Chivalry is NOT Dead

1“Welcome aboard, ladies and gentlemen!” said the enthusiastic flight attendant to those of us coming down the jetway in St. Louis.

A few minutes later she announced, “We only have fifty passengers on board tonight in this big old jet, so spread out, get comfortable, and enjoy your flight!”

A few more minutes later and obviously a bit miffed, she said rather sarcastically, “I don’t understand why all you people want to huddle up in the front of the plane when each of you could have your own row.  There are PLENTY OF EMPTY SEATS in the rear of this aircraft!”

As far as I could tell everyone had about the same reaction as I did—total disregard for her remarks.

I’m not sure what the other passengers were thinking, but I can tell you where my mind went.  I was wondering if she had ever been returning from a trip, tired, and ready to get home—surely that’s not too far-fetched for a flight attendant, is it????? My intention was to sit where I could be one of the first ones off the plane.

After dropping us New Orleans folks off, the aircraft was headed to D.C.  Those continuing passengers didn’t care if they sat in the back because they could change seats after we deplaned.

2However, my flight was going to touch down in New Orleans at 10 PM which meant I wouldn’t arrive home until 11:30.  I had packed carefully with only carry-on luggage so I wouldn’t have to deal with baggage claim.  I had prayed all day (well, prayed may not be the right word but the thought did cross my mind) for a nice gentleman to be behind me in line as we boarded, who, as I started to lift my suitcase—which had my cowboy boots among other things in it—in the overhead bin, would say in the most chivalrous voice, “Ma’am, may I help you with your luggage?”

And I would respond with my biggest smile and sweetest Southern drawl, “Oh, thank you so much.  How kind of you.”

Amazingly, my prayer/hope was answered.  I exclaimed to myself, “Chivalry is not dead!”

Thankfully, I settled into my fourth row aisle seat and had an uneventful flight back to the Big Easy.  I was thankful that the Lord had given me the opportunity to speak at the State Ministers’ Wives Retreat in Springfield, Illinois on Friday and Saturday.  It was a lot of fun and very rewarding to think that the Lord would use me to help another minister’s wife like myself.  But I was tired.

We all get tired.  Even good things—fun things—spiritual things—can make us tired.

3In Galatians 6:8 Paul warned the people of Galatia that the law of the harvest—reaping what we plant; reaping after we plant; and reaping more than we plant—works in all parts of life.  “Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.”

Then the apostle reminded the believers that there’s a real danger in getting tired spiritually and giving up before we reap the spiritual harvest for our work.   So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith” (vv. 9-10).

Are you tired–spiritually?  Are you thinking about quitting?  Please don’t!  If you do you’ll miss the blessing that only comes when we’ve completed the work the Lord has sent us to do.

Dear Father, it’s so easy to get tired.  In fact it’s easy to stay in a perpetual state of fatigue.  But we know that You did not intend for our lives to get so cluttered with activity that we would be overwhelmed and want to give up. Help us to discern what is “good” and what is not so we can invest our lives in people and activities that really count and will produce a harvest.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

The Gift of Time

SONY DSCOne took a ceramic fish and shoe and let her paint.

Another took her to PJs for a cup of coffee—something she had never done.

Another brought her giant print word searches to help pass the time.

Another took a grandson and let him play the piano for her.

Another bought her a chic wrap and a trendy purse and monogrammed it for her—she actually likes pretty things but has never had many.

Another played Go Fish with her.

Another dropped by with a beautiful quilted lap blanket.

Another couldn’t go by because she has her own loved one to care for 24/7, but she sent a homemade card with a loving, thoughtful message in it.

Others stuck their heads into her room almost every time they were there seeing their own loved ones.

Others came and brought her a candy dish and sugar-free candy—so thoughtful since she’s diabetic.

Others took their dogs and let her pet them–she used to have a cat named Sunflower that she dearly loved.

Others came as ministers or deacons from First Baptist Church just to say hello.

Others came to lead worship and sang the old hymns of the faith.

Then there were others.

But more than anything, all these precious people have given Betty, my 80 year-old special needs sister who resides in a local nursing home, the gift of time. It means more to her than they will ever know.  She has lived a very lonely life, and now she is lapping up the love and care like a puppy drinking milk from a bowl.  It’s heartwarming to hear her talk about who came to see her and what they said and did.

Betty is a Mephibosheth.

Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, King David’s best friend.  In their younger years, David and Jonathan made a covenant with each other to care for their families in the event of either of their deaths (1 Samuel 20:14-17).  Jonathan was killed in battle.

After David became king he searched for anyone left of Saul’s dynasty.  Normally that would have been so he could eradicate any potential heirs to the throne.  But not David.  He asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” David had made a commitment.  He was determined to carry it out.

David discovered that Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth who was lame in both feet and living in exile.   David, acting on his heart like God’s, sent for Mephibosheth, restored his inheritance from his grandfather, Saul, and invited him to live at the palace as one of the king’s family.  It’s a beautiful story (2 Samuel 9).

While teaching about the end of time, Jesus said there’s going to be a judgment.  He compared it to separating sheep from goats—the point being that it’s easy to distinguish between the two.  The sheep, on the right, will be those who have seen “the Mephibosheth’s of the world” and done something about their needs.

Jesus said, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’”

matthew2540“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:31-46).

One day all those who’ve chosen to use their time to minister to ” the Mephibosheths”–“the least of these”– will hear the Lord say,  “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). “Take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (v. 34).

Will you take the time to actually see the Mephibosheths, the least of these, today?  Will you go a step farther and give them the gift of time?  You will bless them beyond words.  And, who knows–you just might be the one blessed the most.

Dear Lord, it’s easy to get so busy or mismanage our time that we don’t want to see anyone in need.  Often we see them as an aggravation or an inconvenience.  We know that there are Mephibosheth’s all around us—people who don’t necessarily need our money but people who just need our time.  Help us be good stewards of the 24 hours You’ve given each of us.  Help us be willing to go out of our way to minster to You as we minister to those in need.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

My Bible Study is Killing Me!

bible studyMy friend’s text message read: “I’m really enjoying my Bible study of the Gospel of Matthew.”

I texted her back and said, “I’m glad.  My Bible study of 2 Samuel is killing me!”

While I’ll admit my reply had a bit of hyperbole, it really has been painful.  We’ve had three weeks of adultery, deception, murder, rape, another murder, estrangement between David and his son, Absalom, and then watching him undermine his father, usurp his father’s throne and sleep with his father’s concubines.  Consequently, David had to flee from Jerusalem to save his life knowing that a battle would ensue.

In today’s study (2 Samuel 17 and 18) we will empathize with David when he is forced to fight a battle he never wanted to fight—against his own son.  Our hearts will be tendered as we listen as David is told the sorrowful news that Absalom has been killed in battle.  Then we will cry as we hear David weep in anguish, “O my son, Absalom!  My son, my son Absalom!  If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”

After David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband to cover it up, the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David that the sword would never depart from his house.  God was warning David that parents wire children to look at life in a certain way and model behaviors that children pick up without even realizing it.

So what do we do once we realize we can’t turn the clock back or rewind and tape over our sins?  First, we ask the Lord to “cast our sins as far as the east is from the west” as He promised (Psalm 103:13).  Next, we accept that sin does have consequences and that forgiveness does not remove them.  Then we claim the promise that the Lord will never turn His back on us as we go through our darkest hours.  Finally, we plant God’s Word in our children’s hearts and pray that they will be strong, wise, full of integrity, and determined not to commit the same sins we did.

I believe David, a man of faith, wrote Psalm 23 in retrospect after reflecting how the Lord had been with him all of his life.  He knew about the “valley of the shadow of death” and experienced a table being “prepared for him in the presence of his enemies.”  But through it all, he knew that the LORD had blessed him and been with him—“in the green pastures” and “beside the still waters.”  He was confident that “goodness and mercy” had pursued him all of his life and would continue to the end.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Beside Still Waters_wide_t

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23 KJV

 

 

In God We Trust

2986260634_9a443c432e “Dear Lord, thank You for George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and George W. Bush,” six-year-old Jake prayed at bedtime. (A few minutes earlier his mother had told him it was the National Day of Prayer and explained we should pray for the leaders of our country.) “And Lord,” little Jake continued, “thank You for putting their pictures on money so we could see what they look like.” Don’t you know that God must have been smiling as He heard little Jake’s prayer? Continue reading

Fifty Shades of Wrong

50 shadesAll the reviews and hype about “Fifty Shades of Grey” and my preparation for our Ladies’ Bible Study on the rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13) has just about put me over the edge today.

How sad that many in our nation seem to have a warped insatiable appetite for sex and violence. How sad that a movie like “Fifty Shades of Grey” would be promoted as a “must see” for Valentine’s Day, and that people flocked to see it in hundreds of cities boasting of sold-out showtimes on opening day.How sad that something classified as poorly written erotic fiction would even be deemed as “movie worthy.” How sad that a movie portraying narcissism, masochism, and sadism would be viewed as normal or even a desirable sexual experience.

Fifty Shades of Grey is about abuse—a total disregard for human life—a reality all too common in our culture.  It’s a perversion that’s been around since the fall of mankind.  As early as the third chapter of Genesis Eve fell prey to a desire for something that God had said was off limits because it was not good for her and Adam.  In the next chapter one of their sons killed the other.  By the time we get to chapter 6:5-7 we read these words: The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.  

The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.  So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” Then the flood came and washed away everything except Noah, his family, and two of every living creature.

However, as man began to repopulate the earth, sin of every kind imaginable once again bore its ugly fruit. In 2 Samuel chapters 13-14 we read the sordid story of how David’s children followed in his footsteps by committing horrific crimes, namely incest, rape and murder.  Furthermore, David did not seem to do anything about any of the crimes.  Oh, he got furious, but that was the extent of it. Because he neglected to address issues with his children, he opened the door for them to commit some version of the same sins he committed—adultery, murder, deception, etc.

My heart is sick over the alarming statistics about domestic violence and rape in our country.  According to RAINN “every 107 seconds another American is sexually assaulted.” And 1 out of 5 women have experienced some level of sexual abuse.  1 in 4 women have or will be the victim of domestic violence, and most of them are never reported (Safehorizon).”Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence [are] were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents” (Domestic Violence Statistics).

loveWhen someone swears you to secrecy about what’s happening in your relationship, all kinds of red flags should go up in your mind.  When someone tells you that the harm he is inflicting upon you be it physical or verbal is for your good, or because the perpetrator loves you, or that you deserve what he is doing to you, it’s a lie.  LOVE DOES NOT HURT DAY AFTER DAY.

When it comes to lovemaking, God gave it as an expression of intimacy between two people who are committed to one another for a lifetime.  He did not give it for one partner to enjoy and the other to endure.  Pleasure derived from hurting someone is evil.  Letting someone hurt you repeatedly is abnormal.

Millions of women today are subjected to physical and/or verbal abuse daily in the privacy of their own home.  Dominated by someone eaten up with narcissism they are whipped into submission either physically or verbally.

ephesiansLet me be clear.  The Bible clearly states that a woman is supposed to be submissive to her husband and to respect him.  However, that does not mean she is to become a doormat or treated as a thing to be used by any other person.  Instead, she should be cherished and loved like Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25-29).

In preparation for our study today I asked Waylon, my husband, what the Bible says about rape.  This is what he said, “Many passages in the Bible speak to the issue of rape.  Passages like being kind to one another, loving your neighbor as yourself, doing to others as you would have them do to you, as well as, what Jesus said about lust and what Paul said to husbands about not being harsh with their wives slam the door long before it comes to rape.”

The same is true about domestic violence. Domestic violence is ‘fifty shades of wrong.”  Rape and any form of sexual abuse is “fifty shades of wrong.” Neither fall into the grey category. They are abhorrent to God (Deuteronomy 22:25-27).

When are we going to wake up and call these heinous crimes what they are—evil?

When are we going to stop supporting whatever trash the box office offers?

At the Oscars Sunday evening, Melanie Griffith, the mother of Dakota Johnson, who stars in “Fifty Shades of Grey” was asked if she had seen the movie. You may be surprised at how she responded, “No, I don’t think I can.”  Though her daughter was angry and the reporter encouraged Griffith to see the movie, she clearly resisted. Jim Denison in Denison Forum on Truth and Culture asks THE question: “If a film is so immoral that a mother can’t see her daughter act in it, why should anyone else see it?” http://www.denisonforum.org/cultural-commentary/1382-actress-mother-refuses-to-see-fifty-shades

I rest my case.

Gracious Father, when we think about the sexually charged and unrestrained violent culture we live in, it’s hard to breathe.  Countless women were victimized today, and those who have already been exploited are too many to count.  I ask you to be near those women –even men, especially little boys who have been taken advantage of or abused today.  Please put someone in their paths to comfort and support them.  Give them strength and courage to get out of any unhealthy relationships.  Heal their minds and bodies and make them whole again.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.