The Battle Against Noise

“Silence allows man to place himself joyfully at God’s disposal. It enables him to overcome the arrogant attitude that would claim that God is at the disposal of his children.” (Sarah 121 [230])
The battle is ongoing and almost universal.
We live noisy lives. And most of us don’t know how to find quiet contemplation–or even why we should try.
We dwell with noise all around us–and more importantly without internal silence.
The kind of silence that lets us connect to God. Continue reading “The Battle Against Noise”

Changing Church

I am a former Catholic–one of the fallen away, to my Catholic friends. And I go to an evangelical church with some who are also former Catholics.
But today, many attend Catholic and Orthodox churches who once called evangelical churches home.
Many American Christians have switched from one Christian tradition to another. It’s important to look at why. It’s also important to consider our respective responses when someone leaves.
The recent conversion of Hank Hanegraaff from evangelicalism to Greek Orthodoxy provides a public glimpse of what is now an everyday occurrence in America.
The new congregation welcomes the newcomer with open arms. The former congregation may work to conceal the sting of loss. Sometimes, they don’t work so hard at it. Still, others try to take an objective look at the reasons some depart. Continue reading “Changing Church”

Fed Budget: A Window of Opportunity?

He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Rev. 3:6
There may be an open window of opportunity for Christians. But the window may not stay open for long.
President Trump’s proposed budget cuts funds to Meals on Wheels–a program that provides prepared, hot meals for the elderly or infirmed. A CBS News story reports that the program helps 2.4 million people.
The CBS story also says that Meals on Wheels received a surge of donations and volunteer inquiries when news of the proposed cuts hit the streets. Continue reading “Fed Budget: A Window of Opportunity?”

Feed Your Neighbors: Buy Local

Next Thursday is our community’s Trick-or-Treat night. On that day, my husband, with all the enthusiasm and anticipation of an eager child, will carve our pumpkin. Then, he’ll light its candle. And even before dark, our porch light will alert our neighborhood munchkins that our house is Trick-or-Treater-friendly.

In previous years, we had stockpiled candy from the grocery store, candy shipped in from far away factories. A few years ago, it occurred to us that in our very own community is a candy factory that employs many local people—our neighbors.

Almost daily, we would drive past the factory store as if it were not there. Then one day, I went inside. Yum!—fresh, locally produced extravagances that my neighbors sell to me. Here were the treats of my youth—forgotten in the busyness of adulthood.

As a child, I would traipse around our neighborhood with my older brother. One year, it snowed, and we were the only ones knocking on doors, braving the wind blowing giant flakes sideways. Such was our devotion to confections.

Many neighbors dropped the locally made candy into my pillowcase sack. But I grew up to be a mother who valued the convenience of one-stop shopping. I heeded the sirens of nationally marketed sweets.

Yet, as other local enterprises closed their doors, the candy factory stayed.

My neighbors worked there for decades before I was born.

You might not have a candy factory in your community, which—considering the way some of us feed our sweet tooths—should keep the large corporate candy makers from toppling any time soon. But there are other ways to shop locally and bless our neighbors.

It’s a simple matter to search out locally owned stores, restaurants, farm stands, bakeries, and other businesses. Buying locally allows us to share the resources that we might otherwise distribute far and wide. And there are other advantages besides helping to employ our neighbors.

Locally grown food is fresher, tastes better, and is healthier. And we don’t have to buy everything locally to make a significant difference in our community.

According to loyaltolocal.com, “If every family in the U.S. spent an extra $10 a month at a locally owned, independent business instead of a national chain, over $9.3 billion would be directly returned to our economy.”
It may be a bit more inconvenient to shop locally. It may even cost a bit more. But investing in a local business is ministry.

Feeding our neighbors as we feed ourselves is a creative way to love your neighbor.


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The Bathroom Wars: Part II

It remains to be seen whether the North Carolina Legislature has dug its state’s economic grave with the shovel of bigotry and hatred for transgender individuals–or whether they are seeking to avoid a trap others have stumbled into.
The controversial law prohibits transgender people from using the bathrooms designated for the gender they identify with. Tennessee, Arkansas, and North Carolina have laws that prevent local municipalities from passing nondiscrimination legislation. (The bill in North Carolina came in response to a local ordinance in the city of Charlotte.) Twenty other states and the District of Colombia have employment protection laws in place regarding “sexual orientation and gender identity.”
We as a nation are at odds with each other.
A social media conversation about my previous blog on the issue got me thinking about the issue in a new light. How enforceable are bathroom regulation laws? How enforceable is the law that gives transgender people access to the bathroom of their choice? How enforceable is the law intended to keep them out? Continue reading “The Bathroom Wars: Part II”

Walking the Dusty Path Together

Not all those who wonder are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither;
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken.
J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Christian writers through the ages have depicted the Christian life as a journey. From John Bunyan’s progressing pilgrim, to C.S. Lewis’s dimension jumping wardrobe travelers, to Tolkien’s Frodo Baggins and company, Christians are on the move. We are moving toward the Celestial City, Heaven. When we arrive, we are to be different from who we were when our journeys began.
Encountering Christ changes us. And this change is a process that lasts our whole lives through. One cannot follow Christ and stand still. To do so means we remain steeped in the mud of our sin. We are not committed to the journey.
To come out of the mud, we need the encouragement of other Christians. They need encouragement from us. We come from the mud to walk in the dust. Christ washes our feet. And along the way, we come to resemble Him.
This great adventure is Christianity. It isn’t always fun or exciting. Sometimes it’s tedious, even heart wrenching. That’s why we need each other. Continue reading “Walking the Dusty Path Together”

Iron Sharpens Iron in Freedom and Respect

In my first year of teaching, I sat at my desk during a free period as the volume rose in a nearby classroom. Passion rather than anger fueled the exchange, which I believe was about baptism and when it should happen. The teacher was Anglican, the class from a variety of Christian denominations.
The conversation energized everyone involved, each one’s ideas heard and valued. As far as I could tell, no one walked away wounded.
Iron was sharpening iron. The Church arguing within itself but loving itself too. That Christian school represented 33 different churches. Children were becoming adults as they learned to debate their faith respectfully.
Freedom and respect happened that day. And I got to watch them unfold. The teacher’s goal wasn’t to protect the students from the emotional upset of having their doctrine challenged. And students had no fear of retribution for challenging the teacher’s way of thinking.
The time is coming when the Church may be the last vestige for freedom of thought in America.
Continue reading “Iron Sharpens Iron in Freedom and Respect”