Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Big Sister

This is my big sister. And today is her birthday. And let me tell you, you all wish you had a big sister like her. 

I have plenty of stories about Anna. Stories about her hate of spiders, stories about her impeccable fashion sense, stories about driving with her, stories about the epic battles we fought both against and alongside each other. There is the time she got in trouble because I decided to run away. The time she left me in that dark hallway all by myself so that the ghosts would get me while she was safe in the bathroom. I love the one about how she took me down to San Diego when I started college. And I will never forget  that she called me up and surprised me the day after I got engaged. She drove 4+ hours just for the chance to celebrate a new a chapter in my life for an evening. We are have not always been the best of friends, but I can tell you, I have learned so much from being Anna Thomson's little sister. (I use the name Thomson because for the majority of our sisterhood we were Thomsons. She is now Quinn and I, Wilhelm. But we are united in the family Thomson) 

In tribute to one of the greatest teachers God has given me, I will pass on some of the knowledge that life with Anna imparted.... 

Things I learned from Anna: 

1) Going Second is Always Simpler.
you get the chance to see someone else do it first. you follow in their footsteps or take an easier path. i would not have lead the life i did had i been the first born. anna, i am forever in your debt.

2) Just Adore Her
you may not always understand why someone is the way they are. but love them. see the good. give grace to the bad. anna has always accepted me the way i am. even when it makes things harder for her. i have never wondered if she loved me. i know she adores me. the love of someone near to you can give you so much confidence in life. just adore them and watch how they will soar. 

3) "Let Your Level of Intimacy Match Your Level of Commitment"
i remember the moment i heard anna say this. laying in bed as we talked about boys. but i carry it with me still. don't give more of your heart than you have committed to that person. or they have committed to you. relationships take time to gain depth. allow that time. 

4) You've Kinda Gotta Roll with the Crazy
life does some insane things. goes places you didn't know it would. it can be beautiful. it can also be hard. very hard. sometimes you go crazy along with it. i have watched my big sister go through some amazing things. she has so much grace for others. i love when she has grace for herself. she lets go and rolls with the punches. crazy looks good on her. and i'm proud of the woman she is. 

5) We're Quite Entertaining
if nothing else, i love to laugh with my sisters. i mostly just watch them be entertaining. this kind of goes with the crazy thing. they are nuts. but they are so much fun to be around. i am glad i never experienced one day of my life without my sister anna. she make it so fun! the A-Team would have been lost with out the ring-leader of our circus.

Happy Birthday! I love you so much! Thanks for being my sister. For being one step ahead. Showing me the way. For all you've taught me. For loving me. For laughing with me (and at me). You're pretty much the coolest person I know. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Hard Conversation

1 Corinthians 5:1-12

"It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?"

Have you ever had a hard conversation coming with a person and you put it off and put it off and avoided them because you just had no idea what you were going to say? That as been me with this post. I'm sitting down to a conversation with my readers about church discipline. A conversation I have stayed away from because this passage really kicked me in the pants. Even now, as I begin to write, I'm not really sure where this is going to go. But it is getting in the way of moving on. So here we go:

I think that it is very hard to ignore the practical application of this passage in corporate worship. What I mean it that, though some churches do not touch this with a thirty-foot-pole, when you read this there is not doubt that a person who is unrepentant of their sin should no longer be allowed to worship as part of the family. Some churches, like the Corinthians, do not like this idea. They would rather love everyone. They would rather be accepting and not judge. They don't want to seem closed minded so they they close their eyes instead. But, I was reminded in a sermon by John Piper that, Christ is not divided. Titus 2:13-14 tell us that "[Jesus] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works."  You can not separate the pardoning of Christ from the His purifying. 

Now for the hard part. Let's apply our personal life today. In a world of cell phones and social media. Where you don't have to see a person daily to call them friend. You don't have to attend church with them to be aware that they claim to know Christ. You don't have to take communion with them to be their brother. How does this play out? Do we personally cut off association with them, loving them enough to say may God open your eyes? Or do we love them from afar, preaching the gospel when possible as often as possible, hoping the Spirit moves? I don't know. I don't have an answer. I sit here and my heart is like a pendulum. Back and forth. Back and forth. I'm a part of the global church, but how do you carry this out without a local body? I will continue to be in prayer on this one. Maybe I'll have an encouraging update to it soon.... May the Lord reveal His will on this one. For our good and His glory.