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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Keeping Records ... Or Not

We are people who keep records, sometimes even when we don't need to.  We make to-do lists, and we follow up on them!

We keep track of to whom we sent, and from whom we received, Christmas cards - for the last ten years.

We keep diaries, maintain journals, record household budgets, and fill out planners which track doctors, dentists, hair cuts, and a dozen and one other appointments.

We are folks who know how to keep records.  And yet ... there are times when it is better if we do not.

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The gift we selected with real care and thoughtfulness about the recipient's favorite colors and style of decor; and for which we never received even a passing "thanks."  How to overlook this?

The phone call we did receive, but which by the time it ended, we could not help but wish we had never picked up the receiver.  The unkind words, the hurtful attitude.  How to erase the pain?

The reward, or award, which we earned after hard work, genuine sacrifice, and obstacles overcome; but which went, nevertheless, to another.  How to move past it?

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians a passage which came to be known as the "love chapter" of the New Testament.  In it he instructs them that love "keeps no record of wrongs."

In an entirely different kind of script, in one of my favorite baseball movies (For The Love of the Game with Kevin Costner) the star pitcher reminds himself of something his father always told him to do, when needing to clear his mind and adopt a clean slate before the next pitch:  Clear the mechanism.

If he was to play at his best, give all he had to give, he must first clear the mechanism.

This meant letting go of any resentment over how the plate umpire may have called - or blown - the call on the previous pitch.

It meant forgetting about any interpersonal issues he might have with other players on the field.

It meant ignoring whatever physical pain he was enduring due to old, lingering injuries.

It meant ignoring the crowd noise, whether jeers or cheers.

Clear the mechanism

Keep no record of wrongs.

It is certainly easier said than done.  We nurse our wounds, we succor our pain, we avoid those who have hurt us.  We do these things because we are keeping a record - when what we should be doing is clearing the mechanism.
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Dear Lord, help me tonight to allow you to clear the mechanism that is my faulty record keeping.  Help me to remember that I, too, have wounded others, overlooked a tenderly offered gift, spoken hasty words which caused another pain.

I want to perform to the best of my ability, give all I have to give.  Help me to allow you to clear the mechanism.

Help me to keep no record of wrongs. 
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Hope you are in a good clear place this evening.  But if, perchance, like mine, your mechanism could use a good clearing ... well, you know who to call on.  Until next time, your flawed but thankful fellow traveler ~ Marsha

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

When the Earth Goes Topsy-Turvy

Psalm 75: 1 - 4 (an excerpt)

We give thanks to you, O god, ...
You say, "I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge uprightly.
When the earth goes topsy-turvy and nobody knows which end is up, I nail it all down again.
I put everything in place again. (The Message)

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Since beginning this blog over four years ago, I have rarely touched upon subjects which might be considered "controversial"; and I have done so intentionally.

My intent has been that my blog be informational, encouraging, and even perhaps, upon occasion, inspirational.  Additionally, I have always thought that a touch of humor would not be amiss, from time to time.

Today, however, there will be no humor, as I feel compelled to speak out upon a subject which may rankle some readers.  If so, may I say that while I have no desire to offend anyone, I do deeply wish to support those who may be feeling discouraged and dismayed at the Supreme Court's ruling this past week on same-sex marriage, so greatly discussed in the news.

I don't want to re-hash old clich├ęs such as "Love the sinner, hate the sin", etc.  As to whether homosexual behavior is sin, I believe the Bible is clear on the subject.  The word "abomination" is only found in scripture a very few times, but reference to this particular aberrant conduct is one of those times.

However, neither is such conduct irredeemable nor unforgivable, as some seem to feel.  The apostle Paul was clear, when he wrote to the Corinthians about the fact that some of them had been homosexuals when he stated "which some of you were" prior to their conversion to faith.

What is fairly astonishing is the extent to which our own culture has completely reversed itself on this topic within a span of less than twenty years.  It is truly hard to comprehend, unless we remember that the destruction of the family has always been one of Satan's primary objectives.

Some would say, but those who practice "alternative lifestyles" are forming families, either by raising their own biological children from prior relationships or by adopting in heretofore unprecedented numbers.  I would opine that such cobbled together arrangements are not families, so much as now legally recognized households. 

I have read psychological studies which maintain that children who are raised in "two mother" or "two father" households are more apt to grow up struggling with depression, social confusion, and a hampered ability to form healthy relationships of their own.

I am not saying that these same-sex parents are deliberately harming their children, because in most cases I do not think that is the case.  However, none of us can redraw God's design for the family, super-impose our human will upon it, and expect that it will all turn out all right, as long as we have good intentions.
 
We have all read where the road "paved with good intentions" leads to.

Beyond the societal impacts of the recognition of the so-called "rainbow coalition", there is an even broader impact upon those of us who truly believe in a God ordained plan for life, and who value the liberty of our personal freedoms.

In his written dissent to the 5-4 decision, Justice Samuel Alioto wrote this:

"I assume that those who cling to the old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools."

As Christians, we are not to be hate-mongers. However, neither are we to be gullible and foolish as to the implications of the changes taking place all over our country regarding this issue.  Jesus meant what he said when he told us to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves."

It is not an easy path to walk, and we have sometimes made our own case worse by taking a stance in anger, holding an air of superiority and disdain.  That is not helpful and we should not be surprised when such an attitude on our part, is met with nothing but scorn on the part of those with whom we so vigorously disagree.

To disagree without being disagreeable is one of the toughest things in the world to do.  But it can be done. 

When I was a very young woman, I recall reading about a elderly mother, with grown sons, who felt called to reach out specifically to those who had become entangled in a life of homosexuality or lesbianism.  She met with them one-on-one, at coffee shops, or in meeting rooms across small tables for discussion, always listening carefully to their concerns, and praying with them (when they were willing to allow her to do so) that they would find God's will for their lives.  She always reminded them that God loved them and had a plan for their lives.

She was not famous.  But her son, David Wilkerson, the author of The Cross and The Switchblade, certainly was.  She was simply ahead of her time, and ahead of the curve.

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My pastor told us a few weeks ago that multiple surveys showed that between one and a half and three percent of the population of the United States self-identifies as homosexual.  Those numbers have remained fairly constant since I first read such surveys over twenty-five years ago.

In contrast, approximately seventy percent of adult Americans self-identify as "Christian" - not necessarily meaning that they are affiliated with any particular church or denomination; but simply that that is their own personal belief as to the nature of God and God's relationship to man.

He then asked a stark question  of us in the congregation.

"Which group is having the most influence on our present world - the one and half to three percent, or the seventy percent?"

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Simply because the rainbow coalition is now shouting "loudly and proudly", just because they are having parades all over the land, does not make them right.  It simply makes them more unashamedly misguided than ever before.

Will those of us who believe God still is in control conduct ourselves in a manner that reflects that conviction?  I sincerely hope so.  Even when the "earth goes topsy-turvy", we still serve a God who judges uprightly, and can, and will, put everything right again, at the time of His choosing.
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I encourage each of us to pray for those who have been misled into these lifestyles, and to look to our own doorstep lest we condemn others without seeing our own faults.  For the rest, let us take courage that God is still in control and do what we can, when we can, in as much love as we can.

Until next time, Marsha