Self-Supremacist or Christ-Supremacist?

Whose fault is it – The President, politician, reporter, social media, our culture, white people, African Americans?  Would things be different if we had a different president?  I’m appalled.  You’re appalled.  We vent on Facebook about how sad it is and how ignorant people are.  We are saddened. Scared. Angry – and maybe a bit self-righteous?

Look in the mirror.

I have a question for you – and be honest, okay?

  • Have you ever passed someone on the street, in the grocery store – in your church – who looked different than you do?  When your paths crossed, did you look at them and quickly divert you eyes to look somewhere else? Did you have a thought or an attitude that would be considered “racist”? A thought that was critical, unloving, and instantly placed you in a higher place than the other person because of how they look, walk,  talk, what they believe,  because of where they are from,  or because they are a different color than you?

Have you? I have.

What we are seeing take place in our country – the racism,  riots, rallies, and violence – all of it is actually an extreme example of what we all have present in our hearts.  All of us.  The pride, hate, and ignorance is present in every one of us.  Oh sure, you may bring the thoughts captive, speak truth to yourself, remind yourself that everyone is equal in God’s sight.

But we have to remind ourselves!  Self-righteousness is present in all of us. It’s there.

White Supremacist? That may not be you. But take the time to evaluate your heart. What group of people do you think is better than another group?  Maybe it’s never left your heart or thoughts, never been verbalized publicly. Or maybe it has, but you’ve never held a rally or waved a sign that says, “YOU WILL NOT REPLACE US!”; and you’ve never run your car into a crowd of people that don’t agree with you…but it’s there.

In any self-righteous heart attitude that looks down on another, you reveal yourself to be a Self-Supremacist.

“This is the newly-adopted mantra of the “White Supremacist” movement… “YOU WILL NOT REPLACE US”!  Oh, the richness of soteriological irony: as one with European DNA, my only hope in life and death is knowing that, when I stand before the throne of judgement, indeed I have been replaced by the One who chose to come down to Earth as a Middle-Eastern Jewish man! JESUS is the Only One who can claim the title of Supreme. Through His broken and bloodied BROWN flesh, He has redeemed for Himself a people-made up from many nations and languages, followers living under the banner over all creation = “CHRIST IS SUPREME!” (Col. 1:15-20) 

We are the “Christ-Supremacists”!  We do not carry torches that bring only more darkness; instead, we are the torch-bearers of The Light that is life to all men. (John 1:1-4)  Our identity is no longer in our own ethnicity, but now securely resides in the person and work of Jesus Christ. We bow underneath the tearful prayer, “You Must Replace Us“!” ~Annie Locke

Oh Father! Please forgive me for the part I play – even if it’s just a heart attitude – in this crazy mess we find ourselves in. Please change my heart that it may be completely free from any unkind, unloving, critical, prideful, self-righteous,  and – yes – even racist thoughts or attitudes that may be present.  My identity is no longer in anything but the person and work of Jesus Christ. I bow beneath the tearful prayer, “You Must Replace Me!”

He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

Skincare Routine for Younger Looking Skin

When I was in my mid 40’s it hit me that the 50’s were closely looming around the corner and I started reading a few blogs written by “mid-life beauty experts”.  That is when I learned about things like exfoliating, retinol, peptides, hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, and CC creams. I started trying things – one tube or pump at a time – and created my skin care routine for younger looking skin.

As long as I can remember I have had an interest in fun clothes, playing around with makeup, and trying different hairstyles.  I was that little sister who would sneak in her older sister’s bedroom and try on her makeup, use her razor (I know! Gross!), and try on her clothes.

I’ll never forget the morning when I snuck into my sister’s bedroom after she’d left for school.  I was looking for something to wear and decided to go through her closet.

I had a plan:

  1. Sneak something out of her closet
  2. Wear it to school
  3. Get home from school before she did
  4. Take it off and hang it up before she gets home
  5. She’ll never know!

It was a beautiful plan!

As I was intently looking through her clothes, I heard my mom coming up the stairs. Panicking, I quickly slid into the closet and quietly shut the door. There I hid, peeking through the slats in the door as my mom put laundry away, knowing that if she found me I’d be ONE. DEAD. MIDDLE SCHOOLER! She didn’t find me, but it scared me enough to cause me to give up my sneaky ways, and I never tried that again! I may have left the sneaky life behind, but my love for makeup, clothes and hairstyles never left.

There have been times when I haven’t been  sure where (or if) these interests fit into the life of a believer.  I’ve wondered where the natural, God given, artistic, love of color and all things beautiful ends, and the selfishness of my heart or the influence of our youth and beauty obsessed culture begins.  When does it stop being a natural God given interest and turn into an ugly, self focus obession?

Several years ago we knew a family who moved to an island in Hawaii to become missionaries. Every time we received a newsletter or a Christmas card, we were treated to photos of the people they were living life with, or photos of their family. Without fail, their Christmas card would include a family photo that pictured them wearing bright, colorful shirts with large flowered prints all over them,  beautifully colored Leis draped around their neck, cool cotton shorts, and flip flops – or no shoes at all.  This was the dress of the island.

One day, while reading through one of their newsletters, it struck me that since God has planted me here, it’s really ok for me to dress (without compromise) like the culture, and to use the artistic gifts and love of color that God placed within me! I just need to be discerning and not allow that natural gifting and interest to cross the line into being influenced by the subtle lies of our culture. The truth is that 50 is not the new 40, our goal in life should not be to be “sexy at any age”, we shouldn’t feel like we need to pump our wrinkles full of botox, or get the fat sucked out of our stomachs. Growing old is a good thing –  it’s a gift.  The years change us in every way, and teach us stuff! They give us time with our loved ones and time to be used by God.

All that I possess  – my creative giftings,  abilities,  and interests can ultamatlely be used to point others to Jesus, but I must be careful that they don’t become a distraction from the bigger picture and how He wants to work through me. There is a line that needs to be drawn – and is too easily crossed – between using these things for his glory, and using them for my own glory.  It is a very fine line, almost undetectable, and I need to pray for discernment and for God’s  help to see when I am in danger of crossing that line.

So, should I throw away the products I purchased? No. That would be a huge waste of money. And although I will probably not replace all of these products when they are gone, I still want to look my best. I enjoy taking care of this body that is slowly aging, love playing around with makeup and hairstyles, enjoy exercising, love fun clothes and surround myself with color, but I want my resolve to be for good, and inspired and empowered by God…

“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power…” 1 Thessalonians 1:11

I want to use the gifts, interests and abilities that He gave me to bring Him glory and point others to Him. I don’t want to distract from His purpose, or even worse, be a hinderance to what He wants to accomplish.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name…” Psalm 29

When I am in a battle with myself and all I want to do is give in to the temptations, He shows me my selfishness and the idols of my heart. He never grows weary and will never leave me alone in my ugliness. He is present, He guides me, and He loves me. He is a perfect Heavenly Father who doesn’t give up on me when I cross the line. When I forget about The fountain of living water and return to broken cisterns,

“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water.”  Jeremiah 2:13

His grace draws me back, and He allows me to continue in the process I am in of becoming more like Him.

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”  Romans 8:29
Because he loves me? Yes.  But ultimately for His purposes and His glory.

 

Just Give It To Me Straight!

I have been working out, off and on, for several years. When you have a sports medicine-guy husband, a personal trainer son, and a daughter who played volleyball through high school and college – and disciplines herself to work out several times a week no matter how busy she is – you make time to work out!

I love to do cardio! I love walking, running, and I own a rowing machine. I do a little bit of strength training, not because I love it, but because I know it’s important  to include it in your routine as you get older. I’ll never be the poster child for what a fit, 50 something woman should  look like, but I try to be consistent and stay in decent shape.

Not too long ago I decided to try Pilates. I did my research,  found a DVD meant for beginners, and anxiously waited for it to arrive. It finally came in the mail and I quickly tore the box open so I could start my journey with Pilates. On the cover of the DVD I saw an attractive lady wearing a cute little outfit. Her blonde hair was perfectly styled and she was smiling.

This doesn’t look THAT hard!” I popped in the DVD and began.

As I went through each exercise I noticed that the  cute little lady who was teaching me Pilates was  smiling, not sweating, her hair looked perfect, and she was in control of each move. Me?  I got up half way through the workout and closed my bedroom door.  I did not look like the lady in the DVD. I was not smiling, my hair was not perfect, I was not in control,  and  I was sweating…and grunting and groaning!  

And when  I woke up the next day I ached all over.  I mean – it hurt to walk!

The lady in the video didn’t tell me THIS is how I would feel. She made it look easy AND she looked beautiful doing it. I  had been completely uninformed.  I imagined myself doing what she does with little effort.

The truth is, nobody would buy the DVD if there was a picture of me, lying half dead on the floor, on the front cover! How many people would watch a DVD if the teacher was sweating profusely, groaning, and had messed up hair?  I know I wouldn’t!  I like the image of that “perfect” woman and I want to believe that I can be her. With no pain and no sweat.

It can  be the same way in the life of a believer. If you walk into a Christian bookstore you will see  books with beautiful people on the covers. Books with answers. Often they make the Christian life appear to be something that isn’t very hard, or like all it takes is 5 simple steps and you will attain a level of maturity or have victory over that sin.  Like exercise, though, the Christian life is painful. It’s hard. Knowing that God is there to give us hope, strength and purpose as we go through the trials is what makes us different from someone who does not know God. We are not promised ease or that we’ll always look beautiful, but that God will go with us through all that we face.

I often think of what believers who have persevered in their faith will look like at the end of our lives.  I think that when we meet God we will be tired and worn out.  Sweaty, weary, aching, but with grateful hearts knowing that we made it, and that God enabled us to persevere even when every muscle in our body may have yelled, “I can’t do this anymore!”  or we felt like shutting the door so that no one could see how hard it was.

I would have appreciated it if at the beginning of the Pilates DVD the lady had said, “You need to know that this is going to be hard. In fact, right now I am sore. You will sweat and get tired,  but you can do it.  Remember that you will probably hurt tomorrow, but don’t give up. Pace yourself. It will be worth it in the end!”

Until we embrace the reality of this battle we are in, we won’t be able to fight effectively. When we  accept  and admit that hardship is a part of every season of the Christian life, and that we aren’t always going to look beautiful or live pain free, we can turn to rush to the aid of our fellow battling brother or sister.

When others observe our lives may they see a people who, although weary and aching, are persevering.  May we be  people who admit to each other that the Christian life is HARD but that we can persevere as we cling to the grace and strength that God provides.

I pray that I will practice the privilege of getting on the floor and sitting next to a weary brother or sister.  That I will look them in the eyes and tell them that God is there to help them persevere…

And that I am too!

He Remembered!

I opened my laptop to get some work done and took a quick detour to Facebook just to see what was happening there. To my surprise I found that the following had been posted on my wall by my 23 year old son:

“Romans 13:7- Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” I just want to take a moment to give a shoutout to the worlds best mom. She has never stopped trying to be the best mom she could be. When I walk by a playground or go to Safeway or walk around campus I remember the great times as a child that I had with you at those places. I love you mom.”

Caleb is a quiet man and he rarely shares his feelings like this, especially on Facebook, so I was really shocked (yet very blessed…there may have been some tears!) to see that he had taken the time to share this.

As a mom of two grown kids, I often reflect back on the years of raising them and wonder if I did enough or spent enough time with them. I remember how busy we were homeschooling, running to sporting events, and the busyness of running a home. I know that it doesn’t seem like it when you are in the thick of things, but those years of raising kids eventually become a blur! They pass so quickly.

What I found significant about the things that my son remembered was that it was the daily life stuff that provided him the good memories. The times that he and I would go to the grocery store – just the two of us. Simple things like the daily walks and the visits to the neighborhood playground. Those were the times he remembers and those were the times I remember setting down my agenda and the busy tasks of each day, and taking the time to focus on him.

When we take the time to focus on our Savior, our priorities get adjusted and we are reminded of what is most important. We are choosing to not allow joy to get squeezed out of our life! That joy found in Jesus does flow out onto the lives of those we are with and affects what we choose to do with our time.

And our children remember!