Monday, October 26, 2015

It's Time to be Intolerant

I will climb out on the proverbial limb and utter an obscene word: intolerance. 

I'll make the word worse. Sometimes it's good.

Take for example smoking. When I first began teaching, smoke swirled around my classroom. I asked for an air purifier and got this teeny little machine that had minimal effect on my air quality. My room abutted the teachers' room. It had no outside windows and the the smoke wafted through the cut-outs in the ceiling that allowed the fluorescent lights to run.

We all experienced smokey restaurants, businesses, homes, cars, mass transportation. Today, no one can light up on school property--not even in their car with the window rolled up. Smokers used to congregate at doors of businesses and stores to smoke. Today, many places require that they stand a distance away from the entrances. We no longer tolerate the health destroying effects of tobacco.

The same goes with dog droppings. Years ago, no one cleaned up the "litter" and only the property owner was expected to scoop the poop--or the walker, in whose case had to scrape the poop. Today our local rec park stocks plastic bags to make it possible to clean up after dogs. Homeowners will stop recalcitrant dog owners and insist on this basic decency.

We've become intolerant of sex abuse. I remember whisperings of acts of child abuse. People tsk-tsked, but nothing more was done. Today those guilty can never erase the stigma of their crimes; intolerant of physical abuse; intolerant of driving under the influence 

Rape used to always be the victims fault. No longer.
Isn't it time to become more intolerant? Cursing? Indecent clothing? Sexually explicit comedy on sitcoms? Stereotyping Christians as intolerant or hypocritical? Sexually active behavior? Pornography?

Without foregoing mercy, love, kindness--without forgetting Christ's forgiveness, we need to take a stand against what is offensive and wrong, refuse to accept it. If we do, perhaps these behaviors will follow in the fate of second hand smoke and dog doo-doo. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Gossip: How To Believe a Lie

The "Confederate Flag", a rectangula...
The "Confederate Flag", a rectangular
 variant of the Battle Flag. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Remember back during the Charleston tragedy, the Confederate flag was taken down from the court house. In a knee-jerk reaction, Walmart and Amazon decided to no longer offer it for sale.

My nephew, a man I trust, a man I know to have integrity, posted a fact on facebook stating that Amazon, while not selling the Confederate flag, still offered Isis's.

Of course this would appall anyone. I had no reason to doubt, and so I told my friends. I stridently preached it as gospel. Then one day I thought I better check.

No Isis flag on Amazon.

Truth lies
Truth lies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A quick look at confirmed this was an urban legend. I unwittingly believed a lie mistakenly told to me by a principled man.

Flash forward to today. Our church, like so many, is having a conflict. My husband came home and told me that the deacons had given two ladies a letter telling them to resign from positions they held. Neil, I know for a fact, is honorable and trustworthy.

On Sunday, our pastor took time to bring to light all that was going on. In his message he stated that the women in question resigned on their own. No one asked them to step down.

I looked at Neil. He never lied. I looked at the pastor and questioned his veracity.

At home, I asked Neil where he'd gotten the information. A man who worked with him in the same ministry had told him. The fact of these ladies being forced from their position drove this gossiping man to leave the body.

It makes me think. My disparaging Amazon did nothing to hurt the chain. My trust in my husband caused me to question our pastor. However, knowing I had no first-hand knowledge of the situation caused me to keep my mouth shut and not perpetrate the rumor. (Even a fool is considered wise when she holds her peace! Pr. 17:28).

Thus I think of Ecclesiastes 10: 12- 14a: 

12 Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; 13 the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness. 14 Yet the fool multiplies words. 

How do we stop gossip and lies?
  1. Go to the source. In the case of the flag, websites like snopes put to rest urban legends. In the case of my husband, ask the deacons and withhold judgment until the truth is verified.
  2. Do not spread it. Even if true, if no good comes from sharing information unless harm comes from not sharing.
  3. Do not listen to it. Believe me, I LOVE a juicy tidbit. Yet, a fire goes out without fuel. Perhaps your silence will shame the slander.
  4. Speak the truth in love.
  5. Ask yourself if listening to the tale is beneficial and how it will help remedy the situation. If it does nothing but make yourself feel better, put the big ol' kibash to it.
Do you have tips on stopping gossip?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Good Grief: The Benefits

Grief (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better (Eccl 7:2-3

Good Grief. Sadly, despair hits us all, and when it does, we think, "What a stupid term good grief is. How can it be good?" Apparently, God believes this to be true.Wait a minute, you state (Yes, I know I'm schizoid and you didn't say anything), God wants us blessed. And that is exactly why grief is good. How? Let's consider.

  1. Death comes to all of us. When someone we love or know casually dies, we will grieve. Therefore, we learn to not put off until tomorrow the encouragement and love we need to share today.
  2. Discouragement plagues us all. We work hard, only to fail. But what happens because of failure? If we do nothing, it defines us. If we work harder, we will produce the good product we desired. J.K. Rawlings is renowned for stunning success after repeated failure. Colonel Sanders had his chicken recipe rejected 1,009 times before someone saw its merit. (
  3. It makes us humble. Think about the braggarts you know, famous or not. Does anyone like them? 
  4. It heals us. My Ecclesiastes' scripture clearly states sorrow's healing qualities. What niggles our mind? Where have we failed? If we correct those, the weight the devil heaves at us dissipates and we become truly free in the Lord.
My own life illustrates it.

When I was a new Christian, I loved a man dearly. God seemed to indicate we would marry. Then one day, he broke up with me and started dating my best friend. Shortly after, he married her.

My grief and my loneliness drove me mad. Both were members of my church, and I had no place else to worship. One sleepless night I picked up my Bible. The tell me this book can heal my wounds," I told the Lord. "If that's true, please give me solace."

I read into the morning hours, and that day, scripture opened up to me in ways it doesn't open up to others. I grew in Jesus. My soul healed. I became a better woman.

Death. Desertion. Thwarted Desire. Let God into your life and heal.

Monday, October 5, 2015

God's GPS--Not Society's

Garmin GPS riderview
Garmin GPS riderview (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After a fabulous sister-date where we brought my niece to see Santa in July, Janine and I headed back to Malone from the North Pole in Wilmington. Unfortunately, the road home was closed, so we had to rely on my Garmin. It got me lost. My sister took out hers, and we ran them simultaneously.

Remember, we sat in the same vehicle, and we had the same brand of GPS. Both of them took us different directions--all the directions were wrong.

Usually, we could rely on the GPS. On this day, both had faulty data and that data often led us to dead-ends. Ironically, both GPS-es always made us drive into cemeteries--the ultimate dead-ends.

What a metaphor for this world we live in.

We put our faith in something that usually works, but not guaranteed. You all have anecdotal stories about the GPS. We make decisions. Based on those decisions, we make other errors which compound themselves and lead us further astray. We then allow the government to make laws to correct the issue. (We know how well our government works). We repeat the process until we've totally lost our moral compass.

And that's what happens when we base our lives on human knowledge and not on "God's Perfect System" (GPS) found in his Word, the Bible.

No one is born wanting to walk into a school and murder ten people as happened in Umpqua. No one is born in one sex and decides, as a toddler, he's really another. No one wishes to become a prostitute. No one starts out wanting to create babies by five different men and believe it's all okay. No one desires to be an addict.

It starts with one sin at a time. Little "mistakes" that change our course until we are so lost we die in the wilderness.

No experienced hiker walks without a compass. No contractor builds a wall without a level. No pilot flies without an altitude indicator. The end results can be disastrous without them.

"There is a way that appears right, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12).

We as Christians have to make a stand. We have to stop allowing the laws of the land and the attitudes of society to cow us. The consequences--as the effects of the first freedom riders, the first abolitionists--may not give us the desired result, but we've got to get back onto the moral path and stop the insanity of events like Umpqua  or Charleston or Chatanooga.