A Known Atheist

Listening to Dr. Laura Schlessinger on the radio I heard a call that at first was funny and then became thoughtful to me. A woman called in to say that her brother was a “known atheist” in the town they lived in and he was offended with the caller. I laughed out loud in my car because and the same time my thought came,  Dr. Laura chuckled, “as opposed to an unknown atheist?”! The woman went on to explain that her brother was the head of the local atheist organization.

His charge against his sister? That she had never chosen him as a godfather to any of her children. Dr. Laura had a good belly laugh at that, but I was thoughtful and have been since then. You see, the brother had a valid question and the sister needed to examine it. What about our walk with Christ makes a person who doesn’t believe in Christ think it’s perfectly okay to ask to participate in something regarding our faith? It may not be such an off the wall question. What is a godparent after all?

I have said on this blog that I have amazing godparents. My godfather went home to be with the Lord last year but they have been there for me since the day of my birth. They have instructed me in my spiritual walk, they have prayed for me, imparted wisdom into my life and corrected bad behavior when needed. They were strong in their faith and their marriage and taught me the practice of church and family and God and love. When I left the Catholic faith for a non-denominational church no one prayed harder for me. They never wavered in the duty of being godparents and never gave up on me. With love they have attempted to keep me on a clear path. They participated in my life. Better examples I could not have dreamed of.

Yet I see today followers of Christ who pick friends who aren’t even church attenders to be godparents. They put no thought into their child’s mentor in their religious upbringing. I’ve seen dedication services where the godparents couldn’t even stay for the service. They did their duty and left to go celebrate and prepare for a party or worse talked through the service with no reverence or acknowledgment of what they were there for. There is no inkling or recognition of the vow they are making to God. If in the end, we are only known by our word and character this doesn’t seem to matter to some Christians.

In the book, The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel, he starts the book off with two conversations on two different airplane flights. Travis was a man who was an atheist and there was no way any conversation was going to move him to change his mind. Travis tells the writer straight up what he thinks of the whole religion thing from his perspective, pulling no punches. On the other hand, he meets a woman named Michelle who professes Christ but whom the writer calls a Christian Atheist, she reveals that she lives with her boyfriend who doesn’t believe in Jesus and is scared to death of marriage, her life obviously conflicting with her beliefs. He makes a powerful statement on page 13 when he says that Christians Atheists look a lot like Christians but live like Travis. It’s really a good read and I recommend it.

So maybe this caller’s brother’s question wasn’t that far off track? I mean if the example we give to the world is one where our actions don’t match our talk, then at least we have to give credit to this brother for living out what he believes. Granted, this isn’t what the caller was calling about, but it did make me think about what kind of a life we collectively live as Christians that this brother felt comfortable enough to ask why not him?

Tapestry Of Love

I heard a Pastor say that when storms come they take out the trees that are not deeply rooted.

Colossians 2:2 I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. 3 All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery!

I heard a teaching once that God blesses with an open hand. Rain comes to the just and the unjust, just as sunshine, children, jobs and paychecks. But for those who seek relationship with him, for those who willingly place their hand in his, there in his fist is wisdom. The Proverbs say wisdom is crying in the street. Those who choose to answer the call are rewarded.

4 I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or “the Secret.” 5 I’m a long way off, true, and you may never lay eyes on me, but believe me, I’m on your side, right beside you. I am delighted to hear of the careful and orderly ways you conduct your affairs, and impressed with the solid substance of your faith in Christ. 6 My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. 7 You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. 8 Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. 9 Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. 10 When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything. 11 Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It’s not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you’re already in – insiders – not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin. 12 If it’s an initiation ritual you’re after, you’ve already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ.

The question that then follows is are we Sunday church attenders or are we answering the call? Do we seek the relationship which grants wisdom or are following the empty traditions of man and the empty superstition of spirit beings? I spoke to a new believer on Sunday. He said he sits and reads his bible one hour a day when he gets up in the morning, he says he becomes so engrossed in it, that he’s been late for work because he says he tells himself, “okay just one more page” then one turns to two. Funny thing is happening though. He is getting some pretty heavy revelation. I mean God is moving him at warp speed. He excites me with his knowledge because he’s asking deep questions and I am amazed at his wisdom.

But then
maybe I’m not

because he’s heard wisdom’s cry

        and has decided to answer the call.

The question then is are we deeply rooted in Christ? Or will we be swayed with the wind, off on those wild-goose chases trying to understand “the secret”? Will the storms of life come and uproot our delicate root system? Will we be able to stand when the world is quaking around us? I pray we are beloved. I pray we are learning, seeking, praying and most of all I pray that we have taken up the Lord’s promise to give wisdom to those who seek it and are living it out! Be someone who lives it and experiences Christ. Not someone who stands on the sidelines and watches. Be deeply rooted and know whose you are and what you’ve been called to! I pray that we woven into that tapestry of love.

A Stepmom Can Dream Right?

I read

Eric Urbach’s article

and knew I had to share it!

When I read this excerpt I thought wow, this dad gets it!

It hit me at that moment that I had blown it. It wasn’t that I had specifically blown enforcement of the eating rule, but that I had communicated to my wife that what my son wanted outweighed the agreement she and I had made. I had also communicated to my son that the rule didn’t apply to him. Also, selfishly, I had also allowed my desire to avoid conflict get the best of me, but that’s probably another blog post.

The Horse and Groom

http://www.hideoutranch.com, not the groom in the story, you can see the love

Aesop’s Fable

A Groom used to spend whole days in currycombing and rubbing down his Horse, but at the same time stole his oats and sold them for his own profit. “Alas!” said the Horse, “if you really wish me to be in good condition, you should groom me less, and feed me more.”

Small Church Big Problem

A question posed by a reader goes like this:

Message: A female friend of mine had a brief affair with another member of the church. My friend sang in the choir with the man and his wife. The couple were longtime members with extended family members. My friend is single. The affair was exposed and everyone in the church was aware. My friend was asked to find another church by the pastor. She was upset that she was asked to leave, but I couldn’t understand why she wanted to continue attending services there. Was the pastor wrong? Just wondering. Addition: her sister recently moved in with her and plans on attending the same church and sing in the choir. This is a small community church just several blocks from their residence. This all seems pretty bizarre to me and asking for friction.

This breaks my heart for the congregation that is dealing with the fallout of this. It just goes to show that although sin is personal, it’s never private as it affects many and in this case it affects an entire church. It’s impossible for me, and maybe for you, to know what the details of this case are within the church.

Biblically we are supposed to try and restore a brother/sister caught in a fall. Then there’s the Corinthian church in the New Testament, where the son was having an affair with his stepmother and when he was asked to stop he refused, so they put him out of the church until he repented. I guess the question would be then, was there repentance? If there was repentance was there an attempt to restoration?

So let’s say the Pastor is really trying to do his job biblically. Did perhaps your friend not fully understand the ramifications of her action and therefore was put out of the church because there was no repentance? Obviously she’d have to step down from her ministry of worship and submit to the restoration process. Was this done willingly by your friend? If the husband wasn’t asked to leave was it because he showed true repentance and has submitted to the restoration process? The pastor and the church must consider that people who looked up to your friend as a member of her church family and even those in the community as the talk spreads but the details don’t, are affected by the hearts and actions of those involved.

One thing is for sure, the sister who has moved to town and wants to attend the church shouldn’t be penalized for her sister’s actions. I think in a small community church this actually could be hard on her since some may judge her by her sister’s action. Hopefully this group is more matured than that. I agree with you that it seems easier to find another church and avoid the mess altogether. Could it be that the sisters are a certain denomination and this church may be their only option to practice their faith?

Sorry I can’t be more helpful. I sincerely hope that everyone stay focused on Jesus right now and that you all continue to pray for your friend as well as the couple who all have repairs to make, not only internally, to each other, to the congregation and to their faith and God ultimately.

Thank you for reading and if you have further questions I will do my best to answer.

Dating My Man

Do you want to reap love in your marriage? Then you have to sow time. My husband is my best friend. He’s the one I tell my secrets to. He’s the one whose hand I love to feel in mine. He’s the one who I love to cuddle with at night. He’s the one I love to kiss and he still gives me goosebumps when he calls this California girl, Darlin’ in his Louisiana accent.

One thing I can tell you as a wife of many years is you have to keep dating each other to make sure this love lasts. You’ve got to sow some time into your marriage. You’ve got to date each other. Marriage doesn’t mean we take each other for granted. Marriage doesn’t mean we no longer work to look good for each other.

It doesn’t have to be extravagant dating either. Tonight we sat across the dinner table together. A beautiful table setting, placemats, chargers, and are you ready for it? Taco Bell. Yes, a taco from Taco Bell, just me and my love. We talked about heading out on vacation with the kids this week. We talked about how nice it would be to get away from it all for a few days. Then he looked at me and said, “Thanks for dinner.” His smile was really nice. I answered, “You’re welcome. I slaved for you because I love you and knew you’d be hungry.” We laughed together and went to go pack our suitcases.

Marriage doesn’t mean it’s over, it means it’s just beginning. If you’re in a rut, change it. Put on a pretty smile and remember what you loved about him before the cares of life hit. Then be that woman for him. If you haven’t done this in awhile he may look shocked, but I promise he’ll come around.

I know that women tend to balk at this type of post on the blog. “Why should I have to put on a pretty smile?” “Why should I have to be the one who tries?” “Why should I have to put on makeup for him?” “He’s gotten fat and lazy too.” To all of this my answer is, you didn’t win him by wearing sweats everyday, but you can lose each other with this type of thinking. If you don’t think he’s going anywhere look around at your countless friends whose marriages have broken over their lack of care. I’m tired of defending my position and don’t really feel led to say a whole lot more here today. Suffice it to say that when I take the time to be the wife my husband married, he smiles more, he compliments more, he helps me more, he’s more of a friend to me. He’ll actually stop his video game playing when I come home from bible study night and attentively listen to me. If this isn’t enough, then I don’t know what women want and that’s a whole other post.

Francis Chan’s Erasing Hell

I have to admit when I heard that Francis Chan had written a book called Erasing Hell, I sucked in my breath. I mean the title is ambiguous and this book coming off the recent Rob Bell controversy, where he dismisses the Christian view of hell, was a little unsettling to say the least. I loved Forgotten God and wondered if Francis Chan would also drink the punch and attempt to erase hell? Say it ain’t so, I thought. So I bought the book and brought it home.

My husband, Doug and I sat down to read the book together over an afternoon. At first, Doug’s exasperated comment was, “What are we reading?” , in a tone that was displeased at my selection. Then we began to dive in. We read, keeping an open mind as was suggested in the book. We allowed questions that maybe we had squashed deep in our soul, to rise to the forefront of our mind. Granted, somehow it just seemed wrong to ever question why God chose to do things the way he does, but Chan’s transparency allowed us to at least form the question in a tangible way. Had the church today, pointing directly at ourselves, preached the palatable parts of the bible and neglected the very thing people really needed to hear?

Where Francis Chan hit a nerve with me was when he asked if the street corner preachers who are screaming about hell were actually doing more than I was? After all, I cringe when I see them and have said out loud that I think they do more harm than good to the faith. Yet, I couldn’t deny that what they were saying was true. Yikes, what an ugly feeling I had about my responsibility to humanity.

I loved that the book took the time to study out what Jesus said about hell, in the context of his Jewish faith and in the time he lived out his time on earth. I am a person who studies with an open concordance, dictionary, lexicons and commentaries so this appealed to me. Doug was eerily quiet through our reading. It wasn’t until the conclusion that we breathed a sigh of relief at the outcome of the study and then discussed where we felt we were at in the whole process.

We both concluded that this book deserves a read and a frank conversation. The bottom line is people are dying with a lot of different ideas which have no basis in fact and like it or not, we have a responsibility to at least take a chance and speak up.

Taking a ride on a train in Napa, we sat across from a woman who was wearing three necklaces. The first was a cross, the second was rabbit’s foot and the third was a buddha. Doug asked her what the significance of the necklaces were and she answered him sincerely, “I’m covering all my bases.” Admittedly that’s as far as the conversation went. The conversations of mercy and grace are easy, but it doesn’t negate the conversations about where people will spend eternity and that, my friends, is what we should be about. A million thanks to Francis Chan for boldly asking questions that demand soul searching answers.

Buy the book read it, if you’re like us, you’ll finish the entire thing in a few hours and search your heart. Where do you stand? What do you believe? It’s important to know.

Hitting The Wall

Luke 5:16 As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.

While listening to the radio the other day on my drive to work, a runner was describing his ability to run 30 miles a day without hitting the wall. Hitting the wall is a term runners use to describe what happens when they are running and suddenly they feel extreme fatigue and loss of energy.

He went on to describe that endurance runners, those who run long distances even cross country, know that slow and steady are the keys to avoiding hitting the wall. He said there was a formula to endurance and that was to run and recover, run and recover, run and recover.

I began to think of ministry and how often we run but don’t recover and we end up hitting the wall. Jesus seemed to understand that the demands on his life required him to run and recover often. Over and over again in Scripture, Jesus heals, meets needs, preaches, teaches and then goes off to recover. Sometimes he takes his disciples with him. Other times he goes off alone but always he is running and recovering and endurance doesn’t seem to be a problem.

How often do you get away to pray alone? Do you make time and have a place in your life where the cell phone and the demands of daily life get left behind and the only thing that goes with you is a desire to pray and hear from God? Are you like some who are hitting the wall and wondering why you aren’t fulfilled in your calling and why you can’t seem to push beyond a certain place in your ministry?

Sometimes the most urgent thing you can do is rest. ~ Anonymous

If there is anything I have learned this year it’s to run and recover without regret. I used to feel lazy if I took a day off to sleep and rest. No longer is that a thought in my head. I use to feel bad if someone knocked on my front door on my day off and I didn’t want to answer. Not anymore. You see, I understand that if I am going to run this race to the finish, then endurance is key and recovery is necessary. It’s not an option. We must learn to be strategic. We must learn to not bow to every urgent need but instead focus and not lose sight nor neglect the important things in life.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.