Salt and Grace

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

What A Ride It Has Been

I began this blog in October of 2011 with this post.

I said then my goal was to spur others on to love and good deeds. I hope that in some way I have done that.

But let’s be honest: blogging is basically self-serving and narcissistic. I’ve tried to keep my focus on you, the reader, and never come to the page seeking adoration, though it was impossible to completely divorce myself from the notion of it.

I made myself a promise early on that I would never look at the number of readers or subscribers and so I’m not sure, past the occasional commenter, if anyone reads what I write. I also decided early on that I would write only when I felt God egging me on – that it didn’t matter if anyone was reading it. I would write at His will and hit “publish” and not look back. Though I found it impossible to divorce myself completely from the hope that someone would in fact read it, and like it, and even comment on it. Smile.

In 2012 I resolved to memorize the Sermon on the Mount – Jesus’ most famous sermon, found in Chapters 5, 6 & 7 of the book of Matthew. Most of my writing this year was my commentary on that journey. I also wrote about love, ladies wrestling, prayer, poverty, social media, things that suck, peace, God, church, divorce and marriage. For a few months I posted something inspirational on Thursdays but after a while it felt a bit gimmicky so I bagged it.  The most personal posts I wrote this year were Grace for the Hard Marriage, Two Words, and Had I Known Then.

Currently I have 28 unpublished drafts, posts that I started and abandoned for some reason. Here are a few of the titles: Dear Church, Risky Business, Using Facebook for Good and not Evil (ha), In Which I Come Out of the Closet (bet you’re wondering about that!), How to Cultivate a Religious Spirit and When Caring Isn’t Enough. Maybe someday I’ll pick where I left off on one or more of those.

So maybe you can tell by my tone so far that there is a wrapping up taking place.

I am not ready to say goodbye, but I am feeling that it is time for a break. First of all, I am right now sitting in Denver International Airport with my husband and my youngest daughter, getting ready to leave my home for 6 months to attend a Discipleship Training School with Youth With A Mission. As a family, we will be blogging about our experience, and I can’t see keeping two blogs up at the same time – talk about narcissism! However, I can’t say  the Spirit might not move me to share something personal about our journey with you, here, at Salt and Grace.

So all that to say, my writing here is likely to get sporadic. If you are subscribed to the blog you will get a notification in your email if I’ve written something new. If you don’t subscribe, you may want to (just scroll down to the end of the page of the blog and click on the sign up by email link), or just stop by every now and then and see what is up!

So, faithful reader, thank you. Thank you for being a part of this journey with me. As I hit publish on this and board my plane, know that I am thanking God for you and praying for you and asking him to bless your 2013.

Love,

Cara

Fragile

For the past few days I’ve been crying. A lot.

Last Friday, Newtown, crying. But who wasn’t? I went to the grocery store. I saw my favorite checker, Nancy. I thought I should take the opportunity to say goodbye to her. Because who knows if some crazed person will come into my neighborhood King Soopers and kill everyone. Also, I’m leaving for 5 months in 11 days and won’t see her for a while. So I go to say, Hey – Nancy, just wanted to tell you that I’m leaving for a while, and I wanted you to know I think you are a sweet person and I have enjoyed getting to know you and I’ll see you again I am sure, but have a Merry Christmas. But what came out was:

WAAAAAAAAAH WAAAAAAAH WAAAAAH

Only it was much uglier and louder and snot filled than that.

She stood there, shocked, not knowing what to say or do. She gathered, through the storm of sobs, that I was moving and she asked, “Where are you moving?” and I said, “Hawaii,” and she said, “Why the hell are you crying?” Ha. That made me laugh, and I finally calmed down enough to get out of the store.

I am now a Safeway shopper.

And the tears have not stopped flowing. It hits me at random moments – waiting for a friend outside a restaurant, driving in the car, dropping off my boxtops at the school office – ya, that was fun. The poor office ladies did not know what to do with me. Except hug me. Which made me cry harder.

Then last night one of our YWAM leaders, Siri, called and when she asked me, “How are you doing?”  the water works started and I cried the entire time we were on the phone. Ridiculous.

I’ve been praying and asking God what this is all about. And then Siri sent me an email this morning encouraging me to accept my tears as a gift.

Wow.

I started thinking about how hard I work at being a tough girl, a leader, the girl that has it all together. How I strive to keep everything together, run the household, do ministry, organize events, have all the answers and serve others. For quite some time I’ve been asking God to make me into the person he wants me to be and I figured that would be SUPER MISSIONARY.

Ha.

As usual, God has other plans. He is showing me how fragile I am. At my core, this is my true self: sensitive, insecure, emotional, afraid, needy. These are not attractive traits in our society. We are a culture of pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps and suck-it-up-buttercup people.

But God knows me. He sees through my tough exterior into my soft, vulnerable core. Perhaps the tears are His way of breaking down my outer shell. I don’t know. I’m still in the middle of it. But today I decided to stop fighting back the tears and just be…fragile.

Drum Roll Please

One of my new year’s resolutions for 2012 was to memorize the Sermon on the Mount – chapters 5,6 & 7 of the book of Matthew.

Today I videotaped myself saying the whole thing. The video below is my first take. It is far from perfect but given all I have going on in the next couple of weeks I’m not going for a take two. I’m not sharing the video to show how great I am because trust me, I am not (just watch the video), but to encourage all my fellow sojourners to think about taking on Scripture memorization in 2013.

Bible teacher Beth Moore will be doing a Scripture memory challenge in 2013 – details have not yet been announced as of this posting, but keep checking her website. Beth invites all who stick with it for the entire year to Houston in January of 2014 for a private event. Trust me, you do not want to miss out on this!!

I am planning on doing it and I would love to see 100 PEOPLE FROM COLORADO go to Houston in January in 2014. I have a vision of us all wearing tie-dye Colorado Flag t-shirts! With attrition, I’m guessing we need about 500 people from Colorado to sign up to do it. Guess what that means? If you are from Colorado and I know you I am going to be bugging you a lot in the next few weeks. Please do not avoid my calls. I will find you. Also, you will in turn need to bug all of your friends. I think my friend Christy will be doing a Facebook page. Ahem. Christy.

Okay, so here is my very imperfect video. Let me say one more thing. Memorizing these words changed my life. Not because I memorized them, but because I tried (the best I could) to put them into practice. And that is the thing, if you agree to do the aforementioned Scripture memory challenge and you don’t let the words change you, then don’t bother. Sorry for the harshness of that. And also for this: if you don’t even try to memorize Scripture, how can it change you? I love you all. Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for…hahaha:

Say Yes

Recently I had the honor of speaking to a group of women at Deer Creek Church’s Holly-Day Tea.

I spoke about our upcoming YWAM adventure, about surrendering your Anything to God, and eating octopus.

Take a listen if you wish:

https://soundcloud.com/caragab/say-yes-cara-gabrielse-holly

House Built on Sand

“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:26-27

Why would anyone build their house on sand instead of rock?

1. It’s easier.

2. Everyone else is doing it.

3. Costs less.

4. Not thinking long-term.

5. When the weather is good it doesn’t seem like a bad idea. In fact, it looks very much like a house built on rock.

6. We think it doesn’t matter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What would you add to this list? 

house-built-on-sand

Practice Makes Perfect

“Therefore everyone…

the disciples, the crowds, even the Pharisees and the teachers of the law,

…who hears these words of mine…

Be reconciled to your brother;

Give to the one who asks you;

Love your enemies;

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth;

Do not worry about tomorrow;

Do not judge;

 Take the plank out of your own eye;

…and puts them into practice…

Ah, there’s the rub. 

Is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7: 24-25)

All this memorization? All our religious practice? It’s for naught if we’re not transformed by it…if we don’t take the words of Jesus seriously.

Becoming more like Jesus is a process. One that I fail at a lot. Maybe you too? Join me in asking God to reveal to you today, right now, where your heart is not aligned with his, then ask him to help you change.

This morning, after I wrote the words you just read, I opened up my Bible to the Sermon on the Mount and asked God to show me where I am lacking. My plan was to quiet myself and read through it and ask God to highlight one or two verses for me to focus on. Well before I even started reading the word PRAY came screaming into my head. Close your door, go into your room, and pray to your Father who is unseen.

Let me tell you, I haven’t done much of that lately. Maybe that surprises you since I am about to enroll in MISSIONARY SCHOOL. Geez. Why am I not on my knees every flipping day?

When Brad and I started this process, this process of surrendering our lives, we were praying without ceasing. We were together at the kitchen table every morning praying, praying at night, in The Word, worshipping during the day, church every Sunday, sometimes every Saturday night and every Sunday morning.

And then we felt like God was calling us to YWAM – he started connecting all of the dots for us. And we said Yes. And then came the planning and practical side of things and those things have now overwhelmed us and we are not connected like we should be – to each other, or to God.

So I’m off to my room now. Going to close that door and pray.

Friends, I hope you will take some time today, take some time RIGHT NOW, to check in with the Creator of the Universe. Because he wants to personally have a chat with you.

Love,

Cara

The Worst News Ever

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day,‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers! Matthew 7:21-23

I’m unhinged by this.

All I can do is pray.

Lord, help me. Help me to follow you and love you in an authentic way. I don’t want to do religious things and say religious things and act religious. I want you to change me, shake me, until all that is false and fabricated falls away and only you remain. I want to do the will of your Father in heaven – help me know what that is! Forgive me when I fail to love and live the way you did. Forgive me for the times I have, and will continue to, judge others and their journey, spirituality, fruit, and sin. Make me hungry for you, only you, always you. Amen.

The Truth the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth

When I was a teenager I went on a road trip with some friends from Colorado to Arizona. After 14ish hours in the car, we arrived in Phoenix and one of the first things we noticed were the streets lined with beautiful orange trees. We pulled the car over and everyone hopped out and grabbed an orange, peeled it, and bit into the most disgusting, bitter, dry fruit we had ever tasted.

The fruit looked good on the outside, but the inside was rotten.

This week I’ve been looking at Matthew 7:15-16 in my quest to memorize the Sermon on the Mount:

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

We need heaps of discernment in this world – the kind of discernment that only the Holy Spirit can give us – in order to see beyond the exterior and into the heart of those who tell us to go this way or that.

The messages are tempting – sheep are dumb, yes, but we would not follow a wolf because his or message was right-sounding. No, they would have to camouflage their true self to blend in.

So how do we know if rotten fruit or a wolf lies within?

  1. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:2-3
  2. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. 1 John 4:5-6
  3.  Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 2 John 1:7-9

Jesus continues to unpack the idea of good fruit and bad fruit and false prophets in the verses that follow, so I/you will be on this topic for the next few weeks. Let me tell you, I am really struggling with this. First and foremost because I want to know The Truth, The Whole Truth, And Nothing But The Truth. Why? Because eternity is at stake.

Let me be real about my motives and say I want to be right because I like to be right. And if I am right, if Scripture is right, then there are people who I know and love who are wrong. And this does not give me any satisfaction whatsoever. It upsets me and confuses me and unsettles me because I don’t know what to do about it.

Except to keep seeking hard after God and The Truth. I hope you will do the same friends. I hope you will not keep doing what you are doing and listening to who you are listening to just because you are afraid to question your teachers. Because a good teacher welcomes debate and doubt and free-thinking. A wolf? Well he doesn’t want any of his food wandering off.

Praying for, and for me…

The Razor’s Edge

Life is such a trip.

Why am I here? What was I created for? What is my calling, my purpose?

These questions interrupt my oblivion. These questions beckon me to seek and explore the path that God has set me on. It’s a path wrought with peril and intrigue and beauty and brokenness. It’s a path which pounds in my chest and rises in my throat.

Trust me, there are days when I’d rather watch The Voice or traipse around Target than to wrestle with Life’s Big Questions. But alas, God wired me to ponder and provoke. So here goes…

God created me, and you, to walk this thing out with Him. But first we have to open the gate, and friend – Jesus is the gate.  The Gate is narrow, and not everyone will slip the latch – not because all are not welcome – but because all will not choose to travel the razor’s edge that lies beyond.

Those of us who have walked through The Gate must not think of ourselves as worthy –  Hello? We are walking around with 2 x 4′s in our eyes. NO, we must walk each other home, hand in hand, sometimes yanking, sometimes letting go for spell, but always, always, beckoning our fellow sojourners onward.

What about those who are standing outside the gates? Or those that have walked through the wide gate that leads to destruction? Shall we scream and point fingers and roll our eyes and puff our chest? No, we illuminate The Gate  by becoming more and more like Jesus. And we are not more Jesus-like because we go to church, or belong to the “right” political party, or adhere to a set of moral codes.

We are more like Jesus when we do what he did, and live like he did.

So, how does one find out what he did and how he lived? Well, a good place to start is by reading the Gospels. Any one will do fine (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) although I am partial to Matthew. If you have never read an entire book of the Bible, it might be helpful to discuss the text with others. These others don’t have to be pastors or scholars or such – any old gal will do – hint, hint. And if you don’t have a Bible, I know someone who will give you one. Ahem.

And what of you who know the Gospel and feel you’re on the narrow road that leads to life? Who feel like you’ve got heaven all sewn up?  Sister, brother, I humbly challenge you to read one of the Gospels as well. And while you are reading, write down or highlight all of the things that rub you the wrong way. Note of all of things that Jesus says and did where you are tempted to say, “That doesn’t apply to me,” and then, go do those things.

Note: I say this fully aware of my plank. Yet. This process of reading and memorizing the entire Sermon on the Mount made me realize my version of Christianity didn’t look so much like what Jesus modeled. So I set my feet on another path, one that cuts me to the quick, like a razor’s edge.

Another suggestion, for those of you in this camp: Read the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan or Radical by David Platt, then ask yourself afterwards how you might experience more of what God wants for you while you are here on Big Blue.

The road that leads to life is quite a trip. But Jesus is an excellent guide. He won’t lead you to comfort or safety but he’ll hold your hand the entire way.

“Enter through the narrow gate. 

For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction,

and many enter through it. 

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life,

and only a few find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

Just This

Us church folk like to make things complicated don’t we? Programs and studies and events and seminaries and such.

But Jesus, the one we are following, boils everything down to the golden rule. Imagine for a minute a world where everyone Just. Did. That.

Let’s put it to the test shall we? For the next 7 days, let’s do just this: in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. 

If you decide to take up the challenge, I would love to hear how it went!

11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:11-12

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