Andyouinvitedmein’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘conservative Christians

Like it or not we’ve become a Heidi-&-Spencer society in church. We like things clean, neat and perfect…and we don’t want a mess. It doesn’t matter what kind of mess: hot, cold or lukewarm, the church in America wants to look good. Let me explain my point:

I have a friend who is gay. He has tried all the groups, prayers, deliverance, dating girls, and has been celibate for well over a decade. He has shared this with a pastor…a pastor in a church with You Are Loved! on the church marquee. The pastor questions my friend’s Christian walk..apparently you’re loved unconditionally if you aren’t messy. Otherwise, as in the case of my friend, you’re pointed to a group that will santize you–oops, a group that will “show you a better way” to live for the Lord.

This isn’t an isolated situation. When my friend leaves the church, he isn’t running from God…he’s running from people who continually tell him he’s too messy to be truly be love by Jesus. Jesus never said that…the Heidi-&-Spencer church did. Jesus washes feet. Jesus sups with sinners. Jesus ate with tax collectors. Jesus loves Heidi and Spencer, He just doesn’t want his body to be the Temple of Heidi-&-Spencer.

Messy? Not an outwardly perfect Christian. You know that person who isn’t messy: one who has all their bills paid, is a perfect size with less than 20% body fat, good tan, no sickness, great house and family, and they always have a seat next to the pastor. They’re the only ones that the pastor will look at in the eye–otherwise, he’s scanning the crowd for Heidi-&-Spencer. Everyone loves perfect.

I have no idea who made those rules for our church in America, but most people in church know not to challenge them. These church folk realize the phrase “we love you no matter what” is generally a lie. We’re only allowed one no matter what visit to church, then you’d better change into Heidi-&-Spencer or the die is cast against you.

Same goes for teens. A girl goes to the youth group. A victim of many things…a predator, deep hurt from people she loved, being betrayed, having to deal with medical issues decades before most people think about such things…then in the picture perfect youth group she’s an outcast. Now those words aren’t spoken, they are there. People pick on her for things others are doing. There are new groups within the group for people who are “serious about the Lord”…and she’s never asked. No one talks to her and no one wants to hang out. The group wants to look pretty and cool.

And the older ladies–they love their luncheons. Years ago their prayer group slowly gave way to other things. When the leader died they chose someone safe, and not the person who got under their skin…a person who spoke the truth. Truth burned their ears and rubbed their hearts the wrong way. It didn’t tickle.

Slowly the isolation drives a man from a potentially wonderful church. He will be judged for not attending church and people will gossip. They will claim it is because the sin of homosexuality is deceiving him. The girl in the youth group doesn’t want to return. She loves the Lord, but she doesn’t feel the love of those who represent Him in His Church. She knows no one will call her, because they prefer to forget the year she was with them…she challenged their belief system about picture-perfect Christianity. The elderly gals just want to slide on into eternity without conflict (think about Corrie ten Boom’s father who died in a concentration camp for hiding Jews in his home…that was messy and he didn’t meet eternity on clean sheets surrounded by his loved ones).

Does Heidi-&-Spencer make us feel good because then we believe we’re perfect? Why can’t we love messy? You know messy can be irritating and harsh. Messy can challenge our belief system, and we want to quickly nail together a little building and push our messy into it. In hiding messy, we overlook the real sin. And what would that be, Cheryl? you say to me.

That would be the lack of grace, for one. That would be ignoring the girl who tells her youth pastor there is excessive gossip in the youth group, and his response is “I’ve preached on gossip, there is none in our group.” Spiritual pride, maybe? Has someone who is messy exposed our soft belly? If she was a real Christian she would be_____. That blank would be judgment. Judging her keeps us from looking at the hidden sins of our heart.

My friends here all love the Lord and realize they are messy. They want to be heard and have friends and be treated with dignity. That means no group referral and no isolation We are all like them, but we hide behind the things we make pretty and flawless. The American church only likes Heidi-&-Spencer. Heidi got extensive plastic surgery because she didn’t like how she looked. She wanted to cover the flaws. We want to get rid of messy in our church.

However, Jesus is with the messy. Where do you stand?


Hannah and Her Sisters was the name of a Woody Allen movie. Can’t remember much about the plot or anything else but the name. Movies…Hollywood…Stars…all are people you can soon forget. Having spent time on a movie set I know the stars are cared for and pampered. Each and every need is met. The bigger the star, the bigger the demands and the bigger the isolation from the “rubber meets the road” we all experience each day. Temporary pleasures immediately fulfilled that keep these people (and many others) from reaching for the eternal.

This week my friend Hannah lost her baby. It wasn’t a miscarriage of 8-10 weeks, but the death of a baby on his due date. Hannah’s sisters (+ Mom, Dad and brothers + Hannah and her husband) all kept faith that this baby would be resurrected. Simply put: one day this precious baby was moving and the next without a heart beat. I can’t imagine anything sadder for parents and family to experience.

I come not to dwell on this event, but what took place because of the event. A family stood on the Word of God and total trust in Him. They spoke the Word and lived on prayer for several days. I’m not sure what happened at the hospital, but I would imagine that they didn’t permit anything to invade their faith like double and triple checking hospital monitors. They threw all they had on God; they put their faith in the eternal.

Sadly for us who are earth-bound, this child is with Jesus. We know we will see him shortly. The empty place he left will last a lifetime, but we know that life is short. “Soon” (50-70 years) the real Hannah and her sisters will be holding this child and embracing the One who has taken care of him since he passed from this world to eternity.

This kind of faith is mocked. People think you’re crazy, but God is well-pleased. Their trust was totally cast on Him. Satan and his demons tremble at actions like these. And this kind of faith is more real than the computer you’re looking at right now. This computer will soon be biting the dust in a recycle bin…faith like this can change history. Because it didn’t change events this time doesn’t mean God didn’t get the glory. Think how this impacted the hospital staff for starts. Their short email updates impacted my faith level and pushed me to believe that God might surely resurrect this baby.

I don’t know what you’re going thru today. It might be just a day or you might be worried about bills, tornadoes, floods, job, stock market…just like the movie Hannah and Her Sisters…those things are a temporary moment in time with temporary benefits. Soon these will be long gone and replaced by something else. Consider what this family has done. They spoke into eternity and caused the demons to tremble.

Please take to heart these verses…Romans 8:35-39: 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Please ponder what this nameless family has done….trust Jesus with all you have that you’re willing to look silly to the world to trust Him.

I recently heard a minister say that America isn’t a Christian nation anymore. We conservatives like the idea of a Christian nation—I know I do. I’m thankful that I don’t live in 1940’s USSR or 1970’s China, but as it applies to eternity location doesn’t matter. Because our citizenship is in heaven, Paul said for us to be content whatever our situation might be: whether we’re in America on a Sunday morning or in the salt mines of Russia.

This minister—Scott Lively—has stated that Uganda is a Christian nation because they are taking a stand against homosexuality. Apparently this must be Mr. Lively’s litmus test for what constitutes a Christian nation. In watching the documentary Missionaries of Hate, I heard a Ugandan pastor preach about gay sex practices—extreme information that would be similar to a minister preaching that all heterosexual couples use whips and chains—yep, that extreme. However, sex details of any kind are inappropriate to be included in a sermon. As he spoke the congregation was ‘in a lather’ against the gay community. A message of this kind only sows seeds of hate and fear.

What would Jesus do—in Uganda, for instance? The only lifestyle Jesus challenged was those people who believed that they were holier than others. Jesus looked at all men and women as being precious to God, and wanted us to give unconditional love to our neighbors. Read Matthew 22:36-39: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Right now in Uganda there’s a critical piece of legislation that we conservatives need to say a hearty “no” to its passage. This bill seeks to imprison or execute homosexuals; it’s morally wrong and totally un-Jesus. As Christians we need to actively oppose this legislation. Why? Let me offer a few reasons…

  • First, it’s wrong to target the gay and lesbian community—or any community. An example we can surely remember is how several school shooters targeted the football players. In the end only God knows what’s in a man’s heart, and our command is to love.
  • Secondly, this legislation is fertile ground for a ‘witch hunt’ if someone wanted to get even with another person; or if someone assumed the ‘guilt’ of another simply because of that person’s manner of speech, dress or associations.
  • Finally, if it starts in Uganda, where will it end and what other groups will be targeted as part of ‘cleansing’ the nation? Germany is a good example of this type of cleansing.

I think Martin Luther King stated it quite well in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail: …I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Please speak out for those who need your voice. Consider the words of Martin Niemoller:

“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

I’ve been reading some books lately that are along the same subject: what does the world think of us? Us being conservative Christians…or simply Christians. In my humble opinion I think many Christians take liberty in the verse that says “the world will hate you because it hated me first” (loosely translated from John 15:18). Being a jerk doesn’t qualify for ‘being hated’ in the manner Jesus was talking about.

The first person I think of regarding a misuse of this verse is Fred Phelps. He isn’t liked because exhibits no Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). But where are we creating a problem that interferes with people coming to Jesus?

One area I believe is when we mix politics and Jesus. Jesus was about sacrifice and grace (unconditional love) that draws people. Now let me just jump right in and be more specific with a current event…when we’re out in force saying rude and unkind things about our President, then non-Christian say “oh yes, they’re political, therefore Christians are…” So when violent calls are made to political foes, people see Christianity as being a violent political religion. Jesus tells us to be content no matter what the circumstances. Therefore when I can’t get into a doctor for six months–I will have to rely on Him to help me through. Total trust in Jesus, now isn’t that a novel concept? I wish it was 1960 again but it isn’t and I know that Jesus will keep me even in the darkest hour of need.

Try reading Lord, Save Us From Your Followers! by Dan Merchant (or just get the video!) or unChristian by David Kinnaman (this is back by research done by the Barna group, a recognized church research organization.

For the last ten years I’ve been trying to see things from a different perspective than Southern United States, conservative Christian doctrine. I started by reading the Bible for myself and not through the eyes of “pick and choose” and “this is what my seminary taught”. Then I got very basic when I started seeing real life situations bleeding before my very eyes. Case 1: Pillar of the church family in Big Southern Town, USA where the family helped to start the church, Dad was head of the ruling board of that body. Mom was director of the children’s ministry. Only son came out as gay and the church “didn’t need them anymore.” Case 2: Wife is abused, but church members secretly gossip about what she did to ‘make him do it’ and will there be a divorce. Case 3: Gay father wants custody of teenage son. Mom and stepdad are abusing him. I was helping the father, and when I asked for prayer, a church friend said “well, I don’t think that is a good idea.” The boy was being routinely beaten and more. The judge in the case refused to listen to the boy or the father because the father was gay. The judge got his position because of family values and being a Christian. However, his honest desire to serve families was marred by idiotic teaching that a gay father cannot love his son and protect him as much as a heterosexual parent.

Not that all issues are gay-straight, but gay is the issue of the last two or three decades that divides the church. Before that it was Women’s Rights and before that it was the race issue…were we going to let “colored people” go to church with us? Ugh!!!! I moved to Alabama in 1964 and I can tell you it wasn’t pretty. We lived in a place that was ruled by the KKK. Sunday morning pew warmers (I will not call them Christ Followers even though they identified themselves as Christian) who had hate in their hearts for African Americans.

Therefore, use this Holy Week of the Christian faith to look at your life and how others see it. Choose to change to a course of being a Christ Follower…Red Letter Christian (i.e. do what Jesus said in the red letters) and forget all the other. Be His example!


Our daughter got married this month. What a wonderful time we had with family and friends. How richly we were blessed. The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was festive…thanks to our many friends who helped put it together. People came from all over the US to help us celebrate this occasion. It was also a time when we missed the ones that could not be there.

The next two months are the seasonal celebrations when family are the core of the celebration. Remember to forget the things that keep you a part, and remember the things that make you connect. Enjoy the time. Time goes so fast. It seems it was yesterday that Liz was born, or we were headed to morning in daycare, or she was getting ready for her freshman year of high school. Don’t take moments for granted.

Have a safe holiday season.

I wanted to add this little bit of personal information. I’m part of that group of 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 5 boys who are molested. There were no books in those days to help ease the pain, since it happened when I was a youth and now I’m 55. I was the victim of countless nightmares and would come almost nightly until I told the secret. My violater never was punished and I never got a financial reward. As well, when I reported it I was told “if we do something then it will upset so many people.”

About 15 years after it happened I visited my doctor who was also a church fellow. I explained that for each of the last 15 years the season when I was molested was black and I felt lifeless, depressed and dead for a span of three months. He did pray for me and then he told me this: You have no choice but to forgive. Whether you ‘feel it’ or not, you have to start speaking it out forgiveness.

I can remember leaving his office and looking into the clouds saying: I forgive you (I saw looking up there to tell God I forgave the perp). Just a little note here: there were no registered sex offenders back then. There was no group to sit around and discuss it, and no going back to get my day in court. It was simply God and me.

Realize now I had already been praying for at least five years about getting emotional healing from this, and it would take another seven more years….actually the Sunday before I got married…when our church had a time when people were asking forgiveness of things in their heart. I later fictionalized and wrote that service into my book And You Invited Me In.

It seemed that everyone was confessing hurt and pain and asking forgiveness during that extra long Sunday morning service. If you come from a tradition of three hymns, prayer and a 20-minute sermon, then this spontaneous service might seem a bit odd. Yet in a flash that can only be God, I knew my hurt and pain was gone, and I had truly forgiven the person who had violated me.

For over 20 years I had lived in deep emotional pain and suffering—not only from the abuse, but the lack of help from those who couldn’t help me when I asked. There were moments during those years when I had wished I could open my skin and let out the pain because it was so deep. I knew I’d done  nothing wrong, but I felt all messed up because of this physical assault and wondered by God had permitted it to happen. However, there in that Sunday service after seven years of speaking forgiveness each time I didn’t feel like forgiving—in a flash it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. It was no longer scar tissue over my heart and mind, but just another event I lived through like breaking my leg.

Therefore, the following post entitled WW(y)CD and registered sex offenders operating with the church is more than blog-lite. I’ve been there, and I know that no amount of money or prison would have done what God did for me when forgiveness for this man became real. I had to embrace forgiveness before it ‘felt okay’; I had to speak forgiveness each time the waves of darkness rolled over me in the day and night.

My doctor said: you will never be the same, but God can make you better. And it happened. Grace works…it’s the only thing that heals. Forgiveness is difficult but it is imperative.

What would your church do?

There seems to be a firestorm of press going on about City of Refuge in Louisville, KY concerning the ordination of a registered sex offender. You can find details about this on most newsfeeds.  As well you can find out the stats about people who are abused. The numbers are staggering—I know because I teach young people about unwanted touches.

However as Christians who believe that God can redeem and make new, this may just be the beginning of something we will need to consider in our churches. What happens when a registered sex offender comes to church? What happens when they want….(and you fill in the blanks).

I know of a church that believed they could not refuse them, but established strict guidelines that if (s)he was to be at church, (s)he was to be in the company of the elders. I have read in the Christian Post that Rev. Randy’s church has set down strict guidelines as part of the ordination.

At one time 20+ years ago I had a preacher tell me that he would not allow a person with AIDS in his congregation and I was to not “bring that plague” into his church. To me it was crazy that someone could be refused entrance into a church…therefore, what about this situation? What do we say? How do we respond as Christians who have been forgiven?

It is time to consider the road to be taken if this happens in your church. Can this person participate in worship? Socials? Sunday school? Certainly they will truly learn what grace is by how you respond. There should be reasonable conditions asked of this person, but the overall question is: how can you lovingly embrace this person so that you display Christ?

Not every registered sex offender is like the man in California who held Jaycee captive for 18 years. We have friends whose son is a registered sex offender, and I’ve seen him participate in church. This isn’t a blog to convince you of the degrees of offense, but it’s one to make you think about what might happen, and ask how would you respond? How difficult is grace at this point—especially if you have been molested?

Here’s a fairly recent stat: only 4 out of every 100 sex offenders are ever caught. I got that figure from a training video from the YMCA. Therefore if that information is correct, then you’re probably going to church right now with someone who has at least acted improperly with a person under 18. However, that isn’t the point of the blog either. Blog point is this: would this push us all to our grace limit, and can we do it?

In closing this situation in Louisville is an opportunity for us to forget what unsaved newspersons are thinking, and begin to listen to God. While there won’t be a great number of churches that ordain a registered sex offender, there are many who might become home churches to these offenders, and in this situation: What would your church do?