Pick Your Side

There's an awful lot of angry debating going on these days. Hostility over views and opinions and perspectives. Name-calling and vitriol and hurling of insults. Right and left and up and down and all over.

What bothers me the most are the sources.

Not from "people" but from Christians who insist that their "side" is right and demand that everyone agree with them.
Or else.

I personally have strong convictions about right and wrong. I hold to certain defined beliefs on all sorts of social issues. And I act on those beliefs - in the voting booth and, hopefully, in my life.

But I do not believe for one minute that those beliefs entitle me to label other people, to belittle them, to try and discredit their faith. Nor do I believe I should crumble under someone else's screaming insistence that their view is the "right one".

I appreciate a passion for dearly held beliefs - even if (especially if!) those beliefs differ from mine. And I understand the yearning to stand up for those beliefs, particularly when we feel they are underrepresented or misrepresented.
I can respect that.
But I am deeply troubled by the growing tendency (made ever so visible and cancerous by social media) to blast those who differ with said views. To characterize our detractors as all sorts of vile labels.
All in the name of Christ.

Recent events and subsequent reactions made me think about this passage- Joshua 5:13-15

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15 And the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

In our fervor for elevating our "side" to the #1 position, perhaps we should consider the position of the Commander of the Army of the Lord...the pre-incarnate Christ. That is the fact that all people on all sides of all issues are sinners in need of a Savior. He is not concerned about the positions of our sides but rather that we need saving.

I can be firmly convinced that my convictions are right....and still respect those with differing views who feel just as strongly. Truth be told, we don't know what God's stand is on some things. Some social issues and doctrinal tenets and denominational divides. I know we think we do, but lots of times we just might be really wrong. Instead of railing against those on the "other side", I want instead to reach out with the Gospel Rather than blasting my "opponents", I hope to build a bridge that they can walk across to the Savior. The unbelievers and my brothers and sisters in Christ. The only truth I can stake my life on is that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.

And certainly we would do well to respond as Joshua did, when confronted with the truth that Christ presents - to be unconcerned with "our side" and instead worship Christ.

Friends for all seasons

We had a great weekend at our house recently. UGA Homecoming. Two different families came into town and we got to break some bread together. Friends from college days and newlywed years. The forever kind of friends. Even though we go long stretches without face time or even chatting, we know these people are our rock solids. The best.

And, it’s not at all why they came into town, but while they were here, we had some excitement. Our son, Chip, got to climb down off the UGA Mic Man stage at the football game and step onto the field for a few moments. Not as wide receiver or anything but nearly as fun. I got to stand beside him as his name was announced as UGA 2018 Homecoming King. Not sure what that really means, LOL, but it was fun few moments to watch.

Grateful for the honor and hoping that somehow the Lord uses this to open doors for the Gospel. That is indeed our prayer.

But a blessing it is, indeed. So grateful.

And the best part of this blessing…is YOU ALL. As soon as his name was called, every member of my family began hearing from friends who were celebrating with us. Friends who rejoiced over our good news, friends who wanted to add to our blessing, friends who shared in this season. And, y’all, we read every text, every social media comment, and appreciated every “like”. For real. We noticed and cherished every single one. I mean it. We were (are) floored by the kindnesses of our friends. Friends from college, friends from other towns. Friends from high school and hometowns. Friends from church and the neighborhood. Friends from work and the community. Even friends we’ve seen only six times a year for over a decade, sharing a row at UGA home games. It would’ve been so easy for you to just wish us well in your hearts and not reach out. You could’ve so easily thought one text wouldn’t matter. You could have….but you didn’t. You rejoiced with us and in so doing, you not only shared our joy, you multiplied it. Exponentially.

In the scheme of things, being HOCO King is probably not a big deal. Truly. But having great friends definitely is.

And, the incredible thing is, these same friends who’ve rejoiced with us this weekend, wept with us three years ago this very day. The day my Daddy told us Good-bye and told Heaven hello. These friends of ours. Showed up at our door with food (my everlasting love language!). Sent cards and text messages. Came to deliver a hug or a pound cake. Were present at his funeral service and wrapped their arms around us. Made donations in his name and continue to remember him even now. Friends. Friends for all seasons. It would’ve been much easier for you all to think your card or call or casserole wouldn’t really help. Or even be noticed. But you knew better. You knew that every single thing would deliver love and healing to our hearts. And so you came. You called. You loved. So well.

And we are so thankful. So very thankful.

For friends like you. Friends for all seasons.

Thank you.

Girl Power -Part 2

Girl Power.

Yesterday we looked at the double-barreled weapon of praying God's Word.  If you haven't already checked out the link to Scripture prayers here on the blog, please do so.  Or make your own set.  God has made available to you and me this potent resource, capable of moving mountains of rebellion, prejudice, greed, unforgiveness, and insecurity.  The weapon with the potential to unleash torrents of love and joy and peace, of reconciliation and health and confidence, of changed hearts and mended marriages and secure children. The tool for all Christ-followers.  He just says ask.

For us girlfriends, He gives us something else powerful, too.  More of a tool than a weapon.  A tool more effective than the strongest bully or the greatest orator...and especially more so than the most manipulative personality. 

Like many of God's choices, it seems like a paradox.  Counterintuitive. Like it couldn't possibly work.

But God tells us wives the way to persuade the hubs - even one who doesn't follow God's Word - is not to better explain our point of view.  Nor to cry or freeze him out or pitch a fit.  Not even to get him to read the right books or listen to the right podcasts or join a men's group.

Rather it is

Without a word.

No way!  Really? 

Yep, the most effective way for a wife to change her husband is to not open her mouth in an effort to bring about that change.  But rather to treat him with respect.

Well, I'll be!

Here's how God says it:
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.  I Peter 3:1,2

In this verse, "likewise" refers to the preceding verses where Peter lifts up Christ as our example in suffering.  He didn't return insults or threats to those who mistreated Him.  He didn't insist on His rights as God.  Instead, He trusted God to unfold His plan and He submitted Himself to that plan...which included suffering to the point of death.

That's our example as wives.  When we feel our husband is wrong and we want to "help" him be right, our recourse is not to badger or argue or pout.  It is instead to pray and wait...and to treat him with respect and kindness in the process.

Wow.  That's a most unusual tactic. 
Only God!

And a few verses later, God has Brother Peter give us an example of success...

Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

Sarah.   Listed in the book of Hebrews' Hall of Faith. (chapter 11, verse 12)
She faced intensely painful personal disappointment.
She was put in places of fear and abuse because of Abraham's cowardice
She waited a long long time to see God act on His promise to her husband.
And, yes, she made some mistakes herself along the way, but the record of Scripture highlights not her physical beauty (although that was noted in Genesis) but rather her respectful behavior towards her husband and her courage because she trusted God's sovereign rule in her life.

Don't miss this!
In the midst of personal pain and her husband's failures, Sarah responded with respect and gentleness.  She trusted God to accomplish good for her in spite of all around her that seemed to the contrary.  The word used for "lord" in verse 6 is a Greek word which actually means "agent for good".  Sarah could submit to her husband not because she trusted Abraham's character and wisdom but rather because she trusted her God to use even a disobedient husband to bring about good for her! She trusted Him to use circumstances (and people) that seemed harmful and opposed to God's best to be instruments of blessing because she knew all was in  the hands of the Divine Alchemist.  Instead of fretting or fearing or fussing, Sarah could respond with respect...because she trusted God. 

Word to the wise wives....Trust God and treat hubs with respect.

That opens the path for God to work His plan.  And His plans are always good.  Always loving.  Always faithful.

Girl Power!!!