Jesus Loves the Person You Can’t Stand

I am attending the Bella Conference, Fresh Colors this weekend…so you’ll have to read this oldy but goody! This is one of my all-time favorites…

Photo courtesy of Alex Proimos

Maybe the person is at work, or at school. Maybe you dislike an entire portion of society, ie. the smelly guy on the bus. Or maybe, and this is the worst of them all, you live with someone you don’t like! Whatever the case, it’s startling how often I hear “Christians” say they hate someone, or dislike a family member. Even more often that this, I see Christians ignore entire portions of their own world. They conveniently ignore the bum on the corner of State and Lake Streets. They sit as far away as possible from the smelly man on the bus. They look upon the scantily dressed young woman, whom they suspect to be a harlot, with disgust. They try with all their might to get out of serving in the nursery when their turn comes up, because they, “just don’t do diapers.” I know, I am ashamed to say, I’ve done all of the above.

Have you ever stopped to ask the bum his story? Whether it’s a true story or not, it’s sure to be interesting and will show a window into his soul. Have you ever thought that maybe the smelly guy is homeless and hasn’t had a shower because he has no bathroom except McDonald’s? Did you ever consider that perhaps the young woman you are so quick to judge may have run away from a sexually abusive father and had no where to turn?

My writing mentor, Madeleine L’Engle said this:

“If Jesus came today, would we be any braver, any more open, any more willing to give ourselves to his love, than were those who cried out, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’? Would we be any more willing today to allow him to love all kinds of people, even those we don’t much care about?
That, of course, was part of the problem–Jesus’ friends. They were not the right people. He went to the wrong dinner parties (his first miracle took place at a big party). He loved children, and let them climb all over him with their sticky little hands and dirty little feet.”

If Jesus reached out to these “untouchables” in our society who are we to ignore them? Who are we to define them as untouchable?

Every once in a while, my Salvation Army roots leak out. General William Booth said,

“Look for yourselves. The surging sea of life crowded with perishing souls rolls up to the very spot on which you stand. Leaving the vision, I now come to speak of the fact – fact that is real as the Bible; as real as the Christ who hung upon the cross! as real as the Judgment Day will be, and as real as the Heaven and Hell that will follow it.

Look! Don’t be deluded by appearances -men and things are not what they seem. All who are not on the rock are in the sea. Look at them from the standpoint of the Great White Throne, and what a sight you have! Jesus Christ, the Son of God; is in the midst of this dying multitude, struggling to save them. And He is calling on YOU to jump into the sea – to go right away to His side, and help Him in the holy strife.

Will you jump? That is, will you go to His feet, and place yourself absolutely at His disposal? My comrades, you are rescued from the waters; you are on the rock. He is in the dark sea, calling on you to come to Him and help Him. Will you go?”

Here is my favorite Keith Green song ever. Please listen. Someone’s life depends on it.

Hear Those Bells? – Day 9 Christmas Photo Scavenger Hunt

Salvation Army worker
Today’s prompt is a Salvation Army Bell Ringer. There’s nothing more “Christmasy” than hearing a Salvation Army bell ringer. I wonder if you’ll take a look at my past with me? A stroll down memory lane if you will…

I had the most beautiful upbringing in the whole world. Part of this heritage includes a family with its roots entrenched in the Salvation Army. My father, the eldest son of Salvation Army officers started his young family where his foundation lay…at the SA. My mother had her life changed when at 15, after a Billy Graham crusade, she filled out her followup paper work with SA for Saint Ann’s Catholic Church, and the Salvation Army showed up at her door. I have a plethora of family members that has served as officers of the Army and are now retired. As someone who has had the pleasure of watching their lives from the inside, let me tell you, they do the most good.

19970_263203121439_522631439_4012251_137751_n

My own spiritual formation took a turn when I was 14. An uncle from my mother’s side started a non-denominational church and we began attending there. However, there have been key moments in my life when I have found myself right back where I started…at the Army. Two times stand out in particular. Once was the Thanksgiving when my father encouraged my family to help serve Thanksgiving dinner at the corps they were attending. My children were all tweens at the time, and at first they were a little annoyed that our family traditions were going to be “interrupted”. But, by the end of the dinner, I can honestly say that they were truly more grateful for things that previously they had taken for granted.

The other time that stands out in my mind was around the same time as the first. We went to church with my parents who were then attending a Salvation Army church in Janesville, Wisconsin. The Army has much more conservative services than my children were used to, and the congregation there was much more…shall we say ecclectic? First, a lady with a FULL BEARD, stood up and gave a testimony. I gave the “look” to my boys, more than once, and eventually they were so intrigued by her praise to God and to the love and acceptance that the rest of the congregation showed that her that they were okay on their own with my evil eye. Next, a lady with an oxygen tank got up and played the accordian for special music. I’ll never forget my daughter whispering very sincerely and innocently in my ear, “This is better than a circus!”

…and then I realized. How many churches would celebrate these dear ones? Would mine? Even more importantly, would I? I am reminded of an old song we used to sing when I was in the Army. “To love the unloved, in the service of the Lord.” It is service to the Lord when I love those the world calls unlovely. And the unlovable aren’t just those who look different than we do…or those who smell different than we do. Sometimes they are the co-worker in the cubical next to us, or dare I say it, the person we are living with…

Please consider giving to one of the most nobel causes on the planet. The Salvation Army has made the world a better place in so many ways. Won’t you help them do it? If you are interested in contributing to my virtual kettle, you can click here.

Ham barely beat out turkey for most popular Christmas Dinner meat. Today’s poll is for the best picture of a Christmas present.

I know that this week will be busy for all of us, so I’ve decided to post the week’s photo prompts:
Monday – A Gift
Tuesday – Salvation Army Bellringer
Wednesday – Advent Calendar
Thursday – Snowflake
Friday – Nativity

The linkup will be from now through Friday. I will go through the posts and gather the pics for the correct days. Thanks so much for your participation, this has been fun! Link up your post featuring a photo with a theme listed above. Include my blog button, and visit other “hunt” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “gift” picture. Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!



My Salvation Army Heritage

Salvation Army worker
There’s nothing more “Christmasy” than hearing a Salvation Army bell ringer. I wonder if you’ll take a look at my past with me? A stroll down memory lane if you will…

I had the most beautiful upbringing in the whole world. Part of this heritage includes a family with its roots entrenched in the Salvation Army. My father, the eldest son of Salvation Army officers started his young family where his foundation lay…at the SA. My mother had her life changed when at 15, after a Billy Graham crusade, she filled out her followup paper work with SA for Saint Ann’s Catholic Church, and the Salvation Army showed up at her door. I have a plethora of family members that has served as officers of the Army and are now retired. As someone who has had the pleasure of watching their lives from the inside, let me tell you, they do the most good.

19970_263203121439_522631439_4012251_137751_n

My own spiritual formation took a turn when I was 14. An uncle from my mother’s side started a non-denominational church and we began attending there. However, there have been key moments in my life when I have found myself right back where I started…at the Army. Two times stand out in particular. Once was the… Please click here to read the rest of my story…

sis button 2

Body Parts

I’ll never forget the day that the children and I were passing by the local Baptist church, and one of my children asked me, “Now, what weird things do they believe?”

How could this be my child?  I wondered.  I had, on purpose, signed my kids up for things from different denominations and had repeatedly explained to them how each group has a special part to play in the  Body of Christ.  I encouraged them always to focus on our likenesses, rather than on our differences.  In addition to the many projects they had in our own wonderful non-denominational church, I enrolled them in a Reformed home school group, had them serve meals at the Salvation Army, went to plays and special events at the same local Baptist Church and still they had taken on an, “us four and no more” attitude.

I suppose their response was somewhat normal for someone who has been born and grown up in the same non-denominational church their whole life.  But I had taught them differently, and I expected more of them and from them.

After I picked my jaw up off the floorboard of the car, I answered in the most controlled voice that I could muster that if it weren’t for the Baptists that I wasn’t sure any of us would be Christians at the moment, because one of the Baptist church’s main emphases is evangelism and discipleship.  I also reminded them how thankful we can be that the Baptists have held to the high standard of doctrine in their lives.

It was silent in the car for awhile.  I suppose I was a little fiery in my delivery, but the said child had touched a nerve.

When I consider each denomination I see groups of people who have been given different assignments from God.  Episcopalians have been given a literary assignment bringing forth great authors and theologians like C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle.  Catholics have been given an assignment to remind us of the mystery that is Christ.  Baptists have been given an assignment to go out and to preach the Gospel to everyone.  The Salvation Army has been given the assignment to love the unloved, and to reach out a hand to man and heart to God.  Methodists have been assigned to teach us a methodology by which we can better serve God.  Pentacostals and  Charismatics have been given the assignment to experience God physically and emotionally through signs and wonders.

Do I believe that every believer should experience a portion of each of these strengths?  Absolutely!  But no one could focus on all of them at once.  And thus we have our differences.

The icon becomes idol when any one part of the body wants the rest of the Body to be just like it…How odd it would be if the Body were all knees or teeth! Madeleine L’Engle

Why not celebrate our differences?  After all we would be ineffective without one another, and we’d look pretty ridiculous if all we were is a bunch of teeth.

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.  I Corinthians 12:12

What do C S Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle and Desmond Tutu Have in Common?

In the past few years, it seems everything I’ve read has an Anglican connection.  From C.S.Lewis, famous apologist, author and professor, to Madeleine L’Engle, author of Newberry Award winning A Wrinkle in Time, to the endearing Father Tim character in Jan Karon’s Mitford series.

These authors mention The Book of Common Prayer, and Morning and Evening prayers regularly in their writings.  It made me curious.  Being raised in the Salvation Army (similar to Methodist doctrine), and then moving to a Pentacostal upbringing and now landing in what my pastor likes to call a Bapticostal church, the mysticicism of a “high church” order and liturgy has always intrigued me.  After all, what is the difference between reading the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer everyday and reading the Prayers That Avail Much?

I wondered what style of daily disciplines C S Lewis, George Whitefield and George Washington used to enhance their spiritual growth.  Thus began my journey.  A journey towards epiphany. A journey which I am now including you if you are interested.  Because my determined purpose is that I may know Him…

Our christmas tree

This was my very first post here, and though the methods may have changed, the quest is still the same. This year, I will be adding a new tradition to my celebration of advent. I will be going through the devotional that dear Ann has written. I will be doing this primarily alone, even though it is written as a family devotional..although I will be sharing weekly with my Neighborhood Bible Study. Won’t you join me? The devotional is free and available here.