Will finished up his hour of playing organ this afternoon with the Widor Toccata. It was tremendous fun to watch him at work.
There 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?
Last Valentine’s Day, Tom gave me a gift in a box. I opened it to find a pair of walking shoes that were incredibly light. They were so light that I doubted they would hold up very well. I decided to try them out.
This summer, I have made good use of my gift. I’ve been walking quite a bit. After our long, cold winter, I vowed last spring to make the summer count. So far, so good on my goal! The shoes are fantastic. You don’t need socks – they don’t have laces, and they feel like nothing on your feet. In case anyone is interested they are called Skechers GoWalk or GoWalk2. I bought another pair I liked them so much. (This is not a paid ad!)
I walk a course in our neighborhood as many days a week as I can. Initially, I thought I was walking about a mile and a half, but after Tom checked it, it turns out that is was nearly a total of four miles I was walking. I was surprised and pleased at my efforts and after five pounds dropped off, I was even more pleased.
Walking outside has to be one of the biggest helps there is. Mental clarity, a positive mood and the better eating that follows (who wants to squander the effort by eating junk after walking?) make it a winning situation all around.
Emily has accompanied me almost every mile. She runs on ahead and then falls back to talk about everything she sees. She can identify oak trees, maples and birch trees, hydrangeas, roses, black-eyed susans and petunias, and Queen Anne’s Lace, etc. It makes the walk go faster with her commentary.
Doctors used to prescribe nature as a treatment for those who were ill or stressed. It’s coming back into fashion again according to this article at Slate.com, as well it should be. The more advanced technology we get, the more isolated and unnatural our lives become. Worse, technology can invade even walks in nature, undoing many of the advantages. I see people with ear buds in while running or walking. They’re missing an entire symphony of sounds. They are distracting their minds from appreciating even the smells and sights and fresh air which does us all good.
My only challenge is the long cold winter in this state. There’s no choice in Wisconsin about walking outside a lot of times when the temperature plummets and there is snow and ice. Mall walking or a gym membership is the only solution to keep walking. I hate walking in gyms. The laps around the track seem endless. That’s when it doesn’t hurt to have music or something in your ears as you walk along, at least when you don’t need some quiet for praying or thinking.
One way or another, I hope to keep moving. I’ve written on this before, but I once again have enjoyed the benefits of committed walking, and think that a lot of our ailments in this country could be helped or reduced if we all got out and walked it away!
(Making sure a walking plan is OK for your health is worth a check with the doctor if you have health issues.)
It has been a hectic summer, and I took the Hope Blog offline for a time in the middle of all that was going on, just not being in the blogging frame of mind and using other social media. I opened the privacy setting to allow use of WordPress audio files on Facebook and was surprised at the number of hits here within 24 hours. I am still here, in the midst of sending our son off to college and all the details that entails, as well as getting Emily ready for kindergarten and working on a long-term writing project. As for Emily, I can’t believe the little school uniform I just bought in size 5. How can it be that the time flew by so quickly?
It was great news today to see the photos and read the story of the Sudanese woman who had been sentenced to die for her faith, but thanks to the intervention of Christians all over the world, was freed. Seeing her photo as she boarded a plane for the United States was a real heart lifter. Praise God!
A good blogger friend of mine, Wallace Revels, sent his fans and supporters T-shirts, and Tom and I got ours today. I put up the photo in hopes of spreading the word about the Truthinator Blog and Facebook page. Wallace has a satirical way of addressing some of the crazy things going on in seeker churches today, as well as posts commentary. Check it out! Sometimes humor says things best.
This season always has such an explosion of birthdays and anniversaries with several holidays thrown in that it is dizzying at times trying to keep up with it all. This year, we also have 2 high school graduations in our family!
I was thinking about my grown sons and how quickly it all went when I came across this poem that made me smile.
Some day he’ll think me rather silly
But now he loves me willy-nilly
There’ll come a time when his inspection
Will tell him I am not perfection
And he’ll unearth some younger cutie
Who far surpasses me in beauty.
So while I have him in my arms
I’ll make the most of all my charms
And store up memories to last
When I am dwelling in the past.
For though my hold on him is strong
He cannot stay a baby long.
(from Look Who’s a Mother)
No matter how much time goes by, as a mother you always hold those baby moments in your heart. I have a little keepsake for all my children in my cedar chest. But the real keepsakes are the memories.