From the Archives: All Dirty Uniforms Welcome!

softball-340488_960_720Question:When ball games, work, or other activities in which our young people may participate require them to leave mid-game, mid-practice etc…in order to make it to the services of the church, is it a wrong thing for them to wear their uniforms to worship services or Bible classes?

Answer:

Are you kidding me? What better statement to the church, the world, the Lord and the devil can a young person make than the one he wears to that service! He says “I was involved in what many people consider to be the most important part of life: sports. But that’s not the most important thing to me.” She says “ I’ve had to make it clear to those on my team and to my coach that my participation in this activity is a distant second to my faithfulness to the assemblies of God’s people.” It is a statement that so many of our adults need to hear.

When our young people wear ball uniforms to worship, my husband stands from the pulpit and makes a very clear object lesson from the young people who sit there in that attire. He says something along these lines: “We are so blessed to have young people of faith who chose to be at the gospel meeting tonight. Look at these guys in their uniforms. They left the field at the bottom of the seventh inning. They don’t know whether their team has won or lost. But there is one victory they are determined to win and it is the most important one. We are privileged to have men in uniform in our midst. And it’s a blessing to get to clean up a little dirt if it falls from the cleats of these guys. I know you will tell them how proud you are of the choice they made tonight.”

I have, unfortunately, heard of those who have criticized these young people for wearing uniforms to services. How could any church member get his conscience’s consent to discourage a teen or child who has made such an extremely difficult decision by criticizing the wearing of the uniform? I would be afraid of the wrath of Diety who called a little child to him and said “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven…But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for Him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the sea.”

For every one of these children who show up in uniform there are generally several adults who made conscious choices to be elsewhere that Wednesday night or during that particular service of the meeting. Perhaps our time would be better spent addressing the decisions of those who are failing to seek first the kingdom (lovingly helping them arrange priorities), than addressing whether or not the kids who made courageous decisions to fly in the face of negative peer pressure are spic and span when the first song begins. May their souls always be clean. May their lives always be unspotted. But let all dirty uniforms be welcome!

Nickelodeon: “Let’s Make History!”

 

 

UnknownWhat television station is available to 94.7 % of households in America with at least one television set?  What station airs programming specifically for preschool children from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm daily? It’s Nickelodeon, of course, and now, Nickelodeon has something else to “boast” about. They’ve introduced for America’s children, their first animated “gay married” couple. 

According to LifeSite news (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/nickelodeon-makes-history-with-first-cartoon-same-sex-married-couple), Lincoln Loud, an 11-year old from “The Loud House” even says, before opening the door for a friend who’s been invited for a sleepover, “Time to make history!” He then opens the door to a little boy and his two daddies, who then go about their business of fussing over the little boy’s health and safety. (Never mind about his or your children’s emotional and moral safety, of course. We’re way past that in cartoon land.)  

The_loud_house

Following the lead of Disney  and Cartoon Network, who have already introduced gay married couples in children’s programming, Viacom owned Nickelodeon had already introduced a lesbian couple in online programming in the finale of “The Legend of Korra,” in 2014.

I can remember when moms used to be concerned about whether or not it was healthy for their children to watch Roadrunner blowing up Wiley Coyote all the time. I remember thinking “Those mothers need a nap.”

Well, I guess maybe so. But if we moms took a nap, then for sure, we needed to wake up a little bit sooner. Moms really do have something to worry about now. As Jeff Johnston, an analyst from Focus on the Family,  put it “…television shows, books, and movies with sexually-confusing messages … introduce children to falsehoods and immorality, and they create confusion and insecurity….Children are not equipped to handle these adult themes” (LifeSite News).

That’s an understatement. The damage is substantial and often permanent. Moms really can’t be too vigilant around children, especially preschoolers, and television. The toddler years are when they are forming their media habits and America’s eight-year-olds are now consuming eight hours per day of what’s mostly pop culture via the tv screen. It’s  no wonder we are suffering in huge ways from missing morals in America today.

I know. I know….”Television just reflects our ethics and morality…it doesn’t create them.”  Well,  that’s partly true, of course. Television both reflects and promotes the moral plunge of the populace. But two-year-olds are not morally depraved.  They are sponges soaking up the examples…through media and culture and, thankfully and primarily, through parents. So step up to the plate, moms. Take charge of the amount of time you let the world’s mentality influence your kids. And, just as importantly, take charge of the content of material your children are viewing through the magic window that’s above your fireplace or in your entertainment center. Time is short. Don’t let television be your babysitter. If you can’t control it, remove it (Matthew 5: 29,30). Let’s love our kids and grandkids enough to protect them, nurture them and point them to heaven.

(You can watch a preview of The Loud House sleepover episode here, but the preview ends just before the “history-making” door opens….http://www.nick.com/videos/clip/the-loud-house-109a-clip.html)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sister to Sister: Black and Blue, One More Time…

15855236526_f011e17a96_bSometimes I do feel like my soul is black and blue from the devil’s attacks. I know Satan is trying his best to intimidate the people of God today in America. We’ve come to a point in our nation where single shootings and violent attacks against innocents—many times, massive ones—are becoming commonplace. It’s often difficult to speak out against these attacks without being labeled as racist. There is an implied suppression of dialog, especially toward those who would like to voice opposition to rioting and violence, but are white. 

Last week I wrote an article about the Black Lives Matter movement that has drawn some criticism. You can find that article here: http://thecolleyhouse.org/sister-to-sister-black-lives-matter-theres-no-band-aid.Today I’d like to write about the topic one more time to be sure I leave no mistake about the message I want to convey. I know that the world does not revolve around what I think about this or any topic. The world does revolve around our God’s Will, so I want to take great pains to be sure I align myself and anything I say or write with that holy Will.  I want my world view to be a Christian one rather than a political one. I do not wish to “take sides”…except with God. For the wisdom to do this, I always pray. 

First, I want to be very clear in noting that brutality and unnecessary physical force committed by policemen against people of any color is always morally wrong. I know that, in our flawed system, it occurs and I’m deeply sorry for any case in which it has. Any officer who can will himself to abuse another person should face severe consequences at the hands of our legal system. Prejudgement by policemen of criminal activity or prejudging of policemen to be profilers or abusers is wrong.

But it is the Biblical response of the populace of nations that I want to notice. In the book of Exodus, the children of Israel were under a very extreme form of bondage to Pharaoh and Egypt. Their lives were made more and more difficult. I think it’s important to note that, while Pharaoh was afraid they were mighty enough to revolt, their response that was ultimately rewarded was crying out to the God who was able to deliver them (Exodus 2:23). At this point, they had no additional legal system through which they could work. I am aware that Moses, in defense of an assaulted brother, killed an Egyptian taskmaster. But I do not find approval of that killing or a call to public violence or rioting. The avenue through which God led them from bondage was not pretty, but it was clearly at His own hand rather than at the hand of violent people. 

Was Pharaoh wrong in his treatment of Israel? Was he accountable to God for his behavior?  Clearly. But the Lord was the One who provided the exodus from that cruelty and the destruction of Pharaoh.

In the book of I Samuel, we see King Saul, a jealous man of rage, abusing David at every turn. David could have used his growing army to commit violence against Saul. On several occasions, he clearly had the opportunity and certainly the injustice of the whole situation must have plagued his soul. We see lots of evidence of this in the Psalms he penned. But his words were these:

And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD (I Samuel 24:6).

And he said them multiple times on multiple occasions. Was Saul unjust, abusive, and brutal toward David? He surely was. But David reacted within the confines of the will of God even in a situation in which He was the object of Saul’s plot to murder.

Again, in the book of Esther, we see Anti-Semitism at it’s worst in a man named Haman. He wanted the Jews to be annihilated every bit as badly as Hitler ever did. God’s system, once again, was to work though peaceful petition and the system of law to resolve the situation. 

Was Haman unjust and abusive toward an innocent people? Yes. But the prayers of those people coupled with the bravery of Mordecai and Esther to work through the will of the current government was the way change was effected.

In Romans 13, we find the strong New Testament admonition for God’s people to respect the government under which they find themselves. Here it is:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. 

Now, there are some things about this passage that I do not fully understand. But there are at least a couple that are clear. 

  1. Governing authorities have been instituted by God. There is not one that derived its power from any other than God. 
  2. We are to obey them for two reasons: because we fear wrath if we do not and because our conscience demands it. 

Scholars debate as to whether parts of this passage apply to the government of Nero, the cruel and inhumane ruler of Rome at the time of the writing, because obviously as a persecutor of Christians, Nero was a terror to both good conduct and bad. While I cannot be positive about that (perhaps the apostle was giving a general command accompanied by a general principle about those in authority), there is no getting around the fact that Paul was instructing civil obedience even in circumstances where governments were not Christian-friendly…even in situations where governments did not get justice correct every time…even when there is persecution to be faced at the hands of that government. Of course, Paul was, at this time headed for some of that persecution. 

One more example. I know this one is different because of the purpose of the whole situation. But our Lord was brutalized by the “police” in Jerusalem during that night of the Passover and the following day. He made a statement to Pilate just after Pilate had flogged him and allowed his soldiers to put the thorns on his head and strike him in the face. Here is the amazing statement Jesus made when Pilate asked him if he knew that he (Pilate) had the power to release him or put him (Jesus) to death. Here is the reply of Jesus: “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” 

Was Pilate wrong to brutalize, flog, unjustly accuse and deliver Jesus to death? Of all the injustices ever committed, this was the most unjust. Yet, in the darkest hours of human history our Lord nailed down the source of the authority of government…even of a governor such as Pilate. 

Someone may object at this point: “But you know that God did, at times endorse revolt against wicked governments. Remember back in the book of judges when God specifically instructed his people to destroy the governments of Canaan, even killing the citizenry and plundering the cities?” Yes. But the key to understanding those situations is in the question itself. God specifically instructed. He did that with clarity in passages like Joshua 3:9-13 where He listed the nations to be overthrown and even gave the Israelites signs that He would be with them as they did this. He did this in I Samuel 15:1-3 with regard to Amalek. He gave precise and detailed instructions and punished King Saul when His orders were not fully followed.  He specifically instructed. He, the completely just God, gave the specifics. For our era, He has also specifically spoken about governments  and that instruction is in Romans 13.

Surely my heart goes out to those who have been unjustly accused or stricken…citizens and officers. The word is clear, though, about our respect for the government under which we live, whether or not that government is just.  Revolt, rioting, violence and anger  are not responses Christians can condone. Unbiased logic would lead one to believe that the support of the Black Lives Matter movement implicitly encourages those responses. 

Finally, Christians are the ones who are now on the brink of what may be a large scale persecution at the hands of a government that seems bound to force ministers to marry gay couples, bakeries to share in homosexual celebrations, and bed-and- breakfasts to knowingly provide rooms for the sin of homosexuality. Now is the time to stand in legal forums, to protest with your voices and votes, to continue to speak the Word of God in all of the arenas in which we have a voice.  But there may be a day when we are forced to suffer because we speak the truth about this subject. When that day comes, we will suffer, but we will not join the ranks of any who react with violence or harm to neighbors, community and/or law enforcement officials. The government will be on the wrong side of truth. It will be wicked. But it will still be the government.  

Mama’s K.I.S.S. #43–Cooking Times Four

Portrait of happy mother and her daughter cooking in the kitchen

As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 43 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

I’m sure you’ve thought of doing this with your kids, but it’s been a real benefit to ministry on several occasions for this family. Every time I make a casserole, a cobbler or a soup of any kind, I multiply all ingredient amounts by four, prepare the ingredients, and then spoon them out into 4-6 casserole dishes (depending on dish sizes), cover them well with heavy-duty foil, and freeze all of them except the one we are having for supper. I usually place the wrapped dishes in individual giant zippy bags to help guard them from freezer burn. I also label the bags with the name of the dish and the instructions for cooking or re-heating the dish. The casseroles and pies are almost always placed in the freezer before the baking, so you can just grab them from the freezer, thaw them and bake according to directions. Soups only need reheating. This is great math for upper-elementary kids, as they multiply the fractions of cups and teaspoons, and it’s great hospitality and benevolence planning for kids (especially daughters) of any age.

I know I don’t need to explain the benefits of this, but here goes. It’s cheaper to buy ingredients in bulk.  It greatly reduces cooking time because it only takes a few more minutes to make four casseroles than it takes to make one. When you do four meals at the time, you have one mess to clean up instead of four. 

But the biggest plus for me is being able to take a dish to a grieving family on the spur of the moment or to enjoy time with visiting family or friends instead of spending all my time cooking and cleaning the kitchen. It’s great to be able to have food on hand for Sunday dinners or fellowship meals. It’s great to be able to take a meal to someone who has just gotten home from the hospital or to someone who has a sick child. Best of all, your kids are watching and absorbing this active freezer ministry which just becomes a part of your family’s routine. It would be worth the price of my deep freezer many times over just for the consistency of hospitality and benevolence that it afforded our family. Of course we were still not even close to thorough or perfect as we took advantage of having a deep freezer. But still, it was/is a very helpful tool. 

Here are some dishes that work particularly well in the freezer. I’ve included the most recent recipe that I prepared and froze as well. It was very good! Thanks to Diana Shafer in Collierville, TN for sharing! It has already gone to a couple of octogenarians in their home in Tennessee and  to a visiting preacher-student family around our table.

These work well: 

Any kind of soup

Chili

Lasagne

Poppy seed chicken casseroles

Chicken, broccoli and rice casseroles

Most pasta dishes (especially if they are creamy)

Ground beef and vegetable casseroles

Dumpling dishes

Cobblers of any kind 

Dump cakes

Enchilada casseroles

Casseroles with crescent roll type crusts/toppings

Homemade Bread (Wrap well in a couple of layers of heavy duty foil or plastic wrap.)

(If a casserole calls for a cracker or potato chip or corn chip topping, add this after you remove it from the freezer.) 

                                                                                  Creamy Chicken

Ingredients:

4-8 chicken breasts or 1 chicken

1 pt. sour cream

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 8 oz. package Pepperidge Farm dressing mix (may use more)… (Also, I think I used a store brand and it was yum.)

1/4 c.milk

1 can cream of mushroom soup

Directions:

Cook chicken (boil or cook in microwave). Cool. Remove skin and cut into bite-size pieces. Line 9×13 dish with chicken. (But you can really use any size dishes. cc) Sprinkle with salt. Combine soups, sour cream and milk. Spread this over chicken.Prepare dressing mix according to directions on package. Margarine may be omitted if you do not like rich dressing. Use broth from chicken or chicken bouillon for liquid required in dressing mix. Spread dressing on top of soup mixture. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes. May be frozen before baking.  (This is easy and so very good!)

 

Sister to Sister: Black Lives Matter…There’s No Band-Aid

498484120_1280x720The irony of the Black Lives Matter movement lies in its consistent insistence to assign motives to policemen prior to any process of investigation. While it’s clearly wrong for a policeman to assume, without evidence, that a person of color is a criminal and to act on that assumption, it’s surely the same leap for people of color to assume that a policeman who is making a traffic stop is pulling a person over because he is black and not because he is violating a traffic ordinance.

A young black girl got into the car of a friend of mine recently. This friend has gone out of her way on multiple occasions to transport this young girl, whose family is unwilling or unable to provide transportation for her. The conversation, on this particular day, turned to law enforcement  officers. The young girl commented “I don’t like cops. They don’t like us. They just want to hurt my people, just because we’re black.”

Now the girl is just a young teen. She was, very likely, just spewing forth what she’d heard others say. Surely she didn’t realize, though, that she was saying it to the mother of a young man who puts on that uniform every morning and works diligently all day to protect the people of her city—to protect her. She didn’t know she was profiling. And there’s lot of profiling going on in the BLM movement.

The reason all human lives matter is because all souls matter for all of eternity. God is the soul-giver and He doesn’t make souls in colors or with bank accounts. When we come to understand that in each hoodie and in each uniform is a soul that will live in eternity in heaven or hell, we’re gaining ground toward peace; not because some aura of compassion comes over us when we attach a spiritual connotation to the people around us, but, rather, because when God is recognized as the Creator and Soul-giver, recognition of and respect for His inherent authority necessarily follows. His Word is the prescription for peace in our land. It both ordains and controls law enforcement agencies (Romans 13) and it instructs the citizenry in living with respect and deference to fellowmen. When we remove that Word from our society and make a mockery, on so many levels, of its precepts and authority, surely we should not be surprised when chaos ensues.

Are there thinking people who truly believe life’s better in America now that we’ve divorced ourselves from a national respect for the Word of God? Give me respect for the Word in our land any day and take me back to an era where children could safely ride their bikes all over their communities, where babies were safe in the wombs of their mothers, where fathers worked hard to provide for their families and mothers nurtured children in loving homes. Bring repentance to the hearts of those who have prejudice and malice, and a strong desire in the hearts of God’s people to bring souls to the Cross. The ground is level at the foot of the Cross. But the cross is not an invitation to a free-for-all. It’s for all, but it’s not free. The Cross is not a compromise with sin. It’s an ultimatum.

The men in blue are clearly a part of the Biblical  system of authority found in God’s Word. Christians in the first century church were called on to respect and obey civil authority even though their Roman government was oppressive and persecuted Christians. But when we estrange our government and our citizenry from the One who is at the top of the chain of command, all the links are weakened and governmental systems fail. The reason we can’t find the band-aid to put on the violence that’s erupting around our nation is because it’s really hard to find a band-aid when internal bleeding is quickly draining life away. Our nation, without any respect for truth and righteousness, is under cardiac arrest.

Sister to Sister: I’m all out of “Nice”.

 
nice-cup-of-tea-and-a-biscuits_M156zYu__LI was in a coffee shop the other day, trying to get some work done while waiting for my husband, when a group of thirty-something and forty-something women came in. They congregated and visited near my table. I wasn’t getting much work done, but they were loud, so I got a lot of eavesdropping done. I overheard one of them say this:
“So I’m just about done. I mean yesterday was the worst day at work and I was SO nice to customers all day. ‘How can I help you?’…’I’m so sorry you’re having difficulty.’…’Here, let me help you with that.’… I mean, by the time I got home, I was all out of ‘nice’. My husband started in about one of his little issues and I just said ‘You better just go to bed because I am fresh out of nice. My nice is just all used up.'”
I hope we never run out of nice, as God’s women. This woman’s perspective surely was not a holy one born of a meek and quiet spirit (I Peter 3:1-5).  Her spirit, rather, was one completely divorced from and opposite of kind and long-suffering toward her husband. She really had used up her nice in a context of earning a paycheck and, at the end of the long hard day, she had nothing left for the one who should be the most important person in her world.
I hope we are different as Christians. As God’s woman, I should see my home as my first responsibility; the place that gets the very best of me–not the leftovers. I want my husband to get the best of my nice–not merely because he could demand it, but simply because he’s my husband and I love him (Titus 2:3-5) and because my God has demanded that of me. Even should my husband be having a bad day or, as is the case with some sweet sisters I know who are married to non-believers, even if he’s having a bad life, my commitment is to God to give my husband my respect (Ephesians 5:33).
Where is your nice going when you really think about it?  Maybe you have enough nice to go around. But if you are using it up outside of your house and life with your husband and/or children is suffering as a result, priorities need to be rearranged and adjustments made. This woman at the coffee shop was truly very nice to her friends as she sipped her latte . She had time for them. One or two of them asked her questions and she responded with a smile. It made me wonder if she was going to use it all up again that day before she got home to the one that God has made to be her head (Ephesians 5:23), the one she is to be loving with phileo–friendship love (Titus 2:3-5).
 Surely the hearts of His daughters are refillable. Nice is a commodity that we restore over and over again when we continue to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness and goodness is the natural harvest of a life lived in Jesus (Galatians 5:23)…a life transformed by the Word and from  the world by a renewed mind (Romans 12:2). But if you constantly find yourself struggling to be nice where it consequentially matters most, then contemplate and eliminate, reflect and deflect, consider life carefully and change it prayerfully, trust and adjust. Get your nice on!
A woman can tear down her house with her own hands (Proverbs 14:1). Maybe some of us are building relationships at the coffee shop, the office and even in the church building, while destroying the most important one. If that’s you, let me encourage you to stop right where you are and vow to do whatever it takes to bring nice home to your most important earthly relationship.