Being In the World and not Of the World

I’m writing this in response to a comment that was made to me a month or so ago that I have been ruminating about.  The comment was  “But we need the strip clubs and gentleman bars because of all the sexual offenders  being released and other perverts. Let them go there instead of after our women and children.”  And someone else agreed – saying they knew more than I do about this issue.

I disagree with their thinking – and maybe the other person does know more than I do about this issue – but it just doesn’t jive with any of my Christian learning.  We are taught that no one should put a stumbling block in front of another person.  And that everyone who puts a stumbling block in front of a weaker brother or sister will be held accountable for that persons downfall.  This is serious and I’m sharing my thoughts with you.

First – I’m not sure that released offenders have the legal right to attend those places.

Second – I am pretty sure that any offender who gets out of prison has to prove himself (or herself) to be rehabilitated.  So we don’t need these places for them.  Especially because as Christians we are supposed to help them become and remain mature in Christ Jesus with the Power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.

Third – Christians are called to be different – Christians are called to a life of purity and holiness.

Christians aren’t the only ones called to purity and holiness – other religions also call people to a life of self-control and discipline.

Those who are strong are always supposed to keep in mind those who are weak.

That being said.  I don’t agree that we need strip clubs and gentleman bars or male strip shows.  I don’t think Jesus would say we need them either.  I think  people need to avoid going to them –  I’m pretty sure Jesus would agree.  I always pray for conversion of the owners of those places – that they would close shop – and rebuild into a business that would bring glory to God and draw their former clientele into a relationship with the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the book Praying Our Way Through Stress: Drawing Wisdom from the Lord’s Life and Prayer I discuss Manifestations of Unresolved Stress and sexual promiscuity and misconduct is one of the manifestations.  We need to help the clientele and employees find better ways of managing stress.  We need to pray for people to rescue the employees and clientele – for them to seek first The Kingdom of Heaven . . . . on earth . . .

 

Lord, Pour your Holy Spirit Out Upon all people and fill them with your power to resist temptation and overcome improper manifestations of stress.   AMEN

 

Our Father or My Father?

for me the emphasis in this prayer is focused on the word Our rather than the word Father. . . In the Christian Church no one has more special ‘access’ to Our Father than another – we can all pray to God, we can all listen, we are all called to be in God’s family.
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Father, Forgive Them . . .

Walk in ForgivenessYesterday evening my husband and I went to see the movie Son of God. Two scenes are embedded in my mind and heart both have to do with forgiveness . . .
The first is the scene of Jesus asking ‘Which is easier to say; Your sins are forgiven. or Get up and walk.? The Son of Man has the authority to forgive sin.’

The thing about saying ‘get up and walk’ to someone is that most of us could say this to someone and that would not happen, the person wouldn’t get up and walk. But it did happen for the paralyzed man when Jesus reached toward him and helped him up. It was after the man got up and walked that Jesus looked around and then said ‘The Son of Man has the authority to forgive sin.’

Throughout the New Testament Jesus is called The Son of God and also The Son of Man . . . Jesus had the authority to forgive sin because of who Jesus is. But what has Jesus said to us about forgiving sin committed against us? He said we must forgive other people the same way He has forgiven. Now which is easier for you to say to someone? Get up and walk? or ‘Father forgive them’ or “I forgive them.’ Think about that for a time . . . Who gives us desire to forgive? Who gives us authority to forgive? Who gives us ability to forgive? Who has the final say when it comes to forgiveness?

The other scene from the movie that is embedded in my mind and heart is Jesus on the cross saying ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’
So often we think that people are fully aware of the wrongs they are doing toward us or other people or even God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit. What is our reaction then? What action do we take? A lot of times we assume what might not be true. Maybe not everyone is really aware of what they are doing all the time . . . the people chose to release a murderer back into their population rather than Jesus who would never murder anyone . . . I mean, what seems more crazy than that? Really? What is our response supposed to be? Wouldn’t it seem the sane response would be to say – put that murderer back in jail and release Jesus? Jesus was executed and what did he say? Father, forgive them . . . How do you think his followers responded? I think they too, forgave . . . but they told the story and the story continues to be shared . . . Now what are we going to do with this knowledge in our generation? It’s a good question for us to ponder and discuss . . .

Giving Up to Take It In (Fasting to Feast)

DoveAll around the world Christians and non-Christians are talking or hearing talk about this season of change that many churches have named ‘Lent.’  Traditionally it is taught about as a season of fasting.  As a child it was all about giving up meat on Wednesday and Fridays, especially Friday.  Friday Fish Fries got started this way – the fishermen must have started it, I thought, when I was a child.  I thought it was the disciples who were fisherman who started eating fish on Friday – the day Jesus died, maybe fish helped them remember him.   That was my childlike faith and since I wanted to be like the disciples I, like my family ate the fish on Fridays.

Then I grew up a little, and I heard the story about the disciples and Jesus after the resurrection and the fish fry they had and then I thought it interesting that the first disciples Jesus called were fishermen and how he said he would teach them how to fish for people and now he was asking them to feed him fish for breakfast.

Then I grew up even more and learned some of the purpose behind the season of lent and about purposeful fasting.  I learned it didn’t matter so much that you gave up meat, you could give up candy or soda or any kind of food and that the money and time you spent purchasing and devouring could be given to the Lord’s purpose . . . to the church or a family or person or organization in need or perhaps some of the money and time could be well spent on items that would help mature your own faith life, devotional books, calendars, prayer and thought journals.

Several years ago when I went on a silent retreat I was inspired to consider giving up my own attitudes and will to take IT in – IT being the Spirit of God.  Some people talk about having the will of God like it is so easy and natural – but it isn’t, and Jesus never taught that having a holy spirIT filled life would be easy or comfortable.

40 days of fasting in the wilderness is what happened to Jesus after the Spirit of the Lord descended and rested upon him.  I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like you are in the wilderness, but this world has a lot of wilderness places where we can find ourselves alone . . . having the Word of God resting in our hearts can help us resist all the things that Jesus resisted.

So, if you’ve never fasted for your own benefit – I’m giving you permission to do that.  Not that you need my permission, but more that you need to give yourself permission to give up whatever you want to – an attitude, television, shopping, desserts, coffee, cream, anything and take the time to care for yourself,  if you need to do that – and you do – fill yourself with the loving words of God, “Come to me all of you  who are tired and weary, afraid, busy, overwhelmed, lost . . . Come to the Lord and allow the Lord to help you care for yourself during this season so that you can care for others feeling a little less pressured, forced or rushed. God loves cheerful giving . . . because God loves you he want you to remember that caring for yourself is a loving thing to do and Jesus wants you to love yourself as well as the Lord and your neighbor – you are in the middle of that equation:  Love of God + self + neighbor = the 2nd greatest commandment.    The first is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength . . . maybe give up doubt, fear, or anger toward him . . . toward yourself . . . toward other people . . .   let this be a season of letting the Spirit of the Lord Rest Upon You . . . .

Our Daily Bread

In the Lord’s prayer Jesus teaches his disciples about asking for self and others. So often our prayers are focused solely on the needs of others or on our own selves. But in the Lord’s prayer Jesus teaches us to pray in plurals, not singularly . . .
Our_Bread_and_Forgiveness[2]
Our (not only my) Father
Give us (not only me)
Our Daily Bread (not only mine)
and forgive us (not only me)
Our sins/debts/tresspasses (not only mine)
as we forgive (not only me)
those (more than one)
Lead us (not only me)
Deliver us (not only me)

Because thine (only God’s)

How often do we behave as if God’s Kingdom belongs to us? We long for what does not belong to us, but for what God desires for us to receive (thy kingdom come – where do we want God’s kingdom to come? I think it is into . . . Us – into our hearts and minds and souls and not only mine but into others as well – not only me – but we – us – pray for God’s kingdom to fill our beings) Why? So we can live in love with one another.

God loves us so much that God gave US Jesus Christ who in turn gives us the Holy Spirit to unite us as one family – there are many people in one family of God

When we pray Give us this day our daily bread – we are not praying for only ourselves to receive the living word of God and/or physical food – we are praying for others to be given the same thing(s) – – – and it seems to me that what we ask God to give us, is only appropriate for us to ask for others and also for us to give to others – It is the Word of God that feeds us, forgives us, leads us and delivers us. . . AMEN

Timely or Untimely Delays

watch clock[1]Ever been delayed?  It can be somewhat frustrating can’t it?  Today, I unintentionally delayed someone who wanted a telephone interview.  At least it was supposed to be a taped interview and not a Live On Air interview.  That wouldn’t have good for anyone.  Not that it was good for me to miss the call this morning and I certainly was berating myself for the error and then I prayed about it.  ‘Lord, help me place this circumstance in your care.’

Delays are frustrating – no doubt about it.  The verse  “All things work for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)  rolled through my mind shortly after my prayer.  I believe we’ll manage to get this interview rescheduled.   And if for some reason it isn’t scheduled, then perhaps the Lord has a different plan than what the interview was about.

Stories about delays are written in the Bible too.  Mary and Martha were distressed when Jesus took so long to come their brother Lazarus when they sent for Jesus.  They told Jesus their brother might not have died if Jesus had come right away.  Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb and asked everyone to take his grave-clothes off.   Wow – that wasn’t a bad thing!

In the Old Testament it, when you read through the story about Joseph’s brother selling him off and telling their father that their brother died (how terrible is that?!)  it certainly must have seem to Joseph that God was delaying just a tad bit too long in reuniting him with his father – but in the end of the story – the timing is perfect and Joseph is able to save his family from famine because the Lord had been with him all those years.

So who is to say if the delays in our life are timely or untimely?  If all our lives are intertwined and the Lord is in the center of clock radiating out to all of us, if to him a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day – well, then if an interview is rescheduled to another day and time next week I guess it’ll be ok, because ultimately – God is the one in control and his is a grace filled kind of control.

Having been a manager of a finance office, a secretary who scheduled appointments, a patient in the doctor’s office, a mother of 4 teens, a person who lives where late starts and snow days occur every winter, whose husband was late to church the day of her wedding and whose honeymoon was cancelled due to a snow storm that closed down the entire interstate system, having been a self-employed direct sales representative, and a pastoral care giver I understand the frustrations that delays can give a person, but I also have learned how to make good come out of those situations.

God’s timing is perfect and so are His plans.

Do you have  story you can share about a delay that resulted in a great outcome?