Speaking Truth & Speaking it With Love

It’s been a busy spring at our home, so my blog has been a bit quiet (reflecting the HUGE truth that my home and family have NOT been quiet).  But I have been so moved by a story in the big bad world of reality, that I’ve come out of my little “mom hibernation” to share an inspirational story with you.

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Have you seen these guys?  If you have turned on the t.v. today, searched the web, snuck in a little facebook time, or even read the news, you probably couldn’t miss them.  Until late last night, I’d never heard of them.  Their public name is “The Benham Brothers”, David and Jason Benham.  They are twin brothers, who were getting ready to debut a new show on HGTV.  I am a huge HGTV watcher.  I’ve been tuning into pretty much everything they produce for 17 years!  I’m sure I would have loved their show… But apparently that won’t be happening.  It turns out that being real-estate/property flippers is pretty far down on the list of who they actually are.  The brothers are Christians, family men, Christian speakers……and somewhere down the line comes the property flipper/well-known guys on tv.   Back in 2012 one of the brothers led a prayer rally during the presidential elections.  He was appealing to Christians to stand for what was right in America.  Some of his remarks are now being spread, out-side of the context of the prayer rally, and it was offensive to some…so now fast-forward to early May 2014.  Their show has been cancelled.

But it’s not the cancellation of their show that’s on my heart this morning, it’s what they have done and said AFTER their show was cancelled.  I watched footage of their CNN interview, and let me tell you -I’M A FAN!  Talk about love-these guys exemplify it!  It would be hard to have the attitude they had-complete kindness for HGTV.  They said they have NO hard feelings for HGTV, no hard feelings toward anyone.  Kindness. Forgiveness. Love for their fellow man-it was ALL there!  Yes, they took their stands.  Yes, they preached the truth in the proper confines of a prayer meeting in 2012. Yes, they still stand for truth, but it is kindness and love that is spilling from them.  Wow!  This quote really hit me, “If our faith costs us a television show, then so be it”.  And that’s not all…they are going to keep their commitment to the 6 families that they had committed to help through their show.  Now remember, the show is cancelled, so it’s now their own money & time that they will be using to keep that commitment.

I’m so encouraged this morning by the honor, integrity, and strength to stand in love that has been exemplified by this story.  I hope to hear more from these two.  In fact, I’d love to be able to watch their show, but if not-I’ve been encouraged to stand in the love of Christ.  Christ laid down his life for the lost.  He could tell us, first hand, that the lost don’t always respond kindly, and that there is sometimes a high price to pay for standing.

I would encourage you to support the Benham Brothers by contacting HGTV.  You can do so on this link: http://www.hgtv.com/contact-us/package/index.html  But please, please, please do it in love, and with a kind heart & kind words.  Truth must always be accompanied by LOVE & love is patient, love is kind…it does not dishonor others…it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres… (ICor.13)

Here’s to hoping that your day is filled with Truth and Love!

Want to see more of these guys & their great message?  Go to this link & watch…

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Two Ministry Approaches-One Ministry Goal

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I can just envision Paul and Peter, if they were here today, ministering to their communities in very different ways.  I can just see Peter, all dressed in a suit with shiny shoes, leading some beautiful hymns, with a well orchestrated service where nothing is done out of order. No rules broken.  No traditions changed.  Sitting only in pews.  Singing only Hymns…yes, that’s how I see Peter.  Absolutely he would be reaching the lost!  Absolutely he would be preaching the truth, but Tradition only…PERIOD!

And then there’s Paul, probably in a pair of jeans, a little unshaven, maybe a tattoo or two hiding (or not) on his arm or chest. He would probably have a “rocking loud” worship band-worship that would go on and on. And rules  would.  be.  broken. I can just imaging Paul topping most of the new non-traditional Pastors, with incredible “out of the box” ideas to bring in the lost.  Very, very, very lost and broken people.  But once they were in, Paul would reach them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And REAL CHANGE would come forth…

Ok, so I’ve obviously taken a very large amount of “creative liberty” in summarizing these two men and their ministry, but take a look with me at Galatians 2…

Galatians chapter two paints a pretty interesting picture.  Paul, who had recently come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ was “on fire” to share the Gospel.  He had a tarnished past, he had a heart for the “pagans” who were blind to the things of God, and he had a fresh perspective of how to reach them.  Nothing could stop him-nothing that is, except for the established church leaders, James and Peter.  Now wait a minute!  James and Peter? These men were also aflame to share the Gospel!  These men also knew what it was to be persecuted for sharing God’s word, so why on earth would they be standing in Paul’s way?

Paul is clear in his stand, and he boldly stood up to them, “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face…”(2:11)  Paul was reaching the Gentiles, people who were not of the Jewish blood-line.  God had extended his gift of grace and mercy on ALL people, and Paul was diligently working to reach them with the gospel of Christ.  Romans 15:16 God called me…”to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”  Clearly, he did not just want to CONVERT them, but he wanted to CHANGE them with the power of the Holy Spirit.

But Paul came into deep criticism.  Why, you ask?  Well, Paul broke TRADITION. Circumcision,once required by the law, was now (thanks to Jesus sacrifice on the cross) only a tradition.  Paul called out the leaders for this legalism, and he began to bring in very broken people.  This was disturbing to the church establishment.  Paul accused Peter, in Galatians 2:12, of not wanting to be seen with the Gentiles and new converts.  Pretty harsh, but it’s definitely a reflection of Paul’s burning desire to reach those who were as broken and lost as he himself had once been.

So who was wrong?  Who was right?  Well, first we Have to admit that everyone involved in this interesting little “spat” loved God with all of their heart.  They were ALL intending to give God only their best.  They were ALL wanting to reach the lost.  Eventually, the established church would begin to feel comfortable walking in this new-found grace.  It would take a while.  And perhaps Paul was a little harsh with these men who had faithfully walked beside Jesus for so long.  Two persepectives-One goal.  It would take a while to see it that way, and yes, personal growth and understanding would eventually follow.  Paul was correct that they were cleansed by the blood of Jesus and not by their own actions of holding to what was, at this point, only a tradition.  All of these brave men, preached the Gospel with no thought for their own safety or personal gain.  History tells us that all of the men involved were eventually put to death for their faith.

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So here we are today-still so many controversies over worship styles, still so many controversies over church methodology, still so many controversies over evangelistic tactics…but only ONE GOAL.  So much can be learned from these two amazing men of God, Paul and Peter.  And if you think about it, they are worshiping together now, in one place!

ONE goal, ONE truth, ONE amazing GOD, -that’s pretty much all that matters!

A Land Where Accidents Don’t Exist/ Living in a Society Without Mercy

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Little Joe. A name I’ve grown familiar with, but whom I’ve never met-never could meet.  Joe is my father’s older brother, who never got the opportunity to be “older”.  A couple of months before my father was born, Joe was tragically killed, in what was undeniably an accident.  Now in their seventy’s, Joe’s living siblings still talk about him…reminisce…wonder “what if”…

This family was a hard-working farm family, who’s children learned to toil from sun-up to sun-down from the mature age of seven.  As an older teen was called away to help the father in the field, the little siblings were momentarily unattended.  That’s the moment that it happened-that regretful moment that cannot be gotten back. Joe wandered away and fell into a milk depository on the farm, and sadly his little life was lost-but not forgotten.

In recent years, Joe’s name has come up many times.  Each time that I hear it I am struck with a nagging feeling, and it has caused me to reflect on the society in which Joe died and the stark contrast to the society we live in today. Undeniably, Joe’s death was an accident. Period.  No one would ever suggest otherwise.  But similar events in recent times, have met with very different endings, because we now live in a society that cannot accept anything as an accident.  In fact, our society demands blood, punishment, an eye for an eye. The world we are now engaged in, refuses to look into a tragedy and extend mercy.  Mercy, it would seem, simply does not exist-or at least it’s rarely thought to be appropriate to administer it. But is an unmerciful approach correct, simply because it’s what we are becoming accustomed to in the land we now live?

Let’s look at a similar situation with incredibly different results.  I remember a dad charged with the death of his son, just a few short years ago, because of a tragic situation.  The dad, a minister, went to the church where he served, with his toddler son in the back-seat, strapped into his car-seat.  He arrived at the church, and in the habit of going to the church alone, he went into the church-completely forgetting his little boy.  Unfortunately, his little boy died a terrible death. It must have been an unimaginable pain for that family to bear. Apparently it wasn’t considered enough pain by the local prosecutor’s office, because soon that dad (who had no criminal history and was a wonderful husband and father by all accounts) was brought up on criminal charges. No mercy. No wrong unpunished. No death un-avenged. No such thing as accidents…immediately my mind went to little Joe and his family all those years ago. How different that innocent tragedy would have been had it happened today. Is it appropriate to force the letter of the law into a tragic situation that is not criminal in nature? I would humbly suggest it is not appropriate or even beneficial to the family or our society at large.

I can’t help but think of recent criminal cases. Because sometimes events occur that are not accidental in nature. Sometimes intentionally or unintentionally a law is broken, and pain is unloaded on someone who didn’t deserve to be hurt. When this type of pain occurs, we want justice!  Or do we? Is what we are truly after really something more like…revenge? Is it really justice that we are seeking? Or are we truly seeking blood, are we secretly feeding an inner hate? As Christians, it is important to look at what our inner motivation is, but also to explore the idea of mercy. Jesus administered mercy. Remember the woman at the well? Living in sin, clearly an adulterous woman with a very tangled web of immorality, this woman was forgiven by Jesus. His followers were fine with her being forgiven, but then Jesus did something unimaginable to them…he ACCEPTED her! Accepted her as a believer, accepted her as a follower, accepted her as a (gasp!) friend. And what about that scrawny little man hiding in a tree? That annoying, tax-collector Zaccheas. Jesus also forgave and be-friended him-even going to his home! And then there is the big one…DAVID, the man after God’s own heart. Wait! He was a murderer! He was an adulterer! He was an egotistical law breaker! But God had mercy on David. God forgave him, and inserted David into the blood line of his own son, Jesus! But is it realistic to accept mercy in modern, criminal cases? Is it appropriate to administer mercy or allow a convicted criminal to walk, having served less than the law would allow, or to welcome with open arms someone who previously has lived a criminal existence? Let’s look at some modern examples.

Chuck Colson, special counsel to Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal, was imprisoned in 1974, and served seven months in a federal prison. He came out of prison a changed man. He became a Christian, devoted his life to ministry and founded a prison ministry that is still in existence today. Though he has now gone to his heavenly home, his ministry to hundreds of thousands of Americans, incarcerated and free alike, show that a tainted past is not an effective means of measuring one’s ability to serve or make a difference in our society. Imagine if he had never been given a second chance.

Troy Hartman, a Pastor at a successful church in the mid-west, has impacted thousands of young lives. But several years earlier, Troy was a young college student, living a pretty non-committed existence, when he drove under the influence of alcohol, crashing his Ford Explorer and killing his best friend, Matthew Jones.  Just days after this tragedy, Matthew’s mother spoke to Troy and told him that she loved him and she forgave him!  Matthew’s family welcomed Troy at the funeral with opened arms. What a lovely picture of forgiveness!  But wait!  There’s more…she told him to forgive himself, and that God could bring good from the tragic death of her son.  To this day, the families remain in close, family-like contact.  THIS is what mercy looks like.  THIS is what forgiveness looks like.

A merciful response to life’s low-points is my challenge to you and to myself.  It’s so easy to pass judgement.  It’s so natural to want revenge, but God has shown us in His word the example of mercy.  Unmerited favor.  Undeserved kindness and forgiveness.  Little Joe’s death is my personal reminder that in the big picture of life, tragedy and mistakes are inevitable.  His legacy lives on, paving the way for a priceless lesson in extending mercy to our fellow man.

Photography by Lynda Magley
References:TroyHartman.com/ Wikipedia:Charles Colson