Why Christians Should Write

Jesus Christ is a believer’s gravity; he infuses meaning and purpose into our lives and tethers us to reality through the Body and the Blood.  There is no story more fascinating, mysterious, devastating, resplendent, and sanguine than the gospel, and this is the reason we need more Christian writers in the United States to write and be published.  Believers have an incredible capacity for story—true story—which is our duty and privilege to share.  When we weave gospel truths into our stories—even when we whisper or our voices shake—those stories assume deeper meaning, exactly what the world craves, whether knowingly or not.  Tales with no hint of the divine, no rumor of a Savior, may often be a poor investment, a squandering of what might have been.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”  Books written by Christians are just such miracles, stories that are able to be held, while the Great Story, instead, holds us.

stunning realization

I have recently gone through (and am still enduring) a very humiliating experience.

While praying the other night, I believe the Holy Spirit opened up my eyes to see it in a whole new light:

Wow, Jesus, I just LOVE the way that You handled the Pharisees.  You are so smart and stunning and clever, and You just OWNED them!

It’s interesting to me that those moments– the ones when You seemed most powerful– would not end up being the cornerstone events of history.  Instead it was the CROSS that would– the moment you looked weakest, most defeated, completely ashamed, and beneath the feet of the Pharisees.

HELP ME TO REMEMBER THIS!  These days may end up being the days that define me.  That is startling a little.  God, give me grace, poise, maturity, integrity, favor as I undergo this humiliating experience.  God let me use this time to IDENTIFY with Your Son.

Jesus, my shame is nothing compared to what You went through, and yet You endured it sinlessly.  Give me the strength to do likewise.  Make me humble.  How could I forget that it is You who are the Humble Servant?  This whole experience may serve to make me LIKE YOU.

You understand my feelings even better and more deeply than I do.  Let me be worthy of this humiliation.

motivation

“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”
Luke 9:51

Christ knows what lies ahead for him: Gethsemane, betrayal, a cat o’ nine tails raking him over, and the crucifixion (from which comes the word excruciating), not to mention the weight of the world’s sin on his shoulders as he becomes a curse and his father looks away.

And yet he set his face to go to Jerusalem.  He steeled himself for what was ahead.  He determined to move in the direction of these horrors.

It inspires me.

Guest blogger: Broken

If you follow my blog, then you’ve already been introduced to my roommate Desiree.  She is a wonderful woman of God and one of my very favorite people.  Because we have lived together for five years, she is one of the people who has seen me at my very, very worst, OCD-wise.  I asked her to write a guest post about living with an obsessive-compulsive.  Here it is:

Broken
by Desiree Wood

I don’t know how to describe what it’s like to live with someone with OCD, but you all know.

I’m sure Jackie told me that she had OCD while I was in college. She told me how hard it was—about thinking friends were demons or that she was destined for Hell, about sharing her struggles at camp the previous summer—but it just didn’t register. She hid it well for the first year or two that we were friends and roommates, an impressive feat.

And then came the day that I realized this was a problem. Jackie had talked through some other obsessions before, but this one was big. We had been on a retreat with the youth group we volunteered with for the weekend, and on the bus ride home, one of the teens dropped a bomb on Jackie about something he had done. I’m a teacher, so it takes a lot for an experience to blow me out of the water, but what this kid shared did just that! I was shocked when Jackie slid into the bus seat next to me and shared the news. And at that moment, I pleaded with God, “Why?” Why would He allow it to be Jackie who had to shoulder this news? Why the one with OCD triggered by thoughts of guilt? It was so much pressure figuring out what to do with this information. As she sobbed and we tried to work through the news at home that night, my heart broke for her. I felt completely lost and helpless.

To be honest, that’s how I’ve felt through most of this journey through OCD—through the changing meds and different reactions, triggers that come out of nowhere and take days or weeks or months to move past, through the CBT techniques that I felt really unsure about—it’s all a bit lost on me whose mind can just let go of thoughts as I choose. Looking back, I kind of like that I was so lost and helpless, because even though OCD has been hard to deal with for me and a million times harder for Jackie, I know that it has ultimately pushed us both closer to Christ. I love that He redeems the brokenness in our lives.

We all know what it’s like to live with someone with OCD because we are all broken people. Whether you live with family, friends, or a spouse, you battle the brokenness. We’ve all got our issues, sickness, and sin to overcome, and the people around us have to be our support. I pray that I continue to learn how to do that for Jackie.

Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  I am blessed to live with Jackie—to have seen her struggle through OCD with Jesus, to have learned from her, and to have her in my corner as I battle my own issues.

What are your experiences with friends or family with OCD?

Me (bottom right) and Des (beside me) BEFORE we were roommates … she had no idea what she was about to get herself into!

a poem

ON THE SHORE

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”  None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?”  knowing that it was the Lord.  John 21:12

Galilee is in one of her moods.

The stubborn sea has refused our nets for hours, all night even,
the slight wind whispering a sharp ache into my ears,
the night air annoying my muscles into unyielding aggravation.

Fish bowels from more successful outings rot in quiet corners,
the soft staleness contrasting with the slick slime on the wooden sides.
This tiresome enterprise hurts my forearms and back.

As the sun rises, it brings with it that fusty morning-breath feeling,
a natural all-over reminder that a cycle has passed and I have ignored it.
One hundred yards away, a man watches my weakness from the shore.

He speaks: “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?”
The answer is decidedly no.
This time: Abracadabra.  “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat.”
And we cannot lift the net.  It is Him.

Like a moment when your own falling forward wakes you up suddenly,
my heart rate rockets.  Peter takes no time to consider wave-walking, only
jumps into the water like a lover in a hurry.

I hold the net, now wide-awake.  My heart burgeons; I feel my pulse in my arms,
my chest, my throat.  I wish my devotion was now a soaked outer garment,
but at the same time, my head has been snapped into alertness
too quickly, and I feel mute even while I yell to hold the net.

Stepping to the shore is like crossing a thick line into another land
where silence is king and stillness is queen.  Only God is over them both,
so He speaks: “Come and have breakfast.”

A charcoal fire cooks God’s catch, and we add some of ours to the fire.
My hands shake, not only with cold.  I look at the dead eyes of the fish
as they cook.  Their open eyes and open mouths make me their
breathing brother.  My mind spells peculiar out slowly:

To sit across a man who is more than a man, once dead but now
serving breakfast is too much.  All things collide:

prophecy, the Word become flesh, promises and wine, blessed are the poor in spirit, prayer and peace and psalms and palms, overturned tables and the look on His face, blessing the children, rebuking the demons, His offer of rest, all the metaphors, the stories, the quiet explanations away from the crowds, Truth for the first time, freedom, excitement, fervor, reality, wisdom, honor, purity, healing mud mixed by the King, that devastating dinner in the upper room, the washbin, the water, the way that He stooped, Gethsemane where I slept while He suffered, the crowds, the chants, Barabas unchained, the cheers, the jeers, the scorn, the blood,

the blood, the blood, the blood, the blood,

the walk, the tree, splintered wood on Calvary, the words, the orders, the dramatic curtain making a scene, the rushing terror, the torture, pain, emptiness, loss, the women, the tomb, the rock, the angels, the appearing, victory
and all
for my sake.

He offers me bread in the quiet on the shore.

Lord, forgive me! my heart pleads across the coals.
His wild eye meets mine: That was the whole point.

Humilitas

Last fall, I had the priviledge of hearing John Dickson speak at the Global Leadership Summit.  Dickson is the author of the book Humilitas, a book about humility in leadership.  After hearing him speak, I purchased the book and read the entire thing.  It was brilliant.

Dickson, for his thesis for his Ph.D. in history, set out to find the origin of humility.  The findings were incredible.  Long ago, humility was looked down upon– but now it is a virtue society praises.  What happened to force such a change?  Dickson’s conclusion was the cross of Christ.

Before the cross, the thought was that humility was a showing of weakness.  When Jesus Christ was crucified, the early church had to look on the cross and say, “This is what humility looks like.  I need to either reconcile it with what I currently believe– that humility is weakness– or I need to change my thoughts about humility.”  And now, over 2000 years later, the world looks on humility as a lovely and beautiful thing.

The cross.  Oh how I love it, that history-altering moment in time.

 

Maundy Thursday

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hematidrosis (also called hematohidrosis) is a very rare condition in which a human being sweats blood. It may occur when a person is suffering extreme levels of stress, for example, facing his or her own death. Several historical references have been described; notably by Leonardo da Vinci: describing a soldier who sweated blood before battle, men unexpectedly given a death sentence, as well as descriptions in the Bible, that Jesus experienced hematidrosis when he was praying in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44).

Cutaneous hemorrhage
According to Dr. Frederick Zugibe (former Chief Medical Examiner of Rockland County, New York) it is well-known, and there have been many cases of it. The clinical term is hematohidrosis. “Around the sweat glands, there are multiple blood vessels in a net-like form. Under the pressure of great stress the vessels constrict. Then as the anxiety passes the blood vessels dilate to the point of rupture. The blood goes into the sweat glands. As the sweat glands are producing a lot of sweat, it pushes the blood to the surface – coming out as droplets of blood mixed with sweat.”

In a lecture, Dr. Zugibe stated: “The severe mental anxiety…activated the sympathetic nervous system to invoke the stress-fight or flight reaction to such a degree causing hemorrhage of the vessels supplying the sweat glands into the ducts of the sweat glands and extruding out onto the skin. While hematidrosis has been reported to occur from other rare medical entities, the presence of profound fear accounted for a significant number of reported cases including six cases in men condemned to execution, a case occurring during the London blitz, a case involving a fear of being raped, a fear of a storm while sailing, etc. The effects on the body is that of weakness and mild to moderate dehydration from the severe anxiety and both the blood and sweat loss.”

Another effect is that the skin becomes extremely tender and fragile, so that any pressure or damage to the skin is more than ordinarily painful.

Holy Week

I love Easter.  I mean, I really love it.  I love Easter the way most people love Christmas.

Palm Sunday.  Gethsemane.  The cross.  Blood, blood, blood, and the sin of the world on His shoulders.

And then Easter morning comes, and HE LIVES, and EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT NOW.  Such a mighty victory– one that turned the ugliest thing (the cross) into this incredibly BEAUTIFUL picture of salvation.

Here is something I have wondered.  You know how sick you feel over the weekend when you know you have a terrible Monday ahead of you– maybe it’s a presentation, or you have to have a hard conversation with a co-worker, or you have to face your poor sales figures once again?  The anticipation is terrible, gut-wrenching, so ugly.

My question is this: how could Jesus know about the cross from all eternity and survive such a weight of knowledge?  I imagine it was almost a relief when Judas finally stepped into the garden and kissed His cheek.

I am so proud of my God.