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Worship and Belief in Tragedy

I’ve written before about my conviction that we should mean the words we utter to God.  I’ve shared that when I’m in a worship service, I try to think about and to mean each word.  I don’t sing words that I don’t mean; that means sometimes I keep my mouth shut in worship.

Today I’m making myself form the words with my mouth.  I’m making myself sing words that I know to be true.  Even though tears stream down my face.  Even though it is hard to say them.

Today, we gather to mourn and to grieve the tragic loss of life, especially of life so young.

And I’m making myself say, “Holy.  You are holy.”

And even more difficult, “It is well with my soul.  Whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well with my soul.’”

I’m intentional about what I wear when I’m part of leading my church in worship.  My clothing choice today is intentional.  I’m wearing a shirt today that reads, “I wanna believe.”  (It’s a Christmas shirt that actually refers to Santa.)  But today, I’m choosing to wear it to w…

Unstuck, Part 2c

Once again, my message for today is "switch it up."  I've talked about switching up what you're reading about your faith and what you're reading in the Bible.  Now I'm talking about what you're doing, how you're serving God.

One of my seminary professors, Dr. Bagby, used to say that we'll never fully utilize all the gifts God has given us.  When he first said that, I didn't believe him.  I thought I knew which gifts God had given me and had shown me how he wanted me to use them for his glory.  But I was naive.

My spiritual gifts and inherent talents haven't changed.  But the ways I utilize them have. 

For example, I felt gifted in the area of care, listening, and being with people who were struggling.  I thought I used that gift to its max in caring for students.  That was great, but putting that gift to use in new ways has revitalized my spiritual journey.  Now, I get to care for parents of students, for people who serve with me, and others.…

Unstuck, Part 2b

Yesterday I advocated switching up what you're reading if you find yourself spiritually stuck.  I was particularly referencing books about faith, Christian living, etc.  Today's post is about switching up what you're reading inthe Bible.

When I first fell in love with reading the Bible, I read the book of Philippians.  And it's been my favorite ever since.  Philippians was understandable, accessible, and it helped me begin re-orienting my life.  Verses from Philippians pop in my head easily and often, and I can recite whole chunks to you.  I can even do a little of it in Greek.  If I just read whatever  I wanted in the Bible, then I would read the book of Philippians several times a year.  

I'm okay with re-reading Philippians every year or so.  But that cannot be the entirety of my Bible reading.  If I only read Philippians, then I will be stuck.

So, here are a few approaches that have helped me.  No, I'm not advocating a read-through-the Bible plan.  My husband …

Unstuck, Part 2

This is on my blog instead of the Unstuck blog I had been authoring, because these are my words and my ideas; they are NOT commissioned by PCC.

As I mentioned yesterday, we just finished our "Stuck" series in which we presented five tools to get someone unstuck spiritually.  For people who are new to church, new to faith, who decided to follow Jesus and just didn't know how to start, I think the five tools will be extremely helpful.

But the people I've talked to over the years who are painfully, ashamedly, dishearteningly stuck are ones who are serving, reading the Bible, praying, giving, and participating in community.  They've obeyed the rules.  They've followed instructions.  And yet, they find themselves stuck.

A conventional response to such people is that there is an unconfessed sin, or there is an area of their lives that's off-limits to God, and that is the problem.  That certainly can be the problem.  That should be investigated.

But there are other …

The "A" Team

We recently finished a series at church called, "Stuck."  We presented five tools that can prevent one from getting spiritually stuck or get one unstuck.  One of those tools--serving--we presented by acknowledging a few servers each week and then by having an army of servers go onto stage, demonstrating how many people it takes to make PCC happen.

We didn't have a service specifically donated to serving because of scheduling with Christmas.  I'd like to share a few thoughts about serving from my perspective.

First, I just finished writing 16 thank you notes for a student ministry event last night.  I coordinated the event, and even I didn't realize how many people it took to make last night happen until I started writing the notes.  Those 16 people (and their spouses in some cases) gave of their time and energy, and in some cases risked the security of their homes, to let crews of junior high and high school students have fun celebrating Christmas and building rela…

The Incarnation

I wrote and posted this poem last year as I prepared my heart for Christmas.  I enjoyed re-reading it, and I hope you will, too.

Jesus left his work as Creator to live amongst the created.
Jesus left the Most High to make himself nothing.
Jesus left equality with the Father and the Spirit to become dependent upon Mary and Joseph.
Jesus left the community of heavenly beings for the community of fishermen and tax collectors.
Jesus left the worship of angels to lead disciples who doubted and denounced.
Jesus left his authority to utter God’s laws to become obedient to man’s law and man’s death.
Jesus left all praise, honor, and glory to take upon himself the sins of the world.
Jesus left his place in heaven beside God the Father to take his place on a cross beside criminals.

Immanuel

One of the great promises of the Bible is that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us.  This time of year we celebrate that Jesus came to earth to be with us.  God has always been with us.  God will always be with us.  He is Immanuel.  What more comforting idea is there than the idea that God is with us?



The Lord was with Adam and Eve
     when all was perfect
     when innocence was lost.

The Lord was with Jacob
     when he dreamt a stairway to heaven,
     when he feared for his life.
     when he struggled for a blessing,
     when he received the blessing of God and brother.

The Lord was with Joseph
     when he was the favored one,
     when he was betrayed.
     when he was misunderstood,
     when he extended favor.

The Lord was with Moses
     when he was alone, a helpless baby,
     when he was in Pharoah’s home.
     when he broke a 10 Commandment,
     when he received the 10 Commandments.
     when he sought freedom for his people,
     when he was insufficient for the task.
     when he wandered thr…

Making the Bible Relevant...to a 4-year-old

For months now, my four-year-old has fought me on going to church.  Specifically, his issue is with going "upstairs," where the children's ministry is.  He's fine coming to church and seeing Aunt Mandy and her boyfriend, "Big Tristan," and his teenage friends like David and Courey, and his college friends like Rachel.  But he doesn't want to go "upstairs."  I've tried talking with him, and I haven't exactly figured out the issues.  I have confidence in what our children's ministry offers; I don't fault them.  He says the kids aren't his friends; I'm not sure what that means.  He doesn't like that they read out of adult Bibles; he wishes they read from a Bible like his.  He wishes it were like MegaCamp all the time (our summer camp for one week).  He's been asking to go to "the Big Room" with me, and I've resisted. 

As the Pastor to Students, I know the twinge of watching students go to the Big Room …

Where's the pretty Angie?

I've mentioned that last month my husband and I went away for a pastors’ assessment.  We were gone for two-and-a-half days.  A few times in the last couple of years, we've gone away for a night.  But we haven’t had two nights away, together, since having our second kid.  I didn't know how significant that would be.  It messed up the kids’ schedules, making them clingier when we came home.
And it affected me significantly.  I relaxed—really relaxed—even though we were going through a pretty intense assessment process.  My neck and shoulders didn't hurt, and they always hurt.  I was rested.  I felt smart again, as the constant fogginess in my brain cleared—sometimes a result of kids’ waking at night, sometimes a result of mentally managing a household’s schedules and needs.  I was game for real conversation about things that matter—not just the (really funny and cute) things my kids say every day.  I paid attention to my husband instead of just doing life alongside him.

15 Years

A clinical psychologist recently told Sammy and me that she thinks we intuitively picked the best partners for ourselves, the ones that would compliment us and bring out the best in us.  That sounds great.  But that’s putting a lot of stock in the intuitive capacities of two 16-year-old's.  Now, I love teenagers, and I think our society grossly underestimates them.  But, I still think it’s a stretch to think that a 16-year-old Sammy and a 16-year-old Angie intuitively picked the best partners for themselves.  Besides, through all that personality assessment I recently experienced, I learned that half the time I handle information intuitively and half the time I handle it with practical sense.  So, a 16-year-old with half a capacity for intuition may not be held responsible for choosing the perfect life partner.
Whatever brought us together, here we are.   Yesterday marked 15 years—15 years since we sat in a white Subaru Legacy in a Pizza Hut parking lot and Sammy asked me to be his…

It's Too Quiet

That’s a phrase I don’t understand in my personal life.  When I was a kid being shuffled between divorced parents, I’d often hear a parent say, “It’s just too quiet with the kids are away.”  I didn’t really know what that meant at the time.  I assumed I’d understand some day when I was a parent.  Well, I’ve been a parent for four-and-a-half years now, and I still don’t understand.
When I’m home, the noise bothers me—everyday.  There are often 2, 3, or 4 of us talking at once while the Cars 2 soundtrack plays from the boy’s room and a kids’ movie plays in the living room.  And it makes it impossible for me to think clearly.  It makes it impossible for me to fully listen to any of my family members, because I’m listening to ALL of them.  I cannot tune out one who’s talking to focus on the others; I just can’t.
Yesterday I was talking to my son and hearing about his day while my daughter and mom were working a puzzle—three people talking at once.  Then my daughter started, “Momma.  Momma. …

Worship as Pastoral Care

I took a seminary class by one of my favorite professors entitled, “Worship as Pastoral Care.”The premise behind the class is that we can offer corporate pastoral care in community as we worship.It’s not separate; it’s holistic.When we worship, we can also give care and receive care, and we can do it together.One of the things my church does best is worship as pastoral care. This past Sunday, we were at our best in that regard.We got back to what I think we do extremely well—worship as pastoral care.(I know we cannot do this every week.Once upon a time we did this so often, we were called Powhatan CRYING Church.)But as this series approached, I saw this potential.I have prayed for this series and the care and worship and community that I knew it could cultivate. It was a good day.And today, a few days later, I have seen and heard multiple people acknowledge and share their brokenness, and Sunday’s worship experience was part of the process.And I love it.I love seeing how God is working …

The Debate

I watched the presidential debate last night.Honestly, I watched, and then I played on my phone, and then I watched some more. And Isaiah 40 was in my head: Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust… Before (God) all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing… He brings princes to naught And reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
I’m not saying our national election doesn’t matter.I’m not saying that our faith should not inform our political views (sorry for the double negative.). But I am calling for keeping it in perspective.Our God “sits enthroned above the circle of the earth”—not behind a desk in the Oval Office.Our God created the heavens—not healthcare reform or an econ…

I Take it Back

Yesterday I wrote about how I was asking God to hold me.At the time, I felt pretty selfish. Now I feel downright awful. The last two nights I’ve been captivated by a special on PBS based on a book “Half the Sky.”I’m ordering the book.I’m checking out the website.This movement addresses the world issues that wreck me most—human trafficking, forced prostitution, and physical and sexual abuse.There are lots of world issues that I care about—the HIV/AIDS epidemic, starvation, lack of clean water, homelessness and street kids.But the issues of trafficking, forced prostitution, and abuse destroy me emotionally, mentally, and spiritually—yet the destruction I feel is nothing, nothing compared to the destruction of countless lives in forgotten corners of our world. Here are some clips from the program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuKygSFJBYs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHzWY44Onh0 I sat on my sofa and cried last night.I tossed in my bed, haunted by my own blog post from yesterday, and I praye…

Hugging a Grasshopper

Isaiah 40 says a lot about the hugeness of God.Nothing can compare to him (though we all make comparisons, don’t we?).From God’s perspective, we “people are like grasshoppers.” (Isaiah 40:22)I’ve been called a lot of things; grasshopper is a first, and it’s not very affirming.From God’s throne, I look like a grasshopper.Thanks, God. God can hold the waters of the earth in his hand, can hold the dust of the earth in a basket, can weigh the mountains on a scale and the hills on a balance (Isaiah 40:12). And it is that huge, powerful God who… …tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. (Isaiah 40:11)
Days like today, I am overwhelmingly thankful that that God, the one to whom I appear as a grasshopper, is also willing to carry me in his arms, close to his heart.
I gather my baby girl in my arms and carry her close to my heart.Usually, I do so after she stands at my feet, arms outstretched, saying, …

Isaiah 40, Part 1

If I can get back into the swing of writing, then I hope this will be the first of several posts on the Bible chapter I'm marinating in these days.

“In the desert prepare the way for the Lord.” (Isaiah 40:3) I've been to Cairo.  I've visited the pyramids.  I've experienced the effects of a sandstorm--sand in every facial orifice, contact lenses rendered useless.  I've experienced the heat, the rapidity at which dehydration can happen, the melting of film in a camera.  Yet, in the hot sand, where the landscape changes with every strong wind, where resources are non-existent, where the elements are extreme—that’s where God’s people are told to prepare his way.To translate, when my reserves of energy, creativity, love, and grace are as dry as the desert, I am called to prepare the way for the Lord.When I’m in the middle of a tornado of change (personally or professionally), I am called to prepare the way for the Lord.When there’s no budget money, I am called to prepare …

Change

I don't like change.  That's easy to figure out if you're around me much.  It sounds kind of harmless.  However, I am certain that my aversion to change has caused me to sin and has damaged my family at times.

I know that I don't like change.  I get anxious when it's sprung on me.  I get anxious when I know it's coming.  It doesn't seem to matter.

I'm not the kind of person who re-arranges her furniture often.  That's because I'm a bit of a perfectionist.  When it gets in the perfect arrangement or spot, then there's no point messing it up.  The only time I re-arrange furniture is when it's not RIGHT. 

However, as I was painting the tiny entryway at my home last night, I stopped.  I realized it's almost 5 years exactly since I moved into this house.  At first I thought, "Geez!  It's taken you 5 years to change this wall; you really don't like change."  Honestly, I've wanted to paint that wall for years.  It's …

Lectures--Part Two

I'm a fan of actress Meg Ryan.  I'm not sure why I feel like I relate to her, but I do.  I'm an absolute sucker for Sleepless in Seattle, and I kinda like You've Got Mail, too.  In the latter, Ryan's character is non-confrontational, and she has a hard time responding to criticism in the moment.  She then spends time crafting the perfect response in her head--well after the opportunity has passed.

I know a lot of people are like that; I certainly am.  Call me out in the moment, and I'll stand there with hives all over my neck looking like an idiot who cannot make an argument.  That night in bed, I'll craft the perfect response in my head.

I found myself crafting that perfect response in my head a few weeks ago.  (This is the story behind the "Lectures" post.)  Someone approached and lectured my mom.  There are several problems with this.  1)  Everyone knows my mom is not going to fight back; it's an easy pick for a bully.  2)  The lecture was no…

Lectures

Sorry I've been absent here.  I'm co-authoring another blog for a few weeks; check it out:  http://angieandbeth.wordpress.com/   Between that and meetings and preaching and talking with my family (where all four of us often talk at once), I haven't had many more words.  The 4-year-old is quite advanced with his vocabulary; the baby is a full year ahead of where she's "supposed" to be verbally.  It's never quiet in the Frame house.  The four-year-old was interrupting us recently.  Dad said, "Buddy, wait a minute, we're talking." 
He said, "Talking's no fun." 
I said, "Then why do you do it all the time?!"  Yes, that is the pot calling the kettle black.


I remember an exercise I did in undergrad, when we prospective teachers listed different techniques or manners of teaching.  Then we listed how much prep time each technique required.  Then we identified which techniques were most effective for communicating information t…

Here Goes Nothing

This is probably a good time to mention that my blog is not affiliated with my church; these words are all mine.

There’s been a lot on my mind the last couple of weeks, and if I don’t get out some feelings and ideas on paper, then I have several more sleepless nights ahead of me. So, here goes issue #1—The Chick-fil-A Controversy Well, kinda.We were so wrapped up in steam engines, Ferris wheels, carousels, dinosaurs, driving, dinosaurs, driving, and more dinosaurs, and more driving on vacation with our family that we missed the Chick-fil-A uproar. Days later, as I saw more and more Facebook attention, I finally asked my husband to look it up and see what it was about.But, honestly, the news story, the facts, the quotes, the interview doesn’t matter much to me.You can call me na├»ve and uninformed if you want; really, that’s okay. What does matter to me is the way I’ve watched friends, family, and fellow Christ followers react.And this keeps me up at night.There will always be issues—cultur…

Lost Message in a Bottle

I've always been bad about not proofing my work....so, I just noticed that message in a bottle #2 didn't show up in the post.  And the formatting was off in message #1.  Sorry about that.  Here's #2:

Love trusts that I’m your biggest fan. that I’ve got your back. that I’m yours. Love trusts that I’ll tell you the truth even when I don’t want to even when it hurts you even when it humiliates me. Love trusts that I meant those vows on that perfect day when I was 23, that I mean those vows on this ordinary day when I’m 30, that I will mean those vows every day for the rest of our lives.

More Messages in a Bottle

Love hopes that being 56 will be as good as 16. that the stormy seasons will pass and the stifling, humid ones and the frigid, silent ones, too. that our relationship will adapt as you change as I change as our kids grow up as our parents grow old. that we’ll see more of the world together. that we’ll see more of God together. that we’ll see more of our Creator in one another. that we’ll be better when we’re older.
Love perseveres when coming home is hard. when giving up seems easy. when sleeping single sounds serene. Love perseveres when we’re not “us.” when I’m nothing like the girl you fell for or the one you married or the one you dated last week. We persevered when families interfered.