Sunday, March 22, 2009

In a Word

Ephesians 5:4
4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

Last night Doug and I took our daughter Kacie and her boyfriend to a local theater to watch a movie. I accompanied them to the ticket window. There were teenagers everywhere. It was tough to walk as they just milled around aimlessly it appeared. Finally we got to the window, purchased the tickets and they went in to watch the movie. I headed back to my van.

As I was walking back through the groups standing around me couldn’t help but notice this one young “lady”. I use quotes because there was absolutely nothing lady like about this girl. She was beautiful, with long dark hair and big brown eyes. She was dressed in the uniform of youth. Jeans, t-shirt, black hoodie and tennis shoes. As I approached she jumped to her feet and a string of filth came out of that tiny bowed mouth that would make a sailor blush! The child used the F-bomb up to 4 times in a 10 word sentence! I stopped, astounded and stared, I just couldn’t help it. Well, I shook myself to stop myself from grabbing her and pushing her face into a nearby water fountain to try and clean her mouth out. She isn’t after all, my problem. Thank goodness! But as I walked away, I began to think about it and I changed my mind. Yes, she is my problem, or will be soon in some form or another.

The one thing I notice when I’m around teenagers in any forum, even at church, is the complete lack of self control and self respect they have when it comes to their language. I have come to realize that they are desensitized to it. The names they call each other! Names that would have gotten you slapped silly when I was a teenager. I’ve heard girls call each other “Ho” and other vicious names that make me sick to my stomach to hear. When I have confronted them about it they simply are astounded that I don’t realize that it doesn’t “mean anything, it’s just a joke.”

One phrase that comes quickly to mind and apparently is the most common used is, “OH MY G&D!”. They say it about anything and everything. They completely miss the point when you tell them that they are using the Lord’s name in vain. They look at you and say, in most cases, “But I didn’t say the “G” word!”
I watch a lot of home improvement shows, you know the ones where at the end there is the great reveal of the project? The most common phrase? Yep, you guessed it, “OMG”. I actually counted on one show and the women on it used it 36 times in 5 minutes! It made me crazy! Now, I watch the reveal and mute the sound.

“No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear.” - Ephesians 4:29

The tongue is a weapon of tremendous power, it can heal or kill, and it can lift up or tear down. It can leave scars as wide as a roadway on a soul. Words that escape our mouth before being filtered through our brain cannot be stuffed back in. You can’t take it back once it is out there. And honestly, I’m sorry just doesn’t do any healing at all.

“Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.” - 1 Timothy 4:12

Anger, in all honesty, was why the girl last night was using such horrific language, but I truly believe that she uses it in play, fun and common conversations as well as when angry. The comfortable way she spoke the words proved that she used them constantly. The fact that this girl was so pretty on the exterior, makes it all the more sad that she is so very ugly on the inside. Her mouth was twisted into a grimace that could rival a gargoyle, showing her teeth in an animal like manner. Her eyebrows came together like slashes of fur across her forehead and her tiny hands were clenched into fist, ready to pound on someone. The hate and angry, filthy words had transformed this lovely young girl into a monster in my eyes. It makes me so sad to see and hear this.

“But now you must put away anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths. - Colossians 3:8

Believe me when I say that I’m guilty of using bad language as much as anyone else. Yep, the occasional curse word or slang phrase does escape my mouth at times of duress. In all honesty it is a bad habit, one that I struggle with daily. This incident Saturday evening only points out to me how hard I must work to keep from allowing my words to hurt others.

Yes, curse words hurt others, however mild they might be. It tears down my witness and after all is said and done, I have progressed not one inch in the walk I hope to walk with Christ.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

God will not lead you where His Grace cannot keep you.

"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever." Philippians 4:19-20

There is a precious lady that we only know as Ms. Suzie. We call her Sock Suzie. She donates bags of socks to us. She sells socks at the Moreland Ave. Flea Market on Saturday and Sunday. This time, Ms. Suzie had given us a very large black lawn trash bag overflowing with socks. They needed to be matched up she said but they were good ones. She was so right! They were the warm fuzzy ones that hug your feet. The socks Ms. Suzie had donated and some that were donated through our church family at Providence Baptist Church would be the very thing for our next mission.

It was very rainy, gloomy Sunday morning on March 15th, 2009. It was a steady, slow soaking rain that makes for large puddles and small rivers running down the roads. Doug, Kacie and I had loaded up the truck with socks to take to the homeless. We also had food, enough for about 30 people. Our plan was to go to Sunday school and then head for Atlanta. We know from past experience that during these rainy times the homeless need dry socks nearly as much as food for their bellies.

As we ate our breakfast in the Fellowship Hall, we were asked what our plans for the day were. When we told our Pastor, Dr. Gene Tyre, our plans, he insisted we go as soon as we finished eating.

Kacie doesn’t usually go along with us. Most 16 year olds have other things on their minds, but we convinced her to come with us. She rode in the jump seat in the back, I was in my usual passenger seat and Doug was driving. We cruised the city, looking for the larger groups that we know will gather when there is a group serving food. During our cruise, we were able to hand out several pair of socks and some food. There were very few that turned us down, as most were soaking wet.

We were so surprised to find that the usual groups that would set up at Little Five Points and other known locations didn’t show up Sunday. Was the rain to much for them? Were there problems with getting enough to feed? This economy has had a very bad effect on the outreach programs. The ones that need help the most are not going to get it as people tighten their finances to protect their own families.

What is that we hear? A voice over a loud speaker, preaching the word? Alright! We found a group! So, we pull off of Peachtree Street onto a side street and see a large group gathered up under a MARTA bus stop. This was not ordinary bus stop area it was very large. There was a man on one side of the street, speaking into a microphone, addressing the group. There was a mobile kitchen set up, feeding the hungry. All this going on and the rain steadily falling. We rode through the area to get the lay of the land. As we did, I began to feel a heaviness come over me. I told Doug I felt we wouldn’t be welcomed there.

We rode around the block and came back. We stopped right at the beginning of the gathering area and I rolled down the window to speak to some men standing on the sidewalk. “Do you have wet feet brothers? Would you like some warm dry socks?” I asked. “OH! Yes Mam!” They replied. We began to hand out pairs of socks out both sides of the truck. Kacie was in the back matching them up and handing them to us as fast as her little hands could go.

As we were beginning to hand out the socks, the speaker began to shout, “Yes Brothers! There are good citizens here to give you clean dry socks! Allah provides!” YIKES! We’d landed right in the middle of a Muslim service! Doug heard the speaker say this and leaned out the window of the truck shouting, “Yes Brothers, we are here in the name of Jesus Christ! It’s all about Jesus!”

As Doug said this, a man was coming toward the truck to receive his socks. At Doug’s words, he waved his hand in a brush away motion and went back to lean against the wall again. next to the speaker. “Did you hear him? He said it’s about Jesus!” the man said to the speaker. To which the speaker replied, “That’s alright, we’ll take His socks too!” The speaker then began to speak against Jesus, telling the people that Jesus was just a man. Doug said the man that refused the socks facial expression went from smiling to looking as if he could hate him, all in the blink of an eye.

By this time we’d moved slowly down in front of the food line, the people were surrounding our truck and all wanted clean, dry socks. We put socks into the outstretched hands as quickly as Kacie could match them. All the while we were telling them that they must seek Jesus, know the truth about Jesus, that His path was the Only True Way to Heaven. Doug told them to fill their bellies as they could, but to remember that Jesus was the one True God. All the while the speaker was shouting that no man could save them, I was telling them that the speaker was correct, no man could; only Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, could save them.

When we were sure that all that needed socks had received them, we moved on. Our hearts were pounding, not from fear, but from pure elation! We’d braved the lion’s den and God had seen us through!

We had to stop for a red light and I saw a man standing on a street corner. He had no socks on, only tennis shoes. I rolled the window down and held out a couple of pair of socks and asked him if he’d like to have some clean dry socks. He came to the truck, took the socks into his hands and with the sweetest smile on his face, he asked me, “How did you know???” I looked right into his eyes and replied, “God told me.” He smiled even larger, if that was possible, and giving me a thumbs up he said that he and God were tight. Those are the blessing we receive. They are wonderful!

It was the loaves and fishes all over again as we feared not having enough, God provided plenty, so that we had a large Wal-Mart bag full to continue serving those we came in contact with. We came home with only four pair of socks left! God is so Good!