Monday, March 31, 2014

Looking for Truth (In All the Wrong Places)

I read a passionately written blog post about the new movie, Noah, which is now out in theaters. The blog author was so disappointed in the movie that he left in utter shock and disbelief, before the movie ended. He wondered what had happened to America and asked how they (America) could twist this movie so far from the truth. He also said he regretted not doing his research on the movie ahead of time because through his research, he would have learned that the film's director is a self-professed atheist.

I don't mean to minimize that blogger's pain over this movie, but I do have to ask, what did he expect? We simply cannot expect the world to represent God's Truth, no matter what we might hope. It seems this blogger hoped for a Biblical view - out of Hollywood - and condemns all of America for the film's inability to resemble Truth.

As an American, I have to take issue with that. Not all Americans would approve of this film. Some of us wouldn't go see it and didn't need to do a lot of research to make that decision. "America" as in, all of America, did not make this movie. A group of anti-God evolutionists made this movie.

Without a lot of research, I made my decision not to go see the film based on the following facts:

It comes out of Hollywood, this is enough to know that it will not resemble Truth.
It was created for entertainment purposes. Entertainment; not Truth.
It was created for money. That's what Hollywood wants; money. That's the entire bottom line.

Not all Americans approve of this type of "entertainment." For me, I'll keep my $12.95 (the cost of a movie in my town), as well as my $3.98 (the cost of an on demand movie in my living room) and look for Truth in the right places....the Word of God.

Christians, don't go looking for Truth in all the wrong places. We don't need to do a lot of research to know that this film is not Biblical, will not have a Biblical message and will utterly disappoint if we think otherwise. If you do go see the movie, realize it's entertainment, not Truth, that you are viewing.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

I'm Not There for You

Recently, I've seen a good number of articles and blog posts about why certain people are no longer going to church. Most of the reasons have to do with outside influence. Many are discouraged because they see hypocrites in the church. Many don't feel that others in the church are being "real," especially if they worship in what has become known as western traditional worship. Others forsake church because they don't feel the church meets their needs or the needs of their children and family. Still others are trying to get away from all tradition and not allow their faith to be put into a box of expectation which they feel the church represents. And, finally, some stop going to church because they are busy judging whether or not we (those of us who are there) are real or not in our faith.

I go to church. Ever since I was redeemed by the blood of Christ, I have gone to church. But, I'm not there for you.. I'm not there for me, either. I'm there for Him. He said not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. (Hebrews 10:25)

I go to church for God, not for you. I'm there out of obedience, even when I don't feel like it. And, yes, there are times I don't feel like it. Believe me, I've been a pastor's wife for more than 30 years, I've seen and heard it all and there have been times I did not want to go because of what people were doing/saying. But, I went even at those times because I didn't go for them.

It's good and right to not go to a church that preaches or teaches a false doctrine, but that can't be used as an excuse to forsake church altogether. Simply find a church that does teach and preach sound doctrine. They are out there. Make the doctrines of Truth your priority in finding a church, not what programs they may or may not have.

It's good and right to go to church out of simple obedience. There's power and strength in doing the right thing just for the sake of doing the right thing. Simple obedience can't be underestimated. In I Samuel 15, we read of King Saul's disobedience and God's rejection of him as king as a result. Samuel said to Saul, "To obey is better than sacrifice..." Read that account. We clearly see God's emphasis on obedience. Saul's reasoning behind his own rebellion was because he feared the people more than he listened to God, by his own admission. (verse 24)

Don't go for others. Don't go for yourself. Go for God. Go because He said to go. Go because the church is His vehicle to spread the gospel. (Matthew 16:18) Go because He has chosen the foolishness of preaching (the message preached) to save them that believe (I Corinthians 1:21).


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bullied Into Bullying

At a really rough time in my life, a man, the pastor of a nearby church, hurt me deeply. He stood up in front of an entire group of people and told lies about me, my husband and a ministry I had undertaken. I was so hurt and so completely disillusioned about this that I honestly didn't know what to do. I left that particular ministry as it had fallen into apostasy, but my relationship with that pastor, a colleague, remained strained.

Life went on. People went back to their lives and this was put on the back burner. There were times I would see the man who hurt me and I never really knew what to do or say to him, so I tended to avoid him altogether. One day, at a conference we'd both attended, I accidentally said hello to him. I was leaving a building as he was coming in and neither of us saw each other until we were face to face. I am friendly and say hello even to strangers, so I automatically said, "Hello!" in a cheerful voice, only to realize who he was. I was very frustrated with myself because I thought he would take my greeting to mean that all was well between us. All was not well between us, and couldn't be until the situation was at least talked out. But, I could not demand an apology, nor could I really approach him at that point; he had closed that door. I prayed. That is all I ever did about this. I simply prayed.

Several years later, my husband was at a meeting which this man also attended. He approached my husband and apologized for his part in the hurt that took place. He said he was under so much pressure from others involved that he really had no concept or comprehension of how his actions would affect me. He said those others literally hounded him until he didn't know which way to think and he'd given in to their demands to try to discredit me. He told my husband he felt very bad about how things ended, that he never believed the lies he, himself told and he said he was very sorry. They shook hands and the relationship was restored. Even though I was not there to hear and receive his apology myself, I accepted it and have felt at peace with him since.

No hard feelings remain. This man was wrong, no doubt, but there was clearly more going on behind the scenes than I realized. I had no idea he was being bullied like he was. I had no idea that he really did not agree with his bullies, but felt he had no choice but to stand with them or face their anger. He was fearful of the consequences of not standing with them. He was fearful of standing for what he told us later was right. When the cloud of bullying had lifted, this man saw clearly where he had weakened under their pressure. I honestly felt bad for him and ended up with compassion in my heart toward him instead of the hurt I originally had.

He was bullied into bullying. He saw no way out of being bullied but to go along with the demands of his bullies and turn on me. Later, when he told my husband how sorry he was, I realized that the cloud of bullying was very thick around him. He had never learned the language of bullies. He had never been taught about their tactics and how they work. So, he had no idea he was bullied into bullying. It wasn't until much later that he saw what he had done, and then he was appalled and ashamed.

His intention was never to hurt or bully me as he did. His entire intent  was to get relief from those who were bullying and pressuring him. It had nothing whatsoever to do with me, yet it affected me deeply. He did not lean on this as a way to justify or excuse his behavior.

So, this man has my forgiveness. Although I now live across the country and will likely never see him again, I do understand what he went through and I have compassion. Had he not come forward about his situation, however, I would not have had the opportunity to see what he'd been through. While his intent was never to hurt me, he did hurt me, so it was good that he acknowledged and owned that, with no strings attached. His true repentance, even though he had no ill intentions, was important to the relationship moving on. He had to own it first, then forgiveness and restoration was automatic. He never once said, "I'm sorry, but....." He said he was sorry, period; he owned it, and only then did he tell my husband what was going on behind the scenes, what he was reacting to.

Don't allow bullies to bully you into bullying. That's one of their goals. They do not like to work alone; they like to get you on their side and they have satisfaction when you bully as they bully.  It's comforting to them because they perceive your behavior as approval for their own. You do not have to react to a bully by bullying others. This man learned this the hard way.

The joy - and yes, there is joy - comes when a hurting heart is suddenly moved from pain to compassion.

Imagine that.