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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

I’ve been exposed to much literature lately about the church and missions and poverty and hunger and  disease prevention and sex trafficking.  All kinds of things.  It seems like it’s a hot topic lately as I’ve heard about it at church, read about it on blogs, see it in Christian magazines and new books.  So it’s been something that I’ve been thinking about lately.

What should the church be doing about so many of these issues?  Certainly, our track record hasn’t been super strong on assisting in these issues.  (Right?  Or is that just an assumption I’ve made?)  Books from authors like Jen Hatmaker make me think that I’m not doing enough.  Or, at least, the things that I’m doing aren’t the right things.

Some conclusions that I’ve come to:

Maybe the church’s track record is better than we think.  There are many ministries out there, formed by Christians, to help with homelessness and illiteracy.  Many a hospital has been built out of a Christian concern for people.  Many a medical missionary has gone to foreign countries to practice.

The church was established for equipping Christians, not really fixing all the world’s problems.  The world’s problems aren’t all going to get fixed.  It’s like the church is a school for doctor’s, not a hospital.  It’s the place where people are trained up and equipped to know Jesus better, love God more and to know the Bible more.

Helping others is a commandment.  And there are productive ways to help people and unproductive ways.  Sometimes, people really need money.  But other times, they think they need money, but they need Jesus to help them break the patterns of bad decisions that they’ve made or need people to give guidance.

You can’t (and shouldn’t) ignore the needs you know of – if you can meet those needs. If the person next to you says she is hungry, you feed her.  But if the person next to you say she is hungry, but only wants money (not food), then you can’t meet that need.  Being presented with someone that has a legitimate need that you can meet, seems to me to be a “holy hint” that it’s something you’re supposed to do.  I might be wrong, but I’d rather error on the side of caution.

One of the books that helped me come to these conclusions was Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert’s book named “What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission”.   I really recommend it.  It’s not a super easy read and I’m not in 100% agreement with all of it, but I think it provides a nice contrast to the line of thought that says “If your church isn’t more about poverty/sex trafficking/missions/drugs/homelessness/medical needs than it is about preaching/teaching/counseling/worshipping, then you’re doing something wrong.”

 

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Church on Mother’s Day

As I think ahead to tomorrow, I just think church on Mother’s Day is AWKWARD!

And I get it.  Church people are in a hard position. Acknowledge mother’s day?  How much?  How little?

There’s the new mom who will just be devastated if she isn’t recognized.  She’s beaming as she clutches her 3 month old to her chest.

There’s the 80 year old great-grandma who lives for the day when she can be surrounded by her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids.  She’s there wearing her corsage, looking all adorable.

There’s the woman who isn’t a mom and doesn’t want to be.  But she feels the eyes of everyone looking at her, not standing up when it seems like all the other women in the room over the age of 25 are.

There’s the woman who isn’t a mom and does want to be.  Desperately.  And like the woman above, she feels everyone looking at her.  But maybe she isn’t in church today after all, maybe she’s at home because she just doesn’t want the looks.

There’s the teen mom, who is a mom, but feels the embarrassment and maybe guilt of being a mom at 17.

There’s the mom who wants her family to appreciate her, but she’s disappointed in how they express it.  In the past, her kids have been too little to do it “up right” and dad doesn’t know how to teach them what mom wants.  So, she’s hopeful that “today might be the day” her expectations are meant, but she’s also a little wary.

There’s the mom whose kids haven’t turned out like she hoped they would and she doesn’t think she did a very good job.  Sure, she’ll stand, but sheepishly.  Apologetically.

There’s the mom whose kids are with her in church.  And instead of looking proud of and grateful to their mom, they’re rolling their eyes.

Church on Mother’s Day: It’s AWKWARD.  You should give someone a hug.

 

 

 

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Why This Church?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t like my church.  I’ve felt this for a couple of years now, so I don’t think the feeling is going away any time soon.

But the problem is that I don’t know WHY I don’t like this church.

  • It has wonderful ministries – inner city ministries, hospitals for women and children in Africa, helping sex trafficking victims, teaching pastors in China and Mali.  Divorce care ministries, single moms, addiction recovery, counselors on staff, food pantries.  I think the ministry arm of my church does seriously wonderful things.
  • It has very nice people.  I don’t think I’ve met a mean person yet.  We’re in a small group and it’s full of rockstar people!
  • It has good theology.  There hasn’t been much preached from the pulpit that I disagree with. And nothing that I strongly disagree with.
  • It has a great library of all kinds of books.

It has upbeat worship.  But it isn’t really my style.  I feel like I’m at a concert instead of at a worship service.  Some people totally love that and get excited by it.  Not me, I guess.  It didn’t bother me at first, but it does now.

It has good teaching, but at the same time, I don’t really feel like I know the Bible any better because of my 4 years attending there.

I know a church isn’t supposed to be my only way of worshiping and learning about God – and it isn’t. But it’s also a major part.  I mean, if I go there  every single week and feel that I’d rather be in the nursery instead of in service, that’s a problem.

But is that enough reason to leave a church?  My husband likes it.  And since I can’t articulate very well why I don’t like it, it makes it hard to find another church – what would we look for?

Sigh…

 

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Using your gifts

“All the gifts which we possess have been bestowed by God and entrusted to us on condition that they be distributed for our neighbor’s benefit.” -John Calvin

I ran across this quote.  Somewhere.  Written in some book.  Which I have long since forgotten.  But the quote struck me enough to write it down.  And I keep coming back to it.  It keeps popping up in my mind.

What gifts do I possess?

I have many of the same gifts that most other people have.  Time.  Money.  Words. Smiles.  I might have some of these in more or less quantities than another person, but everyone has some measure of these.

What other gifts to I possess?  Education.  Knowledge.  Experience.  I know how to design software solutions.  I know how to price match.  I know how to diaper a baby (though not yet know how to potty train a toddler).

What neighbors do I want to benefit?

That’s the hard one for me – there are real, physical neighbors of course.  People that live in my circle.  There are “neighbors” that I work with.  Neighbors in my family.  Neighbors at my church.  Neighbors are all over!

Am I really using my gifts to benefit others?

Sometimes.  Sometimes not.  I use my software skills to benefit my company.  I use my baby diapering skills with my children.  But it kind of seems that I should be benefiting my neighbors more.  Not in a “full time, take lots of hours away from my family” kind of way.  But I’d my eyes and heart to be open to benefiting others in impromptu ways when an opportunity comes up to say something kind.  Or to  make a meal for someone.  Or to teach someone something that I know about.

I think sometimes an idea pops into my head of a way to bless someone, but then I don’t act on it.  That’s a shame! That very thought turned into action could be just what a person needs.

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Apathy or Wisdom?

When the whole Phil Robertson/Duck Dynasty/A&E controversy went down last month, I didn’t post about it.  I didn’t say anything on facebook about it.  5 years ago, I would have.  But the 2013 Jayme didn’t.

Why not now?  Wisdom?  

I’d like to think that it was because I didn’t really have a ‘dog in the fight’.  I don’t watch Duck Dynasty.  I’ve seen 2-3 episodes a couple of months ago when I was in the hospital after having Stephen…it was the only time that I had access to that channel.  The most exposure that I’ve had to the family is watching their testimony on I Am Second.

But I did read his comments in their entirety (I think) and my reaction was “Boy, that was a dumb way of putting it.”  and I also thought “I’ve said some really stupid things in my life and I’m guessing he regrets wording his position this way.  I think I know what he means, but man, oh man.”

I think I really only know what he means because we (likely) share the same biblical worldview and because I’ve seen his testimony.

I’d like to think it was wisdom that made me refrain from saying anything, but the answer might just as easily be apathy.

Because I don’t really watch the show, I didn’t really care about the outcome of the situation.  Which isn’t a big deal.  But what concerns me about myself is that maybe I don’t care about is how Christians are viewed.  And that’s a little troubling.

Because I should.  To some degree anyway.  I should care about how Christians are seen by others.  I want us to be seen as loving.  And joyful (not ridiculously happy because we’re clueless, but joyful as-a-whole).  And aware (of what others face).  And compassionate (knowing how difficult some people’s struggles are – no matter what it’s about).  And gracious.

And in the whole Duck Dynasty/Pat Robertson/A&E thing, most Christians didn’t come across as loving, joyful, aware, compassionate or gracious.  And that stinks.

But it didn’t really bother me very much.  And I think it should have.  At least a little.

What do you do with that realization?

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A more useful body

I came across this quote a while back in an Elisabeth Elliot book I was reading (I can’t remember which one, but I suspect it was Through Gates of Splendor).  Her first husband, Jim, was pretty selective about the activities and clubs he joined when he was in college.  He was planning on being a missionary and picked activities that he felt would directly prepare him for that life.  So, it seemed kind of weird to many that he was in the wrestling club.  His reasoning:

“I wrestle solely for the strength and co-ordination of muscle tone that the body receives while working out, with the ultimate end that of presenting a more useful body as a living sacrifice” – Jim Elliot

It’s a great thought and one that challenges me in my quest of healthier eating.  Eating healthier is great and a LARGE part of the journey to being healthier, but how about my physical activity? 

Plus, this quote is a good reminder of WHY physical health – is my reason that it’s ultimately because I want to present a more useful body to the Lord?  I’m not convinced that’s my reason 100% of the time – or even 50% of the time, but it’s something to chew on (tee hee!)

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Proverbs 31 man?

I was reading Proverbs 31 and noticed the verses preceeding the passage on the Proverbs 31 woman.  It’s still the same queen giving advice to her son, but instead of listing out qualities that the wife should have, she was giving her son advice on what he must be.  In essence, she was listing out some qualities that men should strive for.

Let’s read Proverbs 31:2-9, shall we?

2 Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
   Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
3 Do not spend your strength on women,
   your vigor on those who ruin kings.

 4 It is not for kings, Lemuel—
   it is not for kings to drink wine,
   not for rulers to crave beer,
5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
   and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
6 Let beer be for those who are perishing,
   wine for those who are in anguish!
7 Let them drink and forget their poverty
   and remember their misery no more.

 8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
   for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly;
   defend the rights of the poor and needy.

There’s probably many blog posts that can be written about different qualities.  But I just want to point out a few:

  • What does it mean to spend your strenth on women and on those who ruin kings?
  • Why shouldn’t kings drink wine?
  • Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves!
  • Speak up and judge fairly!

Mainly, how can I use these instructions in my teaching my son(s)?  What impact should this have as I teach them to interact with others?  How can I put this advice into real life practice?  Good things to think about.

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