Saturday, December 13, 2014

Advent

Advent means ‘Coming’ and is the name of the church season just before Christmas, usually beginning with the fourth Sunday before December 25. There are Advent wreaths, candles, calendars and more to infuse each day with increasing anticipation. We anticipate not just the immediate Christmas Day celebration, but we also remember the first Christmas by reading about Zachariah, Elizabeth, the angels, Mary, Joseph, prophets, shepherds and wise men. The fullness of Christmas and Advent is realized when we turn our gaze to the future, when our risen living Lord will come once and for all. This is Advent: the preparation and anticipation of the coming Christ; past, present and future.

For the years of my childhood in the Episcopal church, Advent was a foregone conclusion. We observed it every year, with all the proverbial bells and smells. As a young married couple, my husband and I attended a non-liturgical church that didn't use the word Advent, but still enjoyed several activities to build anticipation for the coming of Christ. We supplemented their offerings with our own Christ-centered traditions.

This year, I asked my current church family members if they participate in Advent. Boy, the crickets were out in force!!  No one knew what I was talking about and no one seemed particularly interested in hearing about it.

I've been thinking about what happened since then. I may have asked the question poorly. I should have said, 'how do you celebrate Advent?'

The fact is, very few people living in America can escape Advent without making considerable effort. Christmas is everywhere from about Halloween to the end of the year. Songs, decorations, movies, shopping, parties, food, greetings...  Unbelievers are often as into the preparations as believers, so how can believers say they don't prepare for Christmas?  Why would they even want to say such a thing?

I know some believers shy away from certain forms of terminology, seemingly fearful of being mistaken for the 'wrong' denomination. But if there is a time for the Church to be united, wouldn't the celebration of The Christ's incarnation be a good one?  I would encourage all believers to educate themselves and learn some new words, because they aren't at all scary. If we know them, we can connect further with brothers and sisters in unified joy.

The big question is how do we show that we are anticipating the coming of Christ, rather than just the coming of December 25?  I mean, if Advent is all around us, we have the choice to be clear about just what it is we are anticipating with great joy!  Jesus said we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13).  John told us to not love the world or anything in the world, or we do not have the Father in us (1John 2:15-17).  James reiterated that if we are friends of this world, we are enemies to God (James 4:4).  Yikes! So if our preparations for a holiday central to our faith is formed by the traditions and impressions of this culture, consider if these are holy and acceptable forms of worship to our most worthy God and King.

I would encourage believers to set aside time each day of this joyful season to focus on the One worth our worship, Who brings peace to every heart that welcomes Him.   The fact is, you are probably observing Advent either way; why not be purposeful and righteous in it?

  We have a few traditions to help us remember it is Christ's coming that we anticipate. We most often begin with decorating the house to high-volume carols. We read one of the following each night: Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage or Tabitha's Travels. These are loosely linked stories of three young people adventuring through the month before Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, learning Truth along the way. We have a few favorite movies, including The Very First Noel. I like to go caroling, but we haven't managed it in the last several years. We do exchange gifts and play what we call the 'stocking game.'  We talk about how Santa Claus is a legend borne from the inspiring life of a man who loved God and others. We have an Advent calendar where we add felt pieces to a nativity scene and an advent wreath with candles we light during our story time. In my personal devotion time, I add several plans that take me through prophesies and the Scriptures detailing the first Christmas.  Among our most cherished traditions, we participate in several charitable activities.  I prefer to observe the admonition to not let the left hand know what the right is doing (Matthew 6:3).  But if you are looking for ideas, I invite you to check out your local shelters, the Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision and other organizations.  But charity doesn’t have to be only through large scale callings.  Be alert and prayerful so that you may see the needs you can fill in personal ways.

So, I put it to you. How do you observe Advent?  If it isn’t something you have thought much about, realize that our culture is already leading you through the season.  Maybe you can make some careful choices to permeate and persuade this world with love and light, rather than passively being invaded and occupied by all the things that Christ’s wonderful coming is not.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Flash

My darling husband was looking up the reviews to the new The Flash TV show. I thought he meant Flash Gordon. No. Then I wondered if that was the dude whose green shirt Sheldon often wears on The Big Bang Theory. No. So, obviously I don't know who the Flash is. I change tactics.

Is The Flash friends with Superman or Captain America? Superman. A-ha!!  I dig deep in my geek-only-by-blood memory. Who else is friends with Superman?  Batman?  Yes!  Wonder Woman? Yes!  I am on a roll!!

The Twins?  What twins?  I can't lose my streak, so I insist: Wonder Twins unite!! Brian p-shaws. No, no no.

What's wrong? 

They were only in the cartoon; they’re not real! 

…..

Just what exactly is your definition of real, Babe?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Christians Should be More Like Geeks and Bikers

We recently went to Ashland, Oregon to enjoy the Shakespeare Festival.  It was an extraordinary trip that we will long remember and cherish.  One of the first days there, my Whovian daughter just had to have this shirt.

Madi's dont' blink

 

 

 

 

You know I now have to include a picture that doesn’t boast of the shirt as well, but totally showcases her awesome bubble! Madi making bubbles

 

Anyhow, of course she wore the shirt the very next day and we went down to breakfast at the hotel.  In line for pancakes I saw another girl about four or five years older than my daughter check out her shirt and give a nod of approval.  “Great shirt!”  Immediate camaraderie was born. I watched the interaction between the two girls who were strangers with great interest.  I know a lot of teenagers who wouldn’t give a younger girl a first glance.  But this shirt put them on common ground. 

My husband has a similar geek shirt that plays on the Keep Calm theme.  His says “…and Stay Shiny.”  Diehard Firefly/Serenity fans just eat it up.  I can’t count the number of conversations this shirt has started for my husband. 

Driving to a different state gives you plenty of time to watch the road and do some thinking.  Have you ever seen bikers pass each other?  No matter the weather, the location, the speed, they always give each other a wave.  There is again this foundational camaraderie established between strangers.  A leather-bound dude sees a three-piece suit holding  a helmet and there is a connection.  I find it fascinating.  They talk … well, I can’t even make up what they talk about because I am not a biker.  They have a language and interest all their own and the passion acts as a ligament that brings two disparate people into association. 

And I wonder…

Why aren’t more Christians like that?  I do see it on occasion.  I have this cool purse that I have gotten ‘knowing’ compliments on.  But I also see Christians focus more on the things that divide.  You are a Christian?  Really?  Do you dunk or dribble?  Do you have priests or pastors?  What do you think about women in leadership?  I’d love to see us take a page from the geek handbook and just love that we love the same thing—the same One.  I’d like us to see another family member and know we are all undeserving but traveling the best and only worthwhile road in all of life.  How about a head-nod, wave and a ‘keep carrying on.”?

That’d be cool.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Comfort

That is just not my comfort zone, my area of expertise, or—if I wanna sound ├╝ber-holy—it’s just not my gifting.

These were my words. Whenever I didn't want to do something scary or new.  I would sometimes put on a brave face and do something I didn’t like.  But after consistently not liking it, I would declare in my most assuring voice that it simply wasn’t for me.  I was made for other ministry.

In theory there is nothing wrong with this.  I am a big fan of saying no to even good things to hold out for the best.  And I believe firmly that the Church has many people with many different gifts; no one person was meant to do it all. But this rationale only goes so far.  I can’t use personal discomfort as an excuse to disobey.

Jesus tells us with His own voice in the Gospels and with many voices throughout the rest of Scripture to serve, to love, to care, to heal, to give.  To whom shall we do these things?  Even if it weren’t explicitly spelled out (Luke 14:12-14 And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment.“But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” ), one can deduce that we are to serve those who don’t already have people doing stuff for them, love those who aren’t getting enough love, care for those who can’t care for themselves, heal those who are sick, and give to those who need something.  Anything else is rather nonsensical. 

That means we have to go and be in the company of servant-less, loveless, helpless, sick, needy people.  Generally speaking, it is safe to assume it won’t be a comfortable visit. 

My older sister is in a nursing home.  It sucks.  She is all of the things I listed and more.  She is high maintenance as she battles brain cancer that is attacking her motor skills, drugs that rob her memory and reasoning skills, lonliness that renders her needy and chemo that ravages all that is left.  The facility is understaffed and her family is busy with work and school.  Life goes on as she lies in a hospital bed hoping someone will visit.  Forget uncomfortable; it is a loathesome situation.

Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a teenager I used to visit people in nursing homes with my mom.  Boy, it was uncomfortable!  I had real intellectual and ethical tangles with how to care for needy people while maintaining their dignity and respect.  Ultimately I decided it just wasn’t for me.  Not my gifting.  Others did it better.  I wouldn’t want to screw up.

Now my sister is in a nursing home.  2,000 miles away.  I can’t do anything for her when she calls and asks me to come sit with her.  I chuckle and keep things light so she won’t get discouraged.  I send her verses and studies.  I record myself telling her I love her.  It isn’t enough.

Surely my Diane isn’t the only one in a nursing home who doesn’t want to be there.  And there’s the rub.  WHO on Earth WANTS to be in a nursing home??!? WHO would sign up for THAT?  Bed sores and having to ask to use the rest room, hospital food and the mind-numbing monotony of the same four walls for…how long? 

That is when I could no longer deny it.  Obeying Jesus isn’t about comfort, or natural gifts or skillsets.  Jesus said do it.  What we can’t pull off on our own, He is going to cover, right?  Or do we not actually believe Him to be God?

Think about His list: the widows, the orphans, the poor, the sick, the imprisoned…  What do all these people have in common?  Their choice has been taken away.  None chose to lose a loved one, to be hungry or disabled.  Even the worst criminal who deserves to be locked up for life has undeniably lost his choice to be where he wants to be.  And our amazing, patient and merciful God just adores choice.  It is central to the entire design of this universe and the life of every human being.  Without choice, there is no meaning to life.  God loves choice so much that He preserves it at an exorbitant price; many a man (and woman and child) has questioned if all the suffering in this fallen world is frankly too high a price for this gift.

When God sees people lose this gift of choice, He calls His people to go be, to stand in the gap, even if only to witness the loss. 

I guarantee my sister never chose to be in a nursing home.  I can no longer say that I won’t go comfort those who locally are in her situation simply because it is outside my comfort zone.  What about their comfort zones? I may not have the gift for caring expertly for people who are disabled, but I bring with me the Gifter of all Gifts wherever I go.  He’s got it covered.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Another lifestyle

Continuing on the theme from yesterday regarding the commitments we make that define our lifestyles, I’d like to include being a church on that list.  So, we have—in no particular order—homeschooling, marriage, parenting and being the church. 

I think we have severely limited the scope and range of churching these days.  So much so that it is reflected in our language.  We now go to church, clean the church, and like the ambiance of the church on that corner over there.  Most Christians know in their heads that church refers to people, not a location or structure, but our words reveal how we really think about it.  Church is there or here.  Today we are going to do such-and-such at the church tonight.  Youth group meets Wednesday in the sanctuary; Bible Study for ladies meets Thursday mornings; Men meet every month for prayer and doughnuts at the back of the church;  Sunday School for all ages is available between services in the classrooms.

I think we need to remember that we are the church.  If you are going to the church, it means you are approaching a group of people who love the Lord and are working as a unit to manifest Christ’s love to the world.  If you can replace the word church with the word family, you might be speaking more accurately.  “I am going to the church to ask for prayer,” doesn’t require a map or a key. And just like family, it isn’t something we can turn off, or check off of a to-do list. 

I do think church belongs on the calendar and should be visible in the check register, because church is important and deserves priority.  Similarly, dates nights and just-because-gifts should be regular occurrences to keep a marriage alive. Shoe shopping and game nights belong in our lives if we are raising kids.  But when we aren’t currently engaged in one of those particular activities, we are not less married, or less parenting.  We can never be less the church.  We always represent.  We always are the body, the hands, the feet…  Just like a wife can be a loving wife or a rude wife, she is always a wife.  We may be lousy hands, lazy feet, but we are always the church.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Homeschooling as I see it

I am often tongue-tied when people who find out I homeschool tell me in a comrade tone that they, too, homeschooled… for a year.  It takes all my self control to not pull this face:

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See, there are words that we toss about, but the meanings are so very different  depending on who is using them.  In this case, when a lady says she homeschooled for a year, to me it is equivalent to saying she parented for a year.  Or a guy telling a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary that “I was married for 3 years and 5 months, so… I understand.”

The other thing that shows that the meaning of our words are so different: “We tried homeschooling, but it didn’t really work for us.”  Again, apply that sentence to parenting or marriage and you can see how people use the same words, but think very differently.  Homeschooling, parenting, marriage—in the way that I think of them—are lifestyles.  They are things to which we commit.  And—this is a biggie—it is not for them to work for me.  We choose a lifestyle and then we do the work. 

I don’t stay married until it becomes difficult or merely stops working for me.  If I did, I would have been divorced over a decade ago.  I don’t parent until I get inconvenienced.  If I did, we would never have gotten past birth!!  Similarly, we are homeschoolers.  We are.  We aren’t trying it out or waiting for it to get hard or hoping that it will work for us. 

I appreciate that homeschooling isn’t for everyone.  I understand that sometimes we try things that we truly must abandon because it is a poor fit for our family.  I don’t resent people schooling at home temporarily.  But, like I said, I am really drawn up short when someone tries to compare notes with me as a homeschooler because they did it for a year or two. 

Homeschooling in the way that we do it is impossible to do in a year or even in five.  It is a lifetime.  It is a way of being, an outlook on all of life; homeschooling is a lifestyle. 

Homeschooling isn’t just about academics, books, schedules, college preparation or tests.  But each of these things plays a role.  Homeschooling isn’t about character, life skills or instilling a love for learning, yet these elements are absolutely essential to homeschooling when I use the word.  Homeschooling this way takes time and encompasses every aspect of life, which is a blessing.  Why? Because the bad things are are swallowed by the good.  The rough seasons don’t define anything.  The weaknesses have time to work themselves out.  Deadlines don’t exist.

You can’t compartmentalize it. There is no such thing as school time and not-school-time.  I am never not married.  I am never not a parent.  I am never not a homeschooler.  I like it that way.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Respect

Exclusivity is a no-no.  It is intolerant, narrow minded and offensive.  We don’t like it when people speak too strongly about right and wrong, in and out.  It hurts feelings, is judgmental and shows an ugly pride.

The problem is that this notion is paradoxical.  “We can be sure of nothing!” begs the question, “Are you sure?”  The same is true with “There are no absolutes!” Yes, of course… “Absolutely!”  See the problem?  Exclusivity is a no-no.  So, you are excluding those who exclude?  It isn’t right to say that something is wrong?  These arguments just don’t hold water.

Of course, the notion behind most of these statements is that it is unkind to dismiss the beliefs of others or to outright condemn people for their philosophies and behavior.  The preschool lessons to get along are well ingrained in our society, and haven’t really developed beyond a preschool mentality to just be nice.  And who doesn’t think being nice is wrong all by itself? 

What is ‘nice,’ though?  Is it always agreeing all the time?  That really would keep us all as preschoolers, never allowing ourselves to discuss anything beyond the most elementary (heh heh) topics.  Most of us weren’t made for that.  Life has complexities and we need to work through them.  For us to live a life with any meaning, we have to make choices.  Any choice for something is also a choice against at least one other something.  If we bind ourselves to this idea that choosing against things, excluding, is offensive, we imprison ourselves in a false world of the ever-yes.  It doesn’t exist and so it paralyzes us.

So, we make choices.  We must.  And the choices necessarily exclude.  We disagree.  If we are going to graduate from preschool, we have to learn how to do this without being ugly.  But we also have to grow up enough to allow OTHERS to choose and exclude and NOT be offended by it!  The reason we teach three and four year olds to be kind in the form of inclusiveness is because they are spending time with other three and four year olds who are only just developing their fragile egos and necessarily require some tender handling. 

When I taught, I worked hard to not tell the kids their guesses were outright wrong, because in spite of whatever topic currently being explored, the real lesson was for the child to try, experiment and be bold.  Getting the answer right was in fact irrelevant to my true goal, so I said, ‘You answered so quickly.’ ‘Keep trying.’ Guess again.’ ‘Look here for a clue.’ ‘Thank you for sharing.’ ‘So close!’ ‘I see why you can think that.’ ‘Have you thought about this?’ ‘I see you working so hard.’ ‘Don’t give up!’  Instead of using the word no, I would say yes, after…  Or yes, as soon as…  Or yes, once we…

This encouragement was always on my lips as my kids struggled to learn and grow and master.  I modeled it and expected the kids in my care to use similar sentiments as they offered help to their peers.  I wanted my kids to see themselves as able, to see the world as full of possibilities.  The phrases that became part of my being conveyed sky’s-the-limit concepts that would best equip my kids to face challenges with confidence.

I don’t regret this.  I believe it is right and good.  Eventually, however, the word no must be used.  Limits are set.  Choices are made.  We need to teach kids—and be adults who model—to accept this without it crushing them.  We have failed, in my opinion to handle this part of child rearing, and we now have a society of people who seem to LOOK to be hurt.

One of the contributors to this easily offended mentality is the importance we place on the court of public opinion.  We live to please others, to garner praise and recognition.  So, when someone disagrees, it is a deeply personal blow.  We have to realign our sense of selves to EXCLUDE the need for homogeny. 

My family chooses to not participate in our local soccer league.  We have reasons; some are reasonable and others are totally emotional and reactionary.  Regardless of our reasons and their validity, I am often astounded when I meet with hostility because of our choice.  I have friends who have raised their voices at me because I don’t sign my kids up for this particular sport!  Why on earth is this an issue? 

Soccer is silly and passing.  But what about bigger things that truly matter and have lasting impact?  We have to be ok with people choosing creeds, lifestyles and philosophies that go against our own choices.  We have to handle the disagreement as an honest disagreement without it being an affront.  That means I don’t have to pretend that all choices are ok  with me, and neither do you.  It also means that I cannot place the obligation to keep me happy on every individual who lives in my city, state, country and world!!  And, yet, that is essentially our final destination here: you aren’t a small-town, home-birthing, home-schooling, home-churching, stay-at-home-momming, family oriented, geekifying, game-playing, food-loving, mission-supporting, conservative-ish Christian person??  Well, fie on you! 

See how lonely I’d be?  Not to mention totally ineffective in any endeavor I’d like to accomplish.

So, make choices that exclude and be honest about it.  Allow others to do the same.  Choosing a faith in anything other than Jesus Christ should not offend me even though I believe that Jesus is the only Way, Truth and Life.  Being offended by Joe who believes differently dictates that Joe is obligated to smooth my ruffled feathers—a total paradox to what I claim!!  If Jesus is the ONLY way, why would I allow Joe the power to upset me and require Joe to change in order for me to be at peace?  That is a whole lotta Joe and a whole lotta me involved in a world view I purport to be Christ-focused.  That is utterly nonsensical.

We have to stop blending the line between offense and disagreement.  They are not the same.

 

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Caregiving

Aside from my children, my two most favorite people are Brian my husband and Diane my sister. Aside from children, the only people for whom I have provided care are Brian and Diane. And, aside from the facts that they were in the position of needing care and needed it at the same time AND lived 2000 miles apart, the opportunity to provide care for each of them was ideal.

I love them. Neither had pointedly diminished mental capacities. Neither had (at the point when I was providing care) lost bladder or bowel control.  Both feel tenderly towards me. Both respond protectively towards me. I have a relationship with each that is intimate, relaxed and authentic.

Because of this, I repeat, caring for my 'patients' was ideal. I know professional caregivers are under different circumstances. I know family members have to care for less pleasant 'patients' than I have. And I know the care I have provided has been extremely short term. So, for the third and final time, my caregiving experiences are ideal.

Providing care merely was a natural response of love I have for two people who have loved me unconditionally since the day I met them. It was easy.

It was hard. In helping them with basic needs--meds, toilet, shower, clothes, memory, bed--there was nothing awkward about being together, but their very need made them each vulnerable and somehow reduced. There is an almost innate loss of dignity in being unable to independently do the self-care tasks we mastered in our first years of life. As a caregiver, it seems important to give yourself to a degree to BE the person for whom you are caring. A caregiver needs to BE the 'patient's' hands, doing for them what they cannot. There is a corresponding non-physical element of self that is turned over to the patient to help restore that dignity. It is unspoken and even undefined.

This unspoken component is a forever bond between caregiver and patient. I actually see this play out more in the care that my other family members are giving my sister. Through bits and pieces that are revealed, I am seeing only that there are large portions closely held in obscurity. I myself shield Diane and Brian by never speaking about some of our time together.

Caregiving seems such a quiet thing. Even the one being cared for will never know what the caregiver does. They don't need to. It isn't about you, and they are going through plenty without needing to comfort the caregiver.

This moratorium on discussion may be no burden to some, but for those of us who tend to process life through the use of words, it can be a challenge. But that is the nature of caregiving: it is all about self-sacrifice. The motto? "It's not about you."

For the purpose of caregiving, these are the facts, whether they are true or not: You are not sick. You are strong. You are well-rested. You have energy to give. You are clear headed and organized. You are patient. You are clean. You don't have anyplace more important to be.

I found that even when there were truths to contradict these facts, the facts remained. I may have been tired, but it didn't matter when the meds alarm goes off in the middle of the night.  I may be behind in my own med schedule and feeling a little wobbly, but if they were in immediate need, I was going to be able to wait until their need was met.

And the ultimate fact that supersedes all others? You never judge.

I may not choose something for myself, but I just could NOT stand in judgment of their choices. It would have jeopardized the trust that was essential to providing the best possible care. They were already so vulnerable. You simply don't pick at someone when they are compelled to such extreme exposure.  If you have any issue with that, all it takes is half a second of imagining someone into your own most personal world.

Caregiving is holy. It is what Jesus does. It is ultimate scut- and servant work. You do the work so intimate that you are bonded by non-disclosure agreements--before there was ever such a thing. You are a living sacrifice, you lay down your life for a friend. There is no greater act of love. (Romans 12:1, John 15:13)

There is a caveat, of course. Since we aren't actually Jesus, we cannot give ourselves wholly in the way He can and does. We do have needs and we do have weaknesses--one of which is an ability to turn caregiving into something unhealthy. How like humanity to twist something so good and holy!  But that is what co-dependence and enabling are: perverted caregiving.

It is important to set boundaries.  We must rely on God and direct our patients to do the same. We must keep our eyes on the goal of health, for ourselves and our patients. That plays out in taking care of our own needs and pursuing activities that maintain our full personhood. It means not designing a situation that sets us up as being irreplaceable. For our patients, we must encourage their self-care in the instances that they can carry out the tasks. We must strike the balance of being dependable without creating a false dependence to stroke any personal desires to feel needed. While we may rest comfortably in the role of servant, we cannot allow our identity to be bound up in being any person's provider. We each have one Provider, and trying to step into His shoes is folly best avoided.

Nevertheless, I see caregivers as secret superheroes and feel as though if one were to look long enough, ethereal capes would become visible and flap inaudibly in otherwise imperceptible breezes. Those capes shield their charges and mask the unspoken provision one person is humble-honored to do for another in need. The cape elevates the superhero above the busy distractions of this life to an unseen dominion that reminds us of what life is all about: relationships, interdependence and love.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Body beautiful

The kids and I were talking about how women are depicted in the media today. In video games, comic strips and other 'drawn' images, a woman's breasts and bottom are enhanced, while every other part is minimized. Flesh-and-blood girls are made to emulate the drawings. We talked specifically about feet and bellies.

We have studied before how women and girls in China had their feet bound to appear small and attractive--and effectively disabling the women. Similarly, a sexy woman wears heals that shrink her foot print and leave her less able to move about comfortably or quickly. At the same time, her posture is adjusted to balance on the heals in a way that cause her bottom and breasts to pop out. 

I think the shrinking of the belly is even more profound. Breasts are pleasure bringing. They are gratifying. But all gifts come with responsibility. With the gift of breasts comes the responsibility of a belly. A belly holds the functions of life--the processes of ingestion, digestion and reproduction. These are the responsibilities: to feed and cover the person who brings you pleasure and to raise the children your pleasure produces. When the belly is visually shrunken--dramatically so in drawings, but still significantly in advertisements, fashion and photos of flesh-and-blood women--there is a literal objectification of the woman. She is not human. She cannot even be alive. Without life, the body is reduced to a tool or receptacle. 

Perhaps filling ourselves with these truths will help us to respond with eyes wide open to the visuals that tempt us and they won't be so tempting anymore. Women and girls are not objects for gratification. They are creations who are lovely naturally. They do bring delight and pleasure. But be disgusted at the thought of your mother, sister or daughter being used for pleasure and never offered love or protection. Then remember that every woman is someone's daughter. 

Truth helps us to not fear temptation. Truth is light and we can shine it into the darkness. That light shows the temptation in its fullness--destructive, sad, requiring no more of our attention other than possibly compassion for those caught in the darkness. 

Then we saw this video and it went so well with this lesson. :). I love it when that happens. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Nerdy

Check out the photo I found on Pinterest below (Don’t you just love Pinterest?).  I have a whole board that celebrates nerds.  Nerd hasn’t always been an embraceable term, though.  When I was growing up, to be called a nerd was pretty disparaging.  I took it upon myself to do the eighth-grade essay-hack and looked up the word on Dictionary.com.  Even though I knew there would be unfavorable points, I was shocked at number one: “a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person.” Wow. Number two is slightly less insulting: “an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit.”   The kindest sentiment and seeming only saving grace was from the proverbial mother advising her girl to be kind to the nerds, since they will be rich one day.

nerdsThankfully, our progressive society has cultivated a more enlightened perspective on the formerly beleaguered nerd.  New definitions have popped up, some I much prefer over others. This picture is my most favorite definition.  I find it to be inspiringly beautiful and liberating.  Fantastic, yes?

I have to say, my entire family is a collection of nerds.  Our bookshelves and DVD collections would betray us if we were ever trying to mask it.  Our shelves sag under books exploring apologetics, science fiction, fantasy and trivia. We own every superhero movie ever made (well, maybe not, but it sure seems like it).  My daughter has had to devise a new laugh just to express her near inexpressible joy at her various ‘nonsocial hobbies and pursuits.’  My son practically vibrates when he can nitpick the techno-babble of his favorite shows.  An example is when, in episode 4 of Doctor Who, “Aliens of London,” news crews announce a crashed UFO, my son is quick to point out that the ship is in fact identified, and very much not flying, so it is pretty much just an O.  This tickles him to no end.

I posted on Facebook earlier this week how my husband and kids got into a rather detailed discussion about the differences between zombies and mummies.  Much to my surprise, my sister and niece both popped in to enhance the conversation!  I can’t escape! 

But, when I look at it from the perspective of the quote above, I must wonder. What could be better than being surrounded by nerds?  I want to be enthusiastic about life!  How boring to be too cool to really get into the things that might excite you.  With that as an alternative, give me a life-full of nerds any day!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Don’t Stop Learning

I’m kind of a nerd.  I like words a lot.  iPhone 4 pictures 944Grammar jokes tickle me to an extreme.  It is embarrassing, really. I own and wear this shirt.  And I laugh every time I read it.  I am that big of  a nerd. 

 

I think most people have pet peeves.  I think nerds have their own set of pet peeves.  Or maybe not.  Maybe it is just me.  Either way, this is my nerdy pet peeve.  “You use big words. Stop it! I don't want to learn them. I want to be simple. Not high falutin’”

I get this more than I like.  And I obey.  I try to use words that are less exact because I don’t want to get yelled at for using a more beautiful and precise word that the hear-er may not know or like.  But on the inside….

 
So, you are done learning ?!?!?
But you are alive!  Why?  I can think of two options.   First, you have more to learn and there is a possibility that you might need to acquire new words to allow for and to express more mature or broader thoughts, ideas and concepts. The other option is that you truly have no more to learn beyond what you absorbed in high school and you are here only to apportion your prodigious and amaranthine knowledge on the world. Those big scary words that you don’t like to use aren’t words that you don’t know; you just like to be approachable to the bourgeois class.  You are a magnanimous philanthrope !

I know it would be wrong for me to try to judge which of these options is reality in your individual case, so I’ll leave it to you.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Running

There is this fantastic little smart phone app for which I am so thankful. It tacks your running, walking or cylcling miles and donates money per mile to charities of your choice.  It means a lot to me to find a way to give to organizations while I meet my personal goals. On hard days, Charity Miles is the only thing that gets me out the door.
March 9, 2012 I decided I needed to get healthy. I was facing increasingly serious health issues because of my weight; the most devastating was the invisible problem of depression. So I got moving. By September I lost 75 pounds and regained my sense of self, renewed health and energy, plus an uncontainable joy and enthusiasm for life that I thought was gone forever.
But I have a new problem that is really an old problem. When I was 14, I started fainting. I have a dual diagnosis of extremely low blood pressure and an autonomic nervous disorder. Both cause me to faint, and the weight loss lowered my blood pressure to such an extreme that I was fainting nearly every day.
It hasn't been easy to find the perfect balance of medicine, exercise and living a 'normal' life.

It has all been worth it to discover this new self. I am an "I can" person now. For almost two decades I "I can't"-Ed myself through life. I hid and escaped in fear and embarrassment. I gained weight and further disabled myself.

That has changed.  I am better now.  I can.  I can do so much more than I ever thought. Unfortunately I had a major set back in December and I feel as though I am clawing myself back to what I had.

Running is SO HARD!!  With my blood pressure, it risks fainting and drop in my core temp, and my joints just started protesting recently. But I am learning that so hard isn't too hard. I am learning that obstacles aren't barriers. And I am learning that just because I look ridiculous doing it, doesn't mean I can’t do it. like being able, even if I look like an idiot and have no class or flair. :)

Here’s a good laugh on the same vein.  I may not look as awesome as I think I do, but it truly isn’t reason enough to quit! I can’t figure out how to give proper credit to this picture.  I can’t find the original website or anything.

3627a02cb2b20d26fd277b72c1d18031

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A bit snotty

I had a lady fuss at me a while ago because I fussed at her.  Isn’t that the way with things?  I complained about not getting enough time with her.  She told me I had no right to put such demands on her.  I was making trouble.  She insisted that real friends can go weeks and months without seeing each other and still be friends.  Why was I being so difficult?

So, I was a good girl.  I let it go.  No more fussing from me.  No more audacious demands.  I help my tongue and resumed my proper station.  But this is what I thought on the inside.

You think you can stick a pin in me and expect I'll be there when you have time for or need of me. You call this a great friendship because everything is just the same after long  stretches of neglect. Yep. It's the same, all right. We live absent any interdependence or any real need to know what's going on in one another's life.  That isn't friendship. That isn't family. That's a nice acquaintanceship and you can have it.

So, that isn’t very nice, but there is something to my opinion.  I think there are two kinds of friends.  There are the ones I like to call camp pals.  These are the ones described in all the cute ecards that talk about great friends who can spend tons of time apart, but when they reunite, they pick up right where they left off.  I see people romanticize this notion in our society, these occasional friends who can give you a much needed belly laugh.  I have quite a few of these friends myself and I adore them and thank God for them.  But they are vacation or retreat friends.  You drop out of real life to reconnect.  The phrase often used to describe them actually reveals a lot: ‘like no time has passed.’  The friendship isn’t about growth or maturity.  When you get together, it is a great time to stop striving so hard and just be a kid again.  You might talk about your life and trials with this person, but it is just talk. You need the other type of friend if you want a companion who will go through those trials with you.

34ee550f3b59ea896d636ec5fb4e89ceThat other type of friend is the roadside walker, the day-to-day companion.  This one knows about the daily grind—the good, bad and boring.  This friend inconveniences herself to keep up with you, and joins you in the things that keep you from meeting more regularly with your camp pal.  You don’t drop everything to take a break from life to be with the roadside walker; on the contrary, you pick up each other’s lives together and carry on.  You don’t have to get yourself together before you can spend time with this person.  She comes without judgment and you just keep on keeping on.

Sometimes a friend can migrate from camp pal to roadside walker, or vice versa.  When a roadside walker becomes a camp pal, it is often because of a geographical move or a major change in lifestyle.  There is a sense that if you were still able, the camp pal would revert to road walker in an instant.  My problems arose because I let my feelings get hurt when a companion friend I saw four or five times a week decided we were going to be camp pals who had no plans to see one another at all.  I guess I have to learn to be a little more ‘cool’ about such things. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Marriage

Marriage is a beautiful thing.  I see it as an expression of the relationship that Christ desires with the church.  It is a marvelous mystery.

The thing about marriage is its exclusivity; intimacy that includes sexuality, but extends far beyond it.  I do things with my husband I do with no one else. Repeatedly doing things with only him has developed a whole encyclopedia of non-verbal communication. It is a marvelous mystery.

My body.  I see flaws.  But my husband sees perfection. I will never be in a magazine or on a movie screen. According to any standard, I am flawed. I can expertly send myself into a spiral that rivals those of  any self-respecting/loathing American woman by just looking at this lame-ass body of mine.  But when my body is in Brian's arms, joined to his in friendship and love, it is perfect.  It is a marvelous mystery.

I am thankful for my married life.  This is a time where we have a lot of anniversaries, celebrating the day we met, our first date, that kind of thing.  Our wedding anniversary is right around the corner.  Our first year together was this crazy, unadvisable whirlwind of leaning on one another.  I don’t know how we survived it.  It is a marvelous mystery.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bucket List

Our bucket list is not something we have given a whole lot of thought.  But the thought that we have given has been fun.  I rmember the first time I heard the phrase kicked the bucket.  I was at my grandparents’ house visiting my dad’s family and we were watching It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.  My dad had to explain it all to me.  Fast forward a few decades and I got to watch The Bucket List with my husband.  Now making bucket lists of our own seem like the next fun step.  I tend toward the serious, but enjoyed the lightheartedness of this activity with our family. I wrote these as they were called out.


I want to go to a play
Madi wants to go to Paris
Max wants to write a book
I want to travel the US
Brian wants to star in a play
Madi wants to be a famous dancer
Madi wants to own a zoo
I want to run a race
Madi wants to write a play and perform in it
Madi wants three children
Brian wants at least four grand kids
I want chickens
Madi wants to shoot a gun and bow
Brian wants to hang-glide
Brian wants to go to Hawaii
Max wants to be on a silly game show
Brian wants to be on a silly game show
Madi wants to go on amazing race
Madi wants to hang glide
Madi wants to sky dive
Madi wants to bungee jump
Madi wants to own a lot of pets

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cussing

My sweet girl has a friend who cusses.  She asked what I thought about it.  This isn’t the first time we have talked about this particular topic.  In fact, I remember when my kids were little wee things and they were playing a game of Go Fish together.  My darling angel girl at a whole two years old was sweetly repeating the same phrase each time she had to go, fish.  We kept listening to try to figure out what she was saying when, in horror, we realized she was practically chirping, ‘damn it.’  What?!?!  Why?  Who says that?  And so began our first sit-down together.

We have talked about all the whys of cussing.  And we have underlined our emphatic desire that they never react to someone else cussing.  Our basic stance is that we prefer to keep their mouths clean (the Bible teaches us to not use coarse language and we have friends who are deeply offended by it) but we want them authentic.  Don't put on a mask just to avoid getting caught by us.  If they want to say a ‘bad’ word, however, they will face any and all consequences, including anything that may come their way from the parents of friends. If they are old enough to choose offensive words, then they have to be old enough to deal with the responses.

I cuss.
I'm not supposed to.
But I do.
Sometimes I cuss in anger.  Sometimes I cuss because I think the word actually receives less power and attention than what we give it when we perform acrobatics to convey the word without actually saying it. Sometimes that becomes ridiculously silly and I prefer to avoid it.  Sometimes I cuss because it is the vocabulary word that best expresses my meaning.

 

Matthew 12:25, 36, 37 NASB

"And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.""

That’s certainly something to think about.  I don’t know that it refers only to cuss words.  I think our more careless words are ones that are of the dismissive or gossip variety. We will be accountable for these.

Then there is this.  I am reading a book called The Twenty-Piece Shuffle: Why the Poor and Rich Need Each Other by Greg Paul.  In it he tells about his church.  He belongs to a church that includes homeless and addicts along with the wealthy and middle class.  He tells about one day when a new suburban couple came to visit.  The church meets in a circle and they were praying with the author positioned so he could see the faces of the new family and the tortured addict who was currently praying.  This man was pouring his heart out in anguish. At the end, he punctuated the prayer with an unprintable word.  The author shares how he watched the reactions of the new family. 

The adults kept heads bowed, eyes closed and faces serene.  The two little girls popped up heads, popped open eyes.  Seeing no other reactions in the gathering, they quickly resumed the ‘proper praying position.’  The author shares that he figured that was the last time they’d ever see that fine family.  Not so.  They are active members of that body and had been for three years when the author finally asked the lady if she remembered her first visit.  Of course she did.  And she remembered the man’s anguished prayer.  And she remembered that word he used.  What did she think?  She said she knew she was home!  From the book:

She continued on to speak of her deep hunger for “unmitigated reality”—the possibility of being thoroughly honest about her own internal needs and battles and of receiving the gift of such honesty from others. She longed to break bread and drink wine, she said, for true communion, the knowledge that “we”—some undefined group of pilgrims—were walking the same road in unity with each other, a unity found in and leading to Christ himself. Her middle-class (that is, wealthy) church and life experience, where every messy thing is so carefully contained, every surface so diligently polished, had left her with a sense of discontentment, of empty wandering. She wanted to get her hands on Jesus.

Maybe this is another reason why I cuss.  Because it is real.  If I think it, I say it.  I don’t advocate such an unfiltered life.  It is hard on relationships and very hard on one’s reputation.  People often don’t care to hear everything I am thinking.  But there are a cherished few who do.  They want to know, because they actually love me.  Not what I do, or how I am, but me.  All of me.  And they bother to journey this life towards Jesus with me.  Not polished and shined.  We have not arrived.  But striving and real.  So, sometimes I cuss…

Friday, January 10, 2014

Omni-Omni

So, I was reading Mark chapter four.  I have included the passage below for your easy reference.  Verses 12 and 41 stood out to me most.
Twelve says that he speaks in parables to fulfill prophesy that people will hear and not understand. Sadly, I do NOT understand. It seems like a set up. Is it a filtering system?  A way to fulfill prophesy?  Any idea I come up with unravels because God is God. God set up the prophesy in the first place. Why?  Filtering seems off because he made us all and the Bible says he wants us all to come to him. But then he is purposefully oblique?  It doesn't make sense.  Even the chosen require interpretation. The disciples ask Jesus what the parables mean.

Verse forty-one intrigues me because it reveals our minds. The disciples were following Jesus. They left their lives, their own plans, behind for this guy. They witnessed healings. They saw him answer the unanswerables.  If they didn't yet know he was Messiah they surely knew he was special. But even so they are shocked by his calming of the storm. I see myself in that. God is great. Omni-omni. But I still am surprised by what He does. If someone were witnessing my life, they might think I was in the businesses of limiting him.

 

 

Mark4 Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. A very large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat in the boat while all the people remained on the shore. 2 He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

3 “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4 As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” 9 Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

10 Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant.

11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, 12 so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:

‘When they see what I do,
they will learn nothing.
When they hear what I say,
they will not understand.
Otherwise, they will turn to me
and be forgiven.’[b]

13 Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? 14 The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. 15 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. 16 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 17 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 18 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, 19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. 20 And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Parable of the Lamp

21 Then Jesus asked them, “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. 22 For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. 23 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

24 Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given[c]—and you will receive even more. 25 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.”

Parable of the Growing Seed

26 Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. 28 The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. 29 And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”

Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? 31 It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, 32 but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

33 Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand. 34 In fact, in his public ministry he never taught without using parables; but afterward, when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them.

Jesus Calms the Storm

35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

Thursday, January 9, 2014

You gotta Love Words!

For posterity.

Madi: Do you know what extraordinates me? Whenever I think of creation I think of my children's Bible because I used to read that story all the time. I loved the pictures so much. But now I know about cells and amino acids and organs and the cow's four stomachs and think how much God had to really make when he created the world. It isn't just the pictures that I like of birds flying and fishing jumping out of the sea. That is extraordinary.

There is nothing better than inventing new words. I invented one myself yesterday when my daughter was teasing me about being afraid of the dentist.  I told her that I am not afraid.  It is just sensible to avoid people in the business of causing others crippifying pain.  That is my new word. 

Speaking of words, I asked the kids what was the difference between disturbing and creepy. This is the answer I received:

Creepy is a ghost story. Sitting next to a naked guy is disturbing.

And a final fun with words inspired by my hilarious kids: Playwright or don’t play at all.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Another Perspective

On Facebook a friend submitted an update after reading her Bible that morning.  Specifically, she read the passage found in Matthew 10:33 that says, “But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.”  Her response to this was to get on Facebook and announce that abortion and homosexuality were sins.  She needed to say so, so that she would show she was not ashamed of her God and so that He wouldn’t deny her in heaven.  Oh, my! 

My first thoughts, I confess, weren’t so kind.  I can’t imagine anyone doubting that this was her perspective.  She had said these things before.  And who was she saying this to?  Her friends on Facebook, mostly like-minded conservative Christians.

My more radical friends usually get a pass from me with a smile.  I don’t care to debate every little thing and truly don’t think that I have it all under control, so even if I disagree with someone’s interpretation, I choose to not say much.  But this!  Oh, my!  First of all, how does one make the leap from not denying Christ to announcing that particular sins are sins?  I don’t see the connection, frankly.  I didn’t want to be snotty.  I most certainly didn’t want to start a public debate between Christians—I hate it when that happens.  But, as comments were piling up after her update that championed her ‘courage,’ I felt like I needed to respond.  I prayed a lot, wrote a lot, deleted a lot, prayed some more, and responded with this.

I would like to submit, with love, another perspective. I think it would be difficult to find an American who doesn't know that the typical opinion of a (conservative) Christian is opposed to abortion and homosexuality. Christians have taken many opportunities to share this belief in many forums. I don't think the problem is Christians, in shame, failing to point out sin. On the contrary, I think we often fail to share the message of the Gospel, (in shame).
The Gospel is that God saw us before we were redeemed in our damnation-deserving state and evaluated us as worthy of His only Son's humiliation and undeserved murder. He loves us so much!  We do not have to clean up for Him; we cannot clean up for Him. That is the whole point: we need Him (so that we may be) clean.
When we preach sin and draw lines between ourselves and other people, we eliminate the possibility of doing what we were commanded to do: love and baptize people in the name of Jesus Christ.
If we only focus on making all people behave acceptably, we only treat the symptoms of the illness. The illness can only be cured by Blood. If I didn't have to stop sinning before I accepted Christ, who am I to demand (or reasonably expect the possibility) of someone else to cut out sin without the help of the Holy Spirit?
I think we might want to see unbelievers with compassion and as blind, not scold them for not obeying the Bible.
The book Peace Child and the film ‘Lord, Save Us From Your Followers’ helped me to see how the Body of Christ can't be just the mouth; we must enter the sinful world with a love that transcends all.

The response interesting to me.  I got the expected stuff.  Our society is too permissive.  ‘They’ have changed the meaning of the word tolerance.  Sin is everywhere and we need to be bold and stamp it out.  That is love.

But the interesting part came more quietly.  One  person privately messaged me.  I have never met her.  Here is our conversation.

HER: Thank you for your very interesting perspective on (our mutual friend’s) post. Truly hope we God's people can think through issues such as these instead of having others do our thinking for us. I felt your comment reflected some good thought by you on the matter. It was a blessing to read.

ME: That is very kind of you to say. Honestly, I was/am worried that I will sound snotty and cause hurt among brothers and sisters. I don't want that.

But I do struggle with the assertion that somehow we aren't speaking against homosexuality enough. :).

Expecting homosexuals to not be homosexual (or any other sin) just because the Bible tells me so doesn't seem right. There is a REASON people warp God's design. If we can bring healing to the pain by introducing them to the Healer, we can let Him mold and shape so that they won't even WANT the perverted versions of creation. :)

HER: Agreed!!! Thank you for getting back with me. And I messaged you for the same reason, not to cause division. Yet I wanted to positively respond to your comment. I think it is easy for us His people to jump to conclusions that are not truly based on His heart as revealed in the Bible. God bless you ~ and may He grant us the privilege of meeting on That Day :)

I wonder…  Was the message in Matthew for the two of us ladies?  When we deny Christ even among Christians so that we don’t rock the boat—but we use the holy phrase ‘to not cause division’—are we actually biting our tongues so that we may continue to ‘belong?’  John 12:42-43 holds some of the saddest words in Scripture:

Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn't admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue.  For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.

I always wonder about these guys.  What happened to them?  Did they eventually choose Jesus over the world? 

I know I started this saying that the Matthew passage was NOT about pointing out sin.  Then I wondered if we were guilty of not obeying the passage when we keep quiet in the face of other Christians taking a stand against sin.  I think I am confusing myself.  Here it is disjointed.

  • I do think we are to speak about Jesus as our Lord and Savior to others.  I don’t think we can be private or secret Christians.
  • I do think that we are called to share the Gospel, which is about love.  Sin is sin, and there is a time to call it what it is, and never a time to deny what it is when asked about it, but I do not think we should expect or demand that unbelievers cut sin out of their lives.
  • I do think we are to admonish, encourage and hold accountable fellow believers as part of a continual Body relationship.
  • I think we have gotten it backwards when Christians ‘take a stand’ against unbelievers and their sinful lifestyles, but are afraid to speak to believers about sin for fear of causing division.