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Posts Tagged ‘Christians’

 

As I sat in the grimy public washroom, with tears streaming (I mean streaming like a waterfall) down my face, I really was not sure why it was that I was crying. All that came to my mind was the verse from childhood, about sticks and stones, but not one person said one word to me.

All I can say is that my heart felt like it was broken, heavy, grieving by what I had heard.

lets go to the beginning …

It had been a chaotic week for hubby and I and our kids had all gone in different directions, so we decided to check out a restaurant that we had never tried before.

It was nice to have uninterrupted conversation, though my attention was constantly diverted to another table, where four people sat, one of whom spoke quite loudly. Eventually my attention was fully pulled from hubby’s words, when I heard,

“those Christians. Who do they think they are?”

The words felt like a jab to my heart.

The man continued, for what seemed like a painful amount of time, sharing stories of ministers, priests, and people of many faiths who were hypocrites, not practicing what they preach. Though he was equal in his disdain for people of any faith, he seemed to be particularly hateful to those who called themselves Christian.

I sat there, the blood seeping from my face, the pain of a death by a thousand verbal cuts touching every part of my being. The tears welling in my eyes.

It was then that I excused myself to the washroom, to try to pull myself together.

I really was not sure why I was crying.

That man didn’t know me, I didn’t know him, yet we were both part of his bitterness, of my sin.

I have no idea how he has been hurt by faith, or, more likely, people of faith, but I know his vile attitude, and I know that his problem is not faith, not even Christ, but Christians.

I was aching, mourning, because the words of that man in the restaurant were the weight of our sins … how we destroy the name of Christ in how we treat others.

We, who share the name of Christ, also bear the pain of Christ …

Because it is the pain and burden of carrying our sin that Christ bore, that Christ bears.

But, when it is finished, this life we live,

when He is finished,

He will wipe every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4),

and it will all be worth it.

In the meantime,

lets strive to do all that we do, in love (1 Corinthians 16:14),

so that we can be instruments that drive out darkness and hate.

 

 

 

 

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false_advertising-img-685I remember well the day that my oldest daughter was faced with the realities of false boasting of advertisers.

It was the Butterfly Barbie. She was shown on the TV advertisements flying through the air (not a hair out of place), her sparkling wings looking gossamer soft. What we brought home from the store required human assistance to soar, and her soft-looking wings had a plastic backing. A great learning opportunity that purchase was for this budding consumer.

False boasting of advertisers have always existed. Whether it is a toy, a hamburger, wrinkle cream or weight loss plan these cons are everywhere, leading people, and their hard-earned money, astray.

It is such a relief that false boasts do not exist in the Christian community …

Go visit a Christian book store, and you will find the equivalent of a ‘self help’ section. Attend a Christian conference, and you will leave believing that ‘you’ can do anything. Show up at a Christ-centered church on any given Sunday, and you will be reminded of the boundless power of the Holy Spirit within you.

So, are those examples of (well-intended) false boasting?

Lets check the king of understanding what it is to boast …

The apostle Paul (I like him),  he was a man who refused to boast about what he did, what he would do or what he could do. As a matter of fact 2 Corinthians 12:5 tells us what he would and would not boast about :

“I will not boast about myself,
except about my weaknesses.”

Hum, ever been to church and heard someone get up and boast about their weaknesses?

Ever been to a Christian conference where the key note speaker addressed weaknesses?

Ever bought a how-to book at the Christian bookstore that explained how to share your weaknesses?

I’m doubting that any of us has experienced that sort of boasting.

Maybe this is why, when non-believers are asked why they do not go to church, a common response is hypocrisy. According to and article in USA Today, a “survey of U.S. adults who don’t go to church, even on holidays, finds 72% say “God, a higher or supreme being, actually exists.” But just as many (72%) also say the church is “full of hypocrites.””

Are we being humbly real?

Or are we pretending that we have it all together?

Our friend, Paul, goes on to explain his rationale regarding boasting about his weaknesses in verses 6-10 :

“Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Don’t we all have a thorn in our flesh?

We do not know what Paul’s thorn was, but we know that Paul used this painful (thorns hurt) thing to keep him depending on God to be his strength in weakness.

I’m not sure that I could have such a positive perspective on pain … I’m not sure that Paul did ALL THE TIME … but I do know that when I am struggling, when I am in pain, when I am hurting, it is then that I rely more on God.

Maybe others need to see, not the lie of perfect lives, but the reality of pain …

and that it can draw us to our heavenly Father, so that His “power is made perfect in weakness”

Boast in this :

we are weak

He is perfect

There’s nothing false about that!

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For the next week, I will be featuring guest posts, as I spend my regular ‘writing time’ preparing for a speaking engagement. If you feel led to pray for me in this regard, I would so appreciate it, and specifically that Pinterest does not pre-occupy my writing time 😉  … I am so weak!

God

This was an interesting read recently from Christianity Today. The story of an ardent atheist, who, like Lee Strobel (author of “The Case for Christ”) studied and investigated to prove her belief was true, until …

Click at the bottom of this snippet for, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story …

“I don’t know when I first became a skeptic. It must have been around age 4, when my mother found me arguing with another child at a birthday party: “But how do you know what the Bible says is true?” By age 11, my atheism was so widely known in my middle school that a Christian boy threatened to come to my house and “shoot all the atheists.” My Christian friends in high school avoided talking to me about religion because they anticipated that I would tear down their poorly constructed arguments. And I did.

As I set off in 2008 to begin my freshman year studying government at Harvard (whose motto is Veritas, “Truth”), I could never have expected the change that awaited me.

It was a brisk November when I met John Joseph Porter. Our conversations initially revolved around conservative politics, but soon gravitated toward religion. He wrote an essay for the Ichthus, Harvard’s Christian journal, defending God’s existence. I critiqued it. On campus, we’d argue into the wee hours; when apart, we’d take our arguments to e-mail. Never before had I met a Christian who could respond to my most basic philosophical questions: How does one understand the Bible’s contradictions? Could an omnipotent God make a stone he could not lift? What about the Euthyphro dilemma: Is something good because God declared it so, or does God merely identify the good? To someone like me, with no Christian background, resorting to an answer like “It takes faith” could only be intellectual cowardice. Joseph didn’t do that.

The Cross no longer seemed a grotesque symbol of divine sadism, but a remarkable act of love. Christianity began to look less strangely mythical and more cosmically beautiful.

And he did something else: He prodded me on how inconsistent I was as an atheist who nonetheless believed in right and wrong as objective, universal categories. Defenseless, I decided to take a seminar on meta-ethics. After all, atheists had been developing ethical systems for 200-some years. In what I now see as providential, my atheist professor assigned a paper by C. S. Lewis that resolved the Euthyphro dilemma, declaring, “God is not merely good, but goodness; goodness is not merely divine, but God.””

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/march/atheists-dilemma.html

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As I read the blog posts of others I feel so … normal. I realize that my thoughts and feelings are shared by others. I realize that that I am not alone in my uniqueness (if that is not too much of a contradiction). I realize that there are others who see and feel and experience and think similarly.

I also learn from the honest revelations of others. The lessons that they have learned.

Recently I received a new post to read by the wife of a high school friend.

Rhonda Bulmer is a wife, a mom, a writer (published), a runner, and a child of God (I know there is more to her, but I do not know her that well). I LOVE her writings (unlike myself, this lady knows grammar, so her writings are actually readable). I think that she and I could definitely be kindred spirits, and so I could not wait to read what she had written.

As I read my heart and soul were touched. She expressed so well her struggle with the expectation of perfectionism. Especially when it comes to living within the Christian community.

The most common criticism of Christians is that they/we are hypocrites. That is true, and not. The fact is that we are humans, and it is in our humanity that we fail, that we fall that we sin and disappoint.

Rhonda says it so well, “sometimes love is an act of faith.”

A Loving Argument

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I remember it like it was yesterday. The words that were said made my head spin, my mouth dry and my tongue unable to utter a response. It was the most baffling, disappointing and shake your head frustrating sentence to hear from another person, another Christian. It was the day that I heard a person in a leadership position say, “excellence is NOT what we are about.”

YIKES! I could not believe my ears.

Sure, as Christians, what defines excellence might be a bit different than how the world might define it. Maybe our emphasis has more to do with ‘being’ than doing. Maybe our emphasis is more on relational than technological. Maybe, though, it isn’t that different after all.

It was Winston Churchill who said;
“Excellence is…
Caring more than others think is wise;
Risking more than others think is safe;
Dreaming more than others think is practical.
Expecting more than others think is possible.”

I think that Mr. Churchill might be on to something!

The apostle Paul, when writing to the church at Philippi, said something about excellence too, but from a prison cell in Rome, and about two thousand years earlier:

“Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things …
true,
noble,
reputable,
authentic,
compelling,
gracious—the best, not the worst;
the beautiful, not the ugly;
things to praise, not things to curse.
Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.
Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

It doesn’t mean that we will always be the best at what ever we do, but if we fill our minds with all that is good, if we work as hard as we can to do all that we do with the best intentions and efforts, “you can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes.” (Philippians)

Now THAT is the model of excellence … and I want some of that!

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For months the name Tim Tebow has dominated sports news in North America. There is also growing attention for Jeremy Lin. They are both amazing athletes, they are both young men (Jeremy is twenty-three, and Tebow is twenty-four), they are both sought after to market many products, they are both nice young men (going only by what the press has said … so far … about them), and they are both loudly professing Christians.

Not long ago, I awoke to the sports newscast on the radio. There was great excitement over an amazing, game winning basket, scored by Mr. Lin with less than a second of game time. One of the radio personalities, after the sportscast, said something negative about how Lin, like Tebow, talks about God all the time.

The comments of the radio personality jarred me into an irritated state to start my day. Just why is it that when individuals are successful, when individuals are doing good things, when individuals are living in a manner that is good for society (ie. Tebow (Tim Tebow Foundation) and Jeremy Lin (Jeremy Lin Foundation) both have foundations to support underprivileged and and ill children), when individuals are doing it all in the name of God, our society would rather cut them down, and have them shut up? In a day and age of acceptance of all and toleration, can the name of God not be tolerated?

To be fair, to be a Christian means living in the shadow of those who have blown it (remember Jim Baker? Jerry Falwell? Pat Robertson? Jimmy Swaggart? The ‘Christian Brothers’ of the Mount Cashel orphanage? and so on). Sometimes it is almost fearful to state, publicly, that you are a Christian. As soon as people know this about you, you are pigeon holed with those who have blown it before. In a sense you are convicted before you even sin, because it is expected of you.

God expects it of us too. That is why his love is not a conditional one, that is why his love is littered with grace. That is why those of us who profess a belief and reliance on God, want to share it with others. We know that all that we have, and are, is due to the God who provides. That is why Tebow and Lin (and others in the spotlight, and out of it) want to share it … it is just that good. This belief in God does not make the believer better than others, it makes his or her life better than without it.

I fear for individuals like Lin and Tebow, because they have been placed on impossibly high pedestals, elevating them above all other mere mortals (much like OJ, Magic Johnson, Joe Paterno, Tonya Harding, Roger Clemens). I fear for them, because they are mere mortals, and all of us fail, and mess up, and make mistakes, and do things that are contrary to our beliefs (even atheists have been heard calling out to God before fading into the foreverland of death … you cannot get much more contrary to beliefs than that).

Jeremy Lin said, “there is so much temptation to hold on to my career even more now. To try to micromanage and dictate every little aspect. But that’s not how I want to do things anymore. I’m thinking about how can I trust God more. How can I surrender more? How can I bring him more glory? It’s a fight. But it’s one I’m going to keep fighting.” May Lin win this fight!

When being interviewed by NFL Today, Tebow said, “Mom and Dad preached to me when I was a little kid that just because you may have athletic ability and may be able to play a sport doesn’t make you any more special than anybody else, doesn’t mean God loves you more than anybody else … at the end of the day, it’s a [football] game.” And may Tebow keep this perspective.

As a fellow Christian, I pray that these two young men continue in their life walk with God, and I pray that they continue to give God the thanks, whether the Lord gives or the Lord takes away … praise the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).

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‘Our’ heritage is not always … ours.

Heritage is defined, by various sources as:
something given from one to another
can be tangible or intangible
can be by birthright, handed down or inherited

I love the heritage of my family … imperfect, but mine. I love the heritage I share as a Canadian citizen … imperfect, but mine. I love the heritage of my Christian faith … imperfect, but mine.

My kids go to a school, one I work at, that speaks of ‘our’ heritage, but it is not mine or ours.

Our family goes to a church, one hubby works at, that speaks of ‘our’ heritage, but it is not mine or ours.

And I wonder, how long will it be before ‘their’ heritage is mine? I was born into my family, so it is easy to accept the heritage it offers. I was born in Canada, and love my Canadian heritage. I was born a child of God, and have been grasping at my heavenly father’s hand for most of my life, so my Christian heritage is precious to me.

But, how long does it take before an individual can sincerely take on the heritage of others as their own? There are times when references to ‘our’ heritage (when I do not feel part of the ‘our’) result in an emotional experience akin to finger nails on a chalk board for me. This does not mean that I have no appreciation for ‘their’ heritage, but I have not yet adopted it as mine, and the inclusive speak of ‘our’ feels foreign to me.

I do believe that, eventually, it will happen, that I will grab on and even use the term ‘our’. I do wonder though, will those who share that heritage by birthright resent me, an outsider, saying ‘our’?

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