Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Sign That Made Me Sad...

On my way home today, I drove past a billboard in front of a small church that said, "Stop Abortion...  Cast Your Vote For Life."

And I was profoundly sad...  don't get me wrong, I am Pro-Life...  and not just for the unborn child, but for the mother too.  If you've never read the statistics, if you've never heard of Post Abortion Stress Syndrome, google it and do some reading...  Abortion doesn't just take the life of an unborn child, it takes the life (emotionally and spiritually) of the mother too.  So I am definitely against abortion.

But sometimes the church sounds so angry...  It rails against abortion, homosexuality...  Ok, I'm stuck, I'm sure there are other things...  but what really seems to stir up trouble are those two topics...  Not gossip...  or adultery...  or addictions... or greed...  or materialism...  or pornography... or, or, or...  They're kind of the two pet issues of the traditionally conservative church (I can say that because I consider myself a part of the traditionally conservative church)...  I just don't like the way we behave sometimes...  ALOT of times...

When I read the gospels, Jesus didn't rail at the same people as we (the church) does today...  He railed at the religious people (Don't believe me? Just read Matthew 23, starting around verse 23...  He called them hypocrites...  blind guides...  hypocrites again...  and again...  whitewashed tombs...  and hypocrites still again.) 

And what did He do for everyone else?  He healed them...  He fed them...  He had compassion on them...  He wept over them...  He forgave them... He loved them...  He gave His very life for them!  In essence, He earned the right to speak into their lives.

Something that a lot of years of parenting finally taught me, you can't change a person's behavior with anger...  by yelling at them... by putting them down...  by bullying them...  And rules without relationship is like a clanging symbol....  it does nothing but annoy...  breed resentment...  foster rebellion...  ultimately it stirs up disdain and hatred.

 Scott and I went with some friends to see Second City, the comedy group.  Not a great experience by any stretch of the imagination...  wouldn't recommend it...  but since we were there, I decided to see what I could learn from it, about the way the world views Christians...  Not a pretty picture!

Now you might be thinking...  Sharla, what would you expect?  And I realize that it's not all us...  But we have to step up and take responsibility for some of it...  Because too often we are trying to force 'rules' on people without loving them and building relationships with them.

Jesus said to the Pharisees (the religious people), "You tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law:  justice and mercy and faithfulness."  (Matthew 23:23)  I wonder if Jesus would have the same words to say to us...  Probably so!

How do we change this culture...  Not by pictures of dead fetuses on signs outside of high schools or on the side of panel trucks or maybe even words on billboards outside of churches.  We change it by loving our neighbor... by friending our children's friends so when they get in trouble, maybe we'll be a safe place for them to come.

My friend Janine who (with her husband) runs Heart For Africa in Swaziland set a beautiful example of how to stop abortion...  A young woman was violently raped at knife point and she became pregnant.  In our country, even if abortion was illegal, some would say it's ok in that circumstance.  I probably would have too, until Janine taught me something different.

She came alongside this woman...  She loved her...  She didn't preach to her about the sin of abortion or murdering a new born...  She offered her an option... She became friends with her...  She walked a hard path with her... she was there for the birth of the child...  She took the baby in...  That's the kind of love that will change a nation...  Not screaming and yelling and hating people who don't agree with our pet issues.  (Yes, I'm preaching to myself too!)

Janine gave that precious girl an option...  Just curious...  How pro-life are you, really?  It's easy to sit on the sidelines and yell at people...  But would you step in and do what Janine did...  any part of it...  would you walk along side her...  help her financially...  be there at any time to go through the birth with her?  Are we as committed to changing a nation as we say we are?  We've tried signs, yelling, self-righteousness, etc for a really long time and the problems are only getting worse...  Maybe it's time to try something different!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Had to Share a Link (With a Few of My Own Thoughts)

I'm going to share a link this morning to a post that will break your heart and fill you with hope at the same time...  But before I do, I want to share a thought...

It is such a touching story.  I love how it demonstrates that God is watching and He cares.  I have to acknowledge though, that I have no doubt some will read her blog and use it as an excuse to bash God...  I can just imagine thoughts like, "Well, if He were such a good God, then why did He allow the girl to be raped in the first place?"  Or "Why did He allow her to become pregnant?"

But before you even go there, let me remind you of something...  Man (and woman) made their choice to live their own way thousands of years ago.  They wanted control...  they thought they new better...  they wanted choices...  So God gave it to them and along with that supposed freedom and choice, we got consequences too!

And my guess is, every single one of us would have made the same choice...  Know how I know?  Because we do it every single day!  We choose our way over God's way...  We think we know better and we have this crazy notion that God is holding something back from us (maybe because too often people make 'religion' more about rules than relationship...  but that's a rabbit trail).

And that's where the mess starts...  when we try and do things our own way!  So let me offer you a different perspective on Janine's blog...  It shows how God can take man's messes and REDEEM them!!  Yes, He allows evil because WE CHOSE it...  He doesn't have to do anything...  But He does!  He sends men and women (like Janine and her family and all of the amazing staff of Project Canaan) right into the depths of our stuff and uses them to work His redemption and restoration!!

I pray that when you read Janine's blog... Hope is what you'll leave with...  and if you shed a few tears for the mother and her pain, or the nation of Swaziland and their pain, that's good too because that's just reflecting the heart of God who weeps at the consequences of our choices!

Live from Swaziland...  It's Saturday Morning

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Wish...

(Author's note...  If you're one of the 9 who caught my tirade in the wee hours of the morning, this first paragraph is the same, but all of the rest is different!)  So I'm a woman...  it's my prerogative to change my mind and I've decided I'm not going to desert my personal blog after all!!  Here's the thing, my heart has been overflowing lately with things I want to write about, but a business blog just doesn't seem to be the right fit for them.  So I've just done nothing...  blogger's block...And as a result, I've decided that from time to time I still want to write here (I'll probably change the look soon) because I still want a place to just say what's on my heart.  My business blog will just have to be for fun stuff, like colors, fashion, quotes, etc., that I'll eventually get to!

I wrote an entirely different post in the wee hours of the morning, but when I woke up, I realized I didn't sound any different than the people I was frustrated with, so I thought I should say it in a different way...  That it might be better to express my feelings as a wish...

I have a friend (a very wise friend) who made the point a while back that Facebook really isn't the place for political comments because there's no way to have a dialogue about it.   I liked her comparison to the street corner evangelist who shouts at you, but you really can't shout back.

But as the political season has worn on, I've found it harder and harder to keep all of my thoughts to myself!  There are just some things I'm intensely passionate about, I guess you might say they're my  "non-negotiables" and when a line gets crossed sometimes, I speak up.

So here's what I wish...

I wish there were a Facebook kind of place where it was safe to open a dialogue about something.  It could be religion, politics, things happening in the world, the news or just something that's been on your mind that you'd love to toss around in discussion for a bit.  I would want it to be a place where you could do this among friends, I'm not really interested in open forums where people swear at you or call you ugly names...  It would be a place where we take the time to really be friends and get to know and understand each other.  I have many friends on Facebook that I wish I could spend more time with, but we're limited by distance and/or time.

Maybe you're thinking, start a small group or something, but I enjoy the variety of friends I have on Facebook...  I want to know and understand different views and opinions, not just the ones that are similar to mine... 

I wish there were a place where I could be passionate about the things that are important to me and not have people just assume that I'm not trusting God...  or that I'm just holding to some line of ultra conservative values...  I read a blog last night that I would have to say in general, I agree with...  but I felt like there were some huge judgments made about people on both sides of the aisle, that are passionate about their beliefs.  Passion about a topic is not synonymous with lack of faith...

I wish there were a place where, before judgments are made, we would have to take the time to know the story behind the passion...  A place where if someone starts out emotional or passionate about a topic we wouldn't hide them or snap back at them (I'm guilty of all of these things) but we would take the time to acknowledge their thoughts...  It might go something like this...  "Hey, this is obviously really important to you, would you tell me more?"

Sadly we live in a world of 'sound bites' and we think we know people, and more importantly, we think we know their hearts, because of a few words...  Maybe it's time to open a real dialogue where we listen to each other...  And I mean really listen...  No assumptions...  no agendas...  A place where it is safe to express views and explore the things that puzzle us...  A place where it's acceptable to challenge beliefs with respect and grace...  A place where we don't have to feel defensive or that we'll offend because we say what's on our hearts...  A place where we agree to assume the best about others instead of arrogantly assuming we know others based on a few words...

I guess this place will never exist... But I can wish!