Stranger in the Earth

thoughts on the way to zion

Archive for the category “Burdens”

On The Wings of Change

The waiting period has to be the most emotional for me. For the past month, Zack and I have agreed to begin our search for a new house, one that would be ours for at least a decade or more. It all started at the beginning of last month when Zack massively encountered the Holy Spirit in such a way that he has been a changed man ever since. His heart has been continually aching for the poor. “I want to be like George Bailey”, he told me. I agreed, but didn’t have the same zeal until a week later when I went to the prayer room strictly to spend some time waiting on the Lord to see what He might want to tell me. After a divine appointment type conversation with a dear friend in the coffee shop, I began to have Luke 6:30 racing through my mind.

“Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back”, it says. The verse is offensive to the American dream, but Jesus gives no qualifiers to make it easier to swallow. Zack and I had only just begun discussing moving from our present situation because of some unfortunate circumstances that occurred with the owner of the house.  We had the option of either trying to buy it, or choosing to move elsewhere.

Suddenly I found myself burdened for the poor as well as I sat in prayer, but in a way I never would have expected. We could stay in our house and try to buy it, but  pictures began to flash through my mind of the people I most admire. All of them had two common characteristics: they are joyful and they are generous.   It was not only that they were generous with their finances, though that is a great prayer of mine (God, make me a joyful giver!  I want to give millions of dollars away for the spreading of the gospel!), but they are also generous with their heart and their time. There are those who give of their resources but never open their heart, and never give of their time. I want to be one who is generous in all three areas: heart, time, money.

Among the people I saw as I prayed came a random scene from a movie that I don’t particularly like. It was the movie “Ever After”, which I haven’t seen in years. The prince of the story is entirely too self-preoccupied for his own good, but after meeting the heroine of the story, he is ignited with passion for things he had never considered before. The scene that came to mind was when he was gushing to her about this newfound zeal and says the line, “I used to think that if I cared about anything I’d have to care about everything, and I’d go stark raving mad. But now I’ve found my purpose.”

My stomach fluttered inside of me and I realized that what I thought I was made for was only a small fraction of the story. What was I beginning to understand about my future? It was as if Jesus was inviting me and my little family into the type of ministry that few (including myself) would think possible. Yes, we could stay in our current house, but I began to feel as though Zack and I were to be like a father and a mother to many who needed to know that kind of love. Too many people have grown up only knowing the abandonment and disappointment associated with being a child of somebody. I’m not even talking about adoption, though I pray we will be able to do that one day as well. I’m talking about expressing the love of Christ to people, young and old alike, that the Lord puts in our path who have never known the peace of a loving Christ-centered home, the warmth of an environment where prayer is commonplace, and the safety found in the care of ones who value those who cannot fight for themselves.

I felt as though the Lord was saying that the home we are currently in is too small for the  ministry assignment He has for us: to do life as lovers of Jesus with a tangible expression of helping those in need in a real way, on a daily basis. It’s a very expensive undertaking. We need a house with lots of room, lots of beds, lots of food, but thankfully I know this: the Lord ALWAYS pays for what He orders.  I have no idea what all of this will mean for the coming year, but life is about to get a lot more exciting for this little Hensley clan.

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Doctrine Divides?

Have you ever heard the verse “Doctrine divides, but love unites?” You hear it quoted at the pinnacle point of theological disagreement. There’s only one thing wrong with it- it’s not true. If you search your concordance you won’t find it because it is not in the Bible. 

Of course, there are several phrases like this that have come out of the evangelical world, and because of repetition get attributed to the Scriptures but have no chapter or verse. Some are true statements and others are better left unsaid. This is one I have a beef with because of the implications.

I do empathize with the perspective. I Timothy 1:3-7 comes to mind, and I agree that endless debate for its own sake is not helpful, but debate is not the subject I’m addressing. I’m talking about knowing truth. What people generally mean by using the “doctrine divides” statement really just mean, “We’re fighting over something one or both of us have little clarity on and I desperately want to bring resolve to this conversation because one or both of us are being immature, making me feel more confused about the Bible than when we started, and now I just want to punch you in the face.” 

Often without intending to, the one quoting this non-verse is making a statement about Christianity that has no logical end. Why? Because love and the Bible are never at odds with one another, and to buy this statement makes the pendulum swing the other way, causing individuals to feel comfortable under the guise of “love” to not grow in understanding.

But what defines you as a Christian is your faith in Christ and His word, and believing the words of the Author does not pit you against love because He IS LOVE. We grow in love for God when we grow in the knowledge of Him, and by proximity we grow in love for one another. (See Matthew 22:37-40). If this is not happening when we search the Scriptures, there’s something wrong.

I love how my Christology professor Stephen Venable once said, Increasingly a methodology  for church growth and unity is being adopted that reduces orthodoxy to the lowest common denominator, stripping it of nearly all doctrinal confessions and preserving a loose, vague code of morality and faith. All across the landscape of Christianity it is thought to be virtuous for one to believe almost nothing at all in the hopes of pleasing as many people as possible.”

This is my exhortation: belief in sound Biblical doctrine is vital to us as believers. If we do not have clarity on a certain subject, it is wisdom and our joy to search out the answer by going deep in the Word and prayer, relying on the Holy Spirit to instruct us and lead us into all truth.  It is WISDOM and a JOY to know the Bible! 

God the Son did not put on flesh forever to rally people around ambiguity.  We were made to know God and He gave us His word for this very purpose.

What You See Is What You Get

“For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; and an adultress will prey upon his precious life. ” Proverbs 6:26 

 In some peoples’ opinions, I have a tendency to be a little on the “intense” side. It’s not so much that I am, I just have trouble concentrating so I often wear a furrowed brow and focused stare. Let me just begin this post by crumpling up all your preconceived notions about me and chucking it safely into the trash can of misnomers because I feel that what I am about to write is legitimate and could be read with the conclusion of, “Yeah, but that’s just Carrie- she’s crazy.”

Two weeks ago I was staring at the widespread issue of immorality in this nation, which has been the driving force behind the trafficking of thousands upon thousands of slaves in the pornography industry as well as the prostitution trade. Rarely do I have the feeling in my gut when I’m in prayer that results in a deep burden, but two weeks ago I was wrenched in my spirit over the men that I know.  I highly doubt I know even one man who has not either struggled with, is currently struggling with, or is free but constantly fighting pornography.

Something burns on the inside of me knowing that the men in my life cannot even go to the supermarket without being bombarded by ads and magazines that seduce them with perverse women who beckon them into opening up their eyes to a faulty notion of beauty. “For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword” (Prov. 5:3-4).

With every shred of my existence, I hate that the men in my life battle constantly with the shame of having looked her way for too long. Even after repentence do many find themselves overcome with feelings of instability and lack of true manhood because they have been fettered by the shame of it all.

I am convinced that men do with their eyes is dynamically related to the strength or weakness of the body of Christ at large (see Matt. 6:22-23).  Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look intently upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1)

Here’s the crisis. We see these verses, and for many of us they can become so familiar that we forget not only the weight of them, but the conditions in which they are being applied. The crisis lies not merely in the men who have a weakness, but in the women who lift no finger to help them. Women, read carefully. If what goes through your mind when you find the men you know struggling to maintain their righteousness, and your attitude is, “You get your act together and then you can come talk to me”, you have just sealed their fate in an ever growing pile of shame.

Ladies, I’d like to say you’re justified, but as the song goes, you’re “not that innocent.” What you have managed to achieve by telling a guy that he needs to get his act together before he’s even worthy to talk to you, when he is sincerely fighting for his walk with God in the midst of a perverse society, without offering even a shred of prayer to help him, and without making sure the plank has been safely dislodged from your eye, I’d take great care in your attitude. Take note that I am preaching to my own soul here too!

What are we wearing? How do we relate to the men in our life? Do we draw their attention to the Lord or to ourselves? Do we bless them and their fight for righteousness, or do we spend all of our time poking fun at them and rolling our eyes at their “guy-ness”? Do we ever pray for the Lord to put iron in their spirits to resist lust? Do we look at them as brothers, or are they all just a smorgasbord of potential husbands? 

I’m making a call to every woman who reads this: let’s fight for our men.        

Understanding the “Burden”

Well, I happened to figure out the sweet spot on my power cord and can now successfully type without draining my battery- so long as I remember not to move it one billionth of a millimeter. It’s an exact science trying to get my laptop to work these days. But I like it this way. Poor rich people and their Macs that do everything they want them to do and more. I feel sorry for the overly convenienced people of our society. Where’s the fun?

Well, after far too long I finally had a chance to get some moments to type, though this will have to be a bit short because I’m writing a sermon for 13 year olds right now, and WOW, that’s a lot of work- nothing like having to simplify to expose your lack of knowledge on any given topic. If any of you have incredible ideas about a topic, feel free to shoot them my way. I’m open at this point!!!

No updates on my relative Tom. Just keep praying for his salvation and healing from leukemia. He’s pretty sick.

Lately, I’ve been facing a weird barrenness in prayer. What I have discovered over the last 4 weeks is painful and brilliant all at the same time. After 3 years of pursuing a deeper prayer life, though not always having the easiest time at it, I was convinced I had stepped over a threshold of transcendence and power in the way that I address the Lord that could have no faults. Not that I articulated it, but we humans don’t always wear arrogance on our sleeves.

I came to the realization a few weeks ago that my primary motivation in intercession has been human sympathy and mustered zeal over the various prayer needs with which I am presented, versus the true gift of having a burden given to me by the Lord Himself. Now, though I have tasted this kind of ache for God’s desires here and there, and though I believe that all sincere prayer counts in the economy of heaven, it has been brought before my gaze that I have nothing to offer God apart from what He gives me.

What do I mean by this? That my zeal and human sympathy over issues like the injustice of child soldiers in Africa can sustain an intercessor for only so long. Human sympathy has a shelf life and I have reached the expiration date. Over the last few weeks I have been continually emptied of my ability to conjur up any of my own zeal and now I am aching for the burden of the Lord that surpasses what I can do on my own.

I gues the bottom line is that I crave the nearness of the Lord to help me pray. As Romans 8:26-27 says, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”    

I thank God for His Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts through faith!   

Calling All Intercessors

I’m so sorry for being super lame at writing lately. I’m in the middle of a break during which I am settling into my new apartment- yeah hectic. I have a request, though. I have a relative named Tom who is very sick with leukemia and needs serious prayer. His final treatment of chemo did nothing and now they only have one option, which is experimental. There’s no saying whether or not it will change anything, but the main thing is that both he and his wife Sheryl don’t know the Lord. If you think about it in the next few weeks, please pray for healing and sound conversion of their hearts. It doesn’t have to be long. If you throw out a 30-second prayer when this situation pops up in your mind, it still counts! Thank you all so much. Blessings!

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