Category Archives: Church Life

Get the Whole Story First

Proverbs 18:17 (NIV) “The first to present his case seems right, until another comes forward and questions him,” is a reminder to know all the facts before making a judgment.

facts copyIt’s easy in our high tech, sound bite, information age to see or hear a sixty second clip of something or someone and form an instant opinion.

A statement a well known pastor’s wife recently made has gone viral on social media and I admit to having heard it and immediately believing she’s fallen off  the doctrinal correctness wagon.

 

Maybe she has. I don’t really know. And that I don’t know is exactly my point.

As I’ve pondered on it the past few days, my heart has been convicted for making an uninformed conclusion. It’s possible that something she said before or after her statement better qualifies what she meant. A few seconds of video pulled out of the context of what she’s saying doesn’t give the whole picture.

Without having all the facts, I want to give her the benefit of a doubt, because it’s the right thing to do and because I want others to do that for me.

As a writer, I know the importance of using words wisely. As a pastor’s wife, I also know how quickly words can be scrutinized, misinterpreted and criticized, especially when taken out of context.

I’m not saying my fellow pastor’s wife is right or wrong in what she said, I just need to repent for my rapid judgment of her, based on a few seconds of YouTube video.

As Christ followers, I pray we (me included) will be wise enough to know the whole story before criticizing, passing verdicts and writing each other off.

It’s part of the thing Jesus said about the world knowing we are His, because of our love for one another.

John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

 

 

The Hunter and The Bear – a parable of miscommunication

hunter bear copyA Hunter and a Bear were walking through the woods when they came upon each other.

The Hunter was afraid.

He raised his rifle and shouted, “I want to have you for dinner!”

The Bear was afraid.

He reared up on his back legs and roared, “I want to have you for breakfast!”

The Hunter fired but missed, then both turned and ran away.

The Hunter went home and told his friends, “I tried to invite the Bear over for dinner, but he threatened to attack me.”

The Bear went home and told his friends, “I tried to invite The Hunter over for breakfast but he tried to shoot me.”

The Hunter and The Bear could have been friends, but they were not clear when they communicated their wishes to each other.

People don’t always say exactly what they mean and we don’t always hear exactly what they are trying to say.

Before taking offense, stay calm, ask questions, repeat what you think you heard, clarify and make sure you understand precisely what is being said.

Doing this may rescue a potentially great relationship or save one you already have.

~Miscommunication: the failure to communicate clearly~

Proverbs 12:18 “Reckless words pierce like a sword but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Proverbs 18:13 “He who answers before listening-that is his folly and shame.”

Proverbs 21:23 “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.”

 

Messing With Us

Until Jesus arrived on the scene, the Israelites had been doing religion the same way for almost 1400 years, since the time of Moses.  After Jesus came, the Jewish Christ followers experienced a continuous state of surprise with just about every tradition, law, regulation, doctrine and theology they had known and lived. Jesus turned the way they believed; all their ceremonial and gotta’-do-it-this-way-every-time thinking, completely upside down. 

In the following passage in the Book of Acts, not only was the Gospel opened up to the Gentiles, but these ‘uncircumcised heathens’ also received the gift of the Holy Spirit immediately, the moment they believed in Jesus, then following, were baptized in water. 

I’m thinking God did that for Peter’s sake so he would be convinced the Good News wasn’t just for the him and the Jewish folk, but for all. Reading on to chapter eleven, we see that initially, the other apostles, leaders and believers back in Judea and Jerusalem had issue with the Gentile’s joining their Christ ‘club’. Throughout their nation’s long history, they were so accustomed to everything of God being about them, that it was difficult for them to let anyone else in.

Acts 10: 44-48 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. 

In many church circles we like to think the order of a person’s faith in Christ has to follow a certain path: repent, be water baptized then filled with the Holy Spirit. We see from this account in Acts that’s not necessarily so. We Christian types like to ‘order’ so many of our beliefs and often hang a sign on the door of the building to announce them, so we can be set apart from (or above?) all the rest who don’t see it our way.  

How often do we miss something new and amazing God wants to do because we’re stuck in old patterns and a certain point of view? 

When God messes things up, it messes us up. We want to figure Him out, stuff everything He does into a construct so we can formulate it to work the same way every time, maintaining a spirituality that is comfy-cozy and doesn’t our rock our proverbial boat too much.

But we can’t slot God into an algebraic equation. He is GOD – Big, Powerful, Sovereign, Redemptive, Creative. He can do a thing one way today and come up with a zillion other unimaginable ways for it to happen (or not) the next time. 

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been asking God to break down my “It has to be this way” mindset. I want to put aside preconceived ideas, boring, stuck-in-a-rut thinking and open my heart and mind to a God who is able to do and be, far more than I am able to imagine; allowing Him always to surprise me.

I’ve messed myself up plenty. If I’m going to be messed up, I want to be wrecked for Him, ’cause He’s the only one who knows how to mess me up properly and put me back together completely!

Precious Moments

Even though I’ve never been one to attach to stuff or a collector of knick knack-y things, I’ve loved my friend’s Precious Moments nativity set since we first met in 1985. During the years Pat & Earl spent Christmas in Florida with us, she would pack it up and bring it along when they traveled. Not sure exactly what captivates me about it – it’s just cute – precious – as the name appropriately states. It also reminds me of her and the countless ‘precious moments we’ve had together through the years.

After thirty Christmases with her precious nativity, my awesome friend decided to mail it to me this year. I was so surprised when I opened that box! When I called to thank her and ask why she gave it up, she told me that she has enjoyed it for many years and it would bring her more joy to know that I will now. That’s a great friend! Hope you have a few like that!

As I decorated our tree, I was inspired then, to put aside David’s favorite ornaments and give them to him and Clara; the Nutcracker soldier he loved as a boy, my Grandmother’s antique glass bell, Noel, a red bulb with a happy face, I painted for him when he was little to go with a story book by the same name that we read every Christmas, and several others. Time to pass on the memories to another generation. Someday David will tell the stories of those ornaments to their children as they decorate the tree.

It’s not about the stuff, it’s about the people the people in your life who enrich it, add to it, bless it and make it worth putting up with the hard parts. I’m so grateful this holiday season for all the wonderful people God has sent my way and given me the privilege to love. Most of you know who you are :). 

As we start another year, I just want to express thanks to all of you for blessing my journey through the years. Looking forward to making many more precious moments with you in the days ahead.

God’s abundant joy and blessings be yours and Happy New Year!!