Archive for the Rant Category

Being counter-cultural

This may end up being a continuation of yesterday’s post though not in any specific manner. By that I mean I am not publicly elaborating on the incident. Or well, at least not until James and Lee talk to a couple of other folks and get to the bottom of what led up to Saturday’s incident. And to set the stage for where I am coming from on all this, let me give you some info on my background for those who don’t know. I grew up in very conservative Missionary Baptist churches who considered Southern Baptist too liberal, but not so strict as Independent Fundamental Baptists. My dad was a deacon, and both of my parents were very active in the local church with my dad generally also being active in the local association. Essentially, I fall under the category of “preacher’s kid.” I often say I’ve been a Baptist 12 years longer than I’ve been a believer even though I no longer belong to a Baptist church.

I walked away from the church when I was 19, and it took nearly 20 years for me to return. When I came back, everything changed. I wanted to read my bible. I wanted to study it. I wanted to pray, and have learned through the reading and studying and my less than eloquent prayer that praying isn’t about asking for what I want that I think will make me happy. I was the prodigal son for those 20 years away. But I was also still in the mindset I had grown up in which amounted to the prodigal’s older brother. And I fed that with talk radio and reading certain pastors and Christian writers. But I just couldn’t keep it down. It kept me hungry all the time because somehow I knew I wasn’t really growing, and was instead stressing on things that weren’t mine to stress on. This is also why I don’t blog about politics anymore. I was feeling too militant.

Now with that out of the way, maybe I can remember what I was going to write about. ;) Using “counter-cultural” is usually used by Christians to other Christians to live differently than the world because we should not look and/or sound like non-believers. We are to be salt and light among the world to point to world to Jesus. And so we have our own culture, but if we aren’t careful we make our own culture a little-g god of its own. We forget that our holiness comes from the finished work of Jesus Christ alone and start acting like we are able to behave good enough to be worthy of grace. Once we do that, then we ourselves become the judge and determine who is worthy to belong among us by imposing a “conservative” set of rules that are meant to show 1) that we ourselves are spiritually mature and 2) to impose a faux spiritual maturity on spiritual babies who will either learn how to pretend or will eventually go away because they are made to feel so uncomfortable by being unable to live up to those who have deemed themselves spiritually mature enough to be the judge.

This is how many churches end up bearing more of a resemblance to a country club than a gathering of followers of Jesus. Instead of reaching out and embracing the lost, we end up reaching out to fill our pews with people who either already look and act like us or who are willing to pretend in order to fit into the church culture. Instead of making disciples, we are making cliques. Then when someone dares to buck against the church culture we unbiblically run them off (often in secret or known only among our little gossip cliques), or when someone gets fed up and leaves on their own (whether because of the gossip and backbiting/slander or not), they are shunned and treated as enemies. And then we wonder why our churches are in decline and/or outright dying and why we aren’t growing. It really isn’t rocket science.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:19-23, ESV)

There is quite a contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Country-clubbing your church isn’t fruit of the Spirit. Constantly telling the single mother that she is living in sin and then gossiping about her is not a fruit of the Spirit. Having an angry outburst at a former member who has been picking up food for your food bank every other Wednesday for the last 5 years even AFTER leaving your church because he dared to pick up a bag of food for his son is not displaying the fruit of the Spirit. This is why we need people in the church being counter culture to the church culture so that the church can be salt and light instead of just another one of the world’s exclusive clubs that treats the Word of God as merely a rulebook.

Full speed ahead

I had big plans and topics for this week. But things aren’t working out like I had planned. I’m in class for a couple of weeks so my mind is more occupied than normal with that. Last night was my scheduled counseling, so it was already late when I got home, and eating and going to bed were about all that happened. Tonight I plan to go to Al-Anon, but that’s going to depend upon how I feel when I get home. Plus, I have a basket full of laundry from Saturday that needs to be put away which also means I have some pants and tops that need to either be thrown back in the dryer or actually ironed.

Now, I have a post sitting in my drafts folder that kind of sums up why I don’t believe in coincidences. However, I’ve never really liked how it sounds because since it primarily involves me, I am afraid it seems self-aggrandizing. This weekend there was an incident with Lee that I won’t get into the details of because I have gossiped that enough even though I am still pretty pissed off about what happened to him. Anyway, James and I were informed of the incident that evening when we got to Lee & Rachel’s. Through the course of all of this, James and I convinced Lee & Rachel to come to church with us at Newhope church. We normally go to the afternoon service, and they were all for that. Since I played with the worship team that day, I was there for all 3 services, and therefore got to hear Pastor Nate’s sermon 3 times.

I’m going back up a little at this point because I just realized it is relevant. The incident occurred where we (both my husband and I and Lee & Rachel) used to go to church, and only involved one person there. It actually probably involves 2, but the other one is purely speculative based on information I shouldn’t know, but do because it indirectly impacted me. Anyway, I dumped part of my knowledge as I finally had the evidence of who was at the root of most of the trouble-making and connected a bunch of dots. And I was then told about another lady who also used to attend and why she finally quit going there. That crap pissed me all off too, because it’s so blatantly unbiblical, self-righteous, and downright mean and just plain evil.

So, there we all sat during the 3rd service, and Pastor Nate said, “If other churches don’t want you, we do.” That may not be the exact quote, but it’s the exact meaning. And that was the only time in all 3 services I heard him say that, which just happened to be the one service that Lee & Rachel came to…their first time there. And after what had happened the day before. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Now, for the friends I have at the old church who read my blog, I am not making a sweeping indictment of the entire church. Almost everyone there embodies how a follower of Jesus Christ should walk and conduct themselves. Also, I want to state for the record that I love each and every member of that church. But there are some destructive actions that have been made for at least 4 years that will have to be addressed sooner or later if that church is ever going to grow. And that means that someone is going to have to stand up to the bullies in truth and love.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16, ESV)

The struggle is real

For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9, ESV)

And once again, this is where I find myself. There was some tension and stress before I went on vacation, but it didn’t really seem that big. My mom has Alzheimer’s, so I spent a lot of time with her dealing with the effects of that. And I thank God for family there who are taking care of her. Then I came home to a nightmare. In no particular order, here is what has/is happening:

1. When I got back, my husband wasn’t home, wasn’t answering his phone, and the house house was trashed like he had partied like it was 1999.

2. The electricity is out in the master bedroom/bathroom. The breaker keeps tripping. I replaced the breaker (because that was cheap & easy), but the new one tripped immediately. So there is a short, and I am slowly replacing outlets and switches before blaming the ceiling fan. Because I don’t want to deal with the ceiling fan. A spider lives in it, and we have an agreement.

3. The dishwasher was not cleaning, and I pulled out a bunch of dirty dishes in the cabinet thanks to #1. Finally determined the problem was not enough water getting into the dishwasher. I checked both ends of the intake hose, and after checking the end attached to the dishwasher itself (the other end was way easier), I flooded the kitchen floor when testing. Ah, a leak in the hose! So I went through the trouble of replacing the intake hose (and pretty sure I contracted hantavirus), only to discover it was the drain hose with a huge hole that flooded the laundry room. 2nd trip to Lowes, and rather than replace the hose, I repaired it with some handy dandy emergency hose repair tape. And I had clean dishes this morning.

4. No TP. Ok, there was one roll downstairs, and 3 squares upstairs, but still. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if I hadn’t written on the white board when I left to buy toilet paper.

5. Broken windows. One is double paned and only one pane is broken, so it’s not such a huge deal. The other is a completely broken out single pane. Yeah, I don’t know how to fix window panes. The hubster did that. But I have no qualms about throwing up a piece of plywood.

6. The morning after I got home, he finally called. Suicidal & homicidal. So I picked him up and took him to the ER at Duke since he had been seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist there and I knew he would be in the system. They locked him up in the psychiatric ward (which I am sure now has a politically correct name, but I’m old skool), and next day transferred him to an acute psychiatric and substance abuse treatment center. One of the things that contributed to his breakdown was running out of his meds. Naturally he “self medicated”, and went way overboard. As he does. And he is demanding long term treatment, but nobody will accept him with a pending court date. So now he has to get with his lawyer (somehow) and get the DWI resolved. And he wasn’t answering his phone because he destroyed it.

7. He got the truck stuck, and through the course of getting it out, got it impounded. Fortunately without another DWI or wrecking it. But it cost nearly $400 anyway between the tow and storage to get it back home.

8. He drove the daughter’s scooter across town and left it behind a friend’s house. That friend took him to another friend’s house which is where I picked him up from. No I’m not naming names. Anyway, picking up the scooter was an adventure with #7 that I will eventually blog about separately. But the hubby had someone work on the scooter so now it runs even worse than it did. :rolleye:

9. He lost his wallet. In.The.House. I still haven’t found it.

10. We have no money left. No savings. All credit cards maxed out. And the dude he worked for for 4 months still hasn’t paid him yet. Which was also a significant contribution to the breakdown. That and when he came back after the last rehab I told him not to get us back in debt again. And he can’t blame me this time.

11. The lawn mowers are at someone else’s house, and I have to retrieve them soon. Because the yard is out of control. If one friend isn’t able to bring them to the house by tomorrow, another friend is going to help me load the riding mower in the truck tomorrow after work.

(These have cropped up in the past 3 days.)

12. There is a dead mouse under my fridge stinking to high heaven and I just haven’t had the time or motivation (or stomach) to get it out.

13. Evie decided to start puking again. Ugh.

A lot on my plate? Oh yeah. More than I can handle. More than I can do. I’ve pretty much run the gamut of emotions. Fear, anger, despair. I’ve felt trapped, hopeless, and alone. It has been a constant battle with my emotions more than anything to process them, root out the lies, submit them to truth, and just do what I can a task at a time instead of looking at everything together. All together, it is so overwhelming that I end up sitting (or laying) down and playing minesweeper or whirly word much of the time while accomplishing nothing.

This is what happens when you pray “Whatever it takes.” The fact that I haven’t completely collapsed under the weight of it is testimony to the grace of God.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26, ESV)

To be continued…

And the sun still rises in the east

Yesterday was something else. I woke up with a worse headache than I had gone to bed with, finally conceding that since no over the counter meds and no amount of hot showers were touching the pain significantly, the headache was a migraine. So I called in sick and took prescription pain meds which successfully took care of the pain while making me all loopy and ADHD. That’s why I didn’t write anything yesterday.

Tuesday night the hubby asked me, “So who do you think is going to win?” First I rolled my eyes because I knew he was just poking at me because I was so fed up with the politickin’, but then I grinned and I just said, “God.” Now I was pretty certain well before the election that President Obama would win reelection. In 2008 I was completely certain he would win the election. And, you know, in 2008, I realized that I could be at peace with Barack Obama as President even though I disagree with him politically on pretty much everything.

Daniel answered and said:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him. (Daniel 2:20-22 ESV)

The President of the United States is not a king, nor is he the supreme ruler. His power is shared equally with that of Congress and the Supreme Court. In 2008, Republicans ridiculed the Democrats saying that they raised Barack Obama up as their messiah. After the lamenting I saw yesterday, Republicans did the same thing with Mitt Romney, and were therefore crushed by his loss as if the world is now going to end. There was (and still is) a plethora of derisive blaming and name-calling by defeated Republicans that is nothing short of vile and mean-spirited. And what’s worse is that many of the awful remarks I have seen are from professing Christians.

I think what the Christians lamenting the direction our nation is heading fail to realize is that we are not going to be judged for what is happening now or what is going to come now that the Republican messiah wasn’t elected (because apparently now if you are a Christian you have to be a Republican). We ARE being judged for what we have done for decades with our legalistic moralism and prosperity gospel teachings. The legalistic moralism focuses on sins that good Christians don’t do while the prosperity gospel promises us material wealth and happiness in the here and now. So what we are left with is either the self-righteous critical Christian or the selfish materialistic country club Christian, the latter of which pretty much prescribes to moral relativism and only as much backbone as to protect their possessions and personal comfort.

So to my fellow Christians I ask this: Which are you? Or are you a combination of both?

I think as a whole, Christians here in the US, particularly among the Bible Belt, are known more for what we are against than what we are for. We will attend political rallies disguised as prayer walks, and we will support entrepreneurs when they offend homosexuals, and then pat ourselves on our backs for standing up for our faith and our freedom of speech. But where is Christ in that? We want to pass laws to protect human life and protect marriage, but when has the law ever changed the human heart? We rail against homosexual marriage but turn a blind eye or even justify no-fault divorce. We may not be quite as vile as the Westboro Cult, but we still point the finger at homosexuals telling them that they are going to hell for their sin as if being homosexual is THE sin that will send them to hell, yet we are largely silent about fornication and adultery. Therefore, homosexuals see us just as they see the Westboro clowns because while we don’t picket funerals with “God hates fags” signs, we are just as guilty of not showing the love we are commanded to show to our neighbors.

So Christians, you want to “turn our country back to God”? You can’t do that through political means. Once social issues are political issues, the culture war on that issue has already been lost. Laws don’t change hearts; only the Holy Spirit can do that. Engage the culture instead of just condemning and avoiding it. Disciple instead of pressing for a quick decision that amounts to offering a “get out of hell free” card that produces no fruit. Stop looking at evangelism as a way to fill up your church building on Sunday mornings so you can continue to pay for it, and instead be willing to give up the comforts of an elaborate building in order to actually lead the lost to Christ and build his kingdom instead of filling our pews. Pray for a heart that is broken for the lost, and repent of your own self-righteousness. And pray for your duly elected leaders, whether you voted for them or not – not for your comfort, but for God’s glory.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17 ESV)

Random Randomness

1. I am running my first half marathon Sunday with veteran marathoner Karyn. We drove the route last Sunday afternoon. The first 6 miles are going to suck.

2. I have run 340.76 miles this year…so far. Petra asked me last Friday night if I was running Saturday, and I said, “Yeah, but it’s only 6 miles.” Then I realized what I just said and followed up with “I can’t believe those words just came out of my mouth.”

3. Part of the conversation with Petra was about how crappy we’ve been eating lately and how crappy we feel because of our diets. So, starting Monday, I’m going to attempt to go vegan again. And because of me she can no longer eat hotdogs. lol

4. I am so ready for the election to be over with. I am so sick of the ads. Every year I get more and more sick of them. You know, with all the millions (or is it billions) that were spent on advertising, a lot of the poor could be fed – by each side.

5. I still don’t know how many kittens Spot had, but they are under the non-functional wet bar. Technically, I could just pull up the sink (since it isn’t fastened down) and count. But that area is like another closet where we just stuff things quickly to get it out of the way instead of putting it away (or throwing it away), so it would turn into a place to clean.

6. Have watched part of 2 episodes of Survivor this season for the first time…ever. I swore never to watch that show because in general I cannot stand “reality” shows. But, Blair…lol

7. Tuesday was our 19 year anniversary. 19 years. Wow. Where has the time gone?

8. The hubster took the kids trick or treating last night. I did not get a single picture. :( I did, however, pay a large price for clothing items for their costumes. :-/

9. So I was booking it at the end of my run last night and thinking how great it felt and wishing I could feel like that for the first 2 miles, and then I realized that that was only the 3rd lap. I still had one more to go, and it was getting dark quick. Suffice to say, I maintained or maybe exceeded that pace for the remaining lap and a half (by lap, I am talking 1 circle around campus which is .94 miles) because it was dark and I was scared that werewolves were going to come out of the woods and eat me. Ok, I wasn’t really afraid of werewolves, but anybody could have stepped out of the woods and I’d have been done. Fear is a great motivator for speed. ;)

10. The hubster has a done a FANTASTIC job of cleaning up around the house since he’s been back. Aside from the upstairs rooms, I am no longer embarrassed to have someone come over to the house.

Opinions are like…

Everyone has one and they all stink. There are some things I swore off writing about anymore, but since I am feeling pretty full of myself, I changed my mind. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, unless you define good as actually blogging. haha I add this statement after I’ve written a bit: it seems as though I feel like ranting. :dlstrike:

1. Tim Tebow. Please stop talking incessantly about him. I like him, but stop.

2. The 2012 Presidential race. Please stop talking incessantly about it. Ok, so maybe that doesn’t really apply in this case since we need to be informed about the candidates, but really, there are none when all we are given with any credible shot of winning is either a Democrat or a Republican. Yes, they all suck. Rick Santorum is the best of the Republican lot, and so, of course, he doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance.

3. Sarah Palin. Why is she still news? I like her ok, but would not vote for her for probably anything.

4. Michele Bachmann. I liked her a whole lot better before she started campaigning. I still like her, but would not vote for her for probably anything.

5. Political conversations. I know, I am violating this in a sense with this post, but really, I don’t care anymore. I used to care. I attended one of the first Tax Day Tea Party demonstrations (there is a YouTube video to prove it), and I drug my kids along with nothing more to bribe them but the promise of a Chinese buffet lunch afterwards. The only thing I regret about it is that I managed to end up on a Cumberland County political email list. But I digress. The left tends toward anti-Christian; the right plays the Christian “hot button” issues for political gain. Both sides are playing their base for votes and doing nothing to improve society’s ill(s). So, I don’t care if it’s a Democrat or Republican. They both suck.

6. Dismissiveness. This particularly chaps my hide, and probably because I tend to do it myself. But really the fact that I tend to do it myself makes me feel qualified to point out the unchecked arrogance behind it. Which is why it chaps my hide for someone to seemingly direct their dismissiveness towards me. Obviously it wouldn’t bother me so bad if I didn’t think so much of myself. Still, hear me out! Let me finish my blankety-blank sentence before you blow me off!

7. Prissy women. You know them. I don’t mean “girly” women. There is a difference. Girly women don’t bother me. Prissy women do. Get over yourself.

8. Joyce Meyer. Irks me. Battlefield of the Mind being the sole exception once you get past the Joyceisms.

9. Lennon/McCartney. Great songs. Solo McCartney. Not so much. Solo Lennon. Crap.

10. Honda drivers. Green means go. That means put your foot on the accelerator and press down when the light turns green, not foot off the brake and ease off for a quarter mile and then try to race when the Neon has had enough.

Um, I should probably stop now. lol

Stirring the Class Warfare Pot

We’ve all heard it ad nauseum, “The rich keep getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer.” It’s the big gun of the class warfare arsenal that politicians & pundits love to throw out to denigrate the prosperous in order to paint the poor as victims, most generally so the poor will vote for them or their side. I suppose there is a grain of truth to it, but creating victimhood is no way to begin finding a solution. Still, I expect no less from professional (or do I mean perpetual?) politicians.

Sounds snotty doesn’t it? Notice I attached neither a political party nor a political ideology to it. That omission was deliberate. But I digress.

So, as Christians we are commanded throughout scripture to help the poor. I am under no delusion that we do a great job of it as a whole body, but some do it well, and others at least make an effort. Some do it quietly, and some make sure everyone knows what they are doing for God. I have been guilty of the latter. But either way, the poor are still being ministered to.

But there is still a big problem.

I think many of us have bought into “The rich keep getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer” blame game. We come to resent “Big Oil” or “Big Green” or “Big Union” or “Big Government” (or all of them together) because we deem their leadership “greedy” with their “insane” profits and “price gouging.” We Christians often tow the same lines, and even take it one step further, turning on ourselves and blaming the church for not taking care of the poor and handing over that responsibility to the government. It’s always someone else’s fault, whether the “rich” or the powerful.

We blame, we finger-point, and in doing so we help to keep the class warfare fire stoked. As long as we Christians keep doing this, there will continue to be a class war.

What if…

What if, while we minister to the poor, we do so quietly.

Matthew 6:1-4 (NASB)
1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

What if, instead of exclusively reaching out to the poor, we also went to the rich and powerful, and shared the gospel with them also? How are they going to stop being full of the greed we accuse them without Christ? Have we become so self-righteous as to believe that only we and the poor deserve forgiveness and not all people everywhere?

Matthew 28:19-20 (NASB)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

What part of “all” do we not understand?

I read Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand about a year ago, and he said something that stuck with me. He pleaded with the reader to share the Gospel with the rich and the powerful because it is they who make policies. (I will double-check I read that right and properly cite later.) He wrote:

“We must win rulers, leaders in politics, economics, science, and the arts. They mold the souls of men. Winning them, you win the people they lead and influence.”

[1]

The divide between rich and poor will only grow unless we share Jesus with all people and not exclusively the poor.

1. Wurmbrand, R. (1998). Tortured for Christ – 30th Anniversary Ed. Living Sacrifice Book Company: Bartlesville, OK. pg 59