Tuning Forks and Tears

I appreciate tears! I smile as I wonder, why did God give us tears?

I’m not being morbid here. I’m in a great mood. But earlier today something made me think about how awesome tears are!

Tears are fascinating to me. In some cultures, tears flow freely, in happiness or in sorrow. In others, they are a sign of weakness. Some say men shouldn’t cry. Others say real men cry. Women in public leadership are not allowed to cry. Men in public leadership – well, it depends on the situation as to how the public interprets their tears. Some children cry loudly, some stifle their cries. Supposedly, a good cry cleanses your body from toxins (one of my personal favorite tear-facts!)… There are thousands of other tear-related truths. You are probably thinking of a few right now. (Do share!).

At times, tears are a sign that our heart is resonating with God’s, like a tuning fork. For that moment, we feel Him so closely and sense so strongly what He is saying, that the only response is a deeply emotional one. These resonating tears can make a far greater impact than the most eloquent sermon.

Today I saw an example of that. I saw a church leader so forcefully impressed by God’s love that he struggled to speak, and when he did, tears were the punctuation marks to his words. They were resonating tears. He just wanted us to get it – that ministry is all about people, not numbers, not statistics.

It was comforting, because I know that when we as leaders are aware of our failings, Christ shows up strongly to do His thing.

Which is why, folks, I really appreciate tears!

Barack Obama and People of Faith

I asked the question about racism because no matter how much we talk about it, I don’t think we quite grasp the absolute evilness of it. As I said in the comments section yesterday, what is so wrong about racism is that is misrepresents God’s intentions to man. It alienates man from God by telling him that the color of his skin is a factor in determining just how much God values and loves him.

In South Africa, for decades the Dutch Reformed Church had as part of its doctrine (I apologize to theologians if this is a oversimplification, but it is in effect accurate) that black people were cursed because of the situation with Ham and Noah (you can study that later!). In other words, the religious leaders, who were supposed to represent God, told an entire continent that it was “less than” others.

Apartheid had a profound effect on my husband’s family, in ways that I can’t even get into here. Suffice it to say they suffered discrimination, had acres of rich wine land (and therefore legacy) confiscated because someone dared to cross the color barrier… And so much more.
On a personal level he had to get special permission to go to white university because the “coloured” university didn’t offer the engineering courses he wanted. The “coloured” schools were inferior, the students had to pay for their own supplies (unlike the white students in the white schools). He saw friends arrested and in fact himself protested through street theatre. His was the generation of the township riots. When he first came to the States, he had a physical reaction of fear even at a traffic stop.

And here is a salient point – he was classified “coloured” not “black.” Mixed race people were considered coloured. What the black people suffered was far more extreme than what he and his family suffered.

And this system was propped up by religious leaders.

Why do I tell the story (and partially and poorly at that)?

South Africa did not dissolve into civil war because of people of faith. What never made it into the news in the States or around the world, is that for years before the dissolution of apartheid, Christians gathered in ground-breaking multiracial prayer meetings to pray for peace. In Cape Town, believers gathered faithfully, week after week, at Table Mountain to pray for justice and peace in the nation. Churches opened in public places, like malls, so all races could attend. All that while, Nelson Mandela sat in prison on Robben Island, reading his Bible and growing in wisdom and strength. God changed his heart from violence to forgiveness. And his ability to forgive, based on the understanding of God’s unconditional love for him, led a nation to a peaceful transfer of power. It was the power of prayer and the testimony of people of faith that started the transformation.

It is up to people of faith to communicate to the world that God’s love is the same for every people group and race. Which brings me to Barack Obama. Whether or not you, or I, voted for him is irrelevant. As I watched him at the concert on Sunday yesterday, it became evident to me that he already is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. That is a figure of speech, true, but it is almost literally true, because it is the weight of the world’s expectations. His responsibility is massive, and to me unimaginable, as the leader of the free world. Make no mistake about it, there is still a “free world” and an oppressed world, yearning to be free.

To bring this full circle to my original point, today there is a statement being made – to a people that were told they were “less than” because of the color of their skin. Try, please, to lay ideology aside to hear my heart. There are little boys in Africa, much like my Peter many years ago, running in the streets barefoot, who will find a new power within to rise above their circumstances. It is no small thing to awaken a continent to its potential.

And we, people of faith, must rise to our potential. We must work night and day to make it clear that our God not only loves people of every skin color, but gives each and every one the opportunity to succeed or to fail, to lead or to follow. Our God is an equal opportunity God… let us be equal opportunity people.

What’s So Bad About Racism?

Peter and I got married only one year after the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, in his native South Africa, was repealed. Had we married one year earlier, he could have been arrested, on arrival at the airport, for marrying me.
We have thousands of words stored within us when it comes to racism.
Eventually we’ll share more with you. For now, we’ll begin with my three word answer to the question of what is so bad about racism:

Racism misrepresents God.

How do you think it misrepresents God? Does that statement make sense to you?

How would you word your reply to the title question?

Yesterday’s Prayer, No Expiration Date!

Are you struggling in any area? If you are a human, the answer is yes! Whether it is relationships, money, existential or otherwise, God wants to give us strength and provision to fight, because He promises to be with us in our battles!

Join me in this prayer from my jottings yesterday:
God is amazing. He gives us an extra push when we need it. We trust You, in the Name of Jesus, to be glorified through our situation. You have not brought us this far to leave us. We won’t be like the people of Israel in the Old Testament, that complained, precisely as He was delivering them – but while they were still in the desert, in transit to the promised land – “has He brought us this far to let us die?” We refuse. We know God, you are good, and You will give a strategy, and we will be able to sing songs of Your goodness. May others be encouraged to trust and obey You at all cost. You are a good Lord and You do not lead us falsely or refuse to honor our surrender. We are looking for breakthroughs today, for all of us, in the Name of Jesus. Stuff that has been “stuck” in the pipeline, in Jesus’ Name, has to be loosed today.

Let us pray together, that the provision and solution that satan has tried to hold up will be “unstuck” and all obstacles removed. It is for the advancement of the Kingdom, and God and the enemy know that. But God has delegated to us to battle in prayer. We stand and fight.

Talk to me, friends.

The List – Vote Now!

Here is what we have all been waiting for!

The List
  1. Book reviews (The Shack is the latest)
  2. Family misadventures
  3. Family life, child rearing, etc.
  4. Marriage (next month it’ll be 23 fresh adventurous years!)
  5. Thoughts on class distinctions/inequities
  6. Remembering Simplicity – what really matters?
  7. Hearing the voice of God
  8. Gems and devotionals from Scripture
  9. Our story – a love story started in Chile, carried on to Brazil, nurtured on a ship…
  10. My story. “I was born during the ash rain…”
  11. God’s faithfulness
  12. Ministry challenges – as a couple, as a family, as an individual
  13. Leadership development
  14. Opportunities to help around the world
  15. Race relations
  16. Social justice issues
  17. Women’s issues
  18. Heroes and people making an impact today
  19. Random pictures with simple lessons learned!

These are topics from my Journals. With so many, they might seem scattered – but there is always a common thread. In everything I write, I ask God to help me communicate my Personal Passion Statement (a work in progress). May my writing always encourage others to know and believe:

  • That every human life on this planet, no matter race or creed, is cherished by God.
  • That a life passionately committed to God has explosive potential.
  • That God expects us to use every gift He has given us, by living out these two truths, so we can help fix a broken world.

It’s up to you! Which top three topics from this List are you interested in? (Okay, more than three if you like… and you can add your own!).

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

Did you know that there is an annual Best Worst Writer contest? It is the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, and it is named for the man who wrote the now infamous words of my title… “It was a dark and stormy night.” It rewards the writer of the best worst opening paragraph ever.

For your enjoyment – this gem from Jim Gleeson, the 2007 Contest winner:
“Gerald began—but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them ‘permanently’ meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash—to pee.”

Personally, I think bad writing takes skill. I happen to be so skilled, that at times I unintentionally produce material which could, in fact, win me that coveted $250 in prize money!

But is that really what I want?! You are enlightened, and I need your help. I may have bad writing skills, but you have power. The power to save me from myself.

My dilemma: My Journal and I had a creative meeting this morning. My Journal was griping about the dozens of entries which have a capital B in the margin, representing a potential Blog entry. Truth be told, we had quite a row about it. (I hope you read that last sentence with a British accent, because I wrote it with a British accent).

An intervention being threatened, I promised my Journal I would get help. That is where you come in.

Tomorrow, I am going to publish a list of topics I can blog about this year. Then you will tell me what to do. Seriously. Tell me what interests you. Please don’t leave me hanging, as I reach out for help!

“I’m counting on you loyal readers,” she thought as she sat that Sunday afternoon in her somewhat cluttered office, placing the weight of decision-making squarely on the shoulders of casual blog surfers and lurkers, whilst her children happily hummed and played in the other room, the embodiment of all good, even as her lovingly devoted to football husband prepped for the lesson he would teach tonight. “Oh no!” she suddenly exclaimed, as the fact that it was time to start dinner flattened her creativity like a ton of bricks.

Supposing He Found Us?

[This was written by one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, in his book Miracles. It is deep, but simple!]

It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. ‘Look out!’ we cry, ‘it’s alive‘. And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back – I would have done so myself if I could – and proceed no further with Christianity. An ‘impersonal God’ – well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads – better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap – best of all.

But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite sped, the hunter, king, husband – that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘Man’s search for God!’) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?