Attempting to be 'Faithful Meg'

Contemplation on life, faith, ministry, and motherhood; Knowing I don't always get it right

Tarnishing the Name of Jesus? February 28, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 2:39 am

I discovered two major trending topics on Twitter this weekend:

#SpiritualAbuseIs & #ChristianAltFacts

If you’re brave, go see for yourself.
Even if you take issue with what you read, the overarching theme is that our witness as Christians for the most part has become what we’re supposedly against and who we hate. We’re not talking about a few rogue internet trolls, we’re talking about major trending topics gaining global attention.

This highlights a question I’ve been struggling with for some time now. At what point does quietly minding my own and loving people the I can stop being enough? At what point do we stop saying it’s ok and cease to be complicit as the name of Christ is destroyed by those in places of power who claim to belong to Him?

People are walking away from Jesus. For some it’s because they see what the Gospel is about and choose not to accept it; but for far too many, it is because of harassment by those who follow Jesus. Is it ok to just sit back and allow this reality to take hold in the church? I fully understand that all of us in our sinfulness will slip and do or say something that may not might Christ attractive.  My concern in this post is the blatant choice to express hatred and allow harm to other by Christians in places of power.

Yes, throughout scripture Christ calls us to something better than the brokenness we find ourselves in. But first, he meets people where they are with full compassion. It’s from those first merciful encounters with Jesus that people begin to see things in a new light, and hopefully begin the journey to becoming more like Christ. Paul’s letters with clear lifestyle instructions in the New Testament were written to the churches, the people who had already begun their walk with Christ. The harsh criticism that came from Jesus was generally aimed towards the religious elite who were more worried about who to keep out than who needed to encounter God’s great love.

Christ first and foremost calls us to Himself. Not to the Church, not to the Bible. Himself. We have a Savior who is Emmanuel- God WITH us. Christ’s suffering on the cross not only pays the penalty for the sin of the world, but demonstrates to us the depth of God’s love through solidarity with human suffering. Those of us who follow Jesus should embrace the compassion of Christ for the broken lives around us rather than allowing our hearts to be hardened to the point that our words and actions push others away instead of inviting them in.

If we follow the model set forth by Jesus, then it should reflect itself in who we spend time with and how we interact with them. Jesus was willing to break social constructs and cultural laws to meet people in the midst of their brokenness. He didn’t restrict their access to him by waiting for them to get their act together first. He didn’t make people prove their worthiness before performing miracles. Jesus doesn’t want to leave us in our sin of course. He calls us to a new and better way forward by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Bible and the Church. That starts with first giving people the chance to meet Jesus. Can you imagine what the world might look like if the church put more stock in the model set forth by Jesus?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case as often as we’d like to think. I used to write off hateful Christians as the minority who happen to get too much attention by the media.  That is likely still the case, but recent surveys, polling data, testimonies from victims, and past personal experiences are beginning to demonstrate it’s an increasing trend. As I read through posts on #AltChristianFacts and #SpiritualAbuseIs tags on Twitter, I got a taste of how of the world outside the walls of our pristine sanctuaries tends to view us. Were all those views accurate? Certainly not! But the fact remains that we’ve been complicit in allowing these misconceptions to permeate the airwaves. Do we really want to be seen as people who are happy with the possibility of losing more souls than we save?

I know that since all of us who are striving to follow Jesus are all dealing with our own junk, it will manifest itself in us through a whole lot of different ways. We are all hypocrites, and we need to own up to that. I’m not ignorant to the issues in my life I need to keep working on. I know I don’t have it all together. I also recognize Christians are called to live at harmony with one another. Does that mean we should ignore the abuse and harassment happening within Christianity? Are the souls of the lost and broken worth losing for the sake of gaining earthly power or a shallow sense of getting along with each other? Does there ever come a point  we should stand up and say we’ve had enough of the damage being done to the Gospel?

I realize I need more wisdom in how I express it, but I for one, feel as though I’ve had enough. Anyone else? Now what?

 

Prayer as we enter transition January 20, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 4:16 am

It’s my duty as a Christian to pray for our leaders. Here’s a prayer I have for our incoming POTUS, which is also a prayer for myself, and everyone who calls themselves a Christian. I promise it’s sincere, and that I do also pray for his overall wellness, but this is what’s on my heart to pray for most urgently.

I pray that he makes time to know the Jesus he says he believes in. That he reads his Bible- and gets to marinate in the warnings of the prophets and the teachings of Jesus that are centered in mercy for the oppressed, healing of the sick, and release of the captives (Prophet Isaiah, Gospel of Luke) as well as care for orphans, widows, and foreigners in our midst as commanded throughout scripture.

I pray that he would learn that it is repentance that’s one of the major steps to truly accepting the gift of God’s grace and salvation. How can anyone accept the gift of God’s grace if they claim not to need it? I pray this truth is revealed.

I pray the Ten Commandments- ALL of them become something of meaning to our new POTUS and how he conducts his life.

I pray that he learns that being pro-life matters once a child is born and lasts the entire LIFE of every human being- ALL of whom are created in God’s image, not just while they reside in the womb of their mother.

I pray he learns to see the amazing gift given to us in this earth we call home, and takes heed of the instructions from God the Creator to take care for it.

I pray he seeks the merciful justice, love and humility we read that God requires from the Prophet Micah. I pray that he is able to see that our savior was God- yet did not see himself as equal with God. He took upon himself utter humility- to the point of a criminals death! And that it’s this example of JESUS we are called to follow. (Philippians)

I pray he embraces the Beatitudes of our Lord Jesus- remembering that blessed are the meek, those who mourn, those who are poor in spirit, the peacemakers, those who are merciful, and those seeking godly justice, may he seek to have the heart of the kind of people Jesus considered truly blessed.

I pray he heeds the warning of Jesus that whoever does not care for the least among us does not truly care for Jesus.

I pray the Holy Spirit fills him in such a way that he turns away from all of the earthly treasures, and begins to focus on what it means to store up treasure in heaven. I further pray that he allows the Holy Spirit to dwell in him in such a way that the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control) is fully visible and vibrant in every aspect of his life.

This is my prayer for POETUS, myself, as well as anyone who claims to love and follow Jesus. We pray these things in the name of our Lord, the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. AMEN

 

All Questions, Seeking Clarity November 6, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 9:47 pm

We as followers of Jesus (myself included) should look in the mirror as we approach the end of the wretched election season.  Before getting out torches and pitch forks, let me say, this post isn’t so much about political policy (although I’d be willing to treat you to a beverage to have that chat). My desire is not to spew insults.  My concern isn’t with who we vote for, but how we conduct ourselves, and how we represent Christ in the election process. I wonder if we’ve let our obsession with single issues and desire for political power harm the very people we should be embracing with the unconditional love of Christ.

Honestly, I’m all questions, searching for answers.  If you reply, please do not do so from a political perspective, but a Biblical one.

Volunteering with teens, I’ve seen them hurt by the influence of words from presidential candidates.  Our girls fear when the next inappropriate comment or unwelcomed touch will come.  When a public figure is known to celebrate such actions, it’s seen by many as a free pass to follow that example, making their world even less safe.  This isn’t hypothetical, it’s the reality for many. Some Christians in their lives say it’s no big deal, that there’s more important issues at hand.  What does that teach them about Jesus, and their worth as daughters of the King?

A woman shares a sign that simply says “no racism, no hate” and others forcefully work to cover it up with an American flag.  Shouldn’t Christians want to be known for speaking up against racism?

People of color are harassed by attendees at a rally. The candidate takes the stage, encourages their harm and boldly wishes for the “good old days” when “people like that would be sent away on stretchers”.  Since my first draft was written, there’s been talk about people being planted to disrupt political rallies.  Exercising free speech and wearing t-shirts advocating for civil rights shouldn’t be all it takes to insight such violence.  There’s no excuse to encourage such racially charged violence.  There seem to be more important issues than their well being and civil rights to many Christians.  What message does that send our neighbors about the Body of Christ?

When American Christians are known for being vocal in not wanting to give a chance at a fresh start to victims of war solely based on religious heritage, what message does that send them about Jesus?  How will they have the chance to learn about Christ’s message of unconditional love, salvation and redemption if his ambassadors only seek their harm? How do these war victims feel knowing that we ignore the images of their dead children along the seashore or in the rubble of war torn towns?  How do we explain supporting policies to actively seek harm upon their families because their heritage and geography without any true evidence of wrongdoing?

When we claim to be for “life”, but do not support policies and practices that will give all those created in God’s image the chance at sound health and wellbeing beyond the womb, will we truly help people know that God’s image has in fact imprinted upon their hearts?  When we say we’re for life, whose life do we mean?

What do we communicate about the work of the cross when we are quick to offer damnation to some people for their past mistakes and mistakes of people close to them, but then turn around and offer grace so freely to others, even those who say they have no reason to seek God’s forgiveness?  Since when did the grace of Jesus rely on political preference?

How do we decide what Christian values we try to force upon a secular government, while insisting that others should be left for the church to handle, not the government?  Why is it some things, and not others? What does that teach the world about our priorities? Will the ways we engage in the political sphere draw people closer to Jesus or farther away? As followers of Jesus, is there any amount of acceptable collateral damage to God’s Kingdom when it comes to getting our way politically?

What’s going to happen to us when the election is over?  Regardless of who we vote for, the political candidates and policies we’ve become so obsessed with won’t work out the way we hoped.  It’s easy to make broad statements about platforms without taking a deeper look at complex intricacies. Regardless of the election results, we won’t see our desired outcomes.  What then?  Will we have walked all over vulnerable people for political victories that mean so little in the big picture of God’s Kingdom?  What do we say to Jesus when we look at how we’ve (again, myself included) ignored so much of what he teaches us about being merciful, generous, care-taking, peacemaking, liberating, and enemy-loving?

I believe we can still stand with our preferred platforms without supporting harm to others, perhaps even being bold enough to speak up about it.  Is there still a place to be voices of compassion rather than fear? How do we begin to reconcile with the world after the mess we’ve left if in the wake of this stormy election season?   How can we go back to being beacons of hope to the lost and the hurting?

 

Thanks to the village: the slow comeback continues! June 1, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 2:33 am

“It takes a village”

It’s an overused statement- but it doesn’t negate it’s truth or importance!

As our little dude is finally discovering a reasonable bedtime (for now) I’m hoping to work on the habit of taking a little bit of time in the evenings to work on a post.  The goal is to eventually start posting weekly again.  It’s been encouraging to be able to have some great conversations with others in ministry over the past few months, and I’d love to add some follow-up to some of those things, as well as thoughts on the way my new role of “mom-mom-mommm” has shaken things up.

Whether it’s ministry, motherhood, or anything in life, I can’t imagine where I’d be without a great village surrounding me.  I had to go looking for my current villages, but I can’t imagine what my life would look like without the support of others in the same boat.  In school, finding that village wasn’t so hard, I had classmates.  In both ministry as well as motherhood it’s extremely easy to become and stay isolated.   I am so grateful for all of the other partners in ministry I’ve discovered through local/regional networking events.  My team of fellow Young Life leaders are some of my favorite people.  If a friend hadn’t mentioned a local group for nursing moms, I really can’t imagine how I would have survived this first year as a parent.

So with that in mind, here’s to hoping the inspiration from the great people around me help me keep up with this comeback as I keep up my attempt to be ‘faithfulmeg’ !

 

Making a Comeback? April 17, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 8:07 pm

So yeah, it’s been two years since I’ve taken a break from this writing thing.  I took a year and a half stint of taking on more of a management role at my “side” job, found out my hubby and I had a little one on the way, and have spent the past 10 months adjusting to life and ministry as parents!  As Spring brings with it the ideas of a fresh start, I figured it might be time to do the same with this blog!  If you’re going to the Momentum Youth Worker Conference in Worcester coming up – I’d love to meet you and chat there!  Part of the reason I’m re-launching this is to have a place where I can connect with people I meet there, and share some follow-up thoughts on the sessions I’m leading.  No promises on consistency, but I hope to share the ideas that bounce around my head in a way that can start a conversation with friends and strangers alike!  Stay tuned!

 

Scheming a “dream” Ministry Conference??? March 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 5:20 pm

Well, this is slightly off-topic for the series I have been writing on, but this strange thought popped into my while sitting on the lifeguard stand sometime in the 5am hour the other morning while I was covering a shift for one of my staff.

This is a little interesting that I was thinking about this because I seeing on the web site that one of the major national youth ministry conferences says its “coming to a city near you in 2015”  So perhaps my mindset isn’t too far off on this topic after all.

With maybe one or two exceptions, the “Big Time” National Youth Ministry conferences seem to be offering many of the same seminars that I went to when I attended my first big national conference in 2005.  There are many of these “classic” seminars that do need to keep being offered because they are timeless and more practical than what most experience in Bible College or Seminary.   While there are some seminars that have stuck with me, it’s the energy, the meaningful worship, the laughter and joy in performance artists.  I have been blessed by set up quiet spaces for reflection were great places to find ways to make room for soul care  in these times as well. Getting to hear from people who are doing some amazing things for the Kingdom in the general sessions is always one of the biggest blessings.

I have certainly been blessed by them, but it makes it harder when considering the financial investment of traveling to and from these conferences.  Being from New England the region deemed too expensive for Groups to host the big conferences there’s always lots of long travel involved.  I know that often those general sessions are becoming accessible via live streaming these days. These are amazing conferences, and I’m bummed that I missed out on a chance to attend with my registration fee waived.  The time of travel, and the cost of a hotel are a big part of what forced me to stay home.  I know I made the right choice, but when I see my friends tweeting all of the great moments I’m missing, I know awesome things are happening, and these conferences have significant meaning.

I also think about the past two Open source youth ministry events that have happened here in the Boston area.  Despite them being smaller, no “big time” recording artist leading worship, or touring drama groups heading up the general sessions I have discovered seminars that have been much more meaningful, thoughtful, challenging, and contextually appropriate to the life of doing ministry in New England.  The connections that I’ve made have been more meaningful because they are with people I am likely to run into again, and have more reasons to stay connected together.   It is clear that people in our area are hungry for what an event like this has to offer compared to the flashy nationally branded events that are often too cookie-cutter to fit into the quirky nature of small church ministry where there are fewer paid youth workers, and little to no training budgets in most churches.  The past two years, it has been these events that are huge highlights of my year, and have had equal, if not greater impact on me in my life of ministry.

“What if” …. We could put the strengths of these two styles of youth ministry conferences together?   The simulcast format seems to be a thriving way for people to be part of great conferences and training with little to no travel involved.  What would it look like to combine the personal/practical impact of local open source seminars with the high energy and encouragement of the general sessions from the big national conferences?   Any dreamers/schemers want to put our heads together on this?

Am I just getting too carried away with this?  Like whoever created the Bacon Bowl?  (which, btw, should have been marketed “Bakin’ Bowl” to represent its ability to bake anything, while still highlighting bacon… but I digress) My worry is that any attempt to combine the blessings of both of these types of events would end up canceling out some of their strengths in the process.  Like  a  TV character science nerd  who wants to create a dog-opus.  But then I think of the Labradoodle – which became the perfect blend of a poodle’s non-allergenic hair and the pleasant personality of a Labrador.   Maybe I should just leave well enough alone.  Maybe I need to get a dog….

What do you think?

 

Examples of Multi Sensory Worship in Scripture March 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 10:17 pm

As we continue exploring the importance of unleashing our imaginations when it comes to helping people of all ages encounter Christ, it is important to realize that incorporating creativity into our worship isn’t some fad or gimmick.  It’s based in the gift of the senses that God has given us, and we see how God uses these senses in how the Israelites are instructed to worship.   We see all through the Bible that through God’s faithful servants, we are taught with words, but those words are often form beautiful and powerful images which provide a strong metaphor connecting a spiritual reality to a tangible earthly reality so that the message leads to a place of better understanding… OR sometimes they lead us to a place  where one might not understand fully, but elicits a desire to dig deeper.  A verse that I continually return to is Psalm 34:8, “Taste and See that the Lord is Good.  Blessed are those who take refuge in him.”  As we look to the Biblical text, we read how God SPOKE the earth into its shape and form.  God is our creator, God spoke this earth into being.  God’s words didn’t produce more words, but this glorious creation- which includes all of us – each created in God’s image.  We are therefor co-creators with God.  As we read the Gospel of John, Jesus is the WORD yes, but God’s word takes on FLESH and being.  God didn’t just want us to hear words of God’s promise through the prophets, God wants us to know and experience this truth.  Let’s look at examples from the Old and New Testaments of worship that took place in moments when words would simply not do justice as a way to respond to God’s Glory.

 

In 2 Samuel 6, we read of the journey of the Ark of the Covenant.  Upon its arrival in Jerusalem in the tent that David had made for it, David was so moved by this pivotal moment that words would not do, the only praise that seemed enough at that moment was dancing.  The ups and downs of all that it took for this moment to come were great and gut wrenching.   David, who we know well though his Psalms is a man of many beautiful words of prayer and praise to the Lord.  For David to be in a place where words are not enough speaks volumes of this time of worship that David experiences.

 

In Luke 7, we read the encounter of Jesus in the home of Simon, when a woman present comes to Jesus, kneels at his feet, and her tears fall to his feet.  This moment is very sensual.  She anoints the feet of Jesus with her tears, kisses, and perfume, wiping his feet with her hair.   Others present wonder at Jesus’ allowance of a woman known as being “sinful” to come to him in such an intimate way.   Jesus praises her for her faith, and tell her that her sins are forgiven.   What was lacking from those who offered praise to Jesus simply in words, Jesus sees in this woman whose words are not recorded in this deeply personal and physical encounter.   Her words were not what was important in this moment of worshipping Jesus.  Her actions are what mattered most.

 

What other passages of the Bible stand out to you when you think about worship and learning that goes deeper than words?

 

What lessons about God are too hard to fully understand when we only use words to teach them?

 

When was a moment in your life that words were not enough to express our hearts to God?