Is God REALLY good ALL the time…

We have this little back and forth interaction with our pastor on some Sunday mornings.  It goes like this:

Pastor:  God is good.
Congregation:  All the time.
Pastor:  All the time.
Congregation:  God is good.

Don’t worry…this isn’t going to be a long post on theology (smile).  I find myself cringing sometimes when people use the statement, “God is good.”  It’s not that I don’t believe it because I do with all of my heart.  I just wonder what people who question faith or don’t have faith think about it.  For instance, I’ll see a post on FB asking for prayer.  Everyone chimes in and says that they will pray for the situation.  Days later, we may get an update that things went well and the prayer was answered in the way the person wanted.  Friends will then comment that “God is good.”  I find it interesting, however, that people do not comment this way if the desired outcome is not achieved.  I wonder…what do people who don’t have faith in Jesus think about this?  I agree wholeheartedly that God should be praised for good outcomes to prayers.  But we need to remember that He is still good and should be praised when things don’t turn out the way we may have hoped.  I would hate for someone to assume that God is bad, or that they themselves must be bad, if God doesn’t answer in the way they wanted.  We tend to think that because God is good…only good things will happen.  This isn’t true.  When my mom died suddenly from a brain aneurysm while playing with my children, God was still good (you can read about that in the post “I will see you again”).  When my sister was in the throes of her addiction to alcohol, God was still good (she has been sober for over 10 years now – woo hoo).  When my son spent a week in a psychiatric hospital because he wanted to end his life, God was still good (post “Buttons and shoestrings”).  I could go on.

All of these things were difficult, but God was and is still good.  These events caused me to wrestle with God.  That wrestling has developed some good spiritual muscles (smile).  God can take a tragedy and bring something miraculous from it.  He can take our darkest moments and change lives of others.  I would like to share a story with you.  It’s not my story, but it so easily could have been.  I introduce to you Rob and Linda Robertson.  This video is from the last ever Exodus conference on June 20, 2013.  Their story is one of pain, loss, hope, redemption and so much more.  It’s 34 minutes, but it doesn’t seem long as you watch it.  I urge you to take the time to view it:

God is Good

 

God IS good…ALL the time.  Thank you so much Rob and Linda for sharing your story.  It truly is saving lives.

Are there “buts” attached to your love?  We should love “just because they breathe.” Because love matters.

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I always feel like somebody’s watching me (said like Rockwell’s song from the 80’s)…

My mom was a people watcher. One of her favorite past times was to sit on a bench at the beach, and watch the people walk by on the boardwalk.

bench

 

She could spend hours doing this.  In her defense, there were a lot of interesting sites to see. There was a down side to her favorite past-time though.  She did not hide her expressions if she thought what people were wearing or what they were doing was a little “out there.”  David_Morgan4

dangerIt was particularly embarrassing at the mall.  She would pass someone, give them a look, and continue to crank her head around to see them once she walked past them.  She just couldn’t help herself.  This lead to a few disasters of walking into glass walls, tripping over her own two feet, and knocking items off of clothing racks.  Many giggle fits took place after these mishaps.  I have to admit these are some of my favorite memories of her.

I get to do a lot of people watching on Sunday mornings at church.  I’m at the Guest Service area where new people can get information about the church.  It’s one of the first things you see when you walk in so I pretty much get to see everyone that walks through the door.  I paid particular attention this past Easter Sunday.  Our church has a casual dress policy, but on Easter Sunday people tend to dress up.  Everyone looked so nice in their “Sunday best.”  I mentioned that I was extra observant this past Sunday.  The reason for this was my son agreed to come and I was anxiously awaiting his arrival. It’s been a tradition for years to go to church as a family on Easter (we used to go every Sunday as a family, but times have changed).  You see, he’s pretty much given up on God right now.  Unanswered prayer does that sometimes. But I asked him if he would come and he said yes.  I wasn’t sure if he would because back in September I started this blog (with his permission) that pretty much outed him as a gay young man.  I wasn’t sure if he would be brave enough to walk through the doors.  I can only imagine how self-conscious he felt.

I’m very grateful that there were two ladies in the lobby who have known him since he was a little boy who gave him a welcoming hug.  I can tell you that this would not happen at all churches.  Did you know that there are websites that gay Christians visit to find gay affirming churches?  These are churches that welcome LGBT people.  Can you imagine having to do that for yourself? The Bible says very strong things against divorce, but divorced and/or remarried people don’t have to find divorce affirming churches.  I could give many other examples.  I have friends that would have loved to go to church on Easter, but couldn’t because their church has kicked them out because of their gay children. And these are children who haven’t had sex. They are discriminated against for how they were born.

So along with everyone in their Sunday best, I also saw greed, anger, jealousy, lust, and many others walk through the doors of my church.  Are they repenting of these sins?  I have no idea.  No one knows what is truly in the heart of another.  Yet they were all welcome.  There was no one at the door checking sin ID’s.

Let me ask you…if you’re neighbor was an addict, would you invite them to church?  If you knew a couple where infidelity was tearing them apart, would you invite them to church?  If you had a gay friend, would you invite them to church?  What if they had a partner?  Would you invite both?  I bet two things run through your mind with the last question.  Would they be allowed in my church?  Would people think I was “ok” with them being gay if they walked in with me?

I wonder…what would Jesus do?

Love each other…because it really matters.

 

 

 

 

Love come to life…

risen

John 3:16 (NLT)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus is…love come to life.  Tangible evidence of God’s love.  He made the ultimate sacrifice for each and every one of us.  He came to show us the Father.  He came to teach us and gave us this command…love God and love our neighbor.

This week brought news of another teen that took his life because he was gay.  It breaks my heart.  As I reflect on this Easter Sunday, I want to always remember Jesus’ sacrifice for me and I want to always remember his commandment to love…everyone.  I heard the song “Love Come to Life” by Big Daddy Weave the other day and the chorus has stuck with me ever since:

Bring Your love to life inside of me 
Why don’t You break my heart ’til it moves my hands and feet 
For the hopeless and the broken 
For the ones that don’t know that You love them 
Bring Your love to life inside of me 

Jesus help me to never forget the hopeless and the broken and make me a vessel of your love…because love matters.

Feeling like a magnet?…

I graduated back in good old 1985.  We had two choices in high school when it came to classes back then: college prep or business.  I chose the business route so right after graduation I went out and got a job as a secretary (now they call us Administrative Assistants – sounds so much fancier).  As soon as I secured my first full-time job, I went out and bought a car.  It wasn’t just any car though…it was a brand, spanking new 1985 dark blue Pontiac Firebird. Sweet!  The little kids in my neighborhood thought it was Night Rider (if you remember that David Hasselhoff show).  I can’t believe I don’t have any pictures of it, but I guess back then we didn’t have the convenience of cell phone cameras (smile).  I loved that car.  There was just one problem.  It was a magnet.  That’s right…a magnet.  It just had a way of finding trouble.

My first job was in downtown Baltimore City.  One day as I was driving home, a car cut me off big time.  I didn’t hit the car in front of me, but I felt a “bump” from the back.  I looked in my rear view mirror, but the car behind me was too far back to be what hit me.  I got out of my car in time to see a guy picking up his motorcycle. I asked him if he was hurt and if his bike was damaged.  He answered no to both.  I told him I was sorry, but I had been cut off and that’s why I slammed on my brakes.  I looked to see if my car had damage.  Not a scratch…just a tire print from where the motorcycle literally drove up the back of my car.  Luckily it just took a little elbow grease to get the rubber and dirt off.  Another day driving home, a police officer decided to open his car door just as I was passing him.  He tore up the whole front panel of my car, and then tried to say it was my fault!  I won the fight and the city paid to have my car fixed.

I left the job in the city and got a job where I had to drive I95 everyday.  Sometimes I would need to be to work by 5am.  I lived a half hour away so I was on the road really early.  This was 21 years ago so the highway wasn’t quite as crazy as it is now, and it was pretty empty that time of morning.  I was driving along one day, and saw a tree in the middle of the highway.  A tree!  I didn’t see it until the last minute because it was so dark outside.  I was able to miss most of it, but I did run over one of the branches.  It made an awful sound.  I got to work and when I got out of my car I smelled burnt wood.  I apparently dragged the branch all the way to work with me.  I worked in the offices at Costco so I got the tire center guys to put it on the lift.  Luckily I didn’t do any damage.  Another day on my way home from work on I95 a car in the fast lane lost it’s muffler.  Yep…the whole thing. Now when you are going at a high rate of speed and something falls off your car…it bounces.  I started wincing because I knew exactly what was going to happen.  That muffler bounced from the fast lane over to me in the slow lane. It hit the front of my car, slid up the windshield, and flew off the back. Then there was the time a guy hit me because he was reading the newspaper while driving.  Really?!  Who does that?!  I could go on and on about this car.  It was just a magnet for bad luck.

Do you ever find yourself feeling like a magnet?  Like everything that can go wrong…does go wrong…or trouble just has a way of finding you.  An appliance breaks, your car needs repair, the kids are sick, you get laid off from work, you get bad news about your health, lose a loved one…it can start to feel like you are attracting trouble.  This week as Easter approaches I’ve been contemplating Jesus’ suffering.  Sometimes as Christians we tend to think that once we become believers that should be it for our troubles.  Everything should be peachy keen.  The Bible doesn’t promise us that though.  What it does promise us is that God is always with us. We get dinged and dented like my car by life’s difficulties.  We aren’t perfect.  We have flaws.  But we are loved anyway.  Deeply.  In some of my hardest trials, God has revealed Himself to me in the most incredible ways.  If I never went through those troubles, I wouldn’t have had those experiences with Him.  Now that doesn’t make me say, “Sign me up for some more hardship!”  But it does remind me that He will use those times to help me grow into the person He has created me to be.

I saw this on Facebook today and it reminded me about what I’ve been reflecting on this week.suffering

2 Corinthians 12:9

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.”  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

How cool is it that we are used in our weakness!  We don’t need to be strong and have it all together.  We can still be used despite all our dents and dings from life.  Just like my car…even though it was a little beat up, it was still reliable transportation for me.  It was still very useful and valuable.  Jesus suffered on the cross for us so that we could have eternal life with God.  The sufferings I experience here on earth are just a blink of an eye compared to the eternal treasures of heaven.  It doesn’t mean it will be easy.  But I am so thankful that Jesus paved the way for me to have a personal relationship with my Father in heaven.  It makes those hardships a little easier having Him by my side.

We need to remember that we have been given a gift.  And we need to know that we can claim to be all of these things if we accept Christ:

New in Christ high res copy

 

Jesus died on the cross for us because he loves us.  We need to share that love with others…because love matters.

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MVA and old ladies…the good and the bad…

When I was 25 years old, I needed to get my driver’s license renewed.  I had just had my son and didn’t want to have to take him with me so I went on a Saturday when my husband was off work.  I just so happened to pick a Saturday that a flock of teens were testing to get their drivers licenses. The lobby was filled with parents anxiously awaiting their son or daughter to turn the corner.  Did they pass the test?  As I was waiting for my turn to get my picture taken and such, I would hear loud cheers coming from the lobby area.  Another teen passed and got their coveted license.  As I finished up and headed out to the lobby, I opened the door and was also greeted with loud cheers and congratulations.  It took me a minute to realize that the parents assumed that I was a teen that just got their license.  Pretty cool considering I was 25 and a new mother.  Really I chalk it up to being short…people tend to think you are younger when you’re short…but hey…I’ll take it.  Felt pretty good.

There was a down side to looking younger though.  As a way to help senior citizens get their exercise, the malls in my area open their doors early so that the seniors can walk the mall before the stores open.old lady This is especially great when it’s inclement weather. Moms take advantage of it too and strap their young ones in strollers to share the halls with the seniors.   I would frequent the mall in those early days when my son was a baby to get some exercise when it was too cold or rainy outside to do so.  Well it didn’t take long to hear the comments.  There were lots of  little old ladies in that mall and they weren’t shy about sharing their opinion.  In what they thought was a whisper, they would talk to one another as they walked by me.  “That is just awful.  Look at her.  She is just a baby herself.  I don’t know what it is with this generation…babies having babies…it’s just dreadful.”  They assumed I was a teen mom.  I just wanted to yell back at them.  “I’m 25…I’m married…and I got married before I had my baby thank you very much!”  It used to make me feel bad.  How could they just assume that about me?

Has anyone ever assumed something about you that wasn’t true?  Are you a quite person?  Do people automatically assume you are stuck up?  Are you overweight because of a medical reason like a thyroid problem and people automatically assume that you just eat too much or are lazy?  It hurts.  You just want to shout…”You’re wrong!  You don’t know my story!”  Assuming that you know something about someone that isn’t correct can cause them great distress.

Here are some untruths that some people assume about gay people:

* They will try to change you.  There are people who think that hanging around someone who is gay will somehow make them gay.  This can’t happen.  You are born gay.  Period.  Just like gay people hanging around straight people won’t make them straight.

*All gay people think about is sex.  Not true.  They are just like straight people.  They don’t think about sex any more or less than a straight person.  We have to stop treating them like they are a sexual act.  If you meet a straight person, you aren’t thinking about who they are having sex with…it should be the same with someone who is gay. Gay/Straight…it comes down to wanting to be loved.  Sex isn’t what defines any of us.

*Gay people aren’t Christians.  There are a lot of gay Christians. I have more to say about this, but I will save that for another time. (smile)

*Gay people are attracted to every person of the same-sex.  As a straight person, are you attracted to every person of the opposite sex?  No.  Neither are gay people.

*Gay people are pedophiles.  I want you to let this one sink in a little.  Imagine if people thought this about your child. Not because of anything they did…just because of how they were born.  Sickening.  Imagine walking around with that burden as a gay person.  I can’t say anything else about this while still being loving so I’m going to let it go.  Let’s just say people need to stop thinking this.

People wonder sometimes why some gay people are so angry.  Well…as a parent of a gay child it’s hard sometimes for me to not walk around angry all the time.  If something has ever been falsely assumed about you, I think you may understand somewhat.  I can’t even begin to tell you the horrors that some gay people have faced. And as a Christian it pains me deeply that some of these things have been done by fellow Christians.  Before you assume something about anyone, get to know them.  Learn their story.  You may find that you had it all wrong.

Love each other…because love matters.

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8…

When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I was a pee wee majorette.  This is me.  Yes the hat was just about as big as I wasmarching back then (smile).  Purple outfit, purple baton, and white boots.  Woo hoo!  I liked marching in the parades, but I really couldn’t wait to be one of the “big” girls. The routine that they did was way cooler than ours. They actually got to throw their batons.  My group routine was so simple that I still remember it today.  We would march through the streets repeating the movements over and over again.  One day as I arrived at the starting point of the parade, I was told that our leader was sick and couldn’t make it.  The leader was always in front of us and she let us know when it was time to do the routine.  Her most important job was to make sure we were ready to go when we passed in front of the judges.  Yes we were judged…I’m not sure why…I don’t remember seeing anyone winning anything, but there must have been some kind of reward at the end of the parade.  On this particular day, I was informed that I was going to be the leader.  Gulp!  Me the leader??  I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it.  But honestly I felt like I didn’t have a choice so I took my spot at the front of the group.  I was told where the judges stand was located and off we went.  I was so nervous.  Everything we did was an 8 count.  Put your arms up and out…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.  Fold your arms in front of you…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8…and so on.  I saw the judges and I led my little group through the routine…and I survived!

This was something I enjoyed.  I signed up for it.  Even though it was something I did willingly, being judged on it was very nerve-wracking every time I did it.  Sweating bullets kind of pressure even it if was just the pee wee majorettes (smile).  Have you ever signed up for something that required you be judged on your performance?  It’s a bit overwhelming sometimes.

How about not signing up for the judgement?  How about being judged for who you are?  I know I’ve talked about this judgement thing before, but it keeps coming up in conversations.  So, it’s just something I’ve been thinking about again…or God’s been having me think about it.  I think sometimes people just don’t realize that they are judging others.  I’ll give you an example…Before we came out that our son is gay, my husband and I were with a group of people.  The topic of homosexuality came up and one of the guys in the group piped up and said, “those people are freaks!”  If I had hair on my back like my dog Lucy, it would have been puffed up like hers when she is in protector mode.  My first reaction inside was anger.  But God gently whispered that this statement was coming from ignorance.  And I don’t mean someone who is unschooled or illiterate, I just mean someone who doesn’t have the experience or knowledge on the subject matter.  It helped me to calm down.  When my husband and I came out to this same group, the same guy touted that he is not judgemental and would never judge our son.

So what was offensive or judging?  First the statement of “those people.”  Ask any gay person and they will tell you they want to be treated like everyone else.  They don’t want to be seen as “those” people…just people.  And the “freak”part is obvious.  Did you know that silence can also feel like judgement?  You may not mean it, but your silence at times speaks volumes.  And it may just be that you don’t know what to say.  I want to let you know it’s ok if you don’t know what to say….just say that! (smile).

We need to remind ourselves of this:

Romans 2:1-4 (NLT)

You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things? Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

Now this verse says, “for you who judge others do these very same things.” Maybe this is a stumbling block.  A straight person does not struggle with same-sex attraction, and they never will.  And because they don’t struggle with it, it is easy to condemn others who do.  An “I would never do that.” type of attitude.  I don’t know. When I read this verse, I read that I am a sinner.  Just like everyone else.  I need to worry about myself and go to God for forgiveness and be sure to forgive others.  It’s not my place to point out to someone else what I think they are doing is wrong.  And I’m not talking about the whole accountable thing that church people like to talk about.  You don’t know what any one person is going through, and you don’t know what kind of relationship they have with God.

It amazes me sometimes that people are surprised about the struggles that some gay people go through.  People are really hurting out there.  They overhear statements like what I mention above.  They didn’t choose to be gay (I don’t think I can ever say that enough).  Being judged for who you are is just unfair.

Just my ramblings this week…a topic I’m sure I’ll be thinking about again.

Love each other…because love matters.