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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.


The Hipsters, who Distance from the Fundies, Review Ken Ham through their Lens of Christianity

5 Feb

The Hipsters, who Distance from the Fundies, Review Ken Ham through their Lens of Christianity

Disclaimer: not all young Christians are hipsters and not all hipster Christians spend their time acting like they would like to hide the fundamentalist folks in Christianity in a broom closet, along with their hardworking old grandmother who makes them feel ashamed in front of their friends by her terminal lack of coolness.

But there are enough young hipsters like that in Christianity to be ironic.

Ironic because they denounce fundamentalists for hating them and trying to make them go away.

They denounce us while using these same tactics against us.

Enough already. Mom here! I don’t care who started it. Let’s just stop it. We are all part of the same Christian camp.

The above post doesn’t address many things theologically.

If you want to be a hipster Christian and defend marriage as being other than Christ defined it (one man, one woman, for life), then show me where the moral authority comes from to do that.

If you want to believe in theistic evolution, explain to me theologically how death came along before Adam and Eve fell.

If you want to reconcile a world that is millions of years old with a Saviour who was born of a virgin, explain to me how a God who wasn’t capable of creating an old universe in the Old Testament (with starlight already in progress, since stars that we can see are millions of light years from earth) suddenly became capable of creating a virgin birth in the New Testament.

There are lots of things that need to be addressed theologically by the above post. They were not even attempted. The writer merely did some terminally cool posturing. I throw a flag on his play.

And just sneering at fundamentalists does not count as a logical argument. In fact, that is called an ad hominem argument, for anyone who is truly looking to learn the fair rules of debate.

Just sayin’


Learning to Lay Down our Preferences . . . For the Greater Good!

31 Jan

Learning to Lay Down our Preferences . . . For the Greater Good!

It remains one of my greatest joys to see the Church of Jesus Christ working together and loving each other, despite the vast diversity therein.

It remains one of my greatest puzzles to try to understand how, sometimes, people can sit one seat away from each other in church, then spend the week savaging each other behind each other’s backs.

What is worse, sometimes people can equate their snarkiness and sarcasm with spirituality. Well, it is spiritual all right, but not of the place we strive to enter at life’s end . . .

But at the end of the day, I will take my church and its people, warts and all. God knows what He is doing there and why He put us together.

I am not the only person who has a familymember struggling with OCD or another life-dominating condition. It is easier to struggle alongside others who understand what it is to struggle . . . and might even have suggestions that help in my struggle.

It is better to be around people who remind me that nothing is too hard for God, even when it is too hard for me.

Who encourage me to come back to fight another day!

I am convinced that the biggest killer of fellowship and, really, of hope itself is comparisons. Especially within the Body of Christ.

God told us not to compare ourselves to others but the human race is blighted with this tendency.

I am learning, as I age, that I can’t stop that happening. I can gently point it out. I can gently refuse to join the conversations that start that way. And I can gently just leave people alone when they pick at me or others, realizing that it is not really all that important to stop them from comparing themselves to others and trying to come out favorably. Does that really harm me? No.

I love the verse that tells us to agree with our adversary on the way lest worse things happen than her accusations. I am learning to do just that. If someone is picking at me, I ask for specifics. There may be some. Or maybe not. But I won’t know if I don’t ask. And if there are specifics, God can show me whether they have some validity or are just a figment of the other person’s imperfect imagination.

What do we have to lose, other than our defensiveness? And isn’t that a good thing in the end?

I love the Body of Christ.


Eleven Reasons for the Soaring Distrust of Pastors!

21 Jan

Eleven Reasons for the Soaring Distrust of Pastors!

My poor pastor–having to maintain his godly ministry in the midst of these image-destroying stereotypes!

I totally identify with the one about an entitlement mentality having entered the church, too. I find most negative statements about my pastor (and other pastors) have much to do with people who expect the pastor to either be their best friend or at least to be there 24/7 at their beck and call. They get disillusioned when they don’t get all of his attention, all of the time.

Like it’s a competition or something. Many people seem to have never considered the idea that serving in the church is good for us, not just a way to get the pastor’s attention. Sheesh!

Arab Spring: Replacing One Autocrat with Another . . .

19 Dec

Taking a break from the endless Duck Dynasty controversy in the U.S. (yes, it is a first world issue, as the worker bees of this world have to work hard to make a living and don’t have time to get into endless arguments about who could have said “homosexuality is sin” in better words than Phil Robertson did), I tuned to BBC World News coverage of the Arab Spring and of one country where homosexuality is still regarded as sin, without much debate on the issue.  Egypt.

Interesting that the analysis being presented shows a pattern in Egypt that prevails no matter how much the people want change:  Egypt is always, always ruled by an autocrat.  Mubarak was one, Morsi was one, the current general who is running the country and looking good to be freely elected in the next round of elections is one . . . As the BBC said about Egypt and about other countries involved in the Arab Spring, they have only changed autocrats.  No one has ever yet achieved democracy.  

Why are we surprised?  Those raised without freedom don’t know how to handle it.  So, when given a chance, they will vote against it and “dance with the devil that brung them.”  Or, rather, they won’t even run any candidates representing true democracy.

If a country wants to develop democracy, they need help over a number of years, if not decades.  

And maybe they don’t need help from the likes of us, as we only seem intent on stifling opposing viewpoints over here these days . . .

Rather than turn back to Duck Dynasty (urp!), let me turn to a group I know pretty well.  

I turn to my friends, the IFB (Independent Fundamental Baptists) and their next generation, many of whom are anti-IFB.

This is my beloved denomination, by the way.  It has warts, both nationally and in each local church.  But which body of humans does not?

What I have been seeing that is disheartening though is that the “next generation” of pastors and theologians who are rising up to rebuke the simplistic thinking and the sound bytes that have been issued from IFB pulpits over the decades (we are not a denomination known for writing or even reading many books–to our great shame, I am afraid) are falling far short of any scholarship of their own.  

Many are reading the New Reformers (Young, Restless, and Reformed) and either accepting Calvinistic thinking in one swallow (not thinking it through first) or rejecting Calvinism but pasting the rest of the New Reformed thinking over their current theology.  

Can you think of anything more convoluted and confusing?  I honestly have not reached conclusions about many areas of doctrine as taught by Calvin, Spurgeon, etc.  But rather than just start spouting words which I don’t fully understand yet, I leave the issues on the backburner of my mind and heart and read more about them . . .

That is how reasoned theological stands are formed.  That is also how reasoned (and reasonable) debate takes place.  People who merely quote sound bytes they heard from people who were much more educated than they were (and who took the time to think through their stands) do much violence to the cause of Christ by not really knowing what their theology is at all. It is so unnecessary to be this way, too. Rather than sniping at the Old Guard, these guys could be engaging in some scholarship of their own!!! 

But, ironically, rather than work on forming a solid theological understanding, these are the guys who spend their time rebuking their elders for inconsistent theological stands based on sound byte theology.  

Far as I can tell, extremists in both groups have done exactly the same thing. They have resorted to sound bytes in order to rebuke everyone who disagrees with them.

One group of autocrats replacing another.  Mubarak (the IFB elders) being replaced by Morsi (the anti-IFB young bucks).  

Thank God the living, breathing, loving IFB pastors whom I know locally are not of that ilk. They study, they teach, they preach the gospel tirelessly. Bless them.

The others, the extremists, will just stand there rebuking each other for the next several decades while a world of lost people slides closer and closer to hell . . . 

Know-it-alls are often autocrats.  Autocrats are often know-it-alls.  Neither are people in a position to lead us in evangelizing a lost world . . .


Three Questions to Ask Before Weighing in on a Controversy . . .

16 Dec

Three Questions to Ask Before Weighing in on a Controversy . . .

My First Clue that I am Backsliding . . .

12 Nov

Backsliding is a very old-fashioned word, but it is a Biblical and a descriptive one.

There are as many ways to tell that you are starting to backslide as there are sins (probably).

For me, my first clue is not one that others might suspect.

My first clue to backsliding is not lustful thoughts about people or greedy attitudes about things.

It is, 95% of the time, a hardening of my heart toward a person or a group of people.

There is a surefire test I have found for it, too.

It is usually related to longterm discouragement, seeing a person or a group of people who claim to be Christians but who very much live by the law (i.e., spend their time judging others rather than reaching the lost for Christ).

What happens is I have a sinful response to the sin of that other person/group of people and start mentally holding my breath, waiting for God to set them straight in some dramatic way.

Fact is, sin usually does wind up with some pretty dramatic conclusions. Those who set themselves up as judges of others often have the most dramatic, painful falls as a result (probably that is a natural consequence of their sin that God allows rather than causes. He said our sin will find us out eventually, right???).

But it is sinful for me to hold my breath, awaiting such an event. It discloses the negativity of my own heart toward a brother or sister in Christ whom I should be urging to run to the cross (with everyone else who claims Christ).

In fact, that is the remedy for my backsliding. To let God soften my heart toward that person so that I grieve, rather than secretly rejoice, when he or she publicly falls into painful circumstances.

God says that throughout His Word. Sin will bring natural consequences. Sometimes it brings God’s chastisement, if the natural consequences don’t get the person’s attention first.

But He also tells us not to rejoice or to enjoy it when someone encounters those painful circumstances. It is very bad for our hearts to allow that kind of emotion to rule us. The Germans call it schadenfreude. Rejoicing at someone else’s fall.

It is utterly the mark of my sinful heart when I allow myself to engage in it. No other explanation for it. It is a mark of my sinful heart when I engage in schadenfreude.

As it is the mark of a sinful heart in anyone who does it . . .

God wants us to bear each other’s burdens. That would include being there for each other when we fall, for we all struggle with sin as long as we are in this body here on earth . . .

Breaking Fellowship with Someone (a Joel Osteen Discussion)

26 Sep

Romans 16:17, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”

The other night I entered into what became a heated exchange between about a dozen people on Facebook about some statements recently made by Joel Osteen.

Some of the participants in the discussion believed the statements reveal that Osteen is not orthodox in his Christianity–that he is a “false prophet” who is not even truly a Christian.

Others believed that the statements were quoted out of context.

I don’t know either way. Joel Osteen doesn’t matter that much to me to even look them up. I don’t listen to him anyway.

However, what came next was telling.

One woman quoted the above verse as a proof text that anyone who listened to Joel Osteen was also not truly a Christian.

That was where I entered into the discussion. Two of my young friends had been defending Joel Osteen. Unlike me, they have listened to him. But, unlike what this woman was saying, I believe that my young friends are truly born again Christians.

And I believe that woman on Facebook was taking the above verse out of context.

The verse, in context, is about causing unnecessary divisions in the Body of Christ. That would be divisions over fine points of doctrine. On those, we are allowed a conscience clause.

I sometimes read controversial writers because I need to know what they are saying, both to teach a Sunday school class and to write my blog. I often research them so I can state a Scriptural case for why I disagree with them.

I see nowhere in the Bible that we are called to put our heads in the sand and ignore everyone who teaches contrary to what we teach.

We do have to be careful to not endorse teaching that is not orthodox Christianity. But my two young friends were not doing that. They had quietly listened to a few of Joel Osteen’s teachings in the past–they were not pushing them on anyone else.

And the woman on Facebook was making that a litmus test as to whether my two friends could be born again.

That is just wrong.

I have taught Sunday school with the mothers of both of those young gals for years. I have watched these friends grow up and start their families. Both are incredible moms, in church and raising their children to love the Lord. I may not always agree with them or with the people they choose to read, but they might not always agree with me on my choices either. That is what Christian liberty is. The freedom to read and think and pray and work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

And the verse in Romans says the person who causes unnecessary division is the one who is wrong. Like the person who throws a remark out there that anyone who has ever listened to a sermon by Joel Osteen is going to hell. That person allows no Christian liberty to anyone except herself!!!

May God protect us from ourselves! We are our own worst enemies sometimes in the Body of Christ!!!

Food Wars

8 Sep

I Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

I am taking my cues on this post from Doug Wilson, who noticed this trend long before I did.

Have you noticed that, as the world is getting more demanding about everyone’s personal diet being served at communal gatherings, so is the church?

No longer is it okay for someone to make one vegetarian dish or one gluten free dish or one clean-eating dish for a family Thanksgiving.  No, now we all, Christians included, are asking our hosts to change their entire menu to conform to our personal tastes.  

That’s not even polite, let alone kind, in the way Christians are admonished to be kind.

If someone goes to the effort to make us a vegetarian dish, let’s be grateful.  If they don’t, let’s bring our own and go to the communal meal anyways.  

Communal meals were very important in Scripture.  So important that the Apostle Paul gave many, many instructions about them.  Mainly that we are to be kind to each other at such meals and to let the other person be first (in priority, etc.).  

We do that because we are grateful for Christ’s great love for us and realize that, as a result, we can easily give up a few of our supposed “rights.”

Special diets are fast overcoming this kindness we are admonished to show.  

Sometimes research turns up some new data (like high fructose corn syrup being highly addictive to the human organism, which it is) and we seize on that new research and use it as a tool to clobber our fellow Christians over the head figuratively.  

I won’t use high fructose corn syrup.  I have had enough issues with food addictions (read:  sugar) that I know I need to watch out.  

However, is it my job to become a busybody, lecturing mothers who let their teens, or even their preschoolers, drink Coke?  

No, no, a million times, no.

Whatsoever they eat or drink needs to be to the glory of God.  Not everyone has issues with sugar, like I do, and even if they do, it is not up to me to come remove their sugar from their pantry.    

It doesn’t mean they are in active rebellion against God if they use high fructose corn syrup.  

I shouldn’t have to say that, but I can see I must.

Some Christians seize on every new piece of research that comes along and automatically act as if everyone has already heard about it and therefore is in sin if they don’t modify their diets accordingly.

That is not kind.  

Not everyone can afford expensive diets, even if they wanted to do them.  

Not everyone is equally literate, so not everyone can read the latest research and understand it.

Most of all, to imply that we are living in sin if we don’t immediately accommodate every new piece of scientific research on diet is to imply that it is getting harder and harder to serve the Lord.  

We know a whole lot more scientifically nowadays.  To some extent, that implies that God’s standards would change, to include us being responsible for not using products that would harm our bodies (tobacco, marijuana, etc.).  

To another extent, God did not change the sanctification process to make it a whole lot harder to live it out in 2013 than it was in 1913.  

Our attitude is to always be to glorify God by what we eat and drink.  

Simply that.  

We will always disagree about standards, but let’s be kind when we do.  

Let’s still have fellowship meals together, even when one family eats a traditional Southern (read:  fried) diet and another eats Paleo.  

Because our fellowship pleases the Lord, ya know?

KJV War (and Casualties)

24 Jul

Let me say right up front that I prefer the King James Version of the English Scriptures (KJV)  to any other translation.

But  I also used the New International Version (NIV) for study for around 25 of my first 30 years as a Christian.  

Life works out like that sometimes.  

I understand that there are some deep dividing lines between those who use the KJV Bible for study and the rest of the church, who tended to use the NIV back in the day when I used it, but who tend to use the English Standard Version (ESV) now.

You see, the KJV, being Elizabethan English, never goes out of style for certain folks, while other translations are made and replace each other with regularity in other parts of the church.  

I am not going to weigh in on either side of the issue since they don’t call it a war for nothing!  I have friends whom I regard as mature Christians on both sides of that divide.  

That said, I have a story to share.  You see, our son has high functioning autism, so he didn’t mature as quickly as other children did when it came to preferences, especially in the world of television shows.  

One that he liked to see on video, and really still does at age 21, is Psalty the Singing Songbook.  It is a heartwarming show filled with Christian music.

When we had first come back to the faith of my youth, fundamental Baptist, Joey was shopping with me in the local Christian bookstore when he saw a Bible he liked.  

Now, until this point, Joey had only used Bible storybooks he had gotten as a baby.  So wanting a Bible of his own was a significant step.  He was now turning eight years old.

We left the store, agreeing that he would use his birthday money to purchase the Bible within the next month or so.  

When we returned to get the Bible a couple of weeks later, I have never seen Joey make such a beeline for a display.  He proudly picked up his Bible, a Psalty the Singing Songbook Bible with illustrations from the television show.  

He began to proudly carry it to church.  I was ecstatic to see him so excited over God’s Word.

Until . . .

One day he told me he couldn’t carry the Psalty Bible to church anymore.  My heart hurt, as I envisioned that someone had teased him for having a children’s Bible at age 8.

That wasn’t it, though.  

No, my son had been told that the Psalty Bible was NIV, not KJV, and not only would not pass muster at our church but also was not really the Word of God.


What kind of Christian philosophy prides itself on knocking the wind out of an excited child like that?  He was so proud to carry that Bible.  Who destroys that kind of happiness and why?

Fast forward thirteen years.  Joey is now going off to college to a special needs school that has the requirement that everyone use the NIV as a study Bible with their curriculum.  


I looked through our things and, sure enough, found one of my old NIV’s from my college years. My big one eventually fell apart.  But the small one that my Dad gave me when I went off to college, with his handwritten note in it, is still here.  Joey will take that one to college like his mother before him!

He has a small KJV, too, that his very loving Sunday school teacher gave him when he graduated from high school.

My boy is going to be just fine.  

And God’s Word will never return to Him void. 


Flame wars: What are You Offering as a Practical Alternative?

7 Jul

A few years ago, we used to call the constant bickering in cyberspace “flame wars.”   The people who lived to get them started were called “trolls.” 

I am not sure we use the term “flame wars” anymore.  I am not sure we have updated it either.  It seems as though controversy for controversy’s sake is accepted as normal now in cyberspace, not singled out for approbation.

I think of that idea as it relates to my Christian denomination.  I have spent 31 of my 55 years in the Independent Fundamental Baptist denomination, or IFB.  It stands out for not actually being a denomination, but a loose confederation of churches who have agreed to band together because they share certain fundamental beliefs about the Bible. 

It also stands out for loudly denouncing (“separating from”) almost any other group of Christians who don’t see things our way.  

That “separation” goes far beyond what is written in the Bible, too.  It often ends up being chiefly about music and musical styles.  There have actually been quarrels about whether God thinks that 18th century Europe produced the best praise songs and hymns ever.  Ummmm, really?  I love 18th century European music for many reasons, but I don’t think God had to wait almost 18 centuries after He sent His Son to earth to find someone to praise Him appropriately!  Ya know?

Problem is that the human heart is, by nature, tribal and divisive.  If we are not careful, we carry those tendencies to church.  

We would never leave our church because we know God has placed us there.  It has educational facilities for every age between preschool and a doctoral degree, so it stands out as being a place that values Biblical education.  It is also diverse and multicultural in the true sense of those words.  

I have also noted that those who leave our church, or the IFB, don’t stop being tribal anyway.  They usually just join another church and end up sniping at our church and/or the IFB for the rest of their lives.  They continue to preach “separation” only with a new target.  They end up separating from those who taught them the doctrine of separation!

I left the IFB for a while and came back.  I would like to think I have some wisdom on this subject to convey.  

Tribalism is inside us.  The tendency to create controversies with “us” vs. “them” is inborn in us. It is that tendency we need to fight, not other churches.  

And when we leave a church, we take ourselves along!  So the imperfections of our former church, in many ways, come along with us.  

When we realize the enemy is indeed us, as Pogo said, we begin to gather wisdom.

There is no perfect church.  So my initial question is still valid.  What are you offering as a practical alternative to flame wars?  

Can people come to you to find a solid, supportive friend?  Or are you too busy stirring up controversy to see the human treasures right before your very eyes?

We miss them too often, the very people who could make our lives in Christ richer and fuller.  Let’s not do that. 

Retribution in the Church Nursery

18 Jun

I will never forget the first time I saw an adult who was quarreling with another adult using that person’s child in the nursery to take revenge.

I won’t forget it because it totally baffled me.  I am a strong volunteer at my church, but I am not on staff there nor did my child attend our day school (except for one year–he was homeschooled most of his career), so I don’t necessarily get all the personality machinations that can go on when people are together five or six days a week.

It is probably a blessing that I am the way I am, ya know?

However this was blatant, and stuck out to me.  My fellow nursery worker singled out one boy for a scolding when every boy in the nursery was doing exactly the same thing.

I didn’t get why she did that, but it was one of my favorite little boys, so I just held him extra close the rest of that hour.

Several weeks later, I saw the woman who had been in the nursery with me go up to the child’s mother and lay into her about another nursery issue.  Right before that mother had to sing at a service.  Nice!

It was then that I realized, in my naivete, there was a pattern going on.  There was either a quarrel between the two women or the woman who had been with me in the nursery was trying to take issue with her sister in Christ.  

Which is great, when it is done Biblically.  God gave us Matthew 18 for just that reason.

However, using someone’s child as a surrogate in my quarrel with that person is not in Matthew 18.  

Since then, I have seen the flipside of that issue.

I have seen mothers who won’t leave their children in the nursery, probably because they have seen them be used as surrogates in quarrels and don’t want that to happen.

Yikes!  Have we come to this?

It does not so much happen during services as during special events, like choir nursery or the nursery during a youth group activity.  

I will be tending the nursery, look up, and become aware that a family has its children in a nearby room, being supervised by the oldest child.

Which is fine–it keeps the nursery from being overwhelmed with children and, generally, parents will not leave their younger children with an irresponsible older child, as there are many dangers inherent in the church parking lot if someone gets away . . .  

There can be a danger of going too far with this, as in the time when I was tending the nursery during a youth event and one of the adults in attendance chose to keep her daughter out of the nursery (she was a bit older than the other children there).  The child eventually drifted in anyway, taking out every toy in the place, even those that belong to the day school and are not supposed to be used at church events.  When I talked to her, she said I was not in charge of her and she would not obey me.  And, when her mother came to get her in a hurry, she left all those toys on the floor for the younger children, their mother, and me to pick up!  Not cool.  You really can’t have it both ways.

It just makes my heart sad to realize that the issue of using a person’s child as a surrogate for retribution in the nursery must have been going on a lot longer and a lot more frequently than I realized, if we have come to this state of isolating our children into family groups during church events.  And, seemingly, no one has addressed it, parent to parent.

We are fallen human beings.  We get into trouble with each other by things we say and things we do.  Sometimes we get into trouble with each other by things that someone else surmises we are thinking, whether we actually are thinking them or not.

That is why God gives us grace, and encourages us to give it to each other.  We can’t survive without it.  In a nitpicking, tit-for-tat world, we all fall far short.  We all wipe out.

And we can end up using children as surrogates in our quarrels.  

God forbid.  I have many precious children in my life whom I have loved since birth.  My relationship to their parents and my relationship to them has to be separated so that, even if I find I have an issue with the parents, I am able to keep the child out of it.  

Children need consistency.  They need to know if I love them today, I will love them tomorrow and always.  

They don’t need to be used as pawns in quarrels or games of retribution.  That confuses them.  They don’t know, from day to day if a person likes them or hates them, nor why.

Let’s keep them out of our issues, shall we?  


Being a Clothes Horse

15 Jun


When I was a young girl growing up Baptist, our part of Christ’s church went through an unfortunate phase. Though never stated explicitly, there seemed to be an expectation that a woman would marry at around age 18, then proceed to become dowdy. She would gain weight, let her hair and make-up go, and wear clothes that became progressively more baggy and plain-colored. Her husband would not be far behind.

It always seemed to me that people became insecure when they got married and had to ensure that their mates became overweight and plain in order to guard against outside temptation! I am sure that is simplistic and I certainly have friends who have never worn make-up nor had their hair done who are stunningly gorgeous in their natural state, but that doesn’t seem to be what the good folks then were after! They seemed to delight in being dowdy.

I believe Marabel Morgan’s “The Total Woman” (which I wrote about earlier this week) was meant to be a reaction against the general dowdiness of the age. It served its purpose, back in the 70’s, as I said.

I believe we live in a constant state of tension between going too far toward either of two extremes. Those extremes are not always the same in every situation, but there are always two extremes there.

Today, we understand that dressing attractively and attractively presenting the gospel can be two interwoven realities. Today we seem to need to avoid to going to the extreme of making a god of our clothing choices and worrying about small “fails” like gold shoes that don’t match our silver jewelry. At least I do.

In the area of clothing, I just lost 110 pounds and am buying a new wardrobe, while readying my old one to pass along to a friend, in good (and sometimes almost new) shape.

I have always liked pretty clothes. I especially like them when I am thin.

I understand that that can lead a person who is not into clothes, make-up, and cologne to assume that I am rather vapid. Others get to choose how they think of me.

On the other hand, we are made of flesh and many, many ladies whom I don’t regard as vapid at all like clothes, make-up, and cologne. In fact, some sweet fellowship times that glorify God in His presence involve talks or discussions about fashion. Many ladies enjoy those times.

I believe there are various personality types in play here, along with the fact that we don’t all have the same interests. For some reason, the human race delights in disparaging people who differ from us. For Christians, that can involve overspiritualizing our own interests and denigrating the interests of everybody else who doesn’t share ours.

That is unfortunate when you have gifted women who all have leadership qualities sniping at each other because they have diverse interests, like fashion, theology, giving to charity, or music (I have all of those interests, by the way!).

For example, I have seen people use the tack that it is a waste of money to go shopping and buy nice clothes. Others will present it as a waste of time.

Yet no one spends her time 24/7 in Bible study or witnessing to the lost. Nobody spends all of her excess money reaching out to the unfortunate. Those are important areas, but it is also important to realize that many times when we lecture others about them, we only show our own need for growth in grace, as we don’t consistently hit those areas either.

If a woman is an organizational genius and spends her time organizing closets instead of filling them with clothes, that is great! More power to her for being interested in that area.

If a woman is gifted at saving money and turning it into a blessing to her husband (lower expenses) and to the unfortunate (more money to give them), I rejoice with her in her strong gifting and leadership.

However, never did our Lord give us permission to turn our own lives into extrabiblical object lessons for others. Paul told people to follow him as he followed Christ (obeyed Christ’s Word). Paul never told anyone to follow him as he freelanced and made up his own rules.

As spiritual as we can make our language while trying to seem more pious than other people, God never gave us permission to depart from His Word in our teaching.

We are flesh and we live in a physical world. It is possible to glorify God here in many diverse ways.

I, for one, am enjoying being able to use my knowledge of fashion and sales cycles to help others get flattering clothes at discount prices.

I somehow don’t ever see God requiring me to apologize for that.

Can We Reasonably Expect Privacy in a Public Space?

18 May

I had a note from a friend on my Facebook page last night.  I had filmed several segments of a concert in our church auditorium.  The concert was the spring concert put on by our church’s day school.  I had filmed from the balcony on my iPad.  

My friend took exception to me filming without getting the express permission of every parent whose child was on that stage (I filmed middle school and high school students).

Rather than answer her back on my FB page, where it could be perceived as personal, I wanted to explore the topic here.  Social media has put this one right in our faces.  What is the expectation for privacy in a public space?  Is it the same as the expectation of privacy in our homes?

In short, no.  Court ruling after court ruling has said that.  If I am in a mall, I can be filmed by closed circuit cameras all around me.  The same with being outside on some streets.  Part of how the Boston bombing suspects were identified involved a closed circuit camera mounted on the outside of a department store.  Let’s not even get into live webcams mounted all over cities.  Closed circuit cameras make a permanent enough record!!!

If my minor child were to be accused of shoplifting in a store with closed circuit cameras, you can bet they would retrieve the film that contained his images to see whether they could catch him in the act.  Such film could be used in court against him, too.

So, no, no reasonable expectation of privacy when you leave your home for a public place.  Home is different.  A public place is, well, public.

Now, that said, there can be individual policies in various places, subject to the owner of that place or the person in charge.  I checked whether our church or day school has such a policy against filming events.  They do not.  It would be rather difficult to enforce.  A lot of the grandmas who attend these concerts don’t belong to our church.  I don’t think they would pay attention to an announcement that prohibited them from filming on their iPhones or posting their videos on FB for other family members and friends to see.

In fact, people were filming all around me last night, in most cases much closer to the kids than from the balcony.  My videos just happened to be the ones my friend saw on FB.

And that brings us to a final consideration, especially when policies are being considered against filming at church/school events:  the policy, if there is one, must be enforced even-handedly.

The former principal of our day school was probably the one who instituted the filming and sharing of pictures and videos at concerts, as he was also the director of most school choirs.  Some of our academy’s concerts have even wound up on Youtube.

So, our pastor, who emphasizes that we are all one body, whether we have children at the day school, in public school, homeschooled, or grown, would usually not separate between groups like “those who know all the students” and “grandmas who are only filming one child but the rest happen to be in the picture.”  And I am guessing he probably would not send that grandma after 20 different parents, whom she doesn’t know, to get permission to post the video with her grandchild in it.  

Tends to divide the Body of Christ, if you make different rules for different folks, doesn’t it?

Actually, I would probably suggest that our day school, and any other group involving minors who perform publicly, just have parents sign a blanket statement at the beginning of the schoolyear that they hold harmless all filming of concerts and other public events with their child in participation.  

Their kids are going to show up on someone else’s video.  It is gonna happen.

One final example of how not to do things:  a very private person, a young man in fact, approached me after my son’s graduation ceremony last year and said he didn’t want any pictures of himself to be on my FB page.  Big problem with that:  he was in the background of the best picture taken of my son!!!  He was in about one-fourth of the pictures taken at the ceremony because he came with one of the speakers.  

We would have had to ask our photographer (who gave us the pictures as a gift) to do some massive editing of the photos before I could publish them anywhere or even give them to family.

I appealed to the young man to be content with me not tagging him on FB (putting his name on his picture).  I asked him to agree to be the anonymous person behind Joey in many of the shots . . . and he agreed.

If he had not, it would have been very, very difficult for us.

I also didn’t want to be the one to tell him that he had no reasonable expectation of privacy when he came to a ceremony and stood around with the honoree for almost half the time he was there.

Common sense dictates this:  if you don’t want to be in the pictures, it is up to you to remove yourself from standing right next to the graduate.  

Ya know? 

Retreat, Relocate, or Engage?

15 May

Pastor Mike is a Southern Baptist whose blog I read daily. This is a good post about the choices we make as the community around us changes. How to still reach out to people with the changeless gospel of Christ?

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