The Busy Season?

There was a time in my life when being busy was the “in” thing for me and other Christians around me. It was cool to be busy going to Bible study groups, worship practise, church, family functions, work and/or studying hard and basically not having a moment to spare. I guess I looked at it as being productive for God…or something.

Nowadays, I hate saying “I’m busy.” But I have felt fairly busy and stressed since arriving back from my wedding and honeymoon in Hawaii 3.5 weeks ago. There is just so much to do at Christmas time – right?! I’ve been Christmas shopping and spent an entire day online designing and ordering a bunch of Christmas presents. JD & I have looked around at Christmas lights in the nearby suburbs and the lights Spectacular at Imagine Nations Church. We’ve been to family, work and neighbourhood Christmas parties, caught up with friends and even watched a few Christmas movies.

Then there’s the less Christmassy, more regular busyness. I’ve had 10 working days in the last 3 weeks before finishing up teaching for summer holidays, but before even arriving back from Hawaii, summer school began and I commenced two 14-week subjects that I’m trying to cram into 9 weeks – that’s about 25-30 hours of study per week.

And then there are all the things my heart really wants to get done this summer that I’m concerned I may not have time for, like reading an ordinary novel, compiling, editing and elaborating on the book I’ve been writing this year, setting goals for my writing next year and getting the ball rolling on those. I miss writing…

I want to read the entire Bible in Greek (before I die), but so far I’ve only read about 4 chapters in 3 weeks. I want to clean my apartment so that JD and I have more space, but at the moment it’s full of Christmas presents, Hawaiian souvenirs and piles of mail or other documents that need sorting out.

I hate this feeling that I don’t have enough time. It’s been on my mind all year because frankly it has been the busiest year that I’ve had since the days of being “busy for God.” I want to trust God that he has given me all the time I need and that if I actually slow down, prioritise and even spend a little time with him, the world isn’t going to fall off its axis. Everything will be okay.

I mean, it’s Christmas in two days for heaven’s sake! Every year we blink and another Christmas comes and goes, and some years it doesn’t even feel like we had a Christmas because there’s just. So. Much. To do…

So I’m opening my heart right now and I’m saying, I don’t want to forget about Jesus this Christmas. It doesn’t have to be “The Busy Season” but it IS the Christ-mas season. Christ-mass. Mass in the Catholic Church means partaking of the body and blood of Jesus: The Lord’s supper / Communion / Eucharist. So Christmas is a celebration of both the life and the death of Jesus. It celebrates our common-union (communion) with Christ.

God became human. What better way for God to heal us from the disease of sin and resurrect our decaying bodies from the dead than by becoming one of us?! Then, because we were first created IN him (think of it as being in the womb of God), what happens to his humanity happens to ours. He was resurrected and recreated and all of humanity with him.

I want to slow down this Christmas and this summer and spend some time communing with Jesus. I want to let go of my frenzy to get everything done “in time,” and remember that I am secure in the love of God. He is able to make all grace abound to me (2 Cor 9:8) and I believe this includes an abundance of time. I’m not “running out of time.” I don’t have to be busy! Have you ever noticed that you are often more productive when you feel relaxed and are working at your own pace, than when you rush and push yourself? I am determined to retrain my brain in this area and to trust God with my time.

I don’t want to blink and miss out on my very first Christmas as a married woman with my husband in the same country! I want to breathe deep and listen to my heart where Jesus abides and shares his love with me … and with my husband … and with our family and friends … and with the whole human race.

Happy Christmas Everyone.

<3 <3 <3

Why is the Church Obsessed about Sex?

While I was growing up, I felt like I was taught a postmodern version of the 10 commandments:

  1. Worship the Trinity only
  2. Don’t love material possessions more than God
  3. Don’t swear
  4. Go to church every Sunday
  5. Obey your parents
  6. Don’t commit murder
  7. Don’t commit sexual sin including but not limited to: lust of the eyes, lust of the heart, pre-marital sex (including dry-humping, inappropriate fondling or caressing, oral sex; other grey areas may include: kissing, holding hands, cuddling, touching in any way, shape or form), extra-marital sex, polygamy, divorce and re-marriage, fantasy, indulgence in pornography, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, transvestitism, intersexuality; other grey areas may include: masturbation & oral sex in marriage!
  8. Don’t steal
  9. Don’t lie
  10. Don’t be jealous

From my perspective “sexual sin” seemed to be the most talked about of all the postmodern-day commandments. In my teen years I heard stories about the days when parents used to disown their own daughters for coming home pregnant and unwed teenage mothers had their newborn babies forcibly removed.

I heard about young adult friends and family being stood down from being part of the church worship team because they either confessed to having premarital sex, were dobbed in for premarital sex, or became pregnant out of wedlock. I watched as some Christian couples made the fateful decision to move in together and about a minute later, felt unwelcome at church and left, only to return within a year or two when they were legally married. Others rushed down the aisle to cover-up the possibility that they may or may not have conceived before marriage.

I heard gossip about which young people at church were secretly having sex, which older married couples had confessed to sex before marriage, and the double-standards applied to elite members of the church whose sexual sins were kept forever on the down-low–presumably below the belt.

“Sexual immorality” always seemed to be dealt with more harshly than any other moral failing: pastors ex-communicated for adultery; pornography burning ceremonies; exorcisms performed on homosexuals; abortions to cover-up premarital sex; verbal abuse, gossip and slander about or toward the promiscuous; and a church-wide fear of admitting to any sort of temptation or mistake.

It’s interesting because we don’t stand down pastors who are clearly overweight, which indicates the likelihood of gluttony, laziness or both, but if there is a hint of sexual sin, you can bet-your-britches that pastor is in big trouble! Most of the time we don’t even discuss whether it is right or wrong to buy houses and cars that pollute our environment, destroy the ozone layer, wipe out forests and rape the earth, but we will talk incessantly about how much of a slut little miss so-and-so is, and how GLBTI people are really perverted heterosexuals! Just last year (2014) an American preacher said that God gave us clear instructions in Leviticus that we are to wipe out–and I do mean murder, which, by the way, goes against commandment number six–all homosexual people. Another pastor from New Zealand said he was praying that a certain gay man would off himself.

Why is the western church so obsessed about sex?

I don’t know about you, but I tend to obsess over the things that I covet. Commandment number ten: don’t be jealous. I once heard a poem that I have never forgotten:

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s goods

Not even a penny bun

But say thanks to the Lord that he did not forbid thee

To court thy neighbour’s son!”

I believe that the western church obsesses over sex because we are generally jealous. While I was a very chaste virgin in my early twenties, rarely masturbating and certainly not engaging in any sexual activities with other people, I envied every friend who became engaged and got married. A big part of this was because they were about to begin–or were already enjoying–their sex-life and I was still keeping my legs tightly crossed in abstinence. For some people, abstinence and virginity last longer than others, but most of the time, this is not because we don’t “want” to have sex.

I don’t think it’s all that much of a stretch to conclude that in the deepest parts of many virginal Christians’ hearts, there is a secret envy toward the more promiscuous. This is not necessarily because we want to indulge in promiscuity, but because we think it is unfair that other people get away with it, while we don’t. We feel disgusted by certain types of “slutty behaviour” because we would never conceive of doing such a thing! But our claim that we would never entertain the idea is a downright lie. It’s something we think with our cognitive minds, while our subconscious is still reacting in immature jealousy saying “that’s not fair!”

This is also known as self-righteousness.

When we think we are better than other people; that we would never traverse the boundary the way someone else has; that we would never even be comparably tempted; then we have succumbed to the delusion of our own self-righteousness.

Jesus said: “Anyone who looks at a woman [person] lustfully has already committed adultery with her [that person] in his [or her] heart,” Matthew 5:28 NIV. I do not believe for one second that there is a single Christian, or even a single human being (who has reached puberty), who has not committed adultery of the heart. We are all adulterers and no amount of abstinence, self-righteousness or judgemental pride toward other adulterers, is going to change that.

I am not writing this to condemn anyone. I am writing this to liberate people. We are all on an equal playing field. We are all sexually immoral. So why do we need to point the finger at other people’s sexuality and beg them to conform to our self-righteous standards?

“Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.” John 8:7 NLT