Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A New Year's... Rrrramble

Friends! I'm sorry that I've been gone for so long. I went on an unintentional internet fast this week because I've been in Kansas City, MO at the International House of Prayer. No internet access, plus what would have been an effortful time in getting internet access made for an easy decision to "just say no" to the cyber world for a while. I certainly missed visiting Facebook, reading emails, catching up on blogs I follow, and of course, blogging. It has helped me realize, however, that I want Jesus to be my primary source of entertainment (because he is ultimately my ONLY source of joy!).

So the week after Christmas was the Onething Conference at iHOP, KC. I was excited to go to this yearly conference for the first time and experience some spiritual refreshment, diversity, and challenge. I definitely received diversity and challenge, but not so much refreshment as of yet. The trip started off a little roughly with me being reminded of some past anxieties and fears over the charismatic movement in Christian America. The very next day, I was hit with food poisoning and terribly ill for 24 hours. Jamie was a sweet friend and sat with me through every groan and grumble of pain; I was so grateful to be staying in a home rather than a hotel! Though the Lord did not make me sick, I do believe he works all things for good and brought about blessing through my only attending a total of half the conference sessions. I wish so badly I could say I enjoyed the teaching offered this past week, but I simply did not.

You see, I've been struggling with Calvinism and Arminianism. Oh boy, I never ever ever wanted to bring those two horrid words here to myHandH but I must if I am to share with you how I really am. For those of you who are not familiar with the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate, it is a common conversation among scholarly Christians (though certainly not limited to the "intellectuals") about weather God intended humans to have free will in choosing him or if he predestined them to heaven or hell since the beginning of time. For all of my mature Christian walk, I have felt content to ride in the middle of the road. I am certain that God is sovereign and knows the beginning from the end, but I also believe he created man with the ability to choose all sorts of things, including salvation.

My University is very Calvinist. iHOP is very Arminianist. (I feel like I have two souls!)

I am still a bit too overwhelmed to best-articulate where I am emotionally. But as you can see, I'm facing very distinct (both very good and loving) teaching in my life and SO seeking after truth with my heart and mind, but finding the tension between these teachings too...tense. If nothing else, this week in Missouri was a great opportunity for testing things against the Word. I'm learning more and more to love the Word of God. Hey, nothing bad can come from that! Allow me to share a journal entry with you from my time to better explain just how I was feeling (and in contrast with my normal writing, the ellipses here mean I'm sparing you some massive details and ramblings):

December 31, 2010
"Lord, I seriously want to hash out the details of what's inside me, of why this is so hard, of why I'm feeling entirely frustrated. I still trust you...I really kind of feel like I was robbed of those last few "extra" days of Christmas. I missed time with the family, I probably would not have gotten sick, and (though this goes against good critical thinking) I would have been ignorant of all the weighty spiritual matters brought up here if I had not come...God, I'm realizing intensity just scares me. The intense rigidity of Calvinism that says, "It must be all about dying of yourself, that Jesus may be glorified!" And the intense language of iHOP: "His heart is ravished and lovesick for you, his bride!" I believe option A, I'd just like everyone to lover their voices a bit. And I want to believe option B, but it doesn't sit right with me because it's so me-specific. Why does intensity scare and irritate me so? Anxiety, panic, invoking the past, lack of peace, not the voice I'm familiar with... but Lord, I know there's a place for intensity. Hello! I believe what Revelation says...
I'm simply wrecked! I don't feel like I can go any lower into confusion. I just do not understand how I can follow you in a way I believe is godly and right and how it can look so different from this. I wanna get it right!
...Enough ranting, enough! There's truth that I'm ignoring and I think there's an on-my-knees moment that's been in the works...
It's the "cultures of Christianity" that are driving me nuts because I can't belong to all of them. Hey, maybe that's the answer: I can't belong to all of them. Am I clinging to truth? Am I loving and reading the Word? Am I praying and being attentive to the Spirit? Am I being obedient and following your calling on my life? These are the important questions...Thank you! Thank you so much. I am willing to be surprised by you still and I'm going to trust that those questions are guidelines from you. Help me to take this journey you're guiding me through as a step of faith. I can do all things through you who strengthens me!
In your holy name, Amen."

So something I did not realize while I was in Missouri was that the Lord would continue to work when I got home! He's revealing more of my fickle spirit to me, my tendency to quickly reject and then go back to look at what I just denied, the discomfort I feel when I don't know all the answers and am not in control. Beyond these factors though, I know God loves me dearly and has led me to this crazy place for a reason; a good reason.

I'll try to keep everyone posted...but like I said, I'm fickle. And I may very well have moved on in a week with a simple statement like, "I don't want to waste my time here, I know what I need to know, and God is in control of the rest"... but then again, I doubt it. There's lots to learn!

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