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No, You Can’t . . .

17 Aug

Psalm 101:5, 6: “Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.
Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.”

While I am not a king, like David who penned the above, and therefore I don’t have anyone “serving me,” I can resonate with this passage.

Anonymous denunciations and private slander are wicked. Any Bible believers need to be convinced of that?

Exactly one week ago yesterday I sat in my son’s academic advisor’s office at his special needs college and talked to the two of them about what they term “self advocacy.” Joey will be given more and more opportunities to self advocate this year.

While the college, like everyone everywhere else, does not tolerate bullying, the people there also realize that bullies operate in the darkness, in anonymity, and in one-on-one situations where it is just your word against theirs. Therefore, we all need to learn self advocacy skills. How to say “You need to stop that now.”

I have learned a host of life lessons from this special needs college. They have been faithfully working with the special needs population for almost 60 years. They have quite a few things to teach all of us about interpersonal relationships. We are all the same, at heart, whether special needs exist or not.

Thus it was that over the last 48 hours I told a cyberbully to stop it . . . and got the expected response that bullies usually make. More threats.

This man pastors in another state and had intruded on the affairs of our local independent church by writing a private note to another member telling him to “mark and avoid Mary” due to an accusation that I “teach men and usurp authority over them.”

False accusation and, even if it were true, it would be up to the pastor of our local church and the dean of our local church’s seminary to sort that out. Not a pastor three states away who has never laid eyes on me.

Talk about presumptuous!

Hopefully we can let this die down now. A bunch of threats were made but none that we think he can make stick.

It was telling that he was livid with my friend for telling me the contents of the private note. There is a simple rule for that: If you tell me something private about yourself, I will keep your confidence. If you make a private accusation against another, I don’t owe you confidence.

Private, written accusations used to be called poison pen letters. They have been a bane of our existence in Baptist churches (and probably in all other churches, too) for at least 100 years.

If you get a poison pen letter, expose it. Tell someone. Preferably your pastor.

Don’t let bullies operate in secrecy and impunity.

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You Can Ignore these Three Critics!

29 Jun

You Can Ignore these Three Critics!

Good thoughts about what is important in criticism and what is not . . .

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Shame, Part II

29 Apr

Shame, Part II

I used to love this song by Sonny Bono when I was a teen.

I think all of us occasionally face people in life whose way of gaining control involves mocking others.

It may not even be a personal thing.  It so often is not.  That person feels so diminished, so voiceless that she mocks someone else for the attention it brings!

Or . . . someone can honestly hate something about us that is not evil.  She just hates our laugh, or the way we stand, or the way we bounce up and down when we get excited . . .

Whatever that characteristic is that gains us mockery, if we are not sinning, we need to just let the mockery go.  It doesn’t diminish us.  It diminishes the person who sees the need to be a mocker.  People get that.  Oh, yes they do.

I was stunned not long ago when someone who has been a close friend for years made an age joke at my expense in front of a crowd of people.  In fact, I was so stunned, I asked for clarification.  And, yes, it really was about 55-year-olds acting in an “age appropriate way.”

Just what is that?, one might ask.  Her take was that we should be slow and sedate.  At least slower and more sedate than I am, apparently.

Well.

I don’t think, with my tendency toward ADHD, that is gonna happen.  And I don’t think I am gonna try to conjure it up to please my friend and her definition of age appropriate behavior.

Sometimes ya just gotta let it go.

I trust that anyone in that crowd who laughed at me will reconsider when they see me living in integrity toward them, despite the jokes at my expense.

If not, mockery can function as an awfully good filter, to show you who your true friends are!!!

 

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Using World Vision as a Litmus Test for Spirituality!

26 Mar

Using World Vision as a Litmus Test for Spirituality!

Exactly!  If you break fellowship with me over the fact that I support other worthy organizations instead of World Vision, how do you justify calling yourself progressive?  No one insists on everyone giving to just one charity to prove their Christian faith.  We’re all different and there are many places, people, and organizations that need our support.

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One Example of People Flooding the Twittersphere with Inaccurate Comments

27 Feb

One Example of People Flooding the Twittersphere with Inaccurate Comments

Like a giant game of Telephone from our childhood, things sometimes go around the Internet so far and for so long that their meaning is totally twisted.

I called out a liberal this morning for commenting on piece from a “newsmagazine” like the Onion (made-up satirical stories) that “that story could have been true, given the outrageous attitudes of some conservatives right now.” Nobody wants to be a caricature, and I told him so.

Let’s not play into that, folks. If you don’t have time to read a piece with attention, fine. Just don’t comment on it or forward it. If you do, you might be making a false conclusion and bearing false witness with your forward. Ya know?

“You Brought it On Yourself” or another Queen of Mean Statement We Christians Say . . .

26 Feb

I was caught up short by a younger friend a couple of years ago.  

Someone had made a very bad decision to jaywalk. 

He was struck by a car and died.  

I stated, “Well, he brought it on himself . . .”

My friend responded, “Then you think that jaywalking is a capital offense and should be punishable by death?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Yes, you did.” 

(Ulp!)  She was right!

I have remembered that ever since.  I remember it when someone cuts me off in traffic and I find myself fantasizing about the next person not being able to stop and slamming into him, with disastrous results.

Cutting someone off in traffic is not a capital offense either.  Most things are not.

The first sign that we are giving way to unrighteous anger is that desire for people to be punished in ways far disproportionate to their offenses.

There is a judge in heaven.  But it is not us!  

I need to remember that quite often, so I don’t dishonor the gospel by presenting if from lips that are cold and unattractive and mean in their message.

God gave me mercy.  I can do no less for my fellow fallen humans.

“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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