Why Christians Need to Stop Silly Fights

“What are the benefits of public school,” a person asked on Twitter.

I answered, “You learn how to get along with people who are different from you.”

Instantly without any notice I was ambushed on Twitter by home schoolers who thought I said ‘home-schooling is Satanic.’ I said nothing about home-schooling. I answered a question about public school.

Unfortunately I innocently stepped into the middle of a conversation launched by a blogger pitching his pro-home school post. The Christian blogger had an agenda and he used me to launch his crusade against public school. I quickly bowed out of this accidental argument and called out the blogger’s agenda.

The home-school versus public school is one of those silly fights Christians tend to get into in the name of God. My friend Lee Grady posted an article about how Christians misuse the Bible. One way we pervert the Bible is when we attack each other with scriptures. We think we’re defending God’s honor and the truth when we’re justifying our position at our friend’s expense.

The home-school versus public school is one of the many silly wars we fight. I’ve seen these battles as well:

  • Moms with children who work outside of the home versus moms with children who stay at home
  • Purposefully single versus marrieds
  • Purposefully childless couples versus marrieds with children

And the list goes on and on. I was in a church where the pastor’s wife wanted to debate me about my decision to work outside of the home. My mom just died and I had a baby. I was not in the mood for an open debate about my decision to work.

I respectfully told the pastor’s wife that the decision to work was between me and God and my husband. We believed the job was a financial blessing and my children were being taken care of. “I think you’ve crossed some boundaries here,” I said.

A week later she called crying and repenting for her mistake. I was thankful she responded but my guard was up in that relationship. That was the beginning of the end for me for that church.

While I’m a firm believer in seeking wisdom and counsel from respected, trusted leaders, I believe these issues, among many, are between you and God:

  • Taking birth control
  • Have kids or not have kids
  • Get married or stay single
  • How you date
  • Where you live
  • What you do for a living
  • How you spend your money
  • How you decide to educate your child

Some people can’t afford to send their child to a private Christian school or lose income from a working adult. Instead of judging them for their decision to send their child to a public school, why not pay their way to a private Christian school? Paying for their tuition is a more constructive way of addressing your conviction about private Christian education instead of berating the parent for subjecting their child to the ‘liberal agenda.’

Christians who fight silly wars are at-risk for breaking this scriptural guideline for relationships:

Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters.[a] If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you.  God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor? James 4:11-12

Who are you to judge your neighbor because….

  • They send their child to a public school
  • They home-school
  • He/she doesn’t want to get married
  • He/she doesn’t want to have children
  • He/she wants to have a big family
  • She has children and doesn’t want to work
  • She has children and wants to work
  • He/she drives an expensive sports car or an older vehicle
  • He/she is a different race, gender or economic class

Who are you to judge?

Instead of judging, let’s love by praying and caring for one another. Let’s fight for another, stand with another and respect each other’s decision. Help an overwhelmed parent. Bring a meal. Take care of their kids. Celebrate life!

Tell me about a silly war you may have accidentally stepped into.

 

World-Class Ministry Starts in Your Home

DÁndra is preaching to us.

A very wise woman once told me that my ministry were my children. I didn’t want to hear that because I liked being in the middle of ministry adventures. I love traveling, staying in nice hotels and meeting important people.

While I was working in my dream ministry position where I occasionally traveled, my daughter DÁndra was born. She has Down syndrome and needed extra attention although physically she was perfect. My unplanned surprise birth of a child with special needs turned my world upside down.

I was thrust into turmoil where I thought God forgot me and wanted to leave the church. The wise woman, Pastor Diana, took me out to lunch to find out what was going on. I shared with her about my struggle that now I wasn’t doing anything worthwhile for the kingdom of God. I think I even cried through the lunch.

I’ll never forget what she told me that day that literally saved me and my family. With her bright blue eyes glistening with compassion, she reached out to me and said, “Your ministry now is your family.” I think I wiped away tears and said that I didn’t think of my family as a ministry. I thought they were in the way of the ministry.

I was super performance-oriented and Pastor Diana opened a door to a brand new world of compassion, love, kindness and the goodness of God. I dreaded the thought of stepping down from a high profile ministry position to take care of my daughter with special needs and my sons. But that feeling of being forgotten, unworthy, and washed up as a I sat in the foyer with my daughter began to fade with the years.

I took her advice and poured my love, my faith and everything I had into my children. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t have Bible studies and Bible memorization campaigns. Instead, I tried to find ways to naturally include the things of God in our everyday life.

We have lots of fun playing together and enjoying each others company. We also had moments where we talked about life, dreams and how God fits in. Through the years, God added Erin when she was 13 into our lives. My beautiful niece moved in with us from L.A. to go to school in Kansas City.

I’ll never forget the summer nights where we had Haywood church. Each child was assigned a scripture and a task to either preach, pray, or sing the scripture. Those gatherings began awkwardly but soon grew into dynamic moments where God stepped into our midst.

I’m still in that season of ministering to my kids although I own a business and adjust my activities according to their needs. DÁndra is in the 6th grade, Alex is in the 10th grade, Chris is in college and Erin is married and living in Florida. Ministering to my children was a ministry that I didn’t want.

But I realized that this ministry that no one prays for or claims is what attracted God to Abraham. In Genesis 18:19, there is a pattern of what caught God’s attention when He picked Abraham. “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Having the ability to teach your children how to keep the way of the Lord and do what is right and just is apparently so important to God that the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham depends on him teaching his kids. What a radical departure from what we look for in leaders today. We want the sharp, good-looking affluent guys or gals. God is looking for someone who had the ability to pass loving and honoring Him to their children.

The ministry that no one wants in our culture is a primary ministry to God. God sees how we are able to pass on our faith to our kids and our household. He responds to that and acts to fulfill His promises when we make a priority of reaching the people in front of us with the goodness of God.

Thank you Pastor Diana for those wise words spoken years ago to a mom struggling with her place in life. Moms and dads, your first ministry are your kids. Treat this like a world-class ministry and you’ll be amazed at what God does in your home.

How God Remembers When People Forget You

I went from sitting on the front row in church to sitting in the foyer with a fussy child in a matter of years. I went from getting calls daily from ministry leaders to being a nobody. Stepping out of the inner circle of ministry and being on the prayer team to the foyer was hard for me.

I felt like God forgot me. People forgot me. And I was a nobody.

I wanted to leave and cried out to God. During prayer, He asked me, “Did you come here to sit on the front row and to work for the pastors or did you come here because I called you?”

I answered, “I came here because You called me.”

“I haven’t changed my mind,” He answered.

During that time one of the pastors reached out to me. She said that taking care of a special needs child was just as important of a ministry as being on staff. “Right now your ministry is your family,” she said.

With her words, I began to see holding DÁndra in the foyer as a ministry unto God. When I drove my kids to school, I was doing it as unto Him. When I read to DÁndra, I did it as unto Him.

No one ever gets called out in a conference and receives a prophetic word declaring, “Thus says the Lord I’ve called you to take care of your children!” Who prays for that ministry? Taking care of children is sheer hard work.

I felt lonely and isolated walking back and forth in the foyer with DÁndra because she couldn’t handle the loudness of the worship music. My husband, Jerome would relieve me but I had no help with her. God and my family had to be enough because that was all I had.

DÁndra’s sensitivity to noise began lessen as she got older. She is 11 and loves worshipping through the service. When she turned 10, a major Christian magazine asked me to write a cover story. I jumped at the opportunity because feature writing is my first love.

DÁndra loves jamming on the guitar.

When I interviewed the person, he asked me if I would be interested in helping out with marketing for an organization that he was involved in. I had already started a marketing communications business for a more flexible schedule and I said I would be very interested.

After the article was published, the media company asked if I would be interested in managing content for their women’s magazine. The enewsletter is read by over 40,000 women every week. At the same time, the gentleman that I interviewed asked me to consider helping out with marketing for a ministry organization.

I was amazed that God brought these opportunities to me. He remembered me when I was sitting in the foyer praying. He remembered me when I was driving my kids back and forth to school. He remembered me when I felt like everyone else forgot me.

Last Sunday a lady shared with me how she felt underused and forgotten. I shared with her a little bit of my story because I could totally relate to that. I had gone from managing TV and radio show productions and public relations campaigns to sitting in the foyer with a fussy child.

I encouraged her to look to God who always remembers. Instead of being resentful of being overlooked, pray. Pray and do it all as unto Him. Turn the mundane into an act of worship and devotion to God.

He has a long record of remembering people that others forgot. Joseph was forgotten and considered dead by his brothers. The woman with the issue of blood was considered an outcast by her town. And don’t forget the tax collector that everyone hated.

God remembered Joseph by fulfilling a childhood dream that he was clueless as to how it would be fulfilled. I’m sure if Joseph saw betrayal by his brothers, being sold into slavery, false accusation and unjust imprisonment as part of the process of fulfilling the dream, he would have prayed that God would pick someone else.

God remembered the woman with the issue of blood considered a pariah by her family and friends. This woman probably didn’t foresee a disease that kept her from her family and from worship in her future. Yet God put her in His future.

And the tax collector who everyone hated. Yet Jesus defied conventions by announcing to everyone that he was having dinner at his house. The tax collector instantly repents by pledging to return everything that he had taken unjustly.

Joseph, the diseased woman and the tax collector were forgotten, written off by their family and friends. Yet God had not written them off. And He has not written you off. He will never write you off. People may forget you and write you off as beyond being useful or being able to contribute anything worthwhile. But God will never write you off. He will never forget you.

He always remembers and He remembers you. Talk to Him, cry out to Him. Remember Him and He will remember you.

Be the Constant in Someone Else’s Change

Erin moved to Florida to be with her husband, Alex Taylor. Chris started college. D’Andra started middle school. And Alex is starting the 10th grade next week.

Erin and her husband, Alex Taylor

Erin and her husband, Alex Taylor

The only constant is change. Change is hard. Change is uncomfortable and despite the best efforts to prepare, you’re going to be surprised.

Erin was surprised that she has to drive 15 miles per hour on the military base where they live. Chris was surprised to get a major assignment that took him 6 hours to do on the first day of school. The only one who didn’t get a surprise was D’Andra who thankfully got a teacher that she knew and some friends from her former school.

chrisstatus

My job through the constant of change is to be there supporting them through their transition. I miss Erin and I cried the first day Chris went to college. It was like watching him walk to his school when he was in kindergarten but this time he was getting in his car.

I’m thankful for the ability to just be present for them when they need a word of encouragement. Or in Chris’s case a dinner brought to school. Moms, dads or anyone who is caring for someone else, remember the value of being in the moment.

Work is always going to be there and bills will scream at you. But for that moment, forget about the job, the bills and talk to your son or daughter. Put down the smartphone, iPad or iWhatever and look at them, talk to them and encourage them.

You can be the constant in the change for them. So right now I challenge you to text or call someone who needs your encouragement. Tell them they are doing a great job. If you need to, bring them food.

Be the constant in their change.

Is your child experiencing something for the first time? How is it going?

I Want to Be Depended On

I was looking for a picture of the mural Chris drew and painted on his 2 bedroom walls when he was 8 years old and I stumbled across this:

The same 8-year-old boy that played with his little brother and little sister drew an amazing jungle mural with a lion, gorilla, and elephant drawn to perfect proportion. I was hoping to pull this mural to show off his artistry for the Kansas City Art Institute.

Chris returned the admissions counselor’s call today after she left him three messages. We need to get her his high school transcript, ACT score and 15 to 20 pieces of his art uploaded ASAP. Of course I’ve been telling him all year that he needs to work on his portfolio. But he’s an artist who would rather create than organize. Which is a lot like his mother.

Last night at 7:30pm my husband and I visited Liberty Tax to finish our taxes. I thank God for tax preparers like Kim Emery who added up every receipt from my husband’s business expenses and patiently calculated his business miles. If I have to choose between writing and working on my taxes, which do you think I’m going to choose?

I would rather create rather than organize. Chris is one of my most glorious creations as my son. I’ve told him that he christened me into adulthood. I freaked out that I was responsible for the caring and feeding of another human being who was completely dependent on me. My friends who knew me as a single gal that flitted about the country at a whim, prayed for him and me.

They prayed that I wouldn’t forget picking him up after school. Or forget about feeding him or leave him at church. Thankfully after 18 years, I’ve remembered to pick him up at school, feed him when he is hungry and never left him at church.

I heard a message last Sunday about how being made in the image of God is being in the god class. We are not gods per say, but we are in His class of being able to create. But just like we have the ability to create, He enjoys our complete dependency on Him.

We don’t like depending on anybody and our culture celebrates the self-made, independent individual. Depending on someone is considered a weakness. But I keep thinking of that scripture when Jesus said He does the Father’s will. Jesus was a dependent being who could call on an army of angels.

He walked on water. He healed people. He fed 5,000 yet He was completely dependent on the Father. Another hallmark message that I’ve had drilled into me by Pastor Steve Gray is learning how to become smaller on your own eyes so He is bigger. I’ve never heard any preacher encourage congregants to become smaller. Instead, the church encourages us to become bigger in God, to the point we don’t need anyone, and maybe not Him.

As I’ve watched Chris grow up from the baby who snuggled at my neck, then wrestling with his little brother to the 18-year-old looking for his art work, I silently pray and hope that he will still depend on me. That he will still need me. Don’t get me wrong, I want him to do well and I know that God will bless everything that he puts his hand to but I still want him to need me.

I loved helping him get his applications together for college, doing the research and editing his essays. And just like I love to help Chris, I get a taste of how the Father loves to be needed. He loves to hear us call out to Him and depend on Him.

Unfortunately, the only time most people notice Him is when they are in a crisis. If you live from one crisis to another, that may be one reason why they never stop. The never ending crises make you depend on Him.

What if you called out to Him and depended on Him when the times were good? I bet those crises would happen farther apart in life and become infrequent. Learning how to need Him, depend on Him, call out to Him to thank Him, love Him and honor Him when times are good is a discipline of consistent devotion.

Try it right now. Thank Him for the good things happening in your life even though you might be in the middle of a crisis. Thank Him for the outcome. Honor Him by sharing about the good things He has done in your life with someone else. Consistently needing Him, depending on Him with disciplined devotion will keep you involved with His life and Him with your life.