I was sitting in church when I glanced at the row behind me. I noticed a woman wearing a t-shirt that said “God loves the people you hate.” I have to confess, I was pretty distracted during the rest of the service thinking about the saying on that shirt. In reality it is hard to love the people we “hate” or “dislike” or “find irritating.” But if I have learned anything in studying Scripture, it is that Jesus wants us to love the unlovable.
I have started this post at least twenty different times this morning. On my Facebook feed I have read SO many political posts from friends on both the right and left side of politics. But this post is for my friends who are also my Christian family. My heart aches that I am seeing memes and comments that are extremely bitter against people who do not hold the same beliefs and values you do. My heart aches when I see Christians who hold Donald Trump up as America’s Savior. We Christians have one Savior and one Lord–Jesus Christ. I frequently wonder why we are not promoting Jesus Christ and who he is, above politics.
I cannot help but think that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is saddened to see where many of his followers are today. Instead of being loving and kind, we are divisive and judgmental. Instead of praying for ALL of our leaders and elected officials, we are picking and choosing who we are praying for. Hate/love Nancy Pelosi? Pray for her daily. Hate/love Donald Trump? Pray for him daily. Love Jesus? Then act like it and develop fruit of the spirit in your life.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Definition of contentment
1: the 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.
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.
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.
“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.
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
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.
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.