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Pampers in the Pews on Bible.org: Warm and Fussy Feelings do not equal faith

 

Preview: Click link to read full article

There I was walking that long path to the university yet again. I knew every crack in the side walk. I knew where the weeds had finally broken free and where the deep puddles would collect after a hard rain. I could gauge how late I was to class based on the faces I met scrambling along the way. Guys and gals who drank way too much the night before drug their inanimate bodies to their 7:45 classes. The skaters, which was still a thing then, weaved in and out of the crowd, I had to fake left and fake right to escape them. Every day I would walk that path to those lofty red brick buildings almost floating, sometimes skipping and always with a smile plastered on my face. Rushing for final exams, my homework may or may not have been done, a guy running to class spills his coffee on me, but none of it altered the feeling of elation that seemed to be my cocoon.    Path

 

http://blogs.bible.org/engage/christen_jacobs/warm_and_fuzzy_feelings_do_not_equal_faith

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Why Kim K just may be my pregnancy hero

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West catch a movie together

So right about now those of you who know me or those who just operate on common sense are probably doing a “Say what now?!”  I admit there are not many things that would make me put the word hero and Kim K in the same sentence.

But my honest truth is that she really is a model for pregnancy for me. Let me tell you why…

She wasn’t blessed with a “cute” pregnancy and that’s ok!

Yes I know all pregnancies are beautiful but lets face it some ladies have that perfectly round ball and no fat that appears any where on her body! People asked me all the time if I was going to do a pregnancy photo shoot. My answer was no! I enjoyed feeling baby move inside of me, I enjoyed the pregnancy attention I got but I did not love the way I looked.  In my first pregnancy I never seemed to pop out! In fact I got wider and wider until my belly button just collapsed on itself.  I was ok with that but I didn’t have the picturesque pregnancy that you see in magazines and neither did Kim! So a real life famous person had a baby bulge instead of a baby bump and the world got to see that this is a beautiful pregnancy too!  Work that bulge Kim K! You are a trail blazer for wide pregnant women every where!

She had cankles and the world needs to learn about this! Stop telling lies to young aspiring mothers every where! Your feet will grow and heels will spread and they may never come back!  

Ok I will not tell a lie this was a tragic choice of foot wear on her behalf. However this happens in pregnancy! This is what many moms suffer through before the bouncing baby comes! Kim K! Work those cankles and try another shoe but good for you!

Kim K feet

She is not afraid of having babies back to back! 

Kim-Kardashian-and-North-West

Come next May I will have 3 kids 3 and under! I love my life! I love my Kids but to most people you would think that I have somehow lost my mind having so many children back to back. Here are the top front runners of strange rhetoric about having multiple children.

  1. You guys need a TV in the bed room! ummm ok we have a TV in our bedroom but we also like to engage in marital intimacy is that ok with you.
  2. Don’t you know how to use birth control. Why yes my husband was actually a sex ed teacher for some time you know.
  3. (Now on my third pregnancy) Are you going to have your tubes tied?  …I am glad that you are concerned for my reproductive organs however I think I would rather have a conversation about life altering surgery with husband… THANK YOU!
  4. After I found out about my second child another mother says… Oh I am so sorry…I’m like sorry for what? The miracle of life? No need to be sorry we love having our kids close in age.

 

All in all you can see that Kim is an every day women pregnancy hero. She isn’t concerned about what social norms say about how many children you have and how long you should wait. For me when I often feel like a baked potato warped in foil I am proud to see another lumpy pregnancy in media.

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Dear White People: I’m black and I need tips doing my multi-racial Child’s hair 

I giggle as I write this because I am in a major role reversal when it comes to hair sos calls.

Most white people run to the Internet or black friends to figure out what to do with their adoptive or bi-racial children. I’ve read fantastic stories of white patents working hard to learn the mystery of our thick tress. But here I sit on the other side of the grass and it’s not so green.

Here is the thing, my lovely chica has very fine whispy hair. Its got a bit of a curl to it but won’t stay in one place. It won’t hold hair clips or ties and head bands slip off like crazy!

What to do!!!!! I’ve tried brushing it with a little water to lay the curls down to no avail. I’ve tried frizz control and curl boasters with no luck. We wash her hair about every other day and use conditioner.

Now don’t get me wrong baby girl would be cute wearing a burlap sack but every once and a while I’ve taken her out only to notice all the other girl’s hair looks like their parents did something to it….. I’m over here like……well I tried.

Since little mama’s hair is fine it’s taking longer to grow in so there is no pony tail swag and certainlyimg_3506 no braiding. I am certain the answer is out there. Maybe this time from a white mom who can help this black mom with some tips????

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The Art of Worship

Prepare yourself for this Psalm of Praise, listen to it, don’t analyze it. Let the grandeur of our God wash over you. Think of yourself as a lone tiny dot in the face of an inexhaustible God. Remember that you are connect to an ancient chorus of believers who still sing this song about our God. And you cannot refuse to Worship the one who hold of all this in His mighty hands.

Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness;come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his;we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thank to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

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Ezekiel 4: God and the Performing Arts

artFor all of you who are gifted in the world of performing arts, have you ever thought: Where does God fit in all of this? Outside of church centered performances it seems that the world of the arts can at time, exist in a vast contrast between what is sacred and what is secular. Let’s face it, many, movies, TV shows, plays, improv, and so on are used as a platform to debunk God and what his will for humanity is.

But let us not forget, Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”  James 1:17  Essentially this means that if it is Good, it belongs to God and brings Him glory. A ballet doesn’t necessarily have to play out a biblical story line to glorify God and an instrumental does not need to say the name Jesus in order to display His Grace and Mercy.  These things intrinsically give a glimpse into the character of God because we are created in His image an our capacity for Art belongs to Him and honors Him. If you are a non-believing performer, perhaps you don’t even know that your very talent and skill are good gifts from God. Even when art is used to put itself at odds with God it also cannot exist without Him. (Side note: Artistic Expression is extremely hard to fit into a Godless paradigm. If we were not created for a purpose what would it mean? If there is only death after life would all the beauty fade away?)

If God delights in art, is honored by art and art is sustained by His character,  it would logically follow that He himself is an artist. Not only in the masterful way he has painted the sky and clothed the meadows in wildflowers, but also in Ezekiel chapter 4, he is in fact a director of a silent drama acted out by his prophet. There is a set that is made, and experiential art on display! And maybe, just maybe pantomime was used!   

Take a look: God is not happy with Jerusalem in Ezekiel Chapter 4; as a people of God they have consistently turned towards sin and worshiped false idols. God has had enough of their claims to straighten up and walk right so he sends Ezekiel to declare that there will be a great siege of their land that they will be punished for their sin. But God does not use words to communicate this! Instead he uses something far more cool!

This is what He says, ” Now son of man (Ezekiel), take a block of clay, put in in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it and put battering rams around it.”  Ezekiel 4:1-2

That’s right folks! God had Ezekiel perform his prophecy through somewhat of a skit utilizing mini models. It is thought that the model he built with clay brick was complete with drawing, sculpting and carvings. There was a battle seen created with tiny battery rams and maybe even tiny troops!

And this is not even the best part! In Ezekiel 3:26 God made his prophet mute “I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious people.” While Ezekiel was erecting this model of doom outside before the people he could not talk. Just imagine them asking him what they heck he was doing, or undoubtedly the throngs of children who wanted to touch it and play with it. Ezekiel was silent thus using art and symbols to speak the Word of God. Some even say he may have acted out these scenes in a mime like fashion! So for all of you mimes out there preserving this old art keep hope alive your craft is honored by God.

God then instructs him to act out a Four Hundred and Thirty day experiential exhibit! God says to Ezekiel “Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the people of Israel upon yourself. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side. I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the people of Israel.”  Ezekiel 4:4-5

After he finishes this part up he tells Ezekiel to lay on his right side and do this again for 40 more days! If you are thinking that this experiential art couldn’t get any worse for the artist you are wrong. Verse 8 tells us that Ezekiel would be tied down before the people so he couldn’t turn. God gave Ezekiel specific instruction on what to eat during this time  but in order to demonstrate to the people that they were defiled he ended up having to bake his bread in front of everyone using cow dung as fuel for the fire! That’s right people!!!!! Cow Dung!

For all of my actors, street performers or improv friends can you imagine getting this gig? Can you imagine how physically involved it would be, all to communicate a lesson to the people. And Ezekiel gave himself over to this craft for the purpose of serving God.

Now I will let you in on a little secret. I am not the most artsy person in the world. Don’t get me wrong I see beauty in the arts. I love to write and I try my hand at painting (I have one of my original works hanging in my office, its an abstract representation of Texas Wildflowers. A little girl recently came in and looked at it hanging and asked me if my son had done it lol!!!!!!! so deflating) But what I mean by “not being artsy” is that I walk around an exhibit and I cannot for the life of me understand why one bold stripe of paint is worth 2500 dollars and demonstrates racial tension. I have seen experiential art exhibits where a Man screams loudly with no explanation and I have been pretty unmoved.  But even with own lack of artsy, I can look on God’s use of the Performing Arts in Ezekiel in wonder! What a way to communicate truth! What a way to get your message across! What PR event to draw in the crowds!

What a fantastically complex God we serve, in that he doesn’t choose the easy road of communication here, rather he chooses the arduous labor of art.

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God and Weird visions: Ezekiel 1-2

ezekiels_vision_sm_by_rive6-d7dtasm

I am overwhelmed by the complexity of God and his written word to us. I pause even to write this because the task of trying to explain and understand this complexity feels beyond me in every way. Don’t get me wrong I know that God desires that we know Him that we have intimacy in him as a child looks up to his father or as the beloved disciple was able to recline and lay his head against Jesus. What a sweet intimacy that is and what a privilege to share in it!

But if you may, can we look at another facet of God’s character? While he is near, he is also far. While we are made in his image, he is vastly other. He walks with us in time, but yet he supersedes time. We understand that he is eternal but we can’t begin to fathom an existence that has no beginning and one that lives outside of time itself.

It seems to me that God wants to communicate his vast “otherness” to us at times and Ezekiel is quite the display of weird stuff! If you are like me and grew up in a predominately black Baptist church you know that the saints of old have passed down traditional sayings that describe how we talk about God whether biblical or not. You know he is the “rose of Sharon” the “prince of peace” the “rock of  ages” and finally the “wheel in the middle of the wheel.”  It was always that last one that I had no clue what it meant. There was even a song about Jesus. “He’s my rock, my rock, my sword, my shield, he is the wheel in the middle of the wheel.”  Why is there a wheel in the middle of a wheel? What use is a wheel intersecting with another wheel?

Well this strange contraption is a part of Ezekiel’s inaugural Vision in Ezekiel 1& 2. Ezekiel, I imagine, was a fairly normal priest and then he is whisked away to get a glimpse at the complexity of our Lord. ” In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heaves were opened and I saw visions of God.” (Ezekiel 1:1)

Here we are introduced to these winged creatures with four faces and four wings and human arms under said wings. They had feet like calf and shined in brilliance and beside each one was a wheel in the middle of a wheel. A wheel of equal shinning brilliance that intersected with another wheel and the  wheel was covered in eyes! Of all things yes the wheel had eyes! The wheel moved about with the creatures going where they went without even turning as it is said the spirit of those creatures was in the the wheel. (Ezekiel 1:20)

And get this, there is more! There was some sort of vault over the heads of the creatures and and image like a man was atop this thing. And its appearance was “like glowing metal, as if full of fire…” it is said there was radiance around him like the “appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day.” (Ezekiel 1:27-28)

This figure in all its might and majesty is the Lord God Almighty sitting upon his throne. Can we take a break from the strangeness of it all and consider the beauty of it? Rather can we accept that the strangeness of it, is in fact its beauty.

This sweet image that the Lord allowed Ezekiel to see is like pulling back the curtain so we can see even the slightest sliver of God’s mystery. And a beautiful mystery it is.  We have to remember that God’s inspired word is ordained by the Holy Spirit so when Ezekiel pinned this, the Lord wanted to specifically highlight some of these things for the immediate audience as well as the eternal audience which we are a part of.  That means that what this image displays is something important to God to communicate to his people so we need to take notice.

I don’t pretend that I speak on God’s behalf or anything, however there is an overarching message we find in Ezekiel’s vision and I think it may be this… The Almighty God, who was and is and is to come, the maker of the heavens and the earth, the giver of every good and perfect gift, the alpha and omega, the one who is the judge and the justifier, has an existence that is so powerful and more grand that we can wrap our minds around.

I am not the first person to shudder in the face of our Lord’s grandeur. History has shown us that theologians either decide to use this understanding of the mystery of God to drive us further from him and some allow it to drive us nearer.

So what is the correct response to all of this otherness? Reverence is the first thing that comes to mind but maybe even something deeper than that. Could it be that we can find comfort in the vast separation between the glory of the shinning image sitting above the vault, instead of dread and fear?  Could it be that in God’s infinite  power and grandeur we find our champion? Who better to have your back then the one whose Glory is so powerful it cannot be looked upon? I find peace, safety and a sense of victory knowing that God is not like you and I in this way. I have enough people like me standing for me, But if God is for us, Who can be against us?

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The Sacrament of Every Day Life

There is a myth that has permeated church culture. This myth originated from an artificial break in the natural and the supernatural. German theologians and philosophers sought to remove the mystical from the normal so as to distance God from one’s every day life and happenings.

They got it wrong. The natural and the supper natural co-mingle every time your heart, a muscle roughly the size of your fist, pumps oxygenated blood through the body. When we allow life to slow down and consider the gravity of every second, the beauty of complexity in what seems to us as minutia, we see God.

The sacraments are actions or occurrences that open up  deeper meaning to point to Christ. These things are typically considered baptism, confirmation, marriage, last rites and so on. I do not desire to be disrespectful to those who practice sacraments as devotion to Christ. I believe each one is beautiful, a moment in time that means something. But what I wish to say is, what if we can see God’s provision in the rain dripping from a tree, what if we can see his character in how a mother holds her child, what if we can see his familiarity with us, in the comfort of curling up with a good book.

Ok now I am feeling a little too Thoreau! I’m learning to slow down. To experience. To gaze. To enjoy. To relax. To love. To live. To play. To be in awe of creation. To be in awe of minutia, which leads me to be in awe of Christ.

The other day I had the most pleasant moment. A man was outside mowing his lawn and I got hit with that pungent smell of fresh cut grass as soon as I opened my door. Then I remembered my dad. He would spend a warm Saturday morning cutting grass. Usually we would have the windows open and could hear and smell what he was doing. My mom in our little yellow kitchen and gospel music blaring in the family room that usually meant to us kids that we needed to wake up and they planned to force a productive day on us. I would peep out the window and see my dad. He wore his hat tipped up so high on his head. lol I am not sure why he did that. He had these beat up old grass cutting shoes. They were so dirty he would leave them on the porch. When I was younger we actually had a barn door on our kitchen that let out to the back porch. We would open the top latch and let the air and light peek in that little yellow kitchen. All was right with the world.

My moment of grass smelling was a way to thank God, for the beauty of family, for my childhood and the security my dad and his dirty shoes brought to my family. For me those grass cutting days was a reminder that my dad took care of us. What a sweet moment found in the minutia.