Andyouinvitedmein’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘conservative Christianity

I know what happened to John Paulk in terms of logistics, because we are Facebook friends. I know he’s gone from a nerdy looking man to Chef Cuteness in the last 13 years. I know I’d like to cook like him. I know he’s a dedicated father and has gone through deep pain with recent changes in his life. But I’m here to talk about what happened to him…

You see I’m an unofficial expert in the way things look. I can see print and know if it’s off by a fraction of a millimeter. I’ve been given a good eye for balance and what looks right: too many words in a sentence, the balance of flowers in a centerpiece, too much fabric in a dress, and too little grace in our churches.

My Twitter account has been blowing up with all kinds of religiously negative words about John. Everyone has their input, so I’ll tell you what happened to John Paulk: In 2000 he walked into a drag bar, if my memory serves me right. It was in DuPont Circle in DC, I know for sure. He was there for about 45 minutes before he was recognized by someone who told the press. Because of John’s position with Exodus it was a big deal. After that a series of official statements were made by the board of Exodus International—a board from a ministry based on high Christian standards.

This isn’t about Exodus, because I’m very impressed with the willingness of Alan Chambers to listen and embrace the hurt. No, this post is about the board that was overseeing the program in 2000 and what happened to John Paulk…

For a moment I will digress. We conservatives love to point fingers. We say our problems would be solved if only we had an Evangelical President, hadn’t let gay people marry, hadn’t legalized pot, and on it goes. Ironically our fingers never point to ourselves. There’s nothing ever said about getting before the Lord with sack cloth and ashes, and repenting for our sins. The top of our sins should include not being Jesus to others.

Where would John Paulk be today if one of the male humans on that board had been a man and washed John’s feet? What if they hadn’t sent him off into the vast wilderness called “excuses”. I have no idea what happened outside of all their weekly missives of “what really happened that day on DuPont Circle”, but soon John disappeared from our lives. These men went right on with their lives believing they had been the voice of God in the matter. Instead they abandoned him in his hour of greatest need. How could they sever ties as casually as one would unfriend someone on Facebook? But Jesus tells us a story like this in Luke 10. The priest and the Levite have nothing to do with the man wounded on the road, but the Samaritan comes along and helps.

Just recently John Paulk issued a statement about that time and the years since. His words were raw. As I read, I could feel the beat of his heart. Suddenly a new decade of gossips rise up to try to take John down: their words are condemning; their fingers are pointing. Some are close relations and some are self-proclaimed experts, but none are seeing through the telescope of grace. They offer no edification. I suggest they don’t know grace. The grace we saw when the Amish embraced the family of the shooter. The grace we love to see when the Bishop gives Jean Valjean the candlesticks.

What happened to John Paulk happens to countless others in our churches. They probably aren’t associated with Exodus, but they have hurts and stumble, and then we continue to pour salt into their wounds. We must remember that there’s only ONE difference in our faith and countless other religions: Jesus took our sins in an act of grace. We are told to walk in His Steps. Consider the verse below. Consider what would say if it means grace and grace only…

Matthew 28:18-20…Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.


In thinking about the Penn State mess I wondered if I would have enough courage to buck the system and be a whistle blower. Would you? It takes courage to swim against the established tide. JoePa was a force who didn’t want trouble, and to come against him didn’t happen. And because of that no one was a voice for those boys. As hindsight we can look back and say “oh yes”, but really??? Would you lose your job for someone?

Would you dare lose your standing in the community to stand up for someone…would you be like Jesus and love even though you might be called a sinner and be ridiculed? I think doing that would be radical for Jesus.

That’s grace and that’s hard.

When faith seems to fail…when God says “no”…in people’s minds it seems to fall back on someone who either is in sin or didn’t have enough faith. Why do we do this? If we tell our child “no” do we do it because they didn’t love us enough? Hopefully not. We generally say no because we know down the road that no is better… “No, don’t go play down by the pond” … “No, don’t go to the ATM in the bad part of town at 2 A.M.” … “No, don’t lick your hands after you pull ticks off the dog.”

When you’re praying for something, God will answer: yes, no, and most times “wait.” Waiting builds stuff God can use in us. Back in 1977 I felt like I was Queen of Faith. I was praying for people and I saw healings…then my dad (who was sick) required many surgeries. Several were amputations, and he had 3 attempts to get to good flesh. I cried and beat the soil and couldn’t understand how God would answer the prayers I had prayed for non-Christians and then not answer mine.

After a time of silence the Lord told me that there were witnesses watching how I handled it. It is one thing to win the Million Dollar Pot and another to weather the financial storm. People around you watch and listen. If you praise on Sunday…what do you do on Monday when you’re fired?

Last year I ran into a terrible personal situation. I said “Well, God, if _____ happens I will dance before you and praise you nonetheless.” And suddenly I realized I didn’t need to wait until _____ happened because I could start dancing. I danced all day long, and in front of my daughter’s friends (for the moment they may have thought I was nuts, but I told them I was dancing before the Lord). Know what? The situation changed.

A bad situation isn’t anyone’s fault. Here is why (and that’s all I’ll say): John 9:1-4…

1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.

2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”

I’ve been pondering this blog for quite some time. Actually it was before Thanksgiving that I began thinking about it, and as we get within hours of Christmas, I’m continuing to think of family. Tomorrow Liz and Chris will be arriving from Virginia, and Mom from Alabama. Friday my brother and his family will be coming for a couple of days. While I could survive one holiday without family, it would only be because I knew they would be there for the next one.

Three weeks ago my close friend lost one of her sons. In a flash a young man who finally had a goal and was making plans for his life was gone. In another part of town there’s a child I see frequently when I’m out. This child has no idea that I know who she is. She only knows family on one side because of a murder many years ago. One side took the kids and the other never made an attempt to make peace. There I am looking and thinking “wow if your family could only see you”—actually I know the family who doesn’t know the child. They are listen among the super-Christians in my hometown. Yet…a child who has their blood doesn’t know them.

There are many reasons why people don’t see their families over the holidays other than weather or distance. When we first married our church took in a girl who had been disowned by her family because she was pregnant. Others aren’t welcome because they’re _____.

Jesus was born so he could take our sin. He was born to die so we could have life. Our eternal security is based on the fact that Jesus gave unconditionally to people who didn’t deserve it.

If this holiday comes and your family isn’t there. Make the call. Open the door and welcome those who haven’t been home in a while. Make Jesus the reason…He did it for you.

I was driving down Church Street the other day and glanced over at an old church here in town; a famous town landmark. It is also famous for a sign they put in the window a few years back. This sign said everything about the heart of the church. Here it is: if you expect us to give you food go somewhere else. Obviously this old church with its spectaculor downtown tax-exempt property didn’t like the idea of smelly people who needed food messing up their campus. And one day Jesus will say something like: depart from me because you never knew me.

Feeding someone might be food. Or it might be a welcoming embrace of a friend or family member who needs to come home. It’s the holiday season. Remove the barriers to God by opening your heart to …. and you fill in the blank.

“…a good and decent man who saw wrong

and tried to right it, saw suffering

and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.”

Ted Kennedy speaking at the funeral of his brother

This week we lost Ted Kennedy. I’m a conservative, but many times I’ve felt he was a little too liberal. When all was said and done, Ted was my least favorite Kennedy. However, I’ve gotten a different picture of him this week, and I’m now very impressed with Ted. Here’s a man with money and power who never forgot people who were suffering. From all accounts Teddy Kennedy was the first person to call when you lost a family member or were sick. In speaking the Southern conservative talk…he’d be the first at your house with a casserole or cake in your time of need.

I believe that Ted Kennedy lived Matthew 25:35-36. Ted gave his time and energy to help the less fortunate; he was a voice to those without a voice. For example, he was concerned for a baby in Russia who had digestion problems, and used a diplomatic trip to get her and her family out of that country. Why? The baby’s grandmother was a resident of Massachusetts, and Ted served his people well. Too many politicians (and preachers) live to be served. They love their power and abuse it—nothing else needs to be said about this.

Certainly in the early years he was reckless and Chappaquiddick will always be there for people to point a finger. How many of us have had our Chappaquiddick moment where we lied not to get caught for something?

As conservatives we need to take stock of the noble things this Ted Kennedy has done. He was a strong supporter of civil rights—that’s a good thing. He wanted people to have an opportunity to have health care (today’s issue that has conservatives up in arms)…but have you ever sat without insurance and without money to take your child to the doctor? Back seventeen years ago I prayed that the Lord would send me money to take my daughter to the doctor because of a severe ear infection. I’ve made health benefits a priority since that time. This week I need benefits because my younger daughter is having major health issues. If I had to pay the medical bill out of pocket it would be many thousands of dollars by the time we finish…everyone needs access to good health care and health insurance. I don’t know what the solution is, but I can’t imagine people suffering for lack of insurance.

The liberal agenda of Ted Kennedy included getting us portability of insurance (i.e. when we’ve had health insurance we cannot be denied insurance for pre-existing a condition—the new company has to insure us); Family Medical Leave Act—so when you have to attend to sick family you won’t lose your job; and finally making the pharmaceutical companies offer generics (to cut through it all) so you can have affordable meds—don’t you just love those $4 generics from Walmart? So far I’m glad Ted Kennedy was my champion because we needed all those things. This blog isn’t about health care.

This is a tribute to the good of Ted Kennedy. In Philippians 4:8 God told is to look on what is good, noble and pure. Today I suggest we look at the good of Ted Kennedy and learn. He served America. In turn we should serve God in the same way: from being there first with a casserole to being a voice to those who have no voice.

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.

Matthew 25:35,36

One of my favorite plays is Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. What I love about it is that I’m reminded of how significant the small things are in life.

If any of us were to look at our life from God’s perspective we’d probably see that we’ve veered off the course that he set for us as we pursued the big ministry or the big money opportunities rather than the truly important things in life. When we pursue the BIG things we recklessly abandon the real treasure that God has given us.

I have numerous things I can think of from my life, and most would be totally boring to you. These exceptional moments didn’t require money, but time and being with the people who mean the most to me. Here is one: three years ago we were had on vacation in Florida. The girls opted to do one thing, but later truly wished they had gone to Disney World. Our money budgeted for this event was spent so my husband and I went to three—yes, 3—time share presentations to get tickets and money to send the girls to Disney World. We dropped them off at Disney World at four and we had a quiet dinner with a million funny stories to share with friends about our time share experience. Everyone has moments that bring a smile (even though the original experience may have been exasperating such as the old maid aunt who insists on sharing 500 slides of her recent vacation).

If I went back to my 12th birthday—like Emily Gibbs did in Our  Town, I would be living in Tuscaloosa while my parents finished coursework at the University of Alabama. Within three months we would move to our new town—the town I would forever call my hometown. My parents would be young; my dad would still be alive and in good health. Life would still be simple because it was 1966. That summer my brother and I went to see “Shower of Stars” (a concert) in Birmingham and a very young Jerry Lee Lewis went crazy on the piano.

What’s truly important is the same in all our lives: family and friends. Remember these moments with them are our treasures and God put us together in a relationship for a purpose. To allow a temporal situation such as hurt feelings or anger to interfere with that purpose can cause us to de-rail from our destiny with them. And when we stand before God, we don’t want to be reminded of how we recklessly abandoned our treasure.