Have you ever thought that if only your spouse were more righteous, more Biblical, more favored by God, well, then life would be so much better? Have you thought; if only he followed Jesus closer, read His Bible more, prayed more often, matured in Christ, well, then wouldn’t life be rosy?
None of these aspirations are bad. Would that all of us were more righteous, more Biblical, more favored by God. Would that all of us follow Jesus closer, read our Bibles more, prayed more often, and matured in Christ.
The assumed outcome of these actions is the problem. Ask some Biblical wives what it was like to be married to righteous men. The word “rosy” won’t come up.
Mrs. Noah was married to the most righteous man of his time. It saved her life and the lives of her children but for one hundred years of ark building in a desert that had never seen rain, I’m betting Mrs. Noah suffered through more than her share of snide remarks and mocking snickers. Then there’s the long trip locked inside a floating brick full of filthy animals and the work of starting again, alone in a world now completely strange, unfamiliar and devoid of history or the comfort of friends her own age – and, just think, no one had yet invented post-traumatic stress syndrome. Continue Reading →
You could just tell. It was the way he held back. Placed his cards on the table slowly – studying you through narrowed eyes between each reveal. Gauging your reaction to his story.
Like a game of chicken, you kept the cards coming by not flinching. Not at the alcohol. Not at the drugs. Not at the abuse. Not at the jail time. Same as stalking a deer it is, this ministry of fishing for men, where the skill of holding very still for long stretches buys you more time in the open, greater opportunity to draw trust out from the deep soul-pockets into which it’s been shoved.
“I’ve made a career out of disappointing people,” he says. “I’ve been in lots of programs. They don’t usually work, you know?” You nod. You do know. “I get frustrated. I blow off at people or tell them they’re wasting their time. They don’t stick around long. Always send me on to the next program. Then, I’m still here, dealing with my kid with no help, you know? I’m all he’s got. The state lady tells me I’m doing it wrong but no one else knows how to do it either. At least, I’m trying to figure it out. That should count for something.”
“It does,” you reply. Continue Reading →
Mirrors can deceive. Stores install trick mirrors designed to make clothing appear more flattering. Carnivals line the walls of their fun-houses with warped mirrors that distort our perception. Magicians use mirrors carefully angled to create illusions that mystify and delude the audience. Cracked mirrors mislead us into seeing a disfigured view.
It was no stretch for the weavers of fairy tales to arm wicked queens with mirrors that told them precisely what they wanted to hear. Or to have evil sorceresses trap unwitting slaves inside looking glasses. We know that Alice found a fantastical world when she stepped through her frame.
Even armed with all this backstory, we still fall for the mirror trick. Continue Reading →
She could be the patron saint of many modern Christians. I’m familiar with the danger of drift.
When I was a little girl, we would pack a cooler with tuna sandwiches on white bread, sliced cucumbers, and Kool-Aid in a thermos to spend long, lazy days at the beach. While my mother read “Jaws” on her blanket, my brother and I would take to the sea, walking out into the surf as far as we dared and riding in wave after wave.
Mom understood the dangers of drift. She’d set her blanket next to lifeguard chair number two and warn us to align ourselves with that chair whenever we rode a wave to shore, but we were kids and didn’t appreciate drift. Continue Reading →
In this day, in this age, in this time of awareness and selective cultural sensitivity (because isn’t my faith a legitimate cultural factor?), it amazes me how clueless you are about who I am, just because I’m a woman.
Why do you think you know me – how I’ll vote, what issues top my list, what causes move me, what choices I’ll defend – just because I’m a woman?
My chromosomal makeup only tells a part of my story but me, the person inhabiting this feminine form, I will tell you the rest. You can’t tell me my story, though you try, because it is my story. With your polls and your studies, your trending Twitter feed, and your superstar spokeswomen, you can’t begin to know my thoughts, my leanings, my preferences, or my needs. My story doesn’t fit inside the questions you ask over the phone. No great surprise. I’m a complex human being. Whatever made you think you could capture my essence on your piecharts?
I’ll cut my own slice, thank you, and it won’t be that sliver you’ve assigned me – that percentage labeled evangelical women, whatever that means to you. My sisters and I, we who love Jesus, we will bust through those dividing lines that try to tell our story through denominations and ethnic boundaries, with age and economic distinctions, with educational rankings and marital statuses, by regions or countries of origin. We don’t agree on everything, though that disagreement doesn’t break the tie that binds. We are a mystery to you, I grant, and so you try to analyze. Let me spare you. You do not define us with your politics or your polemics. Our identities do not rise or fall by your polls. What moves us is not determined by your rhetoric, your conventional wisdom, or your soundbite de jour. Continue Reading →
I’m done with alcohol, pot, coke, that way of life, that guy, that gang, those women, that vice.
Yes, I’m taking my medication, of course, why? You can test me. I’ll do a test right now.
I’ll work with the therapist, the courts, my children, my family, this budget, your rules, of course, I’ll work, I want this to work. I’m ready for a new way this time. Last time, I just wasn’t ready but now I am.
No, of course, I’m not using again, cheating again, hearing voices again, drinking again, gambling anymore, going to that place, seeing that guy, visiting that site, missing appointments.
I know I said I’d go last week but you wouldn’t believe what happened. This week I’ll get to church, find a job, show up for therapy, be home for dinner, call that counselor, go to a meeting.
With every fiber, you want to believe their words over your gut, their story over those busybodies, their explanation over the photo, the text, the evidence in your hand. You want to believe them over your own eyes, your own bruises, your empty bank account, your Internet history, the acid in your stomach, the alarm bell in your soul that has never been wrong before. You know the plummet, like an elevator sliced from its cable that drops within you until you’re almost longing for the moment you hit bottom – but you never do.
If you believe them, if you just believe them, then the evening won’t be interrupted, the meeting can be positive, dinner will go as planned, no one has to change or turn down the path of change – that narrow, rocky, blistering, steep, lonely path of change. Continue Reading →
In college, I was forced to take a science course. Not a fan of this requirement. Dr. Andrus, a petite, exacting, fireball seemed really excited about science, so I knew I’d better get over my distaste and jump into my assignments with appropriate gusto.
Our first assignment was to stare at a candle flame and write one hundred observations about it.
One hundred unique observations.
About a single candle flame.
Watching paint dry suddenly seemed appealing.
Once that assignment was completed, she told us to find an insect, in the dirt behind our classroom, and write one hundred observations about said insect. Seriously? Continue Reading →
We say prayers for the preachers and prayers for the hands of missionaries and teachers in foreign lands. We say prayers for the soldiers who are off at war and prayers for the workers serving food to the poor.
But a time is coming, twisting round like a cloud, when the preaching of truth will be disallowed. When the prince of the air and his kingdom of lies will be embraced by the masses who truth now despise. So I tell you this:
pray now for the artists, the poets, the kings of composition, of stories, and fantastical things. Pray for the hearts of the writers who weave truth into stories a few will believe. Pray for the filmmakers, novelists, and more to be courageous and bold when the world is at war with the beauty of truth, with the scandal of love, with the Lordship of a God who rules from above.
When the preachers are silenced and true teachers banned, the mission will fall to the poets on hand.
Like graffiti on street walls we’ll work in the night to spray paint the gospel with aerosol light. We’ll write Him in novels, in screenplays, in poems. We’ll paint Him in murals in the square, in our homes. Like an underground railroad we’ll pass Him along in stories, in dances, in sculpture, in song.
There won’t be room then for the spirit of fear so writers and artists should train now to draw near to the heart of the Almighty, to drink from His wine, to feast at His table and ingest the divine so it flows from our fingertips into our art and pours from our spirits fed straight from His heart.
Pray now for the artists, the writers, the scribes, for courage, for commitment to truth above lies.
Creativity is the last bastion of truth when convention is silenced and fear takes root. So pray for the souls striving alone with their art to labor with courage and to live from His heart.
Pray for boldness, for bravery, for insight, and power – to this work we’ve been called and now is the hour for each artist, and writer, composer, and bard to graffiti the world with the scandal of God.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4 NASB
*offered humbly with apologies to true poets everywhere and dedicated to Cathy Baker
I invite you to take a sneak peak at the cover of my next book, Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life), scheduled to release in September from Abingdon Press. What do you think? Just click on the link.
— Lori Roeleveld (@lorisroeleveld) April 23, 2016
Then, there are days when I feel like a castaway from the shipwreck of the S.S. Salvation, lying listless and spent on a wooden door that used to lead somewhere, watching sharks circle, blinking at a relentless sky, my ambition as parched as my cracked and sunburned lips.
Perhaps I’m being a tad dramatic.
I just thought at some point, things would be different, you know? I thought that as I grew older, grew up, matured, there would come a day when I could set my faith on cruise control. I thought I’d hit my stride and wake up every day knowing exactly what to do and how to be.
That ain’t happening.
And it’s not about employing spiritual discipline, devotions, fasting, tithing, praying, Bible reading, sacrificial living, or any other spiritual calisthenics all of you solution savvy readers are about to prescribe. I am there. I do that. I pray that. I read that. I study that. I give that. I live that. I’ve been to the mountain, baby, and I’ve seen the dazzling white. Continue Reading →
Yeah, it’s back. And it’s not just for young people any more.
For a country founded on free speech, we’ve taken quite a swerve. We’ve become a nation of people afraid to express opinions considered unfashionable by the masses. Many would rather compromise their freedom than be considered intolerant, prejudiced, or discriminating. Three modern “sins” rapidly forming an eighth ring in a twisted upgrade of Dante’s hell.
Intolerance, prejudice, and discrimination are, of course, wrong and unhealthy for a society but the redefinition of these words to describe any application of judgment or discernment whatsoever is sending crowds of young adults, like lemmings, over the cliff of ridiculousness into the sea of the absurd. Consider this video circulating around the web today of a Caucasian man interviewing college students and insisting he’s a 6’5” Chinese woman. Their response will, appropriately, frighten you. Continue Reading →