Coffee Stained Papyrus

Just a Seattle-based girl who loves Jesus. As such, coffee and God's word connect time and time again.

And Then Adulthood Slapped Me In The Face January 11, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 6:27 am

Simply put, I was a naive life-snot in college. Somewhere among working 20 hours a week, going to school for 15 hours a week and having no REAL responsibilities other than doing my homework and making sure I graduated within five years (!!!), I thought that life post college was going to be a breeze.

I mean, I actually read an introduction to one of Rachael Ray’s cookbooks (Express Lane Meals) and literally scoffed out loud when I read her appeal to adults who cooked less than two times a week. I mean, I was such a jerk that I actually made fun of her and these supposed adults to some of my sorority sisters!

Well, let me tell you something. Last week I ate at Burgerville twice and las chicas at El Tapatio in Rainier know me so well that they call for the tableside guacamole when they see my car pull in to the parking lot. Their only question for me is if I’m going to dine in or take out.

Let me tell you something else:

I called into my insurance broker (OEBB) and ordered my Weight Watcher vouchers.

I also hopped on over to HelloFresh and subscribed to one of those groceries in a box things.

Why: because somewhere over the last 9 years since I chortled upon reading Rachel’s intro to her cookbook, I actually became the adult that she is appealing to and that fact slapped me in the face HARD as I picked up two Jalapeno Cheese corndogs at the 76 Station today.

And I’m ready to do something about it. So I’m literally making it as easy as possible by having someone else (Oprah, the shiny new face of Weight Watchers) tell me what to do and paying some other people (the visionaries at HelloFresh which includes a partnership with Jamie Oliver, the cute British guy who cried when he tried to revolutionize American eating habits and we made fun of him for it) to actually shop and chop my produce.

Did I mention I need accountability? So there’s that too.

Want to join me on the ride? You’re more than welcome to. Feel free to follow here or on that other blog to see how things go.

Timeline

Over the next week I’ll share my oh so brief (and admittedly shallow as a mud puddle) thoughts regarding why I went with both companies on this little adventure v. 2016. And my first delivery comes on Saturday so I’ll most likely unpack it that night and share something on Sunday.

Until then… Jessica, the little more humble life-snot

 

 

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Did I Really Just Think That? 11/10/14 November 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 9:33 pm

Yesterday, I went to Fred Meyers after church to grocery shop. On Sundays, I just figure it’s easiest to park furthest away from the entrance so that I can park without fear of hitting someone.

After spending way too much on groceries to make Tyler Florence’s Chicken Parmesan (tune in here later this week for pics and my thoughts), I headed to my car and started to ease out of the parking lot which required driving a span of approximately 75 meters in front of the store’s entrance. For the most part it was free sailing. Finally, I saw a pedestrian girl who was approaching the driving lane and needed to cross. I felt really kind, even generous, for slowing down for her… and then I thought the following:

“Oh crap! I slowed down for a girl who’s going to take her non-service dog into the store. Great, what a waste of kindness…”

Did I really just think that?

 

He’s Smiling January 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:02 am

Disclaimer: This is a bit all over the place.

Every time a new year comes, I know that my Christian friends will divide into two camps. The first camp thinks that New Year’s Resolutions are “silly” or something to that effect. They’ll support their comment with something along the lines that the Holy Spirit’s presence in us should be refining and empowering us all year. What’s so special about one day? The second camp will most likely agree theologically with the first in regards to the Holy Spirit’s presence but then may add that new year’s resolutions can still be fun and what’s the harm in joining the rest of the world as we focus on tackling goals or areas of repentance/obedience should we prayerfully consider them?

In case you were wondering, I fall in the second camp.

So, with the first of the year, I was thinking quite a bit about what my resolutions would be for 2014. I went on a run (because I had to since I’m training for my first big race in February) and decided to use the 27 minutes of huffing and puffing to pray through what the Lord might be calling me to (because the Holy Spirit is so good to me). Admittedly, I ran, prayed, forgot to pray, and then started again all while listening to Beautiful Eulogy‘s newest album’s title track, Instruments of Mercy. As the second verse started then came to an end, I had a clear indicator that the Lord wanted me to work towards remembering that He’s smiling.

Before I elaborate on what that means, I thought I’d share the more relevant portions of Instruments of Mercy’s verse with my emphasis added (wait! do hip hop/rap artists actually have verses?):

A lifetime of suffering is nothing compared to the glory being prepared,

and we can never find a stairway to heaven or climb up a ladder to get there.

It’s only by the merits of Christ that sinners inherit eternal life.

So I pray we grow in dependency, strip away my self-reliant tendencies.

Organize and order my days according to your ordinance.

I’m an instrument in your orchestra, Lord and you are my only audience.

Holding your promises close and watching as your plan unfolds,

All for your glory and praise playing the song that you composed.

The last two lines deeply resonate with me. You see, in addition to Scripture, illustrative examples really help me understand the character of God and His plan for humanity. Spurgeon’s Nightingale and C.S. Lewis’ ignorant child making mud pies in a slum are among my favorites. Beautiful Euology’s lyrics are no different – as I ran I could easily understand and empathize with not only holding the Father’s plan close but actually clutching them to my chest only to have them taken gently from me and laid out so I could see them unfold over time.

Admittedly, a lump kind of built up in my throat because as far as I know, God’s plan will only be fully revealed when Jesus returns and His worshipers join God in heaven for eternity. And I’m so excited. But it seems so far away. And while I have full assurance about Jesus’ ultimate victory, I often grow impatient and want to get a sneak peek at the role I play in that.

Which takes me to back to the point (hey, it’s only a 150-ish words later) about remembering that God’s smiling. You see, this spring/summer, I got my own illustrative example which I’ve been doing my best to remember. It started with a guy and ended up with a bit of embarrassment. In short, my insecurity of not wanting to play games or be played simply created confusion bringing me the highly-relished opportunity to over think and worry. Instead of approaching the Lord with a heart postured toward casting off anxieties or letting Him lead through the mess, I wanted answers in regards to what in the heck was going on. My great job, fulfilling service at Church, exponentially wonderful family, wise circle of friends/mentors, and the general sweetness of the summer season fell flat. In the aftermath I simply wanted answers regarding what the Lord had planned for me. And I didn’t just want answers regarding this relationship, I wanted a flood light on the who she-bang, my entire being! Whenever I thought about it my stomach flipped, my internal temperature increased by at least one degree and I held my breath. While I was manic, I was also exasperated and saddened by the fact that I knew I was being unreasonable yet was still fueling the desire to demand answers all the same. Then, one day as I was laying in bed trying to sleep, I pictured God, the Father standing at an architect’s drafting table. He called me to come to Him offering His hand. I took it and looked up (he was much taller than I was) watching Him as he used his free hand to sketch what I somehow understood to be my life’s work. I was intrigued not only by what was on the paper (I couldn’t see high enough to see what He was creating) but the fact that the Father was smiling. And not just in a fake, trying-to-bear-me-to-be-nice-because-He’s-God-after all kind of way, but a genuine, broad smile. Could it be that His plan for me gave him so much joy that he could smile with so much confidence? I anxiously rose on my tip toes trying to catch any glimpse of what plans the Lord had for me. Immediately, the Lord stooped down, looked me in the eyes and gently questioned me. “Why was I in such a hurry? Wasn’t He faithful and true? Could the fact that He was smiling be enough for me in my moments of doubt or impatience?” Thankfully, I understood and concurred with Him: yes, He is the most faithful and true being I have come to know and yes, knowing He is happy crafting me as his workmanship is enough.

In the months following, I have had bouts where I have been happy to stand, keeping my eyes on Jesus while clenching his hand. There are other moments though where I have cast my gaze and heart on something less worthy but all the more enticing in the moment. And, worse, there have been brief but terrifying episodes where I have practically pulled at the Father’s hand pleading with Him to let me go believing the terrible, dark lie that finding my own drafting table, paper and pen and being left to my own devices would be better.

So you see, Beautiful Eulogy’s lyrics which pray to the Father that we would forget ourselves and grow in reliance on Him were sweet and timely words. As was the permission I received in the middle of my run to remember that the Lord, well, He’s smiling.

—–

O Lord, you are my God;

I will exalt you; I will praise your name,

for you have done wonderful things,

plans formed of old, faithful and sure. (Isaiah 25:1, ESV)

 

#GoCougs! #GoJesus! November 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 11:19 pm

Two day after the Washington State University’s Cougars suh-weet victory over the University of Washington’s Huskies, my pulse has finally subsided. I’ll admit though I still get a grin on my face when I think about the awesome turnover during overtime (I think that defensive lineman still may be catching his breath) and the pictures of the final scoreboard showing a jaw dropping 31 to 28.

The Cougars win this last Friday meant so much to alumni and Cougar supporters who are known to be some of the most loyal and die-hard fans in the nation. The stream of Facebook posts post-game went on for hours and only seemed to trickle out finally at 11:00 PM when my parents and I stepped out of seeing Lincoln at the local movie theater.

I’ll admit that I ‘Liked’ as many posts as I could stay on top of and, after an unintentional but evidently noticeable absence from Facebook per my Aunt Diane, even posted one or two blurbs myself as I sat on the edge of my parents couch watching the second half of the game.

Who am I kidding? I only sat for a few moments. In fact, if there were a web cam showing the activity of the Pickett’s living room, you would have seen me doing acrobatics, loud clapping and screaming at Tuel to get the ball out of his hands as UW came ever closer (sorry for the dramatics Tuel – I’ve never been a QB so I realize I have no place to yell at you from the other side of the state).

The previously referenced web cam would have seen my father and I do high tens, really awkward victory dances (evidently, it’s genetic?) and whoop and holler making me very thankful that my parents live on a farm. After the victory, all I could do was collapse on the couch and relish our sweet (if not what felt like singular) win.

And then it hit me…

Over the course of the last two hours, I had exerted enough passion both in physical action and posts on social media to be exhausted. My blood pressure had been higher than any time I could remember in recent months and I was brought from an emotional low to high within minutes based on the position of the football on the field and achievement of a first down.

As I poured over the Facebook news feed and continued to ‘Like’, ‘Like’, ‘Like’, all of my fellow Cougs posts, I had to ask why I didn’t get nearly as excited or energized over Jesus as I did the Apple Cup win?

Now, for those of you who know me and realize that I continuously struggle with being a Martha over a Mary, I can hear the protests encouraging me to relax, remember it’s only a football game, and to not to think too much.

Trust me, I went through those arguments in my mind too and here, two days later, find myself under the same compulsion.

You see… Washington State University means a lot to me. It was a place where I went to earn an education that would set me up for a successful future. Instead, however, during my tenure there, I met a Savior who gave me the best gift ever… a forever future in eternity with Him that I couldn’t test, write, or merit my way through. As such, my experience at WSU means so much and the Apple Cup victory was such a reminder of Jesus’ good gifts in my life as many of the elated Facebook posts I read were from sorority sisters, classmates, friends, and even University-staff who were Christians and walked with me through those very important, first few years where I was (what do you know?) a seed acclimating to Gospel-drenched soil.

Further reflection indicated that this upcoming year is my fifth year anniversary of being a WSU graduate. Much of the last two years of my tenure at WSU were spent not only trying up wrap up classes, find a job and finish my Honor’s thesis, but also praying to see how Jesus would use me after I left Pullman. Today, I find myself as a CPA working for the third fastest growing church in the country. I co-labor among the most passionate, creative, and cross-centered people I’ve ever known. Why then would a football game bring more excitement than the Gospel at times, I wondered.

Today, as I read through the Gospel of John, I found my answer in some of the last words which Jesus spoke to his disciples before meeting the Jewish authorities who would falsely accuse him as a criminal and oversee His crucifixion: the world is an opponent to the Gospel.

John 15:18-19 ESV |
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…”

It’s unpopular to share the news of Jesus’ perfection, sacrifice through death and resurrection. Especially in a world where false gods can be purchased, legislated or indulged so easily without faith but rather tangible presence. In the Old Testament, false gods were easily identified through the creation of shrines, temples and carved images. Today though, I find they are more often present on our Facebook profiles, TV screens and debit/credit card statements. They are engrained in our choices and therefore we recoil when presented with the salt and abrasiveness of the counter-mindset which the Gospel of Jesus Christ provides.

As such, it seems easier to post news about what I buy, what I watch, or what I do then the Lord that I put my trust in. Thankfully though, Jesus knew and continues to know this as He offers more and more salvation relationships to imperfect people, including me. Not only does He save but He invites His people into the work of ministry fully knowing that many will cause false starts, drop the ball or execute personal fouls.

Thankfully, I’m not left to my own devices. Just after warning His disciples about the opposition they would encounter (nearly all of the twelve disciples were executed as a consequence to their lives of ministry following Jesus’s resurrection and ascension), Jesus also makes the following great promise:

Portions of John 16:6-14 ESV |
    But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…
    … When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, … He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

In short, Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit which works through the world and among believers ensuring the will of God the Father and work of Jesus is preserved as they strive to share the Gospel. Just as I confessed above, the presence of the Holy Spirit does not guarantee safety or a problem-free life to the follower of Jesus. However, I do believe the additional promise Jesus made to his disciples:

John 16:20-22 ESV |
   Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Based off the words of Jesus, it seems like my quandary over the ease of sharing a sports victory over the gospel falls in line with what He forewarned in John. However, the “hate of the world” which Jesus openly shares about is truly trumped by the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life and it’s influence on the world as well as the promised joy that I can look ahead to. As such, it seems only appropriate to respond with a:

#GOJESUS!

 

Catch Up – Hosea June 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 8:05 pm

Note: this post is a continuation of other “Catch Up’ posts (like this one).

HOSEA

Oh, Hosea. Without study notes or context, it appears that the God of the Bible is exactly who He is accused of being: harsh, controlling, and anything but loving.

For example, in the first few verses of chapter 1, God instructs Hosea, the prophet to:

“Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.”
(Hosea 1:2 ESV)

A wife of whoredom? Children of whoredom? That sounds, er, nice. Not.

But the context of what God has been doing over the course of his relationship with the descendents of Israel is so important to understand. God saved the Israelites from delivering them out of Egypt. He then, despite their doubt-fueled rebellion, provided for their physical, financial, and spiritual needs while he led them to Canaan, otherwise known as the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy, Moses instructed the people to enter the land, worship God and therefore love each other and their neighbors. He also gave them one important warning: Do not (x 1,000,000 for emphasis) inquire of or aspire to follow the natives’ religion.

This religion was known as Baalism and by any account of moral standards was just gross. Among other degrading acts, the religion demanded infant sacrifice particularly at the places of Baal worship, which the Lord abhorred as it openly conflicted with a portion of his covenant for his people to grow and multiply.

Additionally, in an effort to force the gods of Baal to provide ideal agricultural terms, worshipers of Baal would have sex with temple prostitutes to promote fertility and good crops. In contrast, God promised His people that he would provide for their agricultural needs as long as they adhered to the Mosaic Law, which above all things called for them to love Him, with their entire heart, mind and soul.

This brings us to Hosea and a significant span of time following the Israelites’ arrival into Canaan. Hosea finds himself in the northern kingdom of Israel. Israel broke off from Judah after the time of King David and Solomon, a period where the greater (and by greater, I refer to the entirety of God’s people pre-division) Israel communed closely with God and fulfilled their part of the covenant and thus, experienced a time of preeminence, wealth (both monetary and spiritual) and had great influence in the world for God’s glory. Hosea’s smaller Israel was particularly rebellious and its series of kings endorsed and participated in Baal worship.

In Hosea, we not only see God provide a prophesy of warning to Hosea to share with the inhabitants of the northern kingdom but we also see God command Hosea into a marital relationship which will actually incarnate the seasons of adultery and pain which God will speak through Hosea about.

To be honest, I am utterly amazed and so thankful for Hosea’s faithfulness. For starters, prophesying about the one, true God among a civilization whose heart had no moral objection to infant sacrifice and sexual immorality was risky enough. Being obedient, however, into marrying Gomer and having some foreknowledge of her future adultery is mind-bending. I have not been married but I know enough about myself and my risk-adverseness that I probably would have bowed out right then and there. What we’ll see though is that Hosea is obedient to the Lord and as a recipient of God’s love and faithfulness, he can enter into a marriage with a woman he truly does love and offer grace upon grace, again and again just as God, the Father, does for the Israel, the northern kingdom.

And so, with this rather large introduction and some reflection, let’s walk through Hosea:

***

   So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
And the LORD said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel,
She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. …
When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. And the LORD said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”

(Hosea 1:3-9 ESV)

The name of Jezreel is favorable as it relates to a place with a vineyard that was owned by a man (Naboth) who was loyal to the Lord. It also, according to the ESV Study Bible Notes, alludes to a place where the struggle between the worship of God and Baal play out.

The narrative describing the naming of the second and third children however are unfavorable and demonstrated through the lack of two important words which described the birth of the first child: bore him. This infers that Gomer has entered into at least two acts of adultery against Hosea as demonstrated through the conceiving of two children which aren’t his. This parallels Israel’s multiple acts of adultery against the Lord as they go and serve other gods (particularly the Baals).

***

   Upon her children also I will have no mercy,
because they are children of whoredom.
For their mother has played the whore;
she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
 For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
        who give me my bread and my water,
        my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’
Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns,
        and I will build a wall against her,
        so that she cannot find her paths.
    She shall pursue her lovers
        but not overtake them,
    and she shall seek them
        but shall not find them.
    Then she shall say,
        ‘I will go and return to my first husband,
        for it was better for me then than now.’
    And she did not know
        that it was I who gave her
        the grain, the wine, and the oil,
    and who lavished on her silver and gold,
which they used for Baal.
(Hosea 2:4-8 ESV)

My pastor is a very smart man and one of the most memorable things I have learned from him is that people are born worshipers. Whether we worship or not is not the important question. Instead, what we must really answer is ‘What do we worship?’ When Gomer (or Israel) says “I will go after my lovers who give me my bread and my water” what she really means is “I will go find my object of worship, the object which provides comfort and reprieve”. The problem is that when the object of worship is anything other than God of the Bible (who Christians recognize as a triune God consisting of Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit), the comfort and reprieve is only momentary.

As such, I love the verses beginning with “Therefore”. God, who cares for us more than we could ever hope or imagine, therefore protects us from our misguided worship. He describes this buffering as hedging Gomer (or Israel) up with thorns. building up walls and not allowing her to overtake her lovers. The Lord protects those who through free will acknowledge Him as Savior and then just as quickly forget Him by showing them the futility of their misdirected worship. They return to the Lord and discover that it was He who is the true source of their provision, not their misdirected worship.

***

    “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
 and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
        as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
(Hosea 2:14-15 ESV)

I struggle when I read these words, the description of how the Lord will call His people back to himself. One of the most difficult topics that I as a Christian feel called to account for is how does our free will play into God’s redemption of us?

Here in Hosea, we see that the Lord allures us into relationship. Here he brings Israel into the wilderness, away from temptation, to the place where God led and provided for His people, to speak tenderly. (In later parts of Scripture we’ll read that both Israel and Judah are conquered by Babylon and forced into exile where they will be refined and later allowed to return to Canaan.)

Faith in the Lord does not come around by means of coercion. As a Christian in a particular corner of the world that holds the most educated population in the country, I know my faith cannot be imposed on anyone. All too often, I see people brought up in religious homes declare indifference or objections to the “god” which appeared to demand or punish. As I once heard a little girl who may have been the product of such a home say, “I don’t like Jesus. He just isn’t fun.”

Instead, the God of Hosea who calls the rebellious wife into the wilderness must be allowed to be seen for what he truly is: a caring, forgiving, and loving Father who provides life and hope. When He is unmarred by imperfect human means of rationalization or explanation, He can be seen as such. His actions truly are alluring, His voice tender when His gospel rings true.  And what is most amazing, is that when God is presented in his raw and amazing state, His people, even the rebellious wife respond favorably by choice. In faith, they take Him at His word and live in expectation for it to come true just as they did in those shining moments in the wilderness where Israel responded in humble worship.

***

Phew. That was only through chapter three. Enough for now.

 

Catch Up – Titus

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 6:08 pm

At the beginning of the year I resolved to read the ESV Study Bible in accordance with the ESV Study Bible reading plan. It’s a pretty ambitious plan with readings from four different sections of scripture each day:

  1. Psalms and Wisdom Literature
  2. Pentateuch and History of Israel
  3. Chronicles and Prophets
  4. Gospels and Epistles

In fact, while most Bible reading plans take you through reading the Bible in a year, this one will actually lead me to read a couple different sections more  than once. The good thing is the I love reading the Bible. One of the signs of God’s greatest graces in my life is that, as skeptical as I am, I haven’t really questioned the authority of Scripture. While I can see and understand where some of the skeptics of the Bible’s authority can pick and pull their arguments, I haven’t really wrestled too deeply with their questions mostly because of one truth:

God does not fit into the human paradigm and therefore cannot fit into our human rationalization.

So, for the first few months of the year, I loved having a daily plan. Up until that point, I had ensured that I got into the Word at least four days a week. To keep up though, the plan encourages daily reading and this was new to me. I, again, loved it.

Then I got to March. And while I was still enjoying all that I was learning, my frame of mind shifted. Reading the word became a check box item and it often happened at night right before I went to bed. Keeping Psalm 50 in mind,I knew that this pattern was not ideal. The Lord desires relationship and thanksgiving from us when we sit before him, not a mind more concerned with a checklist.

At this point, I was tempted to take a break, to curb legalism. I knew though that this wasn’t what the Lord desired from me though. Instead, I prayed to Him that he would help me push through this season. That he would shape my heart and make what could be devalued by my human limitations a pure joy instead. He was ever-faithful to fulfill this prayer and I enjoyed finishing the Psalms and even reading Leviticus and Numbers, books which are typically hard to get through.

Then, early June approached and my workload got busy. As in, I gave up on washing my face and brushing my teeth before bed busy. I fell asleep on the floor twice busy. And the worse part: I sputtered then stopped reading my Bible busy. Just as I was getting to one of my most favorite books Deuteronomy, I stopped.

All of this to say, I’m sitting in front of the keyboard, coffee in hand, and my “catch up” plan written out before me. Before starting to dive in, I shaped my day with this prayer:

Father, let this time be sweet. Don’t let it be overwhelming. Help me resist the urge to become anxious to finish or worse, just read words without engaging my mind.

Why blog about this? Well, I happened to forget my journal at work (duh, duh, duh) and I can’t imagine reading through Hosea, Titus and Philippians without a tangible place to record what I’m learning (and to avoid reading words without engaging my mind).

So, below are the verses which stick out to me* and, if appropriate, my prayers through them.

TITUS

    For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
(Titus 2:11-14 ESV)

I love how all of the verbs are carried out by God, the Father and Jesus Christ. He appears and brings. He gives and purifies. Meanwhile, we wait and receive purification.

    Remind [Christians] to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
(Titus 3:1-5 ESV)

Perfect courtesy to all people? The bar is so high and I consistently pass under it.

Were once? It feels like I’m disobedient and  a slave to various passion still this very day.

Yet, Paul is quick to remind Titus (and me as a reader of this letter) that I am saved apart from my works (both good and bad) but in accordance to Jesus’ terms of mercy. How grateful am I that his terms expand to anyone and everyone who believe in Him, who believe that it’s not so difficult for a supernatural God to become man, live a sinless life, die for the world’s sins and then conquer death through resurrection. Because He’s God. He’s above the earthly order as evidenced by His creation of it.

*Titus is brief by biblical standards – only three chapters. As I included some of the verses which stuck out to me, I decided to do a new post for each book in an effort to keep these short. Next up… Hosea.

 

I Will Carry Salt April 8, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:13 am

I have to be honest. I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks. Well, more like a few weeks. Ok, I’ve been sitting on this post for 8 weeks, a little more than two months. Sorry. But here goes…

I had a big aha moment during community group 8 weeks ago when the ladies discussed the week’s sermon on ‘The Respectful Wife’. Our church was leading a campaign among other churches based on the book Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together and I, as a single girl, was timidly leading the discussion among several godly and married women.

Truth be told, I had loved the sermon. Everything that I had heard coupled with the corresponding book chapter that I had read moved me. Yes, I wanted to be a godly wife. Yes, I wanted to help my husband in a sweet, strong, and biblical way. Yes, I wanted to serve him and my family with Jesus’ love (just as I would hope that he would seek to serve me). There was just one thing, or rather person, in the way and that person was me.

You see, I have nagging tendencies. Remarkably, I can nag both verbally and non-verbally. I know this about myself. Despite my best intentions, my approach to talking to people about hard things either comes across as preachy, close-minded, or, and this is the worst, accusatory. Have you ever heard about how, when giving constructive criticism, you should give a compliment sandwich starting with something nice, then introducing something critical, and then end with something nice? Well, it seems that I can never find the nice bread. Instead, I have historically let observations, thoughts, or determinations slowly build inside until they come out in an abrupt and flustered accusation. Gross, right?

The Holy Spirit has been working on this with me but I’m nowhere near to where I’d like to be. As such, as we approached the sermon and then the community group discussion, I was nervous. I had gone over all of the recommended questions but was not looking forward to answering any of them. In theory, I knew that one of the most important duties a woman is charged with in marriage in the role of wife will be to learn how to disagree with and counsel her husband. How could I, the percolating accuser, ever learn to do this? I was especially concerned about how this would play out in a relationship if the dating season was really sweet and easy but marriage was a rough adjustment. If it so happens that we are all on our best behavior while we date, I felt terrible about the potentiality of me morphing into a monster who now had the freedom to show her true colors as a married woman. In no way would I want my husband to think to himself, “Who did I marry?” as I tried to be honest and open with him.

In terms of Christian metaphors, I was struggling with how to carry salt into a dating-then-marriage relationship. According to Dr. Henry Morris,

[Christians] are therefore expected to bring the salt of preservation and joy to a bland, tasteless, and otherwise decaying world, and the light of salvation to a dark, sinful world.

I thought my delivery would be rough (rock salt in the eye!) rather than tender, helpful, or constructive.This nearly led me to resolving to just not carry any salt by deciding to never criticize my husband or just not get married. The salt was simply too tough to carry.

Thankfully, there was a pointed question in the Real Marriage curriculum which spoke to me. As I read it out loud to our group, I got a sense of urgency in my chest as my brain and heart worked together to form conclusions. The question was this:

How does the cross provide freedom for you to disagree with, counsel, encourage and submit to your husband respectfully?

As the question sunk in, a common mental picture that I have of Jesus suffering on the cross gained an additional dimension. You see, I have always believed that Jesus, as part of the Trinity, has the attributes of God: omnipotence (He reigns over all), omnipresence (He is everywhere), and omniscient (He knows everything). As such, I have always assumed that when Christ suffered on the cross He knew every person He would save in that moment. To think that my face and name were included in Jesus’ thoughts as He paid for the penalty of the sins of the world has always been astounding. Now, as I was asked to refer back to the cross to find the freedom to answer Jesus’ calling to serve my husband was, well, indescribable. In that moment, the following truths combined to make perfect sense:

  1. God cares about my well-being in a personal way.
  2. God cares about my well-being in such a personal way that he has chosen a man who loves Him for me to marry.
  3. God cares about my well-being in such a personal way that he has chosen a man who loves Him for me to marry so that we can serve His kingdom together.
  4. God cares about my well-being in such a personal way that he has chosen a man who loves Him for me to marry so that we can serve His kingdom together. This kingdom is the kingdom that was made possible by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

In light of this, I came to understand that carrying salt is not a burden to be neglected or feared but a mandate that is to fully embraced and executed lovingly. Better yet, by confessing my proclivity to stumble, the Holy Spirit has promised to help me.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
    
(Romans 8:26-28 ESV)

As the truth settled in that my future husband’s and my lives were made by God and valued enough by Jesus to die for, I could only come to one conclusion:

I will carry salt.