Can We Fix The Restroom Issue The Easy Way?

3776153201_99f7624a19_bAs you know there’s lots of discussion these days about the whole use of various restrooms by transgendered people. Some companies are for it and others are against it leading to outrage and boycotts. And while many of you who read my blog would like me to address the transgendered issue directly that’s not the point of this post.

Instead, I have a rather easy solution for now to a complex problem. And sometimes I wonder if we don’t miss the easy solutions about a lot of things in life because we spend so much time arguing our point of view about them.

So here’s my solution. Feel free to tell me what you think.

Just ask companies and public, secular institutions to have at least one single-use restroom facility that either men or women can use. But it’s only to be used by one person (or set of family members – i.e. parent and child) at a time. That way there’s no issue of who else might be using it for whatever other possibly misguided purposes. No one needs to fear that anyone is taking advantage of the situation.

There’s no reason to make everyone else uncomfortable or change their lifestyle because of the needs, wishes or wants of a minority. If there were then every bathroom be 100% handicap accessible and short for short people and children. I could give lots of other implications but  hopefully you get my point.

So can we quit hyperventilating about a situation that will remain complicated and even divisive and yet has a better way to handle it than we’re currently doing?  I hope so. I think so.

 

 

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Learning From A Life Well Lived

Aunt Shirley

We’re attending my ninety-two year old aunt’s funeral this weekend. She and my mom were  the only siblings left of seven so now it’s just mom. And though they have lived apart by 1100 miles the last two years, they spoke on the phone almost every day. This will be a hard couple of days not to mention the months of grieving to follow.

But if there is a bright side to all this it would be the legacy Aunt Shirley left for the rest of us who remain. Of course, no one is perfect even though we tend to canonize so many after they die and forget any shortcomings.

Aunt Shirley had her faults, I’m sure, many of which I probably never saw.

But there are a couple of special things that I hope we’ll all keep at the forefront of our celebrations when we remember and speak about her in the future.

First, she taught children’s Sunday School for most of her adult life. And no one worked harder or was more creative in how they did it. She never really caught hold of the computer age but she could still find the most interesting and memorable ways to teach children the truths of Scripture.

In fact, I’ve received Facebook posts from people who said they first heard about Jesus in a way they could understand from being in her class.

Second, she truly believed that God was good and in charge no matter how hard the circumstances. She had some challenges in life and I’m sure had normal responses to many of them. But you could always count on Aunt Shirley to remind herself and us that God was enough, that he would meet our need and take care of us. She actually believed her faith and trusted in her Jesus.

Third, she was loyal. While she had challenges with her family like most people (most of which I don’t know about), she still loved her family, cared for them, bailed them out of hard situations when appropriate and didn’t give up up on them. After several of her siblings passed away early in their lives, she took on the role of organizer, sage and communications liaison among other things.

She was always interesting to talk to, no matter the topic.

I know that her legacy will remain in the lives of many young children now turned adult, family she cared for and people who she intersected with that most of us will never know about. She will be missed but my hunch is that Heaven is enjoying her now. And it’s likely if possible she’ll be a part of the welcoming committee for the rest of us someday. See you later Aunt Shirley.

In The Valleys Move From Why To How

grief_lossOne of my aunts died this week. She was 92 but will be dearly missed. A good friend starts chemo treatments today for serious cancer treatments. This past year my wife’s brother Paul died at age sixty. We’re in the middle of a move to another city after circumstances changed my role as a pastor and a move across country from a comfortable, secure several years to less than two.

Another friend is facing a major marriage challenge . . . the list among family, friends and people I work with in counseling goes on and on. Many of these situations don’t have positive outcomes, at least in the human sense.

And the usual question that comes up, especially when the difficulties first rear their ugly head, is WHY? And that’s a reasonable pondering. It’s normal to ask and naturally we would love to understand how any of these things could happen and was there logical cause?

We can also get mad at God and demand that He answer. Doesn’t He know everything?

The problem is that in most cases we won’t get an adequate explanation of the WHY. Sometimes we wouldn’t understand anyway. And if we did get one, would it help? The losses we encounter would likely not be reversed anyway.

While it will usually take time, progress, healing and the ability to move forward will only be enjoyed when we do less asking about WHY and focus more on WHAT and HOW. When we can begin to take our first steps at determining what we will do next and how we will do it, even if it’s just baby-step-like movement, we’re on our way to making it over our mountain.

So if you’re facing something big, a situation you can’t understand and the WHY answers aren’t coming, ask God and others to help you begin to focus on something that you will do next, a first step, discussing and thinking about the way you’ll do it. Your change in perspective won’t take the problem or challenge away, but you’ll be less plagued by a recurring WHY that somehow will never seem to leave you.

There is a better way.

 

Lessons Learned In Moving

we-are-movingWe packed up our house yesterday. Everything we own is pretty much expertly organized in about 18 feet of truck space. It will stay there for the next week or so while being transported about four hours to our new city, Indianapolis, and stored until we close.

Moving for most people brings up myriad emotions, some good, some melancholy. If you lived somewhere for decades or had other emotional attachments to your house, town, friends, etc. a move can be especially hard. My mom lived in her place for fifty-eight years before we were able to talk her into living in a safer, healthier place in Florida near my sister.

Others are glad to move. A move means they can leave some tough circumstances, difficult people or haunting memories. A new location feels optimistic and like a second chance.

Our move has very mixed emotions. We only lived in our home less than two years. That means that we developed a few special friendships that we’ll miss having for an extended time. The area had some nice amenities that we’ll say goodbye to and there were some ministry blessings that we’ll miss being a part of in the future.

However, there are some benefits to be gained and lessons to be learned every time any of us need to change locations.

One, there is something inherently good just in the word moving. It implies that we are not standing still, not stuck, perhaps trying something new and different. Yes, some moves are not the most desirable choice, but often a move will introduce us to new opportunities, friends, challenges and growth. Every move can have positive outcomes if we’ll look for them and let God show us how he can use and develop us in our new home, job, neighborhood or church.

Second, moving reminds us how blessed we are. I realize that we have lots less stuff than many people. Some would require a full semi truck for all their things. But on the other side of the coin, I was shocked in some ways at how much we still have. I think of the refugees who flee war, a country, a storm and go to live somewhere else with the clothes on their back or in a small sack. That’s it. They start over and try to survive each day. And yet most of us in America are blessed with so much more.

Third, moving is a clarion call to not put too much value in our stuff. While our home may contain many special memories, our city or town recall in us wonderful moments of happiness and tradition, the value is not ultimately in the location or residence. There is nothing really sacred in those. The real sanctity was and is in the relationships we develop, the love we have for our family no matter where we live and the future memories and legacy that will be left along the way.

So, yes, we’re moving. And while we’ll leave a location we enjoyed for a time we’re not departing from the God who has led us every step of the way or the relationships that we’ve embraced or the memories that no move can ever steal from us.

We’re moving. And that means we’re not paralyzed. We’re still very much alive.

The Verse That Needs To Be Behind Every Prayer

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I am pretty sure that anyone who has ever prayed has wondered one or more of several things: Does it matter if I pray? If I do pray will I get what I pray for? Why don’t I sometimes get what I ask?  Should I do anything beyond praying?

And frankly there has in my mind been at best much misguided thinking and teaching in quite opposite directions regarding those questions. In addition, there are many tough questions like these that the Bible does not seem to address.

But instead of suggesting that I have the final answers or some new concept never before seen on prayer, I want to merely suggest a verse that provides some important insight on at least how to pray and act at the same time.

It’s from the book of Nehemiah. Let me briefly set the scene. Nehemiah is passionate about and committed to rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem follow Israel’s seventy year captivity in Babylon. Unfortunately, he receives quite a bit of resistance from people with very long names (read Nehemiah for the details). And at one point Nehemiah literally fears for the safety of himself and those working with him.

So in chapter four, verse nine, we read his response, a part of Holy Scripture that every believer should add to their understanding of how to pray: But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. They prayed and did the smart thing.

I’m convinced that God still expects us to do the same today. Pray, of course, but find the very best doctor or surgeon. Pray and go after the best pastor you can find for your leadership opening. Pray and spend your money as wisely as you can. Pray and put locks on your doors.

Too often however we choose the extreme. We either pray, claim, demand or whatever that God do all the work and come through for us or think we can really handle things by ourselves. As a result we don’t do anything or can forget or dismiss the fact that God still does amazing things beyond our understanding.

Nehemiah 4:9 suggests that we do both. Pray like crazy and set up a guard whatever that might mean. God will still show up and do whatever needs to be done on his terms and in his ways, even if that includes using our part in the solution.

 

Eight Signs You May Be A Christian Legalist

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Legalism: Strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit. The judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.

Most of us would rather not be termed a legalist as described above and in other similar dictionary definitions. Legalism would of course imply that we’re rigid, don’t have an open mind and are judgmental about others who don’t see things quite the way we do.

However, I wonder if we can’t all slip into some version of unintentional legalism and not be aware of it, all with the best of intentions and motives. In fact, we would likely argue with anyone who would suggest we are of the legalist ilk.

So let me throw out a few actions and attitudes that seem to be showing up on a regular basis these days. See if any might be impacting your thinking and experience and perhaps consider loosening up a little for the sake of Christ and His kingdom.

We may be a legalist if:

  1. We think God answers prayer the same way for others as he does for us or vice versa.
  2. We tend to criticize other believers (churches) who worship or do church in general differently from our way.
  3. We focus on what God has done in our lives as better than what He does for others.
  4. We regularly wish that other Christians acted more like they did in the old days.
  5. We love innovation and technology in every part of life except the church.
  6. We hold one or two teachers or pastors as the ultimate authorities on biblical truth and practice.
  7. We think God has given us special access to Him beyond what other believers have.
  8. We tend to claim or demand answers or blessings from God that only He has the right to offer.

Yes, there are absolute, unchanging truths that God has established and underscored in the Bible. But we also have a creative, all-knowing God whose ways are higher than our ways. Stand on his promises of course. But enjoy seeing Him be God and carry out His plan in people and methods that just might not be where our comfort zone ends but are clearly God at work anyway.

I wonder if we’re not going to experience a lot of joy . . . and surprises . . . in Heaven!