1/12/18 Morning Musing: We Damage His Name…

After reading another story about another woman being sexually assaulted by a man and it not coming to public knowledge for decades and hearing her disparaged and minimized because she “waited too long” or because it was “decades ago”…I just can’t be quiet any longer. (This time, it was Andy Savage of Highpoint Church in Tennessee.) It’s late and my heart hurts so be patient with me as I try to make coherent points.

I can not understand how “waiting so long” is supposed to negate the victim’s reliability or the truth. People in power have gotten away with abuse of the ones without that power forever…and unfortunately, it is also true in churches. But unlike outside of the church, we Christians should be held to a different standard…not because we are better than anyone else…not by a long shot. We should be held to a higher standard because we have intimate understanding of Jesus’ example of giving a voice to the voiceless…of bringing justice to the marginalized…and giving dignity to the broken or hurting. This intimate knowledge of our God and his heart means that we can not continue to ignore injustice and abuse of power while representing our Lord accurately because each time we do, we aren’t just lying…we aren’t just hurting the individuals being denied justice…we are also damaging the name of our God.

We damage his name when we continue to turn a blind eye to abuse.

We damage his name when we refuse to see other people…other image-bearers…as valuable.

We damage his name when we give racism or sexism (or any other ism) a pass by remaining quiet when we know we should be speaking up.

We damage his name when we refuse to enter into honest and respectful dialogue about topics that matter. (This contributes to the trend of people seeing the church as obsolete.)

We damage his name when we defend abusers and judge victims based on whether or not we align with them politically, denominationally, etc. (Yes, I just went there.)

We damage his name when we push for male leaders in church to receive funds for their ministry, appropriate pay and title, and continuing education while denying it for their female counter-parts.

We damage his name when we beat people up with our religion instead of listening to them and loving them.

We damage his name when we applaud what is wicked and criticize what is good.

We damage his name when we deny others the freedom that we simultaneously demand for ourselves.

We damage his name when we judge others instead of remembering how we have been forgiven.

We damage his name when we mistreat each other in the name of “witnessing.”

We damage his name when we abandon the needy, weak, marginalized, aged, or hurting.

We damage his name when we refuse to own our sins and, instead, justify our ugly behaviors or minimize them by using more palatable wording so that we can feel better about ourselves.

I could go on and on forever with this. At some point, we must quit tolerating the abuse of power. If we are the ones with power, God’s blessings are not limited…there is no need to try to hoard it. If we are the abusers, yes there is forgiveness…the gospel is not too small for any sin…but that doesn’t mean that accountability is void. If we are the survivors…and hear me on this…please hear me…our pain is not to be wasted! It can become a beautiful place that will allow us to minister to others and understand the hurts of others if we allow it. If we are the ones without power, our God is the God Who Sees us (El Roi) so he clearly sees the power-mongers and they will be held accountable.

How are you doing with this? Did any of these points make you wince a little or bring a specific incident to mind? Is there some way that you can pursue a more truthful and authentic way of living this out? Is there someone that you feel you should apologize to? Is there forgiveness that you can extend to someone regardless of whether or not they have asked for it?

My prayer for us tonight is that we would simply love each other better. I am praying that instead of constantly grappling for power or position or status or whatever, that we would see the truth of what is important and life-giving and pursue it with abandon. I am praying that we would try to squeeze every bit of living out of this life while we have it instead of pursuing the things that lead to our physical, emotional, and spiritual death. I am praying that we would also learn how to receive love when offered by others.

Much love friends,

Beks

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7/8/16 Morning Musing: Judging a Book By it’s Cover

In the last hour, I learned of the shootings that happened back home in Dallas last night (on top of recent ones in Orlando, Baton Rouge, and Falcoln Heights.) I’m heart-broken for the victims and their families. I’m heart-broken over the violence. But most of all, I am heart-broken over the very large number of people who are embracing hatred as an ideal. Racism (any bigotry really) is hatred wrapped up in laziness…it is judging someone by one characteristic that can be observed hastily and from a distance (lazy!) There is no investment in this type of judgement…no conversation is had…no learning about the other person…no identifying what you might have in common…no understanding that, at our core, we all need and crave the same things.   

What repulses me the most about this is that so many of the people on either side of this conflict claim to be Christians. Let’s be clear, racism (bigotry) is in direct conflict with the gospel:

“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” ‭Colossians‬ ‭3:8-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So, instead of choosing sides…instead of assuming character traits based on someone’s appearance or activities…instead of deciding which side different people are on…instead of fueling the inferno that leads to pain, death, and hell…let’s choose to love…let’s choose to put in effort…let’s choose to move toward those who are different from ourselves (and maybe, just maybe learn something other than our own limited perspective)…let’s choose to serve others…let’s choose to seek to understand…let’s choose peace…let’s choose grace…let’s choose forgiveness…let’s choose life…let’s choose to deny ourselves an easy, lazy, hateful, and evil way out…let’s choose to all be on the same side. And let that side be one where we are all humans…unique, gifted, valued, and loved deeply by God.  

I don’t think that God does things by mistake. So, isn’t it interesting that Jesus came as a member of one of the smaller and most-hated people groups in the world’s history? Isn’t it interesting that nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus came for all people except __________? Isn’t it interesting that God made such a diverse humanity to live here together? Imagine what we could do…what amazing things we could accomplish…what a different future we could create…if we would quit having temper tantrums about people being created differently from ourselves.  

My prayer today is that we would take a minute with the people we interact with…that we would make fewer assumptions about them, and instead, actually learn about them. I am praying that we would be people who invest in others, search for value in individuals, and that we would love…love when we are uncomfortable…love when we feel unheard or misunderstood…love when justice has been defied…love when we are hurting…love when everyone around us is choosing hate. Lord, let us be one people who reflect you through love.

Much love friends,

Bekah

11/26/14 Middle of the Night Musing: Truth to Stand On

It’s 1:30 am and I can’t sleep…I keep thinking about my skin color, my experiences, my faith, my family, my successes and my failures. I am heart-broken about the tension (for lack of a better word) between different races. My glass-is-half-full side wants to believe in our justice system…but I know it’s a facade from my own experience with a legal battle where anything but justice was served. I’m thinking about the frustration and fear and crime and I feel overwhelmed. My head knows that God is not overwhelmed, surprised, or un-prepared to handle the mess that we keep making of his beautiful creation. So, to settle my brain, I thought I would go back to what helped me through my spiritual crisis after the poisoning: finding truths to stand on.
1. Our God is Good. Good. Not evil. He created different races, genders, personalities, skill sets, passions, etc. not so that we would be divided…but so that we could wrap our human brains around the many different facets of our Creator. We were not created to be in competition with each other…but to complement each other and reflect a more complete picture of our Good God. It does not mean that everything we do is good…not by a long stretch…but since mankind was created in the image of God (A good God)…maybe we should not assume that anyone else is purely evil (especially if we are making the assumption based on the other person being different from ourselves.)
2. We can trust our Good God. We are only here because he saw fit to create us and breathe life into us. So, whether you are a mother who is concerned about the well-being of your babies, a man who will have to live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life, or a young adult who still thinks that you’ve got “control” over your life, God thinks you are valuable and he takes joy in the creation that is you. He is the author of life, he is the giver of every good gift, and he loves you and your loved-ones even more than you do.
3. We live in a fallen world. I’m not saying that to be trite…but this is not the Eden we were intended for. We are going to experience hurts, grief, fear, frustration, and rejection because our world and our souls are broken. That is why our breath catches in our chests and tears spring to our eyes when we hear about tragedies: 9-11, Sandy Hook, Boston marathon, and now the death of Michael Brown and the fallout that has occurred. This is not Eden and we weren’t supposed to experience this. It is not a reflection of our life-giving God and when we learn about it, something in us ruptures…shatters…because we were not supposed to know death…and when we are confronted by it, it leaves a nasty, bitter taste in us…it changes us.
4. Because we are all broken, we are going to hurt each other. We are going to damage others and they are going to damage us. So, we have a choice to make: we can retreat into isolation and lick our wounds while they fester and turn into bone-deep sickness that robs us of life and joy…or we can offer up our hurts to our Jesus as an offering and find light and truth and peace. Make no mistake about it, whether we like it or not, we are either fully pursuing Jesus’ peace or we are pursuing hate by nursing our biases and prejudices (and if we allow that in ourselves, we are making the gospel weak and small…something not worth offering to others.)
5. People are going to respond badly. There are going to be people…”Good Christians” who will spout hatred in the name of God. There are going to be intelligent people who buy whole-heartedly into ignorant ideas. And there are going to be broken people who enjoy bringing misery to others. But none of that changes who Jesus is. His identity is not dependent on the behavior of Christians (Whew! That is good news because if I’m honest, I suck!) There is rest to be had in understanding that God is still God regardless of our circumstances.
6. When we get it right…when we are able to pour out what is being generously and lavishly poured into us…we get a glimpse of Eden…we get a glimpse of what we were designed for…and it brings glory to the one who deserves it.

**I know this one was preachy…but it wasn’t meant for you, it was meant for myself. Re-visiting truth is what brought me out of the pit that I lived in for a long time. It was a despairing, bitter, and painful place that I wouldn’t wish on anyone…so on the off-chance that this could help someone else re-direct their eyes back to Jesus, I’m sharing it with you all.**

My prayer is that we would pursue healing, rest, and peace that God can give us in any circumstances. Much love friends,

Beks

Photo taken from: http://m.inmagine.com/image-is098te1d-Flower-growing-in-desert-landscape.html

3/21/14 Morning Musing: Spewing Hate

If you have been injured by Christians or the Church in the name of God, I would like to apologize to you. I know that I have been guilty of this in the past and can only credit my own immaturity fueled by zeal and lack of compassion. Before you write off God or church or Christianity, please consider this: you aren’t signing up to be like other Christians when you decide to follow Jesus…you are signing up to be slowly transformed to be more like Jesus. Jesus is loving, gracious, compassionate, self-sacrificing, gentle, strong, wise, patient, understanding, tender, and merciful. He spoke against the religious elite who sat in smug judgement of “sinners” and then he died among sinners.

Jesus didn’t come to judge people, he came here in a breakable form to love well…not spew hate. He never ostracized…he brought in the marginalized people from society and gave them a sense of belonging and healing. The people that were most damaged by the “In-crowd” were the people that he gravitated toward and to which he opened his arms. Although Christians most definitely get it wrong much of the time, we represent (however poorly sometimes) a Jesus who never got it wrong. We are just in the process of refinement. We will screw up. You will too. Because every single one of us needs that grace that Jesus shows. And honestly, how are we to become more like Jesus if everyone around us is to act perfectly? I’m stealing and paraphrasing this question from a video that I listened to with Paul Washer, John Piper, and Voddie Baucham: “When are you more like Jesus? When your loved ones are perfect or when you are forced to forgive just like the God you serve?” (paraphrase…take a listen…it’s really good! http://youtu.be/ZACkRe_W4Gg) Of course, every time I act like a beast now, I tell Stan that I am just helping him to be more Christ-like. 😉

I think we need to be discerning of what we do in the name of God but we also need to be discerning of the actions of others. I have seen Christians use scripture to brutalize others, to bully others, to elevate themselves, and to exclude others. None of that is the work of God. Any words can be taken out of context and turned into something that it was never meant to be. So before writing off God or Christianity, please ask yourself if the offense that you have encountered truly represents Jesus. If it doesn’t, then my guess is that work is being done in that individual too. Refinement is a painful process and sometimes we don’t handle that pain properly. Instead of bearing under it gracefully, we want to focus on someone else’s “shortcomings” so that we are distracted from our own. Please forgive us.

Image taken from: http://toryshulman.com/4-steps-to-surviving-the-sucky-feeling-of-being-left-out

2/20/14 – Quick Evening Musing

Quick Evening Musing: I think that these people have caused immense pain and damage and I think doing the same to them won’t make people feel better…it will only leave them feeling bitter and hollow afterward. Continuing hate is no way to bring about love. I find it ironic that they are asking for the very respect that they refused to afford to others…the respect that all humanity deserves. Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if the people that they said were hated by God showed them the love of God in a selfless and dignified way?! That is what I will be praying for. Let’s rise up people and require that they rise up too instead of letting them sink and requiring that we sink with them.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

http://www.power1057.com/common/page.php?pt=Westboro+Baptist+Leader+Dying%2C+Relatives+Ask+for+People+to+Not+Protest+his+Funeral&id=18773&is_corp=0

Picture taken from:
http://www.gossiprocks.com/forum/faith-religion/187224-josef-miles-9-year-old-boy-protests-westboro-baptist-church.html