Choose Your Legacy – a Repost

The following is a post I wrote three and a half years ago. I feel led to run it again.

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been.'”

~ John Greenleaf Whittier

We don’t get a second chance at life. The life choices we make will affect our families for the rest of their lives. We can die surrounded by our dear ones, knowing that despite our mistakes, we loved them all well, or we can die essentially alone, having lost all that matters in life: the respect and regard of our spouse, children and grandchildren.

It won’t matter to my six children what flaming essays I wrote about the great evangelical disaster, what powerful broadcasts I did on radio against all the ills of the day, or how silver words rolled off my tongue, including Scripture, if at home I did not love them and their father.

The greatest petri dish for atheism and rebellion is not a secular university filled with hatred for God. The best place to create contempt for Christ is a professing Christian home that is actually a lie. No greater disgust can be earned by a parent than to speak of loving God who they can’t see, while mistreating or neglecting the family right in front of them.

We can speak great swelling words about the resurrection power of Christ to heal sexual deviants, abortionists, murderers, and drug addicts, but if that same Christ is not allowed to heal the relationships in our own lives, we make a mockery of our claims.

We can serve God until we collapse in exhaustion, deny ourselves vacations, rest and all earthly pleasures, but if we do not love those closest to us, our own flesh and blood, our service is meaningless in the end, because we have failed at the most important job.

We represent Christ to our children as parents in the home. All the lip service regarding spiritual things, and all the righteous “standards” we erect against the vices of the day will never hide hypocrisy from the eyes of those who know best.

Sin, when it is covered up in a family, spawns a million evils. It eats like a cancer at the trust upon which all real relationships must rest. It kills joy and faith, it steals what is sacred and it lays waste to all that is precious and irreplaceable.

Every one of us has a choice in our families. We cannot change whatever sorrow existed in some of our families of origin. Sometimes, the sin sickness is so deep and has twisted minds and hearts so completely that only biblical separation from that sin is possible. But all of us can address the marriages and children entrusted to us now. All of us can live, starting now, so as to not have further regrets.

The ruins of families that might have been so different are all around us. Think for a moment of all the happy innocence, all the laughter and all the life-giving joy that might have been in so many homes, homes that were instead filled with rancor and hatred, grudge-holding and betrayal.

If you think that anything in your life, including going out ‘serving God,’ is more important than your family, imagine yourself as a dying man or woman in the last hours of life. Imagine the horrible barrenness of dying without the love and respect of your children and grandchildren. Picture the regret of that person who could have filled the lives of these people with love and joy and wise instruction, but chose something else instead.

We will all leave a legacy behind. Those who profess Christ will either leave a legacy of Christ’s love stamped upon the hearts and lives of their families or they will leave a legacy of hypocrisy, destruction, misery and sorrow.

The choice is ours. We are all choosing that legacy now.

An Evening Gift

Our son, Will, is busy at college, but this evening he sent this beautiful and ancient hymn. It came for me at exactly the moment that God wanted it to. Will attached a version of this hymn with a French choir singing along with organ. The setting is by the compose,r Vierne. The organ music is powerful, contrasting with the voices of the choir. The cry of the supplicant, and the answering, response of the Spirit of our all powerful God. I hope this blesses you as it did me tonight. The words echo the cry of our hearts: Come, Holy Spirit. Without you, we can do nothing.

 

COME, HOLY GHOST
send down those beams,
which sweetly flow in silent streams
from Thy bright throne above.

O come, Thou Father of the poor;
O come, Thou source of all our store,
come, fill our hearts with love.

O Thou, of comforters the best,
O Thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
the pilgrim’s sweet relief.

Rest art Thou in our toil, most sweet
refreshment in the noonday heat;
and solace in our grief.

O blessed Light of life Thou art;
fill with Thy light the inmost heart
of those who hope in Thee.

Without Thy Godhead nothing can,
have any price or worth in man,
nothing can harmless be.

Lord, wash our sinful stains away,
refresh from heaven our barren clay,
our wounds and bruises heal.

To Thy sweet yoke our stiff necks bow,
warm with Thy fire our hearts of snow,
our wandering feet recall.

Grant to Thy faithful, dearest Lord,
whose only hope is Thy sure word,
the sevenfold gifts of grace.

Grant us in life Thy grace that we,
in peace may die and ever be,
in joy before Thy face.
Amen. Alleluia!

 

Laying a Sound Foundation

photo 2 (8)The local PBS station was on in the background last Saturday when our little daughter suddenly said excitedly, “He’s talking about Jesus!” Her eyes were shining.

I looked up at the screen to see Bill Gaither on the Gospel music program he hosts. The mention of the name of Jesus made Emmy’s ears perk up. She knows that that name is special in our home.

This last Monday our daughter began her formal schooling. It has made us think about how important foundations are in our lives. We are seeing the foundations of social order completely broken up and discarded in America. It is little wonder why the walls are buckling and the ceiling is coming down in our country. When the moral and spiritual foundations are destroyed, the rest comes down quickly. The same is true in our personal lives.

The reason we placed Emmy in a Christian school is because we know how important a spiritual foundation is. Begin with the wrong material or lay no foundation at all and you are setting lives up for destruction. Academics are important , yes, they are, but the most important thing of all is instilling the fear of the Lord in the hearts of our children. Introducing them to the Architect behind everything is crucial. We are not here by chance, we are not just carbonized life forms. There is a Designer and a design for all of it. Educators in secular schools teach that we are the result of random chance acting on matter. Then they act surprised and horrified when those who really accept that they are highly evolved slime live out that belief system in the halls.

Emmy’s school begins at the beginning. The very first day of school, she brought home a paper intended for the families. Not just the children, but the families. She already has learned the first of the Ten Commandments that God gave from Sinai. The Law of God gives us the basis for the Gospel message. First Law, then Gospel. I thought I would share a photo of the Congregation at Prayer sheet Emmy received from school. Foundations matter. Without them, spiritual ruination will follow.

 

Bible

In Praise of Micro Ministry

Grandchild offering small bouquet of summer wild flowers to grandmotherThere was a picket outside a mega-church in Seattle yesterday. Victims of the whole celebrity pastor system that allows pastors to operate with zero internal accountability are increasingly refusing to stay quiet. When all efforts at handling things quietly and biblically fail, those injured by those waving the banner of Jesus are going public. Due to the damage to souls that is done by narcissistic leaders in high places, this is a good thing. Destroyed faith and lives are not small things, and if others can be warned about these places, good.

Detractors cluck at vocal victims of these ministries for “touching God’s anointed” or “harming the cause of Christ”, ignoring the fact completely that people are the cause of Christ, including those in these ministries who are thrown under the bus. One pompous employee of a Christian media ministry told a reporter that employees should just suffer their losses for Jesus and say nothing. But those suffering the losses and abuse really weren’t suffering for Jesus at all. They were suffering for someone else’s image and power, no matter how conservative and Bible-believing a cause being run. Nowhere in the Bible are we called to shield predators, liars and abusers of others. If that’s what Jesus needs to advance His cause, it’s worth a second look at what we believe.

There is another kind of ministry, far away from microphones, spotlights, and donor letters. It’s the ministry that puts groceries on a family’s porch when they are hurting, the ministry of calling up a little girl on her birthday and singing Happy Birthday to her because she has no grandparents in her life, the ministry of somebody’s company and a kindly ear that doesn’t listen to criticize, jump in or one up the other person. This kind of ministry is one on one. It’s the hug in the middle of a coffee shop, a call “just because I wanted to check on you”, a surprise email, a divinely-timed meeting where encouragement gets exchanged.

The evangelical church is massively screwed up, and not just because of false teachers, Disney-style entertainment on stage or big shot pastors. The church of Jesus has gotten off track, ironically, because people stopped being important as individuals. We became statistics and numbers and cogs in ministry machines. In the name of “saving souls” of faceless strangers, actual faces and hearts became increasingly meaningless both internally in ministries and in many cases, externally as well. Workaholics in these settings justify their rotten priorities by running like rats on treadmills to save families and souls of strangers while their own are destroyed. What a twisted notion of ministry.

Our neighbors recently lost their little dog they had for 15 years. That little dog was the shadow behind Cheryl and John all the eight years we have lived here. Emmy was most concerned for our neighbor lady, and when we returned home from the grocery store, she saw Cheryl in her yard tending to her flowers. Em ran over to her and told her she was sorry about Boomer. She hugged our neighbor for a long time and they talked and talked. I was proud and touched to see the growing empathy in our five-year-old who is learning to feel for others in their sadness. That’s a real ministry she has in showing love to others.

To those of you who engage in the ministry of love, one on one, and think you’ve done little for God, I have great news for you. You are being the hands and heart of Jesus in a way that no big shot with stage or microphone ever could be. Scripture records the one on one ministry Jesus had to rich and poor alike. He mixed with the educated of his day, but also the lame and the diseased and the untouchables that society had shunned. That’s all I want to do with my writing anymore. I spent many years writing and speaking about aberrant spiritual trends within Christianity, 24 years in total. I still hear from those who appreciated the info. But the finest work I will ever do for Jesus involves continuing to love my husband and children and grandchildren, writing about life lessons, giving a little encouragement here and there, sharing family joys and struggles and letting God use it how He chooses.

Macro-ministry is a mess these days. Corruption of all kinds is rampant. Frauds abound. Micro-ministry, one on one with others, is where our energies can be safely spent when we commit our daily lives to Jesus for His use. Somebody needs a kindly touch today. Maybe you know them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Heaven and Earth Shall Pass Away, but…”

It was a wonderful evening tonight at Roots Coffee Bar in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. My niece, Rachel, and nephews, Adam and Jesse sang for the full house of friends and family. It was a delight to hear them sing, having watched them all grow up through the years. Jesse and Rachel are headed off to college in a couple of weeks, so it was an emotional night for me (and for their parents!)

They surprised their mom, my sister, Lisa, by singing the song Lisa wrote. “…heaven and earth shall pass away, but His perfect Word shall stand.” It put everything into perspective.

We Need Him Every Hour

We need the Lord every hour of every day. These two versions of an old hymn were a blessing to me tonight, so I thought I would share them. Burdens seem to heavy for you? They are. That’s why Jesus said that all who are weary and heavy laden should come to Him, and He will give us rest.
 

 

Here is the same old hymn sung so beautifully in Dutch. I find many of our familiar hymns sung by the musicians on Nederland Zingt, so I haunt their YouTube page frequently! I love this.

 

Exultet

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
When Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night,
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slav’ry,
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night,
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin.

This is night,
when Christians ev’rywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night,
when Jesus broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
“The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy.”

The power of our Risen Lord dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed,
when heaven is wedded to earth
and we are reconciled to God!

Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church’s solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.