Thursday, July 23, 2015

So what!

“So what!”  That was my initial flippant reaction to reading a national news article that reported the following:

56% of voters say Christianity is under attack (in America).
81% of surveyed evangelical Christians believe Christianity is under attack (in America).

I completely believe that stat. My quipped “so what” reply was in response to that faceless American Christian I envisioned in my mind reading that same article.  I could hear this guy in my head saying, “Well, it shouldn’t be like this in ‘Merica!” 

Now, don’t worry about me.  I’m always conjuring responses to imaginary people I’ll most likely never encounter.  There goes the daydreamer in me again.  But as you realize that faceless person isn’t faceless, that it’s really you, and now you’ve decide to view me as sacrilegious, unpatriotic, blasphemous, disrespectful or just purely ignorant, take a moment to listen to the words of Jesus.

John 15: 18-25 (NLT)

18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. 21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. 22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin.23 Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. 25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’

If I go back and read those statistics again, then compare them to scripture, a more appropriate response would be, “What else are we to expect?”  I would venture to say we as Christians should not be worried when we are under attack but when we are not.

19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.

Friday, April 10, 2015

I can't take the drama!

A friend this week reminded me how they miss the regular blog posts.  The struggle for me over the last few months has not been a lack of writing.  I'm just not blogging.  I’ve really felt God call me to continue to work on the book I started a couple years ago. And as they say, whoever they are, “There’s only so much time in the day."  I’d really like to meet “They” someday.  Anyway, in recent weeks things have happened in my family that have caused me to pause and think.  Pausing for me is not a stretch but thinking is.

We still, after 2 ½ years, regularly find ourselves talking about our adoption story with people.  We welcome these conversations and they happen more often than I ever thought they would.  The most common response from those who ask then hear our story is this, “Wow you guys are so great!  You’ve changed that little girl’s life.  She is so lucky!”  I truly appreciate and am humbled by those comments.  And actually there is nothing wrong with this way of thinking.  I went into adoption with the same attitude of God had called me to do something great for an orphan child.  What happened was much different!  What I want to reply with, but usually don’t out of respect for the person because they mean well, is this, “Oh my friend, you have no idea!  It’s the other way around.  That little girl has changed us far more than we have her!  We are the lucky ones!” 

Now let’s get down to my pause and think episode.  Africa, the adoption process and my daughter have completely changed my perspective in what I find important.  Specifically, for the sake of this post, what gets under my skin. I rarely, not never but rarely, get in a lather over the nonessentials that people present to me anymore. Right or wrong, I seldom get worked up with the people who do. 

Now mind you, I don’t mind discussing these things at all.  It’s the elevation of making a minor into a major and the drama that surrounds it that checks me out.  You know? Stuff like flipping out over the waitress forgetting your refill, what position a little leaguer gets to play, he said she said talk, worship song selection that didn’t tickle your fancy, personal parking places getting taken that really aren’t personal, complaints over anything that is free, the salt is too salty and the sugar too sweet!

 I am 100% guilty of having a serious lack of compassion for individuals that bring these things to me.  I confess!  I am guilty!  I am at fault! I should hurt for you if it’s all you know, but when my eyes glaze over it’s because your words that are entering my empty head sound like Charlie Brown’s momma!  I just can’t do meaningless, useless, unproductive drama anymore!  I’m sorry!  No, I’m not sorry!

What’s crazy is this isn't a conscious choice I've made.  It came as a result of the journey.  It’s come from spending time with third world faith overflowing believers!  I pray that someday I have even the smallest portion of faith as the Ghanaian people I’ve gotten to know.  It’s come from seeing God take control and answer promises through a difficult adoption process.  It’s come from watching my daughter still struggle to adapt to two worlds she passionately loves.  The Holy Spirit has moved the bar in what bends and breaks me. My permission was not asked.  He just did it! 

What does lather me up, stir my compassion or break my heart?  Here’s a few things. 

People getting hurt by church people who thrive on drama and make the minors, majors.  People hurt by church have and always will hold a special soft spot in my heart.  This fires up a righteous anger in me!

Continuous critical spirits that are open with criticism but private with praise if there is any praise at all.    Your porridge is too hot.  Your porridge is too cold.  But your porridge is never, just right.  You cannot see all beauty around you because the forest of disapproval you have planted has flourished and is blinding.  I’m not completely callused to you as I stated earlier.  I used to get hurt by you but now I hurt for you.  I pray that the scales will fall from your eyes.

New believers who’ve experienced radical life change but under spiritual attack turn back away from God and church.  I pray that you hang in there just a little longer!  He is faithful!  He is with you!

Corrupt foreign officials whose deceit is exposed and out of embarrassment 2 million orphans suffer because of your pride.   Let the words of the prophet Isaiah reign, Learn to do good; commit yourselves to seeking justice.  Make right for the world’s most vulnerable – the oppressed, the orphaned, the widowed. Isaiah 1:17

When my weeping daughter crawls in bed with her Momma to cry on her bosom over the African family she desperately longs to see.  Hearing her describe how she misses sleeping on a mat on a bare floor, washing clothes in a wash tub and eating pounded fufu cooked on an open fire. Through the tears in her eyes I see that Matthew 5:4 just doesn’t relate to those who have had loved ones die, God bless those who morn for they will be comforted.  And that image, of those two, in that bed and the burden of trying to explain to her why her Daddy can’t bring them here to visit is what has prompted this post.  There is a world full of hurting, crying, broken people that unless we quit being so full ourselves we will never see!!

This post isn’t meant to be a churchy guilt trip or “Jesus Juke” as Jon Acuff would say.  I don’t believe in guilt based religion.  Usually when I write on topics such as this I get the least number of “likes” and that’s fine because then I know it’s struck a nerve.  Most of the time the Holy Spirit leads me to writing hoping the subject will embrace.  Then there are times like now that He leads me to write on something hoping to sting.  My job is to obey.  I hope this post convicts one person to wake up and see that there is a hurting, lost and dying world around them that God has left for us to share His beauty with.  Will you at the very least look around today?  See a blessing and praise or see a hurt and act!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A thought from My Utmost For His Highest

Read this in my favorite devo today, My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I've been going through this devo daily since 2009 and I always find it amazing when the Holy Spirit reveals and/or convicts of something new. 

"If we have never had the experience of taking our casual, religious shoes off our casual, religious feet - getting rid of all the excessive informality with which we approach God - it is questionable whether we have ever stood in His presence."

Wow! How about that to start off the new year?? Gulp...