WHAT TO SAY WEDNESDAY – TRY SOME KINDNESS

Some of you who read my other blog might remember this entry – I was printing off my posts tonight and came across it and thought it would be a good “what to say” entry.

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I used to answer the phone calls, letters and e-mails that pour into headquarters. Now, someone else does it and I don’t see them – unless they’re super critical – then they end up on my desk for me to answer.

Let me just say, that we read and respect all correspondence and we do make changes based on feedback. Just recently we received a very nice letter from a pastor questioning our use of a verse. We checked it. The pastor was right and we changed it. (The concept was correct, we just didn’t use the best verse to back it up.)

But some letters? They tell us how they’ve been leaders for years, but such and such a program or book or curriculum isn’t worth much except as liners for birdcages. (Hello? And you’re writing to tell us how important it is for you to share the gospel with kids and yet, you make statements like that? Could you not simply say, “I would’ve use another verse to illustrate that point?”)

Well, being that I had two e-mails make their way to my desk this week and both of them were complaints about things the e-mail writers hadn’t even SEEN yet, this has been on my mind. Could you not at least wait to see what you were writing about?

(I especially liked the one that said our founder would roll over in his grave if he knew what we were doing.  I responded that I had just talked to said founder and he was very excited about what we were doing – no, he’s not in his grave. He’s very much alive and working at HQ.)

But I always wonder about Christians who are so cruel to each other? Where do they get off being so unkind? Did they miss the message on Ephesians 4:32? Did they miss those Sunday school lessons about building each other up? Did they skip out the Sunday the focus was on treating each other with love?

I had already been mulling these thoughts over in my brain this week, when I received my Writer’s Digest (pg. 12-13 Inkwell column)in the mail.  I saw an editorial about this very things (from a secular point of view). The author talked about being part of a writer’s club and how those writers said horribly mean things to each other instead of simply saying, “you need more descriptive words.”

Then he made some suggestions. Things like being positive, or not saying anything at all. But then he ended by saying that  if you absolutely can’t think of even a tiny little compliment to give the other person – you need to cover yourself with an unrelated nice gesture – like giving the person a kitten.

Good point. Sometimes I think Christians would do well to give each other a lot more kittens.

(Well, second thought, let’s make that chocolate.)

THINGS THEY DON’T TELL YOU IN SEMINARY

dsc_0312One sunny, Spring Sunday, a lady walked in at the end of the service and asked to use the church ladies room. She was obviously homeless since she was carrying several bags of miscellaneous clothes, etc. So, someone graciously showed her the way to the restroom.

People left – but there were still several people hanging around. After church that day, the board members and their wives were taking Ken and I out for dinner. (I forget just why.) One of the deacons and his wife were driving us to the restaurant and so were waiting for Ken to get done shaking hands.

The deacon’s wife (from here on out to be known as DW) worked downtown and recognized the homeless lady as someone whose home was literally the downtown streets – she truly wasn’t interested in finding a place to live. The DW had talked with her several times in the past when she wandered into the store where DW worked.

So, after about twenty minutes, the DW went to the ladies room and told the HL she would have to leave in a short while, since they were locking the church door. The lady said, “ok,” and the DW left and reported to us that HL was washing something in the sink. We could hear her singing some unintelligible tune.

Finally, DW went back down and told HL she would have to leave because the doors would be locked.

“Oh,” said HL, “that’s ok. You can leave and I’ll lock them when I go out.”

Ummm …. right!

The DW told her that we couldn’t do that. Someone was responsible for staying until everyone was out of the church and she would have to go.

Finally, HL agreed and started packing everything up, but instead of leaving the ladies room, she went into a stall.

Now, just imagine this scene. Most of the people had left – about eight or ten  were still standing around the lobby. Everything is fairly quiet – as people are chatting.

Suddenly a loud yell pierces the air, “Get the pastor! I’ve got diarrhea!”

“Don’t think so!” Ken said. I think it was the only time in all his years of ministry I saw him run FROM a problem. 

Well, DW went back down and the lady was actually fine and DW was able to get her out the door.

But you can imagine the discussion at the restaurant. No one who was at the church that day EVER let Ken forget it.

ABSOLUTELY TRUE STORY. I have witnesses!

MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR – JUST A THOUGHT

dsc_0466Last week our Bible Study leader was talking about the election …

One candidate

*Maturity that comes with age.

*Experienced

*White haired

*War hero

*Not the people’s favorite

 

Second candidate —

*Young

*Inexperienced

*Mixed-race

*People’s favorite

 

 

 Ecclesiastes 1:9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; 
       there is nothing new under the sun.


Oh, wait – who did you THINK I was talking about?

I was talking about King Saul and David.

(Obviously, there is a lot that isn’t the same – but I thought it was an interesting comparison.)

 

Tomorrow – the person who asked for TOO MUCH help or what they don’t tell you in seminary.

FUN FRIDAY – CLEAN THE PLACE, CLEAN YOUR PLATE

This week I heard of a great idea for a potluck dinner. Have a “Clean the Place, Clean your Plate” night.

Participants bring the usual potluck dinner fare – but also cleaning supplies. Before sitting down to supper have a two or three hour work time in which people are assigned to different rooms of your church for a thorough cleaning.

Then at a pre-planned, specified time – the cleaning-the-place stops and cleaning your plate begins.

Assign a few people to work in the kitchen where they can set things up for the dinner. To make it extra fun, you could buy a few new colorful, plastic buckets for to use serving plates for chips, cookies, etc.

Fun and service all in one evening.

WHAT TO SAY WEDNESDAY – ON THURSDAY

dsc_0297 Sometimes, in your role of pw, you may face someone begging money from you – with no one else around. Or, someone who wants to get you alone to talk with you – in other words, odd situations. 

As my dad always told me when he would allow my friends and I to go down to Chicago by ourselves – always act confident and as if you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.

I remember a couple times I had to think quick on my feet.

But one time in particular, relates well to this subject. When Ken was my dad’s associate, we lived in the house right next to the church. A street dead-ended at the church driveway and we could see several blocks straight down that street from our front window.

Anyhow, one afternoon I was at home with the kids when a lady knocked at the front door. Oh, she had a story to tell. She had no money, no car, no food, no nothing and she had to get down to the city. Could I give her $50.00?

I told her I was sorry, but I didn’t have any cash on me (which was the absolute truth, because Ken was at the bank at that precise moment.)

She was an expert at producing guilt. If I didn’t give her money she’d have to walk to Chicago and experience many other hardships, but she emphasized that “no car” fact over and over again.

Finally, I said, “I’m sorry. I cannot give you money which I don’t have,” and I closed the door.

And then I watched her walk down the street, get in a late model car and drive away.

Sadly, that’s the way it often happens.

If you’re caught alone, be firm and confident (even if you’re shaking in your shoes). Direct them to someone who can help. For instance, if you know there are several people at the church – you could direct them there or to a local food back, etc.  

Think through what you would say so you’re ready when it happens. Talk with your husband about how the two of you will handle uncomfortable situations.

BUT I REALLY NEED MONEY …

I didn’t add any flower pictures today, because somehow they didn’t seem to fit. But as Allison stated in her comment on my last “money” post, sometimes these people are actually dangerous.

One Wednesday night, right after Ken had announced that he had cancer (and everyone at church was already kind of on edge), a man came in at the end of the service and wanted money and in this case, it was obviously for drugs. I was upstairs with the Sparks, so I don’t know what the beginning of the situation was all about – but by the time I got down there – the man was sitting in the front row of church yelling at Ken (who was extremely sick and in pain).

Lots of other people were around, but this man was angry. I (being at crying point most of the time and wanting to protect my dying husband) immediately started sobbing and one of the men from the church gave me a hug and gently led me away, allowing me to cry.

They could not get rid of the man. If I remember, a couple of the men took him to an office to make a phone call or something.  I just know it was a bad situation and everyone was a little frightened. Finally, I think we gave him $20.00 or so, but he stormed out and got in his car and then headed right for the church doors which are all glass. Everyone jumped out of the way, the guy missed the door, ran into the bushes, backed out and squealed away. 

The good thing about Central is the men watched each other’s backs. (And our other churches, too, but at Central we seemed to get more of the come-in-at-the-end-of-church-and-beg-for-money-kind. At Racine, it was more people walking along the road on a weekday. In Michigan, we were so far out in the country … you wouldn’t be just walking by to anywhere.) But at Central, the men were always conscious of people who walked in the door giving off an air of something-not-being-right. They wouldn’t leave Ken alone with the person. They would stick around. That’s a good policy for any church and one, if your church doesn’t already have (at least on an informal basis) you might want to talk about.

Maybe by the end of the week, I’ll get up the courage to relate one of the funniest, they-don’t-teach-you-this-in-seminary stories I have.

PASTORS AND POLITICS

dsc_0265 I’m taking a break from people asking for money and answering a comment that came in on the blog – What did we do about politics?

Ken didn’t talk about politics from the pulpit (although he did encourage people to vote), but he would talk about politics in private conversation if the choice was clear, but he did not want to argue over who was voting for whom. The Bible, not votes, is the point.

Many times we knew local people (some personal friends) in politics and in that case, he would openly support them.

However, I do remember a time quite awhile ago, when a family with opposing political views attended our church. (Opposing to the majority of the people at church, that is.)  Some of the church members became agitated and upset because this family had different points of view. Ken, however, enjoyed talking to them and having a friendly debate about the issues. He agreed to disagree. He saw no reason not to be good friends with them – and it bothered him more that the other people got angry.

So, in summary, our policy was to sometimes (not all the time) vocally support local politicians we knew – but never to the point where it caused an argument or antagonism with someone who didn’t agree. We didn’t want politics to stand in the way of ministry.

With that – go vote.

MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR – THE FIREWORKS

Last night I was doing some last-night chores, when suddenly I heard a huge bang!

The house falling down?

A gunshot?

Fireworks?

Immediately I knew – this must be Hindu New Year and we were about to have out right-in-the-neighborhood fire work celebration. So, I laid down on the bed and watched out my window – dozens and dozens and dozens of fireworks. (Not sure how much money that took, but I’m guessing it’s a lot of donations to a lot of idols.)

Sad. Idols that don’t talk, think, breathe or do anything – yet people give millions of dollars to them, thinking the donations will bring them eternal happiness. .

We live in a confused world. We live in a world that think anything goes (including religion) as long as you’re sincere. We live in a world that says “Yes, the Bible is good, but interpretation is up to you. Doesn’t matter what it really says, what matters is YOUR experience.”

Paul wrote in his letter to Timothy (2:13)What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.

A pattern of sound teaching.

Our world doesn’t follow a pattern, but rather a cacophony of whatever feels good, looks good and sounds good.

As we minister with the noise of “fireworks” all around us, let’s remember to keep our focus on sound teaching.