Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Friday, October 13, 2017

White Privilege?!?!

I'm going to throw out here an explanation of "white privilege" as I have come to understand it.  Automatically, when I say that, people from both sides of this term get all shook up.  I'm going to try to explain it differently than maybe you have heard it before.  Maybe you think I have it all wrong, but maybe, just maybe I understand it better than most.  All I know, is I used to think I understood what this meant and even took offense to the term and I have come to understand there's much more to it than we typically take the time to learn.

 I honestly want to run and hide from these conversations because I feel inadequate and uneducated on most political type conversations, and I hate confrontation and conflict, but I have also been challenged in my own heart to speak up on things that God has put in my life, to advocate for others, or at the very least speak truth and shed light into some darkness. I have had blinders on before, so I speak from experience.

 I have 2 teen boys one black and one white, so I have a front row seat to know a few things that maybe the media doesn't report, and history didn't teach.   I don't listen to the news, but I do listen to people and I happen to have a close relationship with black and white people, of different ages and backgrounds, and I love to hear their stories, not what I hear on the news, that is reported from a slanted view, or just from history books that has been written from a white point of view.

These boys are brothers in every sense of the word, and they have had, and continue to have, very different experiences in life

To be fair if we are going to call news, fake and one sided, in a day and age when we have so much access to news and information, let's not get all defensive when I say history was written from one-sided white point of view, because it was. The black people were slaves and not given the opportunity to learn to read and write for the most part, but they have rich and deep history passed down from generation to generation, but this is not the history that is taught to kids in school.

 I have heard people say, and I have honestly probably said it before, "Why can’t we move on and quit talking about race, they are just stirring things up, and they aren't slaves anymore, and we aren't slave owners so why can't we all just move forward?

WELL!!!!!!  God help us when we feel like this.

God himself obviously thinks history of people and genealogy is very important.  He told his people many many times to remember and he also has records of genealogy in the Bible and often talks about people's history and where they came from and how they got there and how they were treated in the process.  He has chosen only so many written words (the Bible) to publish and share, and part of it is genealogy throughout the Old and New Testament.  God must think it's a pretty big deal to keep talking about people's history and genealogy, and how they got to where they are and how they lived in the process.  So if it's a big deal to God, it better be a big deal to us, and we better remember and grieve over wrongs done by people and to people all throughout history and praise our God for grace and forgiveness and restoration.

A simple explanation of white privilege is:  Life is smoother, and there is more opportunity, for a person of white skin than those of darker skin.

Privilege in itself is not good or bad or right or wrong; it’s what we do with that privilege. 

You can argue this several ways, but I know black people and I know white people and I can tell you across the board, life has been smoother with much more opportunity for the white people than the black people.  You can give me 100 reasons why  you think this is so, but I don't think anyone can argue that the black and white facts of the matter, is life has been smoother  with more opportunity in many ways, even in current times, for the white people you know than the black people (if you know any).

There will be flaws in these examples, but it could give a closer description than what most people think of when they hear the term "white privilege." For just a minute, let's not talk about skin color and just read the 2 following examples and see if there's a glimpse of fresh understanding.

There are twin girls born. They are born same time, same family, same household.  One twin is born with cerebral palsy and one is not.  These twins are both sweet and cute and shy and have a lot of the same personality traits and both are equally loved and provided for by all the family around them.  One twin needs a wheelchair to get around, and the other does not.  One twin needs help with everything in life for her entire life, the other does not. One can walk into a crowd unnoticed one can never enter a room unnoticed. One is always identified by her CP (physical), and the other is identified by her name, and what she does. People love these two once they get to know them both, but one is easier to get to know because people feel more at ease with her, and they can relate to her better, and they don’t have to go out of their own way to connect with her, she has more in common with the majority of the people that surround her daily.  The non-CP twin just has more opportunities and smoother; dare we say more privileged life, due to her physical advantages, that she was born with.  Neither twin has to be mad at the fact that life is smoother for one and not so smooth for the other.  It would be a slap in the face and a tragic LIE if the non-CP twin did not acknowledge that her life had certain privileges or certain advantages that her twin with CP did not experience.  It would also be tragic if this privilege or advantage was screamed at the privileged twin to make her feel guilty or bad about her advantages or privilege.  The able-bodied twin gladly gives her life to do whatever she can with all her opportunities and advantages to help her twin that has been born into a very different situation.

*I am not implying that there are physical disadvantages to being dark skinned, I'm simply trying to give a perspective of being born into privilege, and being born into challenges.*

Let me give one more example and then I will let you decide if I just don't get it, or maybe I do, and you can learn a different way of looking at "white privilege."

Let's just pretend there's a neighbor that was born into a LOT of money.  We are same age and, same general community, educated in same school.  It would be a flat out lie if she stated that she knows exactly what it feels like to work your hardest every day and not be able to make ends meet.  It would be a lie if she said she knew how it felt to lose her house because she couldn't make the mortgage payments. It would be demeaning if she told me that if I would have just worked as hard as her, then I would be in the same place financially, as her. 

When people say that dark skinned people have been given more advantages because of their African American or Native American status, it's like saying the twin with CP, only gets a wheelchair because she doesn't walk, and it's not fair because we don't get a wheelchair.  Or let's use the second example and say the one with inherited money says I have more advantages than her because there are programs in place to help me and not her, programs like Housing Modification Loans and Short-Sale programs and such.

As Christians we aren’t only called to acknowledge or even speak up, but also lay down our life for our brothers and sisters.

1 John 3:16-17English Standard Version (ESV)
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?

Maybe, just maybe, the Christians in the country should take the lead on this issue lay down our pride and begin to truly unite and feel compassion for the people that are telling us they are feeling pain. May we quit telling them how they should feel and not feel and listen, and quit telling them to forget about it and move on.

May we pray for God to open our eyes and break our hearts for the things that break His.

 May we not dilute anything that God has told us, but compromise our political views in order to gain unity as brothers and sisters that are called to love God and love people.  When we get so crazy stuck and hang our identity on anything other than Christ we invite hardness into our hearts.  God doesn't care if we are good American Christians...He wants us to be Christian, that is Christ-like.

Christ came from a place of privilege.  He was in heaven living in perfect unity and relationship with his Father, and he laid it all down for us.  Jesus laid down all his privilege and his very life so we could share in all the privilege and perfection that was His.  He didn’t tell us if we just work harder we can do better, he just stepped in and took all our pain and shame on himself.  He didn’t give us a hand up, he traded places with us.

Psalm 146English Standard Version (ESV)
Put Not Your Trust in Princes
146 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in princes,
    in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
    on that very day his plans perish.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
    who executes justice for the oppressed,
    who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
    the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners;
    he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The Lord will reign forever,
    your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!

  I think it's so important to fight for things that are in line with the heart of God.  His heart is for people and justice and taking care of the widow and orphan and prisoner, and the oppressed. His heart is for Him and His Kingdom, He is God.   God cares how we love Him and love our neighbor, He cares for the things that we stand for, and the things we kneel to.  He wants us to lay down our pride and sometimes shut up about things that hurt us and speak up about things that may have hurt someone else.

Matthew 5:43-45
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

This passage also says to pray for your enemies, so if you see someone that has a different political view or stance as an enemy, maybe you ought to pray for them.  If you are offended by how they treat something sacred to you maybe you should invite them over for dinner.  I know it's totally crazy talk...but I didn't come up with it. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

I Don't Care If You Stand....

In churches all over the country people often times sing a song on Sundays, and the song says,
 " I"ll  STAND with arms high and heart abandoned to the ONE who paid it all." just picture this we are in a church building on the Lord's day singing to the God of the universe who gave His perfect Son to die on our behalf, and we are singing to Him and  telling Him we will stand with arms high and heart abandoned.  Many many many of the people singing this song will have the words coming out of their mouths and their arms are down and they are even sitting (by choice).  This offends no-one.    We just figure, their relationship with God is their business and not ours. We use the 'ole "don't judge" go-to.   But remember, when we sing this we are in his house, on his day, and we are choosing to be there (this is a great choice by the way).  I'm not saying we should go around making people worship or take the actions that they are declaring with their words that they are singing, but I also don't think we need to force people, or think less of them if they don't stand for our flag.  I personally stand and pay respect and I think it is the right and good thing to do, but I also think it is good and right to stand and raise my hands to God when I tell Him I will.

I just think we get our passions all confused when we get worked up about things that are temporary, when there is eternal matters to concern our lives with.  When Jesus was making his way to calvary, the week before He was hung on a cross, the people were shouting Hosanna, Hosanna.  They wanted to crown Him as king because their politics were a mess and they were looking for Him to fix their situation.  ONE WEEK later, they were shouting  CRUCIFY HIM, CRUCIFY HIM.  Then, when he was hanging on the cross, everyone left and didn't stick around and stand for HIM or with HIM for even a few hours while He suffered and died and conquered sin and death for them and us.

When christians get more passionate and out spoken about our politics and country and flag than we do about our God, and faith, and Word of God, then we send a wrong message to ourselves and the world.   It states we believe more in the power of the politics and government than the God of the universe, it states, we care more about our temporary situation and our country, than our eternity and God's Kingdom.

I realize it's all very important, but we have to keep it all in order.  We often times take so much pride and diligence to educate and dedicate ourselves to our country, and again, this is good and right, but not when it overrides how proud we are of our God, and the fact that we are HIS PEOPLE, and we desire to spend our time and attention to educate and dedicate ourselves to Him and His Kingdom.

I don't get it right many times, as a Christian or as an American, but I do know that I will spend more time concerning myself with my posture before the God of the universe than other people's posture before a flag.

I see people mishandle the Word of God, by taking it so far out of context and use it and others for their own gain, and people sit still under that teaching and leadership and never so much as raise a question, and yet, if the flag is mishandled in the slightest manner people have a near breakdown.

Let's get our WORSHIP right.  The thing that is so entirely beautiful about our Lord is, we can pledge our allegiance to Him and Him alone, He is big enough and kind enough and strong enough and EVERYTHING ENOUGH to take care of us and HE IS WORTHY of all PRAISE AND HONOR!!!  He is FAITHFUL!!!!!
 He is FAITHFUL when we are, and when we are not.
 He is faithful forever and always!!!

And the beautiful thing about it is there will be a day that we will all take a  knee and bow before Him, no matter who we are or what we believe, so I suggest we practice standing in awe of Him and bowing before Him now and getting ourselves ready for that glorious day.

Romans 14:11English Standard Version (ESV)

11 for it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
    and every tongue shall confess to God.”

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The "Heart" Beat.

  As a mom and as a child of God, I would so much rather deal with a behavior than a heart.  I know that sounds horrible, but it's the truth.  A behavior seems easier to see, to change, and to control. 
However, dealing only with behavior is like putting a band-aid on your skin, when you have internal bleeding.

Jeremiah 17:9-10English Standard Version (ESV)

The heart is deceitful above all things,

    and desperately sick;
    who can understand it?
“I the Lord search the heart
    and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
    according to the fruit of his deeds.”

I love that last part that says fruit of his deed, not his deeds.  Again, we can hide behind good works but the fruit of it, good or bad is a result of the heart behind it.

We have a friend (Jeff) that often says, "Relationship before task."  I believe this is the heart of God.  He is so much more interested in our hearts than our actions.  He is a relational God and He wants our whole heart, and out of that whole heart will flow the actions that produce good fruit.

I have made an attempt this summer to see into the heart of things, and especially my kids, not just  actions.
  Oh Lord Oh Lord. 
 I can tell you, when you start looking and praying for heart issues not just behaviors, and go beyond asking God to keep them "healthy, safe, and strong,"  it can get very vulnerable and honest and messy in a hurry.

Psalm 51:15-17English Standard Version (ESV)

O Lord, open my lips,

    and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;

    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

One thing I have found as God has opened my eyes to see deeper into their hearts, is it has revealed some issues that needed repentance in my own heart. 

As I have prayed more intentionally for hearts rather than just the behaviors, it has cultivated space for some real work to be done.  God is so faithful to hear our prayers and to transform and clean our hearts.  It has not happened overnight and it is all far from perfect, but I feel a different heartbeat, a different rhythm in our family.  It feels like we aren't as controlled by circumstances and moods, (which is a stinking miracle in itself, as we have so many teenage hormones living in this house).  The family heart beat is stronger and more constant.

There is a fresh freedom and peace and joy that has taken root in their hearts and mine.

God gave me such a beautiful picture of this today when they drove off together for their first day of high school together.  I got a bit choked up, as I was thinking of how good and kind and faithful our Father is.  I love how creative He is in putting families together.  He got really wild when He put this core bunch together.  These 3 are the most different people in every way, and yet.  God has brought them together and they make up this beautiful creative core group, and they share the same father on earth and the same Father in heaven.         

Then there is this amazing 4th grader and my Kindergartner.  These older kids might be the core of the family, but these younger ones are the passion. 
 They are fireballs in their hearts and in their actions. 

God gives the most amazing gifts and He is so faithful. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Remembering To Listen, Leads To Understanding

God is faithful to teach us when we go to Him.  Often times I have something on my heart and ask God to lead, and He will  blow my theory to powder and throws it out, or He teaches me in a very up close and personal way and brings new understanding.

Psalm 25:4-6 (ESV)

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all the day long.
Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.

So I've been struggling with this whole statue of Robert E. Lee situation.  I think it's just so sad and complicated beyond a simple one word, *history*, or one action *removal*.  Obviously it's so much deeper than either one of those things.

The big division that has shown up over this historical statue has been a manifestation of what has been brewing in the hearts of people for a long time, generations..........

The thought I kept having last week was:

If you ran my Grandma over with your car and then put that car in a park to remind everyone of that history, and justified that it was a good car and it was only doing it's job when it ran my Grandma over, it would bring pain and anger every time anyone in my family saw that car for generations to come.

But as usual I kept thinking, there must be more that I don't see or understand..... because that seems too simple too obvious...What am I missing that seems to make everyone think this is so important to fight over?

  It's the hearts of people, NOT the history or statutes, that has everyone in turmoil.  When our idols are messed with it, it causes the heart to FEEL big and act PASSIONATELY.

So, here's my personal experience....I have a kid that has had a traumatic past...and this child does very well in life, and is a very loved and treasured human being among our family and friends. This child is one of the kindest humans I have ever known. This child has been thru IT and has overcome a lot in life.  A few weeks ago this child fell off the track of progress....nobody else would probably know it, or notice it, but there was  a looming heart-ache that affected all those in close contact.  We had done all the things we know to do, to bring the heaviness to a restful place again, but I became exhausted and frustrated.

Then a few days ago, the opportunity presented itself to have a heartfelt conversation.  I have tried many times before, but there has to be a readiness on both parts.  Our paths finally crossed at the right time, and we began to talk about what was going on.  When this finally happens we have to track back to when it all fell apart "this time".  As we talked, we realized there was a certain piece of history that was being remembered and felt and looked at daily, and not thru the lense of love and forgiveness, but thru the lense of hurt and pain and it just was more that this child could bear.  It would seem to be a small and insignificant thing to most people, or even a good thing to possess such memorabilia, but that's not what this child was experiencing.

 Oh Lord in heaven I am here to testify with all did not do good things for this precious soul, to have a constant reminder of this " simple history".  As soon as I understood what was going on, I knew it was important to keep this "thing" to remember, and to preserve "history," BUT I knew more than anything else that this item needed to get out of constant vision or we were all going to have a melt down.  The history needed to be remembered, but also grieved over, and this is something to do on occasion, with reverence, not daily and not flippantly. What seemed so innocent and even sweet to me was a source of pain for this child.  Some of the pain, is feeling and thinking about, "what could have been".  The act of listening to what was happening inside this soul was eye opening.  This child didn't even know this is what was going on inside until we began to talk and confess it out loud.  I don't have the same reminders or reaction to this item, but since this child DOES, I couldn't get it out of here fast enough.

I thank God for showing me this in my own home, even though it has been a bumpy couple of weeks.  I wonder what would happen if we could all take these divisions and make them as personal as a child in our own home.  We might all give a lot more understanding and not be so sure of what we think and feel, but compassion might lead the way to unity, even if we still don't agree.

May our minds open to understand, our hearts feel compassion, and our passions be lead in LOVE and GRACE.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Eclipse Me? What Are You Doing Here?

This eclipse has made things pretty interesting around here.  
We live right in the "path" of the total darkness eclipse.

There are people flooding into this small town, farm community like crazy.

There are aerial views and that make one of the camps look like a refugee camp.  

When these folks come thru they look different, we can easily identify them, as "those people".  These folks are traveling in everything from small cars to big buses, but whether they are in a car or a bus, they seem to have everything they own strapped onto it.

You see every reaction possible to these folks, from the locals; there is a fear, irritation, or fascination.  I love seeing the old locals parking their pickups and leaned over the hood with a cup of coffee and a friend, and watching main street like a parade is in town.

I am so curious about these folks.  They have come from a very long ways, all over the world, and by the looks of it, they have all their belongings with them.  I realize they are here for the eclipse and the party, but there has to be more than that drawing these folks.  

I keep having the thought that they are so close to having it right.  They are drawn by an event of the  sun.  They are planning and traveling, for a long time from a long ways, to get the best view of the SUN doing something spectacular.

These people seem very different, but they are really just the same as all of us.  These folks all have a story.  I would love to sit and hear just a handful of the stories of these people that have come to celebrate and get the best view of the SUN becoming dark for approximately 2 1/2 min.

I wonder if these folks have been told about the SON of the living GOD.  The  SON that did something spectacular 2000 years ago and the SUN went dark for 3 hours that day. The whole history of the world revolves around this SON, just like our world revolves around the SUN.  Without the SUN or the SON and we have no hope, no life.

John 8:12-16English Standard Version (ESV)

I Am the Light of the World

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me.

I want to sit with a few of these folks and ask the question that we get asked when we travel to Uganda,
 "You have come a long way, why have you come?"

Even if these people don't know why they have come, or they think they have just come for the eclipse or the party, there is something deeper that I think draws us all to be a part of something amazing that will go down in history forever. 

Job 12:22-25The Message (MSG)

From God We Learn How to Live

“True wisdom and real power belong to God;
    from him we learn how to live,
    and also what to live for.
If he tears something down, it’s down for good;
    if he locks people up, they’re locked up for good.
If he holds back the rain, there’s a drought;
    if he lets it loose, there’s a flood.
Strength and success belong to God;
    both deceived and deceiver must answer to him.
He strips experts of their vaunted credentials,
    exposes judges as witless fools.
He divests kings of their royal garments,
    then ties a rag around their waists.
He strips priests of their robes,
    and fires high officials from their jobs.
He forces trusted sages to keep silence,
    deprives elders of their good sense and wisdom.
He dumps contempt on famous people,
    disarms the strong and mighty.
He shines a spotlight into caves of darkness,
    hauls deepest darkness into the noonday sun.
He makes nations rise and then fall,
    builds up some and abandons others.
He robs world leaders of their reason,
    and sends them off into no-man’s-land.
They grope in the dark without a clue,
    lurching and staggering like drunks.”

I went on a hippie hunt yesterday to see if I could talk to some of the people that are coming thru town, but I realized there are some pretty interesting hippie looking peeps staying right here in our house.  

These 2 hippies are SON followers.  They will miss the eclipse, as they are moving onto the next stop, but they have already committed their lives to following the SON of God and being a part of something spectacular that has been life changing and life giving.  Praying for safe travels for these 2 as they look like the other peeps driving around with all their stuff strapped to the car.

Matthew 16:24-25 (ESV)

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Happy Birhday To My Man.

 Happy birthday to my wild man!!!
Charlie's life has been a wild ride for 54 years.
This man of mine is wild.  He is willing to do what it takes to get the job done, even if the job is to have fun, he will go to the absolute fun-limit.  

My man will put the fear in his kids.  He doesn't mind taking authority and raising his hand, and he doesn't mind lending that same  hand to lead and carry and hold.

 This man is generous with his love and time and resources.
 He may not be the first to jump up, but when he jumps, he will be all in. 
Charlie has a lot of marks on his body, he has lived a lot of life in 54 years, and he leaves his mark on the lives he touches.

Everything he does, he does with all his heart, and his heart is big.

His answer is usually
to begin with (maybe because he knows when he says yes, it's all or nothing)....and then it's 

 Charlie has taken some risks in life, he doesn't live cautiously, he lives with intensity, he lives with purpose.  

The first thing Charlie does every single day; he get's into the Word  of God and he shares it.  He sends out a text to many people of the Scripture he is reading.    

Charlie's verse that he puts on everything he builds is:

Hebrews 3:4 (ESV)

(For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)
I pray this year is a year of more wild love and risk taking and hand raising and intensity and purpose  wrapped up in a full - on blow out for

  I pray this is a year we will never forget, and it makes a mark on our hearts like never before. 
 I pray this man lives hard, dreams big and builds like crazy. 
 I pray his hard living is living for Jesus, I pray he is a Kingdom builder.
  I pray he experiences more love and joy and peace and grace than all his 54 years combined.

See this line-up???
  I can't imagine anyone that could handle this crazy wild bunch like my wild man.
I pray this line grows in love,  in grace, in wisdom, and in number.  I pray this line-up spreads out all over and never loses touch with our Lord Jesus Christ, and never loses touch with each other.
 I pray my wild man leads this line-up in 
 wherever He leads us.
I pray this is a year that starts with 
and builds from there.

Psalm 127 (NLT)

Psalm 127

Unless the Lord builds a house,
    the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
    guarding it with sentries will do no good.
It is useless for you to work so hard
    from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
    for God gives rest to his loved ones.
Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.
Children born to a young man
    are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
    He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.