When Christians Treat Your Dad Bad

So those who follow this blog know that my father who was a pastor passed away a year and a half ago.  He was ordained as a pastor when I was three years old and he started right into full time pastoring by the time I was four.  He was a full time pastor for 37 years and still pastoring before he passed.  He ministered to a total of 4 small churches during this time.  For some unknown reason  I had about 2-3 weeks that I have missed him more than I have since he passed recently.  During this time I attended a conference our church had and purchased books from our speaker.  One of his books was “The Coffee Shop that Changed a Church” by Steve Parr.  As I began reading this book the tears started flowing as the story developed and the characters of the narrative evolved.  One of my first thoughts was “my dad could have written this book”  there were so many similar experiences that he and our family had through the years.  Another thought was “I have a deeper understanding of a pastor’s life and heart than I even realized”.  The book left me with an even greater determination to pray for my pastors as well as all TRUE Bible preaching, Jesus following men of God throughout the world.

One sentence tucked away in the middle of this book caught my attention.  I should have had my pen in hand to mark it, but it was a narrative and I am always anxious to see what happens next.  There is no time for pens and no time for sleep when I am reading a good book!!!   In other words this may not be a direct quote because I can not find the tiny hidden sentence.   It referred to the fact that many children of pastors are turned off of the faith because they see Christians treat their dad bad.  This smacked me in the face and had me praying prayers of gratitude that God did not give up on me.   I went through a stage where I was sick of trying to be perfect and please everyone else.  It wasn’t really direct rebellion toward God or my parents.  It was more of the fact that people would actually try to get rid of my dad because of choices his children made or could make.  As a kid my dad and mom tried to keep the drama from me, but I still caught bits and pieces and would even hear comments made directly to my dad.  I would see the strain and stress in his eyes.  I would see him work 60 hours plus a week, come home from vacation to be with people in need, get called out in the middle of the night.  I saw him give and give and I would hear  people say things like “we pay your salary”, “we pay for your house”, “we pay your power bill”.   As I child I could see my father working very very hard for his sparse salary.   I always thought “Isn’t what we give actually God’s to begin with?”  I saw my father and mother give at least ten percent plus right back.

As I look back on my life I have many regrets, but those regrets led to much needed consequences to guide me back into God’s will.  My choices gave me a deeper understanding of sin and a deeper gratitude for the grace Jesus gave to me from that cross.  Being a preacher’s kid gave me the perspective that the church is full of sinners needing God’s grace as well as the whole world.  The temptations of pride and attacks from Satan are very real and a marvelous tool Satan uses to get people focused on how Christians act instead of focusing on Jesus.  I wonder how many millions have been turned off of the faith because of priests, pastors, and parishioners sin?   We compare ourselves to the hypocrisy of others to find excuse to not believe or behave how we “think” we want.  The greatest lesson in life I have learned through growing up as a preacher’s kid is that no one is perfect other than Jesus.  No one is “Holier than thou”.  It is about a personal relationship with Jesus.  The deeper my relationship the more I hunger to read God’s word more, pray more, to worship corporately in church, and hear the Word of God preached.  It is enjoyable to just be a regular church member as an adult, but I still see Satan attack.  There are times my own pride will tempt me and steal what God is trying to do in my own life.  There are times I feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to speak up firmly, but with love when I see pride tempting church members to focus on “self” instead of Christ.

It is all about Jesus.  I am a sinner saved by Grace who happened to be raised by a preacher.  My dad couldn’t save me, my church couldn’t save my soul, only the blood of Jesus saved my soul!!  If all Christians and churches focused on what we should, Jesus, think of how this world would change.

2 Corinthians 5:21″God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

How the Sin in my Heart is like that Black Bra on my Cart

 

A few years ago when my two daughters were younger I often found that my time to do our family shopping was after nine o’clock in the evening.   Working full-time as a nurse, church activities, dinner, homework, the ever daunting task of laundry, the time after the girls were in bed seemed the best time to shop for the family food and staple items.  One winter evening I bundled up and traveled on down to our local Wal-Mart to purchase the family necessities. This particular store is strategically arranged with the pharmacy, beauty supplies, and pet supplies at the polar opposite corners of the store from the milk, cleaning supplies, and paper products. With a lot of shiny objects in the middle to distract us mommas.   This particular evening my cart filled quickly with large items like paper towels, laundry detergent, and toilet paper. Feeling distracted like a squirrel as I passed the clothing department I thought “Oh I need some new undergarments!!” Something I truly loathe spending our hard earned money on. As I perused these isles my indecisiveness and frustration of spending money on me ensued. I fail to remember if I actually bought a brassiere that evening. A very significant event happened within that bra isle. I decided to turn my full cart around mid-isle. Not an easy task in the narrow passageways lined with products.   The brassieres were displayed in the manner of using peg boards with hooks at this particular location.   There were long slinder silver hooks hanging ever so delicately in the balance of these peg holes. You might have already guessed. As I turned the cart caught one of these delicate hooks. The hook then turned to an amusement park slide for the bras sending them to the floor.   It must further be noted that the brassieres were arranged smallest sizes up top of the display with the largest cup sizes gracefully adorning the bottom of these series of peg hooks.   Of course it was a bottom hook that I displaced with the largest cup sizes now scattered onto the floor.   It must also be noted that the color happened to be black.   Black undergarments at times may carry the reputation as a bit more risqué’.   Quickly looking around to see if anyone noted my clumsiness I started to toil with the question, “Do I pick them up or just move on before I cause more damage?”   Of course I would not have slept that night if I had just left my mess so I squatted down in front of my cart, fixed the hook back into its proper place, and hung the bras onto the hook. There no harm done and back to shopping.

Now I do usually have a list when shopping, but even with the words in front of my eyes I still forget or I remember items that I forgot to put on the list to begin with.   A reason for retailers to strategically place items on end caps and in the checkout isles in hopes to increase purchases by us forgetful mommas. This being said I ended up tracking back and forth through the store a couple more times due to items being as scattered as my brain.   While pushing my cart along I could not help but notice some stares.   The feeling of people looking sometimes can be extremely powerful. While scurrying along with my full cart I passed a middle aged man. He sized me up from top to bottom and had the creepiest, most perverse look on his face. Of course my thoughts immediately went to “What on earth is his problem?   I have a winter coat on all buttoned up, little to no makeup left at this time of time of day, I could not look that good, gross!!” As I continued to shop with my full cart I remembered gum.   Gum is a necessity to me for those coffee breath or too many onions on the salad moments.   I passed another man.   This man was a bit younger yet looked at me in the same creepy up and down way.   My thoughts then go to, “Momma must be looking good tonight. Girl you still got it!!!”

Finally finishing my shopping I proceeded to the checkout lanes. I began placing item after item onto the counter. Once the cart was empty I pushed the cart toward the checker so that I could pay for my purchases. It was at that moment that a strange movement caught my eye. After doing a double take there it was.   It was as if the world went into slow motion and with a deep drawn out voice I utter “IT’S A BIG BLACK BRA!!” Laughter then ensued, the kind of laughter in which there is no sound nor air movement at all. My mind is the type that thinks of situations in funny animation, in song, or as both.   The bra was not only hanging, but also dragging the ground so it had a swinging and dragging motion as it traveled as the figurehead at the prow of my shopping cart.   In my mind it took on full animation with eyes and a mouth that spoke with a French-like accent. I envisioned that bra dancing at the end of my cart screaming and singing, “I am free!!!   So this is what the rest of the store looks like!!!   I was enslaved by the snare of that hook and now I am freeeeeeee!!! Just look at meeeee!!!” Then the vision of those two men in particular came back to me. Realizing that it was me that appeared to be the perverse one quickly humbled me from my previous line of thinking.   Of course still trying to breath from my non-sound and non-breathing type of laugh I go to the front of my cart, snatch the bra and hand it to the cashier.   Bless her heart she sweetly asked “Would you like me to ring this up for you?” Still consumed by laughter I shake my head “No”. Had I not had a winter coat on it would have been more evident that the size was not appropriate for my needs.

Through the years God brings this story to mind again and again. He has used this silly incident in my life to teach me so much about myself, His Word, and my own heart.  How often does our own sin in our life cause a sinful reaction in others?   We then respond with yet another sinful thought or action.   I could not see that bra on my cart due to all the “stuff” filling the inside of my cart. Of course it was purely a crazy accident that the bra was there in the first place, but as we go on I will explain that sometimes that black bra can be from what we have placed in our lives and hearts.   We may have sin that we are so calloused to that we have no idea it is there, but everyone around us can see it.  My first sinful reaction to the first man was that of judgment.  Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?   How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”   The second man my heart became full of pride and vanity. Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”   It wasn’t until I completely emptied my grocery cart that I was able to see the error of my way and why I was getting the reaction from others that I was.  The same goes for our hearts.  As we give more and more of our thoughts, addictions, habits, cares, worries, struggles, idols, our everything to Jesus the more He reveals the truth of our own heart.   He will love, heal, and forgive any darkness of sin (the black bras) that we have if we just give it to him.  As that bra had been ensnared by the hook we are ensnared by our sin.  There is no greater freedom found other than surrendering it all to Jesus.  1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”   Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”