The kids and I have been watching Orca this afternoon, sitting in front of the computer. Go to Orca Live and then click on the appropriate bandwidth. It’s 2:49 pm Pacific Standard Time here, and we’re seeing a whole group of them playing and jumping and communicating with each other.
Randi had a good point in the comments below about grace, and as I started to address it, it turned into another post. So, here goes: I definitely believe in grace! I know I’m not perfect, and I’m sure I have flaws that I don’t even recognize yet! My problem isn’t with people not being perfect, it’s with people who willingly walk in disobedience to the Word.
The particular people I’m talking about at our church have been lovingly and gently – and then lovingly and firmly – approached about these areas in their lives (several times). One person completely denies that his problem IS a problem. He thinks that being extremely controlling – to the point that people feel used – and being a work-aholic is his way of getting things done and so that’s okay – to the detriment of his marriage, primarily, and also to the hurt of the rest of the body.
The other person knows that his problem – irresponsibility and not doing what he’s been entrusted to do (and agreed to do for a salary) – is a flaw, but is unwilling to make any changes. He has looked at the elders who have addressed this issue with him and nodded, “Yes, I need to change that” but then continues to do what he wants and ignore the things he doesn’t want to do. I guess the biggest problem is that these are pastors! They are the ones who are making the decisions for the direction our church is going, and since they refuse to be teachable in these areas, our church is losing members. Especially people in leadership positions of ministry.
Most of the people who simply come on Sunday mornings and to various events without getting involved think everything is fine. Our pastor preaches a good sermon and is good at having lots of events and programs to fill each night of the week. But people who have been in leadership at our church for years and years and years are stepping down and refusing to be involved anymore because their concerns are continually ignored. Our church already weathered a split several years ago when a youth pastor took a large group of members to a different church in town, and it was very difficult. As I see ministry leaders drop like flies, I wonder how long this can continue until we go through something like that again.
I don’t know what the answer is. My husband and I have addressed the issue directly with our pastor and at membership meetings when various subjects have come up, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference. My husband just recently stepped down from the finance committee that he has been involved in for three years because of this.
So, back to the original question: how does grace fit into all of this? I believe that grace and truth are both needed for relationships and a church to be healthy. If you have truth without grace, you have judgmentalism and legalism and criticism. If you have grace without truth, you have believers who aren’t held accountable and lovingly discipled in sanctification. Everyone’s fine the way they are. Neither of these models express love. It’s not loving to expect people to be perfect and condemn them when they aren’t. It’s also not loving to leave people in their broken condition and not help them grow. There has to be a balance.
So, that’s what I think. And Kevin and I are left with a dilemma. What do we do in a situation like this? We love our church! We’ve been in this body since our oldest was a baby. The people have watched our kids grow, babysat them, and loved them. Kevin has been involved in finance committee and I lead worship and teach Bible study. When I had my c-sections, loving women brought us meals for weeks. My dearest friends and sisters in Christ are here. The women’s Bible study is my weekly haven. And yet our church is becoming a disfunctional, unhealthy place, where people are unhappy and their protests are swept under the rug. My heart is heavy.
Saturday, the 22nd, was National Read Aloud Day and I didn’t even know it! As a (late) way of honoring the occasion, here is a list of some of our favorite read-aloud books:
**Thank you so much to any of you who have purchased items through our Amazon affiliates account. You are helping to stock our family’s library with good books.**
“It is part of the misguided and whimsical condition of humankind that we so devoutly believe in the power of effort-at-the-moment-of-action alone to accomplish what we want and completely ignore the need for character change in our lives as a whole. The general human failing is to want what is right and important, but at the same time not to commit to the kind of life that will produce the action we know to be right and the condition we want to enjoy. This is the feature of human character that explains why the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We intend what is right, but we avoid the life that would make it reality….
So, ironically, in our efforts to avoid the necessary pains of discipline we miss the easy yoke and light burden. We then fall into the rending frustration of trying to do and be the Christian we know we ought to be without the necessary insight and strength that only discipline can provide….
No one ever says, “If you want to be a great athlete, go vault eighteen feet, run the mile under four minutes,” or “If you want to be a great musician, play the Beethoven violin concerto.” Instead, we advise the young artist or athlete to enter a certain kind of overall life, one involving deep associations with qualified people as well as rigorously scheduled time, diet, and activity for the mind and body….
So, if we wish to follow Christ — and to walk in the easy yoke with him — we will have to accept his overall way of life as our way of life….Then, and only then, we may reasonably expect to know by experience how easy is the yoke and how light the burden.”
Dallas Willard in The Spirit of Discipline
The issue of character has been a topic of discussion between Kevin and I lately. We have been bothered by common acceptance of the idea that as long as a person is “getting things done” or “their ministry is growing”, then we should overlook all else. Never mind that the person has a huge lack of maturity. Look the other way even thought it is evident that his marriage is completely disfunctional. Never mind that she doesn’t follow through with responsibilities entrusted to her. Ignore the fact that the youth aren’t being taught to dress modestly or to serve the church, because after all, they’re going on missions trips!
I’m bothered by the fact that some of the leadership in our church seems to be more interested in getting things accomplished and having lots of programs than in discipling people in personal holiness and integrity. What do we do in a situation like this? These people have been approached with the sinful attitudes and tendencies, and yet choose to ignore them. Why is it acceptable to use people when you need them to do something and then ignore them when they have concerns? Why is it all right to neglect the things you’re being entrusted with — and paid for?
Some people say, “Well, God seems to be using them in spite of their faults.” Yes, that’s true. But does that mean they can forget about them? Never develop their character any further?
Sorry that this is turning into a rant. I do NOT want to give the impression that I think I’m perfect and everyone else needs to change. I know I’m not. There are many things I need to change, and bit by bit, I’m changing them. It doesn’t bother me to have flawed people in positions of leadership. It bothers me to have flawed leaders who believe they are fine the way they are. “Look, our numbers are increasing! I’m doing great.”
Compared to what? What – or better yet, Who – are we supposed to be like? We’re never done. There are always more issues to work on. And that’s okay. It’s only a problem when we stop working on them, or worse, deny they exist.
(Very) quick update of our life lately:
~ My ankle is healing nicely. It only hurts when I twist it certain ways — or when my children step on my foot. Various parts of my foot are still a lovely shade of dark plum.
~ Resumed swimming this week. Only 20 minutes before my ankle starts to hurt from the kicking motion, but it’s a start. And I think the hot tub is doing wonders for my ankle – and my sanity.
~ School is in full swing. We take the month of December off, and I’m looking forward to it. All of the kids are doing well. Mommy is being much more patient and understanding with Jonathan, and it shows. Noah has finally realized that reading is fun, and is making his way through the first Magic Treehouse book. Natalie is reading all the time, and addicted to blogging. (Kind of like her mom.)
~ Weight Watchers week one: lost 6.4 pounds. Week two: gained 1 pound of the 6.4 back. Week three: we’ll see tonight. I’m sticking to the program, and my pants are loose and I almost lost my wedding ring, so I think it’s working.
~ Friday night went to my mom’s for a girl’s night and watched Monster-in-Law with Mom and one of my girlfriends. Dad came over here and watched the first two hours of Band of Brothers with Kevin. Men and women alike were pleased with their choice of entertainment.
~ Saturday took the kids swimming and then watched Clockstoppers with them. Good family movie. Reminded me of an older movie with Robert Hays and Pam Dawber called The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything. Anyone remember that one? Of course this one was a family movie, so it didn’t contain any shadowy nudity or sexual references.
~ Kevin and I watched Batman Begins this weekend. Best Batman movie since the original with Michael Keaton. I think I actually liked this one better. I’ve loved Christian Bale since Little Women. (Can you tell our family is addicted to movies?
~ Sunday we went to church, came home, ate lunch, and put the kids down for “rest time”. Kevin headed to our local community theater to videotape their current production. I enjoyed my alone time by crocheting frantically on a baby afghan (the shower is Saturday and I’m only half-way done) and screaming myself hoarse at the Seahawks/Cowboys game. The Seahawks pulled it out at the end, which made me happy. And I think Bill Parcell is the meanest man in football. I would not want to play on his team. Is football the only profession where your boss can get away with screaming obscenities at you when you make a mistake? I enjoyed watching the Cowboys quarterback, Drew Bledsoe. He was quarterback for the Washington State Cougars when I attended, and took our team to the Rose Bowl that year. He’s a great quarterback. Too bad he’s playing for Mr. Nasty.
~ I’m leaving in five minutes to go teach Bible Study. This afternoon we’ll do some laid-back school. Tonight I have my Weight Watchers meeting and then Dad and I are going to see Serenity. Kevin has kid duty, and I’m so grateful to him for the night off.
Well, that’s it, I think. Even though I haven’t been posting much, I have still been reading the blogs on my ever-increasing blogroll and enjoying them very much. I may not comment as often as I should, but thought I’d let you know that I’m still there, lurking away.
Josiah, my three-year-old is going through a developmental leap in which he’s remembering events more clearly. Up until this year, each Christmas has been a new event, completely unrelated to anything that had happened to him before. I think we’re past that phase. Two conversations I had with him this week:
Josiah: Mommy, remember when I was a little kid and we dropped the eggs in the cups and they turned different colors?
Mommy: Yes, we were dying Easter eggs.
Josiah: Let’s do that again. In the morning. Tomorrow.
Josiah: Mommy, remember when I was a little kid and we went camping and slept in the tent?
Mommy: Yes, that was just a couple months ago.
Josiah: Let’s do that again. That was fun.
I find it hilarious that this little three-year-old guy keeps referring to things as “when I was a little kid”.
This is how we spent two hours this afternoon:
Lest you think this post is mis-titled, we:
Great game. A few of the activities are a little old for my crew, but that’s okay, we just skipped those. The box says ages 8 and up – my oldest is 8, my youngest 3, and we all played together.
…do a quiz! I’m too busy and my mind’s too scattered to think of anything to write, so what you see is what you get.
These adorable woodland animals are known for their fluffy cotton tail and shy disposition. Bunnies reproduce like crazy and are found all over the world. As a bunny, you spend your days hopping through fields and chewing on grass and leaves. Your cuddly, gentle appearance is irresistable!
What are you?
“Mom, we don’t have to do school today, right? Can’t we just play with the new Math Wrap-ups and look through the microscope?”
“Um, yeah.” (Don’t tell them they’re learning, ‘kay?)
This arrived on Friday, along with some prepared slide sets with cool things like fish scales and compound insect eyes:
The kids (and Daddy) are in heaven.
When I started out as an actor, I thought, Here’s what I have to say; how shall I say it? On M*A*S*H, I began to understand that what I do in the scene is not as important as what happens between me and the other person. And listening is what lets it happen. It’s almost always the other person who causes you to say what you say next. You don’t have to figure out how you’ll say it. You have to listen so simply, so innocently, that the other person brings about a change in you that makes you say it and informs the way you say it.
The difference between listening and pretending to listen, I discovered, is enormous. One is fluid, the other is rigid. One is alive, the other is stuffed. Eventually, I found a radical way of thinking about listening. Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you. When I’m willing to let them change me, something happens between us that’s more interesting than a pair of dueling monologues. Like so much of what I learned in the theater, this turned out to be how life works, too.
From Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, and Other Things I’ve Learned by Alan Alda