Go Home, Beth Moore

Most Christians, especially women, are aware of the prolific Bible studies and speaking ministry of Beth Moore. I, along with thousands of other women (and men), have heard Beth speak on multiple occasions. She is a gifted speaker and has a passion for Jesus and God’s word that is evident in all of her studies. The first Bible study of hers I ever did was on the Tabernacle and I learned more about the tabernacle and how it pointed to Christ, than during any other tabernacle study I had done before (even in Bible college).  I am always challenged by her studies, not to emulate her, but to follow Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

Recently John MacArthur, a well-known Evangelical who has written multiple commentaries, literally skewered Beth Moore and went off on a tangent about female pastors, the “#Me Too” movement, liberalism, and the downfall of the church when it listens to culture. After hearing the actual tape and reading many of the comments following his diatribe I have to say, I am really disheartened that he felt not only free to make his comments, but seemed proud of himself for making them.

I did not have a problem with his stance of only male preachers, and although I hold a different opinion, he is entitled to his conviction on what he believes to be an accurate interpretation of Scripture. I am not even in disagreement that Scriptural interpretation should not be dictated by culture (although I think we have different views on what that means). I was, however, stunned by his blatant self-righteousness and petty spirit in making the comment that Beth should “go home,” and the laughter from his cronies following that comment.

So here are some of my thoughts on lessons we can learn from this encounter.

Disagreement does not have to be handled with callous disregard for others.

It is okay to be in theological disagreement with someone. I think most Christians will tell you they are not in total agreement with every scholar and Scriptural interpretation out there. That is where it is important to study Scripture, the context in which it is written, the culture of the time, and if you are lucky enough to know Greek and Hebrew, the actual nuances of the language in which the Bible was written. But we need to always treat others with a dignity and respect that should be inherent in the way we as Christians interact with others.

Being a reflection of Jesus includes more than being morally right.

Jesus was sinless–the only person who ever walked this earth without sin. And in his ministry he criticized the Pharisees and religious leaders more than sinners. And those self-righteous leaders actually were outraged by Jesus. You can be morally right, but if you do not love, have kindness, and treat others with dignity, it will certainly tell the world you are more concerned about being “right” than loving God and loving your neighbor.

A Christian can afford to be gracious in their words.

In response to this whole issue, on Twitter Beth Moore took the high road and made her twitter feed gracious and kind–and stayed true to her calling from God. When you are in a situation where criticism comes, and it will, how will you react? Will you season your words with graciousness or will you react with disdain and defense mechanisms? Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24.

Belittling others ends up belittling yourself.

The damage that John MacArthur did to his own reputation is immense. My problem with Mr. MacArthur is not that he was in disagreement with the view that women be allowed to preach (although that is a discussion for another day), my issue is that he belittled others who held that view. As a Christian I can disagree with a viewpoint another person has, but being derogatory and disrespectful in a world that watches carefully, does so much damage to the body of Christ. There are ways to state your opinions without belittling others.

There are so many more issues here I could address, but for today, I will stop here. I am including a thoughtful post that I found on You Tube by Laine Sebring on  “Preaching Donkey” that summarizes a lot of my feelings.  Remember folks: BE KIND!

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Dare to Dream

I debated on posting this because I do not want to seem to be bragging or patting myself on the back. I am posting it because God is SO good and has used something on my heart to make a difference for others.

Photo by Esther Tuttle on Unsplash

When I went to graduate school to get my master’s in Christian Education, things were pretty rough. I worked full time, went to school full time, and still had two children at home. My husband, Tom, was super supportive, but it was still a challenge.

Financially it was difficult because I had been out of college for over 30 years. There were several grants and scholarships for those who just completed their undergraduate work, but not for someone who had been out of school as long as I had. I did find some scholarships for degrees outside of my field, but the only scholarships I found in my field were from denominations I was not a part of. The only financial aid I had available to me was student loans. So I paid for my graduate degree on my own. It was not easy, but I did it.

I wondered how many other older women found themselves in the same circumstances I experienced–longing to go back to school and hon her ministry skills, but barely able to afford it. After my experience of searching for grants and scholarships, I decided that if there was any way I could help another older woman who was struggling financially with grad school, I would. When I was still president of Christian Women’s Resource Network, an organization for women leaders in local churches, we set up a scholarship at Lincoln Christian Seminary. The scholarship was specifically for women over the age of 35 who were going to graduate school. Unfortunately, shortly afterward we disbanded CWRN and the scholarship was no more.

I had a dream that God had put on my heart, and I regrouped and established the Linda DeLay Wallace scholarship. I wish I had unlimited funds to give, but I do what I can on a regular basis.

Today, I received a letter from Lincoln Christian University, and this year for the first time the scholarship has been able to provide THREE women with financial assistance. I am thrilled that a small dream of mine has made a difference for women over the last few years.

I could have told myself all the reasons that establishing a scholarship was not a practical idea for me, particularly because I have never seemed to have an excess of money. But I am so glad that God allowed that dream to blossom in my heart, providing me the faith to step out and believe I could make a difference, as small as it may be.

What are your dreams for the kingdom of God? What has God laid on your heart that takes a leap of faith to accomplish? What is keeping you from taking steps toward making dreams come true? I challenge you to give it to God and see what he can do with your dreams, even if they don’t seem large in the grand scheme of things.

And if you find yourself motivated to give, you can always consider helping other women reach of their goal of serving in ministry by giving to the Linda DeLay Wallace Scholarship. Checks can be made to Lincoln Christian University.

Lincoln Christian University

100 Campus View Dr.

Lincoln, IL 62656

Lunch Lessons

Today I stopped at a buffet restaurant for lunch. For some reason I noticed the gentleman behind me in line. He had a large blue bag with him, and waited patiently as we went through the line. He had snow white hair that flowed to his collar. He walked with a slow shuffle and had stooped and rounded shoulders. However, when he looked up his face was free of lines and wrinkles, and he appeared to be much younger than I initially thought. Like I frequently do with people, I found myself wondering what his story is.

I selected my table, put my drink and receipt on it, and left for the salad line. When I came back I noticed that he had taken a table about three tables down from me.  He carefully set his bag on the two chairs opposite of where he was going to sit. I watched as he laid a napkin on the chair he would be using, and then proceeded to lay out several napkins on his side of the table. He stepped back slightly to look at them and then rearranged them to make sure they were all straight. He moved one of the chairs to another table so that only the chair he would be sitting on remained on his side of the table. From his blue bag he picked up a hinged metal frame that looked similar to a license plate frame and set it carefully on the table. He then proceeded to put his hardback book on the frame, carefully marking his place in the book.

For some reason, I found myself fascinated with watching him as he clearly had his routine memorized. He rearranged the condiments and put them to the side of the table. He took two napkins, one in each hand, and went to the salad bar, picking up the plate with his napkins. He came back with a plate filled with cottage cheese and cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes had been stacked in a perfect circle on top of the cottage cheese. He then took two new napkins and returned to the salad bar. This time he had a plate full of salad fixings which he carefully placed on the table. Then he took two more napkins, picked up the next plate and returned with the lettuce. He took his knife and fork and cut his lettuce into bite sized pieces and then added it to the top of the plate of salad fixings.

He never sat down the entire time he was arranging his meal. In the meantime, twenty minutes have passed and I have practically finished my entire meal. I tried to keep from obviously watching him because I did not want to make him uncomfortable, but I was so intrigued by the whole process.

You have probably come to the conclusion, (as I did) that this man probably suffers from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). I felt compassion for the man, and wondered how difficult his life must be because he was so different from most of the diners there. They, like me, just selected a table, picked up a plate, filled it, and then proceeded to eat without all of the forethought and protections he put in place.

I wondered how hard it must have been for him to actually come to a restaurant to eat. I questioned if he had family, a home, a job, or any semblance of a normal life. I speculated that it must be very difficult for him and the ones who love him, to deal with the foibles of an OCD personality. I wish I could tell you that the man and I had a wonderful conversation and I learned about his life, but I cannot.

Photo by Jonathan Rados on Unsplash

But I can tell you this. I know with a surety that God loves him in the same way he loves me. I truly believe God has great compassion and love for the outcast, the forlorn, the homeless, the lonely, and the mentally ill. And I believe, he is asking us as Christians, to have that same kind of love for others. So often we forget that Jesus has asked us to step outside of our comfort zones and love those who we consider to be unlovable. Today as I watched the man at lunch, I was reminded of that fact.

I was reading in Luke today and ran across this passage: “Then Jesus said to his host, ‘when you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.'” – Luke 14:12-14 (NIV)

Words to My 22-year-old Self

I belong to a facebook group called Ministry Chick, which is specifically designed for women in ministry. In the short time I have been a part of that group, it has been refreshing to see women come together in support of one another. Today a young woman posted a question that really got me thinking.

Her question was “If you could go back and tell your 22 year old self anything, what would it be?”

Goodness! My 67-year-old self would have plenty to say. But here are the top 10 things in no particular order, except the first one, that I would tell my 22-year-old self.

Put your faith in God. Through the good times and the bad times your faith can sustain you. During your lifetime your faith will be tested. No if, ands, and buts. Seeking God, growing your faith, and spending time in his word; these will never come back void. Do not be afraid to express your doubts and ask your questions when you have them—and you will. God doesn’t cast you away when you have doubts. Just remember that faith does not require sight. Learn to find joy in your faith.

Live with integrity. This world makes it easy to compromise, to evade the truth, and to easily live with sin. Make sure that your word is worth something. Make sure that people who look closely into your life can see someone who lives what they believe. Integrity is reflected in who you are even when no when no one is looking.

Find your passion. God has given you gifts and talents. But you will find that in the church there are many times that you are asked to do things that do not lie in your area of giftedness. Prayerfully and considerately learn to say no to those things, so that you can serve in the areas where God has gifted you. And if the thing you are passionate about seems out of your reach, pray to God for opportunities to use the gifts he gave you. The opportunities will come, not always easily, and sometimes in the most unexpected ways. Be ready for when God calls.

Stay humble and grateful. Pride is so deceitful, and God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. It is easier to stay humble when you remember to give the glory to God for the things you accomplish. It is easy to be proud of our accomplishments rather than being grateful for them. It is easy to respond to accolades with pride rather than a sense of humility that God has allowed us the privilege of doing something good. Gratitude helps us always to remember our blessings in life. It is proven that people who live with an attitude of gratitude are happier in life.

Learn to listen. Everyone has a story. If we truly want to be a light in this world, we need to listen to the stories of others. When we learn to hear someone’s life story, it is easier to forgo judgments about people and develop a true compassion for them. I always think about Jesus and his conversation with the woman caught in adultery. He certainly knew her past and her life with sin, but he was compassionate toward her. While he told her to go and sin no more, he still treated her with dignity. He knew her story. You will meet many people throughout life, and some of them will certainly rub you the wrong way. Learning their stories and trying to see them through God’s eyes will open your heart to become a more compassionate, loving person.

Learn from mistakes. Wisdom is usually learned. It comes from mistakes made, lessons learned, and willingness to change. Everyone makes mistakes, and not all of them are sins. But along the way chances are you will sin. Sometimes you will mess up so badly you cannot see your way out of things. But being willing to step up to the plate, acknowledge your mistakes, and confess your sins, is a huge step toward learning wisdom.

Do not let the past define you. Many people dwell in the past and blame it for all the things that are wrong in their life today. We all have a past. Some are lucky enough to have a good one, but many have things that have occurred that have left scars. Our past has shaped us into the people we are today. But only let God define who you are, not your past. You are his child, beloved by Him.

Learn to use your voice. I am going to go out on a limb here and generalize that most men do not struggle as much with the issue of finding their voice. Women  sometimes tend to lose who they are because they are so invested in the lives of others. A daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, etc. It is easy to lose you sometimes. So throughout your life, in all the stages of your life, remember to stay connected to the very essence of who you are. Take time for self-care while you are taking care of the needs of others.

Learn to say no. It is easy to become derailed from the things that God wants you to accomplish by the things that others see necessary. Many of the things people ask you to do in the church (and guilt you into doing) are good things—teaching, working in the nursery, cleaning, organizing a program, and being VBS director. But not everything is in your area of giftedness or necessary for you to do. Learn to use good judgment in the things you say yes and no to in your life. Pray about opportunities when you are asked to do something. Learn gracious ways of saying no.

Develop friendships. God created us to be relational beings. First, we need to have a relationship with him, and second, we need a relationship with others. You will find a lot of your friends in life will be seasonal and with you for a time, but you will need to develop some life-long friendships with some special people in your life. The close friends will be fewer, but definitely more precious. Those friends need to be willing to talk about the hard things, hold you accountable, pray with you, laugh with you, cry with you and sometimes, just sit and be with you. They are the kind who know your heart. They are the kind who know your flaws and still love you. They are the kind that are one of the best gifts from God.

There are so many things I can really tell my younger self, but in all honestly, they have been lessons learned on this journey of life. And had I but listened, they are all things I heard from others along the way. I just had to experience them for myself. It is how I learn the best. There is a song by Mercy Me called “Dear Younger Me” that expresses just what I feel sometimes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-l70C3ePyIQ

 

The Elusive Contentment

Definition of contentment

1the quality or state of being contented
Definition of contented. : feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation a contented smile. They lived a contented life.
We just finished a sermon series at church called “Chasing Carrots.” The series focused on the things we chase after, thinking they will make us happy and contented. It was thought provoking and challenging.
Today as I was on Facebook reading posts of my friends, I was reminded of the fact that we look for so many things in our lives to fulfill us. As I was reading I recognized the frustrations, sorrows, joys, and everyday challenges of life. But a couple of posts I read really made me think about the things we search for in life.

Continue reading “The Elusive Contentment”

You of All People

Today I was reading a scripture that leaped out at me in a way it never had before. Maybe it is because I have been reading a lot of headlines, twitter feeds, and Facebook posts. Maybe it is just that I am tired, both mentally and physically.  Or maybe it was because God was speaking to me through His word, like He never fails to do.

I can imagine God looking down on us from the Heavenly throne, with a heart that is heavy. I can imagine Jesus Christ, shaking His head and weeping copious tears for His church, His bride, His body. We Americans who call ourselves Christian are losing our way and becoming more and more like the people he came to set free. We are becoming legalistic, self-righteous, political, and judgmental.

Before you start calling me out, please understand that I do realize there are Christians out there who love and serve Jesus with all of their heart. I hear their voices and see their acts of service and their love for God. I know there are Christ followers out there who have compassion for the unlovable, the poor, the orphans, and the widows. There are servants who speak the truth of God and live it out daily.

But what I see a whole lot more of is people like me. Continue reading “You of All People”

Welcome Home!

This morning when I opened my facebook, I saw a picture of my friend’s parents when they were much younger. The news was both heartbreaking and joy making. Nita Hargrave had gone home to her heavenly father and to those who had reached heaven before her, including her husband.

My heart aches for her children and grandchildren who will miss her dearly. But my heart also rejoices for them — because they have the privilege and joy of knowing she loved God and them with all of her heart.

I met the Hargrave family when I was a young 17-year-old college student. I roomed with their daughter, Debby, for many of my young adult years. I do not think they will ever know the full impact they had on my life. Continue reading “Welcome Home!”

A Jar of OIive Oil

“Ordinary People – Extraordinary God.” That is the tag line for my website. Today as I was doing my morning devotion, I thought about what it means to be ordinary. Because quite frankly, the longer I live, the more I realize no one is “ordinary.” Each person has their own unique abilities and gifts, their own unique personalities, their own unique stories, and their own unique challenges and joys.

But so many people consider themselves ordinary. Even people I know who are highly talented and motivated, often look at themselves through a lens that shows them as ordinary or even lacking.

I believe that is when God can shine the brightest. When we may be at our lowest, or when we see our lack, that is the time that God can take our weakness and show his strength. Continue reading “A Jar of OIive Oil”

Dear Church Secretary

Week One

Dear Church Secretary,

I am so excited to hear that we have a new church secretary and want to be one of the first to welcome you on board. You will find that our church is loving and caring and we want you to feel like part of a family here. If you ever need anything, please feel free to call. My number is in the church directory. Welcome. Mrs. A

Week Two

Dear Church Secretary,

I am sure that after your first week you are starting to get settled in. You are doing a fine job, dear. I just want to mention one little thing, however. You need to make sure you are double checking the names when you type them. I noticed that you misspelled Caryn Jones’ name. It is spelled CARYN not KAREN like you put it in the bulletin. I am sure you will get the hang of things soon. If I can be any help, please let me know. Mrs. A.

Week Three

Dear Church Secretary,

I understand that there are many announcements that need to go in the newsletter, but I have to say I was extremely disappointed in my announcement regarding the VBS meeting. Continue reading “Dear Church Secretary”

A Defining Day

On May 16, 1981, I woke up with a great sense of excitement and a little bit of apprehension. It was cloudy and rainy, but I did not let that dampen my anticipation of the day. In some ways it seemed like I had waited a lifetime for this day, but in others it seemed wonderfully new.

As I showered and  dressed, I realized that my whole life was about to change. No longer would my decisions impact only me, they would impact us. No longer would I be able to take off and go somewhere without a thought for telling someone where I was going. No longer would I eat toaster pastries for supper and consider that a meal.

A little voice inside my head said, “Are you sure you want to do this?” No. Wait. Continue reading “A Defining Day”