Friday, January 30, 2009

Compassionate or Stupid?

I will probably regret owning up to this at some point, but it so goes to the core of who I am, I just have to confess. It will make me look stupid to some, gullible to others; but probably just like a bleeding heart to those of you who actually know me well.

I was on my way to meet friends for lunch yesterday while the governor of Illinois was making his case to those who were deciding whether or not to impeach him. For as long as this case has been in the news, my impression of this man has been "Slimeball." I did not feel sorry for him. I did not believe he was innocent. I was appalled.

I arrived at the restaurant a little bit early and I sat in my car and listened until his speech ended. I didn't hear the beginning, only the second half. But by the time he finished speaking, I was feeling sorry for him. I was thinking that maybe he wasn't guilty. Maybe this HAD been an unfair rush to judgment. I got out of my car thinking that his arguments had been strong enough to at least make some of those men and women have second thoughts. I actually wondered if he would in fact be impeached.

After my four hour lunch, I tuned back in to Fox on my satellite radio. I was eager to hear what the vote was and if it had been close. I am just cracking up at myself as I admit to this. I finally heard that the vote was unanimous to impeach him. All the commentators were in essence mocking him for the UNconvincing defense he presented. They said that perhaps, if he had made a case on the legalities, he might have had a chance. But instead he chose to make an emotional plea and sell himself as a person and politician; talking about all of his accomplishments and the unfairness he was being subjected to. They were all saying that when he finished, there was no doubt in anyone's mind what the outcome of the vote would be.

And I thought: There was doubt in MY mind. What is wrong with me? Why am I so easily taken in? Why do I give people the benefit of the doubt so easily?

I tend to listen to everyone as though their every word is genuine. If I doubt that, I feel like I'm being a cynic. I wonder why I'm this way. I wonder if it's because I have felt misunderstood so often in my own life.

I'll never forget the conversation Danny and I had once where I was saying that I believed a certain person was genuine, just unnatural. And Danny said, "Mom, I'd like to meet the person you DON'T think is genuine."

That experience yesterday left me feeling somewhat like an idiot. So what do I do? Announce that on my blog. LOL. Oh well, as I told John yesterday, I'm glad I can at least laugh at myself.

Since I posted this, I've gotten two private responses. My husband called and told me that, yes, I'm pretty goofy. We laughed and then he told me about some of the wiretaps I had not heard. My son told me that this doesn't make me an idiot, just puts me in situations where I can really be hurt... "and that is why we worry." I wonder if anyone will actually leave a comment or if everyone will only laugh with me in private. It's okay to make fun of me. I can take it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The joys and frustrations of writing...

I spent the entire day yesterday at my keyboard. Yes, I had Facebook and my email open and reduced in the background. But I was working most of the time. Writing can be hard work! I have rewritten and revised my first book chapter at least a dozen times. I'm still not happy with it yet. I keep reminding myself it's a rough draft. It will be a draft even after I've finished the whole book. But I can't move on until I am at least satisfied that chapter one is as good as it can be at this point in the process.

I have several friends who are reading my progress and offering me such helpful feedback. I laugh at myself as I send replacement files (with my edits) quicker than they can open their email. One of my email subject lines was "don't laugh..." I've got to come up with a system for this of sending a revision only once a day or every other day. I don't want to wear them out!

What's so great is that I am getting different kinds of feedback from each of them, which is incredibly valuable to me. Not conflicting, but different types of comments and helpful insight. Different angles. To those of you who are doing this for me, you know who you are and all I can say is THANK YOU so much. I am already indebted to you.

I have always wanted to write this book. I have no idea how long it will take me. I agonize over every word being just right. And another thing I agonize over is not wanting to hurt or upset people. John told me he could see it in my writing. He said, "You are trying so hard to be nice, aren't you?" I am. I intend to tell my story with as much love, grace and kindness as I possibly can. And my prayer is that it will be a God honoring finished product in the end. Otherwise, I will throw it in the trash.

There is a lot of tension involved in this process. I wrote just a little bit about my mom yesterday and the emotion overwhelmed me. It was as if I was losing her all over again. You really do relive what you're writing about. And I have such vivid memories going all the way back to before I was even a teenager.

I have been pretty consumed by my writing efforts this week and since I know several of you check my blog regularly, I just wanted to let you know that I'm making progress. The hours just fly by when I'm writing and I lose track of time. I even forget to eat (which is not a bad thing).

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Friends

I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let's face it, friends make life a lot more fun.
~ Charles R. Swindoll


I was thinking this morning about my friends and found this quote. It is so true. I am continually overwhelmed with thankfulness for all of the wonderful friends God has given me.

I am such a relational person. Other than God, there is nothing more important to me than my relationships with others; having friends and BEING a friend. I spent the majority of my life in close community with people who had known me since I was a kid. I didn't think I could ever duplicate those lifelong relationships. I had low expectations of what my "new" friendships would be. But I was just so thankful for John and our marriage. With or without an abundance of friends, I knew I was so very blessed. John alone is such a gift in my life. He is my very best friend and the best friend I have ever had.

I didn't know many people in Murfreesboro when I moved here to begin my life with John, but he seemed to know almost everyone. In the early days of our relationship, I was constantly being introduced to new people and trying to keep everyone straight. At times, this resulted in my feeling just a little bit like the "outsider." Nobody ever made me feel like an outsider. Everyone I met could not have been warmer or friendlier. I just wondered if I would ever be able to put together and remember all of the names and faces. Murfreesboro is big, but it has such a small community feel. I couldn't believe how many people had been here all their lives.

Every time we ran into someone John knew, I would ask him to refresh my memory of how he knew them, who was connected to whom and how. I would ask, "Now, have I met them already? I can't remember, but I recognize the face," (or "the name sounds familiar"). I was always trying to keep people straight. I had met more people (in a short space of time) than ever before in my life. But I wondered if I would ever really get to know these people and think of them as my friends, rather than just John's friends.

I've been living in Murfreesboro and attending World Outreach now for over five years. I loved WOC right away. There was something special about Allen's preaching and although I did not know him personally, I felt a strong spiritual connection with him right off the bat. I believed in my heart that he was genuine. But I had been freshly disappointed by people in positions of spiritual leadership and I knew better than to make it about Allen or put my faith or confidence in a man. So it was refreshing when he would emphasize in sermons why we should never do do that with him or why we should not make it about our individual church. I needed to hear that after a lifetime of being in a church that did make those mistakes. He also put himself on the same level with the people in the congregation. I was impressed with his humility. But I remember occasionally thinking to myself, "Is this guy for real or is he just a great public speaker?"

In the last five years, my life has blossomed like a flower. I have more dear friends than I ever dreamed of having. John's friends have not only come to be my friends, we have made many new friends as a couple. I like to tease him about the fact that he had been in the same church for years and had never gotten to know many people there or even his pastor. It was the only setting in which he didn't seem to know everyone. I was the newcomer, but because it was so important to me to get plugged in and establish friendships with others, specifically in my new church home, I was suddenly introducing John to people who only knew me. : ) That was pretty funny and I have to admit that I enjoyed it immensely. Still do.

Friday night we had a bunch of friends over. I think there were 17 of us counting John and myself. This was a night I have been intending to host for months. It started out as "guitar night" with some of the guys at church who share John's love of guitars. You know how you say, "Man, we should have you over for Mexican food and a jam!" and then you never quite get around to doing it? Well, I dangled the carrot and then never followed through for the longest time. Finally, in December, I emailed everyone I knew wanted to come and suggested we set a date in January. And Friday night we had a Mexican feast and the best session of jamming and singing in the bonus room. It was a blast.

I have thought about these dear friends of mine all weekend; those who were here Friday night and lots of others who weren't. (I can only fit so many people in the kitchen and bonus room at one time. LOL.) I am just so overwhelmed with thankfulness for my friends! And I'm thankful that as I have gotten to know my pastor as a friend, I have found him to be every bit as genuine as he first seemed to me from the pulpit.

I told John last night at dinner that I no longer feel like I have transplanted myself into his world. Murfreesboro is my physical home. World Outreach is my spiritual home. And I have been blessed with some of the dearest friends in the whole world. I hope they know they mean the world to me. But I never want to assume they do. I want to convey to them at every opportunity just how precious they are to me and how much they add to my life.

Thank you, God, for blessing me with such beautiful friends! Not only did you give me a wonderful husband, but you gave him to me in a package I could truly treasure!

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by all the friends (and family) I wouldn't have ever had the opportunity to know and love had I not had the privilege to meet and marry my John. God is so good. And I am SO thankful!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Arthritis Walk: May 2, 2009

I am helping Anita Pirtle organize the 2009 Rutherford County Arthritis Walk in Murfreesboro this year. It will be from 8:00 to 12:00 (Saturday morning) on May 2. There will even be a dog walk this year. We will have some activities and entertainment, snacks, etc. It's a fun day and such a good cause. Please let me know if you'd like to participate.

Anita's husband, John's business partner and our very close friend, Mark Pirtle, suffers with RA. He was the honoree for this walk a couple of years ago. The Arthritis Foundation helps adults and children with all forms of auto-immune diseases. If you have a friend or family member with an auto-immune disease, we would love for you to come walk in their honor.

The foundation gives a free t-shirt (at the walk) to everyone who raises $100 in donations. But there is no entrance fee to participate in the event or to sign up online. Rutherford County will receive funds from the foundation for every person who registers online. Right now my team consists of John and me, but I would love to see it grow larger. You can also register your own team. Here is a link to the website if you want more information:

2009 Rutherford County Arthritis Walk - May 2, 2009

If you have any questions not answered by visiting the website, please let me know. My email address is ShariLHowerton@aol.com.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Writing

I intended to write on my blog about today's inauguration much earlier than this. However, I wound up spending the evening writing a restaurant review. I will have a review of Lemongrass (Thai and Sushi) in this Sunday's Post. The review I wrote tonight is on a new Mexican restaurant in town (for a future publication). When the articles appear online, I will add the link to my other Post articles.

I have also begun another writing project this week. Yes, the book. Who knows what will come of it, but I have embarked upon the journey just to see where it takes me. When I am writing elsewhere, I sometimes neglect my blog. I'll try not to.

I spent a lot of today glued to the inauguration coverage. My emotions have been so mixed. I was telling John that in spite of strongly disagreeing with some of the policies and changes Obama intends to implement within his first 100 days, there is something about him that even makes me feel cautiously hopeful. In spite of the fact that I did not vote for him, I want him to be a good president. I intend to pray for him; specifically that he will lead well and make godly decisions. I know he comes to office with an agenda, but God can also change his mind.

As I listened to the opening prayer today, I wondered if there had been any restrictions put on Rick Warren. I so hoped he would not compromise his faith to participate in this inauguration. I was relieved when he closed the prayer by emphasizing the name of Jesus. I realize that our country is not united in faith, but someone who professes Christianity should proclaim the name of Jesus. I am sometimes a bit skeptical of anyone who would claim Christianity while avoiding the claims Christ made about Himself in order to expand their public appeal or acceptance. Thankfully, Rick Warren did not do this.

It's obvious that President Obama is trying to reach out to every segment of the population. I thought he gave a good speech. I didn't like the comments that were directed at President Bush and his administration. But I was impressed with the graciousness Bush showed throughout this transition, right up to his departure today. And, in my opinion, Laura Bush was one of our classiest First Ladies. I will miss her.

Despite all my mixed emotions about the direction our country may be going in, I felt proud that our country has moved past the racial prejudice that would have made the election of a black president unthinkable in years past. I could truly share and relate to the joy and excitement of all African Americans today. They should be proud. They should be celebrating. This is a day many of us thought we might never see.

As Christians, we have a responsibility to pray for our country and our leaders. Prayer changes things. God is still on the throne. I hope that we all, including myself, take our responsibility to heart and pray that God will intervene on our behalf and continue to bless our country.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sharing my Testimony

I posted a few weeks ago about being baptized in the Jordan River while we were in Israel. Since I've gone to church all my life and was baptized in my former church at an earlier age, I sometimes feel a need to share my testimony and the reason I decided to be baptized at this point in my life. I know that for a lot of people who don't in any way question their baptism, being baptized in the Jordan is still a cherished opportunity and privilege. It was for me as well. It was hard to believe we were standing in the same river where John baptized Jesus. But, as I have shared before, the location was secondary to the baptism itself.

I doubt there is anyone reading my blog who isn't familiar with my testimony. But one never knows.

I grew up in a church that taught me no one had salvation or eternal life through faith alone in the finished work of Christ. I was taught that Jesus came to live a perfect life on earth in order to show us that it could be done. And He died on the cross to give us an opportunity for salvation. But faith in Him was just the beginning. My sinless perfection was a requirement (not met for us through Christ but through our own efforts -- along with the assistance of the Holy Spirit).

I am trying to be fair in my explanation of what I was taught because I know that many still in that group would say they never taught that we could do this (reach perfection) within our own strength. We were taught that the difference between us and Jesus was that He was born with the Holy Spirit and we had to receive it. But once we did, we had the same power within us to live a perfect, sinless life that Jesus had. And it was always very clear to me, based on the teaching, that being accepted into heaven was about my performance and being a part of the "true" body of Christ (which did not include all believers). Christian churches outside of our affiliation were considered the religious world. I grew up believing I could not leave this group and still serve God. I remember many testimonies that were entirely centered on when a person found that group of people rather than when they found Christ. The group, its ministry and special truths were elevated to the status of essential. You couldn't leave to go to another church and be in God's will. That wasn't even considered a possibility.

I know some have moved away from this way of thinking, but it is still the corporate belief. I know this because of comments that are still made from pulpits and in private. I occasionally have conversations with others who were raised in this group and have left to serve God elsewhere. Even in different congregations, the stories are always very similar within this group affiliation. One story was shared with me very recently. Someone in another part of the country was told by a member of his former congregation, "I would rather see you lost in sin and out in the world than lost in another church, thinking you are serving God." This was how I was raised, believing I could not serve God or please God anywhere but in that one group of people. The group and its truths were essential to my salvation.

This is how people are kept in bondage and in fear of leaving cults. They convince you that they alone possess essential truths that cannot be found outside the group. You are taught that you cannot leave the group and be in right standing with God (once you have been taught their truths) and, not only that, you will never find friends outside of the group like the ones you have in the group. I once believed that anyone who left the group to attend any other church would have a longing to be back there for as long as they lived; including myself. I remember clearly being told that I could not find God or feel satisfied anywhere else after being a part of that group of people. I knew nothing of Christianity apart from these teachings for most of my life. Education was not encouraged. Close friendships outside the group were not encouraged. It was a closed environment. I realize now that I lived most of my life in a box.

It was a works-based theology. The cross was not the central focus or message. And it was an extremely legalistic environment where compliance was promoted, expected and rewarded. This resulted in a man-centered gospel, not a Christ-centered Gospel. But I couldn't see it fully for what it was until I was able to leave and get a different perspective. Anyone who does not share the experience of being raised in this kind of deception cannot understand. My own husband doesn't understand. He can't understand how anybody, especially a Christian, could possibly believe the things I once accepted as truth. It is as foreign to him and his Christian walk as it would be for an average American to contemplate a daily diet of bugs and worms.

Over a period of many years, God showed me things and let me hear certain statements that I could recognize (in spite of my conditioning) as false. Although I continued to stay, I always remembered those things and reflected on them. But when I say a period of years, I'm talking about a period of more than TEN years. When I would contemplate leaving, I feared God's displeasure and disappointment with me (which I could hardly bear the thought of). It was a long process. I did not leave lightly or quickly. And there were many times of anxiety after I did leave; questioning, doubting myself and whether or not God had truly led me out.

I landed in a Gospel-centered church. I began volunteering weekly in the church office. When I would have questions, I would write emails to my pastor seeking guidance and reassurance. On several occasions, I sat with him in a conference room or in his office and shared my background and my fears, how I still had a hard time believing I would go to heaven when I died. But I wanted to believe in God's promises. One day he told me that he believed he knew what would help my faith. I'll never forget his words. They were very direct and even a little troubling. He told me that he didn't think I would get free of my fears and anxieties until I not only repented for what I had believed and been involved in, but renounced what I had believed and been a part of -- because it wasn't the Gospel. He quoted this passage to me from Galatians 3:1-3

"O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?"

And that day my pastor explained to me, based on this scripture, that any other gospel or means to salvation other than Christ crucified was witchcraft. There are rewards and benefits for obedience and our obedience is the evidence of our faith. But our salvation and the gift of eternal life is through faith alone in Jesus Christ, His life, His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. There is nothing we can do to add to it or detract from it. If our salvation was merit based, it would be compensation - not the free gift of God through His unmerited favor and grace. In no way does this mean it doesn't matter how we live. But we cannot earn salvation or eternal life through our efforts.

He was very plain and direct. Up to that point, I had only heard my son refer to any other gospel message as witchcraft. And to be honest, I thought that was a little strong and harsh. I did not care for the use of that word. My pastor had no idea that my son had ever spoken those same words to me when he spoke them. And I did not feel that it was a coincidence. I felt like God was speaking to my heart. At the end of this counseling session, my pastor instructed me to go home and repent for what I had believed and then renounce what I had believed and been involved in. Then he said, "You might have trouble with this. It might cause anxiety and be difficult for you to do. If so, come back and see me and I will help you with it."

I went home and repented for not believing the Gospel. That wasn't hard. Renouncing what I had believed and been involved in was harder. I choked on the words. I still had fear in me. I could not deny all the ways God had confirmed my deliverance and blessed my life. I was absolutely certain by this point that God had delivered me from false doctrine. But renouncing your entire life and beliefs is not an easy thing to do. I was a little afraid. But based on the scripture he'd quoted me, I followed my pastor's instructions. I didn't do this just once. I prayed this repeatedly. And my pastor was right. I began to believe I HAD eternal life through faith in Christ. My deliverance was made more complete. I realized through this how important it was for me to renounce the false things I had believed, no matter how innocently or sincerely.

This is the reason why I felt so strongly that I needed to be baptized in water at this point in my life as a Christian. I have struggled for more than five years with the question of whether or not I needed to be baptized again or if it was unnecessary. In my former church, it was not uncommon for a person to be re-baptized after a period of discouragement. It was not uncommon for people who had been baptized in other churches (denominations) to feel they needed to be re-baptized after they had found this group of people that considered themselves the "true" church. I no longer believe that baptism is about what church you are baptized in. But it bothered me that when I was baptized previously, I did not believe the Gospel. I was bewitched by "another gospel." I had renounced that false gospel and repented for believing those things.

As we were on the bus, approaching the Jordan, the night of my baptism in Israel, our guide instructed all of us who were being baptized to let him know if this was our first baptism or a rededication. I called my pastor over and said, "You know my story. You know that I have renounced and repented for the false gospel I believed when I was first baptized. I don't care about a certificate. I just wanted to ask you, if you were me, would you consider this a rededication or my first Christian baptism?" At first he chuckled and said, "Shari, you never ask easy questions." Then he got serious and responded, "I'd have to say I would consider this your only baptism."

As I was being baptized in the Jordan, I was overwhelmed with the reality that I was buried and raised with Christ through His death and resurrection on my behalf. That reality was so powerful as I was plunged into the water. I was so thankful to know the truth and have this opportunity.

Danny and I have had so many conversations about this subject. Neither of us wanted to be baptized again because we were carrying forward our previous concept of going back to the water every time one needed "major" forgiveness. The Bible does not instruct us to go back to the water a second time. Repentance alone addresses our sinfulness after we have been baptized into Christ. And I didn't feel like I had to be baptized into my current church like I had witnessed people do in my past. But I couldn't help feeling that I hadn't been baptized into the true faith. Since being baptized in the Jordan River, I have been able to put this struggle to rest.

Today Danny, my son, was baptized in the church he attends. The pastor shared just the tiniest bit of his story as he was about to be baptized. There was such grace in the words he chose. But Danny has been teaching and coaching in Christian schools for years, so there was a need for something to be said (in my opinion) as to why he was being baptized now. With such discretion, the pastor explained Danny's journey to the Gospel and faith in the finished work of Christ. Danny cried. I cried. I saw tears in the eyes of his friends and other family members.

I had no idea that my brother was also being baptized today until after I'd come home and saw my niece's comments on Facebook. She was so proud that her dad had gotten baptized and she couldn't keep it to herself. My heart was overwhelmed with gratitude for God's faithfulness to my family and myself. I guess that probably explains why I am writing all of this today. My blog is an open journal of my thoughts and reflections. My hope is always that something I share will touch or resonate with even one other person. I don't know who is reading or what God's purpose may be in someone reading what I write, but I know He works through people and He works in mysterious ways. I want to be a vessel for His purposes and His glory.

For several years now, as I have shared my testimony, I have been frequently asked why I don't write a book. I love to write. I would love to have the opportunity and privilege to share my testimony on a larger scale if I could glorify God in doing so. But it is hard for me to imagine that anyone would be interested in reading about my personal journey and testimony -- even though so many other people seem to find it fascinating. My usual response is, "I just don't even know where I would start." The last and most recent time someone said I should write a book, I responded, "Every time I think about writing a book, I wonder why anyone would be interested in reading my story." And she said, "There's your first sentence."

I don't know if God would want me to write a book or if anyone would want to read it. And I wouldn't want to do it if God wasn't in it. But if God helped me to write it and opened the right doors for it to be published, it would be a great honor for me to write and speak about God's deliverance in my life. I realize I have a unique story in many ways, and yet a testimony that might help someone else to find the Gospel, God's grace and deliverance. I'm going to pray about this and consider it more seriously than I have up to this point. If you would consider praying with me and for me about this, I would really appreciate it. I feel very inadequate even contemplating such an undertaking. But if God is in it, I know He can show me how to begin and what he wants me to say. If He doesn't, I am content just continuing to write here on my humble little blog.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Juliana's Birthday Cake


My cousin's daughter wanted to bake her own birthday cake. She is SEVEN years old! When Janise sent me this picture, I couldn't believe it. It is so cute.

I'm baking cookies, but they are very ordinary in comparison to this cake!

I'm getting excited about the party. I will get to hang out with Rebecca, Janise, Julia, Lloyd and all the kids. I haven't seen Julia and Lloyd in a few years. And Juliana has three friends coming in addition to family. This will be a fun evening! And I'm sure I'll come home with some cute pictures!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's Thursday already?

When I don't have anything thought provoking to share, I share pictures. Here are a few from today. (They are not very flattering of me, but they are cute of the kids.)


Nap time at Camp Howerton...

This week has flown by. I can't believe I haven't posted since Sunday.

I brought Joshua home with me to spend the night and we are going to Juliana's birthday/pool party tomorrow afternoon. Yes, a pool party in this weather! My cousin, Janise, is having a party at a hotel (indoor pool) with pizza and cake. What a mom, huh?! It should be lots of fun. And it will give me an opportunity to visit with Janise, along with her mom and brother (here from Detroit). I'm so excited that Rebecca and Andrew are going to meet us there, too.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Quiet Strength - Faith lessons worth sharing

I have been reading a book for weeks now; Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy. When I pick it up, I have a hard time putting it down. But I am often reading more than one book at a time and sometimes I'll go days before I pick it back up again. Today I read and couldn't put it down. If you are a Christian but not a football fan, I still recommend this book. If you're a Christian AND a football fan, you must read this book. It is so good, so inspiring. I love to read about real people, real lives and real struggles. If you read it, you will find yourself loving Tony Dungy.

There were several quotes I read today that I wanted to share.

In one part of the book, Dungy is talking about having principles that we will not violate, and he says this:

"Change isn't always bad; we should always be learning and improving. But the change I was seeing involved principles, not procedures. To my way of thinking, that was bad."

A few pages later, he writes about being fired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization. He didn't see it coming, in spite of rumors, because ownership had assured him he was their coach and his job was not in jeopardy. In the middle of a big disappointment in his life and career, a member of the front office staff said to him, "Coach, I just wanted to say that I've appreciated seeing your witness in light of the circus that is occurring all around." Without having a chance to reflect on his answer before he gave it, Dungy responded, "...there are times when I believe God welcomes the circus into our lives to give us an opportunity to show that there's another way to live and respond to things."

He went on to write, "Over the next couple of days, Lauren and I spent some time with our feet up and a lot of time on our knees. I didn't know why we were leaving the Bucs, but I knew God was closing this door for a reason...I believed we had done things God's way, or tried to, and He was moving us in another direction. My time with the Buccaneers had given me a tremendous following in the community and an ability to rally interest and enthusiasm around things that were important to me..." He was considering whether God might want him to leave football and work full time in prison ministry.

It was right on the heels of this that he was contacted by the Colts. Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, had called and left a lengthy voice message for Tony, telling him, "...I want an organization -- and team -- that emphasizes character, values, and family, and I want it to extend out into the community in a meaningful way...You're the only person I want for this job..."

Dungy's life is a testimony of someone who has not been willing to compromise his faith, his principles, or his family in order to succeed. The year after he was let go, the Bucs won the Super Bowl. It was a painful experience personally, although he was happy for his old team's success. Of that time, he wrote, "A Super Bowl win with the Bucs would have been wonderful. I could have used that platform in a tremendous way. But I think my getting fired had an even greater impact. It's easy to be gracious when you're getting carried off the field in celebration. It's more difficult when you're asked to pack up your desk and your pass code doesn't work anymore. I think people look more closely at our actions in the rough times, when the emotions are raw and our guard is down. That's when our true character shows and we find out if our faith is real. If I'm going to call myself a Christian, I have to honor Jesus in the disappointments, too."

In spite of his faith, his integrity and his dedication to his family, his teenage son committed suicide. He writes, "For reasons that will never be fully known, Jamie had taken his own life." He spoke at his son's funeral about how we are to bless the Lord at all times. He quoted from Psalm 34, in which David wrote "I will bless the Lord, and praise for Him will always be in my mouth." He writes of telling the congregation of people that day, "David didn't write that at a time of triumph. He wrote it when he was on the run from Saul, fleeing for his life in desperation. Even so, he was able to say that he would constantly praise God and bless Him."

He wrote about the painful process this was for him and his wife. "We talked about the way this situation had forced us to practice what we preach. I had counseled so many players and others throughout the years, and now it was time to follow my own advice. These were certainly tough times, but our family couldn't quit living just because times were tough. Lauren and I knew our only option was to trust God and let Him lead us through the pain. Even though we didn't understand why Jamie had taken his life, our job was to persevere and continue to follow the Lord no matter what."

As he was working through his grief and trying to keep his trust in God, he wrote of his thoughts. "How ironic, I thought. Here I am, a spokesman for the All Pro Dad program, helping others be better parents, and my child took his own life. I figured this would wipe out any credibility I might have had."

And then he tells of the cards and letters that began to roll in. "Many who wrote were parents who had been there, who had felt the same pain, loss, grief, and hopelessness I was feeling. Parents who, like us, were retracing their every step, trying to figure out what went wrong and what they could have done differently. I could tell their letters had been written from the deepest parts of very scarred hearts...According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, over the last four decades suicide rates have tripled for young men and doubled for young women. In 2005, 17 percent of high school kids seriously considered suicide. These kids don't necessarily have bad parents. Their thoughts of suicide can't all be explained. Bad things happen in life. Depression happens. All kids are susceptible...No one is immune."

People often ask Lauren and me how we made it through something like the death of our son. Everyone is different, but for me, focusing on the things I knew to be true helped me find the path to recovery. First, I focused on my faith. Two years earlier, former Tampa Bay quarterback Trent Dilfer's five-year-old son, Trevin, had died. I clearly remember calling Trent and telling him that we were praying for him and that I appreciated his witness and the strength of his faith. Trent and I had been through a lot of ups and downs together, and when Trevin died, Trent was such an encouragement to me. I told him I was certain I wouldn't be able to handle the death of a child with the kind of grace and courage Trent had shown. His answer was immediate and direct.

"You could, Coach, if you had to. The Lord will give you the strength at that time to go through it, because you can't do it alone."

When Jamie died, I realized that Trent had been right. God's strength is sufficient. I would need to continue to rely on God's strength in the days, weeks, and months to follow. As Trent had done for me, I wanted to pass this encouragement on to someone else who might need it someday.

Moreover, I had always said that football was my job but that it was not the most important thing in my life. Jamie's death had reinforced that. Now I would learn if my faith and my ideals would hold up when put to the test. Over the years, many of my players had faced tragedies -- their parents or siblings had died, or they were grieving over miscarriages or caring for sick children.

I had always said that trusting in the Lord was the answer. Now, facing my own tragedy, I knew I needed to accept the truth that God's love and power were sufficient. If I really believed it, I needed to use this personal and painful time to validate that belief. God would work for the good of those who love Him, even if we didn't understand how He was going to do it.


I so love and identify with this last paragraph:

"Why do bad things happen? I don't know. Why did Jamie die? I don't know. But I do know that God has the answers, I know He loves me, and I know He has a plan -- whether it makes sense to me or not. Rather than asking why, I'm asking what. What can I learn from this? What can I do for God's glory and to help others?"

Sometimes we go through things and instead of trying to figure out how we can learn and grow and glorify Him, we vent at God about how unfair our circumstances are. We don't always recognize it for the spirit of entitlement that it is. We are in essence telling God He owes us something more than He has given us. I pray that through God's grace and mercy, I will never have that attitude toward Him no matter what He allows me to go through. God has shown me mercy instead of wrath. He has sent His Son to die for me. He's promised that nothing can separate me from His love if I am in Christ. There will be times in our lives when Jesus is all we have. But we must remember that Jesus is all we truly need. If you are in need of encouragement in this area, read Tony's book. I promise that you will be inspired to trust God.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Seventh Seven

I mentioned in an earlier post about the Keller sermon on Uriah's Wife. This sermon talks in detail about the genealogy of Christ. He shed new light (for me) on the "begats" and some of the reasons why it's so important for them to be there.

First of all, he makes the point that this is not a "once upon a time" story. The story of Christ's birth is fact and his lineage from Abraham is important because God promised Abraham that through him all nations would be blessed.

Secondly, through Matthew's account, we are reminded of the outcasts that are a part of Christ's genealogy. It is very uncommon for women to be named in ancient genealogies. Women did not have any social status. But five women are named in the genealogy of Christ. Not only are women mentioned in the genealogy, but women from despised races; Moabites and Canaanites.

In addition to gender and racial outcasts, there are moral outcasts in his family. Solomon was fathered by David as a result of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. Matthew makes sure that is not overlooked by his readers when he refers to Solomon's mother as "Uriah's wife." Rahab and Tamar are mentioned by name. A prostitute and a child (Perez) produced by an act of incest are included in Christ's genealogy. The Bible makes sure we know that.

Keller explains that Jesus is not ashamed to have gender outcasts, racial outcasts and even moral outcasts in his family. How amazing is that? The gospel is scandalous!

At the end of the "begats," Matthew counts the generations from Abraham to Jesus. Fourteen from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, fourteen from the exile to the Christ. Six sevens. The seventh seven is Christ.

Keller goes on to speak about the Sabbath in Leviticus 25. Not only was the seventh day a day of rest, every seventh year was to be a year of solemn rest. And every seventh seven (49 years), would be a year of jubilee. Slaves were set free. Land and families were restored. The Bible makes sure we realize that Jesus came after the sixth of seven generations. He is the seventh seven. This is a beautiful picture for us. How many times I have read quickly through the "begats" without seeing all that God had for me in the recording of those names.

The ultimate rest that God promised would come only through His Son, Jesus Christ. And that rest is available to all of us, no matter how unworthy we are. God will welcome us into His family through faith in His Son. And Jesus will be proud to call us His brothers and sisters.

Christmas is not just another story. It is THE story in all of history. And it is fact, not fairytale.

*******************

Leviticus 25:1 The LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, 2 "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the LORD. 3 For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, 4 but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the LORD. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. 6 The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves and for your hired servant and the sojourner who lives with you, 7 and for your cattle and for the wild animals that are in your land: all its yield shall be for food.

The Year of Jubilee
8 "You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. 10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. 12 For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field.

A great post from another blog...

The Greatest Hindrance...

I have a link to this blog under the My Blog List section. This one popped up just as I finished my last post. It is so good, I want to add it to the top of my blog today.

Jesus, our Passover Lamb

While I was working in the office Monday, I was asked to cut a stack of paper into halves for a small group. I read everything I can get my hands on and I asked if I could take one. I knew I wanted to share the contents here on my blog. There wasn't an author noted on the text. The text was about our Passover Lamb...

The whole of Israel's deliverance out of Egypt centered in the Passover Lamb. The 10th day of the first month, every household had to choose a lamb. On the 14th day, at evening, they had to slay the lamb. Protection would come only through the blood of the lamb applied on the outside of the door of every Israelite's home in Egypt. God said, "When I see the blood on your door, I will pass over you, the destroyer will not be allowed to come in."

The lamb was slain the 14th evening, and the door was to be covered with the blood. The need was to get the blood of the lamb to the door. When the lamb was slain, the account makes it perfectly clear that the blood was carefully captured, drop by drop, in a basin. So the blood was in the basin -- available but of no use. The blood in the basin was no protection. The blood had to be transferred from the basin to the door.

God gave them one and only one authorized means to do that. He instructed them to take a bunch of hyssop, a little herb that grows commonly all over the Middle East. You'll pick this bunch of hyssop, dip the hyssop in the blood; and when the hyssop is dripping with blood, you'll smite with the hyssop the lintel and the two doorposts. In this way, you will transfer the blood by the hyssop to the door. The hyssop, though it was such a humble thing, was an essential part of the total plan of deliverance.

When we apply this by analogy to our salvation in Christ, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:7: "Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed for us." He has been killed. His blood has been shed. In the terms of the analogy, the blood is now in the basin. But the basin does nothing for you and me.

We have to transfer the blood from the basin to the place where we are -- to our personal need: spiritual, physical, financial, family, business. Whatever it may be, we have to get the blood of Jesus out of the basin and to where we live -- at our address. God has provided a means. Of course, it is not hyssop. What is it? It is by our testimony that we transfer the blood from the basin to the door. They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.

Revelation 12:11: "They (the believers on earth) overcame him (Satan) by the Blood of the Lamb (Jesus Christ), and by the word of their testimony."

John 1:29: Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

Ephesians 1:7: In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

Psalm 107:2: Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.

1 John 1:7: But if we walk in the light, as he (Jesus) is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.

Romans 5:9: Since we have been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him!

Hebrews 13:12: That he (Jesus) might sanctify the people with his own blood suffered without the gate.


On my way home from Mt. Carmel Wednesday, I listened to a couple of Tim Keller sermons. One, "The Sinner," I already mentioned. The other was "Uriah's Wife" and it was about the genealogy of Christ. In the second sermon, Keller talked about the generations from Abraham to Christ.

Matthew 1:17: Thus were there fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

Keller emphasized that Jesus was the seventh seven. I will elaborate on that and share more from that sermon in another post. Right now I just want everyone reading this blog to get, at the center of your hearts and minds, that overcoming is through the application of the blood of Christ, our Passover Lamb.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Home Sweet Home (and other thoughts)...

I got home this afternoon from a quick overnight trip to see family in Mt. Carmel, Illinois yesterday. I had a great time and I'm so glad I went. But it feels so good to be home, even after just one night!

I left early yesterday morning so I could be there in time for lunch. My Aunt Wanda wanted me to meet her and her prayer group. She was hoping I would share my testimony with them.

I was a little too determined to get there. I got a speeding ticket between Evansville and Mt. Carmel. I didn't even realize I was breaking the speed limit (at that time). But I knew I had willfully broken it earlier in the day. So I accepted my consequences as humbly as I could. Later, when I called to tell John of my misfortune, he asked, "You couldn't talk your way out of it?" I said, "I didn't even try. I was so guilty. And the officer couldn't have been nicer. He informed me that he had clocked me twice at that speed. He was doing his job. I only had myself to blame."

On the way home, I listened to two Tim Keller sermons. They both touched on the life of David and Uriah's wife. Keller talked about genuine repentance and the vast difference between hating the consequences of our sin vs. hating our sin.

For instance, I hate it that I didn't obey the speed limit yesterday. But I didn't hate the sin of breaking the law. I hated the consequences (to me) of getting a ticket. Had I been able to speed successfully, there would have been no regret.

Keller spoke specifically about David saying in Psalm 51:4, "Against you, you only, have I sinned..."

Of course, David had very definitely also sinned against Uriah. But the point he was making was that David was hating his sin and not merely his consequences in this psalm. He hated what his sin did to God. He took responsibility for his sin (no "but the" explanation). He realized that before he committed the sin of physical adultery, he had already committed spiritual adultery against God. This is genuine repentance.

The title of the sermon is "The Sinner." I have listened to it numerous times. But I get so much out of it every time I hear it. Keller also talks about the absolute necessity of our having Nathans in our lives and that in order to have Nathans in our lives, we must "deputize" Nathans to tell us the truth when we can't see ourselves. He pointed out that our worst flaws are the ones we can't see. I see so many in myself, that is a horrible thought for me to entertain.

I am barely scratching the surface of the sermon. My thoughts are scattered. I may share more from this sermon in another post. But there is something else I really want to write about.

I got to join my aunt and her friends for their regular Tuesday afternoon prayer group yesterday. It was such a blessing. I shared my testimony and they all prayed over me at the end. It was very special. My aunt has hosted this prayer group in her home for over twenty years and this is the first time I have ever been there to meet and join them.

I shared with them about a conversation I recently had with my son. In this conversation, Danny and I were discussing the pros and cons of boldness. I was pointing out the importance of saying things in love. Danny and I are both very direct. But (as a typical mother) I sometimes worry that his heart is misjudged and misunderstood because his words are often strong. I tend to try to soften my words as much as possible while still being true to my convictions. (This is partly because I can't stand for people to be upset with me.) In this conversation, Danny related to me a sermon he had listened to about "shooting the wolves." The sermon, of course, was addressing the wolves in sheep's clothing described in Matthew 7:15.

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."

Danny expressed his conviction that we are called to shoot the wolves. And I responded that I don't want to shoot any wolves. I was telling the ladies this story as a part of my testimony and in an attempt to convey the constant tension that exists between speaking out against false doctrine, and all the while wanting desperately to get my love to people and have them know how much I love them. It seems like the two are mutually exclusive sometimes. Some people don't believe I love them. And I won't hesitate to tell you how much that pains me.

This afternoon Danny and I were talking on the phone and we revisited that conversation as I was telling him about sharing my story with my aunt's prayer group. And he said, "Mom, we all have different callings and you don't have a pastor's calling so maybe you won't be required to shoot at wolves. But I bet if you saw a wolf with a lamb in its mouth, you would shoot."

I can't even type that sentence without tearing up. He's right. I would shoot a wolf to save a sheep or a lamb. I had never quite thought about it from that perspective. I was picturing Danny as Clint Eastwood, guns-a-blazin'...huntin' the wolves. But his description of the danger and what is at stake was powerful. And I just haven't been able to stop thinking about it ever since.

I know I will still probably cringe when I feel that softer words could be used. But Nathan did not use soft words when he spoke the truth to David. And he boldly told David the truth because he loved David and was his friend. No matter how hard it may be for me, I want to listen to the Nathans God puts in my life. I want to hate my sin. I want to make no excuses for my sin. And I want to be quick to repent. Many times my own son has had to remind me to repent. "Repent and rest in God's forgiveness," he would tell me. (I tend to flog myself even after I have repented to God and everyone.) I remember one time when I was feeling like a bad mother for some reason. And he told me, "Mom, being an imperfect mom is not the equivalent of being a bad mom." I sometimes have to be reminded that being imperfect is a part of living in this flesh. My former indoctrination still impacts me at times. I condemn myself even when Jesus is not condemning me.

We don't always look at every situation from an identical perspective. But I'm thankful to have a son that I can have these kinds of conversations with and one who encourages me in my spiritual growth. And when I offer my insight, I'm thankful he feels that it's appropriate (even though he's about to be 31). I'm thankful that he has a heart for God and for truth. And I'm thankful that we can disagree without jeopardizing our close relationship.

I love you, Danny.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Five years ago today...

Five years ago today I married the man of my dreams. I have been reliving the day as I have uploaded some of our wedding pictures onto my Facebook page. As I walked down memory lane this morning, a few things caught my attention. Nearly all of us have aged. Some of us have grown up. Danny is thinner. And I don't wear as much make up as I did five years ago!

We had a great photographer who captured so many candid moments in addition to the posed photos. Here is a link to my pictures, which can be viewed by anyone.

Our Wedding Day

You can clearly see the beaming happiness on my face in every picture. But I would have to say that my joy was (and is) beyond anything a picture could capture. I am so thankful for John and our marriage. I love him more today than I did the day I married him. I am still in awe of God's mercy and love in allowing us to find each other and enjoy such a blessed relationship. I discover new reasons to love and appreciate him every day. I could never have even imagined having such an amazing husband and marriage.

I tell John frequently that if I had made a list of every ideal quality I could have desired in a husband, he possesses all of those PLUS some that wouldn't have even been on my list -- because I wouldn't have even thought of them. He exceeds my highest expectations and my biggest dreams. I believe I could have been happy with less than God has given me, but God has demonstrated to me (in so many ways) that He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that I could ever ask (or even think).

God has obviously demonstrated His love for me in a multitude of ways beyond my marriage to John. But having a genuine partner in life, a husband you are one with in Christ, someone who truly understands you, knows you, accepts you as you are, loves and values you and is your best friend, sharing a peaceful and loving home life filled with laughter, affection, mutual respect, admiration and appreciation...these are some of the greatest blessings in life. And I don't take them for granted.

Our pastor spoke last night about the sense of entitlement which pervades our present culture. He talked about how entitlement is the enemy of gratitude. Perhaps that is part of the reason I overflow with gratitude for these blessings. I feel so UNdeserving, so UNentitled, so UNworthy. I thank God that instead of giving me what I deserved, He showed me such immeasurable mercy and love. The greatest demonstration of His love, of course, was that He sent His Son to die in my place. Through that one demonstration of love, He provided everything I truly need. But He went beyond my greatest need and gave me one of the biggest desires of my heart; a happy marriage and a husband who loves me selflessly, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. That's the kind of husband I have. And there aren't enough web pages in cyberspace to contain my gratitude.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

One more link...

This is my third post this morning (mostly quotes from others). In this blog post from The Purple Cellar, I think I have found a new book to read this year.

Who is Jesus to you?

"Cross bearing is about death, not self-improvement."

The following is from a blog I just discovered this morning. I thought this post was far too valuable not to share with those of you who read my blog. I am going to add this site to the list of blogs I read.

The following quote is taken from:
The Purple Cellar
I was brought up short when I came across these words of Jesus' this morning: "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27). I had to ask myself, "Has this been a year of cross bearing?" How about for you? What comes to mind as we reflect on 2008 can be an indicator of where we are in terms of discipleship. Are we considering goals reached and blessings acquired? Perhaps we're focusing on our failures and disappointments. In either case, if our 2008 retrospective is focused on ourselves, we are missing the point of discipleship. Cross bearing is about death, not self-improvement. The less we think about ourselves at all, the closer we get to true discipleship. Certainly there's a good and right place to examine our lives--our successes, our growth in godliness, our failures, disappointments, and our hopes--but true discipleship isn't about us at all. It's about Christ. The more caught up we are in him, the more our thoughts are preoccupied with him, the closer we are to true disciples. So by that standard, I failed miserably this year. How about you?

As we consider our goals and hopes for 2009, how about putting this one at the top: "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 1:21). It's impossible on our own, but are we willing to lean on Christ and trust him to work it into us? Are we even willing to have this sort of heart? Jesus followed up his words on true discipleship with a warning about counting the cost, which means that "For me to live is Christ" might include letting go of personal goals, dreams, and hopes along the way. Are we willing--willing enough to pray this week that God will work into us a Philippians 1:21 heart throughout the coming year?

Love

As is so often the case, God seems to be impressing a theme upon my mind and heart through multiple sources. This is from my Daily Thought Subscription email today, January 3, 2009.

Restrictive love

The attempt to restrict the spectrum of those we have to love and serve is a pastime of Pharisees, not Christians. Yet is there not sometimes a reluctance to help people of another faith, whether animist, Buddhist or Muslim? Or at least a reluctance to serve them unless we use our aid as a lever to [pry] their hearts open to receive the gospel? Now of course we want to share the gospel with them, but unless we are motivated by genuine concern for the individual (which is clearly absent if we refuse to help him in other ways) our efforts will be worthless and even dishonouring to God. The love of Christ prompts us to share with people both our material blessings and our spiritual riches.

--From "Walk in His Shoes" (London: IVP, 1975), p. 15.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Benjamin Button and the start of a new year...

My sweet husband asked me if I'd like to go see a movie this afternoon, just before the Rose Bowl was about to start! He knew I had been wanting to go. I said, "Don't you want to watch the game?" (He loves football and it doesn't even matter who's playing.) He said he didn't care about it.

We don't get to go to the movies all that often. It just seems like there's no time. And I have to go in the afternoon or I get sleepy. We went to see "Yes Man" with Jim Carrey in Evansville with John's mom and brother. It had its moments, but overall it did not live up to our expectations. Jim Carrey's movies are usually much funnier.

There are always good movies over Christmas and there are several we'd like to see. One that I have particularly wanted to see is "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." So that's what we saw this afternoon. I don't normally review movies on my blog, but I thought this was such a neat movie that I wanted to give it a thumbs up in case anyone else is considering seeing it.

The movie is very well done and has a message. It is very effective in communicating that the best time of our lives is right now. Make the most of what you have and don't lose or take for granted one precious second of what you've been given.

This was a good movie to see at the start of a new year and its message coincided with so many of my own thoughts over the past week. Life is short. Make the most of every day. One thing that resonated with me from my grandma's funeral was when her pastor talked about how short life is no matter how long you live. He said that to a teenager, 90 years seems like a very long time. But once you hit 50, it doesn't really seem that long. I will turn 50 this coming May and I know exactly what he meant. The majority of us don't see 90. But even if I do, more than half my life is already gone. I want to make the most of the days I have in front of me. And one of the things I want to be most is a kind and loving person. I've made enough mistakes and blunders. I want to choose my words more carefully. I don't want to harm another soul, even in small ways, if I can possibly avoid it.

I received tomorrow's daily thought subscription in my email today. It's about personal relationships. I loved it so much that I thought I would share it on this first blog post of the new year. It's the desire of my heart that I would be able to put this into practice more than I have at any other time in my life.

Daily Thought for January 2, 2009

In Colossians, chapter 3, St Paul gives us two general
principles governing personal relationships. Here they
are: 'Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name
of the Lord Jesus.' The second is: 'Whatever you do, work
at it heartily as to the Lord and not unto men' (verses 17
and 23). Now let me tell in my own words what I believe
these two principles mean. Firstly, I have got to learn,
if I am a Christian, to treat other people as if I were
Jesus Christ. That is what it means to do everything *in
the name of* the Lord Jesus. To do something in somebody
else's name, is to do it as his representative. When David
stood on the field of battle against Goliath, he said: 'I
come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts.' That is, I
am not coming in my own name, I am coming as his
representative. So to the Christian, to do everything in
the name of Jesus Christ, is to do it as if he were Jesus
Christ. I have got to learn, if I am a Christian, to treat
other people with the respect and the consideration, the
thoughtfulness and the graciousness with which Jesus Christ
would treat them.

The second principle is the exact opposite. It is to
learn to treat people as if *they* were Jesus Christ. I
must learn to do everything as unto the Lord. The roles
are now reversed and I must learn to treat every person
with the graciousness, the humility, the understanding, and
the courtesy, not now that he would give to them but that I
would give to him ...

I tell you that these two principles, to treat other
people as if they were Christ and as if I were Christ, are
as realistic as they are revolutionary. This is not
idealist rubbish. This is practical advice about personal
relationships.

--From "The Doctor -- A Person" (Cape Town: Medical
Christian Fellowship, 1959), p. 4.