Posts tagged #The Summit

Go in Love: Thoughts on Hosea 3

Go In Love

I have a love hate relationship with the book of Hosea. Don’t get me wrong, when Redeeming Love came out during my high school days, I wept and devoured that book in one setting. But as my faith and life experiences have matured, the story strikes a different chord. And one of the things I dislike about Hosea is that I always get the story wrong… and I’m embarrassed to admit it happened again this past weekend at church. 

“Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” Hosea 3

As I heard pastor Bryan Loritts plead with us to “Go again in LOVE,” I'm ashamed to confess that my heart puffed up as I thought of all the ways I had LOVED big over the years. I went through my spiritual resume and accounts of friends forgiven, good deeds done, and love given and not returned. My heart swelled with pride as I checked off my spiritual list of accomplishments until I reread the passage mid-sermon. 

"The Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins." Hosea 3

Wait… If I’m anyone in this story (which I'm not and in general it's a pretty bad practice to look for yourself in the story)... I sure as heck am not Hosea. It’s pretty obvious that the Lord is Hosea… and if He’s Hosea, I'm Gomer. 

You see my “cake of raisins” was believing that I’m more like Hosea than Gomer. My love of self pointed my eyes to the good that I have done rather than the best Good that was done for me. My biggest “other god” this weekend was making much of myself instead of making much of Him. And the thing I hate the most is that I didn’t even realize I was doing it, until Scripture smacked me in the face and reminded me that THESE stories in Scripture, the story I’m currently living out… NONE OF IT is about me. These stories, our daily stories, all of them point to a greater redemptive story. 

(Side note: Isn't He so good to "go in love" after me AGAIN by opening my eyes to MY sin, rather than letting me relish in my own self-praise?)

Our fuel for going again in love shouldn’t be based in keeping score or even being more like Hosea; rather the reality that we have a better Hosea, the Christ who came down and gave the ultimate sacrifice so all wrongs would one day be righted. THIS changes us so that we can love freely, without condition or self-pride. 

It’s the understanding that God has gone again in love for His people since the beginning of time that softens our hearts to see others like Christ does. And boy does Christ look at others differently than we do. 

When Christ saw the woman at the well, He didn’t care that it wasn’t “proper” for him to approach her. Because of LOVE, all He saw was a sheep in need of the Good Shepherd, a thirsty life in need of a loving well.  He didn’t care what the Pharisees said when He healed the sick on days of rest… because LOVE isn’t restricted to a work week or some self-imposed moral code. And while religious leaders built teams with the morally upright and popular, Jesus surrounded himself with fisherman, tax collectors, and prostitutes… because LOVE knows no societal bounds or labels. 

And while God the Father has every right to look on me and say, “She’s not worthy,” Jesus steps in and says, “I have loved her with an everlasting love and I’ve paid her debt with the fiercest LOVE the world has ever known.” And Abba Father smiles and sees a forgiven, redeemed child, just as He planned from the beginning of time. 

That is our story! And THIS is what pushes us to forsake theological loopholes and throw “wisdom” to the wind and choose to LOVE BIG, even at risk of being hurt again. There is no good in any of us apart from Christ, and when we read Hosea and push ourselves to “Go Again in Love,” let us also remember our role in this story. We are the hands and feet of LOVE, but only because we have been fiercely loved and gone after… time and time again.

If you have time, I highly recommend to listening to Pastor Loritts message on Hosea.  So so good. And ALL that I've written here is based off of musings from his sermon. 

Much Love,

Suffering & the Church

 

Our society talks a lot about suffering these days. It seems like my generation grew up with bright eyes and dreams to be a generation that helped with all the hurts, only to grow up and realize that none of us are exempt from suffering. At some point, it comes knocking at all of our doors and maybe you’ve not hit that season yet, but the truth is, we live in a broken world and all of us will feel the effects of that brokenness at some point in our lives.

Here’s the thing though, we talk a lot about suffering as victims. We talk about how bad things happen to us that we can’t control: ie. Car accidents, cancer, tragedy, someone hurts us, etc.  And Christians and non-Christians alike have immense amount of sympathy for that type of suffering. Yet one thing we don’t talk about well is suffering that is self-induced (suffering as a consequence for bad decisions or sin), suffering that we are pre-disposed to (mental illness, depression, addiction, gender confusion, etc.), or a combination of the two.  

There are a variety of reasons why this is the case. But overall I believe that our culture has very limited sympathy because we don't classify these things as suffering and we're extremely judgmental towards those who have self-induced or pre-disposed trials. Our pull up our bootstraps mentality and our "You did this to yourself" judgmental spirits have permeated our news cycles, education systems, and is just a way of life. 

These approaches can be more harmful than helpful as they dehumanize our struggles and create a false storyline that some people are broken and others whole. This is a critical realization, especially in the church where our message is ALL are broken and in need of a great Savior. It’s hard to claim that message when we are sympathetic to some struggles and judgmental towards others. Yet I've seen churches CHANGE lives by not only acknowledging ALL of our brokenness, but by removing the stigma from suffering by being conduits of grace and healing to those with self-induced or pre-disposed trials. 

This is where the gospel comes in and changes lives. This is where our churches have the opportunity to be counter-cultural and proclaim a GREAT Savior!

When society says, “You messed up BIG” or “You ARE so messed up,” the Gospel says, “There is good news, Jesus redeems broken things!”

When society says, “You’re too weak! Try harder!” the Gospel says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

When society says, “There’s no hope for you!” the Gospel says, “We have this hope as anchor for the soul, firm and secure, a hope that doesn’t fail.”

When society says, “You’ll never change!” the Gospel proclaims that JESUS is in the business of changing hearts.

When society says, “You’re beyond all help,” the Gospel says, “Jesus is close to the brokenhearted and HE is a very present help in time of trouble.”

When society says, “You’re not good enough,” the Gospel says, “None of us are.”

When society abandons you and leaves you alone in the rubble, the Gospel says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

When society says, “What a waste?!” the Gospel says, “No suffering is wasted. All things are for your good and His glory.”

Yall, I’ve seen this done in my current church. I’ve seen it done beautifully, messily, imperfectly, but still attempted and accomplished! I’ve seen the church contradict the lies that society says amidst brokenness. Our churches have everything necessary to battle our tendency to mirror our culture’s response to brokenness, and proclaim in both word and deed that we are ALL in need of this good news! Restoration takes root when our churches and communities say, not only are you welcome here, but we admire your fight. You’re no second string line-up; we’re all in this together. You don’t have to hide anymore, rather, we openly carry this burden with you.

Church, we can do this. I know we can. We can be more gracious with each other and more careful with our words. We can put away pride and stop celebrating, idolizing, or striving for "picture perfect" lives. We can have safe homes and churches that have open doors, where nothing said or confessed will be met with disgust or disdain, but rather met with grace and the truth of redemption. We can do the hard part of showing up, not because we are awesome, but because Christ showed up for us.  

And now to the sufferer, I don’t know your story. I don’t what you’ve done, what’s been done to you, or what you’re walking through. But what I do know is that these wounds you’re carrying, will one day be beautiful scars. For He binds up wounds and He saves the crushed in spirit. And this week especially, our Holy week, we celebrate amidst suffering. For He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes WE ARE HEALED.  

My friend, He was wounded, so your wounds could heal. If you’re suffering please know that you’re not alone and you are not beyond His reach. Find a church that will walk beside you and hold up your arms when the burden is too heavy. Praying for you this week.

Much love,

Side note: I’ve mentioned this before, but I love my church. And one of the reasons why I love my church is that they recognize that the Gospel isn’t for “good” people who have all their junk together. They sing, preach, and teach that the Gospel is for broken people and where there’s broken people, there’s a lot of hurt and suffering. But where there are people of God, there will be stories of brokenness, hope, and restoration. Yesterday, our pastor gave a wonderful sermon titled Leviticus 10 & 16: There Will Be Blood that pointed those who wrestle with guilt and shame over brokenness to look to Jesus. This blogpost was influenced significantly by it. If you wanna check it out… listen or watch here

Running Shoes & the Wanderer

Yesterday the girls and I took a field trip to get a new pair of running shoes. Usually I go to a running store and get fitted and all that jazz... but who has time for that these days? I barely have time to recognize that my shoes are indeed over 2 years old and could be the main culprit in my post-pregnancy development of plantar fasciitis. So... being the loyal Brooks customer I am... I researched the type of shoe and insert I needed and then made a quick trip to Dicks to snag a pair in my new post-pregnancy size (really... who knew your feet change?! but cough, cough, Mom, I'm a size 8... just in case you ever needed it ;) ). Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 12.12.27 AMI REALLY wanted to buy some bright pink flashy Asics... but the #1 rule of running is buy a shoe for support/make not the color... so I got these gals instead. Strong and steady.

You're probably wondering... Is this blog post about my new shoes? No... but I'll get there.

Anyways, the mini Salmons and I were running around the store with a double stroller and to my disappointment we kept getting stuck. It was really quite depressing, yet GREAT for shopping restraint. I'd see a running skirt or shirt I'd wanna look at, and as soon as I'd start to head towards it... BAM. I'd get stuck in the aisle. Or... I'd go to try on some clothes and the stroller wouldn't fit through the door. I think my all time low was when an employee caught me trying to unlock and push the clothing stand out of the way so we could squeeze through. The awkward "Uh-hem, may I help you with something?" was the polite way of saying, "Uh-hem... What the heck?! Could you stop moving our merchandise around the store?" The man didn't quite like my response of "Sure, could you watch my babies real quick while I go grab a shirt or two in that section? Thanks." Before he could explain that baby sitting wasn't in his job description, I sprinted to the shirts grabbed one in every size and color and ran back to my stroller to relieve the poor guy. (and the sad thing was it was all in vain... I didn't end up getting any of them).

All that to say, it was a successful trip, but the entire time I was walking around I never quite fit anywhere. To make matters slightly more depressing... not only did I not fit anywhere... the athletic clothes I attempted to wear also didn't fit quite like they used to. The reality was... during this new stage of life, Brittany the mom, didn't quite blend in too well at Dicks.

So I bought my shoes and walked out into the rain and started unloading the girls into the mini. As I was putting them up, a police officer walked over to me and offered to help with my stroller. He was kind and gracious, and explained that he had two kids and knew how heavy some of the double strollers could be. And all of the sudden, I felt a bit more human again.

The analogy of shopping at Dick's quickly dissipates when talking about spiritual lives... but stay with me. I think in that moment at Dick's, the Lord was preparing me to be reminded of his love for the outcast and wanderer. In that moment, that police officer's kind gesture was more than just an offer to help. It was acknowledging that (a) what I was carrying was indeed heavy, and (b) he was willing to help. And just like that, I felt a little better about my trip to Dick's.

And it got me thinking about the folks that don't quite fit in within our spiritual communities.

All around us, there are a lot of people who are hurting from the realities of living in a broken world. When they come into our communities seeking Hope and Refuge, do we, the image bearers of Christ, reflect an unconditional love for people who might not look or act like us? Do we let them know that (a) yes, the reality of living in a broken world with a sin nature is indeed real and very heavy, but (b) you don't have to do it alone. Or do we intentionally or unintentionally make it difficult for them navigate our communities and get plugged in? Are we staying within our circles of comfortability, and as a result neglecting to display God's kindness to outsiders?

If I'm honest with you, I prefer to stay within my circle. I like my small group & I love sitting with them on Sunday. I love chatting with them before and afterwards, because if I'm being honest... my small group rocks. They're funny, crazy, ridiculous people, and I just really like being around them and for some crazy reason they let me stick around. And there is nothing wrong with any of that, but the Lord pricked my heart to pray for His eyes. Because Jesus, well, he loves the outsider. Look at the disciples He picked, the people He performed miracles on, the woman at the well, the people in His genealogy, the people He commands us to take care of (orphans and widows). Many of them are outsiders. And if Jesus loves the outsider, shouldn't I?

I recently read this quote by A.W. Tozer and I've been chewing on it for a few days...

"A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God. This is man's greatest tragedy and God's heaviest grief."

As I write this I pray that our communities of faith will not forget whose image we were made in, and as a result, whose image we are reflecting. I pray that that truth will inspire us to reflect God's love for the wanderer.

I'm also praying that stores will widen their aisles for double strollers to fit so I can avoid awkwardly leaving my children with strangers again... Just sayin. You can't blame a girl for askin... after all... I have not because I ask not... ;)

Jk jk, but seriously.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and pray that we will all have opportunities to reflect God's love for the outsider these next few days.

Much love,

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