My Life is CAVU

Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited.

“CAVU was the kind of weather we Navy pilots wanted when we were to fly off our carrier in the Pacific,” he said. “We had little navigational instrumentation, so we wanted to CAVU, ceiling and visibility unlimited, and because of the five of you whose hugs I can still feel, whose own lives made me so proud, I can confidently tell my guardian angel that my life is CAVU and it will be that way until I die. All because of you.” George H.W. Bush

In a letter to his kids on the eve of the Gulf War, the 41st President of the United States wrote the above to his children. Most of us non-military types are probably unaware of this now-trending acronym, but I was so touched by it I wanted to share it. Bush referred to it often, saying he thought it represented his life. Regardless of storms that may come, with faith and family, we can serve and fulfill our purpose with clear eyes and a ‘full speed ahead’ kind of confidence.

His was probably the last generation that will leave behind an abundance of actual hand-written letters that testify to the trials and triumphs of a life lived for something far bigger than oneself. I am grieved that the era of the Greatest Generation is coming to a close and even more saddened by a culture that has become so obsessed with personal success that the greatest goal one can have is to live for oneself.

We don’t have to agree on politics to see that there was something different about these guys and gals. They could disagree with dignity and they weren’t afraid to fight for what was right. At the end of the day, if people can genuinely speak with fondness of you at your funeral, saying that you loved God and man well, you have succeeded.

Bush 41 spoke about “a thousand points of light” often. He knew and lived out the commandment to be a light to a dark world. The world needs more brave and humble people like this. We need believers who aren’t afraid to be a light, who don’t run to shove their light under a basket when asked to take a stand. I will miss this generation if not for that quality alone. While boldly telling you the truth, they’d give you the shirt off their back.

President Bush was a man who knew what he believed and didn’t back down from it. It didn’t make him mean, it made him genuine. Even in death, he made us all realize once again that we are not here to serve ourselves, but one another. We may not be called to a great world stage as he was, but we are all called to greatness. For the Christian, that means living life CAVU.

Real Feminists Choose Life

A quick note on the heart of this post; we all have our proverbial “hills” we are willing to die on. This new-wave feminism that holds such deep contempt for the sanctity of life is mine. I don’t write this to chastise or condemn. I write it because underneath all the fancy arguments and hashtags, we are faced with a single question: who and what do we choose? Life? Or death? Self? Or others? Forty years ago a young woman I never knew chose life over death, temporary affliction over instant gratification, and I am forever grateful. Those women are the true feminists in my eyes, they understood the easy way isn’t always the right way.

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Heeding the Sirens Call

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“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” Genesis 3:6

Eve didn’t take and eat of the forbidden fruit with the intent to do harm to herself. Knowing she was made in the image of God, she took and ate convinced it would make her enlightened and better off. Her intentions were not to doom all mankind, she simply judged what God said to be of less value than her current feelings on the subject. So she ate.

Being the sons and daughters of Eve, as well as heirs of Christ, we carry with us both curse and blessing: the ability to stand firm or to fall as we choose. Our obedience to God weakens the enemy while our disobedience emboldens him and enables his schemes.

Eve was convinced there was some justification to her sin. She thought somehow God couldn’t have meant exactly what He said, there had to be a better way.

Therein lies the hook. We convince ourselves our intentions are good and we make our sin into a noble act. We push God out, convinced we’ve got everything handled. With each selfish little choice, the soil of our heart hardens just a little more, and hard soil is only good for growing weeds.

In 1 Samuel 15 we see how Saul learned this lesson the hard way when he chose to keep some of the plunder from the Amalekites instead of destroying everything as God commanded. When Samuel confronted him about it, Saul swore that her really did obey and do what God commanded, that he was simply saving some of the animals to be a sacrifice for God (v15). However, that wasn’t what he was told to do. He was told to wipe everything out.

Knowing this, Samuel says to Saul, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears which I hear?” 

Saul replies to him, still confident that he hasn’t done anything wrong, “the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice to the Lord and the rest we have utterly destroyed (v 15).”

You can sense Samuel starting to lose it:

“Be quiet! Did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel? Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are utterly consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord? (v16-19)

And STILL Saul thinks all is well: “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people told of the plunder, the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God…” (v 20-21).

He’s justifying his actions, telling Samuel all the things he DID do, minimizing the command he chose to IGNORE completely. Which, by the way, ends up costing him his kingship, because REBELLION and STUBBORNNESS and REJECTING Gods edicts are things that are not going to work to anyone’s benefit. (Sorry for yelling…)

Samuel reminds Saul that “to obey is better than to sacrifice” (v 22-23).

This isn’t something new to us in our day, but we have excelled at taking it to another level it seems. This false gospel of self-importance and plaguing doubt about revealed truth (I used to say ‘nagging’ but I’m taking it up a notch) is growing like a giant weed in hard soil.

The past few weeks have seen not just a steady creep, but what feels like a full-on assault on specific areas of the church, namely women’s spheres. It’s not specific to certain leaders, but certain leaders have propelled it to the forefront and it deserves attention.

Jen Oshman, a missionary mom and writer addressed it perfectly earlier this week and I’d like to share some of what she said, the link to her entire piece, “A Trojan Horse in Women’s Ministry, Confronting a False Gospel Message” can be found here.

(This post specifically addresses the Belong Tour and the latest issues surrounding Jen Hatmaker, who along with her pastor husband, has given the thumbs up to same-sex unions, and Glennon Melton who is making guest appearances on the tour and recently came out as being in a same-sex relationship after the recent success of her Oprah-endorsed book Love Warrior.) She says:

“The message is one of SELF. It says we women are enough in and of ourselves, we define our purpose, we conjure up our own energy to realize our own goals. We don’t need anything or anyone – we command our destiny. 

In stark contrast, the message of the Scripture is that, because of our sin we are desperately in need of God’s mercy, grace, and resurrection power. Apart from Jesus we are dead. (Ephesians 2:1) 

The message of these women is a siren song. Who doesn’t want to believe that they are all they need? Who doesn’t want to live for  and worship themselves? Their authentic, winsome style is leading women into idolatry and the women don’t even know that it’s a twisting of the truth. 

And church, that is on us. These authors are merely exhaling the cultural air that we are breathing – the supremacy of self, the idol of autonomy. But the fact that women in churches are inhaling it deeply and without reservation is an indictment of the lack of discipleship within our very walls.”

In Greek mythology, the music of the beautiful Siren was so seductive, it lured many sailors off their charted course to their deaths. Deceptively alluring words full of good intentions are going to lead many to a rocky shipwreck because these waters are dangerously shallow. If you follow any of these women, you’ve seen the steady progression. It’s an incredibly dishonest way to sell your message. But Oshman is correct in saying that there is a bigger issue, these women are just two examples of what happens when we as a church become either ashamed of or confused about the true Gospel and desire to please ourselves more than God.

Friends, we are those sailors, navigating on a foggy sea, hearing the distant call of a beautiful voice. Listening to her means changing course.

We are Eve on the verge of that first bite, wondering “did God really mean what He said?” Listening to that serpent means eating deadly fruit.

We are Saul, returning from battle victorious deciding our way is more sacrificial, more intentional, more loving. Listening to the people who just want you to set some animals aside means losing your position. 

We’ve lost our taste for boundaries and standards because they are hurting people who are comfortable in their sin, and we don’t want to hurt people. Surely there must be a less-offensive way.

We change the air by loving people Jesus’ way. If someone is hurting, love them enough to give them Jesus in His entirety. Don’t hold back the parts that may sting, let Him heal the wounds. He loves far better than we ever will.

Decide to follow Jesus even when it rubs up against those tender spots where sin is held close, that’s bravery. Following the tide of culture and feelings is not. Placing our beloved desires and selfish ways at the foot of the cross is hard, but it is freeing.

Don’t heed the siren songs, don’t embrace the serpent and don’t listen to the world Know the voice of the Shepherd and acquaint yourself with Him, His truth will always be able to stand on it’s own.

 

Where is Your Jesus?

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A few years back, we took a family trip to Germany with our then 4 year old son. We had lived there a few years earlier (before children) and were excited to go show him all our favorite places and introduce him to a new culture. I love Europe. My favorite thing to do is go inside old churches and chapels – I love the smell, the way the light shines though centuries-old stained glass, the faded paintings. I could literally spend all day looking over the details and wondering about the people who put them there.

Needless to say, this is not the favored activity of a 4 year old. You have to be quiet in churches. Running up and down the aisle is frowned upon. He preferred playing with little German kids in the park. He preferred playing in the rocks outside. Anything was better than walking through an old church with mom whispering about art!

One morning, we drove up to a vineyard that had a little chapel. I peeked through the door and saw mostly darkness. It was a sad little place. No big windows to let the light in. No paintings on the walls. Just a crucifix hanging above a little altar. I went in and sat down for a minute. Pretty soon, my little guy came and sat down by me. We looked up at the cross, a most Catholic-looking Jesus hung there, bloodied and with a look of excruciating suffering on His face. It occurred to me that J had never seen this Jesus before. He had seen the storybook Jesus, holding a lamb and frolicking with children in a field. He knew Jesus had died for him on the cross, but how much does a 4 year old really get?  My first thought was, “crap…he’s totally going to be traumatized by this and have nightmares about a scary Jesus!”  I pondered getting up and going back to play in the rocks. But then he said something that I will never forget. He looked at me and said “mom, it’s a good thing Jesus isn’t still on the cross, huh?”

I was totally taken aback. “Yes! Oh my goodness, yes it is a good thing!” I asked him to tell me more about what that means. “Jesus is alive now. He isn’t there anymore, he is in our hearts.” If ever there was a parenting moment of glory, this was it for me. He got it. Four years of Bible stories, celebrating the resurrection at Easter and talking about Jesus living in our hearts had come to this. When faced with a suffering Jesus on the cross, he realized that Christ now lives in us.

We talked about how none of our crosses had Jesus on them – and how virtually all the crosses we saw in Europe had an image of a crucified Christ. I had always just chalked it up to Catholic/Protestant differences and moved on. This taught me so much more.

The crucifixion of Christ is of utmost importance, not to be ignored by any means – but what if that is all we ever see? A sad, suffering Jesus? He died so that we may live! The work is finished. We are forgiven. I began thinking about how I was living. Was I walking in the resurrection power of Christ or was I living like He was still up on that cross, striving and under the burdens of all my shortcomings?

Praise God the tomb is empty! Jesus didn’t stay indefinitely on the cross suffering in misery. For the rest of our trip, we would walk into a church, see Jesus hanging on the cross and my son would whisper with a sly little grin on his face, shaking his head,  “He’s not really up there anymore mommy!” He spoke with authority, like he was in on a special secret that not everyone understood.

So where is your Jesus?  In America we don’t often see this version of a suffering Jesus in our churches. In Europe, this is the only Jesus I ever really ever encountered. We need to know them both. They are the same God.

But lets remember one thing: we are forgiven and the work is done!

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. Romans 6:9

I want to live like that, to tap into that power. I want my kids to know where their Jesus is. He isn’t stuck on a cross and neither are we. He is not defeated and neither are we!

Live in it!!!