Monday, July 27, 2009

I've Become the Other Woman

originally on heartlight

"This is how we know what love is ..."

I have frequently requested a weather forecast for my church. Not for the town the church is in -- for the auditorium. I have suggested a running scroll on the website: "Current temp in the auditorium is 58° and breezy. Dress accordingly." or "High of 84° in the auditorium today." I have yet to be heeded.

Recently it was 58° and breezy. On Easter Sunday. The children were precious in their Easter finery and blue lips. My daughter, Ashley, and I were in "spring-ish" type clothes, but not sleeveless. When I sat down, I got quite cool quickly.

I was sitting next to my husband, Troy, while Ashley was on the other side of him. He finally put his arm around her trying to warm her up a little. I sure would have liked that warm arm around me, but I made do tucking as much of myself under the other arm at his side trying to warm up. Eventually, he leaned forward to remove his jacket. "Good plan," I thought, "Leave your arm around Ashley, and give me the jacket -- or vice-versa, whatever. I'm good." Oh, no. He handed Ashley the jacket so he could have both of his arms back.

Let me be honest -- I sat there shivering. And beaming. It pleased me to sit by while Troy took care of his girl the way she needs to be taken care of. I want my daughter to know her daddy is crazy about her. As she seeks out a husband, I want her to know how she should be treated, and know what it's like to be the apple of a man's eye.

Having a loving parent helps a child understand the love of God -- well, as much as we can understand it on this planet. Having loving parents helped me start to get an idea about the unconditional love of God. I want Ashley to know that as crazy as we both are about her, it's just a tiny drop compared to the abundant, never-ending, perfect love of her heavenly Father.

I spend plenty of time shivering for her while watching tennis, I don't mind a little more shivering while her daddy takes care of her. It's why I picked him.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us (1 John 4:11-12 TNIV).

Is your religion worthless? James 1:26

When you pray what do you ask for? Depending on what is going on in my life I might ask God for strength, His strength, discernment, always ask for wisdom, scripture says if we only ask for wisdom God will give it to us, that meant a lot to a young women whose wisdom was nill. (James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.)

The only wise choice I made at that time in my life was to know I had no wisdom, and wanted some. So I started praying each day for wisdom, and I might not be as wise as many, but compared to my wisdom 18 years ago I have been blessed richly. One consistent prayer, I ask God each time when I pray on my own and when I pray with my kids is to make me more like Jesus tomorrow than I am today. That probably sounds cliche but that is what I want and that is what I want for my kids. I don't want to be rich, I don't want a fancy home, earthly things just seem to keep me as their possession not the other way around. I just want to love with a love that comes from Christ. I want to love those who other's either don't see, or those who for whatever reason are not easy to love. I want to love people as they are, no strings attached, but I want to see them through the eyes of Christ, for what they can become. For what they can overcome if they will just follow the path God has for them. A friend helps a lot in those circumstances.

God has many times in my life brought people with same-s*x attraction into my life. I have several times written of my friend Carey here who passed several years ago. I have recounted Carey's story several times in the last couple of weeks and each time I am caught off guard with tears. God might have used me in Carey's life, but truly God used Carey to teach me more than I ever taught him. He just needed a friend. A friend who could bring food when he was sick, or a friend who could answer questions from scripture but not spout off scripture as a deadly weapon, mostly Carey just liked to laugh and be a friend.

The study by Barna cites that most Christians are defined by non-Christians as h*m*s*xual haters. That is how we are defined. I would say that many who represent Christ by holding a sign, and saying ugly words, hateful words outside a funeral, do not represent Christ at all. Christ was very clear in scripture that we are not to judge the world, but by our love they will come to know Him. Hate never changes someone's hearts or desires. But love does.

It was Christ's unconditional love that brought me from drug and alcohol abuse. It was never someone telling me I shouldn't be participating in all the mess I was in. The people who helped me along the way were kind, loving and authentic with their own struggles. The spirit of condemnation that many have repulse and put walls up between them and others.

I am writing this today because I heard someone speak words that would have been hurtful and possibly turned someone away from Christ if they had been present when spoken. I have a news flash for everyone out there, people who you hang out with have baggage, if they don't have baggage their family has baggage, there is baggage somewhere.

It is time that God's people start talking like God's people, acting like God's people, loving like God's people. Not just choosing what sin's we can accept in those around us and bash the rest. A great man of faith who I am blessed to know, M.C. Cranfill used to make a business card up to carry with him. He might still have some in his wallet. He put the name of our church, then underneath, Hospital for Sinners. I wonder if there are certain sinners some don't welcome with open arms into our church? We will answer to God on how much we love, and the pain we cause others who are searching for Christ. Would our words or actions cause them to just leave and give up for there is no hope for them even in Christ, for His followers make that very clear?

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.