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Posts Tagged ‘feelings’

This week I will be speaking twice.  In my home town.

I am nervous.  Unable to focus.  Doubtful.   It isn’t that I doubt the mentoring ministry I represent.   Nearly every day I see evidence that our culture has lost its way.  That we’ve forgotten (or never been told) how to live as men and women.   The Word of God compels me more today than it did when I was first nudged from my comfort zone to begin Titus 2 for Life.

But, I’m a person affected by environment.  I’ve been known to take a candle along with me on a trip just in case the hotel room is cold and unwelcoming.  I’m also affected by other people.  It matters to me that relationships are built, not destroyed.   I’m acutely aware of body language.  Once, while speaking about a controversial issue, I heard a scribbling noise.  To my side, a woman was pressing her pencil hard on a page in her study guide.  Head bent down, whole body engaged, she blackened the paper with great sweeping motions.   Was she angry… or hurting?   Whichever, she had my attention: How should I respond?

So, what happens when speaking in my own home town?  To the people with whom I live?  I’m extra sensitive to my closest neighbors and tender relationships.  Differing perspectives.  Maturity and immaturity.  A sense — or lack — of humor.  Personal history.  Agreement.  Disagreement.  Defenses down… or up.  Do I only imagine it, or does the room close in?  Confuse my thoughts?  Leave me a bumbling fool?   What words can I utter that will be right for everyone?  These people with real lives… my closest neighbors?

His Words.  Not mine.  His Truth.  Not my opinion.

Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.  Do not add to His words . . . (Proverbs 30:5).”

I covet your prayer: His Truth from my mouth.  For the sake of my neighbors.

Maybe I will take a candle.

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I could always count on the questions.  After each presentation on purity, girls — often shy, sometimes bold — would ask questions.  About boys.  Themselves.  Relationships.  Love.  Mothers brought their daughters to these events, but often stayed in the background.

Mothers were also in the audiences of the “lifestyle show” Judy Hayen and I took on the road.  The event, titled “Dressing for Life: Secrets of the Great Cover-up,” gave opportunity to address the consequences of “sexy” dress, casual attitudes about intimacy, and risky behaviors.  Clothing is fun.  But, whose idea is it?  Why does the Designer of clothing say we need more than fig leaves?  Why shouldn’t a boys hand go under a girls clothes?  The “lifestyle” show concluded with the perfect dress: the white wedding dress and why we wait to wear it.  It wasn’t the girls but the mothers who had tears in their eyes.  I know, I know.  Wedding dresses bring tears of joy to many moms.  But, I believe I also saw tears of disappointment and regret.  I know the statistics.  Too many don’t wait to wear the white wedding dress because oxytocin, not necessarily love, makes us warm and tingly.

Dozens of women have shared their abortion choices with me.  These choices were made after a touch.  A kiss.  Then the procreative act.   Oxytocin flipped the love circuit in their female brain.  There is trust.   A bond.  But physical contact and the oxytocin response it generates can blind women to a bad relationships.  These women, years after their abortions, explain to me tears of  failure.  Psychological trauma.  Heartache.  Loss.  Spiritual grief.

What were women who became mothers — of living or dead children — told about oxytocin?  What choices did they make because they weren’t told?  What were the consequences?  Is there a reason to keep from our daughters and granddaughters knowledge about their bodies?  How they are designed to function?  And why?

We are not captive to mistakes of the past.  They are forgiven because of Jesus Christ.  His death and resurrection are victory over every sin.  All we need to do is be sorry for our sins and confess them to God.  Then, in Christ, we are set free.  We are new every morning.  In Christ, we have the hope of better choices.  This hope is for daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and a neighborhood of girls.

God made oxytocin because He loves life.  He created one man to bond with one woman in marriage for life.  He joins with husband and wife in the procreational act of sex to bring new life.  He entrusts each new boy or girl to the nurture and instruction of their mom and dad.  With all of this, there is a future. There is hope.

Seems to me all ezerwomen should be talking about this.

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What does God say to women?  His letter to us reads something like this:

Dear Daughter,

I loved you before I created you.  You are my masterpiece.  But, sin has distorted My perfect creation.  Sinful people are challenged by difficult choices.  You, My daughter, are tempted by feelings and emotions.  You can’t trust these emotions, but you can always trust Me.  Your life is of such value to Me that I came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ — the God become Man willing to rescue you from the consequences of sin.  I paid the highest price for you.

Because of this great price, your body is not your own — to do with as you please.  It was covered by the Robe of Righteousness when Jesus shed His blood on the Cross.  The sacrifice of Jesus, your Savior, made you a new creation.  You have the promise of heaven.  I don’t want you to be hurt.  I don’t want your heart to be broken or your body abused.  So please, daughter.  Guard your body, mind, and soul by making choices that glorify Me.

It’s o.k. to rebel.  Rebel against all that is sinful and wrong in this world.  Dare to be different from those who follow worldly opinions.  They chase after popularity and selfish ambitions.  When they do wrong, they want you to do wrong, too.  They say, “Follow your heart,” or “Do whatever feels right for you.”  But, a sinful heart cannot be trusted.  It is filled with all manner of bad things.  Your feelings and moods blow with the wind.  They are high and low like a rollercoaster.  Look to Me, My daughter.  I never change.  You can trust your life to Me.  I know you better than you know yourself.  I know your thoughts… your desires… your needs.  You are never alone in My world.

I didn’t create you to be sexy, but holy.  Practice modesty in the way you speak, act, and dress.  Call attention not to yourself, but to Me — the One who made you.  Show your beauty not by revealing your body, but revealing your love for Me.  Resist being a temptress and, instead, lead others away from sin with its ugly consequences.

Be alert to deception.  My daughter, if you acknowledge Me to be God, your Father, then you also acknowledge the evil one who opposes me and despises you.  He hates you because I love you so much.  He will try to deceive you.  He knows when you are vulnerable.  He will tempt you with one question, “Did your Father really say . . .?”  Then, when you doubt Me and fall to deception and sin, the tempter becomes your accuser, “Look at what you have done!  Can your Father ever forgive you?”

Oh, yes, My daughter.  I can and do forgive.  There is nothing you need to do but confess your sin.  In your sorrow, I reach down to lift you from despair and secure the Robe of Righteousness tighter around you.  Forgiven and set free, you are no longer captive to your past.   Satan may tempt you again and again, but I have given you dominion over the father of lies.

Don’t let anyone look down on you for being young.  Instead, let your speech, behavior, love, faith, and purity be an example for others.  Entrust your life to Me.  I’m not a god of chaos, but the God of order and beautiful design.  I made you to be a woman.  Live as a woman — My daughter — while you wait for Jesus to return for you.

Your identity is not found in your appearance or what you do.  Your identity is a creation of God and the treasure for whom Christ gave all He had.  No matter the circumstances in your life, that identity remains.

I am the King… the Lord of life.  Think of what that makes you, My daughter.

With the greatest love of all,

Your Heavenly Father

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There are those who say that traditional worship is unemotional.  They describe the Divine Service as unfriendly rather than welcoming; antiquated as opposed to contemporary.

Well, I gotta tell ya.  Emotions are highly over-rated.  In fact, they’re fickle.  Experience proves I can’t depend on them to serve me well.  I might “feel” like praising God one day and “feel” inspired by those “feelings,” but what happens when I don’t “feel” like praising Him?  What “feeling” fills the void?

Once I better understood that I’m the one being served in the Divine Service, not the other way around, this “antiquated” service became very welcoming and contemporary.  Tied to this earth as I am, there is no other time when I stand in the presence of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit… and all the company of heaven.   It’s true that some of the hymns and responsive melodies flow awkwardly from my mouth, but the words are instructive and comforting for my life and soul — right here, right now.

The Divine Order of Service rescues me from my own fickle emotion.  Indeed, the Creator of emotion uses His Divine Order of Service to surprise me with joy and contentment.  Yes, joy and contentment are both emotions, but not ones that I stir up.  The Divine Service is not me doing something for God that I can “feel” good about; rather, it is God doing something for me.  He is serving me with His Word and Sacrament.  There is no disappointment when I don’t “feel” like I think I should.  Nothing is up to me.  The service of equipping and strengthening this cracked, but chosen vessel is all up to Him.

In His Order of Divine Service, God uses my pastor to serve me.  One morning, this became beautifully apparent at the Lord’s Table.

For most of my communing life, our congregation’s practice was use of individual cups.  I reached for the cup, then drank.  Today, my pastor holds out to me the Cup of Christ.  Once Sunday, while kneeling at the Lord’s Supper, my pastor stood before me.  I didn’t look up at the man, but saw only the hand of Christ around the Chalice.  For a brief moment, I experienced — yes! — an emotion.  I “felt” the presence of my Savior.  And, why not?  Isn’t my pastor a called and ordained servant of the Word?  Isn’t He Christ’s representative on earth?  No wonder  my pastor falls to his knees in humble prayer before each Divine Service.  He, a sinner too, is hardly worthy to stand before a congregation of sinners and pronounce much of anything.  Yet, in The Robe of Righteousness and with trust in the Divine, my pastor is called to offer forgiveness of sins and new life in Christ.

In that moment, with eyes focused not on mere man but the Hand and Cup of Jesus, I “felt” a bit like a woman at the foot of the Cross.   Will I have this “feeling” every time I kneel at the Lord’s Table?  No.  Human emotions are fickle; here one moment, gone the next. I can’t depend on an emotion.

But, I can depend on Jesus.  Emotions or not, the Blood of Jesus is given and shed for me.  It welcomes me, a poor miserable sinner.  It is cleansing.  Renewing.   Life-changing.  No matter if I muster up the praise… the thanksgiving… the righteous “feeling.”  The Lord Jesus serves me.

The Savior’s hand is always outstretched.  It reaches down to me in whatever circumstance.  His Word and Sacrament fill this fragile vessel and lift this cracked pot back on the journey.

Emotion or not, I’m welcomed.  Covered.  Served.

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