Monday, December 8, 2014

Wimpy Christians Unite!

I haven't been blogging much this year, but I had to get this out there. This Sunday at our church, Brother Ainsworth gave the message, and it was about "Wimpy Christianity". Basically, he asked us to examine our hearts, and ask ourselves: "just how bold are we for Christ?" Do we make excuses when we have opportunities to witness? Do we avoid the actual conversation to actually ask people if they know Jesus? I have to admit; I'm guilty as sin. I'll talk about: Church, God, Christian friends, patients who bring up the subject of God first,  etc... but to boldly ask someone face-to-face; "DO YOU KNOW JESUS?"... no, I don't. I assume.. I wait for them to bring it up, or ask me first about my beliefs. Oh yeah, I'll share, but it is usually under comfortable circumstances, once I've warmed up to someone. I do tell people often that I'll pray for them. I just don't confront them. So, yeah, I'm a wimp. So were most of the other people I was sitting around last Sunday, based on their show of hands. Brother Ainsworth gave a fantastic message that apparently hit us all pretty hard because.....

Get this- after the message, while we are all doing our usual Sunday-After-Meeting-Catch-Up, my husband Scott went out to our truck to get something. Upon approaching, he saw a Mexican man laying in our truck bed! WITH A KNIFE IN HAND! Well, you'd have to know Mr. Hunt. He' a take-no-poo kind of guy, with a take-no-prisoners kind of look about him. He can't help it, he looked that way in 3rd grade. So, he sachet's up to the guy with the knife, and utters the one of the 2 only Spanish phrases he knows: "Que' Paso?"... What Scott doesn't understand is he just gave the cue for: "Speak Spanish As Fast As You Can".. at which point Mr. Hunt realizes he's in over his head, and utters the second known Spanish phrase: "Uno momento", but he says it like: UNO MOMENTO AND IF YOU MOVE ONE INCH, I'LL BE ON YOU LIKE SPAM ON A SKILLET". So the guy just stays put, which was pretty smart on his part. Scott calls Jonathan, who is fluent in Espanol, and Jonathan starts conversing with the guy.

Here's where it gets GOOD: This man was apparently watering someone elses garden (fooling around with another man's wife, for those of you not from Texas), and got caught. He was running for cover, or so he says?
He appears nervous and afraid. Jonathan tells him it's ok, and he's safe here. Yeah, you got that right:Jonathan and Scott are actually COMFORTING THIS MAN (holding the knife). They invite him into the church, and he declines. Jonathan took it one step further and WITNESSED TO THIS MAN, telling him, although this may not be the best timing, YOU NEED JESUS!! He invited him to our church anytime and tells him we'll be praying for him!

How awesome is that???
Two wimps-for-Christ go toe-to-toe with bad guy... yeah, they guy who probably (according to the Cleburne Police I spoke with today, who run that area), really wasn't hiding FROM anyone at all. He was probably going to jump me, or Scott, had Scott only not been as big and imposing as he naturally is. He probably made that story up, because, well, don't bring a knife to a gun-fight is the kind of situation he was in. Not literally of course, but you can see pic's of Scott on my profile.... you can put 2+2 together.

So, OUR GOD IS SO GOOD! He gave Brother Howard the message, He gave us ALL a prick in the heart, and He made sure Scott went to the truck and not me. (That would have been a whole 'nuther story). AND- He gave Jonathan the words to speak, the courage to speak it, and the compassion to not react in fear or hate!

I've heard stories like this my whole Menno-life (the past 20 years), of people cooking a meal for someone who was robbing them, and the like. I usually internally rolled my eyes, because I didn't think that was realistic. Well, I'm rethinking all that. God willing, anything is possible.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Jesus Police

I think we all know them, or know of them, or maybe, just perhaps, have BEEN one of them? Yes, you know of whom I'm speaking: "The Jesus Police".

We all have that well-meaning neighbor, cashier, waitress, co-worker, or spouse who is just chomping at the bit to get us on board with their kind of Christianity. They see the world as black and white. You are either with us, or against us. They police your life as if it was their business. They mostly hide on social media, or behind it. They pick apart what you say, or admit to, and hammer it to bits with scripture to support their attack. Never mind, that whatever the topic is, it's not really a hindrance to you. The TRUTH IS; it has been a hindrance to THEM. This is called: Spiritual Projecting, and it's how some people try to prove to God they are repentant, by calling out anyone they see as being in what they perceive as "harms way". They are trying like the dickens to bring Jesus to your door, and bring Him at their speed.

If you don't: "Worship on the right day, take communion every weak, day or month, adhere to a certain dress code, raise your hands in worship, keep your hands down, and follow the liturgy, free yourself completely, get married in a temple, get married by a preacher, get married by the laws of the land, confess your sins, accept complete grace, give 10 %, give a check for a thousand dollars, (Because God revealed to someone that you should), go to church every Sunday, go to church every other Sunday, go to church on Saturday, take communion with real wine, drink real wine, or distill your own shine, (for personal consumption or medicinal use of course), they will literally take you to take on little issues.

Now, these folks, The Jesus Police, they believe in God, every bit as much as you do. They are GOOD PEOPLE who are typically rather zealous about their beliefs. There is no doubt that they believe that being your personal HOLY SPIRIT is their job, although I do not believe they think of it in those terms. You see, they think they are *SAVING YOU*.from whatever it is that they believe you are doing wrong. They believe that they are simply bringing your shortcomings or oversights into focus, so that YOU may live a better Christian life, and walk a better walk.

Here's the problem: They are not THE HOLY SPIRIT.
I doubt very seriously that they are even consulting God, or asking Him to move in us, in whatever detail of life that they think we are failing in? Nope! The Jesus Police are just whipping out their ticket pad and letting you know you've committed some infraction. They base their "authority" on their own close walk with Christ. Yep, they are just trying to help you.
Usually, it's something that doesn't tempt you in the least, but rather one that the Sargent Fingerpointer believes he has mastered himself. Or maybe Sister Soinso, has a rather murky past, and she recognizes her own weakness, so she projects it on you.

There are a lot of subjects that I can use as an example, but for grins, I've picked two that represent the choices of two Christians and how an twisted sort of "pride" can lead one Christian to attack another:

1) Alcohol
2) Professions


I once knew a man who was a member of many social media groups. He seemed to be older and wiser. He became a "Father figure" on these religious groups, and rather adopted many people as family. He was a good man, no doubt about it.

However, he had his own past. A past that was sullied with the memories of when he left his church family as a young man, and began hanging out in bars. The story isn't unique. It's one that haunts many Christians today, if Satan has his way? And apparently, this man in his older years took it upon himself to "police" the younger people on these social media groups and watch for any mention of alcohol. Alcohol was his weakness, and was what ruined years of his life.
And he did this in his mind, as Christ would have him do, which in most cases, would be a good thing, since it's true that we all need others to kind of nudge us, encourage us, and keep us stepping in the right direction, right? ......................

Here's where it gets interesting and personal. Over time, me and this group became Internet friends. Some of these people I've met since then in real life, and others I've had phone conversations with. We've put effort into this group, and into encouraging each other. As you get to know each other you become more personal. We would greet each other daily and sometimes list what we were going to do that day. We would list things like: Milk the goats, or bake a cake.
Well, baking a cake became my undoing. You see; I wrote, in "print" that I was going to bake a rum cake. Yes, a RUM CAKE.

Do you know that this man made it his JOB from that day forward to "police" my posts? He very openly denounced my said cake as being "from the devil". No matter that after his nasty-gram, I promised, if it unnerved him that much, on a Yahoogroup, living in the Midwest, probably more than 1200 miles away, that I would use RUM FLAVORING, and not REAL RUM, regardless of how much would burn off in that 350 degree oven, for 55 minutes,..  He still saw me "dabbling with sin"???

So on went his badge, and as Jesus as his Lieutenant, he went about policing my every post. It wasn't just about alcohol, but the point is; I don't have a problem with alcohol. I certainly respect that he did, but the mere flavoring of rum, (which is sold in Lifesavers Candy) should not be enough to elicit an attack openly on a forum, in the event that I may, at some point in time become too fond of the rum cake, and take to just drinking rum like a pirate, this would justify his need to cross personal boundaries, and do so publicly.

Now, if you were raised in the church, you certainly know about Matthew 18, and I would think he did too? More later on that...

So, this man removed himself eventually from our group (more than once), and started his own little groups that were "like-minded". On our group, he seemed to pick apart me especially, but others too. Mostly on issues like alcohol, or country music. Both seemed to provoke a part of his past to come to the forefront and he would go off like a time-bomb, both predictably and accurately if someone were to even hint at anything that didn't measure up to his perspective of Godliness, which included: Only hymns, (no Christian music), plain dress, veils, not kapps,no Internet (which he claimed he only had e-mail access) and anything popular at all. He was on many groups and spent a good deal of time telling other people how to dress, what to read, what to listen to, and who to associate with, and trust me, I wasn't on the list.

So the question became- Is he wrong to judge my rum cake? Yes, I believe he was. He was impulsive, and probably didn't react based on concerns for me, because he didn't really take the time to KNOW ME. If he did, he would have known I do not care for alcohol much, and use wine and rum in cooking 100 times over drinking. Even when I explained this to him, he became fierce about his stance, and would refer to his own misjudgements in life, speculating that I too would somehow find my way to the honky-tonk and be a slave to rum, neon lights, and Lefty Frizzell.

What he didn't know was- I've already done that. I have a similar story. But I never became an alcoholic... strong drink and hangovers just don't appeal to me. So instead of making this my "point of judgement", as a Christian, I just kept my past to myself, and reserved the mention of hard drinking to someone in a *PRIVATE MOMENT*, not on a public forum. This is where Matthew 18 comes into play:

Matthew 18:15-20New International Version (NIV)

15 “If your brother or sister[a] sins,[b] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[c] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

To me, it was obvious that this kind, elderly, father figure was genuinely concerned, but he also had a kind of backwards pride that made him feel justified as The Jesus Police?

The first question is: IS THIS A SIN??? Doesn't a real life Police Officer have to determine whether a crime has been committed? Of course they do. And they don't make the rules, they just enforce them. So what made this man break out the night stick on Kelly??

You see, for him,alcohol might have truly been a sin, where he to indulge?
 Maybe this man spent his life in constant remorse, rather than relying on grace? It's obvious he took issue with even the thought of alcohol. He had even suggested it wrong to be in mouthwash or used in herbal medicine. I mean, this man REALLY stood his ground on the subject!

So that tells me a lot about him. Not me. It's neither here nor there because it's no great temptation. And the bible says a lot about drunks, but it's clear that a little "for the stomach", (1 Timothy) is fine.
In my mind, God is saying; "Don't abuse this!"... In this mans mind God was saying:"This will ruin you and you'll go to hell!" You have to be real with yourself to have an accurate reading of your own guilt in this situation. If you can't stop at one or two, or it's something you literally crave regularly and can't do without, you probably are dabbling in something that could hurt you. Otherwise, if your wired like I am, your not. But I doubt this man cared about saving my soul. I think he cared more about being right? I think he felt like he was winning his own salvation by doing this sort of thing. By pointing out a potential sin and policing my life? Neither were really necessary.

Next: Professions

I had my children early in life. I was rather the "Loretta Lynn" of my family. I was married at 17, not because I had to, but because I wanted out on my own. I was bitter over my biological parents divorce, and it was a springboard into rebellion.

I threatened my mother that I would run away to get married in Oklahoma if she didn't agree to let me marry... I know she didn't want to and in hindsight I kick myself for tormenting her. But so much was changing so fast for me... at least it seemed? I was ready to run around and not be told what to do. So she agreed, and signed, AND drove me to the courthouse. She asked me if there was anyway she could talk me out of this? No,.. I was determined. For what, I still don't know?

I literally was sitting in Social Studies with a ring on my finger, in our rural southern town, with two other girls in my class who were also married and living on their own and still attending class. By the time I was 21, I had all my children, could have no more. (That's another story). My parents said to me that they were "too young" to be Grandparents, and although I was unaware that you could pick or choose that status, they really only had my kids on occasions, and kind of dropped out of our lives over time.

I knew by my own rebellion, that I'd have a hard row to hoe by myself. I had made hard choices for certain, and my parents were busy with their careers, and too full of themselves at that age to care much for us. I know I created that rebellion early in my teens, but you know, rebellious teenagers don't get that way all by themselves...

But I have always been a worker, and never minding holding down more than one job. I worked all the time. Now, people love to poke fun at me for having too many jobs! It's a running joke in our house. But I have done everything from build mobile homes, telemarketing, to making donuts, and driving a rural route for the U.S. Postal Service. I've been a waitress at about 25 different restaurants.
I just never was happy with any of my professions for long. Until I learned accounting. A friend helped me get a job in Accounts Receivable, which is just a fancy title for: Business-to-Business Collections. If a business has service to lease out, like "The Yellow Pages", then they have customers who finance. It was fun, and easy work for me, because I'm a talker. I can talk the money right out of your wallet and into the checking account that it belongs in, and make you feel good about doing it.
It was a win-win for me and the companies I worked for! I could do the job, and not loose the customer. That was key.

But a lot of Christians, were not happy about me working full time. They cited the "Keepers of the Home" scripture, which again, I will say this; You need to know me before you start judging me.

"The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed" (Tit. 2: 3-5).

This scripture is quoted in a way that suggests women shouldn't work if you read it just right. And at the time the scripture was written, there was so much dad-gum work to be done in a house, a wife didn't have TIME TO WORK!

The way I read this, (keeping in mind that I was not raised being aware of this verse), is: "Older women, be role models, be good, not drunks, or gossips, and teach the younger women."


t reads to me as: "Keep your priorities rights. Make your home your haven. Be obedient and love your husband and children. Live a Christ-like life before all."

Apparently there is no mercy for anyone who has raised her children and wants a career outside the home, regardless of how easily she keeps her home while she works? I mean, for heaven-sake, I have an electric dish washer! An electric mop, an electric vacuum, and a self-cleaning oven! WHAT IS IT I'M SUPPOSED TO BE DOING??? I totally understand being a Stay-At-Home Mother, and I'm not suggesting anything to the contrary. I'm speaking of the empty-nester? What's the difference in a woman with an empty nest and a young women without children? Add this to the mix: My husband travels. A LOT!

So, 100 years ago, there were ashes to be taken out of the stove, wood to chop, and a stove to blacken after I'd cleaned it out.
Did I mention that I just fling my clothes in a white box and push a button and I'll be hanged if they don't all come out clean in 15 minutes?? No wandering down by the river and heating up a washpot over a wood burning fire...
Listen ya'll- I don't even iron! Nope! Dollar General sells a bottle of wrinkle remover for $1.50. If you don't have any, you need to go get you some. It's a lifesaver!

So back to the argument. You see, I believe in being a Titus 2 Woman. I believe my home is my first concern, after God and family. But I can clean that dickens out of that house on Saturday, do my wash as I go during the week and still have time to work if my husband wants me to! And that's what it boils down to, IF your truly measuring your goodness by the God-Stick and not trying to be the Jesus Police to others! Are you?

There is a big difference in raising a child to be a stay at home mom, and converting a mid-lifer into your ideal. Remember, HE IS GOD and has more than one formula...

Read on:

I had been working a few years when once again, on social media, I was attacked for not being a STAY AT HOME KEEPER OF THE HOME!
Well, I tried to reason with them: "I had my children young, and now they are grown."... I'm 40 years old, and my husband has asked me to help, so that we can pay off all our debt (check your own scripture) and get a little bit stashed in savings?

OH NO.. that shouldn't happen! Just why is it that I think I can't have more babies, which seems to be the glue that holds this whole argument together, since you will surely see Amish women cleaning houses (because they are single) or running a business, if all their family is together. Babies it seems, is what I need to focus on, and the Jesus Police in this situation was not only a Keeper-At-Home, but also a Quiverfull believer also. Now, neither one bother me one bit. But I can't be a Keeper-At-Home if there's nothing to keep! This did not detour this Sister one bit. She actually sent me a link to . This is a ministry for women who have had tubal ligation's, and want them reversed. I post this with love for the ministry and I've shared it many times to others. But...

Did you stop to think that throwing this thought into mine and my husbands lap may not be a good idea? No, you didn't. You stood there defending your badge, and your place as The Jesus Police, making sure everyone you come in contact with knows what the rules are? Your not going to support a women who is obeying her husband, let alone take time out to pray for her husband it it's all that important to you?? And your going to hinder our ability to get out of debt? You think it's "one size fits all"? That makes no sense to me. How do we practice outreach to those who aren't, or never have been in the church??? With a cookie-cutter mentality?

Yes I am  well aware that some people have babies into their late 40's and some miracle children are born over 50. But you know what??? This Christianity business, especially the ultra-conservative quiverfull theology was as new as the light of day to me! I mean, I had just gotten my husband accustomed to me covering my head for church and donning long denim jumpers everyday. You mean there's more I have to do to please God?? AND IT'S YOUR JOB TO POINT THAT OUT???
All because you were lead by the Holy Spirit to do this? Really?

No Mam. It's not your place. It's the Holy Spirits job to lead me and lead me alone.  You see, we didn't start the journey together, nor at exact times. You had different influences, and I rather admire you for that. Even more so, I kind of envy you, because you didn't have to figure out your place in life after you've made all the bad decisions.I certainly appreciate you helping me to understand what you believe, and I don't think it's wrong at all! I think it's beautiful. But it's too late for me. And no matter how hard you assert yourself, and your homestead-driven life and ideals, I'm still right where God met me. And I'm still in the palm of His hand. And it's the same place He has you in too! We will both be fine, but reserve your judgement and proclamations for yourself, because your not my Holy Spirit. You can't take a verse of scripture and make it a cookie cutter for Christians because some of these Christians weren't made of the same Cookie Dough as you. You know how you lay down your dough and roll it out? That's God.
Then you pick up the pieces of the cookies and bake them? That's God!
Lastly, you pick up the leftover, looked-over dough and roll it into unique little shapes that don't match all the others. THAT'S DEFINITELY GOD! He uses all his cookie dough and doesn't waste a bit. And we all come out fine.

So, in sharing these "for instances", I hope that you, the reader grasp that we aren't each others Holy Spirit, and chastising others, should come forth prayerfully, not eagerly. At the very least, I hope you get a bead on the next person posing as the Jesus Police and pray for them as hard as they try to save you? Be cautious that your exuberance for Christ, and your own past life, are not projected and heaped onto your brothers and sisters in Christ, but are cautiously shared with people privately, as you literally feel The Holy Spirit move in you? That is Christ-Alive. That is when we are at our humble best. Take time to get to know people intimately and let God work in your relationships over time. If, after you truly know someone, and you see something that is hindering them spiritually, go to them in earnest, alone, without an audience, and simply address your concerns, but OWN those concerns. Ask God FIRST, if this person is truly in sin, or are they in a place where God is busy working at His own time?

I guarantee two things;

1) If you rush in, you'll rush out, and you will do more damage than good.

2) If you pray hard about pointing out another sin, and your SURE it's sin, there is a biblical remedy for it in Matthew 18. Take that stance, and follow those rules. It's not just about the sinner, it's about those who are "ASSUMING" too. It's a spiritual equation that allows everyone to think long and hard about the situation BEFORE acting. If you want to be part of the family of Christ, take off your badge, and lay down your uniform and stand naked before God. Then, decide if you need to address the behaviour of others?

Blessings and Peace Out,