Thank You, God, That I’m Not A Shallow Christian

“Thank You, God, That I’m Not A Shallow Christian!”

Do people really say that kind of thing?  I think they do….they may not say it in those exact words.   I have done it myself.  Sometimes, we can’t help ourselves and the ugly self-righteous side comes out. We  want to be “God honoring” in every aspect of our lives….and rather than realize we lack some godly quality, we latch onto someone with whom we can compare ourselves and come out better.
While we may not say these words exactly, we feel them or most definitely, say things that are disturbingly similar in effect….”There, Heavenly Father….see, I am doing the right thing. Aren’t You so pleased that I’m more sincere and more holy than those other people, who are so shallow and worldly?”   (Who am I kidding? We do say them, frequently…especially online;  just spend a little time trolling social media and it won’t take long to hit a mother lode of indignant self-righteousness.)
I have had this passage below on my mind since yesterday.  It  is a great passage for Christians to read, when we may have climbed up on a high horse about our own righteousness.
Luke 18:9-14 New Living Translation (NLT)
Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector

9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer[a]: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The link below will take you to a parallel version, in case you’d like to compare the passage against other translations.

Forgive me, for I have sinned in this way many, many times.   If we take a close, honest look at ourselves, we may not like what we see, but thankfully, there is forgiveness, there is mercy.  Let’s extend those to others.

Et Tu, Brute?

I like to live my life as simply as possible.  I learned early on, from my mother and days at Sunday School, to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

I’ve tried, for most of my adult life, to choose to see the best in people.  To assume they are generally “good guys.”  I would hate, really, to walk around and hold everyone with suspicion until they prove they are trustworthy.  I want to be everyone’s “friend.”

Realistically, I can’t be everyone’s friend, of course. Personalities, values, attitudes – all play a part on who becomes part of one’s “inner circle.”  While it’s not possible to BE everyone’s friend, it is possible to be a friend to all people….make sense?

There are some people who have been in my life for almost three decades.  Well, two and a half, at least.  We have broken bread together, we have cried together over heartbreaks, we have laughed together, we have prayed together. We have enjoyed each other’s children and watched them grow up.  We have drifted in and out of the edges of each others lives, but every time I saw your faces or heard your names, my heart knew that we were “friends.”

But apparently, I was wrong – I consider everyone a friend until they prove otherwise.  And that opens me up to a world of hurt.  I’m in a business where loyalty is tenuous at best. Loyalty is often not something to count on. But friendship – that’s something to count on, right?

Apparently not.  So, as I sit here and contemplate how betrayals happen among friends, all I can say is “Et tu, Brute?”

It’s not going to change my outlook much – but can a heart really survive many callouses before it becomes hard and leathery? I hope so.  I don’t ever want to be the kind of friend that betrays another for any reason. When people encounter me, I want them to smile fondly (or at least, indulgently), not wince with pain remembering our last encounter.

Et tu, Brute – I will remember the good times. And smile, through my tears.

Christians Are Supposed to Forgive

Yes, we are. Jesus commands us to.

He tells us to turn the other cheek when people abuse us.  He didn’t specify which people…just “people.”

But how does he tell us to treat one another?

Oh yes…He said to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  That is, treat others the way you want them to treat you.  So if you want people to treat you nicely, you need to be nice to them too.

So I find it frustrating when Christians use the commands of forgiveness, and turning the other cheek, as a license to treat other Christians badly, and then expect to be forgiven because that is what we’re supposed to do.  Christians who behave that way are not really playing fair.

Nobody likes being wrong. Nobody likes to eat crow and admit they screwed up and ask for forgiveness, but it’s the only mature thing to do…

Fluffy Goes to the Gym

Just Do It!

Don’t Let Fear Stop You From Working Out

So I’ve been brooding over not being able to ride my bike with the onset of cold weather. Sure I could ride it, but I don’t want to go out in the cold. Additionally, the roads are scary this time of year. But I don’t want to lose my momentum. Well I actually lost it when I stopped riding sometime in October. So I want it back.  This is not a New Year’s Resolution, though the timing of it makes it seem that way.  This is a continuation of my commitment to better health I started in 2013.

I thought I’d go back to Curves. I had joined Curves briefly several years ago and found it to be an easy-to-do workout and a pleasant atmosphere (usually.) It is a gym specifically for women, and is designed to be a place where us obese ladies can feel “safe.”  I had to stop going at that time for financial reasons.  There really should be more affordable ways for people to get to a gym. Planet Fitness is affordable but more than an hour away from here…but that’s off topic.  So…anyway.

The other day I finally went to the Curves location. I don’t know if it’s under the same management, but let me tell you, I did not like it one bit. The atmosphere was not as I remembered. There was nobody there working out.  The person behind the desk ignored me until I stood there a few moments. Then she looked up, unsmiling, and said “Yes???”

My first instinct was to cut & run; I felt like she saw me as an annoyance, upsetting her routine…but I said: “I’d like to open up a membership.” She replied, “What plan do you want?” And I, unsure of the plans available, said “Ummm…uh…..” She interrupted my awkward stuttering with “Fitness ONLY?” And I said “Yeah….”

“It’s $44 a month. You may sit down.”  I obeyed.  I felt like I was in the principal’s office about to get detention.

She got some paperwork. Handing it to me, she said “You may peruse this before you sign the contract.” Being a Realtor, I know the devil is in the details, so I read the contract….my intention was to join for 6 months and then stop when bike season started. Uh-oh….I saw that it was a minimum 24 month contract, so I asked “I need to commit for 2 years?”

“That’s the contract,” was her terse reply. I looked again, knowing I wasn’t going to sign, but stalling for time so I could come up with just the right words…this woman made me very uncomfortable and I felt very unwelcome; this contract put me over the edge. I know of another gym closer to my home that has month to month and annual plans. But people who scare me go to that gym. They are fitness freaks.

I finally put the contract down and said “I think not…I can’t commit to that long of a term.”   Not exactly the clever response I wanted, but hey.  She raised her eyebrows and shrugged, as if to say “Oh well….whatever.”  She snatched up the paper, tossed it in the trash, and went back to her computer. No “Thank you for stopping by,” or “Maybe we can talk to the owner…” not even a “Goodbye.”

WOW!!! No wonder overweight people are afraid to go to gyms. This lady won the award, in my opinion, for being the worst gym rep ever. I don’t think she was unfriendly to me because I was overweight; I just don’t think she’s friendly at all. ATTENTION GYM OWNERS: People walking through your doors want to feel welcomed and important!!!

So I stopped at the other gym, the one closer to home, and signed up. It actually is a way better deal than Curves…and nicer people at the front desk, too.

Today was my first day at the gym. I was definitely feeling out of place, as nobody there working out looked like they had ANY body fat, and I looked like…well, an obese middle aged woman. But the cool thing is…nobody (apart from the trainer of course) paid any attention to me, that I could perceive – they were all focused on one thing and one thing only: their workout.

If you want to work out at a gym, and the person inside makes you feel awkward…uncomfortable…unwelcome…just go to a different one. JUST DO something. And remember all those other skinny people…the ones you want to hate…the ones you want to trip on their way to the fountain…well many of them were probably not always skinny and fit. They have to work hard to keep their level of fitness. Remember too that they’re not looking at you. They are focusing on their workout, their goals, thinking about their life situations….you go to the gym to focus on you, and getting healthy.

Don’t let jerks prevent you from doing it. I’m glad I didn’t let my experience at Curves turn me off. It almost did. I argued with myself all the way down to the other gym…I even sat in the parking lot, saying to myself, “Just go home. You have work to do. Come back tomorrow….” And I had to tell myself NO.  Get out of the car, Fluffy.  No.  Yes.  No.  You can go to Cocoon and get a skinny latte for your trip home if you do. OK. (Hey whatever it takes to win the battle.)

I think fat people are slightly scizo, (<—auto correct wants me to make that word Schlitz…not a bad idea…) because we are always having multiple conversations and arguments within our own head.

Maybe that will go away as I shed the pounds…I can’t wait for tomorrow. I’m going to the gym again, and I’m not even going to bribe myself to do it.

Heal My Wayward Heart

“My wayward children,” says the Lord, “come back to me and I will heal your wayward hearts.” —-Jeremiah 3:22, NLT

I want my heart healed.  It is no pleasure trip to wander around in a barren wilderness of my own making.

I know this sounds like a plea of desperation. In a way, I suppose it is, but not the way many may think.  I’m not on the brink of despair, filled with pain from old wounds, trying to tread water in an abysmal sea of darkness.  At least, I don’t think I am.  I’m just…tired of being lost and aimless.

I’m wandering, because I am still wayward.  After all these years.

When we read the Books of Moses and the rest of the OT regarding Israel’s waywardness, we tend to roll our eyes and scorn their unfaithfulness.

I mean really…the ancient Israelite’s had tangible, verbal, and OBVIOUS proof of God’s dwelling among them – pillar of fire anyone? Pillar of smoke? It’s not like they merely had just old tongue-tied Moses to lead them. They had powerful manifestations of God’s presence…and still…they turned their backs on Him.

I have had powerful experiences too – nothing as dramatic as a pillar of fire, but obvious and undeniable proof of His love for me in my life…and yet…I am still very prone to wander.  For long periods of time.  In near darkness.

“Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love…here’s my heart please take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.” I get hung up on earthly brambles and briers – false teachings that slickly mimic truth, discouragement and disgust with the political leanings and emphasis of the church that have nothing to do, really, with the state of our standing with Father God….a feeling of lost faith and hopelessness…being tripped up by my own failures, sins, and shortcomings.

I don’t want a faith made up of cliches and trite platitudes…(another blogger pegged it “bumper-sticker theology” and I love that.)  I want my faith to be real – not something you find on a calendar.  I don’t want to question who God is or what He’s doing anymore – I just want to taste and see that the Lord is good, and be satisfied with that.  I don’t want to wonder if I’m really saved, or just a goat in sheep’s clothing. (What’s wrong with goats anyway? I think they’re uber cool.)

I just wanna be in the green pastures, beside the still waters…with my soul restored.  Shatter this broken vessel, O Lord, and create a new me.  One that pleases You, one that puts You before everything else in my life, one that loves the people I dislike…one that trusts You, listens for You, yearns for You.