Friday, November 23, 2012

God and Justice

I prayed that God would help me better understand the characters of both Him and of  those He created.  And this week, I came across four different sources that taught me separately about a this common theme.  I'll just type my thoughts here though they don't culminate to some fantastic conclusion now.
1) PT talked Sunday about creation.  We were created a little lower than the angels and above the animals.  "Therefore," he said, "humans should not be treated like animals and humans should not act like animals."  Unfortunately, both are happening and sex trafficking is a very real example: because some people choose to act like animals, others are being treated like animals.  
2) I read a point well-argued by Siddharth Kara, scholar-author of the book, Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery.  He observes a repetitive sequence through human history: desire left unchecked leads to suffering leads to anger leads to violence leads to destruction.  Though a secular writer, he essentially explains the reality of man’s sinful nature.  
3) On Thanksgiving, my Dad randomly texted me about Mark 7:20-23, "From within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,  greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.”  This is basically a list of those desires of the sinful nature which lead to and have always led to suffering.  
4) I have been reading Jeremiah and am now studying the flood.  I observed the very pattern described by Kara in biblical history: 
Creation/with God>desire>suffering>anger>violence>destruction/flood, 
Noah/with God>desire>suffering>anger>violence>destruction/Babel, 
Abraham with God while the process of d>s>a>v>d went on throughout the rest of the world.  Eventually d>s>a>v>d brought down both Israel and Judah (as well as Babylon, Egypt and Assyria). 
Now, as always, humanity is in a d>s>a>v>d process (human trafficking, genocides, racial & gender prejudices (esp in other counties), worldwide socioeconomic disparity, strings of evil dictators are evidence) and some day earth will face destruction by fire.  
We were not created for any of these dreadful ways- we are a little lower than the angels.  God is long suffering, slow to anger, and abounding in patience and love.  “Again and again, He allowed years to pass and human sin to develop until He displayed His authority and power and judgement.”  I don't think I have ever seen God the way I see Him now before.  He has always confused me, honestly, claiming to be just and gracious and wrathful all at the same time when I felt more like He demonstrated each of those vastly different qualities at distinctly different times.  Many think God is mean and demanding of adherence to a list of rules He made up without apparent reason and they joke that life is a cruel test to see if we can obey.  Well, I have never thought that, but I couldn't give a clear answer to people who ask about it- other than skipping to an explanation for grace while leaving out the why.  And when I found myself wondering, "If God is a God of justice, why is there is so much injustice in the world?" I just wanted an answer deeper than, "well, in order to bring justice, He'd have to take away freewill."  I want to understand the condition of the human heart and I want to understand the purpose of His precepts.  It is not surprising that a loving creator would desire for those He loved to live in peace and joy rather than self-induced heartache.  He lovingly gives us a clear description of how to live and how not to live and encourages us to be self-controlled then even empowers us with the spirit.  Our God longs for justice and justice will be brought.  I haven't figured all of this out yet and I may not ever fully, but I think I am getting closer.  

5) The video below also influenced me greatly this week.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

veggies & birdies & music & coffee

Reaching for carrot shoots and loose potatoes on farm stands, pointing at hopping finches, watching where the folk music is coming from and bobbing his head to the bass players beat while sharing a fresh lunch crepe with me in a courtyard farm market walking distance from one of America's most beautiful college campuses.  I love being the mom of an almost-toddler.

Once the little guy, in his knitted bomber hat and dinosaur sweater, fell asleep, I strolled to a local cafe for some mommy time.  I read the Bible with a warm coffee between my cold hands and journaled: I recall 385 days ago looking from these same old buildings and autumn trees to my newborn and feeling joy bursting inside me.  This season marks one year of motherhood and my feelings have not changed. 

Understanding Human Trafficking

Psalm 10.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Songs for Moms

I Get to be the One by JJ Heller
You Make Me Believe in Love by JJ Heller
Keep You Safe by JJ Heller
Seeds by Brooke Fraser
In My Arms by Plumb
I Am by Jill Philips       
Best Day by Taylor Swift
Don't Ever Grow Up by Taylor Swift
Lullaby by Dixie Chicks
Godspeed by Dixie Chicks
Little Boy on His Knees by Cheri Keaggy
Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle
Mr. Mom by Lonestar
Watching You by Rodney Atkins
Baby by Bruno Coulais
The Perpetual Self by Sufjan Stevens

Add to my list by commenting.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Autumn Is Still My Favorite

Warm nutella in a delicate crepe leaves little to be desired.  Especially when eaten in a 17th century structure next door to the Chateau Frontenac in the fortified city of Quebec on a crisp October day.

On our first official family vacation, we visited Upstate New York, Vermont and Canada.  Walking (and driving) through Francophone Quebec, we felt like we had hopped the Atlantic.  French dominates all signs and tongues and the fortified city is comparable to a true French village with its steep stone streets that wind between charming historic inns, shops and restaurants. 

And, truly, is there a better day of the year than October 13 to drive between the Adirondacks and the finger lakes?  Wow!  The oranges were brilliant, the reds valiant and the yellows literally neon.  Lakes George and Champlain were so still that we parked at overlooks just to listen to the quiet.

I feel refreshed. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Vengeance Is Not Mine

I often apply God's encouraging words for Judah to His encouragement for victims of sex trafficking.  Today, I read in Jeremiah 50:34, All their captors hold them fast, refusing to let them go.  Yet their Redeemer is strong... He will vigorously defend their cause.  The "captors" here are the Babylonians, but victims' captors are pimps and johns.

Jeremiah 50 essentially lays out God's plan to avenge Judah.  And I wondered, should I apply that vengeance to traffickers too?  I have said before that I feel like Gideon, amazed that God has called me to love the exploited, but that I would be more like Jonah did I not also love their exploiters.  But when I read scripture like this I ask, God, do you want me to love the captors or despise them?  Proverbs harps on the bitter end for oppressors and wicked-doers.  But Jesus dined with them!  The same God that extended grace to thieves and healed even His enemies avenged the captors of Judah, killing and destroying them completely.  Not to mention that Jesus is a savior to all no matter how great their past sins.  I pondered this for a while then realized that the answer is quite clear.  The Lord says, It is mine to avenge; I will repay in Deuteronomy 32:35.  In Romans 12, Paul wisely teaches, Do not repay anyone evil for evil... Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath.  On the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thristy, give him something to drink.  

Here is my answer: God is just.  It is not mine to avenge the oppressed. That is all. Jesus dined with sinners and told us to do likewise. God "avenged His temple" and told us to leave revenge to Him.