Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there – and especially to mine in heaven, John Froese. I love you Dad!
So in this video Dad’s grandson, Drew Froese, starts a conversation with his friend Chris. Both are pastors. I love that during this time when we are very focused on racial reconciliation, the Church is starting these dialogues which I hope will continue long past the current protests.
It’s a conversation worth listening to. (And there are others found at tlc.org/reconcile, then click on “Conversations”.) When Jesus taught us to pray, He started with “Our Father …” and He’s a good good Father! But the “our” suggests that, while we pray individually, we also pray corporately – with all our brothers and sisters of every race and nationality and tribe.
He adopted you as his own children … now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ …
Romans 8:15, 17a
Let’s continue the conversation. I’d love to hear your response.
The afternoon was warm and balmy. We walked down the oceanfront street, shops beckoning with beautiful wares. A young woman, cute hat atop her pretty, long brown hair, reached out to hand me samples of skin products.
I usually say ‘no’ and keep walking, which I started to do again. But she was insistent and I took the samples, dropping them into my bag.
“You have such pretty eyes,” she said (oh, does that appeal to my ego??). “Let me give you something for them.”
“Only if I can keep walking,” I said, thinking she would hand me another sample and Don and I would be on our way.
“Yes, just a minute. Come here.” And with that she drew me (and by default, my sweet husband) into the store, lathered some cream under my eye and told me to let it set. Then she did the same to Don. Well … not a good time to walk out!
“Wallah,” Leah said a few minutes later. “You have a great result. Look how the wrinkles have lessened. You too Mr. Don.” And they had. Between her lovely Israeli accent and fast speech it wasn’t always easy to keep up with what she said.
Then she offered us a “treatment” as part of the package, and Chloe took over. She showed us another product, much, much more costly, and how it would take years off our (‘beautiful, handsome’) faces. We told her we didn’t want to purchase it.
“But isn’t your health, your face worth doing something for yourself? You’ve spent your lives helping others. Now what about you?”
Oh, is that ever a lie of the devil! Chloe wasn’t happy when we told her it simply wasn’t how we wanted to spend our money. But she was still gracious and we left.
Those of you who know me know I’m not averse to shopping! But I don’t appreciate being grabbed by a hook (the samples, the compliments) and then getting a pressured sales job for something that’s way out of my price point and out of line with my budget and priorities.
These women were GOOD–fast talkers, persuasive, lovely, complimentary, constantly buttering up in order to appeal to ego, insecurity, whatever. Don and I talked about the experience later and were able to laugh together. We also realized that, had we succumbed, we would have felt sick with guilt and remorse afterward.
The experience reminded me of bygone days in Puerto Vallarta, a timeshare salesperson on every corner. If they could get our attention we were hooked for 30-90 minutes. If we tried to be polite and say “no thanks”, they had us. We learned to say nothing and keep walking.
It’s a typical “bait and switch”. Bait the individual with samples, with compliments, then once you’ve made eye contact, draw them into your spiehl (how is that spelled anyway?).
Satan does this–he promises happiness, fun, success. “Do it my way,” he whispers. “It’s time to take care of yourself instead of everyone else.” But his lies often come at a very high price. Health problems, addictions, debt, family dysfunctions … when true peace and joy and love are found at the feet of Jesus.
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (Jesus)
And while we all make wrong or unwise decisions along the way, we also have the privilege of returning to the Father to receive forgiveness and cleansing.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9
I want to be wise, to recognize the ‘bait and switch’ maneuvers of the world, the flesh and the devil, and find my peace, my security, my hope, in the only person who gives freely, without reservation, and in truth. No lies, no bait and switch, no high cost of sin. Just walking in truth.
Have you experienced ‘bait and switch’? I’d like to hear about it, whether it’s in a sales environment, your walk with God, or something else.
Today is Veterans’ Day, a day to thank those who have served our country in military service. And there are many stories of veterans who have been heroes, caring for children in war zones, helping their companions, often separated from family members for long periods of time.
Like me, you’ve probably teared up at some of the TV news spots showing a serviceman or woman surprising a spouse, a child by walking into their place of work or school. Or the one where the soldier’s dog greets him with unabashed joy, whole body wiggling, tail wagging.
My favorite veteran, my husband Don Loewen, was part of the cleanup efforts in Okinawa for sixteen months at the end of WWII. While others within our Mennonite peace culture did significant alternative service like teaching or working in hospitals, building artificial limbs for returning soldiers, Don believed he had a responsibility to serve within traditional means and trusted God to guide him in that. Don was assigned to the medics and worked in mosquito abatement.
My husband doesn’t like to talk about his service. Like many who have been in war zones, he doesn’t want to relive the memories that have never left him. But there are some stories he has told me, like the time in 1945 he hung onto the bottom of a cargo truck for eight hours while a typhoon rocked the island with wind gales up to 180 mph.
Or the times he went into a bar with his best bud. Don would order a Coke while Ray drank hard liquor. But when Don told him he’d had enough, Ray stopped drinking.
Don carried his pocket Bible with him at all times. I didn’t know him then, but I like to think back of that handsome young soldier who stood for God, country and family. Who wasn’t afraid to walk into a place that was foreign to his upbringing (like a bar) and do the right thing, because of his commitment to Jesus Christ. Who was willing to confront Ray when his actions jeopardized his health and decision-making.
So while I know there are abuses of power in the service, I am thankful for those men and women who serve(d) with honor and integrity. I also ache for those who came home with tremendous scars, missing limbs, PTSD, broken families.
To each of you, starting with my husband, Don, thank you for your service!
A few weeks ago I bared my soul about pain experienced almost forty years ago in a ministry situation. I got many more responses to that post than usual. Encouragement from former colleagues, prayers for the coming reunion time to be above our expectations in healing and recovery, expressions of love.
I’m so grateful for each person who responded. My pain touched people. And in response, they touched me.
Recently Pastor Tim talked about how God speaks to us in our pain. It’s something we don’t want, and which God does not author, but nevertheless uses for our good and for others.
One of the ways God uses pain in our lives is to sensitize us to others, to open our eyes to their needs, and to help us encourage them with the comfort God has given us.
And in the years I dealt with healing from the pain of separation from my former work and friends, God was there. He provided resources to help me recover. Through this and other painful circumstances in my life–
–a broken engagement,
–the deaths of a husband,
–a nephew, and dear friends,
–concerns for my mother’s health,
–as well as workplace challenges–
I have become less judgmental and more sensitive to others’ pain. My understanding grew that we need to know someone’s story before we can understand why they make some of the choices they do.
But what resonated with me is that people are drawn to vulnerability, and relate to expressed pain.
As Pastor Tim stated, “When we talk about pain, people lean in.” Our voices are sometimes softer when we talk about pain. We don’t generally shout it from the rooftops. But people want to know what have we experienced that they can relate to, can learn from. Pain touches all of us, and when we share it, we increase our authenticity.
I like Facebook. I enjoy posting pictures of people I love, fun things I’ve done, life I’ve lived with others. But I understand that it is only a partial picture. Most of us post only good things …. those things we’re happy to share.
But others can look at those pictures of beautiful homes and decor and yards and travel and families and think, why isn’t my life like hers/his?
But when we share openly about our pain, our challenges, the bumpy roadblocks in our lives, others understand that we are all on this journey together. And while each of us has an individual path, we also walk with, encourage and strengthen, or drag down, each other along the way.
I’m reading a challenging book, Hearts of Fire, by Voice of the Martyrs. It contains the stories of eight women in different parts of the world, persecuted, imprisoned, tortured for their faith in Jesus Christ. While the stories are at times hard to read, these women’s faithfulness also challenges me. They share temptations faced, i.e. questioning God in their suffering or loss. Temptations to renounce faith, to give in to other voices that offered a strong shoulder of support, to be quiet about their faith. Despite their questions, these women continued to speak, teach about Jesus, and to be faithful to him.
Why am I drawn to these women’s voices? They’ve shared their pain and God’s faithfulness. We all go through difficulties, whether because of our faith, as they did, or because life just has its ups and downs, its tragedies as well as its joys. None of us knows what the future holds.
I hope I’ve shared God’s faithfulness to me in these posts. I hope that has encouraged you in some ways. But I too need to be reminded of God’s faithfulness, not only to me in the past, but to others who have gone through far deeper trials than I have or expect to encounter.
I’m leaning in.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
“I wanted to meet you because we’ve driven here side by side several times,” she smiled.
I smiled back. “We have?”
“Yes, a week or so ago we were next to each other at Silver Creek Boulevard. I waved, but you didn’t see me.”
“Well, hi. I’m Carol, and now I’ll watch for you!”
As Susan and I chatted about where we live, I thought, here’s a woman who’s seen me in my car, on the road, and I was oblivious. If I had noticed her I think I would have recognized her from our weekly meetings, although it may have taken me a minute to remember where I knew her from!
We never know, do we … anyone could be watching. Was I picking my teeth? Singing along with the radio or a CD? Looking angry about some traffic impingement?
There’s a cross sticker on my car. Did I reflect the Christ I love, or did someone say “Ooh, if that’s a Christian …”
I know I sin and make mistakes and get angry inappropriately at times. But my heart wants to walk the talk, wants my actions to support my words and my professions of faith.
So next time I’m in my car, I’m going to watch for who’s around me; I’m also going to try to ensure I’m not doing anything for which I would be embarrassed if someone said “I saw you when you were …”
Most important, the Father sees me at all times. He knows, not just the embarrassing stuff that comes out at times, but my heart. He knows when my thoughts and the intent of my heart would embarrass me no end if I were standing face to face with him. And yet, I am in his presence–always. He is never far from me and knows me completely.
But he gives his grace. His love is so great that his grace covers me, whether I’m making a small, embarrassing mistake or a larger one that impacts many. A bigger mistake may cause great pain to self and others, and to the Lord, who grieves over our sin. But grace is available once I agree with God that I have sinned.
“But if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I John 1:9
Confession results, not only in forgiveness, but also in cleansing, making me like new in God’s eyes. Cleansed, forgiven, whole, accepted in the beloved! Joy!