Personal Lessons - Knowledge Based on Experience
I was born in the city of Pasadena in the great state of Texas. I am the youngest of four children raised in a devout Christian home. We are a close family and losing my two sisters has been very difficult on all of us. So, with someone born into such conservative roots, why am I so different than most of my neighbors? I asked God that question for most of my life. When I hit 52, I quit asking.
I think, like most of you, there are some things I tolerate regardless of my own personal belief system in an effort to “live and let live.” There are other issues that I cannot tolerate. I believe it’s called, “standards.” I personally do not think standards reflect an overactive ego. I do not feel I am more “spiritual” than you or above anyone else. I simply believe each of us have a set of standards indicating where we must draw a line in the sand. Each of us possess a moral compass. Again, owning and monitoring a moral compass has nothing to do with ego. It has everything to do with conviction.
I really don’t think everyone necessarily has to think like me. The opposition of others has never stopped me from following my own moral compass. For example, I believe in hunting and I am not vegetarian. As I examine the bible, I have no doubt that God created the world and mankind to be vegetarian; however, once sin entered the world, God Himself killed an animal to clothe man. I think Christianity has much bigger fish to fry <smile> than to argue about food. The Apostle Paul felt the same way.
While I believe in hunting and gun ownership, I do not support the NRA. I believe in the law of the jungle: “Kill to eat or if you are going to be eaten.” My standards clear this with my moral compass.
Standards have been a part of my existence and ministry for most of my life. I was the Founder and Director of my church’s women’s ministry in the 1990’s. It was my responsibility to tour and select a venue for the church’s women’s retreat. In agreement with the Pastor and Minister of Family Life, I would not enter into a contractual agreement with a hotel that had the option to stream adult movies into their hotel rooms. (BTW – those were hard to find and limited our options.)
As soon as I identified a potential hotel, I called and asked the simple question, “Does your hotel endorse pornography through in-room movies?” Their response was typically, “I don’t think we support it, but we do have it available.” To which I replied, “Do you pay for this service? Do your occupants pay to watch the movies?” The answer was always, “Yes.” Well, then you support it.
During one screening call, I think I reached a new employee (or a dishonest one). I called a major hotel in Houston and asked about the availability of pornography in guest rooms. I was told the hotel did not make pornography available in their guest rooms, but saw the Spectravision box during my scheduled tour. When I explained to the Sales Director of the property that we would not endorse a venue with porn, the lady laughed and said, “Why? Do you think your ladies will watch it?” Clueless. And, that’s okay. My standards weren’t her standards and vice versa.
Here we are in 2017 and many people still do not get it. As hard as I try, I can’t dance around it. To me, the fall of morality is less about “the lost” and more about “the found” who’ve lost their way. Our light is dim and growing dimmer every day. As a woman and a minister, I don’t get it. Only God knows if that’s okay.
It seems our society lost sight of the saying, “None of your business.” Truth be known, we never embraced, “None of my business.” Things exist that are just none of my business. However, that never stopped me from giving my opinion. <wink>
For example, everyone’s desire to hit social media regarding political leaders and their accused immoral behavior. Does this fall under NOYB or NOMB? Of course, it’s hard not to weigh in since every newscast wants to drag us into their speculation and gossip. It’s interesting to see the sides taken based on political affiliation. Isn’t wrong just wrong despite who commits the crime?
I must admit the loyal wives concern me. I don’t want to be guilty of the very thing I am blogging against since, after all, their desire to mask the truth and stand by their man is really none of my business. I would think as a wife (thank God, I do not have this problem!), one complaint would be irritating. Two accusations would be uncomfortable, but if a bus load of women tell the same story – really? He didn’t do it? Ever?
Then, I hear people say things like, “If it is true (abuse or assault), why did she wait so long to tell someone?” I believe that question comes from people who do not understand sexual abuse or assault, which makes it NOYB; OR, 2) There are those who were assaulted or abuse at some point in their life and chose to ignore it hoping it would go away. Since they chose to move on and let bygones be bygones, they feel everyone should do the same. (OK, you’re right, that falls under NOMB.)
Since it’s my blog, I’m going to share what I think. I think any moral, decent person would feel every claim of abuse or assault needs to be investigated. I also think we might want to go ahead and move over to the NOMB corner while the investigation ensues. Because you know what? It really isn’t any of our business. Unless we were present at the time of the alleged event (and that would be weird), we don’t know who is telling the truth.
I personally think (remember, it is my blog), that we’ve brought this on ourselves. Let’s be honest. Many of us voted for a President who is a self-proclaimed womanizer and groper. Plus, we are totally okay that our First Lady has a work history in porn. I really don’t think we need to cast stones at the opposing party if they behave similarly. Well, unless we are grand-scale hypocrites. Yea…. Yea…I know. NOMB.
God, and God alone, sees what happens, knows what happened, and can take care of what is happening if we (His children) would get out of His way. I happen to believe seeking God’s will is my business. A good friend of mine posted the other day that he suspects God gave us exactly what the majority (or Russia) asked for in a leader and we deserve whatever comes with it. Including ongoing chaos. You know what? It happened in scripture all the time.
“So I also will choose harsh treatment for them and will bring on them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.” Isaiah 66:4
Judgement is God’s business.
If you believe that all news is fake news, this latest research project regarding Christianity in America will not disturb you. However, if you believe there is always a smidgen of truth in most things, Houston...we have a problem.
The percentage of proclaimed evangelicals in Texas is at an all-time low of just 31%. You can read the chart attached to this beautiful picture of Texas to discover that “we” lost three percentage points in a seven-year period. The number of Texans declaring they are unaffiliated religiously increased 6% in the same timeframe. The good news is our median household income is better than some states. Unfortunately, to some, that is what matters the most.
The answer to that question largely depends on who you ask. If you ask avid churchgoers, they will blame a) the media, b) liberal colleges and universities, and c) Millennials (a person who reached adulthood around 2000). If you ask those no longer attending church, they will blame Christians.
If Texas is #13 in the 50 states of these United States, it’s even more interesting to find out the state in first place and the one in last place. Here is the study in its entirety if you are interested (of course, if all news is fake news, you may not care).
Click here to read the complete study.
What’s my point? Well, while most of us are worried about which news station to watch and whether our President is sane, we are losing the battle for future generations. If we are not reaching the 20-30 somethings, every generation following them is lost. At some point, Christians must unite understanding that Jesus Christ needs to be the top priority in our lives. It has nothing to do with the state in which we reside and really has little to do with our economic standing; although the #1 state has a low median household income. Perhaps they are poor in spirit but rich in faith?
What's a Christian to do?
Stop the infighting. (And, yes, my hypocritical finger is pointing inward.) That’s the best suggestion for winning the war against the slowly-decreasing evangelical way of life. Love all people. Share Jesus with all people. Care about all people. Bear the burdens of all people through prayer. Most of all, focus on what really matters. Please.
Ready troops? Gear up and let's get going....
My mother taught my siblings and I manners. We learned early in life to say, “Yes, ma’am,” “No, ma’am,” “Yes, sir,” “No, sir,” “Please” and “Thank you.” I was taught to respond when someone speaks to me. I was taught that you listen to others and to speak up when something is wrong.
Manners are a dying art. I am going to draw on what my mother taught me. You are free to agree or disagree:
Someone asks a question? Don’t ignore them. Ignoring people is rude.
Someone reaches out for help or assistance? Respond. Even if the response is, “I can’t help you at this time.” Discounting the needs of others is rude.
Someone does something helpful or nice for you? Make it a habit to say, “Thank you.” Please don’t take people for granted; it’s rude.
You receive a gift? Say, “thank you.” Someone put thought into giving you something. Please put thought in your response. Choosing not to respond is rude.
Disagreements are going to happen in everyday life. Disagreeing isn’t a sin; minimizing the thoughts and feelings of others is a sin. Selfishness isn’t just wrong; it’s rude.
When you make a mistake, admit it. We learn from our mistakes. We value others when we are willing to admit we were wrong and they were right. Refusal to admit our mistakes isn’t just rude, it’s a sign of ego and pride. Ego and pride breeds rudeness.
If you visit someone and they offer you something that you don’t like, politely say, “No, thank you.” If you’re visiting someone and they are feeding you a meal that is something you don’t like, at least be willing to try it. Brussel sprouts never killed anyone. Refusing someone’s hospitality by insulting them is rude.
In a technologically-heavy world, the same rules apply:
Someone asks a question: Answer them.
Someone reaches out for help or assistance: Respond.
Someone does something for you: Say, “Thank you.”
Someone pays you a compliment or wishes you well: Saying, “Thank you,” is still in order despite it being said over a computer or via cell phone.
Disagree with someone? That’s okay, but please do not demean them in the process. It is rude.
Make a mistake in an email, posting, tweeting, etc.: Admit it, apologize and move on.
If someone is sharing something with you on social media because they are thinking of you: Respond. If you disagree, it’s okay. Refusing to interact with people is rude.
Manners, in-person or online, will survive if we keep them alive. Spread love, truth, and conviction; not hate, pettiness, and meanness. By all means, don’t be rude.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23