Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Want to Scare Someone?

Just start talking about Grace.

It's great. They get rather freaked out and start saying stuff about how, "You still have to do stuff and that doesn't mean you don't have to follow the law and yeah but we still have to do good works."

And then you're there like... "Um, yes, I never said otherwise."

I'm am pretty sure that we've gotten terribly confused. I know I was terribly confused. (probably will be again, too. But anyways.)  

Grace is not like that at all. Grace doesn't mean, "Oh wonderful!! Now I can just sit around and do nothing (or whatever awful things I want to do.)" No, no, no.

Grace means Jesus dying on the cross. And then rising again.

Grace is given freely, because that is what kind of God there is.

Grace is very, very costly, because that is what kind of God there is.

By the first statement I made, "Grace is given freely, because that is what kind of God there is." I meant that He gives it freely because He is a gracious, loving God.

By the second statement, "Grace is very, very costly, because that is what kind of God there is.", I  mean that God is holy and just, and cannot tolerate sin. He can't just gloss it over with a hug and say it'll be fine.


It took Jesus' perfect fulfillment of the law.  It took His death, horrible in every sense of the word, on the cross. It took His rising again, His conquering of death.

Grace is given freely.

Grace is not free.

Grace enables us to learn to live as Christ lived. It gives us safety and confidence while we learn--we are not under the law, but under grace. We're still learning, we're still becoming like Christ, we're still doing good things.

But it's all different.

The motivation is different: It's our love for God, rather than our fear of the law. Over and over, Jesus says "If you love Me, obey my commandments."

The power is different: It is no longer our vain human efforts; now it is grace/the Holy Spirit that works in us.

The end result is different: Under the law, no matter how hard you tried, you would fall short. Always. Every. Single. Time. With grace, He makes the way, hits the target right on--for you. Because of His sinless life in YOUR place, because He took YOUR punishment, because He always lives to make intercession for YOU... you are accepted, holy, and beloved.


Grace, properly understood, won't make anyone stop working. No, it will motivate you all the more. Grace is amazing--a precious, priceless, undeserved, unearned gift.

A gift of love.

And because He first loved us, we, in turn, love Him. And through His grace, we become more and more like Him.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Strong Girls

I've had this post floating around in my head for quite some time now, but I have been hesitant to write it. Mainly because it's so personal, and also because... well, you'll see.

There are a lot of different kinds of girls out there, but there are two really broad categories that you could try to put them in: The sweet, soft girls--and then the strong, I-Can-Handle-This girls. (And within both of those there are the sub-categories of Introverts and Extroverts. I happen to be an Introverted Strong Girl, which is a very interesting mix. And since that is what I know best, I'll be explaining an Introverted Strong Girl. It may overlap into how an Extroverted Strong Girl is, but I can't say for sure...)

For the longest time, I thought that it was wrong to be in the latter category. I mean, what about being submissive and having a gentle and quiet spirit and all that? Those don't seem to fit in that "strong girl" category...

But yet, here I am. A so-called "Strong Girl." And I've come to realize that while being made like this does have its difficulties, it also has its blessings. I've also learned that God makes all kinds of different people, and He likes it that way. 

It is not necessary to be my made-up picture of what a feminine girl is supposed to be: it is necessary to be the kind of person Christ would be were He in my position. And yes, that does include being submissive and gentle in spirit.

So... what is it like being an Introverted "Strong Girl"?

I guess the first thing you ought to know is that we are not near as strong as we look; not inside. We crumble inside just like everyone else: the difference is you'll probably never see it unless we learn the (Very Hard) lesson of vulnerability. Even then, we will be likely only be vulnerable with a small group. Unless we have a blog. Ahem.

Another thing is that while we don't appear as caring as the Sweet Girls, we actually care very, very, very deeply--and it bothers us. So we try to limit our caring to a few select people, lest we become overwhelmed with it all. It sounds callous--and it probably is. But, apart from Christ, that is how we operate.

In some aspects, though, we really can handle far more than the other group of girls: it is just how we are built. We usually remain calm when everyone else is freaking out--nearly always outwardly, and often inwardly as well. We can stand against storms that would flatten other people--sometimes out of stubbornness and/or pride, unfortunately. It takes a lot of work by God in our hearts to learn to rely on His strength, because it often appears that we CAN do it. Until we can't, of course. But I really don't think you want to see the kind of turmoil that goes on before a Strong Girl gets to that point... :P

We have the same need for love as other girls, though we have a much harder time showing it. It is a very difficult place to be, because we wish that you would somehow see through us and know what we need, but of course that doesn't happen often because most of the time we are saying, "Go away I'm fine" with our attitudes. (It is also harder for us to understand our own needs sometimes, too. Just to add to the fun.) We value respect more highly than most girls, too.

If you challenge us directly and with no grace, we will probably resist until the day we die. Or the day when God knocks us over and tells us to quit. One or the other. If, on the other hand, you say things in a non-confrontational "this helped me" type way, we will likely listen. For me, I find that if someone directly contradicts me, I'll probably hold my ground. If, however, someone I respect/love says something offhand that is different from what I think, I may be shaken easily in what I think. It's very odd. :P

So... what's a Strong Girl to do?

Well, the first thing is to recognize that she is weak--that she needs to rely on Christ's strength. It is a little harder to realize because of all the aforementioned, but when she does realize it, it is a great relief.

Another step is learning to accept how God made you. Don't try to be someone else. Just love God more. Focus on Him. Let Him mold you into His image. And don't excuse sin based on, "This is just who I am!!", either.

It is also important to learn to be *whispers* vulnerable. There, I said it. But, really, that is the way to grow deep friendships, and that is the way to actually help and be helped. It's hard, very hard... but it's worth learning. This doesn't mean you need to be vulnerable to EVERYONE--that would be illogical and impossible. But it does mean that you--we--need to learn when to be vulnerable.

Learning to show and receive love is also a big step in the right direction... and a hard one. I don't know if I'm the only girl in this category that has had a hard time grasping what love IS or not, but I'm guessing not...

Another really important thing, too, is too learn to know the difference between "strong" and "tough." Tough is when you get to the point where you don't care when people hurt you and you don't care when you hurt people. You have good strong walls, and no one is going to come in. Strong is when you are able to stand firm in life's storms, but you still bend with the wind. You still feel pain, you still care.  

Well, there you have it. My thoughts on Strong Girls...

By All Means, it's The End!

I've been noticing a queer and pervasive problem lately, both in my life and in other lives around me.

We tend to think that the Means are the Point, rather than the End the means are supposed to be achieving. Weird...

A very common example would be Bible reading and prayer. The point is actually to get to know God better, and yet we check it off our list as if the reading in and of itself does something. Yeah, God is really good at using His word, and you'll probably still get something out of that type of reading.

But... how much better it would be if we changed our thinking to realize that these "Spiritual disciplines" are not our goal--God is our goal.

Use the Means to get to the End--don't end with the Means.

(Now "means" looks weird. What does it even mean? Oh help.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Which Posts in 2012 Were Your Favorite?

Hey There Bloggy Friends!

I know I kind of abandoned this blog last year... but I did post a few times, and I'm getting ready to make my yearly list of favorite posts.

So--of the few I did post, which ones especially impacted you? Which ones did you like most? And why, if you have time? :D

Thank you!!