A Skirt, Hose, and Strand of Pearls

A SKIRT, HOSE, AND A STRAND OF PEARLS

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Romans 15:1

         Converted Jews and Gentiles were having such a hard time getting along that Paul has to keep writing to them, urging them to love each other.  He is asking the strong to be tolerant of the limited understanding of the weak.  He is also asking the weak to embrace the strong – whom they believe to be in error.  What does that look like?  I’ll give you a personal example.  First a little history.

         It took our whole family a long time to move out of legalism.  That was our history.  We bore the pain of those who live under its umbrella; joylessness, discouragement, false guilt, and living defeated by others judgment.  The way out was long and painful.  To embrace new brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, those who had been portrayed as living in gross error, called for courage and a shift in spiritual paradigms.  Most of the ‘lifestyle issues’ that had previously been labeled sinful, over time, became entirely neutral.  Grace, in place of judgment, became the banner over our home.

         The challenge came when I was called to re-visit the places and people who were still trapped by legalism.  I will confess that my attitude stunk.  I didn’t want to go.  Disgust, that only covered hurt, still reigned in my heart.  God had to work with me by calling me to travel, embrace, and teach those who live like those in my past.

Recently, I was invited to speak to a church to speak at their annual women’s conference.  It was very conservative.  The rules were stated up front.  They only approved of one version of the Bible.  The dress code was also mandatory.  I decided, before praying about it, to turn down the invitation.  Honestly, my flesh was groaning at the thought of it.  But, God moved in my heart and told me to go. I changed all my scripture references, both in my notes, their handouts, and in PowerPoint, to the version of the Bible they required.  I put together an outfit for the event; found a skirt in the back of my closet, dug for a string of pearls in the bottom of my jewelry box, Continue reading “A Skirt, Hose, and Strand of Pearls”

When In Doubt, Don’t Do It!

WHEN IN DOUBT, DON’T DO IT

But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith.  For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.  Romans 14:23

         Timidity, something that has plagued me for much of my life, is to live unsure of who you are and what you’re called to do.  While those two areas are comprehensive, what’s even more crippling is to live with everyday uncertainties.  Am I going to the right church?  Am I serving in the right capacities in my church?  And for some, have I married the right person?  Have I taken the right job?  Every decision, big and small, is made without faith that it is the right decision.  I am not a person of kingdom influence because I’m always hiding in the shadows, timid and unsure of myself.  Ultimately, this is a spiritual problem.  A strong father/child relationship with God is what gives anyone confidence and purpose.

         I consider the times I begin a conversation with “I’ve been thinking a while about saying something to ______________ about ____________.”  It’s dangerous to go forward with a potentially serious conversation on shaky ground.

         Or, “I’ve been thinking about making a job change.”  “I’ve been thinking about starting a new venture.”  Continue reading “When In Doubt, Don’t Do It!”

The Timbers Of What We’re Building

THE TIMBERS OF WHAT WE’RE BUILDING

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.  Romans 14:19

         Not a mistake that Paul uses the phrase ‘building up’ for what happens when I love other believers as Jesus would love them.  Not only are they built up on the inside but also the church at large is being built.

         Ultimately, Paul wants me to understand that I am involved in the building process.  And building is not haphazard.  A successful project is only realized when there is a blueprint.  Intentionally sticking with the design is what ensures success.  Each piece of steel, each timber, each footing, must be crafted with care according to the Architect’s plan.

         I am part of our worship team at our church, a fantastic group of singers and musicians.  Just last night I was thinking about the growth of our church and the slowly escalating move of the Spirit.  This is what I saw being played out.  The bass player is undergoing rigorous cancer treatments.  He arrived not feeling well.  Continue reading “The Timbers Of What We’re Building”

Why Do Others Believe I’m A Christian?

WHY WOULD OTHERS BELIEVE I’M A CHRISTIAN?

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Romans 14:17

         I’m holding my breath while writing this.  I’m realizing that an unbeliever may call me a Christian for all the wrong reasons.  And if they do, legalism (the thing which has hurt me and the thing I despise) is still a part of me.  So how do others perceive me?

  • Am I known for what I don’t do?
  • Am I known for being out of touch with what’s happening in the world?
  • Am I known for being disgusted by our times and intolerant of those captive to sin?
  • Do I look so peculiar by the way I dress and wear my hair that I become a joke to anyone in the mainstream?
  • Am I perceived as someone who is ‘against’ a litany of things?

      These should not be the things that define my Christianity.  Paul gives a different list.  It’s not a long one.  There are only three things on it.      Continue reading “Why Do Others Believe I’m A Christian?”