Gaining a New Perspective

I recently posted about a “dry fire” I had at my house on Mother’s Day. (https://lindadelaywallace.com/2022/05/13/smell-that-smoke/) It was quite an experience and because there was no soot or ash–only a house full of smoke–insurance would not cover anything. That meant that everything in my house had to be cleaned by yours truly, and luckily some faithful friends and family! It was an interesting two weeks following the incident.

Photo by KWON JUNHO on Unsplash

As I washed every cabinet and closet (and everything in them) in my house, I noticed that I had items I never used taking up space. Some of them were beautiful pieces of crystal that just sat in my upper cabinets the entire six years I have lived here. Some of them were clothes that I wondered what was I thinking when I purchased them. I have a fairly neat house, but when you must take every single thing out and clean it and evaluate it, it gives you a new perspective. My daughter cleaned my spice cabinet and ended up with about half the items I had before, because, well, you do not want to know how many expired spices I had!

After I disposed of expired items, gave away some of the crystal, and took bags of clothes and unused household items to the thrift store, I felt like a burden had lifted. I was unhindered by all of the things in my house that had been bogging me down and I look forward to not needing to “spring clean” or sort through clothes or cabinets. For now. Because no matter how careful I am, somehow clutter starts again, spices get expired, and laundry still needs to be done. But for all the hard work, there is a great freedom in the process I went through after the smoke cleared.

With all of this, I was reminded of a scripture in Hebrews 12:1. The writer of Hebrews is talking about all of those who have gone before us and were witnesses of the greatness and goodness of God. He says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (NIV) Hebrews 12:1

I love the way it is paraphrased in The Message, “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (The Message)

It took a house full of smoke for me to do some deep cleaning. In the same way, in my spiritual life, I need to always be evaluating where I have let sin in my life, always letting go of the things that tie me down to this earth, and racing toward the finish line to heaven. I love the part where it says, “When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls.” Maybe it will take some “dry smoke” for me to evaluate my life sometimes, but it will be well worth it in the end!

Five Things to Remember When Life Becomes Overwhelming

One of my friends shared on facebook that she is really struggling with all the things that life is throwing at her right now. Unfortunately, I think we can ALL identify with that feeling of being overwhelmed on occasion! Women, who tend to be fixers, sometimes have difficulty admitting they need help when life becomes overwhelming for them. So how do we learn to swallow our pride and ask for help? How do we let our friends and family know that we have reached a point where we are ready to scream, or cry, or just hide, until we can face life with equanimity again?

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

For those of you who find yourself in this circumstance, here are five things I’ve found helpful.

5.  Everyone feels overwhelmed occasionally–you are not alone. When life is coming full throttle and sometimes circumstances are conspiring to get us “out of whack” we sometimes feel a sense of helplessness and a loss of control. We may often feel that we are unworthy and unloved because we cannot keep it together. Most women I know have been there at one time or another. It’s okay to express your feelings of inadequacy, fear, frustration and even anger to a person you trust. You may be surprised at how many others have felt the same way.

4. It is okay to be honest about your feelings. For most women, friends and family really do care, even though sometimes it may not seem like it. They may be oblivious to your feelings because you have never let them know you are struggling! It is okay to be honest with your spouse and children to let them know in age-appropriate ways that you are sad, or overwhelmed, or even angry with life. You may be surprised at how honestly sharing with them can make a difference. Just be sure not to make it a blame game, which only complicates everything in unhealthy ways. My husband would often say he was not a mind reader, but many times I expected him to be one!

3.  Feel free to ask for help!  Don’t feel like you always have to do everything on your own. Sometimes people just need to know you are struggling and when they do, they will be there for you. Find a trusted friend, a pastor, or a counselor to give you honest feedback and support. In all honesty, I am not always good at picking up those verbal and visual clues when someone is struggling, but if they share their struggles with me, I am there for them. So if you are acting like everything is alright, do not be upset with your friends and family because they do not know how you really feel. Sharing burdens is actually a biblical concept.

2.  Take drugs! I say that jokingly, but seriously, sometimes there are chemical imbalances that lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and sadness. Don’t be afraid to talk about it with your physician and GET HELP if you need it. There should be no shame in seeking the help of a professional, be it your physician, a therapist, or a psychiatrist. I say kudos to you if you recognize that it can be a life changer.

And just as a side note, it is okay as a Christian to be treated for depression or anxiety. Do not let someone guilt you into thinking you are not a good Christian just because you are struggling.

1.  Take your struggles to the Lord. Pray about it, journal about it, trust in Him to send you deliverance. He truly cares about our struggles and hurts. It is easy to feel distant from God when we are struggling, but this is the time we most need to saturate ourselves in His Word and recognize that He is ever-present in our lives. Even if he feels far away, do not stop immersing yourself in his word. Even if you feel that he doesn’t hear your prayers, he does. Sometimes we cannot trust our “feelings” when it comes to thinking about how God loves us, but instead we just cling to his word and trust his promises are true.

I caution women not to be too hard on themselves when life seems overwhelming and they have a crying spell about some seemingly insignificant thing. Sometimes it is a good release valve for all that tension. It happens when we live in an imperfect world, so we need to cut ourselves a little slack on occasion! Life happens and struggles happen, but it helps to know, we’re not in it alone.

Psalm 55:22, NLT Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

I Peter 5:7, NLT Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Other verses to study: Psalm 27:1, Isaiah 41:13, Joshua 1:9 There are many verses in scripture that remind us of God’s care for us. Scriptures about fear, anxiety, and worry abound. The fact is that God encourages us to rely on him and reminds us over and over again that he loves us and cares about our lives.

They Did Not Know It Was Good

This evening as I was sitting in our Good Friday service, listening to our minister eloquently speak on the significance of Good Friday, I couldn’t help but think that for everyone who was present that day, it was not such a good Friday.

The fact of the matter is that not one individual who was present that day knew with certainty what was really occurring, not even the disciples who had spent the last three year with him. Indeed, even the last week with Jesus did not prepare them for what they experienced, even though Jesus himself spoke of what was coming.

Following an evening where Jesus was falsely accused, tried, struck, beaten, and flogged, it wasn’t such a good morning. For those who watched Pontius Pilate as he tried to set Jesus free by offering Jesus or Barrabas, it was not such a good day (oh, how fickle the people when riled up!).

For Jesus’ followers watching him along the road to Golgatha, and seeing him so faint that another carried his cross, it wasn’t such a good day. For Mary, Jesus’ mother to watch her son being nailed to a cross, and then hoisted in the air to fall with a thud into the earth, the small death to her heart was not a good day. For the many disciples who were probably scattered, maybe fearfully watching while their heads were covered, hoping that no one recognized them, it was not such a good day. Especially, for Peter, who had denied Christ three times the evening before, it was not a good day.

For John who listened as Jesus spoke to him from the cross and gave him the responsibility of being a son to Mary, it was not such a good day. For the women who had followed Jesus and been given value and had been known Christ’s love, it was not a good day. Even for the centurion, who realized a huge error had been made and acknowledged that surely this was the son of God, it was not a good day.

Photo by Alicia Quan on Unsplash

For Joseph of Arimathea, who begged for the body of Jesus to be laid in his very own tomb, it was surely a day filled with sorrow. And for Mary Magdalene who had been delivered from seven demons, and the other Mary who were sitting across from the tomb and watching, it was not a very good day.

The good news is that after three days, what was surely so sorrowful for all who loved Jesus became a day of joy as the news of his resurrection filled the rooms where they were gathered. But even then, I am not sure they realized the huge ramifications of what Jesus had finished.

But for us, we who can look back and see what Jesus has done–for us it was a very Good Friday.

My View from the Pew

Well, technically my view from the pew is really from the chair. We never had pews at my church. Believe me, chairs are far more comfortable and during the height of Covid-19 they were able to take out a lot of chairs in order to provide safe distancing. But I digress from the real point.

I am short and usually I sit toward the front of the church because I can see better. Invariably I will end up moving because someone tall sits in front of me. Last week, I came into the auditorium just before service started and had to sit toward the back. It was interesting how different the perspective was for me. But the cool thing was, I saw from the back what I normally did not see from the front.

I saw an arm with a tattoo sleeve lifted high in praise and a row back I saw a tiny older lady with her silver hair and dangling bracelets lifting her arms in praise also. I saw a man with black earrings in his gauge piercings, singing with all his heart. In the row in front of me sat a man dressed in a plaid flannel shirt who could have been an double for Paul Bunyan, beard, height and all. I saw black, white, and Indian cultures represented; and they were all brothers and sisters, worshiping the King of Kings.

Every Sunday you can count on two things being said from whomever is speaking. The first is, “Jesus is the lead story” and the second is, “This is a safe place for you to ask your questions.” The wonderful thing is, this is a body of believers who take that to heart. In an age when many churches are closing their doors, our church is reaching people with the powerful love of Jesus. We encourage everyone who comes through our doors to become involved in a ministry and be part of a home team, where they build relationships with other Christians.

As I observed from the back, I thought this is what the church should be–People from all walks of life who desperately need Jesus. We all have sin and we all have been recipients of Christ’s love when he ultimately shed his blood for us. From my seat in the back of the church I watched in awe as I saw God’s Spirit at work in a group of diverse people who crave a relationship with him.

We are not perfect, and anyone looking for flaws, can certainly find one. But the fact of the matter is when a church embraces their love for God and their love for people, God can work powerfully. What about you? What do you see when you watch from the back? What you see can tell you a lot about your church. I hope that it is God’s love shining through.

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law’ Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all you mind’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love our neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.'” – Matthew 22:34-40

Chariots of Fire

Do you ever have those days when you think, “I have no clue what God is doing.” I look at the world around me and sometimes I feel so defeated. I see so much hatred and strife, and so many spiritual battles of good vs. evil. I feel like I should be out there doing something and yet, I am not experiencing clear direction from God. Yes, I do have direction to love others, develop fruit of the Spirit and keep on having faith, but sometimes I feel that God has something in store for me that I just have not recognized yet! Have you ever been there? Have you ever questioned God and wonder why he hasn’t shown himself? The response I keep getting back is: Trust me, I have it covered.

Not long ago I was reading 2 Kings 6:6-23 and God reminded me that He’s got it covered. The Arameans were in a war against Israel, and God used the prophet Elisha to protect the king from harm. When the king of Aram discovered that Elisha was telling the King of Israel battle areas to avoid, he decided to take matters in his own hands and sent a strong showing of his troops to surround the city of Dothan, where Elisha was staying.  When Elisha’s servant went out and saw the troops, he came back to Elisha, saying, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” I imagine we are a lot like that servant sometimes. We wring our hands and cry out, “What shall we do?”

Elisha replied for the servant not to be afraid because, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” The Lord then opened the servant’s eyes to see that the hills were full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. God had not left them unprotected. The story ends peacefully as Elisha struck the soldiers blind and led them to the King of Israel. The king was gracious to them and spared their lives and the raids on Israel’s territory were subsequently stopped.

I take great comfort in the fact that we are surrounded by a mighty army of God. Metaphorically speaking, sometimes I am like Elisha’s servant and do not see God working and I feel paralyzed because I feel like the world is winning this battle of life. I just need God to open my eyes so that I can see it. But that is where faith comes in. I need to remember God is aware of my needs, and he is faithful. But sometimes like Elisha’s servant, I just want to be shown the army of God around me.

 What about you?  Do you feel sometimes like there is a skirmish raging around you and you are not sure of the outcome? Do you think you are alone in this battle of life and all is lost? Take comfort. God has not left us abandoned. We may not have the literal privilege of seeing the hills full of horses and chariots of fire, but we do have the assurance that God is at work on our behalf. Sometimes we just need to pray for God to open our eyes to let us see the chariots of fire, and then remember the battle belongs to the Lord.

Songwriters: Brian Johnson / Philip David Wickham

Battle Belongs lyrics © Bethel Music Publishing

Being Me and the Perfect Life*

Do you ever wish you had someone else’s perfect life? Have you ever thought your life would be better if you could just have their talents and skills, their perfect family, or their awesome job?  Sometimes it’s easy to envy others when we think they have the best personalities, the most talent, and other attributes we admire.  Frequently we get into the comparison game and come up the loser.

The fact of the matter is while we are busy envying someone else’s life, that very same person may be envying another person, too. When I was younger I could sense something wrong in a relationship with a close friend. I couldn’t put my finger on what was going on, but it seemed we were losing our closeness and I was stymied as to what I had done that would make her avoid me. Finally, unable to stand it any longer, I confronted her. I was stunned when I heard her say she was jealous of my ability to make friends easily and I had a boyfriend, while she struggled to build relationships. Feeling badly about her relationships, she had started to avoid me, especially when I was with my boyfriend.

But the REAL fact of the matter was that I envied her for her sense of humor, her close-knit Christian family, and her obvious musical talent. Once we were able to talk about our feelings and recognize that God made us unique individuals, with our own strengths and weaknesses, we abolished the barriers we had let build over time.

Being much older and somewhat wiser now, I have learned to recognize that God has made each of us unique and equipped us with different gifts. Our families, communities, belief systems, and temperaments have all factored into making us who we are.  When we learn to recognize our personalities, and learn to understand our strengths and weaknesses, we can come to a greater understanding of ourselves.

I am learning to be content with who God made me to be and to recognize I need to work within my strengths. I have also learned to acknowledge my weaknesses and not be afraid to ask for help from those who are strong where I am weak. I am finally allowing myself to be me, flaws and all! That doesn’t mean I am not continually trying to grow and thrive in my environment, but it does mean I have given myself permission to not be perfect. (Which is a good thing, because the Good Lord knows I have a long way to go!)

There is a reason God doesn’t want us to be envious of others. When we start comparing ourselves to others and becoming envious of who they are and how they live, we find seeds of discontent being sown.  Envy can lead to bitterness and selfishness. (James 3:13-18 deals with this very subject.) When we focus so much on others, we forget to focus on the One who created us.

Being me. I am the only one who can be me. Being you. You are the only one who can be you. God can use us both. For today I am content being me and realizing that while life isn’t perfect right now, someday when I am with my heavenly Father, it will be!

Have you learned to be content with who God made you to be? Have you learned to let God use you through both your strengths and your weaknesses? Or are you still wishing that you had someone else’s life?  I don’t know anyone who has a perfect life. But there is peace that comes from embracing who you are (imperfections and all) and giving that to God to use.

*originally posted on September 6, 2011 by Linda Wallace cwrn.org website (no longer published).

Finding Joy in the Chaos, Part 1

If most of you are like me, the last two years have been frustrating. Covid has changed our world and stress levels are at an all-time high. Our lives are nothing like we envisioned them. I retired when Covid-19 hit such high numbers in 2020.

My expectations for retirement were drastically changed. My bucket list hit the trash can. There would be no road trips to see family and long-time friends, no cruises, and no extra vacations. Suddenly instead of the retirement I envisioned, I was left with the fall-out of Covid and it was hard to find joy in my life.

The fact is that many of the women I talk with are struggling to find joy in their lives amidst the chaos right now. They are tired and worn out. They are juggling their lives, trying to be everything to everyone. You are not alone if you are struggling.

According to Dr. Steve Stephen, in his book The Worn Out Woman notes studies done estimate there are more than sixty million worn-out women in the US alone and just as many are on the fast track to becoming exhausted and overwhelmed! It is no wonder we are having difficulty finding joy in our lives. I suspect those statistics are higher since 2020.

The fact of the matter is what we are feeling now is not new. Psalm 6:6 says, “I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” Psalm 10:1 is a cry from David, “Why O Lord do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

I want to find joy in my life and instead it seems that stress has become a daily part of it. So, what happens when you are stressed?  Stress can lead to health problems, broken relationships, severe depression, and a number of other difficult consequences. If you ignore these issues, they do not go away. Trying to tap into joy when you are struggling is extremely difficult because the issues sometimes grow and steal our joy.

And the thing about joy is not that we are happy all the time. Instead it is an intrinsic emotion that helps us know that things are well with our soul. The Webster definition for joy is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness, but for the Christian it combines that with a deep satisfaction and knowledge that no matter how our lives are going, God is with us every step of the way.

Joy is a term that appears approximately 165 times in the KJV translation, 182 in the NASV, and 218 times in the NIV.

Crosswalk website notes, “As we read in Scripture, joy is a state of being, and it differs from happiness, which may come and go. Happiness is usually measured by our circumstances, whereas joy is measured by what we have been given. As Christians, we have been given something that cannot be taken away. We have joy because of the grace of Jesus Christ that lives in us. We can hold onto joy, we can feel joyful, and we can rejoice with praise no matter what our circumstances may be because no matter what is going on in our lives God is always near.”1

Valorie Burton, A Christian life coach who regularly appears on the Today Show says, “If you want to be happier on a regular basis, there’s one really simple piece of advice to follow… Happiness is actually contagious, so be intentional about surrounding yourself with happy people.”

So, how do we find joy in our lives? The first thing is to recognize that we really do need to identify the areas in our lives that are joy stealers. In others words, we need to evaluate what circumstances take away our joy and then try to develop healthy habits that help us renew our joy in life. So how and why do we do this? Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow as I lay out a key Scripture to focus on to help you find your way to joy.

Fleeting Moments

Recently I was nestled in the Ozark Mountains during a writer’s retreat. It snowed most of the day and I awoke to a beautifully white, frozen world. The snow was pristine in its freshness because no tracks had marred the surface. The lovely white landscape was stunning. And if I had had the foresight to bring snow boots with me, I could have gone outside to play in the snow. But alas, no snow boots. By the afternoon all that lovely snow was fading away, and the moment for playing in the snow was gone.

Photo by Linda DeLay Wallace

But I savored that small moment where I glimpsed a serene beauty during the midst of winter. It gave me a sense of peace and contentment and reminded me that God is the best artist there is. But it took little time for the peace of the moment to flee.

I thought to myself, isn’t life like that? We have these beautiful pristine moments that are given to us. If we are lucky enough, we can luxuriate in the moment and bask in the joy it brings. The moment may be shared with someone we love or enjoyed with our children and grandchildren. It may be that we can just sit and breathe and appreciate the beauty around us. Sometimes those moments seem so fleeting and are gone before we even realize their presence. We return to our mundane, frequently hectic world, but we can take the moment out of our memory bank and remember the feeling of peace and joy that it brought.

Frequently we get so caught up in the past or planning the future, that we forget about the present. I am not saying to dismiss the past because it helped mold us into who we are today. Nor I am saying to neglect planning for the future. What I am saying is to live today with an awareness of your surroundings and looking for the little moments to capture in your mind.

My sister’s favorite verse is, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24). She tries to see the positive in everything. And she is remarkably good about capturing special moments on her camera and then making them into a scrapbook!

Capturing fleeting moments can seem magical. So today ask God to help you recognize the fleeting moments that bring special joy to your life. Who knows, it may be one of those special nuggets you store in your memory that brings you wonder all over again each time you think about it!

Justice Can’t Wait

My friend, Patrick Heston, is a crafter of words. I always enjoy his insights and frequently find myself saying, “Yes, that is exactly how I feel!” but he articulates it so much better than I do. This morning as I read his words, I found it echoed in my heart. So I asked him if I could share his thoughts on my blog. He graciously said yes. So I hope this resounds with you as much as it did with me.

“The negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the . . . Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice.” (The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.) I know MLK day is past, but this isn’t a post about MLK. This is not a political post, regardless of what some may think. This is a post about me. Whether it is a post about you . . . only you know. On my Facebook profile, I long ago described myself as “more conservative than most liberals like and more liberal than most conservatives like.” There is a word for that. Moderate. I like moderates. I like being a moderate. I haven’t always been one, but have been one for a long time.

I’m one of those people who hated to see Justice Kennedy leave the United States Supreme Court because I knew — depending on who would be President at the time — he would be replaced by either a democrat or a republican, either a liberal or a conservative (both of which, from time to time, get under my skin big-time). So, both those options scared me. But, now, even being a moderate scares me. It scares me because it is in my nature, in my way of thinking, in my passion to unite rather than to divide . . . to wait.

But we can no longer wait to call injustice by name. We can no longer wait to speak against and work against injustice. We can no longer deny justice to others in order to preserve some Camelot-ish status quo. I think it is because moderates, like me, have a tendency to patiently wait and work for much-needed change, rather than to lower our heads and charge on through the obstacles like the proverbial bull in a china shop. You know . . . slow down, be patient, give it time, we’ll get there. That is, I think, why we don’t see many moderates who are black or poor or disenfranchised. The vantage point is different. After all, it’s a lot easier to wait for everybody to have food on their table when there’s already food on ours.

But here’s the deal to me anymore: Justice can’t wait. I think I would understand that better if I were wearing black skin instead of white, if I were female rather than male, if I were roaming the streets in the cold instead of sheltered warmly at home, if I were stereotyped instead of blending in. Doctor King was, I think, on the mark. I had read the quote before — many times — but it had never hit me like it did this morning. There is something about that comfortable stance of moderation that should make me . . . well, uncomfortable. And, as the years have passed, it has. I think that in many ways, for a large portion of my life, I have unknowingly, unwittingly, unintentionally elevated order over justice by trying to achieve justice in small, spaced-out increments. In other words, by moderation. It hasn’t worked. It won’t work. Of that, I am finally convinced. I am not calling for revolution . . . beyond the revolution in my own heart, mind and lifestyle. And I make such revolution incumbent on no one else.

I am not for throwing order out with justice, but neither am I for throwing out justice for the sake of order. I’m just saying that it’s a mighty thin slice of pizza that only has one side. Order and justice are never either/or, but always both/and. Still, scripture comes down on the side of justice, repeatedly and unhesitatingly, and so must I.

I can no longer live content being more devoted to order than to justice. Dr. King was right — about both. It’s the “more” in his statement that we can’t afford to miss . . . “more devoted to order than to justice.” MLK was more than willing to disturb the prevailing order with pointed talk and peaceful action, while devoted always to justice. Always.

Well . . . there it is. I got if off my chest the way I best know how: In print. More for me than for anyone else. Like that step in AA where you have to make things public, if you’re going to win the battle within you.

If you interpret this as a political statement or as some sort of knuckling under to white guilt, then, I am sorry, but you simply do not understand. And that’s okay. It really is. Pointed talk, peaceful action — always and only. But justice simply can’t wait.

Whitewashed Tombs

In the city where I used to live there was a place near the business district that could really use some sprucing up. I was pleasantly surprised when I drove by that location one day and they had installed attractive concrete walls. By the next time I drove by, shrubbery had been added and everything looked very nice. But as time went on when I would drive by I could see all the shrubbery had wilted and died. You see, it had all been built on the remains of an old landfill and there was so much toxicity still in the ground from the buried garbage, that nothing could thrive in the area around it.

This reminded me of a Scripture I read recently. Jesus was addressing the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 23. Actually, he was predicting the woe that would come to them because they were so self-righteous. In Matthew 23:27-28 he says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are filled with dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

Jesus did not pull any punches with the Pharisees when he was speaking about them and in fact, while speaking to the crowds and his disciples, he listed seven woes and called the Pharisees hypocrites several times. Not only did he call them hypocrites, he called them blind fools, snakes and vipers!

I often wonder what Jesus would think of modern day churches and their leaders. I have been reading so many stories about moral failures of church leaders that it makes me heartsick. The fact of the matter is that hidden sin will always be revealed eventually. Whether it is someone nationally known or just someone known in the local community, every time buried sin surfaces, the consequences are damaging to the name of the Lord.

Every time I read about a pastor’s infidelities, his lies to the church, or his financial greed, I cringe. I am grieved, because don’t they realize the harm they are doing to the body of Christ? When a minister throws up his “righteousness” while castigating others, it makes me wince, because doesn’t he (or she) realize that love and humility are greater ways to show the love of Christ?

We as a body of believers need to bring sin to the light and hold people accountable. Whether it is the hidden sins of child pornography, consorting with prostitutes, sexual abuse, or simply self-righteousness, all of those who call themselves Christians need to be held to a higher standard.

Jesus saw the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders. He ended his list of woes with lament, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Matthew 23:37-39

image by Matthew Troke on iStock

Lord, I pray that I am willing to not only be gathered under your mighty wings, but to learn to soar above my earthly desires so that I bring honor to your name. I pray that any hidden sins I have will be shown to me, so that I may repent and glorify the name of Jesus. Lord, help me to be a beacon of light that reflects you, rather than a hypocrite who dishonors your name. I pray for the church and church leaders who get caught up in the self-righteous path and fail to recognize the sin in their lives. Lord, open their eyes and show them your truth and your righteousness. I am so thankful that the day will come for all of us to say “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Amen