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January 04, 2005

To Fix or Depend?

"God's job is to fix and to change. Our job is to depend, serve, and equip. This is the work of grace."

I read Jeff VanVonderen's Families Where Grace is in Place last January. I found myself nodding as I read, seeing so many of the conclusions I'd come to through studying theology and discussions with friends. Only Jeff VanVonderen had these thoughts organized and drew upon his experience counseling with families.

It's very true, as JVV points out, that we have been

". . .taught to gauge spiritual success by outward performance standards, and not . . .been shown the internal steps that lead to real, from-the-heart-out empowerment and transformation."

Fast forward through a rough year, and I'm rereading the book. However, instead of nodding in agreement with his ideas, I'm recognizing myself and my own struggles in life. I'm seeing how much I still strive to measure myself and my spiritual "success" by outward standards. How much I don't daily turn to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and draw upon His grace.

In this coming year, I desire to learn more to lean into God, draw my strength from and depend upon Him. And may His grace flow out so I can serve and equip my husband and children.

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Comments

Your site is F*A*N*tastic!!! *grin* Great pic at the top!

Posted by: Carol at January 4, 2005 01:18 AM

Wow! Nice look here. Congrats!

Posted by: Megan at January 4, 2005 01:39 AM

Your site looks BEAUTIFUL...and your post today is right on!

Posted by: Melissa at January 4, 2005 02:10 AM

Well said. I echo you last couple lines. :-) And it looks great around here!

Posted by: stephanie at January 4, 2005 02:53 AM

Wow! Hubby and I have been sitting here oohing and ahhing over your new look. Lovely!

Happy belated blogiversary! Your blog rocks!

Posted by: Missy at January 4, 2005 03:32 AM

I read your first quote and groaned deep in my spirit. Why is grace so hard for me? Why do I think I have to do "it" instead of depending on Him? And your desire for this year closely parallels my heart's desire which I shared with hubby last weekend - to be more like Jesus.

I too love your site. Spring is coming! (I write as school is closed because of an ice storm)

Posted by: Earth Girl at January 5, 2005 12:57 PM

I guess this is one area where Jews and Christians differ big time; my role is that which you have assigned to G-d; to fix, repair, change; we are suppose to make things better, not rely on G-d to do the work. Do all Christians feel that way?

Posted by: Rachel Ann at January 5, 2005 03:14 PM

Rachel Ann, what a provacative question which is at the heart of the some of the differences between Protestants. I'm curious to see how Tulip Girl responds as I'm not a Calvinist but of the Armenian tradition. I believe that it is not possible for me to fix, repair or change without being firmly in the will of God. But I have free will and can sure try it without Him (and I have and I have messed up big time.) So the key for me is to abide in Christ always and that is possible only through relying on His grace. As I abide in Him I trust that I'm in His will and then I can fix, repair and change ("do the work") that God wants me to do.

Tulip Girl is in the Ukraine so it is evident that she is not relying on God to do the work, but God is actively working through her.

Posted by: Earth Girl at January 5, 2005 07:24 PM

Oh, Rachel Ann! Great discussion point. . .

I'm planning on replying, but I don't think I'll get to have more computer time tonight. But I won't forget to get back with you!

Posted by: TulipGirl at January 5, 2005 09:34 PM

Rachel Ann,


In this context, Jeff VonV. is writing about relationships primarily. We probably agree that it is not "our job" to "fix and change" other people.

Coming from a Reformed Christian perspective, I do believe it is God's job to "fix and change," in that he is changing our hearts like what is written in the prophet Ezekiel, And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.

The focus of the book from which I quoted is depending on the God changing our hearts and us depending upon Him to be able to serve Him and others. Not focusing on "fixing" other people or "fixing" ourselves with our own efforts. Rather, opening ourselves up to change, and embracing the change that comes from God.

And as a Christian, I do believe the changes inside are gifts from God through Jesus. But I don't see it as a radical change from what God was doing BCE. The New Testament book of Romans quotes Genesis in saying, And he (Abraham) believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.

I see the Bible teaching us that our heart-change doesn't come by our efforts to "fix and change" but upon God changing our hearts and us believing Him. Abraham continued to make mistakes and continued to need fixing and changing in his own life even after Genesis 15. I believe that just as God changes us, it is an ongoing process and we aren't completely "fixed" overnight but walking out our faith daily, having faith, relying upon Him as we do good in our communities.

From your comment, I assume you were talking less about relationships and more about what the prophet Micah wrote, It hath been told thee, O man, what is good, and what the LORD doth require of thee: only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. We would agree that is important.

In that, we agree that we are called to do justice and love mercy and live our these things in our daily actions. I see it as something that can be done best in a relationship dependent upon God, through Jesus.

As I'm writing this, I'm making assumptions about what you believe based on talking about faith issues with friends who are Jewish. Please feel ree to clarify what you meant if I've missed it.

Grace and peace,

Posted by: TulipGirl at January 10, 2005 06:31 PM

Actually, I'm talking about everything; we can change, and our role is to change, ourselves for the better, the world for the better. We can't change the person next to us, but we can give them the tools to change.

Does everything come from G-d? Yes; but we are the acative force. G-d, according to Jewish philosophy, gave us the world to deal with and we are suppose to make it better. It is by doing that we are deepening our relationship with G-d. By actively giving, helping, exerting ourselves on behalf of the world we are making the world a better place for one and all.

I don't beleive it is G-d's role to fix and change. We can call on G-d, and all is controlled by G-d ultimately but we are to be the active force.

I'm not sure if I explained that well at all.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at January 12, 2005 07:40 PM

Hi, I posted on another entry but thought this one might be more up-to-date. I can't take Jeff Vanvonderen too seriously. Much of what he says is unscientific. For example, he says that children have to develop a strong "no" (to parents) so that they can later say no to friends and acquaintances who offer them drugs. In reality, carefully done studies show it is the LESS compliant children who are more likely to take drugs as teenagers. I think Vanvonderen draws on his own experience (the good little boy who went bad) and generalizes it to everyone.

Posted by: Emily at February 24, 2005 01:26 AM

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