i’m an alien

kingdom_6959cnMy daughter asked me what an ‘alien’ is recently. I told her it was a pretend creature that people made up to be in stories and books and such.

What I failed to tell her was that I am an alien; that she is; that daddy is. But after I had spoken to her I thought it. I didn’t quite think she’d get the whole “there are two kinds of aliens” discussion quite yet, so I let it be for now.

But it made me remember how I was with a friend the other day, and she reminded me that I was an alien here on earth, a stranger, and how I just won’t fit in a lot of the time. I’ll be uncomfortable. I’ll feel like I’m weird. I’ll seem to be different. I’ll often feel left out.

It was an intimidating thought, though I’ve known the truth of it all before. I’m an alien on this earth, a sojourner, my home is heaven, and I belong there. I know that. But sometimes I like to push things aside when I feel uncomfortable, you know? Just smile and nod and keep my feelings under wraps. And, this is often one of those things that makes me just a wee bit squeamish on the inside.

The irony of it is…I never want to be “just like” everybody else. Not that I’m this huge rebel or anything; I like to “fit in” somewhat. But it’s like, if everybody else is getting cats, I want to get a dog. If everybody else is eating jelly beans, I’d rather have a chocolate. If everybody else likes to wear preppy things, I’d rather be in my “skater” outfit (i.e. see my high school pics). If everybody else is proclaiming healthy food, I’m going to proclaim McDonald’s. If everybody is proclaiming McDonald’s, you betcha I’m going to be proclaiming healthy food. If everybody else wants to read this book, I’d really rather be reading something else, please.

And I don’t like clones. Cloning is so boring. I like a variety. I like to mix things up. I like to be around all ages, not just my own. I like traditions, and commonalities and such. But there’s just something about being around people who talk different, and dress different, and who just are different, that makes me smile on the inside. It’s probably why I like 1 Corinthians so much: the body of Christ is a mix of all types and sorts and gifts and talents…and I absolutely adore that.

And yet, despite all that, I still get in those modes of uncomfortableness if I’m looking or feeling just a little too different. A little too left out.

If someday you ever partner up with me for study, you will quickly learn that I love Greek words. I don’t actually know Greek, I can’t speak it, I don’t always remember it, and sometimes I am sure I get things a little mixed up. However, when I’ve got my Strong’s concordance by my side and my Bible in my hand…you can be sure that I am one happy girlie. Enter a sweet, teensy tiny lesson from 2 Peter 1:3-4.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us, to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

There are several truths to gather from this passage – beautiful, astounding truths, in fact!  But today, I have just one thing to point out. Look at the Greek word and definition of “nature”:

Nature (vs. 4): phusis

The sum of innate properties and powers by which one person differs from others, distinctive native peculiarities, natural characteristics. A mode of feeling and acting by which by long habit has become nature.

Whoa! Read it again. Because do you know what this is telling me, to us, who have obtained a righteousness by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ? It tells me that He is making me look like a native of heaven.

A native! Well of all things! Not only am I an alien and stranger in this world, and not only to I belong to heaven…I’m a native of heaven. Because He is changing me, transforming me, making me distinctively different. The sin and corruption in this world has been my natural tendency, my place of feeling comfortable. But now, God is growing me in the knowledge of Himself, and as He is, I am changing. My natural tendencies, my natural inclinations, my habits and thoughts, the places I feel most comfortable, are maturing and becoming more like Christ through God’s divine power.

I just won’t fit in here. No, I just will not. fit. in. And if I do start fitting in, a little too much…perhaps I’ve neglected to find the astonishing promises of God for each of my days, that keep me from falling and cause my knowledge of Christ to be fruitful. Perhaps, if I start feeling a little too comfortable around here, I’ve forgotten the abundance of His mercy that has – astoundingly – miraculously – divinely – given me all things I need to experience more of His very own divine nature, in my very own self, in my very own life.

I am not of this world (duh, Jane!). I’m in the process of escaping it, for goodness sake! He is making me distinctively different. He is making me divine, just like Him. Piece by piece, stitch by stitch, thought by thought, habit by habit, He is transforming me into the likeness of His beautiful, glorious, joy-focused and joy-filled Son.

Aliens here – natives of heaven.

Perhaps this is part of the reason we were told last Sunday to meet together and worship together? Because the places we “natives of heaven” feel most comfortable, the places we feel like we most belong, simply don’t look the same as they once did. Do you ever need that reminder? I know I do.

A native. I have a home. There is a place where I fit in. Maybe that’s why it can sometimes be so uncomfortable to be so very “distinctly different” in this world? Because those who do not follow Christ are comfortable here. This is their home, they ‘like’ it here. But for me…my home…it’s not here. I’m uncomfortable here; I stick out, I stand out and I look and talk and think like an alien. But it’s ok. Because I am a native of somewhere. That somewhere is just somewhere else. And I’m ok with that.

I don’t want to be like everybody else, anyways, remember?

 

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“Thank You” from Victory in the Valley

On Saturday April 6, several women gathered in the church’s gym to work together on a variety of service projects, including providing canned goods for the Union Rescue Mission, decorating items for a Lady Bugg House fund raiser, creating special treats for Jackson Elementary staff, and small gift bags for Victory in the Valley.

We received a big “Thank You” from Victory in the Valley, here’s a letter from Diana Thomi explaining how the gift bags we made will benefit many.

Dear Friends,

Victory in the Valley would like to take a moment to thank each of you for all of the hard work you put in to making 500 treat bags for our patients. The time you each invested in those treasures will bless not only the patients who receive the treat bags but also others such as nurses, doctors, etc who see the treat bags. What a great witness of the love of Christ.

Our Hospitality Centre sees approximately 1,300 patients per month so you are impacting many lives. The extra time you took to write encouraging words on each of hte bags gives an extra special meaning to those that need a dose of joy and blessing.

Donations, whether financial or in-kind, are at the heart of what makes Victory in the Valley successful. As you are aware, VIV is here to encourage cancer patients and their families on their journey by offering HOPE through emotional and spiritual support, while providing practical services to improve the quality of their lives. From daily contacts made at the Hospitatlity Centre or Victory house ro our East/West Run in May or Women’s Weekend in August, we hear so many stories of how someone’s outlook has changed or how many new friendships have been made. Every contact we make influences someone’s story of life. Most importantly it is our goal to encourage patients in their faith, or to introduce them to a personal relationship with the Lord.

Thank you for makingVictory in the Valley a priority. Our ministry fills an important need for those facing what can be an overwhelming diagnosis at times. We will continue to serve the needs of those walking a cancer journey with continued support like yours.

God Bless,

Diana Thomi RN, BS

Executive Director

Staff Highlight: Mary Trousdale

Mary TMary Trousdale is the Student Ministry Administrative Assistant at First Free. She has worked faithfully with our youth for several years. Enjoy reading her sweet story below! Thank you, Mary!!

1) You have invested in the lives of many teens for many years, unto God’s glory. What motivates your desire to serve the Lord wholeheartedly in this capacity?

Because of the Gospel, I have a strong desire to take the love that God showed me on the cross to others. I am motivated to work with teenagers because I have seen how the world influences so many teens in a negative way. I would have loved to have had strong godly woman in my life during my teen years.  I want to be a positive influence that shows teen girls the truth of the Gospel, that they are loved by our Heavenly Father, that they have been created by Him for His purpose and that they can make a difference in this world.

2) How has God increased your faith through this?

My faith is increased by living the Gospel and sharing my life with teen girls. As I look back over the years, with 14 of them in this ministry, my faith has been growing. I struggled through a move to Kansas which took me away from everything that I knew (and thought that I needed), the death of both my parents and my brother, and the constant changes and demands of marriage and raising a family. Because of these life experiences, I can lead the young women in the ministry to trust God to be with them at all times. My faith is stronger now because I can see God has been with me every step of the way. To keep my faith strong, I know that I have to be in God’s word and stay focused on the Gospel message.

3) How can the women of First Free be praying for you?

I covet the prayers of other women for me to have peace and trust in my God’s care and providence over all that happens in my life and strength and confidence to tell others about His love and grace.

 

Learning to Love God’s Rules

bible_6796cnpI’ll have to admit that when I first hear the word “rules” I have a somewhat adverse reaction. Yes, I appreciate walking through the halls of an elementary school and seeing their poster of the school rules. It gives me confidence that someone is in charge and there are expectations of the students. And yes, I certainly want our teen drivers, and anyone else for that matter, to follow the rules of the road. And no doubt society functions best when its members follow the rules to hopefully guarantee that everything is done with order and civility. But I admit that “rules” in the context of God’s kingdom evokes thoughts of limits and restrictions, and leaves me wondering what happened to grace and freedom and those others words that sound better than “rules.”

A few weeks ago I was reading Psalm 119 and the psalmist’s use of the word “rules” in the ESV jumped out at me. Three times in the first 20 verses the psalmist mentions God’s rules. Listen to his attitude:

I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. (v.7)

With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. (v.13)

My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times. (v. 20)

Verse 20 put me over the top. The writer is consumed with longing for God’s rules at all times. Really? It would seem that my attitude toward God’s rules needed an overhaul. “Rules” can also be translated “just decrees.” Don Carson in “For the Love of God” defines God’s decrees as “the decisions of the supreme and all-wise Judge.” These rules of God are not just an arbitrary list to follow because God decided we should, but these are rules to be followed because our gracious God has given them to us because they are His wise choice for us – for our good and for His glory.

Seventeen times the word “rules” is used in Psalm 119. When you have a minute, take a look at this psalm and instead of feeling limited and constrained by God’s rules, take comfort that God’s rules are for our good – to help us and comfort us – to make us into the women God has planned for us to be.

The last use of “rules” is in the next to last verse, verse 175:

Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me.

I’m beginning to understand. God’s rules truly are rules to live by!