Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Review of *Boy Meets Girl" by Joshua Harris

Review of Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris

As a reader in my mid-thirties, I really wasn't sure what this book would have to offer. I never really intended to read it, but since I missed the book I was aiming for on the shelf as I dashed out of my classroom heading to a doctor's appointment, I was stuck.

Looking at the waiting room, I knew there would be a two or three hour wait, at least, so I could either read a Food and Family magazine (circa 2004), or I could dive into this book that had very little to offer me, the twice divorced single mother of two.

I can now admit that I was wrong. While the intended audience of this book is in the 20-something age bracket looking for a "forever spouse", it has much to offer for those of us who are a little more . . . ahem . . . mature, and scarred as well. 

Specifically, I was able to identify patterns that would have sent a "red flat alert" that something was wrong in my previous courtships. I was also able to unload a great deal of shame. Some of the very hurtful claims others had made against me were refuted by the author through scripture AND practical examples. 

Finally, as I find myself single again, the book offers very practical advice about what to do to protect yourself from disaster. It is never too late to learn how NOT to make a mistake. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone, of any age, who is single, or single again. While it is most useful to that target audience, there is rich material there for all of us, no matter what mistakes we have already made. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What It Takes to Be Called - Part 3

Part III – The cleansing of the lips

So far, there has been a terrible loss, the foundation of the temple has been shaken, and Isaiah has realized that he is undone and bereft in his sin.  What more could be required?  Well, this is the part  of the story we all know – a cleansing by fire.

That realization comes to us all at some point.  We are undone; we are “unclean”.  Sometimes that's a result of things that we DO actively.  Other times that feeling is a result of the actions of those who surround our lives.; their bad decisions affect us, and though we are not guilty, we still feel the burden of shame.  Purification comes, but always at a cost.

Isaiah 6:6 – Then flew on of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:  (7) And he laid it upon my mouth and said, “Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged.”

Simple truth:  burning hurts.  Bad.  I remember being around 10 and walking into the kitchen.  I could smell the fresh cornbread in the air, and just as I expected, there it sat, on the stove.  In the cast iron skillet, looking so inviting and ready for me to cut into.  Since I was a short 10, I thought it would be a great idea to move it to the table, so that I could more easily reach and cut the cornbread.  So, I reached out and grabbed the handle of the cast iron skillet with a firm grip . . . you can guess the rest.  It had been out of the oven for barely a minute, and my hand was COOKED.  Many memories will fade, but the pain of that burn on my right hand?  Not any time soon.  Pain like that you remember – pain from a burn.

The purification of the called is like that.  It hurts.  There is a modern myth that when you bring your sins to Christ and begin to follow Him, things will go smoothly.  Life will be kind.  The  birds will sing with you as you do housework and little mice will appear to help you with your chores.  I know that sounds a lot like Cinderella, but truthfully that's how a lot of Christians think.  “Hey, I love God now.  He will make my life easy.”  No dice.  If you are going to work for Him, you will suffer.  He will cleanse you for free, but moving forward into deeper waters of purification for service?  That doesn't come without paying the price.

Before you pray for God to use you as never before, to open the doors of opportunity and help you to grow into your abilities, be sure that you have counted the cost.  Looking back through my journals, I started praying that prayer six years ago.  These past five years have been Job-like in the intensity of suffering and loss.  Am I sorry I prayed the prayer?  No, not at all.  But I'm very glad that I did not know six years ago how much I would have to sacrifice, how much I would have to lose, the price I would have to pay, the burning of purification that I would have to endure.  I'm not sure that, knowing what would come, I would have been brave enough to take the plunge.

Somewhere within the last few weeks, I've come to this realization about myself:  I have been refined by fire.  I am ready to be used, for the first time in my life.  I am ready to step into the place He wants me to go.  Where is that?  At this point, your guess is as good as mine.  But I'm ready to go.  Just waiting on the marching instructions.  Of course, if they are like Isaiah's . . . but hey, that's the next entry . . .

What It Takes to be Called - Part 2

Part II:  Then Comes the Glory, but It Doesn't Seem Too Glorious . . .

The break has been a longer than expected due to Project Reclamation (which included such smaller gems as Operation Bunkbeds, Operation Keyboard, Operation Bye-Bye Teal . . .), but as I was puttering around the house this evening, the Lord said that it was once again time to write.  So here I am . . .

The last part of the examination of Isaiah's calling was about what had to happen first – the death of the King.  What came next was the glory.  We like that word a lot, at least I did growing up.  I can distinctly remember a sappy, sugary Peter Cetera song about “The Glory of Love” . . . “I am a man who will fight for your honor, I'll be the hero you've been dreaming of.  We'll live forever knowing together that we did it all for the glory of love.”  Sweet song, and that was my concept of glory – feels good, looks good, is nice to snuggle up with and cuddle.  That, folks, is NOT Biblical glory.  Not even a little bit.

My first glimpse of what Biblical glory was really about came through one of Tommy Tenney's Godchaser books.  He said (to paraphrase) that modern Christians confuse the anointing and the glory of the Lord.  The anointing puts you in the zone, feels warm and wonderful, and generally just makes the world feel right.  The glory, though, knocks you on your face.  That's just what happened to Isaiah.

Isaiah 6:3 – And one cried unto another, and said, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts:  the whole earth is full of his glory.

The glory of the Lord has arrived at Isaiah's doorstep.  His train is filling the temple.  Watch what happens next:

Isaiah 6:4  And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound really warm and wonderful to me – more like an earthquake combined with a tornado.  The very foundations of the temple trembled; it became difficult to see clearly.  There was a haze about the place that blended with Isaiah's grief.  And what was Isaiah thinking about?

Isaiah 6:5 – Then said I, “Woe is me!  For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips:  for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

In the midst of this majestic and quite frankly terrifying display of power, in the midst of his intense grief over loss, Isaiah realizes that he, who has faithfully worked for the kingdom, is still woefully unworthy to be in the presence of a holy God.  He realizes that he is part of a people with unclean lips living in a fallen condition, still undeserving.  Even now.  How humbling for him that must have been.  And to have seen the King – to want to approach Him so badly – and to know that you were completely undone in His presence.

Thus far, we know this, if you want to be called,
You will experience great loss as things that are not compatible with the promise are stripped away.
You will experience a tearing and a shaking in your life, as the very foundations of your faith are shaken, just as the foundations of the temple were shaken in Isaiah's time.
You will become aware that you are NOT who you need to be . . . yet.

Have you seen your foundation shaken?  Have you felt your world tremble in doubt as you faced a loss?  Have you been left unable to see the direction that you need to take?  Does your world seem hazy and full of pain?  Do you feel unworthy to do what God has called you to do because of these things?  Then look up, God may be calling . . .

There is a cleansing that must take place if you are going to fulfill His call.  And that cleansing may just lead to more pain.  Makes you wonder, when someone says that they want to be used of God, do they really understand what that means?  And as for the pain, more on that later . . .