It isn’t fair

How many say, “I dropped out of church” or “I’m not interested in church” or “I can’t trust people in church” or “Just not interested in God” …

because …

someone who claims to be a Christian hurt them?

It’s sad that a Christian didn’t act like a Christian. That someone was a hypocrite. That a person who claims to be a Christ follower acted like a jerk—or worse—inflicting soul-wounds on another person.

But, you know something?

It’s not fair to judge God by something a rotten human being did.

Humans have sinned—since the first two of them. Humans fail. Humans can be hypocritical. They can hurt others. They can be downright nasty.

And humans who are Christians—or say they are—can disappoint.

Some of these hurts are very deep.

They can leave scars.

But people shouldn’t judge God by people.

People are on one spectrum, but God is:

  • love (1 John 4:8)
  • perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  • good (1 Chronicles 16:34)
  • faithful (Psalm 119:90)
  • merciful (Psalm 103:8)
  • kind (Psalm 117:2)
  • full of grace and truth (John 1:14)
  • caring (1 Peter 5:7)

God doesn’t disappoint. He can’t. He wants to save every single soul. He gives light to every person. He wants to have a relationship with us.

He loves you.

Genuinely.

Without holding back.

Forever.

God is infinitely greater than any person.

Don’t reject His house because of sinful people.

And, more importantly, don’t reject Him because some of the people who go to church don’t act like Christians. Someone wisely said, “The church is a hospital.” The truth is that everyone at church is needy, and the Lord is the Great Physician.

Don’t give up on God.

He never gave up on you.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,

that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,

but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

The Sin and the Sinner

Hate the sin and love the sinner. Right?

There’s a difference between the person and his sin.

Yet, we frequently hear:

  • She’s digusting.
  • He’s sickening.
  • I am shocked.
  • How could anyone…?

They’re talking about a person. Yes, this person sinned, but we’re talking about a human being for whom Christ died.

And, except for the grace of God, we might be into the same sickening stuff. Did you ever think about what the Lord might have saved you from?

Over the years, I’ve gained experience. One that’s been proved over and over is the old adage, “He who shouts the loudest has the most to hide.” It’s not always true, but I’ve watched it happen often. Critical people can have their own secret sins. They talk saintly-righteous and look down their noses at others, but they are themselves closet sinners—and many times they sin in exactly the same ways for which they condemn others.

The Bible says, For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:3). Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Some sins are extremely abhorrent to decent people—and they should be. But, I’m afraid we forget that people who have sunk into such horrible sins are just persons who haven’t known the Lord’s grace and forgiveness.

When’s the last time you prayed for:

  • an abortionist to know the Lord?
  • a druggie to get saved?
  • an alcoholic to repent and change his life around by the power of God?
  • the author of a nasty book?
  • a prostitute?
  • a model for pornographic photos?
  • a woman who aborted her child?
  • trafficked kids and adults?
  • your lesbian friend?
  • bosses who trade sex for favors?
  • that person you labeled disgusting or pervert or sickening?

When’s the last time you viewed that person as a soul for whom Christ died?

The root cause of sin is man’s own flesh and its sinfulness. Even saved people have to battle temptations.

Thankfully, there’s help:

  • Jesus said, Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38).
  • There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations (2 Peter 2:9).

Jesus set the example of compassion. What did He do with the woman caught in the act of adultery? What did he say to her? He didn’t whitewash or overlook her sin, but He was kind and offered her forgiveness. He admonished her, go and sin no more.

When He dealt with Zacchaeus, who was a thief, Jesus went to his house. After Zacchaeus repented, Jesus said about him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).

When Jesus was confronted by the demon-possessed young man who was naked and cutting himself, and living among the tombs, He addressed the demons and cast them out. Later, when people came to see the young man sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind. (The complete story is in Mark 5:1-15.)

Jesus is God. He is perfect, and He can’t stand sin, yet He has always shown love and compassion to those in sin. He still changes lives, some as dramatically as we read about in the Bible.

He continues to show mercy.

May we do the same.

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:36).

Are we praying wrong?

Let’s start out with some typical prayer requests.

Pray for:

  • A sick child.
  • An uncle who doesn’t know the Lord.
  • Mrs. Smith, who suffers pain every day, that she could have the operation she needs to take away the pain.
  • Mr. Jones, who lost his wallet in Walmart, that some honest soul would turn it in.
  • Fred’s testimony at work.
  • George, who’s an alcoholic and drug addict.

We’ve all heard these kinds of requests, and we know that God will answer prayer. He promises to answer all prayers that are according to His will—what God wants. Sometimes, it’s easy to pray according to God’s will, since He tells us what it is in the Bible. Look at the prayer requests above. Which do we know are God’s will?

The sick child and Mrs. Smith’s pain issue— Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (James 5:14-15).

The uncle’s salvation—The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Mr. Jones’ wallet—Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Fred’s testimony—But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (1 Peter 1:15).

George’s addictions—Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).

It’s absolutely right to pray for all of these situations. We’re supposed to pray for God to work in everything.

But, we don’t necessarily know His will.

We don’t know if God will heal the child or Mrs. Smith. He may heal them by making them perfectly well, in heaven. Or, He may choose to use suffering in their lives and/or the lives of others.

We don’t know whether or not He will prompt someone to be honest and turn in Mr. Jones’ wallet. Maybe, a dishonest person will keep the money and use the credit cards for himself. The wallet might have been stolen.

We don’t know if George will put in his part and become accountable to the Lord and others about his addictions.

We can be certain God wants to save the uncle, and for Fred to have a pure testimony at work. We can confidently pray for these.

So, how do we pray for the sick child, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Jones, and George? We ask God to do His will in each case. Since His will for each of these cases isn’t spelled out in the Bible, we don’t know. But, we can be sure that God will use any situation for His glory.

Do you remember Esther? She was taken into the harem of the king, then chosen to be his wife. She had no say or choice. Later, she found out about a plot to kill all the Jewish people, and she, being Jewish, risked her life to go, unbidden, before her husband. After her wise actions on behalf of her people, the Jews were saved from annihilation. Before she went to the king, her cousin Mordecai (her guardian) advised her, For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14) Esther’s reply requested prayer and fasting, but she understood the possible consequences. Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish (Esther 4:16).

Hebrew 11 tells us about people of great faith who subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect (Hebrews 11:33-40).

People suffered in the will of God. The Bible commends them, giving them a good report, saying the world wasn’t worthy of them.

Jesus always did right and always followed His Father’s will, yet He suffered the sins of all the world, the cruelest death, and God forsaking Him.

The Bible says, Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).

So, what does this have to do with how we pray? Maybe we need to pray like Jesus did in His model prayer and in Gethsemane, Thy will be done (Matthew 6:10; 26:42).

We can confidently pray for God’s will to be done. Lord, accomplish Your will in this life, or this situation. And then, we joyfully accept what He does.

If God wants to take the little one or Mrs. Smith to heaven, they’ll be completely healed—forever.

God might help someone be honest with Mr. Jones’ wallet—or not. God might show Mr. Jones His faithfulness in a different way, maybe by letting him replace those things in record time. Or, maybe God wants to show Mr. Jones how He can take care of all his needs.

We can pray for everyone, knowing that God wants to meet everyone’s needs.

Prayer gives us the opportunity to intercede for others. Prayer makes a difference. But, God has infinite wisdom, and His answer might be different from what we imagine—and it’s all good.

Be careful (anxious, full of care) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7)

Being a Child of the World

When people ask me where I’m from, I usually have to think three things:

1. Where I am at the moment

2. In which language the question is asked

3. What should I say?

The first part of my life story is similar to many. I was born in one place, moved to a few others, moved to a new state, moved to another state, moved back to my second state, got married and moved to yet another state, living in several different houses….

And that’s where the story changes completely. My husband, baby, and I moved to another country and became “foreigners.” We couldn’t even say “hi” when we arrived. In some senses, we went back to first grade—learning the alphabet, how to say simple phrases, the use of verbs, learning to count. We began the process of being strangers in a strange land.

Where am I from?

Birth—West Virginia

Growing up—Virginia, New Jersey, and Virginia

Married life—South Carolina and Spain

I’ve lived in Spain most of my life—eight years longer than in America.

So, where am I from?

Our children have it easy. They grew up in Spain.

My husband and I grew up in Spain, too—in a different sense. We’ve learned so much since we came: a new language, culture, lifestyle, and lots of history. We love it. What a fantastic place in which to live, work, and bring up our family.

So, we’ve lived in Spain more, yet our passport is from America, and our roots and families are across the ocean. We’ve been away so long that when we visit the States, we feel like foreigners, which we aren’t. We don’t here—but we are.

Where am I from?

I can’t tell you. The words don’t come.

Ask me, rather, about my life experiences, how God has proved Himself good through every day.

Ask me what I’ve learned.

Ask me how I think being an MK (missionary kid) profited our children.

Ask me hard questions.

I’m just a human being, a child of the world, a redeemed person with the calling to share my Redeemer with the rest of the world.

Yet, I’m not of this world. I am a pilgrim on this earth. And, I have the wonderful assurance that the world ahead of me is so much better than this one that I can’t even compare the two.

These (people named before) all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:13-16, emphasis mine).

Where are you from?

More importantly, where are you going?

Non-fiction book review: Sick and Tired

Sick & Tired: Empathy, Encouragement, and Practical Help for Those Suffering with Chronic Disease, by Kimberly Rae.

Kimberly Rae begins her book like this: “Sometimes I want to slap a sticky note on my forehead that says, ‘I am sick. No, I don’t look sick at this moment. But, I am not faking having a disease just because I’m not in a wheelchair, and I am not a freak.'”

Of course, she explains she wouldn’t actually do that—since doing so would make her a freak for sure—and she explains life with chronic illness from the viewpoint of someone who has lived for many years with illnesses you don’t necessarily see.

This is a book for two kinds of people: the chronically ill, and everyone else.

If you know what it’s like to be sick with the kinds of illnesses people can’t see (a whole list here, including fibromyalgia, cancer, and hundreds more), you’ll find a friend in Kimberly Rae. She will help you laugh and cry and understand those around you—why they react to your illness in the most ignorant ways, and how you can actually help them.

If you are in the second category, you can’t possibly understand those who are chronically ill, but this book will help you empathize with and help them. Sick and Tired helps you to know what to do—and not do—for your friends. It will help you know what to say and not say. It assists you in knowing how to show you care in a loving, Christian way.

One of the major things I love about all of Kimberly Rae’s books is her non-condemning spirit. Here again, her purpose is to instruct and enlighten and even to entertain, but she does them all without making anyone feel “less than.” You’ll enjoy her ridiculous comics and funny quotes throughout. This book also works as a study, with questions for discussion and reflection at the end of each chapter.

I can wholeheartedly recommend the book, Sick and Tired, to you.