When You Say Nothing At All

 

Opinionnoun – a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

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In the world of ministry, as in the political arena I suppose, your own voice becomes not your own but rather you must decide and calculate, what the cost or gain will be to actually have an opinion on something. There is a unmerciful machine that rages forward and unforgiving attitudes still prevail. Just ask Rob Bell or Jen Hatmaker two Christians who dared have opinions in our world. Books, endorsements, and speaking engagements were pulled immediately. The idea of keeping a public page on Facebook and a private page of Facebook or just getting off of social media completely is in full force. Ask people privately what they think and get a view of people who are deciding that in order to speak to everyone you can offend no one.

So I stopped writing about controversies because I didn’t want controversy in my life. I    wanted to speak to everyone about anything. I wanted to hear opinions and views that weren’t my own because that is where I either solidify my view or see a perspective I    had not seen before and thereby change my mind.

Only that goes completely against who I am. I sat as a small child at the dinner table and discussed politics and world  views with my parents. In fourth grade I wrote to President Gerald Ford and I received an answer. I don’t have an opinion because I’m a Christian, or a pastor, or a woman. I have an opinion because I have a brain who is forever learning and wants to be challenged.

“But you’re going to have to minister to people who don’t share your view and they won’t be able to receive from you because of it.”

WHY? Because we can no longer tolerate an opinion that isn’t ours. We’ve become so engrained to think that if they do not think or do things as we do then they are against us. They aren’t of our tribe so therefore they are out.

Luke 9: 49John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.” ESV

Mark 9:38“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” 39“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40for whoever is not against us is for us. NIV

Only here’s the thing: When we say nothing we say much. While quiet observation serves while opinions are formed there are also two camps forming, those who think you are with them and those who think you are against them. Ultimately this is really not about you. It’s internal strife turned outward. It’s intolerance. Sadly, it’s prevailing in America.

What would you say if opinions truly mattered and we were really a free people?

 

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.

Random Thoughts

Someone said to me that they love the way I think. My instant thought was, “Really? Because if you really knew my thoughts you’d see they are so random that most of my thoughts don’t deserve an audible rendition.” What I answered was, “Thank you.” You see, not every thought has to be spoken. Here are some random thoughts that popped through my head throughout this one period of one particular day.

Why would hackers want to hack a baby monitor? Or a photo on your cell phone? Mean and nosey abound I guess. People need to use that energy effectively.

Why do I look up symptoms that I, or one of my friend’s, have on WebMD when I’m not a doctor? Why do I always think the worst? WebMD says it could be a cold or it could be cancer. I almost feel my hair falling out. My head isn’t round enough to be bald.

I wonder if Doug would love me with an odd shaped bald head? I mean he would love me but he would be able to overcome it? Now when he kisses me and puts his fingers through my hair I am going to be thinking that he’s measuring my head because he reads my blog. Maybe I shouldn’t post this thought.

I guess worst case I could get pretty scarves.

Wait! I rebuke that thought and the part of me that always thinks the worst in Jesus name.

Why do people who aren’t married, and don’t want to be married, call each other husband or wife? Do they secretly want to be married? I bet that’s it!

You either evolve or evaporate.

I should Tweet that thought because we all need to be growing.

I could use a little evaporation in some places. Well more than a little.

Why do we have DirectTV and nothing to watch?

I wish Hallmark channel just had gushy movies all of the time. Then I could just go there when I wanted something to watch.

I want a cookie but I want to be thinner. I should take diet pills then I wouldn’t want a cookie, or have liposuction. I could exercise and have the cookie.

I think my car is almost on empty.

I wonder if I will be a good Nana? Lord, I want to be a Nana like my Nana. Or Maria, she’s a good Nana. That woman has endless energy. She works full time then babysits. Is it babysitting if they’re your grandchildren?

I may just have the cookie and quit thinking about it.

Idolatry is the belly that is never full and eventually it will eat you too.

I should Facebook that or write a blog to elaborate.

It takes no faith to call it what it is.

I can Facebook that tomorrow if I remember it.

So you see, they like my thinking process because I only showed the very random good thoughts and not all the mess. Life is like that too so don’t get caught up in the admiration of someone’s life because you just can’t possibly know. Instead admire the process of learning when to speak and when to stand down. Most of it is all flesh you, me, the Pope, and what you call thoughtful, I may call filtered because not everything thought has to be spoken.

A Couple’s Gift

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I’m in ministry to women. In that role I hear about some hard things women go through but the ones that gets me the most are cheating and hatefulness, and yes cheating is hateful so let me explain what I mean. When a wife cheats or her husband cheats the results are the same. There is unbearable pain caused to the other because it was never an accident or a mistake. It was a series of many choices. The choice to call, the choice to meet up, the choice to speak about things a married person has no business talking about to another person, a choice to spend money on drinks, dinners, or gifts that took time and money away from a family. It was a choice to pretend not to be married. A CHOICE. Often the payback is that the wronged spouse now believes all bets are off and cheats themselves creating a cycle of wrong behavior. I don’t believe in sexual addiction and it isn’t recognized by the American Psychiatric Association so when that becomes an excuse I don’t buy it.

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Then there are those couples who don’t value each other. They speak to each other with such disdain. It’s when a person who doesn’t care what the other person wants and only wants their way, neither do they accept any blame for their part of the craziness, that you can see there is no love. It’s an insistence on your own way. It’s pure selfishness and often stems from those who think it’s the responsibility of one to make the other happy by making sure it’s their way or the highway.

The covenant or vow of love has been made and broken and while sin may be personal it is never private it affects many. Over and over again I see that although some choose to stay together it is never the same. The marriage becomes a fragmented piece of what could have been whole. It opens doors that can’t be closed again.

To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live. 

Why is this post coming at Christmas? At the first of the year, when the bills come in from overspending and the gifts that were expected weren’t received, and extended family acted up, and the stress of the holidays are over, people end up in my office with offenses going back to 2008. These offenses normally fall into two main categories, adultery and hatefulness.

Give yourself a gift this Christmas. Choose love. Love wouldn’t ever hurt another in fact lover prefers one another. Yes there are options and divorce is more acceptable to me than killing each other slowly, however the bible is clear on covenant and no one walks away unscathed.

 

Courageous Friendship

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2 Samuel 12:1 And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” 7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.

Yesterday standing in front of Costco we ran into some friends. They told us a story about an incident in their church and how it had been handled. Instantly the idea of courageous friendship came to mind because that is what they had been. They had spoken truth in love and it’s painful to do sometimes.

You see, courageous friendship speaks the truth. Maybe you don’t agree when being corrected by a someone who is supposed to be your friend but a friend loves you anyway. In the case of Nathan and David in the bible passage above, verse 15 tells a powerful tale. It says,

15 Then Nathan went to his house.

Nathan went home. He went home to his own food, his own issues, his own bills, his own life, his own wife. He didn’t have to go to David to confront his sin, but love and a word from the Lord can send you places that are awkward and uncomfortable. Sometimes there is nothing in it for you but heartache for a friend.

Courageous friendships are not ones who post on Social Media trying to gather a following. They are not found whispering in dark places. Courageous friendships are knocking on your door and resolving issues. You and them. Them and you.

Nathan and David had shared a rich friendship. Do you have any rich friendships? Ones in which courage is acknowledged and expected? Or do you move on to the next best thing each time the word comes and it doesn’t agree with your agenda?

Too Poor To Date

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Couple Receiving Their Check

Here’s an excerpt from Heather Jensen’s article on Relationship Deal Breakers that for some reason popped up in my newsfeed:

If you can’t afford a cell phone bill, rent or even a dinner out, you really shouldn’t be in a relationship. Guys, this goes for you too – if you can’t take your lady out, that can definitely be a relationship deal breaker! You don’t have to be rich, you just have to have enough money for savings and not to be completely broke all of the time. 

“Of course!” I thought, “Except college students who are generally poor while studying but yes, anyone over 30 shouldn’t be dating if they have to spend every dime they have to do so. This should be a Dave Ramsey blog.” Then I did a search on too poor to date and article after article talked about how we shouldn’t be dating if we can’t pay the bills. One man said that because he had student loans, and a car debt, he considered himself undatable because financially he couldn’t offer much yet. One woman said, she had an IRS debt and until that was paid she would not be dating. No surprise there but what was surprising were the comments.

Generally speaking most women said they agreed with the concept of not dating until you can afford to do so. I wasn’t surprised by that response because a woman’s number one need to is to feel secure in a relationship. What did surprise me were the men. Generally speaking the men disagreed. They felt that a woman should pay her portion of a date and that it was archaic to expect to ask a woman out on a date and then be expected to pay for her portion of the date. In fact, a survey concluded that 51% of men want to split the bill on a first date.

Here are a couple of comments I read:

“I can afford going out to grab drinks and eat a reasonably priced restaurant but only if she foots her own half of the bill.”

“I’ve never once taken the full bill for a restaurant. Coffee or something yeah, but not full meals. Is that something that’s still expected?”

So I went to my resident expert my Southern Bred Husband.

“Baby, I’m reading about being too poor to date and most men feel that since women fought for equality that we should be paying for our half of the bill when a man ask us out on dates. What do you think about this?”

“Well, you did fight for equality.”

“So you think we ought to pay for our portion of a date?”

“Darlin’ I’m a Southern Gentleman. I would never think to go out to eat where I couldn’t pay the bill and I would never allow a woman to pay for a date.”

Which is true because even when we go out to eat and it’s the same debit card coming out of the same joint account, he always grabs the bill and doesn’t let me pay, except a couple of times when he apologized profusely because he left his wallet in his briefcase when I picked him up for lunch and that’s after being married over a decade.

So what do you think? If a man asks a woman out on a date does she need to bring her own money? Is there such a thing as too poor to date?