Monday, May 25, 2020

Why I do my best not to post political things on Facebook

Have you noticed over the past few years -- pretty much since the 2016 election, that we as a people and we as a church -- have become dichotomized.  It is more and more distressing when nearly every single issue becomes an either/or proposition and the opposites seem to be even more polarized.   Every issue becomes political and somehow within that there seems to be some guilt cast from one side or the other, particularly when it comes to the church.   The current seems to be masks vs. no masks and have church vs. don't have church.

I have a large variety of friends who are on opposite spectrums of every issue.  They are still my friends and I know they would NOT be friends with each other.  If I post anything even close to political I can see some of them jumping in and arguing with each other and that is not why I go to Facebook -- to start feuds.

In fact I read this great quote today but was afraid to share it on Facebook because I have friends on both sides who would somehow make the post about a dichotomizing issue.  For me it was about being brave during COVID-19 to serve others (practicing great care and social distancing) through CarePortal -- but I'm sure people would have found a way to make this about their own particular view -- or think I was trying to make a statement about one side or the other when I am clearly able to see both sides.   Check out the quote though:

God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the right and proper thing to consider if you were not living a life of faith; but if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and leave God to choose for you. This is the discipline by means of which the natural is transformed into the spiritual by obedience to the voice of God.
With all my thoughts over the last four years about this "recent" polarization I almost laughed out loud when I was listening to Romans 14 yesterday.   Paul talks about meat offered to idols and observing the Sabbath.  He is able to talk about them both as though both sides have really good arguments.  But these here are his words in conclusion:

So why do you condemn another believer ? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.  For the Scriptures say, 

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bend to me,
    and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.

Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

So what's the takeaway from all of this?  The takeaway is that there has been polarization and dichotomization and criticism with us since soon after Jesus died.  His followers started to separate on issues right away.   So this is nothing new or recent.  The difference is that back then they had to do it face to face and have their arguments without hiding behind a screen and posting on Facebook.

But the conclusion was the same for them as it is for us.   Read above.  No condemnation.  No looking down on others who have a different opinion than you.  Be accountable to God.  Don't condemn each other.   Live in a way that helps others not to stumble.

It's not the polarization that is the issue.  It's the way we treat each other.   As a church we need to do better.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

OK, OK, Mom, I Get It

Have you ever talked to one of your kids and you feel like you've said something similar before and they were clueless so you start to explain and then they stop you and say, "OK, OK, Mom I get it!" as though they've heard it a bunch of times.

That happened to me last night.  My son, Jimmy, who some people know as Ben, is a really terrific young man.   He has some learning disabilities, he will tell you, and a borderline IQ which he doesn't want to tell you, but he is the greatest kid.  He really loves to be helpful and he likes to please people.  He is definitely an extrovert and loves to connect with whoever he can.

For the past few weeks Jimmy has been going with me on little adventures -- typically to meet CarePortal requests and drop off stuff that my church has donated with me.  Last night he went with me to pick up a prescription for a sister on my Open Table.   On the way home I asked him if he had ever heard about the sheep and the goats.  He looked at me blankly.  I paraphrased these verses from Matthew 25:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,   I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’  “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
He looked at me blankly again.  I said, "So Jimmy -- do you remember a few weeks ago when we dropped off clothes for that 9 month old baby who was with a Safe Family?  He nodded.  I said "that was like giving clothes to Jesus."
I said, "You know how we give the girl a ride home every week?"  He nodded.  I said, "that is like giving Jesus a ride."
"You know how we went to Walmart Sunday and bought clothes and diapers and formula for for the preemie baby?" He nodded again.  I said, "that's like giving that stuff to Jesus."
I said, "You know just now when we got the prescription for ...."
He interrupted me and said, "Ok, OK, Mom, I get it" with an exasperated tone. 
Jimmy gets it.  Do you get it?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Not Alone

Anybody experiencing loneliness since quarantine?  In some ways I think all of us are in one way or another.

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you may feel a little anonymous and overlooked — it’s the nature of social isolation.   But here is an encouraging fact.

You aren’t anonymous to God.  You aren’t alone when He is with you.   There is no way we can socially isolate ourselves from Him.

Psalm 139 explains this so well:

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

As my mom said during her battle with COVID-19 when she couldn’t leave her small 1/2 room at the nursing home:   I am SHUT IN with God — and God is SHUT IN with me.

You’re not anonymous.  You’re not alone.   He Knows Your Name.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

This is Why

If you've read my blog or been my Facebook friend for any amount of time you know that I am constantly asking people to join me in my latest missional adventure.  For years I have enlisted and recruited people to dive in with me into whatever the latest thing I have discovered will allow me to fill what I believe God's mission is for me.

You may wonder why I do it.  Am I driven by Facebook likes?  Is it because I want to win competitions (yes, sometimes that has something to do with it, but it's not the real reason.   Do I want to be admired, revered, complimented, praised or thought highly of?  Nope -- that has nothing to do with it.

Let me tell you about my latest adventure this afternoon.  We had some money leftover from a fundraiser we did in honor of my mom to meet CarePortal needs.  Last week we used some of that money to pay the phone bill for a girl who is in an Independent Living Program (independent living is what it is called if you choose to stay in Foster Care past 18 until 21). This girl who was a mom first at 14, was having her second baby any day and her phone was off and she had no money to turn it back on.  I couldn't let that happen --as you can imagine -- so we took care of it and I asked her to text me to let me know.  She did and we exchanged a few texts but I was unsure if I would here from her again.

But yesterday I did with pictures of her and her newborn -- a 4.5 ounce baby girl.   I'm not really sure what happened, but she said the doctors had been wrong about the weight.  We texted on and off for several hours and she finally told me that she was coming home  from the hospital today and when I asked her if she had everything she needed she admitted she had no preemie diapers and that the baby need soy formula but she only had regular.  

So you know where I was today -- I was braving the masses at Walmart -- buying those items, and she admitted to not having clothes or a baby bath either.   Got all that stuff and took it to her.  

And I feel GREAT.

I was telling my family today that I was going to do this and explained that now that the kids didn't need me as much any more I had time to take care of other kids.  Salinda asked if I had a need to be needed and I said -- nope -- I just have more capacity and more time.

Kids aging out of foster care and what happens to them if they don't have a meaningful relationship has been the one thing that has gotten me out of bed every day for the past 24 years -- since I found out this problem existed.  First we adopted kids so that this wouldn't happen to them.  Then I had jobs that allowed me to find families for others.  And now I am working for an organization that is determined not to let those kids get in the system in the first place if there is any way to help their families.

So now I am investing in those kids who did age out -- the ones we failed to help.   Bart and I transport a girl to see her parents weekly  She's a great kid.  And we have taken another kid out to lunch who was living in residential ready to age out.  And today I looked one of these statistics in the eye -- and let her know I cared about her.

I realized this today -- this is how I watched my parents live ... all my life they have been taking care of the ones less fortunate than them -- and they had very little.  But they never had too little that they couldn't share some of it.

This journey they challenged me to take by modeling it in their lives has taken me to places I never dreamed I would be the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  It has stretched me and driven me deeper and farther than I would have ever gone before.  But I wouldn't trade it for anything.

So that's the answer to why I invite you to join me with every latest thing..   I want you to feel great ... I want you to feel like I do right now. I want you to know that your life matters -- that your life is making a difference in the life of someone else.

 And I want you to go deep -- deep into hard things -- outside your comfort zone.  I want you to do big God-sized things that you can't do without Him.  I want you to truly live... by having the stretching, uncomfortable, awkward, frustrating experiences that result in life change and heart change.

It's not about me, it's about you.    As CT Studd said -- Only one life twill soon be past -- only what's done for Christ will last.

I want what you do to last.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Bitter or Better?

We don’t have control over many of the things that happen to us.  We are certainly learning this during these “Uncertain times".  

But we do have control over a whole lot of things.  

One of the things that helps me in times where life seems out of control is to focus on controlling the things that I can control as opposed to using the circumstances around me as an excuse for not doing what I can.

Here are some things you can control:

What you put in your mouth;
How much exercise you get;
The words that come out of our mouth;
How much you get done;
How you spend your time;
How hard you work;

I could go on and on.  We have control over SO MUCH!

Most importantly, we have control over how we will respond to the things that happen to us.

We can choose to get bitter or get better.   The phrase “post-traumatic growth” has become popular over the last several years and it is what happens when people rise above their own circumstances and are able to resiliently become better as opposed to bitter.

I know I have shared this video before (August of 2016 to be exact)  but it is one of the most moving videos I have ever seen so I want you to see it if you haven’t already.  You really should watch it.  It will be well worth it.  Let me know what you think.

I have watched it so many times and I’m watching it again now.  You should watch it.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

How Easy We Forget....

As you will recall, Joshua followed Moses as the leader of the Israelites and many amazing things happened during the time he was a leader — including entering the promised land and conquering m the people there.   In addition, as a young man he was able to witness or at least hear from others about things like the crossing of the Red Sea.  He saw God perform miracle after miracle as did the other folks of his generation.  But after Joshua died we read these words in Judges 2:

After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.

This is particularly a shame because of the words that Moses had given that first generation in Deuteronomy 6:

 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

God knew that something about humanity.  We forget.  So we need to be reminded again and again and again.

As you know, I have a rich heritage.  I have parents who through their lives and their stories have shaped who I am.  We have family stories like the time that our car died and my parents had us pray during family devotions that God would take care of our situation — and the next day we got a call from a former neighbor saying “Hey, I feel like God is nudging me to give you our car.”  Or times when we were out of grocery money (because tithe and supporting missionaries came first, so if there was an emergency, we ate less meat) - -and we prayed about it and the next day a friend from church stopped by with food.  My parents never asked anyone for anything — except God and he always provided.  

So even as an adult sometimes my mom will remind me of one of those times when God took care of us in the past … which means that he’s got us now.  

I don’t want the next generation to forget.  Bart and I have stories in our own family (and this is getting long so I won’t share them) that I remind my kids of.  I’m starting to tell my grandchildren stories about how God took care of me and my family as a kid — and how he took care of their parents when they were kids — which means that God will take care of them.

Have stories of God’s provision, goodness and care?  Let’s do what Moses suggests and “repeat them again and again to our children.”     

Because we don’t want the next generation to be the one that forgets.