October 28, 2018

What is Wrong with the World? I Am.

At the risk of who knows what, I feel like I need to say this today, because my faith compels me to do so.  I read an article this morning about three hate crimes committed this week, two of which ended in murder - thirteen lives lost.  There are absolutely no words to properly express the emotions.  I also know that in our culture (and our humanity) we quickly look for the reason and seek solutions to end these acts of violence through changes in policy, medical care, or leadership; and we rightly want justice.  We need someone to blame to make sense of the madness, and we want to see the criminals punished.  I get that.  But can I tell you something that happens in my heart when I read articles about these perpetrators of evil?  I think, I have more in common with that hater/murder than I want to admit.  But because of what God has done in my life, I will admit it."

Now, what do I mean?  Well, the Bible tells us that our biggest problem is not bad policies, bad healthcare, or bad leadership, not society, culture, philosophy or economics.  The Bible teaches that the problem is sin and that it lives happily in every human heart.  Sin is the desire in each of us to dethrone the God who made us, forsake the way He tells us to live, and to take up our place as rulers of our lives.  According to the Bible, we are all born "bad people" in Adam (our forefather who ate the forbidden fruit - things were perfect between God and man before that, as He intended) and we need rescuing.  Romans 3 quotes the Old Testament and tells us that there is NO ONE who is righteous, note even one.  No one seeks God.  So while I don't have any plans to own a gun, let alone enter a place of worship or my local grocery store to murder anyone, I AM CAPABLE OF IT - unless there is an intervention, a rescue, something that turns me down a new path.

Yesterday I got angry at some people at moments, people in my own home whom I love.  And I am reminded that Jesus upped the ante when he compared anger with murder in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-22).  No blood was shed in our home yesterday, but murderous seeds were sewn.  By me.

I feel like this quote from G. K. Chesterton sums up what I'm trying to say:

Okay, but that all seems pretty hopeless, doesn't it?  We're all full of evil.  Is there any hope for me or the world?  The Bible's resounding answer is YES!!  And the answer isn't a 12-point how-to-not-be-evil program.  The answer is a person, God Himself in the person of Christ.  No amount of good works or penance could earn righteousness back for us, but God could.  And He wanted to!  So that evil in your heart?  There's a remedy!  That inability to "do better" when deep down you do desperately want to (and are really trying)?  Transformation is possible!

But it takes surrender.  We have to let go of our need to be ruler of our own hearts and lives, and let the King of kings back onto the throne.  We have to believe that our only hope is Christ: that we needed Him to take our punishment (He did!) on the cross, so we could receive His righteous record in exchange for our own filthy RAP sheet.  We "make it official" (i.e. become a Christian) by confessing our sin (both our condition and our sinful acts), admitting our need for Him and His work in our life, and declaring He is now Lord of our life.  That's a long way of saying what Jesus called people to, which was to repent and believe the good news.

From that start, the true transformation begins!  You are a new person!  God's Spirit comes to live in you.  You have the power to resist the sin that would have you return to it as master.  I was reading Colossians 3 this morning and it is amazing. Putting off the old self and remembering we are made new is something we have to keep coming back to our whole Christian life.  Eternity will be easy, all things will be made new and fully restored.  For the time being, we are at war!  But in Christ we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) and have hope!

Phew!  Okay, I got a little excited there!  But back to the beginning of this post and the tragic, disturbing, and heartbreaking events of this past week in our nation.  I don't think that acknowledging that sin is the world's biggest problem means we don't fight for policy changes, vote in the leaders we hope will bring change, or move to see better mental healthcare and create better community where we live.  But I do think it will rescue us from the "us vs. them" mentality that pervades our society, this erroneous idea that there are good people and bad people and if we can simply set up the best system and get rid of the bad people, we can eradicate evil on the earth.  I really like that idea and wish it were true.  But the truth is, we all need Jesus!

What's wrong with the world?  Me.  And but for the grace of God, there go I, guns blazing, hate raging in my heart, trying to forge my way in a world that was made to function best under the Creator's direction and care.  Will you join me in turning to the Lord?  Maybe in faith for the first time!  Maybe so He can show you where your heart is still dark and needs His transforming power.  Maybe for clarity in how to take action and be a light in places in our society that are full of darkness.  Maybe for wisdom about how to interact in His love with those with whom you disagree.  Maybe all of the above, and more.

Love you all, friends, and praying God will meet all your needs today in Christ,
Heather 💛

October 13, 2018

Live Alive: a New Series Coming Soon!

Hi friends!

It has been ages since I've done any kind of regular writing here at Life in the Valley, and even more ages since committing to a series.  I feel prompted, however, this November 2018, to pour out to you a little of what has been on my mind over the last several months: What does it mean to live alive?  What would it look like if I approached life thinking "I am alive"?

Y'all know, or may not know, that I write from a Christian perspective about "life in the valley," i.e. the life we live in the normal day-to-day that makes up most of what life is for us on this planet.  The "mountain top experiences" are wonderful, but they're not where we spend most of our time.  Nope.  We come down the mountain and have to figure out how being on the peak influences and relates to how we stroll along by the streams in the valley, loving God and our neighbor in the mundane routines of daily life.

I also believe, because of who God says He is and who He's calls us to be (His very own sons and daughters!), that just because life is routine and mundane - hold on, I need to go switch the laundry and wash some dishes - doesn't make it void of meaning and something we endure until we finally get to that awesome eternal life Jesus promises us.  Oh no, my friends!

Ephesians 2:1-2a & 4-5 says:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, ... But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved -

Once we were dead, but if we are in Christ, we are alive.  That seems important!  So that's what the Life in the Valley November 2018 series is going to investigate!  What would my life look like if I lived alive?  What would your life look like if you lived fully alive?  Oh, it's gonna be fun to discover together!

Oh my gosh, writing is so much fun and helps me explore my thoughts so much better than sitting and thinking! (I envy my introverted husband who can process information in his own head and then say such intelligent things - I ain't that person!)  All that to say, I would love for you to join me on this journey to learn to live alive with me.  November first we'll get the party started!  If I get my ducks in a row, or at least slightly less all over the pond, my plan is write each weekday about one Biblical description of an alive person.  For example: alive people are kind or alive people remember they are alive.  That last one sounds silly, doesn't it? But just you wait till we get there; I'm excited about exploring the importance of that one!

In the meantime, start thinking about it:
  • Have you experienced being brought to life by God?
  • Are you living alive?
  • What the heck does that even mean?

Live alive!