Archive | March, 2013

Passover Lamb

31 Mar

Passover Lamb (written one day while contemplating what it would have felt like to be a Gentile watching on the sidelines as Christianity first came to the Jews, then was widened to include Gentile believers) 

John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:  I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” 

 

My Jewish friends rejoice today

Their joyful eyes I see

They say their Jesus lives again

I wish He’d come for me . . .

 

The Jewish part of Galilee

Shouts with Passover glee

The Lamb’s been slain, but lives again

I wish He’d come for me . . .

 

A stranger here I always dwell

In my nativity

I wish I knew Immanuel,
I wish He’d come for me!

 

The Jews say sin must ransom bring,

Someone to pay the fee

Or we’re always apart from God.

Oh, please, Sir, come for me!

 

I cannot bear the wrong I’ve done,

I’ll die eternally.

And yet the Jews have God’s own Son.

I wish He’d come for me . . .

 

Oh, Lovely Lamb, God’s only Son,

From Egypt I would flee

I’d leave my sin’s remembrance in

The depths of the Red Sea.

 

Yet my repentance falls far short—

Please hear a Gentile’s plea—

I so want to become a Jew,

So that You’d come for me . . .

 

But wait—they say You hear us call

You too would set us free.

Oh, Jesus, I give You my all!

Praise God, You came for me!

 

(30 July 2003, Tabernacle Baptist Church, after hearing Dr. Craig Hartman present his mission to God’s people, the Jews)

 

Isaiah 9:1,2:  Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.  The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light:  they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.  

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What Would Jesus Do about Disabled People?

29 Mar

What Would Jesus Do about Disabled People?

I know, I know, Jesus would heal disabled people. Except He didn’t heal all of them when He was here. And He seems to be healing fewer of them now. But they help us find healing from our selfish hearts and existence because as we do unto them, so we do unto the Lord Himself . . .

Our son has high functioning autism. Always has had it and, barring a miracle, always will have it.

We have seen so much grace in our lives. We have had our share of challenges but 90% of our lives have involved drinking from the wells of pure, unadulterated grace.

The reason I go back to the above-linked article on disabilities and the church so often is because I need to be reminded that much of what is real around us is also invisible to us. Everything has a cause but we often guess it incorrectly. We can’t afford to be arrogant about so many things we say, because we may have connected the dots that life gives us incorrectly.

I remember a time long ago when our Joey was in a Bible class that I was teaching. There were about ten homeschooled children in the class, nine of them boys. The tenth child, a girl, had been adopted from a foreign country.

As it worked out, there was another disabled boy in Joey’s class, diagnosed with ADHD. So two out of ten, or one-fifth, had a documented disability. A couple of the other boys were quirky. Maybe they had slight disabilities or maybe they were just terminally male.

After a while, I became aware that there was discussion of our class elsewhere in our large ladies’ Bible study. It seems the adopted girl was acting out at home and it was assumed she was picking up the behaviors from the disabled children in our class.

There was, in fact, so much discussion of our class that the homeschool program was suspended for the next year. I remember the statement being made that “the ratio of disabled kids to nondisabled kids got too high and reached a tipping point that was unacceptable.”

As it turned out, months after we suspended the program, the adopted girl had to be returned to the adoption agency, with her adoption nullified. Guess our disabled kids weren’t the cause of her issues at all. Especially as she was stealing from her family and never did I see evidence of stealing in my Joey, nor anyone else in our Bible study setting.

Nice! So our disabled kids got scapegoated when people were casting about for a cause for this girl’s behavior. While I feel nothing but compassion for her and her precious family, I also know that what happened in our Bible study was terribly unjust to the disabled population.

We live in a fallen world. So much of what happens cannot be explained, or at least the dots can’t be neatly connected between events.

But we try to connect them anyway.

And we end up hurting precious people that way. Sometimes precious disabled people.

On this Good Friday, when Christ gave up His life for us, I don’t think He would mind me reminding people that we only know in part right now. And we need to live that with humility.

Let’s not scapegoat each other . . . God’s precious Son was scapegoated for all of us.

Picketing at Planned Parenthood on Good Friday!

29 Mar

I drove past our local Planned Parenthood building (a huge edifice) twice today.  First time, as I approached, I saw a number of people on the sidewalk.  I thought, “Oh, it’s a sunny, but cold, Good Friday.  That has drawn a crowd of anti-abortion protestors.”

As I passed though, my smile faded.  No, my face probably fell.  For the crowd was about twenty people holding signs that were pro-abortion.  One of them ready “Keep your crucifix out of my uterus.”  Nice.  Especially on the holiest day of the Christian year.  The intent wasn’t lost on me.

I thought immediately, however, of the many long years when Planned Parenthood soft-pedalled their role in abortions.  A huge provider of abortions, they wanted everyone to believe that their main business was referrals to mammograms (which it turns out they do not provide) and pap smear tests (which I think they actually do provide).  

I smiled once again, just a bit, realizing that if the pro-abortion protesters are now standing outside of their building, the connection between them and abortions is now clear for everyone to see.  Buyer beware and all!

Nothing like having your friends give you publicity in an area you have previously hidden!

On the other hand, I felt an immense sadness.  Almost to the bone.  Almost a weariness.  How long, O Lord, how long?

For this is, indeed, the holiest day of the Christian year.  What would compel a person to stand outside of an abortion facility today, of all days, and demonstrate their lack of agreement with God on preserving the lives of people He has made in His image?  What strange twisting of the soul would lead a person to mock someone’s crucifix today, on the day memorializing the Son of God going to one of those actual crosses and dying for our human race?  

What kind of immense blood guilt do we have on our hands nationally?  And what would lead twenty people to celebrate that before an entire city?  

Lord, help us!

 

 

 

Does the U.S. Government Get to Define Marriage?

29 Mar

Here is where it gets dicey.  Why did we ever let the U.S. government get into the business of defining what is and is not a marriage?

Well, it worked for a couple of hundred years, as long as anyone who would have chosen an alternate definition of marriage either:  a) stayed in the closet or b) moved to Utah (until polygamy was outlawed there).

Now we are in a postmodern, post-Christian era in the States and people are calling for alternate definitions of marriage (gay marriage is one alternate definition, but polygamy is standing right at the door, waiting to be next). And the rationale is because married couples get the government’s stamp of approval on their relationship and their finances, with special tax breaks offered to married couples filing jointly. Inheritances are likewise not taxed when conveyed between marital partners.  

I do understand why a gay person might not wish to pay taxes to provide heterosexuals with marital tax breaks when he himself cannot get them.  This is a simple matter of fairness on the part of a secular society.  

An idea whose time may have come is the idea of all of us registering with the civil government as domestic partners, whether we are heterosexual or homosexual.  Marriage ceremonies would be made into a completely religious concept, as defined within any particular church or denomination.  That would make sense since the concept of marriage arose from religious tradition (Christians would say God gave it to us).   

That way, everyone could partake of the tax breaks attached to domestic partnerships, while each couple wishing to marry would need to find a religious institution under which they could be married.  The marriage license would have absolutely nothing to do with finances or tax rates.  Only domestic partners, of whatever variety, would qualify for tax breaks.    

Jesus told us to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.  

Maybe we got that wrong a couple of hundred years ago when we decided to build financial support for traditional marriage into our national and state tax codes.

But the best thing for us right now might be to separate domestic partnerships from marriages, getting the government out of the business of defining marriage. 

Gay Marriage: Is it a Privacy Right?

28 Mar

It is Holy Week, folks.  Maundy Thursday, to be exact.

Like many this week, I have been writing and reblogging posts on the Supreme Court cases that started Monday, both about Proposition 8 in California (anti-gay marriage measure that voters passed) and about DOMA, the federal Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 (Clinton administration). 

It is time to slow down, both for the sake of Holy Week and for the sake of pacing ourselves.  This court case is likely to run till June.

So for the next little while I will take one topic at a time on the gay marriage debate.  My younger friends are showing me in our conversations that, since they did not grow up before Roe v. Wade, they don’t always see the implications of having a sweeping social issue be decided by the Supreme Court.

So, first question:  “Isn’t the subject of gay marriage one of privacy rights?  I mean, if you don’t want gay marriage, don’t get one . . .  Otherwise, leave the gays who want to marry alone.  They aren’t doing anything that affects you.”

First answer:  Whenever the federal (or state) government gets involved and hands someone a piece of paper legitimizing their relationship, it affects us all.  What people do in their bedrooms is covered by privacy rights.  When they get official government approval of that via a marriage license, the issue ceases to be about privacy rights.  

A wider, more appropriate subject might be “What is the government doing in the business of deciding what is and is not an official marriage?  Isn’t that a religious question?”  And maybe that is the case.  I will talk about that later . . .

 

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Two Dreams Come True . . .

26 Mar

Two Dreams Come True . . .

I remembered something the other day. In 2011, as in previous years, I spent a lot of time talking to God about how good my life was. I kept saying to Him that my life would be perfect except for one thing. I was badly overweight and didn’t want to be. I told God that I would consider my life perfect if I could lose, say, 50 pounds.

I ended 2011 by making a plan to go back on Weight Watchers and to make it work. No half-hearted attempts. I was going to work the plan, however slowly I might lose those 50 pounds.

As those of you who know me are aware, we can fast forward to the end of 2012 and realize that I lost 100 pounds (now 110). Praise God! That was huge and so much more than I thought possible.

Then there was the matter of the blog. This blog. Several friends, but in particular Josh and Heather, kept telling me that I needed to use my writing for more than Navy publications. I agreed and joined Josh (and Heather) on our church blog when it got started.

It eventually became apparent (when I was five years ahead on writing monthly entries for the church blog) that I needed to branch out to my own blog. And here I am!

My saying is “I write therefore I am.” And praise God for that, too!

Just the Facts, Jack! Starbucks vs. Chick-Fil-A . . .

25 Mar

Here is a wonder of free speech and competing world views.

Chick-Fil-A’s CEO expressed support for traditional marriage and was boycotted by some supporters of gay marriage.

Starbucks CEO expressed support for gay marriage and was boycotted by some supporters of traditional marriage. 

Some of us kept frequenting both places.  

And the world spun onward.

The beautiful thing is that everyone can make his or her own choice about how to respond in our free land.

Hint:  the U.S. Supreme Court is about to rule on Proposition 8 in California.  They might elect to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states, all at once, from the bench.  

I don’t agree with gay marriage on Biblical grounds but I believe it will soon be allowed everywhere, the law of our land.  

And I am not going to boycott everyone who supports it either.

Pray for our country.  A much more effective tactic, methinks!

Are We a Bit Inconsistent?: Movies about the Bible

25 Mar

Disclaimer:  I have not watched the traditional old movies at Easter in forever and a day.  And I am not watching the new series about the Bible on the History Channel at this time either.

Soooo, I speak in some ways from total ignorance.  Either a faulty memory of the old or an unawareness of the new.  

However, when the movies “Barabbas,” “King of Kings,” “Ben Hur,” and “The Ten Commandments” came out in the 1950’s and 1960’s, wasn’t there a lot of happy buzz around them?

Families would gather around the television together at Easter to devour these four-hour masterpieces.  They would rejoice that Hollywood was making films about the Bible.  They would overlook the errors . . .

Oops, there is that last part, isn’t there?

You see, people still watch those old classics from the 1950’s and 1960’s at Easter today.  Errors and all.

But today’s young families have something else.  

A History Channel series on the Bible being shown in the weeks preceding Easter.  With errors and all . . . (just like the earlier movies).  

And we older folks have taken to telling those younger families that they are guilty of poor choices when they watch that series as a family.  Because it has errors and all.  

Just like the stuff we watched when we were children and/or young parents.  

Hollywood will never get it exactly right.  No movie could.  

We can choose to watch things with errors, or not.  

But we have to realize it is inconsistent to praise things from the 1960’s (with errors) while condemning things from the 2010’s (with errors).  

Just saying . . .

Just a Thought: I Am Outraged!!!

25 Mar

Outrage is just what it sounds like.  We out-rage someone else.  They are in a rage so we ratchet up the settings until we are yelling louder.  

I have become convinced we use outrage to cover over our own sense of guiltiness.  We know we are sinners.  So we find and isolate someone we regard as a bigger sinner than us and then focus on her sins . . .

That is the world’s way of dealing with guilt, but it is often the Christian way of dealing with guilt, too.  Find someone else’s sins to rehearse, not my own . . . dear God, please don’t make me face the fact that I too am a sinner in need of Your grace . . .

But . . . that is just the point.  Christians are only people who have come to realize their sinfulness and need of grace.  And how grace has been poured out on them in Jesus Christ.

Truly, if we have spent our life in outrage at everyone else’s sins, there is a chance we have never admitted our own and been born again!

May we bask in His forgiveness instead of living in our outrage.  

The Gospel of Panera

24 Mar

Every week after my Weight Watchers weigh-in, Saturday at 7 AM, I head over to Panera Bread for my weekly treat of an Asiago cheese bagel (sliced and toasted), veggie cream cheese spread, and caffe latte (skinny).  If my husband is available, he goes with me.

I have noticed some things in Panera that I see in other places where people become “regulars.”  

My first observation is that people are not at all polite to wait staff in places like Panera (maybe everywhere!).  “Gimme a . . .” is a very typical way for people of all ages to order.  Guess Mama never taught them “please,” but I cringe every time I hear this.  It is often the same person who comes back, time after time, because their bagel is not the right degree of hot or toasted or whatever . . . 

Secondly, it is typical of all of us to not learn the name of the person who waits on us every single week.  Saturday, when the gal with the long gray hair handed me my latte for perhaps the 40th time in a year, I asked her to move her hair aside for a second so I could see her nametag.  “Thanks, Karen–I will remember your name from now on . . .”  (Don’t we all want to be called by name?  That is why it is so special to us when God says He does it!!!).  

Thirdly, and finally, some of these casual coffee places have the best informal Bible studies ever.  There are several men’s studies every Saturday morning at Panera.  One is always taking up the corner table for ten!!!  And that, my friends, is freedom of religion at its best.  Anywhere there are people, there can be a Bible study.  This is not state support of a religion, but just individual citizens exercising their right to gather and discuss what interests them!  Praise God for our freedoms!!!  

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My Excellent Mom

22 Mar

My Excellent Mom

Last night in Bible study, as we looked at Proverbs 31, a Bible chapter on a virtuous or excellent woman, I had a memory flood back from childhood.

We were talking about the sacrifices moms make in financially hard times. How so often their kids are clothed in nice clothing while the mothers make do with fewer or older clothes. So many of us said, “My mom never got new clothes while I was young.”

That was true for us. My dad was an apprentice electrician when I was born. He worked his way up to foreman of a whole shift of electricians at General Motors but it took a couple of decades.

Meanwhile, we got new clothes when it was possible and nice hand-me-downs when it was not. Even me, the oldest! My hand-me-downs came from my grandma’s neighbor!

At one point, my dad took matters into his own hands and bought my mom two dresses for Christmas. He was making headway as an electrician and wanted to surprise the woman who was doing so much, sacrificially, for us.

Most of you ladies know what comes next. He got the right size (must have looked in her closet) but missed her taste by a mile.

I found my mom sobbing in her room right after we opened presents. She hated the dresses, but she hated worse the idea of telling my dad that his sacrificial giving had gone so far astray from the way it was intended.

And she never did tell him . . .

She wore those two dresses most Sundays to church for the next five years.

The one that I hated the worst initially became my favorite dress that she ever owned. In fact, I wish I still had a picture of it. Maybe somewhere . . .

She really wore it well.

No, she rocked that dress!

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Why I Believe in Total Depravity!

18 Mar

Why I Believe in Total Depravity!

When we lived in Germany, we had several German friends honest enough to say, “Of course, all Germans alive at the time of World War II knew what was going on with the Jews. They were disappearing from day to day. We just knew … But we also knew we could not ask questions and expect to be there to raise our own families!”

The Germans were no different from any other race. Hitler was not an anomaly among humans. We all have sin lodged deep in our hearts and need a desperate remedy.

What, short of our total depravity, would have put the Son of God on a cross to be tortured to death? Think about it.

He brings us very good news. There is a way out of our darkness. His name is Jesus Christ.

Do We Ever Listen to Ourselves? Concerning Belongingness . . .

18 Mar

Have you ever heard someone say something like this:  “This group/church is so cliquey.  They really need to get a clue about how to welcome newcomers and make them feel valued for more than the money they contribute . . .”

Then, if things go according to human nature, the person makes more friends in the group  and perhaps gets an elected/appointed office there and . . . voila, six months later you always see that person hanging out with the “old guard” of that group, never going out of her way to welcome newcomers.  Why is that?

Human nature.  We all want to be invited to the party at the big house on the hill (as I have heard the analogy elsewhere).  We just don’t necessarily want everyone to be invited.  We want the guest list to end after our name is on it . . .

I have seen this behavior time and again in politics, in religious groups and churches, in secular groups.  The complaint is very rarely intended to make the group totally inclusive.  It is only intended to make the person who is complaining part of the inner circle.  She will criticize the group until she is part of that inner circle, then stop . . .

Jesus actually taught inclusivity, even of the most vulnerable among us (read:  people who don’t seem to have much to offer us).   

Just a thought!

Do We Ever Listen to Ourselves? Concerning Arrogance . . .

18 Mar

Have you ever heard someone say something like this:  “Who does he think he is?  His pride is totally ungodly and out of control.  I am about to cut him down to size.” 

Two problems with that:

1) If we are referring to this person in a Christian context, God is able to take care of his pride without our help.  Think about that!

2) Our willingness to be God’s assistant in humbling others shows a whole lot of pride and arrogance in us.  Maybe more than the original person has.  

Just a thought!    

How Should a Woman Dress to Go to Church?

16 Mar

I Timothy 2:9, 10, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

It strikes me as odd that the above passage has been used in two opposite ways as a proof text for what women should wear to church!

One side says that it forbids expensive clothing and jewelry and therefore confirms that a woman should dress by the standards of her time (i.e., jeans nowadays) to go to church.

The other side says that it calls for us to give God our best effort and to avoid immodesty.  This side believes that women should only wear skirts or dresses to church, avoiding anything too snug, too lowcut or with too high of a hem.  

While the Bible does have things to say elsewhere about all attire (and specifically about women’s attire), this passage concerns reverence for God being expressed in women’s dress.  The word translated in the KJV as “shamefacedness” is elsewhere translated “reverence.”  It has to do with the principle of doing whatever we do as unto a Holy God.  That idea is also expressed elsewhere in Scripture.

If we are dressing as unto our Holy God, we will not dress in a way that attracts undue attention to ourselves.  That is why we will avoid wearing the Hope Diamond or something made of so much solid gold that we would not be able to accidentally lay it down for a minute and be confident it would not be stolen.

We don’t want to distract our fellow worshippers with competition, or even with covetousness.

However, in an era when almost every American woman owns some nice pieces of jewelry, these verses do not teach against the use of jewelry, per se.

They do not teach against spending $100 on a dress in an era when the average price of a dress is $100.  

They do not teach that women who only shop at thrift shops are allowed to feel superior to women who buy their clothes new.  Or vice versa.    

They do not teach that it is inherently superior to dress like the hipsters do, living in jeans 24/7.

They teach dressing as unto a Holy God.  Only that.

Coming at this from the other side, these verses do not teach that every woman should only wear dresses and skirts for worship, let alone for every occasion 24/7.  

That is a preference.  One that I possess, although I do own four pairs of jeans and wear them on the occasions when our workteam works outside. 

What we should get, more than anything from these verses, is the idea that we are worshipping a Holy God and that our dress should reflect our hearts, pure and modest before Him.

Going into worship while judging the attire of those around us is kind of a contradiction in terms.

In God’s sight, we all lack holiness and need to be humble.  

There is not one superior way to dress before Him, as long as dress is modest.

There are only  preferences.   

If this lady who loves dresses and skirts acknowledges that, I suggest that we all look at the Scriptures and see what they are compelling our hearts to do!

Love one another, in spite of our different preferences in dress.  

God would be so pleased!!!

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