Archive for the ‘faith’ Tag

The Gap Between Faith and Practice   1 comment

In the gap between my faith and my practice is–what?  In the past, the answer has been, try harder.

Today what stands in the gap between my faith and my practice is repentance.

I will turn away from my sins and failures and turn toward Jesus, who provides the power to be different.  No matter how many times I’ve vowed to do better, it hasn’t worked.  I’m sure there are people for whom self help books do it, and there are those who are good at pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps.

If you haven’t found those paths to be successful, perhaps a turning will suffice?

I’m to turn from my sins, which are as follows: impatience, pride, greed, being a controller, selfishness, self absorption, envy and busyness for its own sake.

Instead of attempting to find a way to be good enough to overcome these on my own, I can deal with my gap now by giving them up.  I can step away from my idol–the illusion of power that I think will fix my problems.

Instead of attempting to put sin away by sheer force of will, I will turn to Jesus Christ and receive his power, love and mercy.  He’s the one who stands in the gap for me.

 

 

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Posted September 18, 2019 by swanatbagend in reflections

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Life is a Journey   1 comment

Life is a journey, not a destination.  Right?  I tend to think that once a problem is solved, I won’t have any more problems, and nothing else will ever go wrong.

But of course, that’s not how life works.

With my recent time of depression and anxiety, true to form, I assumed when depressed that I would always be depressed.  Then when I felt better, I assumed I was home free.

When I got depressed and anxious again, pretty severely, I thought that I had been sucked back into the Upside Down and would never be able to find my way out again.

It all started last fall after about a year and a half of life stress and transitions, followed by a too big dose of stress, and from October until March I was seriously depressed and so anxious it was impossible to believe that things were going to get better.  I couldn’t see a way into the future.  Things appeared to my eyes to be falling apart.  These negative thoughts went so far as to take the form of obsessive beliefs that most of our household appliances were no longer working, that our van’s transmission didn’t work, that there was a leak in the water pipes and our pressure wasn’t high enough.  What else?  There was one truth in my thoughts–our computer was so slow as to be completely useless. Thankfully, dh bought a new one at Christmas, so that problem was solved.

At one point in November of last year I really thought that my house was rotting from within and that with all the rain we had been getting, and the green mildew decorating the siding, that it would just up and rot, and collapse into the forest.

Nothing would go forward, nobody would live to grow up and survive.

In March, after five and a half months of that, the cloud of despair just lifted one morning while I was watching the birds I feed out my kitchen window.  “Could this be it? Is this really happening?”  I went through the day thinking it would come back.  It didn’t, not for three and a half weeks.

Then it descended again over the space of about 20 minutes one evening in early April.  After another month, it has lifted again.

So, the obvious observation is, it will change.  Whatever it is now, it’s bound to be different, whether that’s good or bad.

But above and beyond that is the reality that my fears weren’t real.  God did keep me alive, and he’s kept me and my family through a horrible time.  It wasn’t me, because I didn’t have faith that I would get better.  I didn’t have any faith whatsoever.

However it doesn’t seem that my faith had much to do with my salvation from this despair thing.  Seems like God does the work and does the providing.

I don’t know what else will come, but I don’t have a choice.  I go on knowing the cloud could come back down.  One thing I know–God has brought me safe thus far.  So here’s my Ebenezer.

Posted May 15, 2019 by swanatbagend in mental health, reality

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Unsettling   1 comment

My reading over the past several months has brought me to a question.  I read about the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit that legally defends those who have been sentenced to prison without the benefit of a just trial.  Most of them are minorities, many have disabilities, and some are children.  See more on their work here: https://eji.org, or read Just Mercy, written by the founder, Bryan Stephenson.

My reading has also included coverage of world news in The Economist.  Over time, the catalog of acts of injustice, of persecution of minority groups within countries, of country after country led by immoral strongmen adds up.

Then I picked up Generous Justice by Tim Keller.  It’s an exploration of what the Bible teaches and what the Christian church’s understanding should be about the relationship between mercy and justice.  In the course of the book, Keller explores the church’s lack of understanding of what situations individuals face in difficult environments.

For example, Keller describes a situation where a young woman who lived in a housing project was being harassed by a local gang to become a prostitute for suburban white men.  The believer who was meeting with her didn’t comprehend the full situation until she explained that her father was beaten in order to get her compliance.  When he asked why she didn’t involve the police, she responded that the police were those wealthy suburban white males.  She perceived that she was unlikely to get justice from that quarter.

These are just a few specific books I have read recently that have caused me to think new and uncomfortable ideas.

I’ve had a really good life.  I’m not saying nothing bad or unjust has ever happened to me–it has, because that is the nature of life in this world.  But I look at the sheer volume of despair out there that is endured by those who don’t have power, and I wonder.

What if some of the circumstances of my life that I have taken to be answered prayer are just class or race privilege?

Posted August 14, 2018 by swanatbagend in justice, reflections

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Must it be so exclusive?   Leave a comment

I spent the first eight years of homeschooling life, if you count preschool co-ops, with a group of people who made decisions by consensus and who took turns doing the work of the co-op.  We met in a church, but had a variety of faith beliefs amongst us.  We talked about what to do in group meetings, which were facilitated by someone who was good at hearing our concerns and helping us hear each other.

I always felt respected in this group.  Each person was free to speak up about problems that had come up with the kids during the co-op.  Each person was valued.  Our children had a lot of fun spending time with each other.  They also got group problem solving laid out for them, not just in the way the adults modeled it, but when Miss Janet helped them to walk through the very same process in circle time when they had conflicts with each other.

So–I thought this model was the norm.

In my current city, there are quite a few homeschool co-ops.  When I moved to the area I had trouble narrowing down the options.  I found few that were similar to what our family was used to.  Many were quite large and well established, which can be a plus for those who want the playing field already marked out.

But in a large group you will find it impractical to solve things by consensus.  And with dozens or hundreds of students and parents, you can’t create the schedule or student conduct guidelines by consulting everyone.  All that is understandable due to size.

What bothers me is that some of the co-ops and homeschool mailing lists require member parents to agree to a statement of faith; in my area that’s the Christian faith.

However, there are quite a few homeschoolers in any metro area who aren’t Christian.

That doesn’t mean Christian homeschoolers don’t have a great deal in common with them.

Most homeschool parents want to give their kids a quality education.

Most have moral standards they live by, such as the Golden Rule.

Most homeschool parents have talent, skills, creativity and energy (well, some energy) to offer the group.

Most people want to experience community.

When you homeschool it’s nice to have a place where your children can learn some new subjects, be part of a group, meet some new friends, and be part of a broader community.

But you can’t really do that if the door is shut in your face up front.

For some online homeschool mailing lists signing a statement of faith is required to be on the list, receive email, and post to the group.  This is viewed as necessary in order to avoid list members getting into doctrinal arguments.  But it seems to me that variable could be avoided by simply stating that discussions of theology should stay off list.  If any person broke that simple rule she could be removed from the list.  Other online groups work in a similar way, for example if flaming occurs.

Possibly more to the point would be a code of conduct which could be effective online and definitely in a co-op.  If the expectations of how the group would work and how the people in the group would treat each other were published up front, everyone would know how the group would operate.  The Golden Rule, conflict resolution, co-op goals, what elements of faith (if any) could be discussed, what the master plan is–all of these could be laid out.

Utilizing a code of conduct would allow people from different backgrounds to come together for a mutual purpose.  You’d know what you were signing up for and how you would be expected to behave, but you wouldn’t have to give assent to a set of religious beliefs that might not be yours.

If you can’t ethically sign a statement saying you adhere to a faith, but all you want is to find a good, active co-op for you and your children to be part of…where does that leave you?

On the outside.

Talk about missed opportunities.   It’s a loss to all parties.

Posted December 22, 2015 by swanatbagend in community, homeschooling, the church

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