But She’s The Bride

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I just read another social media rant about what is wrong with the church. As a follower of Christ it makes me sad. Is she perfect this church of ours? No, she is far from perfect. However she is my neighbor, she is my sister, my brother, she is ME. So when you talk about her, when you disparage her, you are talking about me, you are talking about my family, and maybe you are talking about yourself.

Here is what I know for sure. She is the vehicle in which Christ chose to move his message forward. He could have picked any number of things, he is God and God doesn’t lack resources. So for better or worse, in her glorious imperfection she is here to stay. She is the only thing that will last when all is said and done. She is the one that the Lord said the gates of hell shall not prevail against, and most importantly she is the one for whom he returns to take home with him.

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You see, finding fault with her is a cheap shot. It’s too easy. She’s human and therefore fallible but finding the solution and putting your hand to the plow is the work. The harvest of beauty is there and plentiful. Are you willing to get messy? Are you willing to be a laborer or will you continue to be a critic? A critic is someone who determines the value of something and usually decides it is not good. Only that doesn’t work for the church. Because if we are saying she isn’t good then what we are saying is God chose the wrong way in which to express himself.  He made a mistake and I don’t think he did. It’s especially harmful coming from ministry leaders. They are in the wrong profession and confession when they are critical of the very thing they profess to give their life for. Let’s love her through the process of becoming. Let’s come up with solutions to the problems we see. Let’s love her to wholeness.

Packing For The Journey Ahead

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This is a picture of bags packed for a recent trip we took. Notice we humans packed quite a bit into these two bags but Lulu the Wonder Dog demonstrated a valuable lesson.  She only packed what was necessary for the journey ahead. She packed her favorite chew toy. That toy goes everywhere with her. She lays it down next to her food bowl while she eats, she takes it outside with her, she takes it to bed with her. That one thing was all that she needed.

Think about this for a minute. ONE THING! 

Matthew 6: 25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?g 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Such is life. We carry around all these bags stuffed with memories, life patterns, and thought processes. Some are to be stored away for safe keeping. Things like lessons learned, rich fulfilling friendships, family adventures. Yet, other memories, life patterns, and thought processes are used to torment our lives and cause anxiety, worry, and fear but we’re afraid to leave them behind because we might need them on the journey.

Lulu showed us this day that you can’t leave everything behind, but taking everything with you becomes too heavy. She could only take what she could reasonably carry to keep up on the journey.

You see, she was going on a journey with her humans. She didn’t have to worry about food because that was their job. She didn’t have to worry about where she would lay her head to sleep because that was their job. She didn’t even have to worry about where she was going, it was an adventure! She was happy to be led. All she needed was her chew toy. Everything else would take care of itself. She had confidence in that. She was living by what she understood. Not everything could go with her and not everything was necessary. She opted to trust her guides.

So where are you going and what are you taking with you? Burdens? Obstacles? Fear? Anxiety? A map? Vision? A Word? A prayer? Anticipation? Are you stuffing bags just in case life fails you? Are you packing just in case God doesn’t come through? Are you packing because you have become a hoarder of insignificant things but maybe lack has made you afraid to get rid of anything? Are you stuffing things in your bags that were necessary a long time ago but that won’t serve you today?

Remember what Lulu is teaching us today:

You can’t leave everything  behind and taking everything with you is too heavy for your journey. Pack well my friends! 

 

At What Cost?

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Matthew 6:1-4 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The Senior Pastor, who happens to be my husband, and I have a weekly breakfast meeting. This morning we were at our usual place, Eddie’s Famous Cafe. We were just finishing our breakfast when a man in a shirt and tie walked in with a homeless man. Nothing to see normally but he came in videotaping with his phone. The homeless man kicked the bathroom door startling all of the patrons and it was relatively packed. When  he couldn’t open the men’s room, perhaps occupied, he went to the ladies room. My husband quickly gave me his hand and walked me to the cash register so that we could pay and leave.

The premise? Apparently the guy videos picking up homeless people and taking them to restaurants and asking the owners to feed homeless on video to post on YouTube. Let me be clear. I don’t have an issue with that per se. What I have an issue with is that it’s all on public video.

The homeless man comes out of the bathroom, orders his food, mind you no one has volunteered to pay, and yes, I’m watching as my husband pays, the homeless man proceeds to pick up the silverware set on the table and begins dropping it on the table, causing it to make loud clanking noises. Other patrons are now looking uncomfortable. The man in the shirt and tie, comes to us and loudly proclaims, “Did you hear about what I am doing? I am bringing attention to the homeless and I bring them to restaurants and ask the owners to buy them a meal. Will you buy him a meal?” My husband answers, “Yes, I will buy him a meal.” The man in the shirt and tie says, “Great and I need to film this for my YouTube channel. My husband says, “No, thank you.” The man proceeds to attempt to pressure my husband saying this is about posting it on YouTube. My husband declines once more. The man turns to me and proceeds to give me the speech. I decline. He asks if we understand what he is doing. Not being one to wonder I say, “But what exactly are you doing? You go and get homeless people and bring them to restaurants but what exactly are YOU doing for the owners and for the homeless?” He goes on about how many viewers he has. Then he says if we won’t be videoed then can we take a picture with our fist up in the air and declare our help for the homeless. We decline again. My husband thanks him and we went on our way.

At what point does this cross the line? At what point does the whole of the group, the patrons out to eat a meal, the owners deciding when and whom they will help, and this gentleman’s right to video for YouTube, stay within the boundaries of acceptable community? My heart went out to the homeless man. To me, the better approach would be asking politely without a scene. It would seem more sensible.

And yes! I totally get that this post does the exact thing I am complaining about. So what is social etiquette in today’s world? What is our responsibility, I’m not talking about to the homeless man, obviously you feed someone who is hungry, I mean our responsibility to the community?

Just something to think about.