Thursday, March 29, 2007

Family Secrets—sweeping the past under the rug

Last night as I watched the news, I learned that Winona Judd’s husband was arrested for sexual abuse with a child under thirteen. I thought, how tragic; why this epidemic of sexual abuse and exploitation? I wondered how sad that the Judd family has to face its sin in such a public manner. What about the child? I thought a little bit more, at least it can’t be swept under the rug, and probably the public exposure should be viewed as a blessing.

Families have secrets, families have a past, sometimes they are unseemly. We like to keep certain things about our past secret because we fear it would embarrass us; we would appear less to our fellowman. Our response is to sweep it under the rug but we continue to see the bump under the rug and it bothers us. We keep sweeping more under the rug and pretty soon someone in the family trips on the bump. They get hurt but we keep right on sweeping.

Along the way, a family member gets tired of seeing the bump under the rug and gets tired of seeing people tripping over the bump, falling and getting hurt. This family member gets tired of seeing fellow family members lying on the floor wounded, being judged for "their" failure when in reality they tripped and fell over all the garbage that has been swept under the rug for generations.

So, this truth seeking family member finally picks up the rug to see what’s there. They are chastised for seeking the truth and are quickly labeled “the problem”. The person who wants to find out the truth about the garbage under the rug is labeled a trouble maker, the problem, just because they desire the truth.

We all can act like we are waltzing through life, but a day comes when we must deal with our past or our family secrets. Look at King David. A king, powerful, anointed by God, distracted from his real job (being king he should have been in battle with his soldiers) but he stays back, becomes a peeping Tom and because he is king, orders Bathsheba to his bedroom, you know the rest. If not, read I Samuel 16-I Kings 2:11, I Chronicles 11-29). King David, forgiven as he was, still suffered the consequences of his sins.

Two things we need to learn from this: our sin will be found out AND we need to deal with it. It happened to David with the Prophet Nathan and it will happen to us. If it doesn’t happen in this life, it will be revealed on Judgment Day.

We, as a people, cannot ignore our personal or collective past. I see too many people who have tripped over the bump under the rug and are lying on the floor of life deeply hurt and wounded. Pick up the rug; deal with the stuff under the rug. Stop labeling the Truth Seeker, the trouble maker. We need to get rid of our pride and our over inflated image of ourselves.

Life is miserable when we won’t face our past and our sin. I know from experience.

Practical advice: We need to pray for courage to stand up to, address, and face our sin and our family’s sin. We need to stop making the Truth Seeker the problem. We need to address the past honestly and live with expectation remembering what the Apostle Paul said, “God will do more than we can ever imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). Our goal should be forgiveness and restoration, not revenge. We need to humbly thank the Truth Seeker for his courage. What will you be, a sweeper or a Truth Seeker? We must do the right thing. Come Holy Spirit, help us.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Repost from Sunday, June 18, 2006

For some of you new to the blog, we will repost a few of the older blogs during the week. Look for a new post from Beef this Thursday or Friday.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Meet Myrtle from "Mrs. Beef"
Let me tell you about Myrtle. Myrtle is the sweet, lovely lady who used to live across the street from us when our children were growing up. She’s the one where the children would always visit to get candy, see pictures and hear stories of her family, and always learn more about Jesus; she was everyone’s “adopted Grandma.” And what a testimony she is. If you would see Myrtle when she was out walking, Myrtle never waved and I believe everyone knew why--she was busy praying for everyone that lived in the houses that she passed. She prayed for everyone in the neighborhood by name every day and continues to do so today.

One day Beef received a phone call from Myrtle. She knew that he had a men’s Bible study that met once a week in our home and she told him about someone that was in desperate need of help. She told Beef he needed to call this young man immediately and invite him to his group and she would be praying for them and hung up. It made no difference that Beef did not know this young man but Myrtle did and she knew that God wanted this young man on His team! Even if most people had given up on him, it was no surprise to Myrtle that this man would become a happy, vibrant Christian who loves the Lord and has even participated in several mission trips sharing that love with others in need. Myrtle’s faith is unstoppable!

Myrtle has a vision—she takes seriously Christ’s command to us to “Go and make disciples of all the world.” Her single-handed (NO, I should say FOLDED-hands!) prayer ministry and been her mission all her life. She is fulfilling her purpose. Read on…

This weekend I was at a wedding of one of the neighbor kids and what a delightful surprise to see Myrtle. She is now living in Albert Lea, is close to 90 years old, extremely tiny and walking with a walker BUT she is not just curled up in a chair at the nursing home, playing cards, or knitting or sleeping; she has a RADIO MINISTRY!! A call in show where she prays for people!! How many of us will be doing anything close to that when we are her age? (How many of us do anything close to that TODAY???) Let Myrtle’s vision be a challenge for you!!

~ Mrs. Beef

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Worrying About Worry

The ads on TV have changed over the years. Many of the ads are for legal drugs. If you weren’t sick, after watching some of these ads, a person can begin to believe we must have a myriad of undiagnosed diseases. Drug manufacturers have become relentless in promoting their products. They ask questions and prompt you with questions to ask your doctor. The TV ads are backed up with two page ads in magazines with more detail than we need to know.

I heard an ad about anxiety attacks or panic attacks. I wondered what produces worry and anxiousness--the future, our health, finances, concerns about extended family and such. The ad implied if I’m anxious I only need to take a dose of “Bluesblasta” and everything will be ok; medicate myself into drug induced tranquility.

We are a nation that wants the pain killers first. Emergency room doctors and nurses will verify this. Our first demand when we come into the emergency room is “Give me something for the pain!” rather than “What’s wrong?”

Has this shift in cultural values made us a nation of worry warts? Do we want tranquility at any cost? Have we as Christians bought into the worry and also the drug tranquility which is a temporary solution until we pop the next pill.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-34: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I believe Jesus main point is “Do not be anxious; do not worry.” John Piper wrote about that very thing in his book What Jesus Demands from this World. "We ought not be anxious about food and clothing because food and clothing cannot provide the great things of life--the enjoyment of God, the pursuit of his gracious favor, the hope of eternity in his presence. We get anxious about food and clothing to the same degree that we lose sight of the great purposes of a God-centered life."
Lord, may we grow in knowledge to have a greater depth of relationship with you to know you and trust you. Continue in your work in us. Come Holy Spirit. Amen

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Just do your job

Early every morning my partner or I walk through all the properties we manage. We feel it’s important to have “eyes on the ground” as it were.

About three weeks ago, I was in the passenger elevator when I noticed the floor indicator lights were not working. The replacement of all indicator lights is under a contract for all our elevator maintenance. We pay $2300 a month for elevator maintenance in this building. I made a note to call the maintenance company.

As I worked through my “to do” list, the phone rang; it was a satisfaction survey from the elevator maintenance company. I told him I wasn’t very satisfied since we have had continual on-going “simple” problems. The maintenance company has not carried out the basic maintenance procedures as required in the contract.

Within the hour, our elevator company representative, a young lady named Leslie, called. She wanted to bring her supervisor and have a sit-down meeting to discuss these problems. I told Leslie, “We don’t need a meeting, waste numerous man hours. All I ask is that the bulbs are replaced and all agreed to terms of the contract are adhered to.” Promises were made, assurances given; it wouldn’t happen again.

On my early rounds Monday, I noticed the indicator lights had not been changed. This was the third instance Monday morning when sub-contractors were not adhering to terms of their contract.

I called Leslie again except I wasn’t as nice as the first time. After that, supervisors called, vice presidents called, meetings were suggested, incentives offered. Much time was wasted, tempers and emotions frayed and all I want is the indicator lights changed! Please, just change the indicator lights, just do your job. Please, I’m a simple man with a simple request.

Spin doctoring and fluff and mush are a major part of our business world, our society and sadly, even our churches. If I bring a simple down to earth “tell it like it is” sermon, sometimes I feel it is not taken well but I am to preach the truth not conduct a popularity contest. As for me, I need my toes stepped on once in a while; I welcome it. I personally feel that it’s ok. A steady diet of “toe stepping” is not good either but we love “spiritual mush.”

Spiritual mush is rooted in an easy faith; all the blessings but no sacrifice. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Let’s tell each other the truth. No spin doctors required. Let’s just do our jobs. No fluff, no excuses, no corporate gobbledygook no mushy psycho-babble.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:37, “Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” And in James 5:12 it says: “Above all, my brothers, do not swear--not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned.”


Friday, March 09, 2007

If chickens had teeth -- Ruth 2:10-12

When I was young, it seemed more summer storms came out of the northwest. We had a large grove of trees to the northwest which blocked our view of approaching summer storms in the prairie. I was home alone one summer day when a storm rolled in from the northwest and was upon me before I knew it.

Our job in the yard was to secure all the doors on all the barns and other buildings so the wind would not rip the doors off. I ran and ran making all the rounds to end up in the dairy barn, looking out a south window to see a hen with chicks trying to move towards the brooder house in the ever increasing wind. The old hen made a wise choice. She sat down in the middle of the yard, turned her butt into the wind, sat down spread out her wings, and gathered her chicks close beside her, put down her head and protected her little chicks from the vicious wind. As the storm grew in intensity, I found myself rooting for the old hen and her chicks. The wind buffeted her, she rocked and moved some but her claws must have been grabbing for all the Winfield Township dirt she could muster. If chickens had teeth, she was gritting them.

The storm ended; she still sat there with her chicks under her wings protected and when she was sure it was over, stood up, ruffled her feathers, checked that all her chicks were ok, and went about her business of being a mom to 7 little chicks.

Why did she do what she did? Because of instinct; yes, God at creation put that instinct in the chickens. I know it was instinct but she protected these little chicks because they were hers. Yes, because they were hers. She protected them not for recognition or any other benefit (she didn’t even know I was watching and 50 years later relating the story to you). She protected the chicks because they were HERS. I love that.

In the Book of Ruth, Ruth, a Moabite woman, comes back to Judah with her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi. Things had not gone well in Moab for Naomi and her daughter-in-law. Naomi lost her husband and two sons, and one daughter-in-law stayed in Moab. But her daughter-in-law Ruth stayed with Naomi and returned to Judah when they heard “there was food in the land.” Ruth goes to work gleaning in a barley field belonging to a man named Boaz, a relative of her dead father-in-law. Boaz watches out for her, making provision to help Ruth in numerous ways. He is a good man.

Ruth, the foreigner without a husband or children and little hope of a good future, responsible for a mother-in-law, is overcome with Boaz’s kindness and provision. In Ruth 2:10-12 it says: “At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, "Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me--a foreigner?" Boaz replied, "I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband--how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge."

In verse 12, Boaz in a sense blesses Ruth and closes by saying: “The God of Israel under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” Just like the old hen on our yard in a fierce summer storm provided refuge for her chicks at her expense and danger, she loved her chicks and was willing to sacrifice herself for their safety, God provides refuge and safety for us, not because of what we have done or because of our bloodline. He provides refuge because we are His; His creation, His child, His son and daughter of His own choosing. Boaz the man recognized Ruth faithfulness and allegiance to Naomi even when Ruth was not obligated to do that. Boaz pronounces a blessing in a sense upon Ruth because of her actions. Whether Boaz recognized Ruth’s good deeds or not made no difference to Ruth, she came to take refuge under the wings of the Almighty. Her good works were recognized but were not a requirement for her to take refuge.

Bottom line—it’s all a gift from the Almighty God—no works, no groveling required on our part; it’s grace, the undeserved gift of God. What did it cost the Father--the death and suffering of His one and only Son. Jesus came to earth, became an ovum, was born, lived a holy life, suffered, died, and rose again so we could take refuge under the wings of the Almighty God. A gift, grace, just because we are His. We ought to dance for joy.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Fifteen Second Kiss

About three weeks ago I was asked to speak at my niece’s wedding. One of the points I made was the importance of keeping up a close physical relationship. (In case you’re wondering, I’m not just talking about sex.)

In my mini-sermon, I challenged them to give each other a 15 second kiss on the lips every day. Time it, a 15 second kiss. Why? I believe we live in a busy fractured culture and couples begin to drift apart; deep down we all long for that human touch. If we practice our 15 second kisses, we keep up that human contact plus you cannot go to bed angry with anyone if you give them a 15 second kiss.

In Mark 8:22 it says: “and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.” Wow! “Some people,” not family, not friends, not fellow parishioners, just “some people” (These must be some special ‘some people’.). Who would bring a blind man, and beg Jesus? How long has it been since we got on our knees to beg Jesus to heal our Mom or Dad, our son or daughter, our family and friends? No, not heal them, just touch them. Touch them! Touch them! Just touch them, Jesus, and we have the faith you will heal them!

If you are blind physically or spiritually blind, have you lived your life in such a way that “some people” would bring you to Jesus to be touched or healed? How long has it been since you brought some people to Jesus to be touched or healed?

We all need to be touched. We all need to be loved. We all need to be healed…how long has it been?

I realize I am blessed to have a wife. What if I was alone? I have been alone in my life. I would have welcomed a smile, a touch on the arm, a hug, a pat on the back, a kind word. Brothers and sisters, in the proper way, let us demonstrate the touch of Jesus to a hurting, cold, distant, superficial world. I guess the old telephone ad was right—“Reach out and touch someone.” Touch the young, old, the rejected, and the indifferent and reach out and touch them with the Love of Christ.

Oh Lord, give me the courage to be “some people” who would bring the blind to you just to be touched. Give me faith to believe and persist. Come Lord Jesus; come touch my hurting blind world. Touch me; heal me. Amen.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Always having clothes

Have you ever thought about being naked? I do not mean being naked by choice but being naked because we have no clothes?

I was deep in the jungle in the Republic of the Philippines during my military days and we came across tribes of people who were totally naked. The old farm boy here was set back a few notches but I hadn’t ever known of anyone who was totally without clothes.

Isaiah talked about providing for the naked in Isaiah 58:6-7. "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

I did not grow up rich but I never lacked for warmth, water, food or clothes and never thought about being without clothes. What I took for granted as a boy, is the biggest dream to many of the children of the world today.

If I was naked in the middle of the prairie in the cold of February, my life would continue for only a few hours at best, yet everyday I take clothes for granted.

In Acts 17 it says in part, “He gives us life and breathe and everything else” –clothes included. I need to get on my knees and thank God for always having clothes.

Thank you, Lord. May I never take your providing, sovereign and gracious hand for granted. Thank you, Lord for the reminder.