Why Now?

I hesitate to even write about this topic but it seems avoidant to not even name the recent phenomena happening all around us.  Every day when I turn on the news, another man in a position of power or celebrity has been accused of sexual misconduct of varying sorts and degrees.  I won’t list the accused and their accusers.  But I am very curious as to what is different now that the reaction appears to be less about blaming the victim and more about acknowledging the misconduct.  Why now?

I’m not sure why now.  What changed that we moved from a place of brushing under the rug or ignoring to firing prominent figures and shaming men for inappropriate and damaging behavior?  As we have learned, all ages, colors, political affiliations, and levels of fame have participated in inappropriate behavior.  The one common denominator is being in a position of power or authority.

images-3I am thankful that I, personally, have experienced nothing more than a few off-hand or disrespectful sexist remarks along the way. Nothing that wounded me or that couldn’t be easily ignored.  I feel lucky I couldn’t post the #metoo response from a month ago.

I know that God’s heart has been broken by these harmful behaviors.  Ways in which we dishonor the body, dishonor women, dishonor the covenant of marriage, dishonor the workplace, and dishonor basic human decency and respect of one another.  We can do better.  We must do better.

I pray that this may be a reminder to people of faith everywhere that our ethical standards and measures matter.  They are guides to keep us from harming ourselves or others.  They are guides to lead us to celebrate life and God’s good gift of created men and women.  They are guides for helping us as a society determine how we will treat one another, what is acceptable and what is not.  That there are consequences when we choose to behave badly.  And grace when we choose to repent.

Acknowledging that I don’t really have any answers and mostly observations and wonderment about what is happening, I do offer a prayer to ground our reflection spiritually.  There’s a lot of hurt in our world.  Prayer seems a holy and appropriate response.

Prayer for Healing for Victims of Abuse

Praise to you,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
source of all consolation and hope.
By your Son’s dying and rising
He remains our light in every darkness, our strength in every weakness.

Be the refuge and guardian
of all who suffer from abuse and violence. Comfort them and send healing
For their wounds of body, soul and spirit.

Rescue them from bitterness and shame and refresh them with your love.
Heal the brokenness in all victims of abuse, and revive the spirits of all who lament this sin.

Help us to follow Jesus
in drawing good from evil, life from death. Make us one with you in your love for justice as we deepen our respect
for the dignity of human life.

Giver of peace, make us one in celebrating your praise, both now and forever.

Amen.

And amen.  Be kind to one another.

Grace and Peace,

Lory Beth

 

 

I Gotta Little Change in My Pocket…

I love all kinds of different music.  Well, almost all kinds.  Sorry to the fans out there but I don’t do country music.  I’m from the south and talk with a twang of sorts but I do not enjoy listening to it in music.  But there is one song I remember from my high school days that has been on my mind this week.  Maybe that’s because this Sunday is Commitment Sunday where we celebrate our pledges and financial commitments made to the church.  [Admittedly, it is only this one line that is relevant – the rest of the song is about a girl…]

I gotta little change in my pocket going jingle lingle ling – Georgia Satellites

I remember when I was studying the Bible for the first time seriously as an adult (it was Disciple Bible Study before I entered seminary) and I read all of the places in the Old Testament where God called the Israelites to offer God first fruits from the harvest as a way to honor God with our very best.  (Deuteronomy 26:1-11Verse page” data-hasqtip=”3″ aria-describedby=”qtip-3″> , Nehemiah 10:35-39) That’s when I began to understand that stewardship was not just about giving God our money.  It is about using something we value very much in order to value something even more important in our life – God.  By giving God our very best and most prized possession, we show how much we love God.  And how willing we are to be obedient to God.  Not an easy lesson for most of us.

But it’s not only giving back to God a prized possession, it’s giving our very best.  God calls for first fruits when giving our most prized possession was from our harvest.  Think about it- you work so very hard for so very long to raise the harvest – whatever it is.  When the crop finally ripens to harvest time, how badly you can’t wait to partake or sell that which you have labored over.  But God asks that we offer the tithe out of that first harvest.  Not wait until the end with whatever is left over.

I think God asked that of us humans because God knows how we operate.  We will take 141022-emptypockets-stockcare of the things we like most or the things that put pressure on us first and then we will give away that which is left over.  Inevitably God gets the change in our pocket if we are not intentional.

But what has always amazed me since I first understood and began to practice first fruits giving to God is that whenever I give my tithe at the beginning of the paycheck, inevitably we have all that we need.  God’s theology of abundance is that simple.  Honor God with your best, and God honors you for your faithfulness.

For those who approach their giving to the church from the standpoint of giving what they can out of what they have left at the end of the month, I challenge you to try for 3 months to tithe 10% out of the top of your monthly income.  Yes, even over the holidays.  And see what happens.  Because the God who blesses us with so very much deserves so much more than the change leftover in our pocket.  God deserves our very best.

Grace and Peace,

Lory Beth

Investing in Life

Today I attended the funeral of one of my childhood best friend’s father, Willie Martin.  Willie was a good guy, so very funny.  You could laugh with him and at him his antics were so entertaining.  As I was listening to my friend share about her father tears came to my eyes as I heard her grief and felt her sadness.  But we celebrated a life well lived and  a person well-loved today.  Our church and community has a funeral coming this Saturday for a saint that certainly had a life well lived and was a person well-loved.  I couldn’t help but wonder have I lived a life worth celebrating and have I been a person that is well loved?  When we consider the stewardship of our own life don’t we all wonder this at some point?  As I listened to stories today and reflected on the drive home about my own life I remembered a quote I had earmarked in my devotion book a few weeks ago.  It was a Helen Keller quote I had not remembered hearing.

I will not just live my life.  I will not just spend my life.  I will invest my life.  – Helen Keller

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Helen Keller

Have I invested my life well?  Such an interesting question to ponder.  I know there have been times when I have just lived life not caring about anything other than just functioning.  Lay low, not cause any trouble but not contribute anything either.  I’ve never been one to just spend life but I’ve seen it.  Lay it all out there, give it all until there is nothing left.  Live recklessly as if there is no tomorrow.

But to invest one’s life is to put it to use in something “offering potential profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value” according to Oxford.  How have I invested my life in a way that brings a profitable return of some sort?  That appreciates in value?  What does it look like to measure the spiritual profit of our lives?

Jesus probably would have been a pretty aggressive investor.  He was willing to take risks on a regular basis.  He also seemed to have confidence in the long shots.  He saw value in everyone, even when others wouldn’t consider investing.  Certainly those who spent any time with him found their own lives increasing in value and multiplying in interest.

I’m going to spend some time looking at my own life this week and seeing how I am doing more than just living or spending my life.  A long time ago I gave my life to Christ.  I have certainly invested in the church and I have invested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And I pray that there has been some return on this investment sowing seeds of Christ’s love in the lives of others. I hope all of us can name ways in which we have made choices and decisions that have allowed us to give of ourselves to make this world a better place rather than just taking and consuming our whole life long.

Here’s the thing about investments.  The profit can’t come until you spend something first.  You have to give of yourself first and then trust Jesus to generate the profitable return and appreciate your life value.  How much of yourself and your stuff are you willing to invest for the Kingdom?

Grace and Peace,

Lory Beth