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Saturday, August 31, 2013

The truth about my current devotional life


My blog is entitled "Ruby gets Real"  I figure it is safe to be real about the present state of my devotional life or lack there of in my case.  When I created my new blog, I figured it would be a good place to work out my issues.  I am challenged in the area of being honest to most people about my authentic spiritual life.  Especially the people I use to share a pew with.

Thanks to Youtube, I found a perfect opener. 


I learned this song in Sunday School... like every kid learns... and at a young age.  The kids in this video probably haven't even learned to read yet.

1. I don't read the Bible every day


Tony's story

When I googled the above statement... I came across Tony's story.  I was looking for something to quantify what my own head and heart were trying to say.  Currently, I still find the admission difficult.  Like Tony, I understand the guilt.  I, too, grew up with those words preached at me...

"READ YOUR BIBLE EVERY DAY!"  

To not commit to daily readings is... like the children sang about... shrinking, or backsliding, or rebellion, or spiritually "starving".  

I used to believed all that stuff...  And I read the bible because I had to.


Now I don't want to read the bible "because I have to"... so some days, I don't read it.  Honestly... weeks and months go by and I still don't read.  As long as the driving force is obligation, I don't crack a page.  And believe it or not now... the guilt is gone.



2. I don't pray with my eyes closed, 
hands folded and my head bowed.  

I already admitted in a previous post that I don't usually pray before I eat.  I grew up in a liturgical environment, where prayer was something recited... three times a day and on Sundays in church.  I remember there was more of that witnessed and experienced than the one-on-one natural God conversing... so my view of prayer became twisted at a young age.  We never learned the discipline of kneeling for prayers.  Guess back then that was reserved for the Catholics... and Catholics we weren't.  

I have heard pastors and teachers say "closing your eyes minimizes the distractions" and "bowing your head shows reverence" and I have no idea where or when the folded hands came into importance.  So maybe the whole ritualism is done by some with a sincere heart, but for the most part... it has ceased to be the way that I communicate with my Creator.  



3.  I don't do devotions.  

Maybe my lack of discipline results in my birth order status.  I didn't come out first.  First borns are usually more disciplined and structured.  I am the baby in the family, so discipline and structure didn't come with my birthright.  Add a little A.D.D. personality into the mix and definately there is a problem adhering to any rigid program.  

Again...  like daily bible reading, devotions is something I don't want to "have to" do.  The obligation part of faith is the most tasteless thing to me now.  

WHAT IT KINDA LOOKS LIKE NOW.




Alan Jackson pretty much hits the nail on the head with the song that I grew up listening to, but never really got until much later.  This is what it looks like now.  This is the beauty of the journey.  

Life lessons from The Story: A Love Marked by Giving




Ephesians 5:21-33


Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.



 "Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ.  The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church-a love marked by giving, not getting.  Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her,  dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor-since they’re already "one" in marriage.
 No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church,  since we are part of his body.  And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh."  This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church.  And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband."

The ring pictures started on our wedding day and each year on our anniversary, we continue the photographic tradition.  
There is a story behind our wedding rings, that I just have to share.  The rings were given to us by my mom.  The ring I wear was my Opa's.  He passed away after wearing his ring for 58.5 years. My husband wears the ring that my Dad wore when he got married.  My parents were married 43.5 years before Dad passed away.  So in total... our wedding rings have seen over a hundred years of marriage.  You just can't get that history in a diamond from Spence. 



Sunday, August 25, 2013

Seasons... Life is full of them.



 I wrote the following post on the God Journey Blog.  


I am thankful for seasons in my life and for the people and insights that are a part of those seasons. I am okay with my life being seasonal. Everything in my life is or has been seasonal. Everyone in my life, except Jesus, is or has been seasonal. Some seasons last more than others.


A lot of the disfunction in my life has come from the belief…
“This is the way I’m going to do it because this is the way it has always been done. Who am I to change or disagree.”
I am thankful for the journey I have been on and the roads I have travelled. I have met a lot of people and more often than not, they have been a blessing and a compliment to my life. Some I am still in relationship with, some have travelled a different road than the one I am on.
I am thankful for this time in my life and I am thankful for what the God Journey has contributed to it. I don’t feel alone on this road. There are others that pass by me and offer understanding. That is priceless. I have learned to love and to receive love from those who don’t understand and that makes the journey beautiful as well.

I am choosing not to see people as boxed in anymore. The labels are not helpful in my relationships. People just have different journeys. When I put boxes around another person, it keeps me from entering their life. I know that when I put a box around myself… I keeps others out. I don’t like that.
I do have an avenue in my writing to vent my theological frustrations… because they still surface. I figure if I can restrict my frustrations to my blog then they don’t become a battle weapon with my loved ones. Gentleness really is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. I am learning it… albiet slow, but I am learning.
Thank you to everyone who has been out there and encouraged me in this season of my life. We really are not alone.


Ruby from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Prayer Dance: A portrait of Divine Communication




I am going in a different direction for this post.  I listened again to a podcast from the God Journey that got me thinking again about the whole subject of prayer.  I wanted to share the podcast and some of the thoughts that came along with it.  I did a post on ritualistic prayer  where I started to unleash some thought I had on the experience I have had with prayer in my forty some years of life.  For this post I wanted to share some others thoughts on some of the same struggles that I have had.  

The Prayer Dance is a podcast conversation between Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings from the God Journey podcast: 2007. Click on the link below to listen to the conversation.  Following are some of my favourite comments from other God Journey listeners.  I have also included a link to an article by Wayne Jacobsen about Prayer Requests at the end of the comment section.  


"I look back on my most effective times of prayer, and it's rarely been on my knees alone in the closet (I think the closet-thing happened one time in my life).  I've been driving or cooking dinner or doing whatever.  It's fit in with my life rather than set aside from it. " 

"I also wonder about the tradition so many of us have of sharing prayer requests with people.  Is there Biblical reference for this?  Are complete strangers ever asked to pray for other people they don't know?  Is there any support for Mary asking me to pray for her aunt in another community who is ill?  I absolutely love communal prayer times in which no "prayer lists" are given, but the group converses together with God.  If one person wants to talk to God about something, they just talk...no need to explain the situation to others in the group (otherwise known as christian gossip).  As the conversation goes on, one thing may lead to another and another with God in the lead....  Even on this forum, when someone shares something about their life, I might be urged to pray for you, to ask God to meet your need; but you all are not "strangers", we have had conversations, I've begun to get to know you in some ways.  Those prayers come more from love than "duty" ".

"Many times, I wonder if what God was trying to accomplish was more in our own hearts than in the people we were praying for, rather than in the healings and miracles we were believing for.  In other words, maybe the praying was a means to stir up our compassion and action toward one another."

"I have been moving from "trusting God to do such-and-so," (which never really worked much) to trusting Father Himself." 

"I love in the podcast when they said trust without relationship is absurd - it either ends up in presumption (I can get God to give me whatever I want) or fatalism  (whatever happens has to be God).  I think my growing relationship with God allows God to open my eyes to see how He is working and moving."

"It seems that both "prayer" and "worship" are woefully too narrowly defined these days. I really want to understand each of these concepts, entirely outside the rote practices we associate with those terms.

"Once again, I find myself shouting, "THERE'S GOT TO BE MORE!!!"





Beyond Prayer Requests: Wayne Jacobsen


I am sure I am not done venting on this subject.  I am thankful that I am not the only one who has issues with the way prayer has been promoted.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this blog post.



Saturday, August 17, 2013

Jesus: My Big Brother



 "Jesus responded, "Who do you think are my mother anbrothers?" Looking around, taking in everyone seated around him, he said, "Right here, right in front of you - my mother and my brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys God’s will is my brother and sister and mother." Mark 3:33-35


 "I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.  This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.  You are my friends when you do the things I command you.  I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father."
John 15: 11-15

 I didn't have a big brother... My parents had two girls, so I have a big sister, but I didn't have a big brother.  I can remember wanting one.  I think I asked my parents for a brother -  (probably before I realized that they couldn't give me a big brother, short of adopting someone older than me).  I had this fantasy as a child.  I wanted a brother, not just a brother, but a big brother.  

In my mind a big brother would be a protector.  He would be someone who would look out for me.  He would be the guy in school that fluffed my hair when we passed in the hallway.  

"Hey sis, what's up? " He would say.  Even when he was in the company of his friends.  

I would be shy, not wanting to interfere, but he would stop.  Right in front of his friends, he would ask me how my last class was.  I would tell him "okay", even though it wasn't.  And he would smile back at me his hand would gently caress the side of my face and he would wink with understanding.  

"We can talk about it later at home.  Meet me at the front doors after school, I will walk with you."  

Insecurity was my boyfriend as a child.  I didn't have any "boy" friends.  I knew in my own head that all the boys wanted nothing to do with me.  Boys were unreachable and untouchable... boys were to be feared.  I have often wondered, that if I had a brother when I was growing up, if that fear would be less than what it was.  I would have an advocate among the male species...  Someone who was around my age and understood me.




 And then came Jesus...

Jesus, the older brother I didn't have.  Or maybe he was the older brother I had all along. 

Jesus, my Saviour, my Creator, my Best Friend... and  my brother?  

Think about it.  The one that is my protector, the one that will stop in the middle of the hallway, ruffle my hair, caress the side of my face and ask me how my last class was.  When I say "okay", he offers to walk me home, because he knows that once he gets me alone and away from the crowd, he will get the real story.  

Jesus... my big brother.  I like that.  



Saturday, August 10, 2013

THE BIBLE IS NOT THE WORD OF GOD!


Jesus commented, "Even more blessed are those who hear God’s Word and guard it with their lives!" 
LUKE 11:27
 Jesus said, "I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me.  If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!"  
JOHN 14:6-7
 "You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.
JOHN 5: 39-40

I KNOW YOU HAVE BEEN CONDITIONED BY YOUR RELIGIOUS UPBRINGING TO CALL THIS BOOK THE WORD OF GOD.  CHECK OUT WHAT THE BOOK ITSELF SAYS ABOUT THE WORD OF GOD.  

TRY THIS.  SUBMIT JESUS FOR THE WORD OF GOD. (HIGHLIGHTED IN YELLOW).  IT WORKS IN BOTH THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT PASSAGES.  SEE THE BIBLE FOR WHAT IT WRITTEN FOR... JESUS' STORY.  SEE JESUS IN THE STORY OF SCRIPTURE.

I'LL LET THE STORY CONVINCE YOU.  

  (ALL REFERENCES ARE FROM THE MESSAGE, YOU CAN TRY THE SAME THING IN OTHER TRANSLATIONS. YOU WILL GET THE SAME PICTURE. ) 

" The word of God came to Solomon saying,  "About this Temple you are building-what’s important is that you live the way I’ve set out for you and do what I tell you, following my instructions carefully and obediently. Then I’ll complete in you the promise I made to David your father.  I’ll personally take up my residence among the Israelites-I won’t desert my people Israel." 1 KINGS 6 11-13

***


"Then the Word of God came to me: "Son of man, now turn and face the mountains of Israel and preach against them:  'O Mountains of Israel, listen to the Message of God, the Master. God, the Master, speaks to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and the valleys: I’m about to destroy your sacred god and goddess shrines.  I’ll level your altars, bust up your sun-god pillars, and kill your people as they bow down to your no-god idols.  I’ll stack the dead bodies of Israelites in front of your idols and then scatter your bones around your shrines. Every place where you’ve lived, the towns will be torn down and the pagan shrines demolished-altars busted up, idols smashed, all your custom-made sun-god pillars in ruins.  Corpses everywhere you look! Then you’ll know that I am God. " EZEKIEL 6: 1-7

***
" But that night, the word of God came to Nathan, saying,  "Go and tell my servant David, This is God’s word on the matter: You will not build me a 'house' to live in.  Why, I haven’t lived in a 'house' from the time I brought up the children of Israel from Egypt till now; I’ve gone from one tent and makeshift shelter to another.  In all my travels with all Israel, did I ever say to any of the leaders I commanded to shepherd Israel, 'Why haven’t you built me a house of cedar?'
 "So here is what you are to tell my servant David: The God-of-the-Angel-Armies has this word for you: I took you from the pasture, tagging after sheep, and made you prince over my people Israel.  I was with you everywhere you went and mowed your enemies down before you; and now I’m about to make you famous, ranked with the great names on earth. I’m going to set aside a place for my people Israel and plant them there so they’ll have their own home and not be knocked around anymore; nor will evil nations afflict them as they always have, even during the days I set judges over my people Israel. And finally, I’m going to conquer all your enemies.  When your life is complete and you’re buried with your ancestors, then I’ll raise up your child to succeed you, a child from your own body, and I’ll firmly establish his rule. He will build a house to honour me, and I will guarantee his kingdom’s rule forever.  I’ll be a father to him, and he’ll be a son to me. I will never remove my gracious love from him as I did from the one who preceded you.  I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will always be there, rock solid." 1CHRONICLES 17: 3-14
***


"As they went from town to town, a lot of people joined in and traveled along. He addressed them, using this story:  "A farmer went out to sow his seed. Some of it fell on the road; it was tramped down and the birds ate it. Other seed fell in the gravel; it sprouted, but withered because it didn’t have good roots.  Other seed fell in the weeds; the weeds grew with it and strangled it.  Other seed fell in rich earth and produced a bumper crop. "Are you listening to this? Really listening?"
His disciples asked, "Why did you tell this story?"
 He said, "You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom- you know how it works. There are others who need stories. But even with stories some of them aren’t going to get it: Their eyes are open but don’t see a thing, Their ears are open but don’t hear a thing.
 "This story is about some of those people. The seed is the Word of God.  The seeds on the road are those who hear the Word, but no sooner do they hear it than the Devil snatches it from them so they won’t believe and be saved.
 "The seeds in the gravel are those who hear with enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm doesn’t go very deep. It’s only another fad, and the moment there’s trouble it’s gone.
"And the seed that fell in the weeds- well, these are the ones who hear, but then the seed is crowded out and nothing comes of it as they go about their lives worrying about tomorrow, making money, and having fun.
"But the seed in the good earth- these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it (him) until there’s a harvest."  LUKE 8:4-15
***
 "Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness,  pace,  faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon.  In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. EPHESIANS 6:13-18
***
 "Think it over. God will make it all plain.
Fix this picture firmly in your mind: Jesus, descended from the line of David, raised from the dead. It’s what you’ve heard from me all along.  It’s what I’m sitting in jail for right now-but God’s Word isn’t in jail!  That’s why I stick it out here-so that everyone God calls will get in on the salvation of Christ in all its glory.  This is a sure thing: If we die with him, we’ll live with him;  If we stick it out with him, we’ll rule with him; If we turn our backs on him, he’ll turn his back on us; If we give up on him, he does not give up- for there’s no way he can be false to himself." 2 TIMOTHY 2:7-13
***


"Then I saw Heaven open wide-and oh! a white horse and its Rider. The Rider, named Faithful and True, judges and makes war in pure righteousness. His eyes are a blaze of fire, on his head many crowns. He has a Name inscribed that’s known only to himself. He is dressed in a robe soaked with blood, and he is addressed as "Word of God."  The armies of Heaven, mounted on white horses and dressed in dazzling white linen, follow him. A sharp swordcomes out of his mouth so he can subdue the nations, then rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the raging wrath of God, the Sovereign-Strong.  On his robe and thigh is written, King of kings, Lord of lords." REVELATION 19:11-16
***
"Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it.  Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That’s why the prophet said, The old life is a grass life, its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers; Grass dries up, flowers droop, God’s Word goes on and on forever. This is theWord that conceived the new life in you."  1PETER 1:22-25

"God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it-no matter what. Now that we know what we have Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God- let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all-all but the sin.  So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help." HEBREWS 12:16





Monday, August 5, 2013

Jesus is the Vine, I am the branch... Love is the grapes (or in my case... the crabapples)

The Vine and the Branches

(John 15: 1-26 MESSAGE) 
 "I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer.  He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more.  You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
 "I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.  Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire.But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.  This is how my Father shows who he is-when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
"I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done-kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
 "I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.  This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you.  This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.  You are my friends when you do the things I command you.  I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
"You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
 "But remember the root command: Love one another. "


IT IS WITH A GREAT SIGH OF RELIEF...


THAT I NOW UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS NOT ME THAT PRODUCES THE FRUIT THAT JESUS IS TALKING ABOUT IN THIS PASSAGE.  I DON'T KNOW WHY I MISSED IT BEFORE.  IT SEEMS SO OBVIOUS WHEN I READ IT NOW THAT THE FRUIT IS SOMETHING THAT COMES FROM JESUS' LIFE IN ME... INSTEAD OF MY OWN ATTEMPTS AT FRUIT GROWING.  

I don't have grapes in my yard, but I do have crab-apples  So I do understand where fruit comes from.  What do I contribute to the process of crab apple growth? ... absolutely nothing.  Well.. not totally nothing.  I make a decision to not cut the trees down every year.  It is tempting at times, it is a lot of work to rake crabapples every fall. 

 I don't make the crabapples grow.  That just comes naturally.  But I don't hinder the process either.  I guess I could if I wanted to... but each year I get sucked in by the beauty of the trees and my love of crabapple sauce.  

The fruit just comes.  I don't have to wonder if it will come because I am not doing much on my own to make it happen... It just comes.  

Read the passage again, if it isn't clearing up for you.  FRUIT COMES... THAT IS NATURAL. 

LOVE IS THE NATURAL BY PRODUCT OF  JESUS' LIFE.  GOD IS LOVE.  LOVE IS JESUS' IDENTITY.   SO WHEN I BECOME OKAY WITH JESUS MANIFESTING THAT LOVE IN MY LIFE... THAT LOVE BECOMES NATURAL.  LIKE THE FRUIT THAT GROWS ON MY CRABAPPLE TREES.  THERE IS NO THOUGHT PROCESS.  IT IS NATURAL.  

I don't have to remind myself to love, it is the natural fruit of being connected to the life and love of Jesus Christ.