Me and my little lightbulbs in the bluebonnets!

Me and my little lightbulbs in the bluebonnets!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Where Are All the Ministers? An Open Letter to Our Silent Christian Leaders

Dear Christian Ministers of all Denominations,

I cried myself to sleep last night. Again. I made the mistake of reading an account of the atrocities being heaped upon the Christians in the middle-east, namely 250 young Christian girls who had been kidnapped, forcibly gang raped and then shot ... all while jihadists video taped their abuse.

Beyond turning my stomach, this grieved my spirit. I sobbed for them, for their mothers, for their families, who are most likely displaced and starving in the desert, if they had survived the attacks at all. And all because they subscribe to a religion that preaches kindness, love, tolerance, peace and self-sacrifice.

Now, before I get comments citing the Crusades, etc., I'm speaking solely to the teachings of Christ, who we swear to try our hardest to emulate as His followers. He teaches us to "love one another." Even our enemies, which these days is hard.

As Christians are slaughtered on one side of the globe, right here in the United States, we are being squeezed out in other ways. No, our houses aren't being burned ... yet. But, our religious rights are being stripped on long piece at a time, all in the name of tolerance (for others). We can no longer pray to our Lord in schools. We can no longer deny services to those whose lifestyles we don't agree with. Saying the name "Jesus" in a public place evokes looks of sheer horror or, worse, repulsion, like the speaker has grown a third head.

Suddenly saying you are a Christian is a crime, if not legally, then socially. It seems the word tolerance is only reserved for those with "trendy" titles, like Muslim or Catholic, or Homosexual, or Trans-gendered. Not for us Christians. Instead, those who slap labels like "judgmental" or "old-fashioned" on us are considered the tolerant, open-minded ones. "Yes, let them burn your house," the world seems to be saying. "You're only a Christian. You're rights, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, don't count."

And among the silent majority are those who should be outraged at such treatment -- our ministers. Men and women of the cloth, I ask, where are your voices? Why aren't you holding press conferences, marching on Washington, raising banners? Where are our Christian heroes?

My step-father is Jewish, and I respect him a great deal. I've always been troubled at the silence that surrounded, for so many years, the Holocaust. If not for the bombing of Pearl Harbor, we might never have stood up for those being shackled, starved, beaten and abused, all for their faith. And, we might be under the Nazi regime right now if not for America and the United Kingdom's actions during that fight.

Now, as we stare down the barrel of another Holocaust, I ask where are the Christians? Why are we being silent to a war that is creeping its way to our own doorstep. Will our daughters be raped next? Our houses burned?

If they were, would anyone care? Afterall, we're JUST Christians, right?  I'm writing this letter as an appeal to all who call themselves "Minister." Your denomination doesn't matter. But your voice does. And so does mine. I ask you to pray, to gather, to plan. Find a way to speak up for a religion that does matter and for the children who choose to follow bravely in the face of such terrorism. They deserve it, and so does He.

Monday, July 7, 2014

God's Refinished Furniture

I tried my hand at refinishing a book case this weekend. It was my first time using Chalk Paint, the latest no-sanding, no-priming favorite pastime of do-it-yourselfers. Basically, it's the paint equivalent to the Bedazzler: it's a fool-proof method of making any old thing look new again, provided it's made of wood.

As I was painting, I made a few bobbles, dripping paint where it didn't belong. As I was sanding off the drips, I started looking at the finished product. There were places where the paint wasn't quite even, the old finish shown through in certain areas and the places where I sanded off the drips was rustic-looking. To some, it may have looked like I had really botched the job. But, to me, the imperfections made the piece, well, perfect.

Personally, I like the shabby chic look, probably because it's a lot like me: a lovely piece with plenty of visible dents and dings that give it ... er... personality. As I was admiring my handiwork, I realized just how much like refinished furniture we must be to God.

We all seem to strive for a polished exterior. In furniture terms, we all want to be like the mass-produced perfectly symmetrical pieces found at the large home furniture stores. We want people to see us and say, "That's beautiful. I want to display that in my well-appointed home." But, those pieces have no character, and very few stand the test of time.

To God we are a lot like the discarded pieces that are renewed with a little love, care and patient work. Life has dinged us up in places. Our finish is scratched, maybe even chipped here and there. But as God sands off the rough spots, he sometimes leaves the underneath exposed. Sometimes he patches the dents. Other times, he lets those places be a reminder of times gone past.

Where others might say, "What a piece of junk!" God smiles and says, "What a masterpiece!" He sees our potential and lovingly restores us to an even greater version of ourselves.

Sometimes I compare myself to moms who seem to have it all together, and I allow my thoughts to slip into places of despair. I start thinking, "What a piece of junk I am." Then God, paintbrush still dripping, taps me on the shoulder and shakes his head. "No," He reminds me. "What a masterpiece."

"For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14