29 August 2010

28 August 2010

Invest in Vests for Life

I have told you all before that I am retired from working in public safety/law enforcement. I had it easy. I didn't have to strap on a gun and go deal with the public. That doesn't mean I don't know how dangerous the job is, on the contrary, my training was to help keep officers safe by dispatching them the resources they needed to do the job.

Old habits die hard. I am writing this to try and help provide some essential resources to law enforcement men and women across the United States. A ministry that I have recently become aware of for their counseling resources, 10-4 Ministries, also have a project they call the "Armor of God." In it they take used ballistic vests that are donated to them and they donate them to law enforcement personnel that do not have them. You can find more information at Vests for Life.

Listen, I know my friends from law enforcement/public safety aren't all Christians. I wont pretend I wouldn't like to proselytize you all. This isn't about that. It's about knowing you all have connections to folks who have used vests if you don't have one or two hanging out in your closets and lockers now. It's about knowing that my readers have connections to people who work in public/safety and law enforcement. The folks at 10-4 are doing a great thing here. I want to help them and help the folks doing the hard work without the proper protection. So send them your old vest or lobby your department to send theirs.

27 August 2010

Review Part One of Voices of the True Woman Movement A Call to the Counter-Revolution

As I sit here preparing to review Nancy Leigh DeMoss' "Voices of the True Woman Movement A Call to Counter-Revolution" I am realizing just what a radical change having a biblical perspective makes in your life. As a new Christian, I would have thrown this book in the trash before bothering to read it. Thankfully I have matured in my faith and wisdom. I no longer dismiss books or people because I assume (even rightly so) that I disagree with their position. I have to wonder what my various groups of friends must think of me now as they read this. Those friends who knew me in high school, those who knew me as a wild young adult, those who knew me in my career at the sheriff's office and/or at the fire department, those are all folks who knew me a feminist and liberal. Truthfully, I have a hard time believing I am a conservative let alone that I am reading books like this one and agreeing with the premise.

Becoming a woman of faith is easy if you don't feel you have to conform to any standard but your own. Frankly it was relatively easy to give up the wild living as I got older and I could see the wisdom of forsaking some of my favorite sins. God doesn't call us to live by our own standards. He calls us to live by His. That's the crisis you come to in your profession of faith where you are either in or you're out. Either you are going to live out your faith and adhere to God's standards or you are going to be like everyone else and do what's right in your own eyes. At this point things become real and you have to be honest. My spiritual journey may have started as an emotional response but God gave me a brain and desire to think critically. Contrary to what some who disagree with me may think, I have not checked my brain at the door.

One of the aspects of being a woman of faith that has vexed me the most is embracing the biblical standards for women. My problem has been a visceral one. I have always equated 'biblical womanhood' with being something 'less than' a man. Let's be honest here too, a lot of men claiming Christ would like women to believe they are less than men. The propensity to sin in leadership or headship doesn't disappear at salvation any more than my rebellion at being a biblical woman faded the moment I was saved. In college I focused on Biblical Studies, History and Psychology. From studying history I would have to compare my reaction to biblical womanhood with the reaction black men must have had upon learning they were only 3/5ths human. I seethed with anger, bitterness and resentment at the idea that I was any less capable than a man. I finally realized that I needed to understand more about the position than the fact that it disgusted me. I began to study. Eventually I studied the egalitarian and complementarian positions held by Christians, I wanted desperately to end up in the egalitarian camp. I could not. After studying I had to admit I was a reluctant complementarian. I could see it was the logical and biblically correct position but I still didn't like it.

Voices of the True Woman Movement has several contributors. John Piper and Nancy Leigh DeMoss are responsible for Part One: Foundations of True Womanhood. John Piper grabbed my attention immediately by spelling out his assumption that "wimpy theology makes wimpy women." I love theology and I abhor wimps. I counsel people using theology. As my friend James White says over and over again, theology matters. It does and I will not be a wimpy woman or theologian. Piper goes on to lay out his argument that "wimpy theology does not give a woman a God that is big enough." I like that Piper addresses both married and single women as equally valuable. I only wish he had elaborated on how women having different roles (than men) does not mean women are somehow less than men. In fairness though he has done so in another work available here.

In the second chapter that makes up Part One, DeMoss writes about the trustworthiness of God and His wisdom in created order. She points out that God knows us. He knows our challenges and our situations. Understanding His sovereignty will remove any fear or malcontent. She describes embracing true womanhood as resulting in "a God-centered life and perspective, a God-centered world view, eternally tethered to who God is and his sovereign inscrutable ways." She does a good job of going through Romans 11:33-36 and tying it to true womanhood.

Part One is an easy read offering a lot of food for thought. If you are a woman like me, one who doesn't fit the perfect Christian woman mold and struggles with this issue all of your answers may not be found in the first two chapters. However, the book has three parts and seven more chapters though and I will be review Part Two next.

26 August 2010

Making Hope a Safe Haven

Recently I had the privilege of giving some seminars to the women in our community bible study. The topics were the biblical concepts of fear, hope and peace. Of the three, hope is the one I dreaded giving the most. Hope had been something I despised.

Our God is a very clever and economical God, it's the natural outcome of His sovereignty. When I met with the leaders of the bible study, I was the one that suggested hope as a topic. I could scarcely believe that the idea came from flying from my lips because I was really repelled by it. Of course, it was exactly the topic I needed to study and one of the top areas of my life that needed repentance and reformation.

My friend Carla Rolfe had helped me by making some gorgeous PowerPoint slides to go along with my presentation. Carla is extremely creative and you should really check out her stuff. Well, you know the old saying; "No good deed goes unpunished." As Carla's reward for helping me I let her listen to the recordings of the seminars. I wouldn't have subjected her them if my pastor hadn't approved them first. Carla has suggested that I make them available for other women here on my blog.

I am going to be honest and tell you I do this with great fear and trepidation, not because I fear what you will think of my delivery or speaking abilities but because when you tread in matters of the soul, you tread on holy ground. Selfishly, I like to have life on life contact with the woman I teach because I always learn more from them than they learn from me. That said, I trust my pastor and I trust Carla. Here is a link to my seminar on hope. My prayer is that if you struggle with hoping like I used to, you will find that biblical hope is a safe haven to rest your heart.

Psalm 31:24
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.

19 August 2010

Reinvesting Pain

I used to think that God had singled me out to go through every crisis known to mankind so I could fulfill what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians about comforting others with the comfort that we have received. How else could I know what it was they were going through unless I too had been in their situation? When you're full of yourself and bad theology, it's easy to think those sorts of idiotic things. It is also easy to think that you are receiving more than your fair share of hardships whether or not your theology has improved and even though you realize that you are not the center of God's universe. When you're the one that hurts, when your pain is the focus it's easy to lose perspective in large increments. That's when bitterness and/or resentment sets in and takes hold. Bitterness is like a creeping vine that takes root in the cracks between God's truth and your lost perspective.

I have been guilty of being focused on my pain of late both physical and emotional. Not focused in that I enjoy it or feel unfairly treated, but focusing on how tired I am. Tired of fighting to keep the right perspective, tired of jumping through bureaucratic hoops, tired of being in pain, tired of being sick, and tired of making adjustments in my life to accommodate my failing body. That we all are self-focused and self-absorbed is not an acceptable reason to be content in sin. While chronic pain and all that comes with it understandably gets on your last nerve, it is not an excuse to forget all you have in Christ. In fact, it is all the more reason to take inventory of the blessings we have in Christ and to look back on all the ways God has been faithful.

Recently, I had the benefit of hearing a wonderful sermon that focused on what our responsibility is to the next generation. The sermon (one I highly recommend you listen to) is one that has given me cause to re-evaluate myself. It has made me see that there are incongruities between my belief and my behavior. However, just as God does not leave us without hope in our sinfulness, Pastor Todd didn't leave me without a remedy for my spiritual discomfort. Todd wielded the Sword of the Word correctly, providing conviction and encouragement. Like a scalpel in the hands of God, the truth exposes and excises sin. Truth replaces infection with hope. Hope that rights our perspective. Hope that does not disappoint. Hope in Christ that seals the cracks and kills the root of bitterness and malcontentment.

Sometimes God provides multiple venues to make certain I fully understand what He is reminding me of or teaching me. I shouldn't have been surprised that a young man I had the great fortune to know through my work in Student Development at a Christian University had this to say to me as we were catching up on each other's lives:

"As long as I've known you, your experiences have included extremes in knowing suffering and knowing God's grace, and I think I'm learning that there's an element of depth to God's grace that can only be known experientially through suffering, and most people either flee their circumstances before they benefit from them, or they're too preoccupied to benefit. I don't hold you out as someone who enjoys suffering, but you've always been someone in my mind that God has set aside for a special fellowship and understanding of Him in a way that is beyond the books. And while I don't wish this upon myself, perhaps I'll eat from the crumbs and ask that He give me the perspective more and more that this life including its suffering is worth living because it does indeed mean our joy and His glory, and that there will never be regrets over obedience and suffering when we’re standing in His presence, even if it means living with our sinful selves and others for a lifetime, our bodies and this world fading away as they are."

He is right. This is the only place and the only time we get to learn by suffering. Our suffering is meant to draw us closer to Him. It is the vehicle in which we travel to spiritual maturity, offering views that some folks never get to see. I can say with assurance to anyone who is suffering that you will find comfort in Him, not because I have been through exactly what you have been through but because I have known great pain and unusual circumstances and He has always brought me comfort. He has seen that pastors preached the truth to me, that friends unknowingly say the right words to me and that any number of seeming coincidences are His providence in my life. He has shown me time and again that He knows me and my tendencies to wander and bemoan my circumstances. Gently and with great patience He mercies me back to obedience and with that obedience comes peace and joy. He has also shown me that how I respond to my suffering is my legacy. I will never have money or things of value to leave my family and friends but I am willing to make my suffering and pain coupled with His comfort be my investment in their futures. I know that He is the God of all Comfort. That's a rich legacy live and leave to others.

For now I will leave you with this from Thomas Boston. "The tormenting passions in which the corruption of nature vents itself, for sin, in its own nature is misery. We need but go in the paths of sin to make us miserable and in the high road of duty to make us happy. We shall consider the tormenting passion of discontent with our own estate or condition. This is plainly forbidden here. For discontentment is presupposed to coveting, and there could be no coveting of what we want without discontentment in what we have...."

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
3 Blessed {be} the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort;
4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

11 August 2010

Steven Slater is No Hero

Yesterday and this morning I watched the news, something that always leaves me a little crazy because I have higher standards for professional journalism than most journalists do, and my standards aren't that high.... but never mind that... there I was watching Steven Slater being made into some sort of folk hero or champion of flyers everywhere....and for the life of me I can't figure out why. Read for yourself, here, here and here. You can use your favorite search engine or check out his supporters on Face Book.

It seems Mr. Slater has been a flight steward for many years and, having started the flight on the wrong foot with this particular passenger, had his last nerve stepped on when the passenger unbuckled, unseated and tried to retrieve items in the overhead compartments before the jet had finished its taxi to the gate. After being cussed out and having his head hit, Mr. Slater decided he'd had enough. He grabbed a few beers from the galley, spewed some venom at the ill mannered passenger over the PA system, pulled the emergency chute and ran off (like a petulant, naughty child).

Great. This is exactly the type of professional I hope to encounter when defying gravity in a large hollow metal tube.... don't you? In fact, I think it would be lovely if professionals of all kinds had emergency chutes to employ. Or if we all just look the other way when they have temper tantrums and don't want to do their jobs..... because we've all felt like doing it right?

Let's start with calling the fire department out at 3:00am to come to your house to pick Grandpa off the floor when he falls out of bed. Having been a volunteer firefighter, I know that's not always convenient to get out of my warm cozy bed in the middle of the night to go deal with someone else's problems. So firefighters, why not just stomp your foot and refuse to do your job? We'll make a Face Book page for you and tell you how wonderful you are..... who cares about Grandpa anyway? He's old, he's been to Europe... he's got nothing to complain about and he'll still be there in morning after you've had a good sleep.

How about bus drivers? Next time someone hurls a few expletives at you, stop the bus where ever you may be, take your lunch pail, give your passengers a single finger salute and go catch a cab back home. We'll all forget that among the one mouthy passenger there were some ordinary folks just trying to get to work or to school... or to go pick up Grandpa from the floor because our hero at the fire department refused. We'll sing songs in your honor.

Yes, I am employing sarcasm.... and yes I recently posted in Face Book :"Hostility and sarcasm reflect a certain insecurity that is not warranted when one is really under the sway of truth."
I don't know what to say except... I couldn't help myself... I read the stories.... pulled my emergency chute and all this sarcasm came spilling out.

Here's what I really think. I think Steve Slater behaved abominably. I think people who laud this type of behavior aren't able to think through the ramifications of trusting your safety to someone who appears to be either this selfish, unstable, and/or incompetent.

Dealing with the public is difficult, no doubt about it. We all have buttons that get pushed when people behave rudely or dismiss us when we are right. While Slater's actions may in fact get him 15 minutes of fame, they should also get him on the list of unruly passengers. Last thing I want is to fly with someone as a steward or passenger that is capable of such behavior.

03 August 2010

Detoxing Souls

The passionate intensity of cheap grace is seductively attractive to a weary, plodding soul. Like a blast of adrenaline to a dying heart, it infuses energy. Energy that is mistaken for life. The problem is a deadly one. Our hearts don't need to be kick-started by motivational speakers and charlatans hawking holy snake oil falsely labeled 'the gospel'. What we, all of us are in dire need of is a heart transplant. A heart of stone must be removed and replaced with a heart of flesh. God is the only surgeon capable of undertaking the procedure and the gospel of Christ is the only tool He uses to bypass the death our sins have earned us.

I believe one largest mission fields we have is assembled every Sunday morning. In fact, it assembles itself in church pews where cheap grace is spewed with wild abandon. Like sheep led to their slaughter the potential harvest comes in to partake of entertainment packages custom made to hold their attention. They watch the spectacle... waiting for their cues to laugh, sing, cry and nod their heads in agreement. Their fellowship is a critique of the show over coffee. Not how it will impact their lives but did it make them feel good for the time they were there? Did it captivate them? Did it recharge their stone cold hearts? Were they able to believe that all was well? Did they avoid feeling guilty? They build their lives on fluff and nonsense. They starve their souls and pretend they are not hungry for the milk and meat of God's Word. They are fragile and break easily under the weight of life's day to day troubles.

How do we compete? How do we snatch them from the enemy's hand? How do we make them see their need for the true gospel? We don't. Our God has no grandchildren. Souls are not won for Christ by anything within our means. Souls are won to Christ because they are drawn by the Father. Ours is to proclaim the gospel -unedited- as my friend James says. We are simply the tools of His hand; the results belong to Him. Sometimes I fear we worry more about strategies for foiling the enemy than we worry about understanding and being able to articulate the Gospel.

Cotton candy fluff is not where I want to place my anchor, nor do I want to be guilty of spreading a cheap grace gospel in order to make people feel good or add convert notches to my belt. I do not want to take the easy way out and avoid the ridicule that comes from telling people the truth they don't want to hear. Unbelievers are hostile to the truth. I know they want cheap grace, they are addicted to it. Their cravings drive them to hate the truth. Only Christ can detox their souls. May He provide me the courage to tell anyone who will listen to me of His Gospel.

Acts 4:11-12
11 "He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, {but} which became the very corner {stone.}
12 "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."

1 Corinthians 15:3-4
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

1 Peter 2:24-25
24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Ephesians 1:7
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace,

I John 2:2
2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for {those of} the whole world.

Ephesians 5:2
2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

02 August 2010

Sprinting on the Highway to Hell or Stairway to Heaven

Here's the thing.... I am sick of the Caner scandal and absolutely done with reading the likes of Peter Lumpkins and his band of inimical associates. I will continue to pray for Dr. Caner's repentance and leave it at that. I am no longer the slightest bit interested in anything but their repentance. (I include Lumpkins and his band of inimical associates and anyone else enjoying this sad state of affairs within God's church.)

I am praying for the 'Dearborn Four' though in my opinion of that situation I am conflicted. I am OK with having conflicting thoughts and opinions, God knows every minute detail and the outcome is in His hands. It's His justice I pray for, if that matches the US Constitution, that's incidental.

So, what else can I possible write about? About a million other things come to mind, but the chances of anyone reading this unless I tag the post with something scintillating like, Liberty University, Dr. Ergun Caner or Lumpkins I don't imagine it will be read. You see we Christians love controversy and gossip as much as the heathens do... we just sprinkle it with prayer and call it good.

I had a great conversation with a young woman who attended the seminars I was blessed to teach on the biblical concepts of fear, hope and peace. She reminded me why theology matters; because when I believed in a gospel of cheap grace I had a domesticated god in my back pocket and certainly not the sovereign God of the universe. (See pastor, I listened so well I have stolen one of your lines.) Buffeted by the wind and every swing of my emotions, I had no safe place to put my hope.

I think she was a bit surprised that I shared some not so nice things about myself. I guess at 50 something I am all done with pretending to be something I am not. The worst things about me aren't the dope I smoked in high school or all of that wild living that came with growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the hippie, free love heyday of hedonism. No the worst things about me are the hideous sins I commit as a professing believer. By the world's standards, those were sins were/are my most grievous. I know exactly who I am and how easily I will walk away from Him. Prone to wander? Not me. I am prone to sprint off the path of righteousness like an Olympic athlete.

The object of being transparent isn't to regale in the sinfulness of my heart. I take no perverse pride in my sins. The point of ever bringing it up is to rejoice in His grace and mercy and to encourage my sisters to fight the good fight. Our sinful pride works against us in so many ways we even want to believe that we are worst of sinners. Nobody but a perfect and merciful God would have a thing to do with us if they knew who we really were........... and then condemnation settles in to our souls. The enemy robs us of the peace that is ours in Christ. Rather than speak up and address the trouble by asking for counsel, ...we smile and pretend it is not there.....letting our pride fan the spark of doubt until we indulge our sins because of unbelief and/or no accountability. It's good to be in a church where you can be transparent with your sins and no one will tell you that it's OK and let you stay there in their filth and aftermath. It's good to be in fellowship with folks who want the truth enough to be truly vulnerable with one another.

James 5:16
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.