My6inchchallenge's Blog

Tackling difficulties and overcoming the challenges life serves up – by Dona Halliday

Archive for religion

Don’t Judge Me!

That Sunday afternoon found me in the kitchen chopping veggies as I prepared Sunday lunch.
I was wearing my “intelligent design, interior shorts,” with matching green shoes and an orange floral top–exposing my shoulders, midriff and thighs.

The door opened and in walked my mom, Laura and Laura’s cousin. “I love your outfit,” she said, as she gave me a hug. I turned to her with mocked seriousness and said, “You know I did not wear THIS to church?” She laughed, then responded, “Even if you wore it to church, I would not judge you. I’d just figure if that’s how you want to do church, you should do you.”

What is it about that generation, I wonder, that make them so quick to state that they neither pass judgment or want to be judged. Are they correcting some flaw they saw in the generations before them? Is there possibly some confusion about values, right, wrong and the act of passing judgment? Or is there something that we all can learn from them?

Let’s explore…
Her name is Saffron. She’s deathly still as she sits in her car. There is no life in her eyes, except for the tears welling up in them. Until, as if suddenly jolted to life, she starts pounding on her steering wheel, crying, “My life HAS to change, I can’t live like this anymore…”

She turns on her car and starts driving, noticing for the first time how many churches she passes on her way home. In her 21 years she had never been to church except for weddings, and she’d never had a desire to go. …The HOPE Cathedral; New Beginnings; Changing A Generation; A Church For The Community; Whosoever Will Come; Lifesavers Ministries; The Love Center; Haven of Rest… She kept reading the signs, her heart yearning for what they all promised…

She pulled in the parking lot, slipped out of the car then with horror realized she had not thought about how she was dressed. She was still wearing her shorts and high heels from the previous night and shame gripped her once again as she debated returning to car and going home. She was so tired, tired of her life the way it was, tired of where her choices took her and so tired of feeling ashamed.

She slipped in the back door hoping to sit in the back pew, unnoticed. Instead, it took an eternity to get to the open seat in the middle of the church. As heads turned and eyes stared, she fought to hold back her tears. “Would someone just help me?” her heart cried?

…If this was “your church” how would they respond?

Would the Outreach Ministry present Christ to her? Would the intercessors be crying out on her behalf? Godly women who had been taught to be uncomfortable about their bodies and made to feel insecure in their relationships, would they view her suspiciously, wishing she had gone elsewhere? Would the older women, steeped with propriety be able to see pass her attire and discern her need?

Would the men offer her Christ or themselves? Would they be so comfortable with a life of continued sin to confidently offer her Christ AND themselves?

What would I do?

What would you do? Would our actions make it difficult for her to receive the Word?

Would Saffron find Christ at the Church or would she find selfishness and judgment?

A worthwhile exchange: releasing it all for God

Max Lucado tells a story of this six-year-old girl who had a string of pearls – they were fake, she loved them — she wore them everyday, everywhere with everything.

She was a daddy’s girl – she loved her daddy. He traveled often and was gone for days, but the first day of his return was a day of celebration.

This particular day they had played all afternoon after he returned from a week-long trip to the Orient. That evening as he tucked her in bed he asked, “Do you love me?”
“Yes daddy, I love you more than anything,” she answered.
“Anything?” he asked.
“Anything.”
He thought for a moment, “More than your pearls? Would you give them to me?
“Oh daddy, I couldn’t do that, you know I love my pearls!”
“I understand,” he said and kissed her goodnight.

That evening and the next day she thought about what he had asked. That night, offering her pearls to him, she said, “Take them daddy, I love you more.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” he answered as he reached for his briefcase. “I brought you a gift.”

She opened the small box, gasping with surprise, her dad had bought her genuine pearls…

The challenge is to offer things to God before I wrap my emotional arms around them – relationships, things I would love and stubbornly refuse to release once I become attached. I’ve never seen relationships that seemed perfect gone wrong so quickly once offered to God. Things exposed that I did not want to see, words that revealed hearts I thought I knew, and the whisper of God made crystal clear – would you willing exchange what you think you have/need even though you don’t know what I have in store?

I ask you the question that Max Lucado asked me — What pearls is God hoping you will release?

Song: Burn it all down by Lexi

Did the ship come in? Opportunities for kindness

Laura says I can be her husband’s daughter–that’s not always a compliment. Laura’s husband, Mr Fletcher, was a, “Did the ship come in?” sort of fellow. Simply put, get to the point.

Laura delights in details. For example, when Laura asks, “How was your day?” I have several 3 word-variations – “It went well, it was productive,…”  When I ask Laura the same question she likes to start at the beginning, “Let me see, what time did I get up… who she spoke to, where she went, and even details like, “no, before I did that I stopped in the kitchen to get water….”

“Laura, I’m not seeing the ship…?” That’s me. Like Mr. Fletcher, I’m a “Did the ship come in?” kind-a girl. Why would God bring people with such different personalities together except for opportunities of growth?

Laura comes equipped with something I don’t have. The patience to spend hours on the phone allowing others to unburden their hearts, and the kindness to listen to their whole story.

So, after reading chapter 3, Your Kindness Quotient, in Max Lucados’ book “A Love Worth Giving,” I found myself wondering, was Jesus more like Laura with her propensity to travel the long route through a story and less like me with my need for “context only?

Max Lucado sets up the chapter by interviewing three bible characters, one of whom was the woman with the issue of blood. She spoke of how kind Jesus was, He didn’t have to — heal her body, listen to her story, call her  daughter…

As I pondered the question asked in the book, “How kind are you?” I realize that for those of us who strive to be imitators of our Lord,  if we miss God’s heart we would miss the heart of the matter.

Jesus is kind – in actions, in words. To those who deserve it and to those who don’t. He has no ulterior motives in showing kindness, no selfish agenda… but to the outcast, the ill prepared, the thief, He took the opportunity to show kindness and instructs us to do same, when we feel like it and especially when we don’t.  Kindness –like breath, like water, like a touch, is life-giving and affirming.

What’s in a shout? The trouble with Jericho…

He was big, brash and braggadocios. When he spoke the atmosphere vibrated. As he stomped, the earth trembled. He had one goal in mind — intimidation — shout loud and long until fear paralyzed his enemies.

What’s in a shout? Does it possess some kind of power? For, had it been all about volume, this loud-mouth Goliath with his head now severed from his body would not be sprawled at David’s feet.

But shouting works, sometimes…? Doesn’t it? Remember Jericho? On the seventh day, marching for the seventh time — soldiers, priests, weapons, ram horns, and God Himself (represented by The Ark of the Covenant) — then a long blast, followed by a loud shout — fallen walls, and the city of Jericho was exposed.

I’m fascinated by this, but what grabs me most is the conversation, covenant and  commitment that Joshua had with Jehovah. (Joshua 1:1-5; 3:5-13; 5:15; 6:8-19)

Their Conversations provide great insight into their Relationship.
The Covenant reminds us as it did Joshua that God keeps His word. Joshua’s (& the Israelites’) response was obedience.
His Commitment to God was proven even before he became a leader. With reverential submission to God Joshua led the people.

I believe here lies the trouble with our modern-day Jerichoes. For, shouting has neither toppled them nor shown evidence that we are victors. Like Goliath, shouting and boasting in our own might, we may have misunderstood what powers our shout.

In obedience to God: For seven days the Israelites followed His strategy — they circled Jericho twelve times without uttering a word — the city was under siege. On the thirteen day Joshua commanded, “Shout; for Jehovah has given you the city…”

Don’t miss what comes next, for fallen walls did not make them victors. God had commanded that when He took care of the walls (they fell FLAT,) no matter where the soldiers were they should charge straight into the city and possess it.

It is said that shouting during warfare was meant to confuse the enemy — The thing that won Jericho and that will win our modern-day Jerichoes is an unshakable faith in God, belief in His ability to accomplish His word; and our part — bold acts of obedience.

When sin is in the camp, destruction may be near

It’s Saturday, a gorgeous day, the sky clear,  blue and beautiful. I’m loving the gentle breeze as I lay in the shade in the park — reading. I’m familiar with the story but have never seen it quite this way.

I turned the page thinking – the way that they are living will cause others to die…

Something had gone wrong. The had had everything they thought they needed to ensure their victory, but they had failed and thousands had died …

They were equipped with:
1. Two men of God accompanying them to battle
2. The ark of the covenant which represented the presence of God
3. A shout that was so mighty that it caused the earth to shake and terrified their enemies when they heard it.

Yet…
1. Their priests had died
2. 30 thousand more soldiers had been killed
3. and the ark of the covenant had been captured by the enemy

They did not know:
1. They could not manipulate God with religious words, acts or symbols
2. Sin was in their camp. The wicked ways of their priests were not overlooked by GodGod had already pronounced judgment, they were going to be destroyed
3. If God is not impressed by our shout, it does not matter who we try to frighten with it

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