A Thousand Broken Pieces

Life right now feels alot like broken glass.

There are so many painful feelings, so many confusing thoughts about life in my head…yet no way to reconnect them all.

You know that feeling? When glass shatters everywhere and you try to neatly clean it all up, carefully picking up the big pieces and sweeping away the smaller ones, but when you finally think you’ve dealt with every single piece, you step on another little shard of glass that was hidden from view.

Then you wonder how many more are left.

And for some odd reason, all the pieces seem connected to the same situation. A situation that has friendship, trust, right/wrong, motherhood, compassion, hurtful words, betrayal, lies, forgiveness, confusion, gossip, waiting, obedience/disobedience and salvation all in the same story. It’s a messed up story, one that has played out over the course of many years and one that seems like a nightmare that may never truly end. Yet it will end. But the waiting is painful.

One thing is certain: Sin really messes things up. Things that were once black and white, become grey. Things that were once easy to decide become tricky situations. And one hurt led to another, which led to another and what started as a little smouldering grass quickly became a forest fire.

And while my head says: “move on”, my heart can’t do that. It just can’t.

In high school, I once wrote a poem about love. It went like this:

Love

To wait for a moment you know will never come,
To have hope when all is hopeless,
To dream of day when night has just begun,
that is what love is.

It’s why my heart just can’t let go. Because it is full of love for the people in this situation. I still hope for reconciliation, even when my head knows there is no possible way for things to go back to the way they were. My heart still hopes. And the moment my hope dies, I fear my love will too. Love is the only thing that can cover over everything that has happened:

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

For the longest time I used to say, “as soon as this stage is over, then life will get easier” but then it would be over and the next task, activity, stage or problem would arise. As soon as I was done high school, I dove into motherhood. As soon as I began to get the hang of that, sickness entered the picture. Then as soon as that was over there was another child on the way. And after me and my husband got used to parenting two, then we would have another crisis! And on, and on, and on. I thought that if I could just get over these big distractions and troubles, I would finally be able to REALLY get on with my life.

And then I finally realized that the problems and struggles WERE life.

This changed everything. To miss out on all of life, waiting for everything to be perfect is a great tragedy. Those who believe in Jesus, know that someday everything WILL be perfect.

Just not yet.

And that doesn’t mean that I can’t find joy in the pain, laughter in the struggles, peace in the heart ache, happiness in hardship.

Childbirth is one of the best illustrations of this. For my first child I absolutely DREADED going into labour. The fear of the pain was terrifying, the embarrassment of being exposed in front of so many people was humiliating, the helplessness of feeling betrayed by my own bodily functions and the awkwardness of everything to me was just horrifying. But as each child came, I came to appreciate more and more about it: The excitement in the air, calling the midwife, the soft talks between contractions, being treated like the queen of the hour, being loved, served, and taken care of. It still hurt. It was still humiliating. It was messy. But there was good to be found. And the sweet sound of a new crying baby, stroking those smooth cheeks for the first time, marvelling at the tiny fingers and toes, breathing in that perfect newborn smell; those are some of the most heartwarming memories of my life. And yet they were the most painful.

I guess what I’m saying is this: look for good in the pain. It’s there, I promise.

When one friend betrays you, focus on the others that haven’t. When the children have been fighting all day, remember the sweet snuggles they gave you in the morning. When your spouse forgets your birthday, think of all those texts you got all day. When you experience loss, look at all those around that you still have comforting and loving on you. When you crash your car, be thankful that you’re still around. When you’re all alone crying because you feel as if no one understands or cares, look again. Find Jesus. He’s there. He’s taking care of you in your darkest hour of need. He’s right beside you. I promise.

 

 

You Have Hoarded Wealth in the Last Days

Yesterday I wrote a blog post to address the wrongful attitude of judging the way others spend their money, titled: Is Starvation the Churches Fault. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d strongly suggest that you go back and read it first as I feel it is so important to have a balanced view on this issue.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I also had to acknowledge another sobering side to the topic of wealth: greed and hoarding.

I think one of the first times my eyes were opened to the difference between a hoarder and a giver was watching the Walt Disney version of “A Christmas Carol”. It is a story of a greedy business man, named Ebenezer Scrooge, who is radically changed one night when visited by three “spirits” (the original story was written by Charles Dickens). It was truly haunting to see the ghost of his former business partner in chains because of his greed.

Scrooge was greedy! He turned away the poor, he under payed his worker and he continued to stack up his wealth, counting it over and over again.

“Come now, you who are rich, weep and wail for the misery to come upon you. Your riches have rotted and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and consume your flesh like fire. You have hoarded treasure in the last days. Look, the wages you withheld from the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in the day of slaughter…” James 5:1-5

I remember when this verse became very real for me. A few years ago, I had a bin full of clothes that my kids had grown out of. I knew we would never need them again and I knew of someone in need that I could share them with. Yet a part of me wanted to make back some of the money I had spent on them, so I picked out the cheaper ones and put them in a bag to give to this lady. The rest of the nicer, more expensive clothes were put neatly away to be kept until spring when I could sell them. I patted myself on the back for I felt I had done a generous thing!

The next spring came, and when I opened the bin every single piece of clothing was ruined. Some how moisture had gotten into the rubbermaid container and they all had black spots of mold all over them. I couldn’t wash it out. They were ruined and I ended up throwing them away. Later, I read this verse in my devotions:

“Your riches have rotted and moths have eaten your clothes.”

I was cut to the heart! God had wanted me to give up these clothes and instead I had hoarded my wealth and it there it was, in the garbage testifying against me.

When God gives wealth, he expects us to share it. Period.

If I see my neighbour shovelling and I go and snow blow my own yard without offering to do his as well, I am hoarding a gift he has given me. If I can’t have people over to my new house for fear of them damaging it, then I am selfishly keeping to myself what God has given me to share! If I stock up my fridge and cupboards full of so much food that some goes bad and I have to throw it out, yet refuse to donate to the food bank in the grocery store line, my wealth WILL testify against me. If I can’t borrow out my cake decorating set, or my tools, or my clothes for fear of them being lost and stolen, I am no longer showing God thankfulness for what he is giving me. I am hoarding it. And I will be accountable to him for the way I’ve lived my live.

God gives wealth so we can share it, not so that we can live comfortably.

There are many rich Christains who have been a shining example to me of what it looks like to be a wealthy follower of Christ. But sadly, there are many, many more who are hoarding their wealth, making millions while their employees are barely scraping by, who would never even consider welcoming a stranger into their home, who are loading up their bank accounts for retirement while forgetting about the hundreds of thousands who will never live to be 65, because they will die of starvation before then. This is my warning to you:

Your wealth WILL testify against you, please, hold it with open hands.

Is Starvation the Churches Fault?

IMG_5518.PNG

I saw this exact picture posted on Facebook by one of my Christian friends. And many other Christian friends “liked” it. I’m not going to address the particular church pictured in the photograph. Nor am I today going to write about what more the church should be doing about starvation and poverty. That’s a huge world issue (and also church issue) that has to be discussed on a totally different level. But today I simply had to address something that many people seem to believe:

Wealth = An Unspiritual Person.

It feels so spiritual to believe this, since often people who have great wealth become corrupt. They can become proud and arrogant. They can have anything they want! And giving up things for God can feel so righteous! And indeed it is righteous and good to give, even sacrifically at times!

I think of many heroes of the faith and they all had this in common: they were unbelievably generous people. George Muller, David Livingstone, Gladys Aylward and many, many others lived incredibly generous and poor lives, yet they blessed hundreds if not thousands of people. Even present day examples like Francis Chan truly encourage us to be willing to give it all up for God. He is worthy of all we can give!

And when we read about these amazing stories, we sometimes feel even more convinced that our riches will testify against us.

Let’s look at some of the scriptures that are often quoted to back up this belief:

“Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.” James 5:3

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25

So many people understandably come to the conclusion that followers of Jesus should not be rich. After all didn’t Jesus once tell a rich man to sell all his possessions and then turn and follow him? We must all, therefore be called to do the same…right?

Actually the belief that it is wrong to be wealthy is so unbiblical and founded in judgement, pride and self-righteousness, that I would say that it’s actually just as wrong and deceptive as the prosperity gospel which teaches that all Christians will be rich, happy and healthy. Neither are biblically accurate. Neither are correct.

” For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10

The LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Money itself isn’t evil. Because if wealth equals sin, then what on earth are we to do with all the wealthy righteous people listed in the bible? How about the rich man, Joseph, who lovingly buried Jesus? Or Abraham who had riches, servants and livestock that outnumbered many of the kings in his day? Then we have Job, an unbelievably wealthy man in his time…yet God said that there was no one else in his day as righteous as him. Or King David. Or King Solomon (who also build a temple for God, made with gold!) And guess what…there were starving people back then too.

Yet somehow that “waste of money” seemed to please God.

Remember the story of the disciples judging Mary for “wasting” her perfume on Jesus’ feet? They ironically used the same argument, in the same way as the one above. I mean, just pouring out a years worth of wages, surely God wouldn’t approve of that waste!

“But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was going to betray Him, asked, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor…” John 12:5

And here I say the same to you! Church, wake up! This “meme” was not made because of a person who actually cared about the poor! It was not made out of compassion! If it was about compassion it wouldn’t leave you shaking your head at “Those Rich Religious Christians” rather it would turn your attention to the poor! It would challenge you to look into your own heart and wallet to see if you could possibly sacrifice more to help!

But it didn’t accomplish that, did it? It was made for one purpose: To judge the way those “hypocrites” spend their money! And how DARE they make a fancy building to worship in?!?

If we really cared about where our money is going, why not post pictures like this:

football-1551799_960_720.jpg

Or this:

Blackhawks-472102282.jpg

Or this:

4d093f63ea865367e6d40e5a6dcc847e.jpg

Or this:

mcds.jpg

Each year $25.4 billion is spent by Americans on professional sports.

Last year, people spent $24.62 billion US dollars at McDonalds, with a total $117 billion  spent on fast food all together.

$65 billion dollars was spent on soft drinks.

$18 billion was spent on credit card late fees in America.

$70 billion dollars was spent on lottery tickets in the year 2014 according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.

$90 billion dollars a year is spent on alcohol in the U.S. alone.

Americans spend $80 billion on cigarettes  per year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And here’s the deal, The annual estimated cost to end world hunger is $30 billion dollars.

Let that sink in for a moment.

That means if everyone in the U.S. would quit drinking alcohol for one year and drink water instead, we could end world hunger for three years.

But still, it’s so much easier to blame it on the church isn’t it?

Friends, I tell you, self righteously pointing at the way some spend their money, while wasting your own will never end world hunger and it will never end starvation. And I’m not writing these statistics to say that going to a NHL hockey game is wrong. Neither am I claiming that every Mega Church is spending their money right. But if we’re going to start picking out specks in our brother’s eye, we better make sure we are ready to take out the log in our own!

Money isn’t evil. The LOVE of it is. And having a big house, fancy clothes, a new car or even a big church doesn’t mean you are full of sin and greed anymore than having a small rental house, a rusty car, and a small church means you are free from sin or even that you’re spending wisely.

IT’s so so SO easy to look at others and say: “Well, if they can buy a car like THAT, they are obviously living for self!” Yet unknown to you, that person may be giving 90% of their money away and living off the rest. And you aren’t giving a dime to charity.

Please don’t post memes like this. It isn’t helping world hunger. Instead find a way rework your budget, have a yard sale, or organize a fundraiser to really help the cause.

Generosity pleases God. It’s a trait of a true follower of Christ. And if God’s asking you to sell your big house and move into a trailer: OBEY HIM. Bless you for being obedient, God will reward you!

But realize that God may call the next person to keep their home so that they can use it to offer the homeless a place to sleep, or to foster children, or to let their elderly mother move in so they can help care for her.

If you don’t have wealth, consider it a blessing, for much wealth brings many troubles. If you have wealth, consider it a gift, hold it loosely, and give generously, for what God has given you he can certainly take away.

And always remember that it isn’t about what you do or do not have, it’s the heart that God sees.

 

 

 

 

 

The Cross

Heart full of pain, pack heavy as lead,
Not really alive, neither fully dead.
Wandering on to meaningless trails,
Endless darkness, walking the rails.
What am I here for?
Stumbling pain unto pain,
Life is a joke! Nothing to gain.
Flashes of visions: A man on a cross.
Why was he there? Never quite knew,
With all of my struggles, didn’t care to.
Why must everything bad happen to me?
How to avoid it, when one couldn’t see.
Darkness so thick you could choke on the black,
The load just increases upon my sore back.
Strength slowly dying, along with my soul,
Dreams become curses, crushing my goals.
Oh God, what’s the point? Are you even there?
Or am I just cursing into thin air?
If really existing, you’d make yourself known!
Why live anymore if I’m walking alone?
Night cold and hard, yet easier to breathe,
Darkness still felt, but thinner it seems.
I was told to follow my heart all along,
So why did this happen? Where did I go wrong?
Walking along the path that was shown,
Never thought I’d be stuck here, cast out and alone.
“Help!” The cry feels stuck in the air,
“Help me! Please! Much more I can’t bear!”
No sooner the words escape from my lips,
When the heavy pack drops from my grip.
In terror I struggle, I can’t let it go,
Turn back to grab hold, but notice a glow.
A dim light, so faint, didn’t see it before,
Grabbing my pack, I turn to see more.
Dawn peaks her head up from under the night,
I draw ever closer, so mysterious the light.
A loud sound hits the Earth, I hear it so near!
A gruesome sound that turns my stomach in fear,
A man groaning in pain, I rush to the sound,
Crying out loudly, for this man must be found!
The day steadily grows clearer and so does the cry,
Hurry to make it or this man will but die!
Then…there he is, hanging – Oh Lord! It can’t be!
A man cut up and bruised on a dark, blood-stained tree!
“Who did this?!?” I scream!
“How dare they?!?” I shout!
The evil that put this man here, it’s no lie,
The person who did this deserves to die!
Then the eyes of the man turn and look straight at me,
I can barely describe what it looks like to see,
Such innocent eyes, filled with love and pain,
Powerful eyes, but gentle the same.
How could there be such humility there,
Joined with authority in the same stare?
I look all around, searching who is to blame,
Justice would treat them exactly the same.
The man starts to speak, the Earth shakes with his words,
And I know that this Man is the Lord of all Lords!
“My Child, Understand, I was put here for you.”
Falling down on my knees, “Oh God, what did I do?”
Surely, I had nothing to do with this Man,
I had nothing to do with the iron piercing His hands.
Then my pack that I’m holding splits right into two,
And as the nails spill out, I see that it’s true.
The pack that I held, held the proof I was wrong,
The nails that I carried told the truth all along.
It was my very nails that held up the Son,
I could now only scream, “Oh, God! Look what I’ve done!!!”
But it was no use, for the Man’s life was gone.
Weeping and wailing, I fall to the ground,
My sobs carry for miles, a hopeless, lost sound.
Lowly before the cross I now lie,
Not to get up, for down here I will die.
Time standing still, the world holds its breath,
Then who comes forth – but the Man! Defeating his death!
Jaw open, limbs shaking…how can this be?
And my heart trembles greatly as He strides towards me.
Out in the open, nowhere to hide,
Exposed in my filth, dead to my pride.
I brace myself greatly and wait for the blow,
But to my surprise, the Man stoops down low.
He lifts my tear covered face in His hand;
The same voice that formed the sea and the land,
Speaks over me these three precious words, “I love you.”
Then says, “All that I wanted was that you would see,
What I really did for you on that old cursed tree.
And now you have done all that you need,
For in repentance and rest you will find that you’re freed!
It is finished, throw that old pack away!”
The Man stood there shining, brighter than day.
In death I died with Him, in His life I live still,
Now my heart cry becomes, not mine – but His will!
No longer a slave to the sins of my past,
I am saved by His blood, safe at home, free at last!