Archive | February, 2014

“You Made Your Bed, Now Lie in It” or How Christians Became Known as the Queen of Mean

25 Feb

I John 2:11, “But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” 

I don’t mind doing damage control with nonbelievers after other Christians have come through and done their worst.  That is life. 

But it is altogether too predictable.  For every nonbeliever who either refutes the Word of God or is angry with a God who would be sovereign and God-like over His own creation, there is at least one Christian who ran roughshod over a human heart.  

Folks, we are meaner than God.  

I say that reverently.  God is not mean.  He is love.  We Christians are, sometimes, just plain mean.  To nonbelievers, to each other.  Just plain mean.

Okay, our hearts hurt sometimes, too.  But when we hurt, God has shown us the constructive thing to do–come to Him for comfort.  He never gave us permission to live from a center of hurt and bitterness, to lash out against the entire human race.

When Christians become active politically, we can show our worst side, too.  

American Christians can end up mixing up the American Dream with the gospel of grace and giving people a laundry list of self-help tips instead of a Saviour who is big enough to fulfill their every need.  

An example is our attitude toward single mothers sometimes.  

Let’s say a girl gets pregnant at 16, decides not to abort her baby, has to live through abandonment by the baby’s father, lives with her parents, is trying to go to college while working a minimum wage job, and then . . . shows up at our church.  

If we happen to lead that girl to Christ, what then?

Any number of Christians will present a strong case against government aid for this young lady, even temporary government aid.  And I understand their hesitancy to create a situation of dependency for this young lady and her child.  

However, what is the alternative?

Those of us who are uber wedded to the American Dream would speak of the individual and his determination to make a better life for himself and his family.  But they would end his obligation to the human race at his front door.  

Okay, fine.  No one is obligated to help this single mother and her child.  But what does the law of love say?  If we think the government should not assist her, are we willing to do it as individuals?  To step outside of the framework of our own family and our own home and to give sacrificially so this young lady might finish college and make a better life for herself and her child?

Is that a risk?  Sure it is.  If we pay her tuition for her, she might become lazy and flunk out.  That is a risk every college student runs.

Or she might get her degree, get a better job, and forsake the church.  People forsake the church all of the time, almost always having received something from the church that was given with no price tag attached.  Another risk we run.

Or this young lady might make good, become a strong church member (and tither), and raise her child in the ways of the Lord.  She might later marry and raise several more children for Him.

All of life is a risk.  Only God knows who will be a loyal church member and Christian in the end. But we miss a huge chunk of living when we stay risk averse . . .

And God help us if we not only refuse to help this young lady but try to excuse our refusal by engaging in pre-emptive meanness.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say the equivalent of “she made her bed, now she can lie in it” . . .

Really?

She made a bad decision, even a sinful decision, at age sixteen so we think the appropriate penalty is for her to spend the rest of her life not able to move beyond the consequences of that decision?  

Aren’t we glad God never uses that line on us!

He freely offers us grace.  Yes, there are physical consequences to sin and some of them can be lifelong.  But I think God can figure out how to use natural consequences to the best advantage without us trying to assist in that.  

We don’t help Him reach the lost by holding out a stony coldness to them!

Sure, most of us are not independently wealthy.  There might not be much we can afford to do.  

But to throw the phrase “She made her bed, now let her lie in it” out there is unconscionable.  If we can’t help financially, so be it.

But we must still hold out the gospel of grace and of love.  

Then when someone comes along who can afford to help and wants to help, they won’t have to spend lots of time undoing the damage our meanness has done to a new believer . . .

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The Discussion of Sexual Orientation as Analogous to Race

25 Feb

The Discussion of Sexual Orientation as Analogous to Race

More voices on the comparison of sexual orientation to race . . .

vs. race

A Journey Away From Cynicism

24 Feb

This is beautiful. I don’t want to be part of the mudslinging and anger in this country either. And both political parties are culpable in this!

Sowing Mercy

I was discouraged and disheartened after the election of President Obama in 2012. Not primarily because he was reelected; I did vote for Mitt Romney with reluctance.

But I was weighed down by the prolonged, cynical effort to throw Obama out of office. There are legitimate reasons to oppose his policies and actions as president. Among his many real failures and offenses as president are his handling of Bengazi, the overreach of the NSA, his attempt to get into newsrooms around the country in the guise of a “Study,” his botched launch of the Affordable Care Act. However, many like to roll in the mud of innuendo and lies, with several shots of vitriol to spice it up.

The other side is equally as cynical. During the fall of 2013, I picked up a magazine published by the Union at Meijer Stores. It was filled with scathing lies and vitriol…

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Somewhere in Time . . .

24 Feb

Due to the month of run-up to the Oscars on Turner Classic Movies, I have just viewed (binge watched) 29 movies since the beginning of February.  It is not always possible to get so many Oscar-nominated movies so easily within the same month, so my husband and I have taken full advantage of that on TCM, and plan to do that every year from now on.

I just saw “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” for the first time–it reminded me of a handful of similar movies like “Ghost” and “Somewhere in Time.”  Also, “Berkeley Square,” another oldie which I saw earlier this month.  

Beautifully romantic, these movies perfectly portray the Greek philosophical teaching about the nature of the afterlife, as two disembodied spirits spend eternity together (or borrow bodies to be together again on earth, as “Ghost” portrayed).  

Beautiful and romantic but not in line with Christian teaching.  

You see, we will live again in these bodies.  The bodily resurrection was taught in Judaism all the way back to the book of Job (possibly the oldest book of the Old Testament).

So disembodied spirits will not wander the empty spaces eternally, enjoying the sharing of ideas together.  Our real, resurrected bodies will be able to touch each other again.

They will be glorified bodies, but our own bodies nonetheless.  This is consistently taught throughout Scripture.  It is only because we have listened more to the Greeks than to the Jews that we don’t get that.  

Our faith came from Judaism.  We would do well to read their Scriptures/our Old Testament.

Yes, Jesus did say there will be no marriage in the afterlife.  He gave the example of five brothers all marrying the same widow (the first one married her when she was a maiden).

In some wise way that is beyond our understanding, the marital relationships many of us need to have now will not be needed in eternity.

It is not just that God could not figure out which brother gets the widow.  That was the dilemma presented to man to make him think.  God could have figured out a way to deal with widows, had He seen that it was best for us to have marriage in the afterlife.  

So, by faith, we hear that He does not have couples as part of His plan for eternity, but He does have the marriage of Christ to His bride, the church.  

Oh, great mystery!

I am sure when it is revealed to us, it will be so wonderful and wise we won’t even be able to describe its splendor.  

We will dwell with Christ, who is already in a glorified body, in our glorified bodies.  

Forever.  

Four Ways I Can Judge You!

24 Feb

Yes, I created that title on purpose!

We were talking in Sunday school yesterday about the fact that saying “Judge not” and stopping right there is a misrepresentation of Scripture.  Jesus told us to judge not lest we be judged.  He said the same measure we used to judge would be used against us.  He told us to get the log out of our own eye before we try to take on the speck in someone else’s eye . . .

There are times we will be called to judgment.  Or say “discernment” if that feels more comfortable.  

Here are four (this list may not be exhaustive):

1) I can judge your actions if they are immoral or illegal.  If your actions clearly disobey Scripture, I can judge you.  You can me judge me if my actions cross this line, too.  

2) I can judge your words.  If you speak hatefully, stirring up outrage against unsaved people rather than encouraging us to go win them to Jesus, I can judge you.  If you speak against a Christian brother or sister, trying to create factions within the church, I can judge you.  In situations like the above, there are Scriptural precedents for how to handle situations.  Wantonly running our mouths is not one of them.  

3) I can judge your patterns of behavior, or lifestyle.  When I do this, however, I must take care to not “take a snapshot” at one moment and assume that I know everything about you from that one moment.  That is generally why God does not call strangers or casual friends to conduct Biblical confrontation with each other.  If I have not invested deeply into your life, I probably don’t know you well enough to confront you.  This is key.

There are any number of times that people who have known me in the past and currently know me through Facebook will make comments about some aspect of my life and . . . they won’t get it right.  Somehow, because of their own lives and other people they have known, they are overlaying assumptions on me that don’t belong.  In these cases, I generally just try to laugh and move on.  It would not be any more appropriate for me to “counterconfront” these folks than their original confrontation was.  

We were laughing in Sunday school about an example of “point in time” judgment I used.  Four of us cleaned the church Friday.  Two vacuumed; two cleaned bathrooms.  I vacuumed, then after 1.25 hours of vacuuming, I went in to help finish the bathrooms.  I stopped for five minutes to check my email and Facebook posts on my iPad. I stated that, had one of the bathroom cleaners come in at that moment, she might have assumed that I was loafing while they were cleaning, no?  And that would have been wrong.  It is easy, and common, for us to see the five minutes of aberration in somebody’s day as the rule for how that person conducts the rest of the day!

So we need to really know someone’s lifestyle before we presume to comment on it, and especially before we try a Biblical confrontation with that person (wouldn’t it be silly to confront the person Biblically, only to find out we had our facts wrong?).  

4) I can judge you if you are not yourself judging righteous judgment.  This category is legion.  Our human tendency is to try to judge the thoughts and intents of the hearts of others.  The Bible says we can’t possibly do that.  We can only judge actions and words and lifestyles.  The rest is unrighteous judgment.  

You see, we do this:  we judge ourselves by our intents, which we can see.  “I meant to be helpful, but I didn’t understand the situation and I actually made it more difficult than it was.”

We then judge others by their actual actions, without allowing for the fact that there might have been a pure motivation that got messed up in action (just as we ourselves can have happen).  Or worse, we assign a motive to the person that may or may not actually be there . . .

“Look how she screwed that up . . .” we say (while never remembering how many times something we tried, out of a pure heart, backfired on us).  Or “She meant to derail that process because she has never liked me . . .” we say (attributing an evil motivation to a person we probably don’t even know well).  

Unrighteous judgment.  

So, yes, I can judge you on actions, words, lifestyle, and unrighteous judgment.  And you can do the same to me . . .

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Elsa in “Frozen” and Using our Talents for God

24 Feb

Elsa in “Frozen” and Using our Talents for God

I haven’t seen “Frozen” yet. Now I can’t wait to do so.

Yes, I am the one who watched old movies with my dad, my grandmother, and my cousins growing up.

I didn’t go to the movies much prior to the 1980’s because I was a serious student who was always studying (to become valedictorian of my high school class; to graduate college Magna cum Laude–I had to earn that stuff as it didn’t come naturally to me!).

As a junior officer in the Navy, I probably saw 50-75% of the movies that came out in the 1980’s. Light-hearted comedy fare was my favorite.

I then settled down to marriage and motherhood and mostly saw only the Best Picture nominations in the 1990’s.

I have hardly even seen the Best Picture nominations since 2000 as I regard today’s movies as largely a wasteland of form over substance.

So I get excited when I see bloggers swooning over a new movie that can lead to deep discussions, even theological discussions!

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Following Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, and Donald Miller in Exiting the Church . . .

24 Feb

Following Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, and Donald Miller in Exiting the Church . . .

Trends analyzed from 2003 to 2013.

Three of the greatest voices in evangelicalism then have now left the traditional church. Will you follow them? I won’t.

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