Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I Wonder???

Recently, I was reading a young (approximately 30ish), single, Christian woman's post where she was writing about her desire to get married and have children ASAP. I won't link to it here, mainly because her identity and actual post are not relevant to this particular discussion. For one thing, I know many young women who are in the exactly same situation that she's in -the old "biological clock" is ticking away and no decent prospects for a Christian husband are in sight. Each of them could've written the exact same words with the same lament and sense of urgency.

As I've ministered to high school, college age, and young singles for over 25 years, I have heard these words over and over again. I've seen some find good guys and get married, just the way they envisioned life for themselves, but I've also seen those for whom the "right man" never came; so they are left with either settling for someone far less than their ideal or suffering in their singleness. Since singleness is called "the gift that nobody wants", I know far more of these ladies who settled for Mr. Wrong and now are either single again after divorce or are miserable in their marriage.

As I approach the point of being nearly 20 years beyond that life stage, I reflect on my own life and whether or not it has turned out as I expected. Of course 20 years ago I didn't think that I would still be single either. But as life, and I believe God, soon showed me, not everyone is meant to be married or have kids. That truth in and of itself is more than okay although I didn't come by it in an instant. For me, not having a mother around when I entered my twenties, probably took some of the pressure off. It also helped to have a strong grandmother who spent most of her adult life without a man. Even my maternal grandmother, although married for more than 50 years, saw the advantage of only marrying for an outstanding godly man over settling with any old guy that showed an interest. That fact helped me to focus on building my career and ministries instead.

I think our society, particularly our Christian community still puts a premium on becoming a wife and mother as necessary to one's being and calling. From the time we are little girls, we are programmed to aspire to be a wife and mother. Even career women are told that they can "have it all " by juggling these roles as necessary. In reality, we seem to gloss over Paul's recommendation in 1 Corinthians 7 that singles stay that way to better serve the Lord. It is not helpful when singles' and young adult's ministries are designed around helping them find mates rather than becoming a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. (For more on this subject, I found Kristin Aune's book Single Women to be a great resource.)

Has my life turned out the way I'd dreamt it 10, 20 or even 30 years ago? In some ways, yes, in others, no. Thirty years ago, while I was in high school, I only thought about being a rich engineer (an oxymoron I know now); I got the engineer part right and compared to a lot of my peers from high school I'm doing pretty well. However, that was a life planned that had no room for God in it. A few years later, much of that thinking had turned a different direction with a new focus on Christ. I think that girl would be surprised at the present one that I was not further along in Christ-like behavior and godliness. Somehow that envisioned one would be highly regarded as a Christian speaker, wife and mother (who just happened to have an engineering degree, too). The me of 10-20 years ago by then would not have been disappointed to be single still, but would be sorry to hear that I was out of youth ministry again (perhaps, she'd wonder why her church would still be choosing people in leadership that would initiate such things). Oh, and I'd have travelled more and done more interesting things too.

Well, what does the future ten years from now hold? Should the Lord tarry, I will be retired and free to minister full-time on my retirement money and investments. But, the thing is we don't know, we are not guaranteed of tomorrow and you know what they say about the best laid plans... The point is, we don't (or aren't supposed to) live life in an holding pattern, treading water in place until the right man, the right job, the right ministry or the right opportunity comes along. God, like the master in the parable of the talents, has given us the wherewithall to serve Him and live life to its fullest in the now. I am responsible for what I do or don't do with it. That applies equally to my 30 something gal pals who are desperate for Mr. Right to come along and change their life. If he comes, great, if not, you will have helped to build God's kingdom or reflected Christ's love. There are no regrets for that life.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

The Ends Do Not Justify The Means?

I came across this article while on the Yahoo! site. Someone asked if one's personal beliefs make it okay to commit a crime. While there may be circumstances when civil disobedience may be in order such as a refusal to obey unjust law - the lunch counter demonstrations and Rosa Parks during the civil rights movement, conscientious objectors refusing to go war, Christians refusing to obey totalitarian laws prohibiting prayer, owning Bibles or meeting together are examples of this, there is a difference between refusing to obey a law and actively planning action to subvert the justice system or government.

The woman in the article chose the path of subverting the justice system by committing perjury and fraud in order to try to get this man on death row. She chose to commit a crime that undermined the integrity of the criminal justice system out of her belief that the Death Penalty is wrong. I don't share her views on the Death Penalty but I also disagree with anti-abortionist that bomb clinics or assassinate clinic workers. Where these tactics differ from the civil disobedience described earlier is that the civil disobedient refuse to DO something such as sit at the back of the bus or they prefer to disobey man to obey God's command while the others do something considered immoral because they do not trust working within the system to change the law they disagree with. The ones committing crimes to gain their ends are also trying to avoid detection/prosecution of their unlawful actions while those who are committing acts of civil disobedience disobey openly and are willing to accept the consequences of their actions.

Paul writes in Romans 13:

"Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority."

The idea here is that Christians need obey government authorities and will suffer the consequences when they don't. Some people point the American Revolution as an example of Christians not obeying Paul's admonition, but these revolutionaries did attempt to redress their issues through normal political means -they resorted to rebellion when those peaceful means resulted in more repression from an occupying government. The Colonists formed their own government and the Revolutionary War was fought under the direction of the Continental Congress. Even then, as we read in the Declaration of Independence, they were prepared to sacrifice their "Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor". This not the same as bombing abortion clinics, committing fraud or committing acts of terror.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Answering The Call

No, faithful blog readers, I am not joining the army nor am I going into ministry full-time, I going to explain where I've been this past month instead of here blogging about my most exciting life. Actually, I haven't been gone anywhere location-wise, it's just that I have been putting my punditry to use elsewhere on the Internet.

About a month ago, I started exploring Yahoo! Answers Religion and Spirituality Forum (now before you think I went off and joined some cult, read more). I noticed that people on there were asking some pretty serious questions about God, Jesus, faith, the Bible, Christianity -you name it. I saw a question someone asked "Do you think if there weren't any Atheists, there would be more peace?" and noticed that there were a lot of atheists, agnostics and unbelievers giving answers, but the "Christians" either gave lame answers or were out-numbered. That got me going and I've been answering questions since then. Now in truth, there are some pretty outrageous inflammatory q&a there that I mostly avoid, but there are some sincere inquiries from people of all faiths (or none). What is scary is that there are also Mormons, JW's, pagans, and Muslims trying very hard to convert people to their belief systems. Although it is a challenge, I see it as an opportunity to share what I believe, giving an answer for the hope that is within me. Since I am no longer teaching youth, I have taken it as a means to instruct and counsel those who are genuine seekers. I don't kid myself into thinking that I've been reaching a lot of people with my answers, but it is thought provoking and you know, if I can touch at least one life with the Gospel, great.

I answered a Muslim woman's question last week where she wanted to understand if God was sacrificing Himself, to appease Himself to right the wrongs done against Him. I told her the story of the young person caught speeding and forced to appear before the judge. The speeder couldn't pay the fine, but the judge took off his robe, pulled out his wallet and paid the fine, because the speeder was his kid. I explained how Jesus did that very thing by His death, paying the price of our wrong doing. She said that it was the first time in 25 years that she understood Jesus' sacrifice. Wow!

Now, I can't hang there all the time - I have a job to do and ministries to serve in, but it is good to know that this one small thing can used to move a person along in their journey.

Ooh, time for bed; it's way too late and I have much to do tomorrow. I have a whole bunch of things to blog about too. One is about a lady who committed fraud and perjury to get a Death Row Inmate off because she's opposed to the Death Penalty. Another is about some people who have written to me complaining that I'm a poor example of Christ in my blog. Plus there's things to share about some of my other ministries.