Saturday, January 16, 2021

Saturday Musings (applying my. muzzle)


Sometimes I write a daily email on weekdays or my coworkers that contains a devotional and I share it on the blog as well.

But on Saturday there is no daily email and so I am in front of a blank blog screen with the freedom to blog about almost anything I want to.

Except that....

I have adult children who like their lives to remain fairly private who may read the blog. That means that I can't be as open about frustrations with them as I'd like to be.

I have a diverse set of Facebook friends (as I have mentioned in other posts) that I don't want to offend should they click on my blog.

I represent an organization that I care very much about and I don't want to damage any of those relationships.  

I am married to the pastor of a church whose members I would never want to offend.

and the last thing I want to do is start a comment war.

So often my thoughts get stifled on their way out.

I've thought of an anonymous blog, but nobody would read it ... in fact, hardly anyone reads this one.

All that being said, it's Saturday.   My routine is to write to my mother and to Bart's extended family and do the Powerpoint for church.  Then most of my Saturdays are dedicated to CarePortal needs.   Today I am going to take a new friend to look at some of the furniture we picked up from the hotel that was closing.   She aged out of foster care a year ago.  Her father has passed away -- her mom has a master's in counseling but started using and is now an addict.  She very much cares about younger siblings and as an adult is trying to take care of them and her grandma and her mom while living on her own, receiving some assistance from the "Fostering Futures" program for kids 18-21.   She's smart, stubborn and resilient, but the number of healthy stable people in her life is slim.

She was in a serious car accident right before Christmas, and is still recovering from that.  I haven't seen her since September or October, but she says today she'll go to lunch with me and check out the furniture.

If you haven't checked out CarePortal yet -- it is my number one passion right now.  Nothing I've seen over the years does a better job of introducing church members to families and children in crisis and allowing them to make a tangible difference.   

No matter where you live, you can partner with me to make a difference in people's lives.  You can check out our church page and join our response team (I think) or donate from afar to help....

I really had no plans to end with asking you something, but you know how I get.  My passion overtakes me. :-).  




Friday, January 15, 2021

What Goes Around Comes Around

Have you ever been treated unfairly or wronged and after thinking it through realized that you had done something similar in your history?

I wonder if that is what Jacob thought about when Laban tricked him.   For those of you who are already confused, let me share with you a bit of biblical history.

Jacob was known as the “Deceiver” because he stole his twin brother’s inheritance by pretending to be him and tricking his father into blessing him instead.

Fast forward a few years and he falls in love.   In Genesis 29 we read how he worked seven long years because he had been promised Rachel and when it is time for him to finally marry her, her father slips his his older daughter into the tent instead and Jacob has to work another seven years for Rachel.
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Do you think God brought the “stealing the birthright” situation to Jacob’s mind when he realized how he had been deceived so that he would remember and learn that “what goes around comes around” or that “you reap what you sow.”  

I have certainly had situations in my life where, while very frustrated at someone or at a situation, I realize and am humbled by the fact that I have done something similar in my past.  Each of those times it was a really good lesson for me and has kept me from repeating the same mistakes.  And it has caused me to be more gracious to the offender as I recognize how much I wanted to be extended grace from ones I had offended in the past. 

So don’t resist that whisper in your ear next time you feel wronged…. Take a look at yourself and realize that we all make mistakes.  Give grace to the person who has wronged you, learn, and move on.

One of the most frightening verses in Scripture comes from the beginning of Matthew 7:

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Ouch.   Extending humility, grace, forgiveness and mercy to others seems like a really good plan.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Angry?

 



OK, so I gotta tell you that I started my day a tad bit angry.

It’s a long story and I am tempted to tell you ALL  the details, but I won’t.  It involves an adult son needing a ride and then making we wait way too long because he overslept after he didn't do what he promised to yesterday.  

I have to confess that living with so many adult children has made me quick to anger at times.  I’m a bit embarrassed when I think about God and how he is so very gracious and merciful with me.  He is slow to anger with me….. I need to take a deep breath and remember that next time something happens and I am tempted to respond less than patiently.  

Ok, maybe this is all about me today and all about me needing to hear this.. and maybe you didn’t need to read it, but check out what Psalm 103 says:

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

God is slow to anger.  Since I have been a recipient of that mercy and grace, time for me to pass it on.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Change Your Conduct or Change Your Name

 Anyone remember PACE 86?  Hard to believe it was 35 years ago.   I am old.  But I digress.  

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, PACE was a national youth conference where thousands of teenagers from the Wesleyan Church gathered together.   The most memorable part of that whole week for me was a powerful sermon by a great orator named John Ott (who I met at his church last year — pretty cool).  But again I digress.

I can still hear his booming voice across the auditorium and the illustrations he told.  This was one of my favorites:

Alexander the Great, one of the greatest military generals who ever lived, conquered almost the entire known world with his vast army. One night during a campaign, he couldn't sleep and left his tent to walk around the campgrounds.


As he was walking he came across a soldier asleep on guard duty - a serious offense. The penalty for falling asleep on guard duty was, in some cases, instant death; the commanding officer sometimes poured kerosene on the sleeping soldier and lit it.


The soldier began to wake up as Alexander the Great approached him.


Recognizing who was standing in front of him, the young man feared for his life. "Do you know what the penalty is for falling asleep on guard duty?” Alexander the Great asked the soldier.


"Yes, sir," the soldier responded in a quivering voice.


"Soldier, what's your name?" demanded Alexander the Great.


"Alexander, sir.”


Alexander the Great repeated the question: "What is your name?”


"My name is Alexander, sir," the soldier repeated.


A third time and more loudly Alexander the Great asked, "What is your name?”


A third time the soldier meekly said, "My name is Alexander, sir.”


Alexander the Great then looked the young soldier straight in the eye. "Soldier," he said with intensity, "either change your conduct or change your name”


While scholars question whether this really happened, it is a powerful illustration.  Why, you may ask?
Because the word Christ is in the name “Christian” and we have a serious obligation in taking on that new name.   Ou conduct should match that of Christ’s.


I have had many occasions over my lifetime to want to scream these words to people who I see doing and saying things under the name “Christian.”   

“Change your conduct, or change your name.”


Because their conduct is nothing like the way Jesus lived his life.


Sure, you can go back and find a couple examples of where Jesus was angry (but he was usually angry at religious people, not at others).   But his overall approach to life was very different than a lot of people who carry his name today.


He loved people. 
He hung out with folks that were rejected by society.
He forgave.
He did everything to include as oppose to exclude.
He was all about extending compassion to everyone no matter what.


The sad thing is that there are people who want to debate this or to say, “yes, but….”  And that breaks my heart.


We carry a precious name with us when refer to ourselves as Christians and we need to live up to that …. 

We need to change our conduct, or change our name.


“Lay down, lay down your old chains, come now and take up your new name.”




Tuesday, January 12, 2021

What are you going to do about it?

It's a mess.  Have you noticed?  Everything seems like chaos.  It feels out of control.  Externally it seems as though the world has gone mad.

So my question for you -- and my question for myself is -- "What are you going to do about it?"

Right now I'm not sure exactly what the answer is on a large scale.  There are so many opinions out there about our current state of affairs as a country that I'm not sure I'm going to bother the universe by writing more.  Still thinking about that.

I'm going to love people.  One person at a time, one day at a time, no matter who they are or what they believe or what they think, all the time.

I'm going to speak truth as I see it when appropriate and as kindly as I can.

And I'm going to do everything that is "required of me" according to Micah 6:8.

Do justly
Love mercy
Walk humbly.

What are you going to do?



Monday, January 11, 2021

Nothing is Impossible

 Do you have a situation that you think I absolutely impossible?  


A friend and mentor of mine always says “If God wants to do something great, he starts with a problem.  If he wants to do something spectacular, he starts with an impossibility.”

In Genesis 18 we read about Sarah’s response to the news that at the age of ninety plus she was going to have a baby.  She laughed.  Of course she did!  But the Lord said, 

“Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

So next time you hear something absolutely crazy that may be coming from God, remember… nothing is too hard for Him — even if it seems absolutely impossible.

One of my mom's favorite songs...



Sunday, January 10, 2021

For the First Time in My Life I Don't Feel I Can Speak My Mind

I have always been a very open person.  I share my opinions whenever I'm asked -- and often when I'm not.

So it's been a really weird world for me the last few years.   Our country is getting increasingly more dichotomized and it is making it more difficult for me to express my opinions about things that matter a lot to me.

Why?  Because for the first time ever I cannot see both sides and because I love you.

I love you whether or not you agree with me, but I am afraid that if you know how much I disagree with you, you might not want to love me back.

How did we get here?

I have an amazingly diverse group of people who are my Facebook friends.  I have friends who are drag queens, atheists, agnostics, people of other world religions, transgendered, and friends of all races.  I have friends who are the most conservative and the most liberal on the spectrum between the two.  And I love them all.

The ironic thing is that if I post all over my Facebook about the things that are very much "Christian" my atheist, agnostic, and other-world religion proponents are ok with that.  They accept me for who I am and don't want to end their relationship with me because I disagree with them.

But I am very cautious to put anything out there that might offend my Christian friends.  I am afraid that I might lose their respect or their friendship if even hint at not agreeing with them 100%.

How did we get here?

When I look at what happened this past week at the Capitol, I ask myself how in the world we are going to be able to convince the world that Christianity stands for mercy, forgiveness, peace, and most of all, love.  Somehow Christian has begun to equal a particular political party and the ideals of the most extreme members of that party.   We are losing ground as a church.

How did we get here?

I don't know how it happened, but suddenly I am occasionally ashamed to be a "Christian."  This doesn't mean that I am ashamed of the gospel -- because the gospel and the way that Christianity is being proclaimed right now don't even match up.

I feel compelled to write stuff, but I guess I don't trust the people I love so much to respond in a way that would be affirming or helpful based on what I have seen them post on Facebook, and so I feel like I shouldn't say anything.

I'm actually hoping nobody reads this.

But I think it is time that we who are able to be Christians without tying it to politics need to stand up and say "this is not OK" without fearing that there will be repercussions from people that we love.