Real Women Can Be a Real Blessing

Share your weaknesses. Share your hard moments. Share your real side. It’ll either scare away every fake person in your life, or it will inspire them to finally let go of that mirage called ‘perfection,’ which will open the doors to the most important relationships you’ll ever be a part of.” 
~ Dan Pearce

keepitrealSocial media can be a lot of fun and  a help in sharing information (and cat pictures, ha!), but the one aspect of social media that most agree is troubling is the temptation to post only what makes us look good—a sort of airbrushed, glamour shots view of life, and not just in photos. America’s obsession with celebrity lifestyles and appearance has only made this worse, especially for women who are more image conscious than ever.

My iPhone has something on it called Facetime which adds video to incoming calls. Being new to this kind of phone, I had what I thought was a regular incoming call. It was my son calling, and I hit answer without realizing my world was now on live video. I looked down at the phone to realize my own morning face, sans make-up, untidy hair and the dishes in the sink that were being loaded into the dishwasher were on full display. I burst out laughing. “Hello world!” I was certainly keeping things real with that call. (And I shut Facetime off afterwards!)

That unexpected live shot of real life made me ponder how social media interactions are extremely limited in the life they reveal. Women neighbors used to come over for an egg or a cup of sugar or meet up at the back fence while hanging up laundry on the clotheslines, and there was no airbrushing possible. Women were in the trenches with children, and family and the thought of keeping their image glossy and perfect would have been pure fantasy. But things are different today where we are all our own little broadcasters of our lives on social media. We can be more selective about our exposure than in generations past.

The temptation to try to project perfection  is the same for Christians as it is for anyone else, maybe just in a little different way. I heard one woman recently express outright anger at a radio program hosted by a female. In her mind, the endless stream of perfection that seemed to come from the program was like a rod that beat her into the ground for all of her own failures and weaknesses. The glossy advertisements that came in the mail for this conference and that (with photos of the women speakers clearly airbrushed) just made the Perfect Woman ministry a hindrance to her instead of a help.

I’m not suggesting that people get on social media and post photos of morning face (once in a while some daring person does that), or that people air every negative thing in their life to “keep it real.” In fact, it’s possible to go overboard there as well. All I am saying is that there is no point in learning things in life through our own mistakes if we don’t share what we have learned with others. Sometimes the only redemptive thing to come out of the carnage in our lives is that ability to point to God’s grace, forgiveness and help. Doing so can be a beacon of light to someone in their own life and death struggle in the dark.

We have a way of idolizing people in Christian media, assuming that their lives are picture perfect. I can say authoritatively that it’s not true, and we need to stop looking up to people simply on the basis of their access to broadcast technology. We can learn much from others, but if the scandals in ministry even in the last few weeks have shown anything, it’s that leaders are humans who can sin and go off the rails like anyone else.

Don’t be afraid to share what you have learned in life and to point to how God is bringing you along. One other thing. When we are going through a crisis of faith, there is often fear of being labeled or judged for not being a strong Christian. Don’t ever do that when you talk with someone who is struggling.  Someday you may very well find yourself plunged into your own personal “dark night of the soul.”   Instead, be someone others can talk with who will hear their pain without judging them as “going off the rails.” We had all better stay humble and dependent on God, as our own sense of pride in our proper lives and achievements are only an hour or phone call away from being shattered.

I like what the quote says above. By being honest and humble, we can find ourselves being a blessing and light to others. A mask of perfection might earn you some kudos from people equally obsessed with image, but you’ll never be a real blessing to others until you can say, “…I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior!” (John Newton)

To Faithful Pastors Sent Away

pastorTom and I sat and our children sat at a bleak midweek service this past week. A faithful pastor and his wife were leaving their church. Rather than leave with the love and goodwill of the whole congregation the pastor and his wife had served and cared for spiritually, they were leaving a war zone. The atmosphere was heavy at the last service. Due to the toxic situation, he was not even allowed to preach his last Sunday as planned. Those who loved and supported the pastor came for the sad good-bye. Tears were shed.

I sat in that service grieving for them and reflecting on the situation and so many like it I have encountered in various churches through the years. There is possibly nothing as ugly on the face of the earth as a church meltdown, split, blow-out, whatever you want to call it. I have seen good men run out of churches a number of times. In fact, one of the early formative church experiences of my life was seeing a pastor and his family vivisected by a warring congregation. I even remember the name and face of one of the chief antagonists, in this case female, who must have had a metaphorical charm bracelet containing the shrunken scalps of all the pastors she had brought down through the years.

The church died shortly thereafter. It’s not a surprise. In fact, it was already dead by the time they sent their pastor away. Any congregation that lives in chronic disobedience to the Word of God, rejects the ministers God sends who are faithful preachers of Holy Scripture, embraces an idol in the place of the living Christ, and is filled with carnality ceases to be a church anyway. Call it whatever you want, it’s not the body of Christ anymore. It’s a temple of doom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is peace. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are spelled out very clearly in Holy Writ. We are not left in the dark about what that fruit looks like. We’re also told clearly what the fruit of the flesh is. These warring churches have the unmistakable reek of embalming fluid. Ichabod is written over the door. The glory of God has departed.

So to all of the servants of Christ left with a thousand cuts to their hearts from betrayal, slander, gossip and malice, to all of those who limp off into the night without the dignity and kindness of a loving good-bye from those they served, to those who are left trying to forgive incomprehensible viciousness from those claiming to belong to Jesus, just a reminder that you aren’t forgotten. God has seen everything. He is leading you elsewhere in a time of great famine and apostasy. He will lead you where there are sheep who want real spiritual food and who want the living water that Christ alone can offer. I pray for the peace of Christ to minister in a special way to all those in the office of the ministry today who love Jesus more than anything the world can offer, including job security, the praise of men, and pleasant surroundings. They understand their true calling. May God bless and help these men and their wives and families in every need.

 

“No Man Cares for my Soul”

Since posting on the subject of the love missing among Christians, I have heard from several people who are really hurting. One woman in our area has health problems that now keep her from her large, bustling Baptist church that she had been a part of for years. In the several months that have passed since she has had to stop attending church, not one on the large pastoral “team” has bothered to call on her. There is every program you can create at church, but no shepherd has visited and inquired how she is doing physically, let alone spiritually. This is the reality of institutional churches that have everything, but they lack the most important thing of all, the real Jesus.

This clip from Richard Owen Roberts (sent by my UK friend, Teeky,) really gripped me. We have to be the love or there won’t be any. We can’t look to spiritual leadership today, much of which is bankrupt and obsessed with programs and growth and image. We have to each be the love to each other. That’s all of our job in the body of Christ.

 

“Smokin’ Hot” Pastors’ Wives – Enough Already!

stilettoplatformI remember hearing a late middle-aged pastor at a church introduce his “smoking hot wife.” Exact words. He leaned into the microphone and sort of leered in a pastorly kind of way at his wife in the audience. The “ick” factor was high. So high that it was difficult to take the man seriously. As of late, references to “smokin’ hot” wives from hip pastors are essential ministry talk. They may even practice saying it in seminary homiletics classes now.

What if God gives you a wife with a debilitating illness? Still proud of her? What if there’s an accident and she no longer has a Sports Illustrated-worthy body? Still love her? When a husband praises his wife, it better be for something that lasts, because I’m here to tell you, sir, that your” smokin’ hot” wife will soon go the way of all flesh, just like you. Character lasts a long time after looks are long gone.

The worldly view on sexuality long ago invaded the church. Pastors like Mark Driscoll even go so far as to suggest that if a woman “lets herself go”, a vague term that could mean anything from weight gain to eschewing hair extensions and professional spray tans, she may be pushing her husband into straying into an affair with a more attractive model. It is implied, not always said outright. In the world of the sex-obsessed, hipster “pastors”, you’d better be and stay “hot”, lady, or you can thank yourself when your marriage goes south. And I mean “smokin’ hot”, not just “hot.”

This piece from Christianity Today proves I am not alone in noticing this ugly trend (among the countless other such trends in American circus churches.) The author is sick of hearing about “smokin’ hot wives” from the pulpit. Disgust is in order for these men, with the label “pastor” or otherwise, who are blinded by our sex-addled culture into viewing women as nothing but sex objects, and yet claim biblical precedence for their views. I also feel sorry for their wives who have to hear themselves held up as “smokin’ hot”, long after age has had its way. (And it always does, Botox or not!)

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.   ~ Proverbs 31:30

When ‘Ministry’ Becomes Your God

Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
(1 Corinthians 10:14)

There are many things which are not only harmless but good in themselves, which have, nevertheless, been allowed to take the place of the Lord Himself, and good things can therefore embody the principle of idolatry in the one in whom the devotion is found. Touch some Christians, or Christian institutions, and let the touch be even in relation to something more of the Lord Himself, and you will find an uprising of jealous regard for the institution which utterly blinds to that possibility of an extra measure of the Lord Himself.

You can be so devoted to a denomination, a missionary society, a piece of Christian work, that there is no room for any extra measure of the Lord. The thing itself has become the end, the object for which you live, and when the Lord wants to get you moved on into something more of Himself, the obstacle is that good Christian work, association, institution, tradition, connection. Yes, and that is idolatry in principle, and we see from history how the Lord again and again has had to smite with smashing blows things which in themselves were good, in order to save His people unto Himself personally….

What is He after? It is Himself which He is seeking to establish as the object of man’s life, and not the things that have relation to Himself: and I say again, you meet something intensely fierce if you touch a thing, even though you are touching it maybe with a view to getting people to move on with the Lord Himself. To put that in the other way, if your appeal for moving on with the Lord seems to people to involve their having to move away from this or that or some other thing, then there is warfare; which shows that Satan in his eternal campaign of idolatry, has got a footing amongst Christians in relation to things which take the place of the Lord Himself, good things though they be in themselves; and you find, if you are spiritually sensitive, that you are not just encountering the established institutions, but you are encountering a terrific spiritual force. Is that true? It is true. Had I never come up against it, never would I have believed the terrific force there is lying behind Christian institutions if your ministry touches them.

You meet something which turns upon you, and it is not just the thing or the people. It is something that threatens your very life, to slay, and this in principle and essence, beloved, is idolatry; because its ultimate effect is that even the Lord cannot have what His heart is set upon and get His people spiritually where He wants them, because they are so bound up with His things. They are not able to discriminate between His things and Himself.

(Emphasis added.)

By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Cross, the Church, and the Conflict