Forgiveness does not come easily to me.
It is easier for me to hold a grudge than it is for me to forgive someone.
I have on occasion said that unforgiveness is an heirloom passed down in my family from generation to generation.
So, you see, I had my reasons for being unforgiving. I was born and bred to it.
And then I became a believer. By choice. No one forced me to believe the truth of who God is and how he reconciled me to himself through the death of his son, Jesus.
Over time, I realized things had to change. I had to change.
Following God meant learning to forgive.
Talk about dying to myself. To the way I wanted to do things.
I wanted to hold onto hurts--heart wounds--and never, ever forgive the persons who had hurt me.
And I felt justified in my unforgiveness.
I just didn't feel very Christlike. When I looked in the mirror, I didn't see the image of God. I saw an angry, unforgiving woman.
Not a pretty sight.
I remember one day when I, once again, wrestled with forgiving someone. I fell to my knees beside my bed and buried my head in my arms.
"God, I can't do this!"
Do you know what God said to me--in that inner soft voice you hear in your heart?
"I know you can't. Let me help you forgive."
I stayed on my knees and cried. God knew I couldn't forgive--even though I wanted to. And, you know what? He still loved me and wanted to help me do what I couldn't. Amazing grace, isn't it?

Just Thinking Out Loud: We Accidental Pharisees aren't very good at forgiveness. First, we act like we don't need any. We pretend to be "practically perfect in every way" a la Mary Poppins. And we don't like offering forgiveness to others. Why is that? Maybe because it demands relationship. Maybe because it requires grace. Maybe because when we forgive we look more like God and less like ourselves.


Monday, July 7, 2008


"Basically, the only thing we need is a hand that rests on our own, that wishes it well, that sometimes guides us." ~Hector Bianciotti, Sans La Misericorde du Christ

I am a relationship oriented person. Relationships are vitally important to me.
This is not to say that I am good at relationships. Sometimes I am. Sometimes I am not. Relationships go horribly awry--and it is my fault.
I believe that God is relationship oriented. This is not to say God is like me. Rather, that my heart's desire just may be a glimpse of God's character within me.
And you know what?
Sometimes I am good at this relationship with God. And sometimes I am not.
How can I get it so wrong, when relationships are so, so important to me?
I really don't know.
I think sometimes I try too hard. I make it too complicated. I let unrealistic expectations--mine and others--trip me up.
Other times, I don't try hard enough in a relationship. I stop short of forgiving. Or, rather than saying, "Fascinating, isn't it?" when someone annoys me or hurts me or makes me angry, I just withdraw and think, "They are wrong."
Trying too hard and not trying hard enough--both in my earthly relationships and in my relationship with God.
And still, I long for relationship with God. With others.
And I think that is a God-given longing.
Which means, tomorrow I try again.

Thinking Out Loud: We Accidental Pharisees can avoid relationships by getting all caught up with the dos and the don'ts and the wills and the won'ts. We can avoid a relationship with God. We can avoid relationships with others that will give us a glimpse of God's grace. And yet, God's heart is one that longs for relationship. God is all about love and redeeming and reconciliation--all things that happen within the context of relationship.

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

Wishing you a Happy Fourth of July!
And thank you to all the men and women in the military--and their families--for their service to our country.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thankful Thursday #5

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. ~ Galatians 5:1 (NASB)

With grateful thanks to Iris at Sting My Heart for hosting Thankful Thursdays!

Galatians 5:1 was the first Scripture verse I ever memorized. At the time I was a brand new baby Christian. I didn't even know there was a book of Galatians in the Bible! That was 28 years ago, and God has been teaching me about standing firm in my freedom for every one of those years.

You see, I was raised in a legalistic church. Yes, I believed in God, but I didn't have a relationship with him until I was 21. And I confess that I brought some of my oh-so-familiar legalistic tendencies with me into my relationship with God. And others encouraged me to keep them--and added more layers of legalism.

But every time I read Galatians 5:1 I remember that Jesus died to give me freedom not legalism.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.

And, with July 4th coming up, I am thankful for our military too. I have two friends whose husbands died while serving in foreign countries. The ultimate sacrifice. I am thankful for their service and their sacrifice. And I am thankful I live in a country where freedom is protected.

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