Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Believe in The Church

Despite it's tendency to condone co-dependent relationships and the pretending that has been prevalent, I believe in the Church. I do. In the past few years, I've read a couple of books that highlighted some of the failures of this thing we've called the church, and they were good books. I was challenged. I understood better, some of the hiccups in my life. I'm glad I read them. But recently I subscribed to author, Glenn Packiam's blog and I've been completely refreshed by his passion for large gatherings of believers, otherwise known as "church".

In a recent post, Glenn related from the book of Deuteronomy God's instructions to the children of Israel on the WAY they were to worship. One of those thoughts involved the place of worship. Place matters. Glenn says"Their worship was to be in the context of their tribe-- or in our language, community." Having a community of believers to worship together with is God's idea.

No other day was the importance of community illustrated to me than today at Shoreline Christian Center. Our beautiful Pastors are working through what I think is one of the deepest pains, the loss of a child. Their precious 17 yr old son, Caleb died in a car accident on July 14th. Today, just weeks later they shared some of their pain with us. We sang together. We laughed together. We cried together.This morning I looked out at a building full of people. More people than ever warm these seats on a regular Sunday, and I thought there is no place I'd rather be than here in this building, with these people, experiencing this together. Something happens in these gatherings that doesn't happen alone. Maybe it's the sharing, the joining. the 2 or 3 gathering. It's special. It's significant! And I believe

Ephesians 1:20-23 All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ's body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. (The Message)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Well, it’s that time of year and we are gearing up for school again. As I prepare my children to get ready for learning I realized that there have been seasons of my life when I have had to unlearn some things I believed for a long time. Whether I was actually taught these things or whether I simply chose to believe I’m not sure, but to be perfectly honest I believed that if I was just a good Christian girl that life would be a breeze for me. And that if there was hardship in my life, I must be doing something wrong, not believing right, not praying was a self-focused faith.

There are three scriptures in particular that I’m re-learning:
John 10:10
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Jesus did not say: I have come to arrest the thief, STOP him in his tracks, and put him away so that you will never be bothered again! I wish that is what He said. What He is saying is that there is an enemy of our soul who will come with great focus. We may feel like we’ve lost everything. We may feel like we are dying. We may feel like life is lying in shambles around us but if we look to Him– we will find our life – real, full, rich life.

Isaiah 43:2
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.
God did not say you won’t have to pass through the waters – I’ll build a bridge for you. When you come to a river – no worries, I’ll just stop the current. On top of that, I’ll extinguish all the fires in your life. That sounds so nice, doesn’t it? What this passage does say is “When”. We know that tough situations will come, but it also says “you pass through” we are going to make it! We may feel like we are drowning but God is with us holding our head up above the water. We may feel like we are being swept away – but we will not be swept under. We may feel like all we know is being consumed in the fire – but WE will not be consumed. Maybe what we knew needed to be consumed and what we will know on the other side of the fire is that God bigger than we ever imagined before. When tough things happen – God’s promise is to be with us through it all

John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Jesus does not always appear on the scene in my life with a super hero theme song: Da da da Daaa…saying ”I will stop the trouble!” Bummer! What he is saying to me is: this life on earth is not all there is –in fact it is very small compared to what I have prepared for you. His plan is not to stop all the trouble in my life. As crazy as is may seem in the height of our struggles, He is able to use our temporary trouble to work His desired outcome in our lives. (See Romans 8:28 and James 1:2-4) We need to find that “in Him” place! Trusting in him, we can have peace in the middle of whatever life throws at us, Now that’s a miracle!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

God and Sin

It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people.

Hebrews 10:11 The Message

I know that I need perfecting, so I love this verse, this whole chapter actually. The knowledge that in the one time sacrifice of Jesus, the lamb slain before the foundation of the world, God did everything that needed to be done to bring us into right relationship with him, and to keep us there!

Somehow it is easy for me to believe that my past is forgiven. That my sins were washed away. But, my imperfectness makes me prone to present-tense problems. And unfortunately, I am well aware that there are failures lurking in my future. The past? The past is under the blood. I know that. Embracing God's grace for today and tomorrow proves a bit more challenging.

I'm not the only one in the house wrestling with this. My dear 9 yr old asked me last week if he needed to invite Jesus back into his heart after he sinned. Quite a topic for tucking-in! He's just sure that Jesus must leave when he sins because God can't be around sin, right? My heart was broken for my boy and in my efforts to reassure him that God never leaves, I realized I needed reassurance myself.

I think this stems from a well-taught Sunday school lesson of some of Jesus' last words on the cross. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I remember all too well, being taught that Jesus cried out in anguish about God's absence, because in taking on all our sin, the presence of a Holy God had to flee. Back it up with Old Testament stories of the Holy of Holies and it is just so logical. When the high priest failed to follow all the purification procedures, he passed out...slain by the presence of a Holy God. When unauthorized folks touched the Ark of the Covenant, even when they were trying to be helpful, their life on earth ended. It's troubling, even for a King.

But do I really believe that God's presence and sin cannot exist in the same space?

No, honestly, I can't believe that at all. If God is indeed, by his nature, omni-present, then his presence is everywhere sin-free or sin-full. In Hebrews we read that as we are participating in the perfecting process, we enter God's presence boldly "we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into the Holy Place." This in our imperfect state, but only by the broken body of the only Perfect One. Jesus made a way for us. A way that becomes a well worn path called Repentance. This same chapter reminds us that the veil separating God's presence from the rest of our sin-stained world was torn as Jesus' body was broken on the cross. That barrier is no more.

Looking back to Jesus on the cross, I understand that Jesus may have felt forsaken. Haven't we all felt forsaken? Remember Heb 4:15: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses." He sympathizes because He knows! Jesus' words echoed David's prophecy in Psalm 22 and most of those at the foot of the cross would have known the entire Psalm...they would have heard verse 1 and remembered verse 24 "For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help." God made a promise to his children: I will never leave you nor forsake you. Surely, that promise applied to his Son, Jesus. I think that in that moment, Jesus felt for the first time what we all feel when our relationship with the Father is strained by sin.

I can't believe that God abandoned Jesus on the cross. That the Father would disappear as the son became obedient to death. I believe what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that God was reconciling the world to himself IN CHRIST. The Father and the Son are ONE! Jesus prayed in John 17:21 "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you." God was right there on the cross IN CHRIST. The cross was actually a bit crowded: A Holy God, a Sinless Saviour, and every sin past present and future of every person who has or ever will draw breath.

Reading over this, I sound so confident, but I'm still wrestling. Learning is hard work, unlearning is even harder. I need to dig a little deeper. I know I don't have it all figured out and I'm well aware that my degree is in Biology...not Theology! This is simply my interpretation as I see and understand today. I AM however, confident of this:

No baby, you don't have to ask Jesus to come back into your heart. Your sin didn't scare him away, He never left you.

He will never leave you!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nice Boys

I joined a Toastmasters group and today was the very first meeting. It was terrifying. I got called out to speak on a Table Topic, completely off the cuff with no preparation. I was walking up to the podium, tempted to make a mad dash to the bathroom instead and seriously feeling like I was going to cry. Actually, it's been a few minutes and I'm still shaking. I realized I'd much rather write than speak but I guess that's why I signed up in the first place. I enjoy having time for my thoughts and ideas to float around and marinate for a while! This was torture for me.

Anyway the topic was Pink and Blue - the greatest difference between the genders. And with just seconds to think about is what came out...along with all the stuff I thought about immediately after sitting down :) and knowing that things have been marinating just a bit and that I will edit this at least twice, or three times before publishing! In addition to that, I've already forgotten what I actually said in the meeting because of the trauma it caused me. Ha!

Violence, what is with the violence? My husband took our two sons to see G.I. Joe this week. I had thought I'd try to get a movie in with the boys before school started but when I checked this one out and saw the PG-13 rating for violence and general mayhem, I opted out! After the movie, I asked the boys what their favorite part was. My youngest proceeded to describe a scene when one guy thrusts information downloading spears into another guys head. Lovely. I'm so glad I missed this one!

Spears? Battle? Braveheart? I don't get it. Yet here I am, surrounded by Blue....the only Pink in our house is in my closet! One thing that helped me get a grip on this gender difference was Wild At Heart by John Eldridge. My dear friend Katerina recommended this book to me as the mother to two little boys and I devoured it. I think it is a must-read for any woman who has a man in her life! For me, it was a window into the Blue world.

Before this book I was not buying toy weapons for my children, now we have an arsenal of Nerf guns, SuperSoakers and Lightsabers! Before this book, I wasn't big on dress up costumes either. Thank God, this book rescued me! There is nothing quite like taking Spiderman in cowboy boots with you to the Walmart!

Sadly, there is one thing that hasn't changed. As much as I'd like to think differently, I am still trying to make my sons into "nice boys". When they get all crazy and competitive, I encourage them to play on the same team and not against each other. We had a bunch of boys over recently and I called my son, and asked him "Why don't you encourage your friend instead of trying to cream him?" My husband just rolled his eyes and answered..because they're boys Lynn....they're boys! UGH!

I know that I really don't want to end up years from now with two nice boys. The world needs strong men who know how to stand up to adversity. Men who will jump in front of the dragon to rescue the fair maiden. I want to raise men who know how to offer their strength to the world. But this stands in the face of my heart to keep these boys safe. I'll probably never understand the violent, battle, thing. Or why anyone would want to watch the History Channel. But when my son says he wants to join the military some day so he can give his life for his country, I can't freak out and talk him into a safer occupation. I value safety. But I want my boys to be free to take risks. So, my battle is with SAFE. The only way I know how to fight this battle is to regularly square up with my own fear and refuse let it bubble over and cripple the warrior within these two young men.

When my niece Kaitlyn was born, the one pink presence among the grandkids, I was holding her and watching her sweet expressions. She smiled a sleepy smile and I asked "What are you thinking about little girl?" My son answered "Unicorns and ponies". We all laughed. Just as quickly as that smile appeared, Kaitlyn whimpered and her lip puffed out. I asked my son "What is she thinking about now?" "A Dragon is eating the ponies and unicorns!"

Will you slay the dragon, my son? I won't be the one standing in your way.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


You is just a simple three letter word we use everyday, all the time. A pronoun that typically takes the place of a proper name. We often use this word to address groups of folks. "How are you doing tonight?" "It's good to see you." You may mean a bunch of friends or even a church full of people.

I guess that's how I've read it in different passages of the Bible, but for some reason this week, it sounded became even more the personal pronoun it truly is.

In Luke 2, introducing Jesus to the earth, the angel told a group of shepherds "I have good news! A savior has been born to you" I think the angel was saying... a savior has been born to all you guys up here tending your sheep. But I also think the angel was saying...a savior has been born to you Jeremiah, a savior has been born to you Nathan, there is hope for you Benjamin. And this week my Holy Spirit highlighter said to me...a savior has been born to you Lynn Cherry. You are a mess, you need rescuing. A savior has been provided for YOU!

Twenty chapters later, Jesus used this little word just before his death. In Luke 22, he says "This is my body given for you" and "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." I wonder if the disciples gathered with him at that last supper heard that word in a group sense, like...this is my body given for the twelve of you. Or did they hear...this is my body broken for you Peter, this is my blood shed for you Matthew. That is what I heard this week.

Lynn, my body was given for you. As the veil was torn, my body was broken for Lynn Cherry. (Heb 10) There was no other way for you to fully know the love of the Father, so I died for you Lynn. Yes I died for the whole world, for the you that encompasses all, but inside that word is each precious soul, each dear individual, each Sarah, each Chloe, each Jim and each Sam. Lynn, my blood was spilled for you. For each time you've lied, for each time you've cheated, for every time you fail. My blood washes away all your sin.

Jesus tells us to remember his broken body, his blood poured out. We do this as a church family on the first Wednesday of every month at Shoreline. We remember. I love the way the Message Bible puts it "What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master." (I Cor 11) I hold in my hands a piece of bread and the little cup of juice. But I remember his body was broken for me....his blood was shed for Lynn. I hold his death in my hands. A death that should have mine to endure, the weight of that is too much for me.

Sometimes it is easier to read these passages with a whole earth perspective. Its like a soft-focus lens on the cost paid for me, one, Lynn. When I read you in a private, personal sense...I'm shocked and overwhelmed that I am worth all that, but Jesus is saying I am.