Archive for August, 2012

A Lasting Legacy

My wrinkled 92-year-old-mama looked up at me as I entered her cheery green bedroom.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him again.” She paused, “I miss him.”

“I do, too, Mom.”

“Him” is my dad. He’s been in heaven for almost five years now. The longer he’s gone, the more I appreciate him.

Not only did he take me poisonous snake hunting when I was a girl, but he filled out mammoth piles of paperwork to enroll me at Asbury University when my life wasn’t so good. He made me laugh, and when something touched his heart, he cried. He showed me that it was okay for a man to cry. (Except in baseball.)

He stood by me when I rebelled, and opened his arms wide when I came back.

But the thing I love most about my dad is what he left me. It wasn’t money. That corrodes. He left me a legacy of following Christ–not perfectly, but completely.

Often, when my dad preached, he’d march across the stage, paying no attention to the podium. Sometimes, he’d grab the back of his collar, face the audience, look in an imaginary mirror, point his finger and say, “Ray Wert, what are you going to do for Jesus today?”

It’s a good question. A valid question.

I can know the Bible backwards and forwards, but if I don’t tell someone about Jesus, or better yet, show them, what good is it?

The book of James is all about that. Believing. Doing.

My dad did that. Today, as I knelt in prayer, I read from the Salvation Army Songbook. He put brackets around a verse written by Charles Wesley.

“Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire

To work and speak and think for thee;

Still let me guard the holy fire,

And still stir up thy gift in me.”

Before the verse, he wrote a place and a time, after the verse he wrote in his all caps, left-handed scrawl, “DON’T LET THE FIRE GO OUT.”

I miss him, too. But Dad’s legacy lives on.

And one day, we’ll talk about it. We’ll talk about Jesus. And we’ll see Him.

In heaven.

 

The Laundromat

“You can use the big machine over there,” the lady said to me as I entered the unfamiliar surroundings. Right away, she pegged me for a middle-class, needs-to-do-her-JC-Penney-comforter-in-a-commercial-machine woman.

Normally, she would be correct. Except I buy my comforters at SAM’s and wash them in my machine which was probably why it broke. Unfortunately, my machine broke right before I left for vacation in North Carolina. With my 21-year-old son and 91-year-old mom staying home along with Mom’s caregiver, it would definitely cause some inconvenience.

“I’ll call a repairman when I get back,” I stated as I got in our truck for the long ride to the Tar-heel state.

“Wait a minute. How do am I supposed to wash my clothes?” my son complained.

“Take your change and yourself to the laundromat,” I replied and shut the truck door. I’m not sure he knew what that was.

Now I was there. I even had to google “laundromat” to find one. I don’t know if it was my imagination but the rough-looking man outside, the African American woman inside and the blond woman who seemed to be in charge knew I had a laundromat handicap.

Inside, I smiled. I love new situations where I meet people outside of my life-box. I unloaded four loads of clothes on linoleum tables and changed my $10 bill for quarters.

After that, I faltered.

The blond woman who I guessed to be in her mid-50′s tutored me about the machines and sliding my quarters into the slots. One machine was $1.75, another $2. I added the detergent and my clothes, shut the lid and slid the quarters in to pay homage to the washing machine god. Of course, I started conversations with the two ladies.

The blond was Bonnie. She didn’t own the place but was working that day to wash white towels and sheets for a local hotel. She took her washing and folding job seriously.

The other woman lived across the street and had 8 grandkids.

There are no secrets in laundromats. Everyone sees what you are washing whether it’s mini-clothes for your grandkids, uniforms for work, or unmentionables for yourself.

They were reluctant to engage in conversation at first. Then the power blinked and two of my washers stopped. Bonnie came to the rescue. We both unloaded soaking clothes into an adjacent washer which she stuffed with quarters. That broke the ice.

I wondered what I would do if no one were there to help me. What a person who had no washer being fixed and only had $5 to their name and the machine broke with no one to help. What would they do?

Probably, they are used to problems like that and figure it out.

It began to pour. A great-big-fat-Florida downpour complete with lightening. The woman from across the street, Flo, looked anxious. Turned out that she’d walked across the street and didn’t drive. I offered to drive her the short distance. She looked skeptical.

We just kept talking while Bonnie and Flo folded. The laundromat was hot. Humid. A few feet away temperatures were a good fifteen degrees cooler.

“I worked at a hotel cleaning and doing laundry for a while,” Flo offered. They both understood white towels and sheets and cleaning and working in laundry-like heat. I understood air conditioning, washing machines that didn’t eat quarters, and college dorms.

I considered myself lucky to spend a few hours with these women. They’re behind the scenes people who take their jobs and families seriously. Bonnie’s kid just graduated from college. The other one graduates in two years.

The rain continued. After I insisted, Flo let me drive her the short distance home.

“It’s a senior citizen residence.” She must have noticed the shocked look on my face because she added, “I’m wearing my extra hair, if you saw my real hair you’d know.” She smiled.

I smiled

I think I might just go to the laundromat every once in a while for fun.

And to learn something.

 

 

Honoring Those in Authority—It’s Not a Suggestion

The Facebook status update blinked on the screen. I grabbed my reading glasses from the nightstand and stared at my computer. I viewed a picture of a man’s head with a sarcastic caption.

That man was The President of the United States.

I could never be a politician because my feelings would get hurt on the first day, and I’d quit. I know that all holds are barred and the gloves come off and any other saying you could come up with when it comes to a political race. Especially, for the most important position in the world—President of the United States of America.

Still, it is no excuse.

I think it’s in bad taste for anyone to put sassy or crude pictures of the President on a computer screen. But there’s no excuse for Christians to do so.

And I get plenty of those emails. I hear several of the jokes. I read a lot of bad-mouthing on Facebook. Many of them come from Christians.

I’m not saying I agree with President Obama. I didn’t vote for him in the last election and I won’t be casting my ballot for him this year, either. But I don’t speak against the man. I don’t speak against the man because of his position, not because I don’t agree with him.

The reason that I don’t speak against him is simple. The Bible says no. Romans 13:1-2 states, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”

In America, we have the privilege of expressing our opinions publicly. We have the privilege of casting a ballot. But the Bible is clear. All authority is given by God. It’s also taken away by God.

Proverbs 21:1 states, “In the LORD’S hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.”

God controls politicians, too.

Remember Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar? Daniel was taken into captivity, away from from his family and friends. His family may have even been killed, yet when he had an audience with the king, he spoke with great honor and humility. He revealed the dream to the king, giving God the credit. After that, Daniel got the  ”ruler of the country” promotion. You can’t get much higher than that.

Daniel served the king for several years, yet he never spoke dishonorably to him even though Nebuchadnezzar was a proud, cruel, dishonorable man.

Let’s take a ride back to the New Testament. In Acts 23, the high priest orders a man to strike the Apostle Paul. Paul responds boldly with, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall. You sit there to judge me according to the law by commanding that I be struck.” Those around Paul chastised him for striking the high priest.

What is Paul’s response? Verse 5 states, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’”

I know you could argue jots and tittles, but if there is any doubt about what Scripture says, I’m gonna go with Scripture. I choose to honor the President of the United States.

During the election, I will study the candidates, pray for God’s will, and visit the voting booth.

But I’m not going to dishonor the leader of our country.

It’s not Christian.

 

Chewing on Chick-Fil-A

Why did I do take-out from Chick-Fil-A tonight?

Not because I’m crazy about fast food. Not because I didn’t want to cook. Not because I hate homosexuals.

I ate at the fast food chain because I want to stand for something. Not against someone.

You see, I believe that the Bible is the Word of God. Not a Word from God, but the Word of God. And as far as my menopausal brain can tell, God’s Word says one man, one woman. Not two men and two women. And frankly, as a Christian, I’ve struggled with that.

I don’t understand why God said that. I’ve asked Him about it, but I get no answer. Well, in a way, I do. He kind of said, “Because I said so.” My parents said the same thing and they were in charge of me, but God is in charge of the universe.

He answers to no one.

But still, I am puzzled.

There are other things in the Bible I don’t understand. Even more things in the world. But a few months ago, I knelt down in my bedroom in prayer with my Bible and said, “Lord, I don’t understand all of the Bible, but I believe it is Your Word. And by faith, I’m going to believe every word.”

I’m not alone in that. Billy Graham did the same thing as a young pastor. His beliefs were challenged by a friend. He couldn’t answer all his doubts so he laid them out before God and basically said, ‘I trust you, Lord.’

He never looked back. Billy Graham stood for something. He stood for Someone. I’m standing for Someone, too. Not against a people group.

The Bible speaks about a lot of other stuff, too. No one is angry when Christians feed the poor, or look after the orphans and widows. I know young Christians who’ve given their time and money and gone to Nigeria and Honduras, because they want to be like Jesus and do what He says.

No one is upset when missionaries go into an impoverished community and dig water wells, or teach children math, or give them clothing. The book of James is all about that. If Christians aren’t taking those kinds of actions, they’re not obeying the Bible.

So the Bible commands people to do certain actions, and prohibits other actions. Gosh, it even delves into our thought lives.

Did you know that Jesus said in Matthew 5 that anyone who has a lustful thought has committed adultery according to Him? He said that if someone is mad enough to kill someone, it’s the same as murder. How about the ten commandments? I struggle each day with several of them, and coveting is what our crazy culture is based on.

So we are all guilty before God. We need a Savior because we all sin. The Bible says that, too. In fact, I Corinthians 6: 9-11 states,

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards or are abusive, or cheat people–none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Such were some of you. I’m guilty of many of those sins. Good thing Jesus came. He is God’s righteousness for me. That is what I believe. That is what the Bible teaches. God became man and died a horrific death to provide a way for man to have right standing before God. A way for me. A way for you.

I patronized Chick-Fil-A because I believe, according to God’s Word, that Mr. Cathy spoke words from the Bible. And I’m all for that.

You see, I don’t want to be known as a tolerant woman, I want to be an obedient woman. A woman who listens to what the Bible says to do and not to do. Oh yeah, and I want to love my neighbor like Jesus said we should.

Who is my neighbor? You are, friend. Whether or not you believe what I believe. I love you. And when you love someone, you tell them the truth. The Bible is God’s truth to mankind. So I’m banking my life on it.

I’m also banking my death on it. You may not agree with me, but I don’t answer to you. I answer to God.

Because He said so.

Chew on that for a while.