Carrying the Weak

The other night I was playing with my 2 dogs. I was trying to get my little, not so normal, dog Itsy to bring me her toy. She just kept turning in circles, prancing around with her toy. She would stop and look at me, get supper excited and in her excitement return to making her circle but even faster. She could burn a hole in the floor with her circling. It was not that she was being disobedient to my calling her rather she just did not understand what I was asking her to do. After some time I was tired of the play time so I decided to go up stairs to bed. I called both of my dogs names. My normal dog Coco instantly ran up the stairs following me. Itsy just kept turning in circles.

Itsy is not normal. She does not see well and has some intellectual abnormalities. So I walked down the stairs, picked up the little Itsy and carried her up the stairs with me. She was so happy that I picked her up. She was rubbing up against my face to show her affections. I did not have to carry Coco because he was fully capable of walking up the stairs to follow me. Itsy on the other hand needed someone to pick her up and carry her.

I was reminded of the story in the Bible that talks about a disabled man being carried to Jesus. They could not get to Jesus because of the crowd so these group of people lowered the sick man into the room through the roof to get to Jesus. These were some good friends. They went through a lot of trouble to help this disabled man. We to often must serve as this friend carrying the weak, helpless and needy to Jesus. For we are often like my dog Itsy unable to make our way.

Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.” Luke 5:18-25

Shattered Glass

I have been making stained crushed glass to use in my art projects. I take a piece of glass, shatter it with a hammer then stain it with alcohol ink. I am using it to make coasters and trays. Shattering the glass very much reminded me of the painting I did for the broken girl series. I titled it shatters pieces. It was the painting describing the break between me and men in general but also a break in trust of the church. My body, heart and mind were all shattered much like the glass. We are all so broken people.

By making the resin coasters and platters it was a reminder that what was once a whole, beautiful piece of glass is so easily shattered by this world. Glass is so breakable and so are we as humans. We are so temporary and fragile. Medical care can glue the broken pieces together but it is never truly whole. The sin of this world stains us much like the alcohol ink stains the glass. Then the world shatters us. I feel like the gospel and the Holy Spirit is like the resin. It is through the gospel that the shattered glass pieces stained with alcohol ink can then become something else. So is true for us, we can become something else, we can become a new creation in Christ. It looks like glass but it is something else entirely. Similarly resin once hardened is much stronger than glass. These resin coasters and tray have a variety of things within them included these shattered pieces of glass. They are beautiful, durable and sturdy. I could hit it with the hammer and it will not shatter.

We all have stains. We all have blemishes. Our physical bodies are all wasting away. We are all broken vessels. But we also have the opportunity to become a new creation. Just like these shattered stain glass pieces are made into something new and different. Something even more beautiful and durable then the previous glass for The Holy Spirit is like the resin. Stronger than the fragile glass that has none of God’s spirit to hold it together.

What is the purpose of Confession?

When I think of confession the first thing that comes to mind is something from a movie. A person goes into this little room with a priest in another room. There is a screen between the two and the person confesses to the priest. This is what they did in the movies. I am not catholic so I do not know if confession is still done in the manor in the Catholic Church. I guess I will have to call up some of my catholic friends and ask.

As someone not raise in any church I did not learn about confession. It was never something that was taught to me. I never gave it much thought. Actually I never gave confession in a formal sense any thought until recently. As I have contemplated the concept of confession I realized it is something I had been practicing for a very long time I just did not know that was what I was practicing. It is one of the reasons I feel a need for Christian fellowship or Christian counseling. For this is a place I could let everything out. Expose all the smelly, ugly things in my life. I think all the Christians I’ve meet probably think I smell like a pig sty.

At the heart of confession is a declaration of your need for Christ. It is admittance that you are a sinner. That you need the blood of Christ to cleans you. It is admittance that it is only through Christ you are able to become acceptable before a Holy God. When we declare this to God we are confessing our sin, it is through that that we are able to receive God’s grace offered to Jesus. It is only through Jesus that we are able to receive the grace of God.

So why do we ever confess to another believer? Why do we have the tradition of confessing to a minister? Why is confession even practiced in the church when we can simply kneel down in our home and confess to God quietly ourselves? I do not know if this is right but it is what I have come to terms with.

We do not have to confess our sins to another believer for God to grant us his forgiveness. He has already offered it freely with the death of Jesus on the cross. But we humans often do need this. Similar it is through another believer indwelled with the Holy Spirit that is able to act as a body of Christ, a tangible person in our lives. This person then is able to respond to our confession with grace, mercy, accountability and prayer support.

We often fall into patterns within our lives of sin. We then continue to repeat the same sin over and over. We may confess the sin in quiet between ourselves and God. We receive forgiveness but Satan is cleaver. He deceives, tempts and confuses us. We fall into a pattern of repeating the same sin. In doing so we are not truly living a life of freedom in Christ. We are not walking the way Jesus says we should walk. We are not living a life of repentance. We are simply living in sin.

When we humble ourselves enough to confess our sin to another believer it helps us to break the cycle. You now have someone else in your life able to help you break free. Confession to another believer is as much about helping each other, carrying each other’s burdens and mutually submitting ourselves to the lord in unity as it is about forgiveness of sins. Another believer does not forgive our sins but they can help us live victorious lives in Christ.

I personally think that confession can be done with any believer indwelled with the Holy Spirit. It can be done at the diner table. On a walk in the park or in a church. I feel like my christian counselors have often served as this person. I guess I have a very liberal view of what can constitute as confession to another believer. But I think it is good to have someone whom you feel safe, comfortable, and trust to help you break free from the chains of sin without judgement or providing further temptation.

It is only through the blood of Jesus we can receive forgiveness for our sins. We often need someone to act as a body of Christ to help us live holy lives and free from the bondage of sin.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Identity Defines You

The topic of identity seems to be coming up repetitively in my life as of late. I decided it was time to write about it. We all have things we identify with. We all have things we use to label and describe. We all have specific traits and characteristics that describe us. We often find a sense of identity in those things. Similar people will often speak that over us. We call people names. We give people identities. Unfortunately our words often have power. I am so guilty of this. I often in anger or resentment will speak out a negative identifying characteristic onto someone else or even myself thus giving a false identity. I often falsely identify myself and others.

When I say I am white, I can easily make my identity as being a white person. When I say I am bipolar, I can easily make my mental health condition my identity. I often hear people who struggle with homosexuality do this to themselves. I am gay. Or I see someone who is alcoholic do this by saying I am alcoholic. I hate these phrases. For when we are in Christ, when we make our identity in Christ we are a new creation. We are children of God. We may have characteristics about us but those characteristics are not our identity. If you struggle with alcohol addiction your identity is not that you are an alcoholic. Rather you are a child of God who struggle with the temptation of alcohol. If you struggle with sexual temptations you are not just a sex addict rather you are a child of God, a new creation in Christ, called to live a holy life but have the temptation of sexual sin which you battle.

We all have temptations and struggles. We all have things about us that are less than perfect. We all have things we wrestle with. But by being a Christian we are given victory over these things. We struggle but they do not define us. We are victorious in Christ. I think we all need to start identifying ourselves as God’s children and new creations in Christ rather than letting our struggle be our identity.

So much conflict, segregation and discrimination arises from falsely identifying ourselves. For when we make our identity in anything other than Christ the result will always be the same conflict, hate, discrimination and segregation.

Prayer is What Ignites

Have you even cooked on a gas stove? To light the flame you first have to turn the stove to ignite. You can actually hear the clicking of the starter. Without this igniter the gas will come out but there will be no flame. I would like to think of prayer as the tool that ignites. The Holy Spirit is like the gas within us producing the flame.

We as Christians are called to do good works. Our faith should produce in us good works. But as Christians we do not do good work out of our own self will power. When we do things purely by our own means we easily get burned out, exhausted, and overwhelmed. Similarly we as humans have so very little power, knowledge or ability. Rather as a Christian all things should start with prayer. It is through prayer that the Holy Spirit inside us becomes lite to produce a bright flame illuminating the darkness. The good works we produce are then a result of the Holy Spirit within us given to us by our Heavenly Father. But it all starts with prayer or you will never have anything to ignite the gas.

I kind of think of the good works we do as humans is like us cooking something. Would you rather boil a pot of water with a flame or try to boil a pot of water using your own human breath? Your own human breath may be warm but will never be hot enough to boil the water. You will blow, blow and blow to the point of exhaustion and never boil the water. Rather the flame that comes from God’s spirit can boil any pot. Similarly if you add salt to the water then you lowered the threshold for which the water boils. Jesus is the salt to the earth.

So never forget everything starts with prayer. For without prayer you do not have anything to ignite the gas.