Those That Came Before Us

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I was driving by what we in our town call “The Old Catholic Church”. For some reason I looked at it with fresh eyes. It was build in the 1920’s and was turned into the city’s Arts Council Building not too many years ago. I have entered this beautiful building to see plays, and musicals, and weddings, and galas but today I looked at it with a different perspective.

There once was a dream of building a house of worship there, a building dedicated to the Lord. People put resources together, prayed, and came up with a design. They must have  searched for a location centralized to make a beautiful place for a church service on a Sunday morning. And while I know that a building doesn’t make a church I wonder what those who helped build it would think?

Perhaps my heart was open as I had just received a postcard of a church for sale. Seeing that postcard made me sigh at the thought of another church possibly closing. I have traveled through Europe and seen beautiful cathedrals why does this old Catholic Church move my soul today?

As more and more churches close in America and pastors leave the pulpit by the thousands, perhaps for me, this church stands of a symbol of what we are facing in the future.

 

 

Multicultural Church

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Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs–we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” NKJV

Acts 4:32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. NKJV

I am crazy enough to believe that multicultural means just that, all cultures in one. However that is not the common process in church. We like segregation. It suits us to have what we want. I was surprised to hear a pastor teach recently that what we have in today’s church is not multicultural but rather multicolored. Each group in its own service talking about doing life together. So that if you take a picture of the church it doesn’t look like a mosaic.

The reason for this is that while we can preach mosaic all day long, we go home primarily to segregation. We prefer to be insulated in our own culture so it makes sense to segregate each in our churches. And this is not just about language. This is about color, socioeconomics, male and female, even raising our hands in church. Oh we can do a wave at a football game but raise your hand in certain segregated churches and you’re an apostate. I actually heard of a pastor who didn’t want his youth group to mingle with other youth groups because they may be exposed to youth who raise their hands. HUH?

I am still crazy enough to continue to believe that one day we will see a multicultural church. Notice I didn’t say churches. Don’t miss that. One day we will hear the sound of nations worshipping together in one mind and one accord. For now, we continue to be happy with multicolored segregation where the lesser meets in an adjoining room, each getting what we want. One day though we’ll catch a glimpse of heaven where everyone is in one place with all things in common. One day Your Kingdom Come will become an actuality and I think some will be shocked.

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?

 

 

Social Media

 

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I read a quote recently:

Welcome to Facebook. The place where all relationships are perfect, liars believe their own stories, and the world show off that they are living a great life. Where your enemies are the ones who visit your page the most and someone is always taking things the wrong way. 

I stopped to think about how we use social media and how it can be filled with misunderstandings. I took a look at what I had posted over the past week and thought about the why in my posts. I tend to post quite a few scriptures, quotes I think are worth repeating or humorous to me, articles that I find thought provoking or beneficial, fun stuff about my life, opinions about current events, and then just random stuff.   I post the funny things in my marriage. I don’t post about the arguments. Listen, even the word argument is an argument between us because my husband says we don’t really argue, we discuss. Our arguments, I mean discussions, tend to be boring because we don’t really get that creative and worked up about stuff for the most part. We argue about things like my rants: “Do we really have to watch CNN for one more minute? Isn’t there a DIY something on HGTV?”, don’t laugh this is a serious gripe, or his rants: “Chicken again? I am a man. Men eat steak!”. I mean really, do I want to invite you in on this stuff? Not really. Does my posting our fun stuff mean I want you to believe we have a perfect relationship? No.

I firmly believe in your common sense.

I don’t think you think anyone has a perfect relationship. I believe I have a great relationship and I believe I am loved deeply and love him more but we are nowhere near perfect. We just work hard on our marriage. I don’t have perfect kids. I think they’re pretty amazing but I don’t have to prove it.

I like social media posts. I have taken notifications off of my phone to avoid the Pavlov classical conditioning response and I accept very few tags. What I am bothered by this platform is that because it’s faceless it is often used to bash people. The things a civilized society would not say to each other’s face is fair game and the public shaming is cringe worthy. My husband will come to me and say, “Who is _______ fighting with now?” To be clear, my husband is not a person into drama and he often overlooks typical social clues and doesn’t take things personally, so for him to notice means it’s blatant and for him to say “now” means he’s noticed a pattern.

The rants that are posted are usually about people who didn’t get their way and the raves are about how they did. In the end it doesn’t add much to life. There are those who take all of your posts as being directed towards them. You only posted that to make them mad or hurt their feelings. Everything you post is looked at the magnifying glass of victimization.  That one is a tough one because if you deny it then you’re lying and if you don’t say anything it’s because you are guilty. You won’t win. After the take everything personally posts there are the Break Up To Make Up posts. They unfriend you one day, block you the next, then send you a friend request. Their anger over their life oozes like slime and is not an indication of who you are, it’s merely their dissatisfaction with their life. Like the song says,

Break up to make up that’s all we do, First you love me, then you hate me, that’s a game for fools..

I’d rather focus on the  development of a life rich and colorful and filled with real relationships where we meet over coffee and talk face to face. Thankfully my life doesn’t hang in the balance of social media. I want to be happy when you’re happy and send you love when you’re not. I believe social media is a great tool for communicating general ideas and staying in touch with friends far away but I don’t think its intention is as deep as we make it. My prayers are that we move towards real connection once again.

Click Here for a great video on how to best to use Social Media by Faye de Muyshondt with Socialskilz

A Little Respect Please

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For those of you who find some words offensive you may want to move on to another post. I will not use a word frivolously but in the context of this post it will be necessary.

A young, college-aged woman is dating her boyfriend. They are like all college students, studying to move towards a career, finding their way in life, and enjoying the time when there aren’t a lot of pressures. It’s a great stage of life.

Their relationship is progressing forward but there are a couple of seemingly insignificant issues that has popped up for her. She puts the thought away as it seems so small. Her friends all think it’s not a big deal. So she calls her friend, that would be me, to talk it over with someone who is older and maybe can tell her she is overreacting and change her heart towards this topic. Only, maybe she’s an old soul, maybe she feels things more deeply, maybe she is right about her feelings of something being off.

She begins hesitantly with me knowing I’m more than twice her age, “It doesn’t seem like a big deal when I say it out loud but there is just something about it that irritates me. He seems to try to push me into making decisions his way. He pulls towards spending all of his time with me and his friends which should be flattering but it feels a little constricting and the second thing is that he called me a bitch.” She says the second part almost like an afterthought.

“Well”, now it’s my turn to be careful with my words, “I think you are right to be concerned and I think you need cut yourself a break. Dating is a time where we get to know each other. It sounds like this may not be a match. Now listen, I am going to sound way, way old-fashioned here but calling you a bitch speaks to a greater issue. It speaks to a disrespect of women from a weak man. He is saying he thinks of you as less than human. He is also intimidated by you and has a need to control you to make himself feel better. I know it’s not a big deal in today’s culture, but it is still a big deal, and as women we can either ignore it or we can take a stand of respect. You’re not thinking about this now, but we as women raise our sons to be men of honor and men who learn to treat women with respect by how they are taught to respect their mother. So don’t discount this.  Then there’s the spending the time the way he wants to. Is that how you can envision your life? You’re an independent girl with goals and vision. Is that supposed to go away for him? And at what point will you tire of this behavior and want your life back? How about him showing a little respect for you and your life?”

We continued our conversation along with a warning from me that I was going to blog about this topic. Listen, bottom line, if you don’t put boundaries in place no one will do it for you. Ladies, we aren’t pretzels that bend at the whim of a man. Instead we are called to partner with them. The biggest downfall I see in continuing to date a man who we have doubts over is that we give our emotions away and then marry the wrong person.

And while we are here on this topic this goes for men as well. If she wants to control where you go, how you dress, who your friends are, if she is disrespectful with her words she will not value the whole of you. Maybe it’s time to move on.

 

 

Moments of Desperation

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In 1999 we began attending a little church in a little town. Walking in for the first time it was scene right out of the 80’s. Wallpaper border, pink walls, fake plants, and lots of stuff spray painted gold. Like all churches, some of the people were nice and said hello and others didn’t. The pastor could not remember my name and I think addressed me by many names before he gave up. Can you tell I wasn’t really impressed?

I had come from a big city with a big church and big programs and lots of opportunities to serve. Small towns don’t really have all of that but somehow I expected the church to have it and I can’t even tell you why. We’d walk in Sunday after Sunday and I would look at the negative. The message was solid but I wasn’t happy because it wasn’t fulfilling my needs.

I begged my husband to commute to our old church. He was reassuring but firm.

“Susan, do they open their bibles and preach from it?”

“Yes, they do but they also are really concerned about Y2K and…”

“Yes, that’s beside the point. Is the teaching solid?”

“Yes, but that lady was rude telling us we weren’t allowed to sit in her seat.”

“I know you’re unhappy but you need to focus on God. We’re not leaving and commuting to church. Our family needs to be involved in the city we live in. So unless God speaks to me, we’re staying here.”

“But what if he speaks to me?” This was my approach at manipulation and my husband was wise enough to not argue.

Can God speak to us as wives? Of course he can. Does he lead us out of our covering? I don’t see it in scripture. Looking back to that unhappy beginning I could not have seen the things that I would face over these last 17 years.  I would lose my husband to an untimely death. I would raise my children in that little church. I would marry its pastor. I would answer a call to ministry and I would be sitting here today reflecting on how submission works for our good.

I could have fought hard for my way. I could have led my family out because I wasn’t getting what I needed but I knew my husband was a good leader if I would allow him to be and I knew that he would guide me well. Trust is the issue that causes us to do what we want despite our spouses protests. We don’t believe they are spiritual enough. We don’t believe they hear from the Lord as well as we do. We don’t ultimately trust them to lead.

Often in women’s ministry I am asked to pray for that backslidden husband or to pray for that husband to become more mature in the things of the Lord but what I see often is when that man does stand up for what he’d like he stands in the opposition of his wife.

Let’s be wise women, praying in unity with our spouse without manipulation. Allowing our speech to be pleasing and not divisive, and knowing that moments of desperation are not moments of flight but moments of submission to a greater cause that we know nothing about in the moment.

 

 

 

Everyone Matters

Last night I felt the Holy Spirit in my being as I declared, “No life is a throw away life. God has a plan and a purpose for everyone.” My friend Juliet said, “every life matters” in a private conversation this past week and the statement hit my heart. Then as I was driving on Saturday I heard this TED talk with Monica Lewinsky. Everyone crucified her and I was no better. However, she was a 22 year-old. Who doesn’t have cringe worthy moments from their young adult days? Maybe we didn’t sin in that way but we’ve all done seriously stupid things or we wouldn’t be human.

As we prepare for Easter and our heart is prepped with compassion and gratitude, can we carry it through past this week?

I don’t know if you will or not, but my hope is that you will take 23 minutes out of your day and listen to the TED talk above.  Then, can we change the way we respond on social media and in our daily lives to those we deem unworthy? It has to start somewhere. Why not with you?

Bullying in all forms had to stop and we have to quit making excuses as to why we do it. Believing that you are too good to fall is a huge mistake. Let’s have compassion as we stand in the gap for those who are on the firing line.