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.

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!

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.”

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Resilient or Defeated

re·sil·ience/rəˈzilyəns

  1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. “the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions”

Today I was reading through the book Successful Women Think Differently by Valorie Burton. I sincerely wish I had been able to read a book like this when I was in my twenties (which is way further back than I like!). The chapter I read today was on resilience. As I read through the chapter I realized that resiliency is one key thing that makes all the difference in the world for people who have faced adversity.

Burton defines resilience as “the ability to bounce back from setbacks.” She further notes that “resilient people thrive and grow in the face of adversity, challenges and change.”1

While I was in the Ozarks I noticed that throughout the rocky ground, there was life. Bushes, trees and even weeds managed to thrive and grow despite their less than ideal environment.

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The Color Fan

When I built my current home I had my entire villa painted white. I wanted to live in it a while so I could soak up the atmosphere and decide on the personality of each room. When I finally got to the job of choosing colors for some of my rooms, I looked at my paint fan and was overwhelmed with the choices offered. It seemed like every color in the spectrum was presented and they all reflected unique perspectives. Each color had subtle differences, making my choices difficult.

When I was looking at the different options available, I thought about how much this paint fan was like people. People come in all different personalities, made up of different shades that are formed by their innate gifts, culture, experiences and beliefs. When they intersect with our lives, we find some of them we love and instantly connect with, and others take time to grow on us. 

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How Far Is Too Far

Our church has been going through a sermon series entitled “Rescued.” Each week as I  hear the stories of people whom God has delivered from a life without Him, I am humbled by these individuals who are willing to be vulnerable and share their stories.

I know someone who was in a witness protection program when he turned state’s witness on a mob. His past was full of violent, unspeakable actions–things that would chill you to the bone if you knew what they were. When he met Jesus, he became a new man. He now works with inner city young men who are at high risk of becoming the same way he was before He met Christ. Continue reading

God Cares About Justice

I have been trying to write this blog post for two weeks and yet, here I am, still struggling with what to say. When I saw the news about Ahmad Arbery being shot by two prejudiced vigilantes, I cringed and was heartbroken. When I saw the video of George Floyd as a policeman kneeled on his neck and indifferently snuffed out his life for the world to see, I was appalled and heartbroken. When I watched as a delivery driver was trying to leave after a delivery and got blocked because of the color of his skin, I cheered him on for videoing the encounter, but was heartbroken because I know that when he finally left and had time to breathe, he probably broke down and cried. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Hallmark Moments

Think Hallmark movies are corny? You may be right but they may be truer to life than you think.

I confess. I watch Hallmark movies and right now the Christmas movies are out in full force. I have a friend who also watches Hallmark movies and I wait in anticipation of her pithy comments on each show. Here are just a few: “Tonight’s Hallmark tally: 2 more dead parents, 1 divorced and absent father. Mamas, don’t let your kids grow up to star in Hallmark movies.”Forty-five minutes in and the wife of the main character is dead. Seriously, why isn’t the funeral home the center of activity in these small towns? ” “Tuned in late for tonight’s Hallmark Christmas movie premiere. Never fear: we have one dead mother. The love interest really should be an undertaker.”

While I laugh at her comments and agree that most of the movies are just rewrites with different characters, the fact is, there is something that keeps people coming back to watch them. That is probably the improbable but happy endings and the thought that maybe, just maybe, no matter how bad life gets, there is hope. Continue reading

What’s Her Story?

We all have them in our churches. Women whose lives are full of hurt and pain, who struggle with job loss, economic woes, health issues, parenting issues, and more. They sit in the pews Sunday after Sunday, trying to trust God with their struggles and frequently wearing a mask to cover their pain. We will never know their stories unless we make the effort to invite them into our lives and discover who they are.

A friend and I listened as a woman shared her story of a son who is struggling with paranoid schizophrenia. She lived in fear as she watched his hallucinations and bizarre behaviors become increasingly more frequent. The hours leading to his involuntary hospitalization were something I would never wish for anyone. My heart ached for her and her pain. We held hands as we prayed for her family. My friend and I both prayed that God’s healing hand would be on this family, but it was her prayer that made me cry as I truly saw the heart of a mother who loved God. Continue reading

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

d4d99c902daa5cbcb06a9bf93963714f-big-mirrors-round-mirrors-hallwayFor our recent annual writer’s retreat we rented a lovely, large home that had enough space for us to spread out and write. One of the first things I noticed when I arrived was a large mirror hanging on the wall at the foot of the staircase.

Now there are things in my life I seriously have love/hate relationships with–my computer, my car, and food, for example. But my relationship with mirrors? There is no doubt; I absolutely have a hate relationship with them! Can you imagine that?

Mirrors simply reflect the image in front of them (unless they are magic like in Snow White). When I look in the mirror, I see an aging overweight body, a graying head of hair and a double chin. The mirror reflects the reality of my aging self. And mirrors with a magnifying glass? Who needs that?

The tricky thing about mirrors is what you see is based on your perspective.  Continue reading