Compassion in Action

Luke 13:10-17

10 One Sabbath, Jesus was teaching in a Jewish meeting place, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by an evil spirit for eighteen years. She was completely bent over and could not straighten up. 12 When Jesus saw the woman, he called her over and said, “You are now well.” 13 He placed his hands on her, and right away she stood up straight and praised God.

14 The man in charge of the meeting place was angry because Jesus had healed someone on the Sabbath. So he said to the people, “Each week has six days when we can work. Come and be healed on one of those days, but not on the Sabbath.”

15 The Lord replied, “Are you trying to fool someone? Won’t any one of you untie your ox or donkey and lead it out to drink on a Sabbath? 16 This woman belongs to the family of Abraham, but Satan has kept her bound for eighteen years. Isn’t it right to set her free on the Sabbath?” 17 Jesus’ words made his enemies ashamed. But everyone else in the crowd was happy about the wonderful things he was doing.

This passage is familiar, particularly with the emphasis that Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath.  As I see it, this was the first part of the indictment.  It speaks to the rigidity the leaders held and enforced concerning the Law.

The Law was never meant to override the needs of people.  Jesus made this point clear, when He said, “Won’t any of you untie your ox or donkey and lead it out to drink on a Sabbath?”

It’s like, let’s be real…you are able to take care of your animals on the Sabbath, but a woman gets healed and you have a fit because she was healed on the Sabbath.

Really?

They seemed to forget about all those provisional things for people that were also clearly mentioned in the scriptures.  It was the Pharisees who decided all that extra stuff.  They had over two thousand rules in order to obey the Law and much of it was not based on scripture.

Wow.  Sounds a lot like what we hear from much of the Church, these days.

Right after He basically tells them that they treat livestock better than people, He points out two things.  First, He says, “This woman belongs to the family of Abraham…”.  In other words, “Boys, she is one of your own.”  He was showing them that they can’t even take care of one of their own (much less, anyone else) because of their sense of the Law.

He continued, “…but Satan has kept her bound for eighteen years.  Isn’t it right to set her free on the Sabbath?”

womansetfreeSet. Her. Free.

For eighteen years she suffered this affliction.  It bound her.  She was limited. Uncomfortable. Likely, in some pain, too.  She was not free.  Jesus set her free.

Imagine, being her.  No running.  No leisurely strolls. In pain. Being considered as “less than”, or at least, feeling that way.  For 18 years.

No one really knows what caused her problem.  This is probably the reason she was said to have been “crippled by an evil spirit”.  Was it stress?  Depression?  Hopelessness?  All of those?  It may have been an injury, but my speculation is that her malady was due to an attack on her soul.  The father of lies got to her.

Jesus saw the woman and called her over.  She was just there, bent over and probably uncomfortable.  He was not about to wait for her to ask.  As usual, He had compassion. He saw her in her misery, unable to stand straight.  He calls her over, places His hands on her as He says, “You are now well.”

This had some impact.  The “enemies” were ashamed because…

  • Jesus showed the compassion that they would not
  • Jesus pointed out they had eighteen years to show some compassion
  • He pointed out that they would take better care of their animals on the Sabbath than they did people.

1 John 3:17 (NLT)  If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion–how can God’s love be in that person?

Let’s forget the financial reference here, for a minute.  Let’s consider the point.  If there is something we have or are able to do and we overlook or bypass someone who has a need we can fill, we might lack compassion.

Compassion.  To “suffer with”.  Empathy.  When religious dictates rule over the needs of people, empathy and compassion go right out the window.  This was never God’s intention or plan and Jesus demonstrated compassion.

I don’t know about you, but I would like to move forward with compassion.  If I have the ability to do something and come across someone that has a need, I want to be one of those who extends a hand of compassion and love.

When people reach out a hand…are we willing to reach and pull them up?

 

 

 

 

 

The Profession Obsession or the Confession Direction

I have a long time friend, Mike, I have known since we served together in the Navy back in the early eighties.  He and I have managed to keep in touch and we talk together frequently, mostly by text messaging.  Besides pre-pubescent level insanity befitting two guys in their mid fifties, we share epiphanies and inspirations and often learn from one another.  Here is the sum of what Mike opened with recently:

What direction is love in your life?  If your theology hinges on your love for God, then the blood and the cross eventually take second place.  This can produce a compulsion to work and brag about your love for God and thinking you have “levels of faith”.

Interesting.  Wouldn’t you say?

loudmouthSo much of the Church has gone the way of professing their love for God and the result is a misinterpretation of what it means to love God.  If it becomes strictly a matter of us loving Him, then the Cross means nothing.

It starts with the Cross…His love for us.

We read, “Love the Lord with all you heart, all your soul and all your mind.”  However, this has become something of a doctrine of our effort toward salvation and approval by God.  It is as if they promote a gauge of how much a person loves God, which is measured in words and deeds.  In other words, the more work you do and the louder you can shout and profess your love for God, the more approved you are and the greater the proof of your salvation.

If you ask me, this sounds tiresome.  How do these “professors” and their faithful followers keep up with this?  Well, it’s like that commercial for a brand of anti-depression medication, where the people carry a paper smiley-face mask with them.  They put on a facade.

Fake it?  Yes.  Put on a happy face.  Therefore, all this profession is a facade in front of others along with an attempt to impress God.

Impress God?  As if.

How can anyone impress the Creator of the Universe?  Peasants.

His love for us, however, outshines anything we can even attempt to do to impress Him. He isn’t impressed with us or anything we do.  He loves us.

Law is profession.handup

It takes no faith to profess something.  You can shout anything you want from whatever vast knowledge or belief you may or may not have.  Profession takes no faith.  There are plenty of pulpit-pounding purveyors of various doctrines out there who profess stuff they don’t understand or necessarily believe. Confession, however, does.

Love is confession

We confess that He loves us.  Since we know He loves us, we love Him in return.

Parents, your children’s love for you is out of response to your love for them.  You don’t demand or command that they love you.  They love you because they know you love them.

How much more does the Father love us?

The danger of enforcing profession.

When leaders profess love for God and enforce (encourage?) the profession of love for God by others, what happens is individual efforts to impress God with our love for Him.  What we may see is people straining to reach God, singing and shouting loudly during “worship service”, as if the louder and more exuberant they become, the more obvious it will be to God how much they love Him.  Many of these people are insecure in the idea of God’s love for them.

Another, probably bigger danger is the judgmental statements that start with, “If you truly love the Lord…”.  This forces people to profess and/or prove their love for the Lord.  It results in the facade of behavioral modification.

God.  Loves.  You.

Learn that.  Agree with it.  Believe it.  Know it.  Take refuge in that.  Just sit back and know that He loves you.  Know that His work on the Cross is sufficient.  Did He not say, “It is finished.”?  We don’t need to stress and strain or prove our love for Him…He loves us, no matter what.

When we embrace the fact that He loves us, our love for Him follows.  Then, we begin to act on that love, when He calls, commands or speaks to us…and we obey because we love Him. We do for Him out of our love for Him and our love for Him is in response to His love for us.

Knowing how loved we are prompts, propels and compels us to love and serve Him.

A very busy man in ministry was once asked how he did all that he did, with the travel and ridiculous schedule.  His reply, “I know that I know that God loves me.”

Let’s not gauge our spirituality or our standing by how much (we think) we love God.  Let’s not measure how much we love God by what we do, how we do it or how we behave.  This is backward.  Our love is incomplete, impure and has its share of conditions and reservations.

We need to go back to the Cross.

We need to remember how completely and unconditionally He loves us.

1 John 4:10 (NIV), This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

This gives us a good starting point toward loving Him.  First – and always – His love, proven at the Cross. Then, our love for Him follows.  It is more organic than demanded.

 

 

 

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Beginning Rebuilding

I don’t know about you, but once in a while, I wonder why something is named a certain name.  This is a little about my motivation behind Nehemiah Project.

In a few previous posts, I have shared experiences with a previous church.  After leaving that church, my wife and I began to re-examine what we have been taught for years.  It was  time to rebuild.

About a year ago, maybe a little longer, the name of Nehemiah started swirling around in my head.  Plenty of swirling room in there, trust me.  So, I re-read about our dear old wall-repair guy.  I saw some stuff that I must have overlooked, before.

So, the wall has been heavily damaged…destroyed.  Nehemiah had a deep desire to restore the wall.  The first step…he prayed about it.  Then, it was the Lord who gave him the go-ahead.  Then, as we know, he got permission from the king as well as building supplies.

brokewallThe rebuilding project was underway.  Having taken part in some household remodeling, I can imagine that there was clearing of the rubble, removing damaged parts on the wall, (carefully, so as to not further damage the wall) assessing what can be reused versus what will need to be replaced.  This was not a small garden wall. For that matter, this was about rebuilding the city, not just the outer wall.  The rebuilding of the wall would give way to people returning and the city being rebuilt.

Overall, I see Nehemiah as someone who wanted to protect people and restore the home of himself and his people.  I suspect that he might have tried to do it alone, if no one else signed up to take part in the rebuilding project.

There are other aspects and details to Nehemiah.  But, this is not a study on Nehemiah. This is about rebuilding.

Many of us have been raised on doctrines that are contrary to the Gospel message. These doctrines have been added to and morphed beyond what was already scripturally unrecognizable.  This has not only affected the Gospel message, but has had an impact on society, as well.

Note…I do not believe that the US is a Christian nation, but I do believe the Church has some influence.  Not the lobbying and protesting sort (although, there can be a time and place for such things), but many people do react to what they see and experience with Christians.

We need to assess the doctrines that we have been fed.  We need to sort them out and get rid of the ones that have no integrity.  We need to rebuild what has been torn down by doctrines of legalism, hatred, greed and hierarchy.  We need to build one another up, with the love and grace of Jesus.  It is time to return to His original intent.

I don’t mind challenging these old doctrines.  Sure, some may call me a heretic.  But, by the true definition of a heretic, I’m fine with that.  I have no problem challenging orthodoxy.  I do my best to avoid heated argument, but I am not opposed to reasonable discourse.  No, not to change anyone’s thinking (well, it would be nice if that happened)…but, perhaps to challenge them to think and consider that the old way might not be correct.

Like Nehemiah, we need to begin by praying.  Just one on one with the Lord.  Gain His perspective and see what it is He wants us to change personally, then seek what He wants us to do with that.

As for Nehemiah Project, I have it in my heart that it go beyond a blog.  For now, I wait.  I feel like a horse in the gate.

But, I wait.

Not easy.

I don’t like waiting.  But, I also don’t like the consequences of charging ahead of what the Lord wants.

Been there, done that.  Not so much good.

My desire is that people move forward.  We need to get beyond the fairy-tales and made up doctrines.  We need to return to the Gospel…how Jesus did things while He was here.  We ought to get back to grace, mercy and love – love being at the nucleus.

Love is Who He is.

That is a solid foundation from which to build.

 

 

 

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He Said…What?!

I am one who believes that I can confront someone when the issue is more serious than who the person is I need to confront.  This includes pastors.

Going back more than 8 years ago, there was an interesting set of circumstances between our pastor, one of the youth leaders and our son.  It all started when our, then, pastor was passing by an area grocery store and “sensed in his spirit” my son working there.

He mentioned it to our son and got this other young man, Chuck, in on it and decided that our son should apply for a job at this store.  Our son was about 15, at the time, so he was a minor and not a licensed driver.

When our son told us about this, we told him it was not possible, as the distance and traffic would cause us over an hour worth of driving him back and forth.  The following youth meeting, the pastor and Chuck decided that Chuck could take our son out there to apply.

I called the pastor the following night – a Saturday – and firmly let him know my disgust over this whole thing.  I was angry.

“Who do you guys think you are making decisions for my son?”, I started, with a small amount of volume and obvious anger.  As we talked, I calmed down and explained that it was impractical for our son to work two towns over through dense traffic.

Then, Sunday came.  The pastor met me as we were walking in. “Can I see you guys after service?”

I had no idea what it was about.  I didn’t even consider it was about the discussion the night before.  Not only did I calm down during that discussion, but I apologized for being so animated.

This was the first of two definite “ambush” meetings.  My wife and I met the pastor and his wife and one of the other pastors and his wife in a classroom after service.  The senior pastor started with me, right off.

“The way you spoke to me last night was rude and disrespectful.”

Well, I was upset, but I believed I had reason to be.  I did remind him that, if he recalled, I did calm down through the conversation and made a quick apology for my emoted verbage.  He went on with, “I hope no one in your family was in hearing shot.”  I assured him I was alone in a room when I called.  Then, he said something that floors me to this day…

“You offended the office of the Pastor.”

Really?  Is that really a thing?

When you are cornered with such a barrage of accusations, unless you are quick on your feet, you simply apologize and wait for the smoke to clear.  Even though I apologized, it was more for pacification.  I knew I was not wrong.  After all, his actions concerning my son were technically a usurpation of the parents.

He made the decision and told our son he should apply to that store and Chuck would take him.  The parents were told afterward.

That don’t fly with me.

Parent “outranks” pastor.  Our children were given to us…we were responsible for them. No one can override that.  Pastor or not…you get between us and our kids, I just might let you hear about it.

As for that disrespecting the office thing…this is a load of crap.  It does not hold up scripturally nor by any definition of what a pastor is.

Do I have a point?  Let’s see if I can make sense of this.

First, the hierarchy that has been established in church leadership is mostly  counterfeit. What has been dubbed the 5-Fold Ministry is not what some teachings declare.  It has become a list of levels of hierarchy and this is not suggested, at all.  Pastors have become bosses, presidents, be-all and end-all, first and last word and overly revered for what should be a serving position (and no…”pulpit ministry” is not serving).

Second, parents are the parents.  No one should usurp parental authority.  No one.  As parents, we need to live up to the responsibility and not let others dictate what our kids do or where they go.  This does not mean we should not listen to good parenting advice or suggestions concerning our kids.  It means no one else makes ultimate decisions for our kids.

I have a few stories from those days, which I might share as I go.  This is not to expose what went on (church name deliberately not mentioned), but to share what I learned in the process.

sunsteepleAs the Church, we need to start emptying our heads of the doctrines that have been taught for centuries and spend time with the Lord and in scripture.  We need to challenge the age-old doctrines which either do no good or even do more harm than good.  So many of these doctrines hold people back from their full potential, by placing them in a servile status. The very idea of clergy and laity has nothing to do with any possible scriptural instructions or even suggestions.

I believe the Church can move forward into greater things if we ditch the levels of hierarchy and realize that, regardless of the authority given, we are all the same level of servant.  We need more people doing what needs to be done and less “leaders” teaching us how to be good Christians.

Maybe church gatherings should be more about planning and organizing how to practically love one another and our neighbors.

Maybe pastors should not tell people where to go or how to serve, but serve first and perhaps others will join in.

Maybe we should stop being so lazy, relying on leaders to tell us what to do and seek the Lord ourselves and go forward in what He has for us.

Well, it seems like I stretched this one out, a tad.  But, that incident was one of the ones that started me on a journey to seek out some reality.

Some might call me a heretic.  Fine.  I can handle being accused of challenging orthodoxy – especially when so much of it has little or nothing to do with scripture.

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Ministry Vs. Invitations

Every church, it seems, has some sort of an “outreach” program.  From what I have observed, there are two main ideas of what “outreach” is.

joinusThe lesser version is where the target of outreach is a getting people into a church. Whatever the specific program, the idea is to add numbers to their gathering.  Most think this is good ministry and what they are doing is spreading the Gospel.  While most involved are genuine, they are missing the fact that what they are doing is attracting people to their church.

When Jesus said, “Go, therefore…”, there was no indication of any instruction that included inviting people to be among their number.  There was a commission to preach the Gospel.

Jesus demonstrated what it is to minister to people.  Of course, minister = serve. He taught, healed and He had the disciples distribute food (that He multiplied) to thousands. Very few of these people became part of the crowd that followed Him.  Yet, He never selected, segregated, cast away, shunned or denied anyone healing or a meal.

For some reason, we feel that if someone does not want anything to do with us or the message we are shoving down their throats, we may feel justified in having nothing to do with them anymore.

‘Tis ignominious thinking, there.

Stop inviting them to church!

Before you go to your corner and ponder whether you have sinned by reading my post, let me clear this up.  What I mean, here, is that we should not make outreach into a recruiting expedition.

We were never called to bring people to church.  We were never called to threaten people with Hell if they don’t yield to the message we are planting in their faces.  I fail to see how this is spreading “good news”.

What is “outreach”, anyway?  To be clear, you won’t find that word in the Bible.  We just added that one to our lingo, some time ago.  Basically, outreach is reaching beyond – so, it is not a mistaken word to add.  We should “reach beyond”.  This is what love would do.

It also means to – now, don’t be offset by the massive difficulty of this definition – to reach out.

But, as much as we use the word, outreach, we have allowed it to morph into something lesser.  It becomes less about ministering to people and more about marketing the local church.  We seem to want to reach out as long as we can pull them in.

Love does not pull.  Love draws.  Drawing is not manipulating or convincing…it happens more organically.  We cannot force it or manufacture it.  It is not our love that draws.  It is not us who draw.  Jesus draws.  It is His love, through us.handreach

We do have some effort on our part. If we are going to reach out, our efforts should be the same ones Jesus put forth.  Take care of people.

Feed, clothe and house the poor.

Welcome and love the disenfranchised.

Protect the weak from predators.

Serve the “less-than’s”.  Don’t let pride get in the way.

Make donations to or serve local food pantries or soup kitchens.

Raise money to help someone who has fallen behind, financially (unless you are loaded, then unlock that purse).

Have a shoulder available.  Sometimes people just need to vent to a non-judgmental ear.

If able, open home to someone who needs a home (teen having a tough time at home, pregnant teen, someone needing financial relief).  This has to be a well considered commitment – it can be a disturbance and upset to the household (we did this for a young woman and there were adjustments, but it was worth it.  Might tell that story, eventually).

Don’t forget, home first.

We also read to love others, especially those of the household of faith (Gal. 6:10).  While outreach is how we show our love to others, we must never forget loving one another. How we interact and take care of each other keeps us all going so we can feel free to reach out to the rest of the world.  Plus, people see how we treat each other and that speaks volumes. So, if a brother needs a “leg up”, another brother, who is able, should give him that boost.

Let’s be reminded…Jesus gave a new commandment…love one another.

Wear their shoes.

When Jesus saw the crowds, even when He was exhausted, He had “compassion on them” (Matt. 9, Mark 6).  To have compassion is to suffer with.  Let’s also consider, sympathy and empathy.  Jesus put Himself in their place…He felt their anguish, pain, anxiety and stress. He knew their loneliness, their shortfalls and their illnesses.  Rather than being all about our own agenda, we should listen to Him and allow Him to show us what He sees.

I, like many others, have been on the  receiving end of compassion as well as ignorance. There were times when I and my family needed some help and someone was there, without any of us asking.  Other times, I stood in “prayer circles”, explaining my trials during unemployment and was basically ignored, other than being prayed for.

The latter issue is huge.  There is too much “God bless you, be warmed and filled.”, which shows no love or compassion.  Too often, people of financial means essentially ignore the plight of a person in their lives who needs a boost.  No…just because someone has money should they dole it out to every struggling soul.  But, if someone has the means…well, John stated it well in 1 John 3…

16 By this we know [and have come to understand the depth and essence of His precious] love: that He [willingly] laid down His life for us [because He loved us]. And we ought to lay down our lives for the believers. 17 But whoever has the [a]world’s goods (adequate resources), and sees his brother in need, but has no compassion for him, how does the love of God live in him? 18 Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words]. (Amplified)

Less inviting.  More ministering.

Less preaching.  More serving.

Less apathy.  More compassion.

Less judgment.  More love.

I am no better at this.  I speak to myself, as well.  This year, I am praying to see what my hands can do.  I am tired of the same old – same old.  I feel it is time to rise up and be Jesus to people (especially in the current. political and “evangelical” climate).  For me, I am seeking just how that will go.  For now, I do what I can as opportunity is presented.

Let’s all seek ways to be Jesus to people.

 

 

 

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Surviving a Weird Life

Too many people grow up in adverse circumstances – poverty, abuse, broken homes, drug and alcohol abuse, and neglect to name a few.  Growing up in these circumstances can produce a variety of issues in the victims, that without proper intervention may have the possibility of turning into life-long problems.  The very least that occurs are memories that leaves one guarded and wary in certain situations.

homesweethomeMy upbringing started out fairly normal.  Mom, Dad, brother, sister, decent house in a wooded setting in a nice Essex County, New Jersey suburb.  But, things began to change.

By the time I was just short of turning eleven, my father had a massive stroke that rendered him unable to care for himself at all, keeping him in nursing homes for the rest of his life (25 years). This left our mother with the task of taking on the entire household herself, besides minding us kids.  There was one serious problem, though.

She was an alcoholic.

Looking back, our mother always had a drinking problem.  But, after our father was taken out of the picture, she became reliant on the bottle to get her through life.  This led to some pretty weird times, some even a bit terrifying.

Public embarrassment could pop up any time.  We often ate out and Mom would have her share of alcohol with dinner.  One time, my brother and I had to walk her out of a restaurant, as she could not steadily walk on her own.  We were not old enough to drive, so that made the ride home rather interesting, too.

One night, she decided we should all go to see a movie at the drive-in.  Being an alcoholic, she perpetually had alcohol running in her system, so even an evening at a movie was not without its events.

The one thing with some people who drink throughout the day is that they can appear sober for much of the day and suddenly go into a stupor, becoming irrational and unwise. This is the way it was for my mother.  My mother would suddenly get slurred in her speech and seemingly out of touch with present reality.

At a drive-in (old days of movie watching from a car), after being there for a bit, she had to go to the bathroom.  But, she decided that she did not want to walk the distance to use the bathroom provided.  So, she simply got out of the car and quietly squatted in a darker area between cars.  I have no idea if anyone saw her or not – I was staying low in the back seat.

I remember one night at a restaurant, I excused myself to the men’s room.  Upon returning, I saw my mother slouching down in her seat, drooling.  I turned around and went back to the men’s room and fought back tears of shear embarrassment.

Another restaurant adventure, she had two double dry martini’s and about two helpings of wine.  The ride home was terrifying, as we dodged oncoming traffic and just about every telephone pole.  Once we turned into the end of our road, she was heading toward the front of a house…I yelled at her and she veered off, crossing the road and took us into a well established oak tree.  We hit on my side. Ouch. Fortunately, it did not make my mug any worse.

For a while, being a passenger was not tops on my “fun things to do” list.  Even to this day, while I really don’t mind others’ driving, I would rather be at the wheel.

I was thirteen, at that time.  Life was weird enough just being that age.  Having to deal with public embarrassments was no thrill.  Of course, life at home was filled with many a loud argument between me and my mother.

That summer of the car wreck was also when her health began to decline.  She began to have leg pain, which is not uncommon for people whose main diet is alcohol. By early that October, she got pretty sick and called the doctor.  These were some of the last days of house calls, so he came over to see her.

After examining her, he came outside, where I was, took me aside and asked me a few questions concerning her drinking habits – how much, how often, etc.  He asked me.  I did say I was 13…right? I answered the best I could.  Looking back, it seems pretty weird that I was the one to ask about these things.  But, I guess I was the closest thing to an adult in the house (my sister is eight years younger and my brother, being deaf, was in a boarding school during the week).

Medication was prescribed for her and she was off the alcohol.  However, the DT’s (Delirium Tremens) were in full swing and the medication basically kept them at bay.  My grandmother (her mother) would be with her during the day and helped clean our disaster of a house and I had the night shift.  It continues to be weird.

If she had to go to the bathroom, I had to help her in as she was unsteady on her feet. That is more than enough for a thirteen year-old boy to go through.  But, every once in a while, she would have an hallucination.  No fun there, either.

She was ultimately admitted into the hospital.  She had cirrhosis of the liver and really should not have been home, at all.  What us kids did not know was how severe this was and our grandparents…her parents…kept encouraging the idea of “when she gets better…”.  She didn’t.

Back in 1975, liver transplants were still experimental, so that wasn’t even a thought.  In her state, the disease was fatal.  She died later that October.

It was the end of a very stressful, weird and surreal two and a half years.

It was even weird at her funeral.  It is not as if we had a great relationship, but she was still my Mom.  At the funeral, it was like I would start to cry and nothing would come out.  It was also surreal, to see a coffin, knowing there was a lifeless shell of someone I was talking to only a week or so before.

~There are so many more details, but I was not about to exhaust too much of one post on this.  I apologize for any apparent gaps.~

I learned a year later that God makes all things work together for the good.  For some reason, I took that to heart, just about right away.

I could see how events lined up – I lived with my paternal grandmother from about a year after my mother died, who took me to church, where I heard why Jesus died and how He wanted to be part of my life and share His with me.  A few years later, I would join the Navy, which would bring me to Virginia, where I met my wife.  Not only has she been the most solid relationship I ever had, but we had those four great kids (and now, adorable grandkids!).

I will likely never know the whole picture.  I don’t really need to.  I simply need to trust the Lord.

“Though He slay me, I will trust in Him” – Job

“Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will not fear evil, because You are with me.” – King David

Many of us have or have had a weird life.  A hard life.  Maybe even a sad life. Perhaps a violent life.

We don’t understand.  We hurt and we cry, we yell and complain, we fight and struggle. We press on, maybe walking, maybe crawling.  We see light at the end of the tunnel, wishing it not to be an oncoming train.  Yet, there is something that always rings true.

The Father is no less loving.  He is no less God.

I survived a weird life.  Some might say it was sad, or tragic.  But, as the years have gone on, I have been overcoming the effects of what went on back then (still a work in progress).

There is a difference between surviving and overcoming.  One gets you through, the other puts you in the victor’s seat.

 

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Grown-Up Stuff…A Few More Thoughts

Get the Church out of the bedroom!

Oh, I can hear the logic, now.  That’s impossible!  We are the Church!  Now, what we need to do is just follow along, here.

Within the Church, there are those who over-legislate sex among just about everything else.  They make rules for frequency, positions, men being in charge, lights out, only in the bedroom, only for procreation…blah, blah, blah.

Where did these rules come from?  As far as I can see…pretty much seems they are made up.

What about, “Be fruitful and multiply”.  Doesn’t that mean sex is only for procreation?

Nope.  There is no indication, not a hint…nuttin’ that gives a clue for that idea.

As for any of the other stuff, it is like someone was afraid of what sex could be and thought it to be something wrong.  There are no limits…whatever position, wherever hands go and whatever they do, oral stuff…all good.  Sex once a week, three times a week, or ten times a week…all good. Before children, as parents and into senior years…all good.  Whatever makes it good for the couple, is all good.

Bed half empty.

I heard a rather sad statistic…about half of married couples are NOT having sex.  What?! If we were to believe TV and movies, it would seem everyone is having sex fairly regularly.  But, then it stops sometime after marriage?  NO!  Whatever opportunities a couple has should be spent enjoying each other. There is nothing wrong with a couple who wants to be a bit slutty with each other.

Whoa!  Did you just use that word?

Yes, I did.  Get over it.  For that matter, if you are married, get over it, under it, on top of it, beside it…or whatever works for you and your spouse..as often as you can.  Go ahead and be a little slutty.

Geez, he said it again.

Mayest thou get over thyself.

Here is a bit of information that people tend to forget.  The whole good feeling, liking what you see, all the good touching, getting all fired up and all…God created that!  He made us that way!  You know what else?  He totally approves of whatever fun you like to have, too.

After all those kids and pizza.

There is that issue of body image.  Women are especially sensitive in this area.  Well, ladies, if your husband still likes being with you, even after all those kids and a few helpings of cake and potato chips, enjoy the ride.  It’s nice if you can stay or get back in shape, but if that guy is still warm for your form, then go and let him warm you up.

As time goes on, sexy takes on all new dimensions, with the help of gravity and maybe a few extra donuts.  And birthday cake. And everything between Thanksgiving and New Year.  Don’t sweat it.  If one of you is getting a bit spongy, likely the other is, as well.

It is not dignified for people over certain ages to engage in such relations.  Anyway, people lose interest after the years go by.

bedfeetReally?  Abraham and Sarah certainly were a fun pair, then.  I doubt they were honeymoon marathoners in their platinum years (at their ages, they passed golden years), but it seems they still had a reasonable fire in the furnace.  Let’s put it this way…if you are of certain senior age-range and still can and want to…go forth and enjoy!

Now, I am not opposed to losing weight and/or staying in reasonable shape.  Honestly, I think that sex can be more enjoyable when two people are less “girthy”.  And, when I say, ‘reasonable shape’, it means we don’t have to go all crazy at the gym and all that.  But, that we should be able to enjoy our time without a trip to the ER afterward.  Out of breath after the big event…expected.  Wheezing like a dying animal for just getting your clothes off…may want to make some changes.

A few more thoughts.

I just shared Anna McCarthy’s most recent post on depression (Just a Jesus Follower).  I think that many of the demands placed on people (by Christians) also affect what goes on between husband and wife.  Honestly, I think the reason so many people are not enjoying sex is because of everything around them.  Not only do we have many two-income households with children and all their demands and activities included, but in the Church we have many demands, as well.  We have to serve this much, we have to obey this way, we have to walk this line, our marriage has to appear like this, our demeanor has to look like that…and on, and on, and on.  We have been pounded with doctrines that have reduced us to often worrying what God is thinking of us, whether He is disappointed in us and even if we met some sort of condition to earn His love for us.  This does not encourage active snuggle time.

God loves you just as you are.  Warts, flab and all.  He created us just the way we should be. He created the sexual urge and did so for more than just procreation.  If you have been missing out on some good times for a while, maybe it is time to sit with your spouse and discuss the idea of getting back in the saddle, again.  Maybe it is time for me to stop using such corny metaphors. In any case, people need to feel free to get as nasty with each other as they see fit for themselves.

What rules?

Here are the only real rules – First, the marriage bed is un-defiled.  Second, do not deprive on another. Actually, these are not so much as rules, as they are declarations of the freedom to be with your spouse the way your spouse agree and enjoy being with one another.

If anyone wants any homework…well…you can make up your own assignment.

 

 

 

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