August 31, 2010

marriage sermons

I would like to preface by saying that I think marriage sermons are great. They remind us of what Biblical marriage looks like, and helps us hold a high standard for this beautiful and sacred institution.

But I must say, that sometimes it feels like my singleness is being rubbed in my face.

Our pastor has been going through the 10 commandments, and this past week J.D. preached on the command, "thou shalt not commit adultery." A majority of the sermon was focused on sex and marriage, as one would predict.

Naturally, he pointed out how earthly marriage is given to us an analogy or a picture of God's relationship to us . . . and how the intimacy found in sex is a picture of the intimacy we have with God.

But it did catch me a little off-guard when he said that, (within the confines of marriage) sex is an echo of God's love and a taste of the divine.

My immediate thought was - awesome! Here I am, single and in the world . . . and what if I never get married? Well, I'll never experience that picture of God's love, I'll never be in that exclusive, married-people-only, inner circle of understanding the Gospel. And I'm totally missing out.

It makes me feel that my relationship with God is hindered because of my singleness.

But then again, Paul did say that it is good to be single - it allows us to be single-minded toward the Lord and to focus solely on our relationship with Him, versus being in a relationship and having our time and devotion divided between God and a husband.

So who knows. I don't think that it was anyone's intention for us single people to feel on the outside looking in, discouraged, or that we're missing out of a deeper relationship with God when these sermons are preached. And yet, I am left feeling that way sometimes.

I guess it's a good thing to be more concerned with the status of my relationship with God because of my relationship status, than to be primarily concerned with my relationship status. (if that makes your head spin, just read it again . . . or email me to ask what I meant - I promise I'm not trying to be confusing.)

I guess what I was trying to say is that my concern is . . . does my relationship with God depend on my relationship status? If I get married, will it allow me to gain a deeper walk with Him, whereas being single will inhibit that?

Also, I have the tendency to believe that relationships just aren't for girls like me.

That relationships are for those girls who really stand out. For those girls who are a size 0. Those girls that draw all the men like a magnet. Those girls who are really good at flirting. Those girls who look cute 24/7. Let's face it - there are waaayyy more Christian girls than there are guys, so you must have to be one of those girls - you gotta make the cut. I guess I just don't stand a chance.

I could ask these questions all day. But more importantly is for now, to rest in Him. To look to Him with my questions, my doubts, my cynicism, my frustrations. To allow Him to heal these things. Because He's the only one who can handle all of it. He's the only one who can have that complete intimacy - to know me completely and love me anyway . . . the way no human can. Also, to trust that He is in control of my circumstances (including my singleness) . . . so there's gotta be a purpose to this, yes?

August 27, 2010

if I was Amish . . .

I'd be tworkin' a straw hat.

Just kidding. It would not be attractive.

Anyway . . . last weekend I was in Ohio with some lovely friends, passing through some Amish country. Which sparked some interesting conversation and thoughts.

They pointed out to me that Amish people live simple lives because it allows them to be closer to God.

That makes SO much sense to me, actually. Not that I'm going to trade in my honda for a horse & buggy, but it just reiterates a few truths to me.

There are so many distractions in this life that allow me to be far from God. Busy schedules - social and work, TV, radio, pop music, facebook, texting, blogging, traveling, the gym (oh, especially the gym) . . . so many things occupy our time and distract us from a relationship with our Creator.

Other priorities that call to us . . . so many crazy, cluttered things in this life are trying to take us away from God. And not that these things are bad, but when we pursue them more than we are pursuing Him, we get into trouble.

Am I more concerned about growing in my walk with God, which is infinite and eternal, or things of this life, like the pursuit of being hot by spending hours at the gym each day(well, OK - 4-5 times a week)? Which, is totally finite and futile . . . (because let's face it, when I'm 60, there will be no hope of having a bikini body)


The longer I walk with God, the more challenges seem to cross my path . . . which is a sign of growth, so I guess I can be thankful amidst the difficulty.

God puts us in community and fellowship for a multitude of reasons, and one that seems to be put on my heart lately is accountability.

As I read through 2 Kings, you can see a pattern of kings in Israel and Judah . . . all who fall short and do evil in the sight of the Lord. Even the ones who are pleasing to God have a few unrepentant sins. It would appear that they are not allowing God to take full reign of their lives, they do not fully surrender every area of their lives to God.

How relevant this is to us today. How reluctant are we to give God every area of our lives? As much as we don't want to acknowledge it, I think we all tend to have a piece of ourselves that we tell God He can't touch.

God, I'll serve you on Sunday, but I can't afford to tithe . . . God, I'll be faithful in attendance to my small group, but I won't open myself up to be held accountable. God, you can tell me where to work and where to volunteer, but I get to choose who I date. etc. etc.

I have definitely been there. And I know enough now that God doesn't just want us on Sunday, or for an hour in small group. He wants all of us, all of the time. That's what He desires - that intimate relationship, daily walking with Him. How can that be obtained if we refuse to let go and surrender all to Him?

On the outside looking in, I can see friends and acquaintances following destructive patterns, habitual sin, unrepentant sin and areas of life that are not surrendered to God.

Yet, how can I know if and when it's appropriate to confront? I am by NO means perfect or even good. My heart is wretched and filthy . . . the only reason I am walking with God is because of His initiation and action in my life. I struggle as much as the next person. I know that we are called to hold each other accountable, but how can this be done without appearing self-righteous, snobby, or condemning? How can this be done in love? How can this be done the way God asks?

I know that sitting idly by while those that I love are turning from God is just as bad, if not worse, as openly waging war against God myself . . . but how do I approach this without destroying a friendship or appearing self-righteous?
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