ANNOUNCEMENT!

I have started another blog.

This is The End. The One Blog to View them All. Come one, come all.

http://carissablogs.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/one-blog-to-view-them-all/

(I have posted a few more things after this post, but it’s probably a good idea to start here.)

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Names, and a Name.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
Loving favor rather than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1

You’ve probably seen that verse quoted somewhere, tied in one way or another to naming a baby, probably in an effort to get parents to name them something nice and not-too-weird. Well, I agree–it’s nice to have a “good name”. I do pity children whose parents named them things like “William Williams” or “Candy” or *Brock Lee” or “Kyd” or “Bartholomew” or… well, you get the idea.

But I have a hunch there’s a lot more to this whole “good name” thing than that.

Back then (whenever that was…) your name was more than the letters that made up the sounds that made up your name. There’s two main aspects of this thought…

First, in the Bible, the names that were given were very significant. Parents didn’t just pick names based on whether or not they liked them–they were fitting to the situation, to the child, to the prophecies that the child would fulfill, and so on. There are many examples of this…

Genesis 16:11
And the Angel of the LORD said to her: “Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has heard your affliction.

Genesis 25:25
And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau.

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

They were even sometimes changed as circumstances changed, such as in the case of Naomi (sweet) who wanted to be called Mara (bitter) after things went badly for her.

The second aspect is the main point of this post. Your “name” was your reputation. If you were a honest, hard-working, pleasant citizen, you would have a good reputation and thus a “good name.” And, obviously, the opposite was true as well.

Your name was who you were.

Now I can say this all I want, but you’re probably wondering if I actually know what I’m talking about. So… where do we go in cases like this? To Webster’s 1828, of course! 😀

4. Reputation; character; that which is commonly said of a person; as a good name; a bad name.

5. Renown; fame; honor; celebrity; eminence; praise; distinction.
What men of name resort to him?

6. Remembrance; memory.
The Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven. Deut. 29.

7. Appearance only; sound only; not reality; as a friend in name. Rev. 3.

8. Authority; behalf; part; as in the name of the people. When a man speaks or acts in the name of another, he does it by their authority or in their behalf, as their representative.

9. Assumed character of another.

10. In Scripture, the name of God signifies His titles, His attributes, His will or purpose, His honor and glory, His word, His grace, His wisdom, power and goodness, His worship or service, or God Himself.

So, in light of this, all the stuff about “the name of Jesus” suddenly becomes even more powerful and makes even more sense.

Just the mere words without the character of Christ behind it doesn’t do anything. His name itself is not a magic word. It’s His character–who He is–that makes the difference. The enemy is not afraid of a few vowels and consonants stuck together–He’s deathly afraid of the reputation, the character, the… essence of Who Christ IS.

{RD} Things I Wish I Hadn’t Said

When I was younger, I said a lot of things that I now regret. Not because they were mean, or wrong, or bad.

Because they were right–very right–and I didn’t mean them.

I knew what to say. I knew how to sound like a good Christian girl. I could easily impress the adults. (I’ve always been rather surprised at how easy adults are to fool. :P)

And now that I DO mean them, I feel hypocritical sometimes– simply because of years of saying them without feeling or meaning them deeply. I wanted to mean them, to be sure. But I didn’t. And now I feel like others will think I am just saying them… that they won’t know that I really truly mean it now. Because if… I’m still saying the same things… it doesn’t seem like anything has changed. But so much has.

And it isn’t me, it’s Him. And I want people to see, to know what He does…

A little girl at our home group study thing asked us to pray that she would really mean it when she said she loved Jesus… that she wouldn’t just say it. Oh, that I had asked for that kind of prayer!

A Short Freewrite

(written June 2nd)

Freewriting. My thoughts are a lot different than they used to be, it seems. I used to think up funny things quite easily, and random thoughts were a lot easier to come by. Now my thoughts are more serious and straight. I think about things like justice and truth and praising God and what God requires of me and what it really means to glorify God. That isn’t all there is, of course. There’s also the fear and the tiredness and discouragement and the constant fight against lies from within and without. And there’s the cute baby sister and the little brothers who always want to do something and the medium sisters who like to talk about books and the tall little brother who is quiet but likes to joke around and philosophize and there’s the big little sister who is there, quiet or talking. I don’t know. Sometimes I like the change and sometimes I wonder where Carissa went. I’m twenty two and I actually feel like it sometimes. Which is very odd, since I never felt twenty or twenty one… I still don’t really believe I’m that old, but I feel like I am. At least my hair’s not gray… 😀 I’m not really discouraged or down… just quiet. I’ve got some of the too-still stillness, I think. But not too bad… I’ve still got hope. If a day comes when I don’t have hope, something will be desperately wrong… I am very hopeful, to the point of annoying myself. There’s fruit ninja noises in the background along with little brother comments and some banging around in the kitchen.

I Feel At Home…

She sat across the table from me, eyes slightly misty. Looking around from face to face, she softly says words that sink in deep.

“I feel at home. It’s the first time I’ve felt like this for a very… very long time.”

She’s a young mom; a neighbor of ours for a few months. Two darling children, a husband with a job that moves them around a lot. A rough growing up.

She knows and loves God.

Our house is rather a mess–children running around and the remains of crafts on the table. Dishes in the sink, shoes strewn about.

But it doesn’t matter. She feels at home.

That is what hospitality is really about. It isn’t about fancy dishes or perfectly food or a gorgeous, spotless house. It’s about love. About sitting around the table, talking and laughing and crying. About… being at home.

(Begun April 9th)

I haven’t been writing on this blog, but never fear… I have been writing. Mainly in ink, though… I’m always surprised at how fast I run my pens out of ink. I don’t think that I write that much, but when your pens keep dying you figure out that you must have been writing more than you thought…

Anyway. I have been learning so much lately… there’s really no way to get it into words. Odd thing about being a writer, though–you try anyway. 😀 Why, I don’t know. But you do… I’ve been praying lots, writing poems, emails and letters. But not blog posts. So… I thought I’d come over here to my random blog and see what came out. 🙂

It’s strange… life is, I mean. Or maybe it’s just me that’s strange.

Things have changed drastically for me. And I have changed with them. And I have learned so much… things I could never have learned another way. And I’m doing very poorly at talking about it at the moment. 😛

__

I think one of the major focuses lately for me has been praising God. Always, and no matter what. My thoughts go all criss-cross and tangled– and then I tell myself no very firmly and I look to Christ. And He is beautiful. And my thoughts settle down and smooth out and even though things don’t make sense, life does. Because He is life.

And there’s so much to praise Him for… start at Creation, go to the cross… His character, His works…

{RD}Would You Have Done it?

Earlier this evening, I went outside for a bit… the stars were out, and there was one (a planet, probably) that was especially bright. It brought to my mind the star that shown when Jesus was born… and I remembered the movie “The Nativity”, particularly the part where Mary agrees to carry Christ.

And I wondered… would I have done it? Would I have said yes? Would I have agreed to be laughed at, to be shunned, to be thought impure and foolish? Would I have agreed to lay down my reputation? Would I have agreed to give up my friends? My family, in a way? Would I have agreed to risk being killed for a perceived action? Would I have agreed to look completely foolish for something I really had no idea about how it would end?

Or would I have been too concerned with myself, with my image? Would I have been too concerned about appearing pure and blameless? Would I have been too scared to face the shame?

I don’t know, honestly. I might very well have said I can’t do it, it’s too hard, that’s not a good idea, what will everyone think?

(Though of course, I’ve never talked to an angel. That might put a bit of a different light on the matter.)

Listen to Mary’s response after her initial questioning…

38And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Simple. So simple. But so full of trust and surrender. She knew who she was and who God was. And she let God do what He willed with her. She was willing to be considered impure and insane for God’s sake and at His word.

And think… think what a blessing she gained. We gained! It didn’t make a bit of sense, at first. But now, looking back on it all… it makes so much sense we rarely see how crazy it was. Of course Mary had Jesus. We’ve heard it over and over.

But… there really was a girl. A girl. Named Mary. Scared, clueless. She couldn’t see what would happen. And yet she opened herself up to God. She… let Him… make her look foolish in the world’s eyes.

And… she is now most blessed among women. (among women, that’s all…)

Humbled, and then glorified. Sounds an awful lot like… her Son.

How could she do it? We really don’t know a whole lot about her. But then… we don’t need to know a whole lot. What she did, on its own, says volumes. The fact that God chose her says tons. And then… we have her song. Listen to her heart…

46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

49For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

50And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

51He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

53He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

54He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

55As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

What do you notice?

I see… a heart totally enthralled with God. And very much not focused on herself. I don’t know about you, but if God chose me to do that… I don’t think I would be saying things about my “low estate”… I would be thinking more along the lines of, wow, I must be pretty good to have been chosen. 😛

All her focus is on God and the great things He has done for her. And at this point she still probably didn’t really know what exactly what was going on!

Wow…

Seriously, think about it, my fellow Good Christian Girls. Don’t we want to be known for our purity and our wonderfulness? I do.

But… it isn’t about us. It’s about God. And you know… the thing about God is… He loves doing things completely backwards from the world’s thinking.

Think about the way He came to earth. The King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Creator Himself… coming as a baby?? And then not just a baby to a good home, but He came appearing as an illegitimate child?? And think how He conquered death and sin and satan!! By… dying, naked, on a cross??

Guess who hated Jesus the most? The religious leaders. The good church people.

Guess who most hates sold out for Christ, Spirit-filled Christians who don’t care a particle what the world thinks? … Yeah. You know already.

Can’t they like… tone it down? Do they have to be SO different?? Can’t they… blend in a little? Must they really be so radical? Do they have to do such strange things?

Face, folks. Following Christ whole-heartedly gets our sanity questioned. It might even lose us the respect of the Good Christian People we know.

Do we really suppose that following a Man who upset the the religious institution in just about every way possible, the Man who ate with sinners, the Man who was perfect and yet died a criminal’s death, the Man who…. basically did everything differently from others… will be easy and normal and well accepted?

What does it actually mean to follow this Man? We sing “I have decided to follow Jesus”… but what does it mean?

Are we really willing to accept the ridicule and the shame and the hardship and the suffering and the being misunderstood?

Are we willing to follow Him… all the way? He died, you know. It says take up your cross. The cross isn’t a pretty little symbol. It isn’t just a charm on a necklace.

It’s an instrument of death.

Death.

Really? Are you sure this is the One you want to follow? Am I?

Are we willing to be humbled as He was? To make ourselves of no reputation? To… die? To count all this as loss, that we might gain Christ?

Is it worth it? Is it worth giving up everything to follow Him?

Oh… I hope and pray my answer is yes. Not my answer here. Not my words. My life. The Answer.

For what good would it be, if I gained the whole world and kept my reputation… and yet… lost my soul? What good would it be to be known by men, but… not to know God or be known by Him? What good would it be to have man’s favor, and… not God’s? What good would it be… to get to heaven and say, well everyone said I was such a sweet, quiet girl… And yet… have missed out on the fullness of God wanted to do through me?

Am I worth holding on to? Is my reputation that important? Are my desires and ideas that much better than His?

No. No, not at all.

He… gave up everything. Everything. For God’s glory. For me.

How… HOW can I do less? I must not, I will not, I cannot.

Help me, God.