Archive for November, 2006

He Who Is

So my morning devotions are on forgiveness and one of the verses to look up was 1 John 1.9. I almost didn’t look it up. I can quote it. But I looked it up anyway. And the wording of the New Revised Standard version that I read was slightly different than the NIV that I had memorized as a child. And the difference, to me, was striking.

the NIV says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

the NRSV says “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

There are two differences. The NRSV uses ‘cleanse’ where the NIV uses ‘purify.’ But that’s not what struck me.

What struck me is that the NRSV says “he who is faithful and just” rather than just “he is faithful and just.”

I immediately liked the NRSV better and it took me a few moments to figure it out. The NIV can come across as formulaic. We do this and God does that. We put in the quarter and get the candy of our choice. We confess and he forgives.

But the insertion of “who is” in the NRSV shifts gears a bit. He forgives us when we confess not because of some formula or quid pro quo, but because of WHO HE IS. He who is faithful and just. This suble difference takes us out of the formula and gives us a glimpse at the Person behind it and the amazing love of God.

As I typically do, I was wondering if the NRSV translators had a basis for the subtle change and if what I was so awestruck by was really there. So I pulled up my Greek class work. I had translated the verse in class. Here is what I got from the Greek, “if we confess our sin, he is faithful and just, so that he might forgive us the sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing (or all injustice/sin).”

It’s not quite like either, but looking at closely it, too, seems to avoid the formulaic and point to the character of Jesus. He is faithful and just and that is why He forgives us… not that He has to, but that He chooses to. And that’s awesome.

“Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou my God shouldst die for me?”

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chicken or egg

Which came first?

I was told as a child never to use the abbreviation “X-Mas” because it was taking “Christ” out of “Christmas.”

Then in college I learned that X is the Greek Chi which is the first letter in Christ (in the Greek) and was actually used as a letter symbol for Christ.

So was the abbreviated “X-Mas” begun as a way to avoid saying Christ and then some Greek-loving Christian said “don’t worry, we can use it because X stands for Christ”…

Or was the abbreviation started as a way to save space/ink (or handcramps) knowing that X is the Greek Chi and then someone later said “Hey, it’s a way to avoid saying Christ”?

I have run across people who are terrified to use “X-mas” and are often adamant that it is just one more way the world tries to remove Christ from Christmas as well as those who are not bothered by it. I’ve heard it argued both ways.

Can we ever know on which basis the abbreviation was started?

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Who I Am – Part 3

So I feel I’m an oxymoron.

When looking up name meanings a few months back it struck me that even my name is opposite.

“Lori” comes from “Laura” which is Latin and refers to the laurel tree, which was used to make victory wreaths. So the name means “victorious one.” (And I rarely feel victorious.)

“Ann” comes from “Hannah” which is Hebrew and generally means “gracious.” And though I can’t remember where I read it I remember finding something where it was a quiet, suffering sort of grace. It implied the opposite of victorious.

Which I found amusingly ironic. Victory is such a loud word. And grace such a soft word.

Victorious grace.

What is more amusing is that my parents didn’t have my name picked out. In fact, I was nameless for a few days because they couldn’t agree on anything. They finally settled on Lori Ann.

Now in ancient times, and still in some cultures today, people were named or renamed to fit who they were or what they did. Jacob (“he who grasps the heel”) was named such because of what happened at birth. God renamed him Israel (“wrestles with God”) to signify an event in his life and his future. And that’s just one example.

It actually fits in with what I have deemed my “life verse.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (as I translated it in Greek class) reads:

“But we are having this treasure in vessels made of baked clay, in order that the surpassing quality of the power might be of God and not from us; in every (thing) being pressed hard but not being crushed, being at a loss but not being in despair, being persecuted but not being abandoned, being knocked down but not being destroyed, carrying in the body the death of Jesus in order that the life of Jesus might also be revealed in our body.”

Victorious grace.

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Who I Am – Part 2

Sometimes I feel at odds with myself. I know I’m not the only one to ever feel this way. But sometimes I think it is more – or that there is more to it. There are some things that I definitely am.

I am female. I am an introvert. I am a daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, granddaughter, friend. I am creative. I am a Christian.

But on many things and in many ways I feel as though I defy definition, I straddle opposite categories, I am on the line that is supposed to distinguish….

I fall on the line and have traits of both Busters (Gen X) and Bridgers (Gen Y).
I have the characteristics of both the baby of the family and an only child (often paired with the eldest).
I use my left and right hands.
I am creative and I think logically.
I am emotional and I am rational.
I do well at English and the “arts” as well as math and science.
I am a perfectionist and yet I am apathetic.
I love symmetry and asymmetry.
I love to read and I hate to read.
I love to travel and I hate to travel.
I love hospitality and cooking for and serving people, but I am not a people person and do not make a good hostess.
I love to cook and sew and I love power tools and building things.
My mind soaks up information like a sponge, but it is also as porous as one because often I can’t think straight or remember simple things.

I am an oxymoron.

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night person

I used to be a morning person.

I woke up early, naturally. I was awake and ready to go. I was cheery. I was chipper. 10 AM felt like midday to me. I liked it.

All through college I was out of place. I went to bed early and got up early. After 9 or 10 PM my brain and body turned to mush. I remember my peers telling me I needed to change and my professors telling my peers that when they had families the late night/late morning thing would have to go. I figured I was just ahead of the curve.

But something has happened.

Suddenly mornings are hard for me. I can’t get awake. Even if I go to bed early. Though most of the time when I do get to bed early I can’t sleep or don’t sleep well. I am more awake at night. My brain is firing off and my adrenaline is pumping.

I hate to blame everything on the fibro, but with the sleep issues it is my best guess as to where this is coming from. I love mornings. I don’t think I altered my sleep patterns by my own habits. I’ve tried readjusting but it doesn’t seem to work. What’s happening to me? Where have my mornings gone and why do I feel so much better after the sun goes down than during the day?

I don’t like this. Not at all.

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i am thankful for:

avocados. breezes. chums. dance. embers. family. greek. home. imagination. Jesus. kaleidoscopes. laughter. mime. narnia. optics. photos. quesadillas. redemption. sunrises. theology. understatements. voices. words. x-men. yellow. zippers.

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The Way I Am

So today’s devo was countering the lie that “I can’t help the way I am.”

And I agree that it is a prevalent lie that has become accepted in our society. One of my pet-peeves (esp. in college and grad school where this was a hot topic) is people who use those personality tests to excuse their behavior. I can’t tell you how many times I would hear “Oh, I’m ESTJ (insert any personality test category) and that’s just how I am.” It’s one thing to use it to understand yourself and your tendencies, but to use it as an excuse is a bit much…

When I first started reading the chapter today and reading over her examples I was at first defensive. Because it is true that some things are hereditary and the way we were raised does have profound impact on us. And she seemed to neglect that. (But the study guide to go with it does not.)

Her point, however, is to rail against the ‘victimization’ of society and urge us to take responsibility. Sure, we may have been dealt a poor hand, but our responsibility comes in how we play it.

Reminds me of the Charles Swindoll quote saying that life is “10% circumstance and 90% attitude.”

Or the Max Lucado book “Just like Jesus” which is introduced by saying “God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way.”

The word “responsibility” comes from the word “response.” It is our response to what we are given that is going to make the difference. Now for the hard part – living out what I believe!

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Who I Am – Part 1

So I’ve been trying to figure out who I am, right? Kinda. Since I seem to fall between so many cracks. Use right and left hands, use right and left brains, like “girly” stuff like cooking and sewing as well as “manly” stuff like power tools and fixing things. And though there are quite a few things that I definitely am; introvert, quiet, etc, I wanted to spend some time trying to figure out better how I fit together…

And since I’ve been listening to those Mars Hill sermons on 1 Corinthians and the most recent ones covered spiritual gifts, I thought I’d start there. It was weird. He would introduce and describe the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians (as well as those in Romans and Ephesians). Then he would ask questions to help people see if it described them. There were a lot of the gifts where I was like “that sounds like me” or “that kinda sounds like me.” And it made me wonder why I had so many “kinda”s but few “yes, that’s it!” responses. So I took 7 free online assessment tests and compared results.

By and far, my highest on each test was “teaching.” But most of the tests had clusters. A cluster of high scores and a cluster of medium-high scores.

In the “high” cluster were also knowledge, prophecy and exhortation. Interestingly, “prophecy” and “exhortation” also ended up in the medium-high cluster when they weren’t high scores…

Also on the medium-high side were serving, giving, administration, wisdom, discernment and faith. Hospitality and Helps made it on one of the tests, as well. But, oddly, hospitality was lowest on two other tests.

My point? I can’t get away from teaching being the highest. It is who I am and what I love and the “knowledge” part fits in right with it. Even if half the time I feel like I’m not good at it. *rolling eyes.* What I find interesting is how the exhortation and prophecy flip back and forth. Probably depending on how the question was worded. Both actually fit into the teaching thing – at least I see them doing that. For in my teaching I love to encourage and often am able to read the culture and situations (as I see it in my life the prophecy gift is not so much foretelling as forthtelling)! And there are all these little things, like serving (I really like behind-the-scenes stuff), giving (I love giving, just don’t always have much to give), wisdom and discernment (both of which are not as strong as I think they used to be… during my teens years when my relationship with God was more vibrant these were stronger) actually all work together.

Even the fact that faith (was also much stronger in my earlier years) and hospitality (cooking and preparing nice comfortable places I love to do, but am not good at interacting and such) made the list are seeming to fit with me as I consider this.

So I may not have some super strong cool gift. I have some strong ones and some medium ones. But they work together. And I have no doubt God designed it that way. It’s a matter of me being grateful for what I have and using it how God wants rather than me looking to others and wanting what they’ve got…

BTW – if any of you reading this know me (as opposed to randomly coming across this blog), please comment and let me know if you resonate with anything I’ve said here. Another thing I believe is that God gives us godly people in our lives to help us see and encourage us in our gifts, in our faith and in our walk with Jesus!

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the second night

During the worship service on the second night at the NCAF, we were given 3 points. Or at least it was 3 that I wrote down. And for me they seemed to flow with what Rory Noland said in the first session and at the first worship service and that God was saying to me all weekend. (These are reworded a bit to make them imperatives in my own life.)

1. I must be faithful to God’s plan for me today. (Here he referenced Aaron and Hur – and how Hur was some guy no one really knows about except that he did this one  “little” thing of holding up Moses’ arms during a battle.)

2. I must trust God’s plans for my future. (Here is referenced Joseph and how God took what the brothers intended for evil and used it to save Egypt and Jacob’s family – ie. Israel.)

3. I must have my heart spiritually ready and prepared. (Here he referenced Romans 8 and setting our minds on things of the Spirit.)

Being faithful, trusting and being in intimate relationship with God.

And that’s that.

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for the morrow

In Latin class I learned that “procrastination” comes from the Latin “pro” and “cras,” literally meaning “for tomorrow.”

At the conference last week someone said “Procrastination is perfectionism mixed with fear.”

Very true. At least true in my life. I hold off, put off and wait more because I am afraid of failure, want to be perfect, and fearful of other things (depending on the situation) than for any other reason.

It’s not so much laziness. Not always. More often it is the fear that if I work really hard at something and then fail (which seems to happen a lot) then I am a failure. Laziness is just a thin veil.

And sometimes, it is even a fear of success. I saw this at Montrose. In staff meeting one day we were discussing why the church had stopped supporting us and had basically tied our hands up and not letting us do what they had specifically brought us in to do. And in one of those moments that I believe was a “God-giving-me-deep-discernment” moments, I said that perhaps the people of the church aren’t so much afraid that we would fail at our endeavors but that we might succeed. And then that might mean they had failed, for we had done something they could not. I have seen that elsewhere as well. In my case, fear of success often means that I fear I will have to do it again and again – and that I am unable to do so…

Scripture says that “perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4.18) It also says “by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Heb 10.14) How I long to live that out in my life!

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