How to Keep People Away from Your Church

In this age where we don’t want to offend anyone, the church has taken a back-off stance. But they’ve taken it too far.

Quite a few times I’ve been asked about my kids from people in churches we have visited. I have told them to contact my girls. Develop a relationship with them. Give them a reason to want to come to your church. Have any of them done this? No. Not one. Not even one text message.

If you’re a church person, and you want people to come to your church … here’s what you do not want to do:

~ Do NOT try to build a relationship with that person.

~ Do NOT try to contact them in any form.

~ Expect them to always want to come to you regardless of how you treat them.

~ Think that making the services more Relevant is more important that making an effort to build a relationship with them.

~ Believe that your church is so good that no effort is necessary, that people should want to come to your church simply because it’s just that good.

Having a Bible teaching church is priority. I don’t think there are many of them around anymore, but I could be wrong because I haven’t been to them all. Next to that, it’s the relationship. I’m not talking going all BFF crazy with every person who walks in the door of your church. I’m simply talking about the basics. Just sending a letter or note when they visit, sending a text message every several weeks or months ~ that’s almost disrespectful, dutiful. And if you’re not willing to put forth any effort, then don’t ask what you can do to encourage someone to come to your church.

Repentance

Abuse is a word that is itself terribly abused in our culture. Our culture has so warped and misused the term that it has weakened and almost demolished its truth. Still, there is real abuse in the world. Bad things really do happen. We live in a depraved and sinful world. It’s life as we know it.

When I was in therapy all those years ago, I had to be convinced that what my parents did to me was, in fact, abuse, and wrong. I was told that what they did was akin to Chinese torture. I’ve never experienced Chinese torture, so I’ll have to take that therapist’s word for it. I was also told that people who grow up as I did often develop Multiple Personality Disorder.

Those are some pretty harsh statements. I don’t want them to be true, but what I want doesn’t change truth. I have worked to overcome all that yuck and not to allow it to excuse me or my behavior. I’m not perfect here, but it’s certainly been my goal.

Sometimes there are things that happen to us, big things, once-in-a-lifetime things. Bad things. And good things. They’re not part of our everyday lives, but they affect every part of our everyday lives.

Recently I got a phone call from my Mother. It’s been years since I’ve talked to her. It’s simply not been possible to have a relationship with someone who lives in a false world when you live in reality. But this call was one of those once-in-a-lifetime, Big Thing, changes. For the first time ever, my Mother confessed that she was a terrible mom, that she did terrible things to me, and that she feels great guilt and remorse, and that she wishes she could go back and change it all.

Repentance requires one to own their own stuff, to make it theirs, to not blame anyone else for one’s behavior, to take responsibility for one’s choices. I have to be very honest, I never, ever, ever would have guessed, in all my wildest dreams or fantasies or imagination, ever, that my Mother would repent and confess and own her sin against me. She is very smart and has creatively blamed her behavior on so many things that it’s become laughable.

But a repentant and contrite heart is hard to disguise. And I am extremely leery of all things regarding my Mother. Yet, I believe her. I believe her. I believe she is deeply sorry. I believe she is contrite. I believe she has owned her sins. And I believe she has or is in the process (and it’s a long one for stuff this big) of repenting.

I have not begun to digest this and its effect on my life, but I do know this much … it’s a total game changer. It’s bigger than winning the Super Bowl or the World Cup or the World Series. It’s bigger than Big.

Forgiveness has been asked and given. Trust will take time. But neither could begin without repentance, and that was on her. And she did it.

Standard? or Double Standard?

The idea that there is a double-standard for men and women has come across my path several times in the last week, so I thought I’d explore this some.

Double Standard – a situation in which two people, groups, etc., are treated very differently from each other in a way that is unfair to one of them. Merriam-Webster

The truth is that God set different standards for men and women. When men and women don’t like the standards God has set for them, they cry foul … or, rather, ‘Double Standard.’

Creation:

Man: Created from Dust.

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

Woman: Created from Man.

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.” Genesis 2:21-22

Work:

Man: Tend and Keep the Garden.

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” Genesis 2:15

Woman: Help the Man.

“And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Genesis 2:18

One Law:

Both:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Genesis 3:2-3

Consequence for Breaking One Law:

Man: Consequence to listening to woman – work will be harsh.

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.”

Genesis 3:17-19

Woman: Consequence of eating fruit first, listening to serpent – sorrow, pain in bringing forth children, and a desire for our husband who shall rule over her.

To the woman He said:

“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”

Genesis 3:16

Marriage Established:

Man: Leave his father and mother. Have sex with woman.

Woman: Have sex with man.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

God: Joins the two into one flesh.

“and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24b

“And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made[a] them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’[b] and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?[c] So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6

Marriage Maintained:

Man: Love your wife as yourself; sanctify and cleanse her to be holy.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,  that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,  that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.  For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.  “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself,” Ephesians 5:25-33a

Woman: Submit to your husband in everything and respect your husband.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” … “and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”  Ephesians 5:22-24, 33b

There are many others, but these are the basics. God created us differently. He gave us different roles. He gave us different consequences for disobeying him. And we do not have equal authority. Men and Women are … Drum Roll! … DIFFERENT!

In whining that men are different and get to do things women don’t, feminism has destroyed our culture and lives down to the very core. It has infiltrated our churches and every fabric of society and is continuing to destroy all of it.

The cry of Double Standard has erased The Standard and taken our focus off that which God intended.

Is there hope? Yes, there is hope in Christ Jesus for us individually:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:14-21

And 2 Chronicles 7:14 shows there is hope for us as a people:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

May it be so.

The Mrs.

Y’all … I just have to say … Mrs. Larijani is awesome! Amir done married well when he snagged her!

Yes … I need brownie points with her … cause, apparently, I encourage certain behaviors that are not always necessarily the easiest to live with. I really wouldn’t know about that. But there was an implication on facebook as to such.

So, I thought I’d make sure Mrs. L and the whole rest of the world know how awesome this Beautiful woman is! She’s super smart, very quick-witted, loves the kitties, including our own Recon. She can definitely hold her own (don’t get on her bad side) but has no problem being the lady and following her Man, Amir. And despite my apparent trips falls from grace, she’s still loyal. I’m very grateful she’s my friend!

For the Bible Scholars …

I have two questions for the Bible Scholars out here:

1. God obviously condoned polygyny in the Old Testament. Did He ever reverse that? Did God ever condemn polygyny?

2.If marriage begins at consummation:

  1. Is a ceremony necessary?
  2. What role does the church have?
  3. Are vows necessary?

Setting the Standard

Deep Strength wrote a post titled The Headship Conversation. I love everything about this whole post.

“This conversation is not so much as a ‘discussion’ as it will be you telling her your vision for the relationship (in terms of Biblical standards) and finding out if she is on board. The leader of the relationship is the one who defines the vision, sets the tone, and leads by example. That is the calling of the husband.”

I would guess this would weed out a lot of women rather quickly.

“Life is a story of suffering.”

Over at Donal Graeme, one of his commenters, Michael Kozaki, has written an excellent guest post titled, Life is Suffering.

Mr. Kozaki starts off writing on a topic that has been presented out here before:

Few Christians embrace suffering nowadays. A thumbs-up, therapeutic Jesus is in vogue. No historic follower of Jesus would have recognized this guy. For good reason. The “therapeutic” or “feminized” Jesus is not the Jesus of the Scriptures nor of the Church. He’s a pagan god, forged in man’s image.

Take a quick trip over there and finish his post. It’s short, yet powerful. I’ve often said that we need to learn to lean into the storms of life rather than fight them, and Mr. Kozaki does a great job articulating just that.

Facebook Responses

Sometimes I post things on facebook just to see how people will react. About a week ago I did just that when I posted this on facebook:

Wives:
1. Respect your husband.
2. Submit to your husband in everything.
3. Rock his world in the bedroom.

The ONLY responses I received were from our own Amir and Mrs. L. I found it interesting but didn’t linger on it too much … after all, so much stuff hits my timeline, even after intentionally limiting it, I can’t read it all.

Last evening my Step Son went in the hospital (it’s gonna be a journey, for sure, but he’ll be okay), so I asked for prayer, and it lit up with friends. I am not complaining about that; this was legit. And I was surrounded with friends who continued to comment through today, praying for us.

So what I deduct from this is that a lot of my fb friends do at least glance over what I put out there, and they ignored my first post. That bothers me because I think most, if not all, my fb friends proclaim to be Christians and probably most are married. (I’m one of those fb people who only ‘friends’ my friends. I don’t care how many … I care who.)

Praying for each other is very important. Asking for prayer, asking for help, is important. And not that it should be compared, but is praying for another more important than honoring God in our marriages? NOT that this says everyone I know believes that … but … this really caused me to pause.

Trying to find a church without women pastors.

Being Easter weekend, I’ve been looking online, again, at local churches. We live in an area flooded with churches, so it seems we could possibly find one?

I am honestly surprised at how many churches in our area have women in the senior leadership roles in the church. I’m just not a fan of that. I do not agree with women pastors, women elders, or women deacons. And I do not want a woman youth group leader. A woman Children’s Minister is okay. A woman Women’s Ministry Leader is okay. I could live with those. But I do not want my family in a church led by women … neither does my husband.

How does a marriage die?

Amir’s previous post is poignant.

How does a marriage get to that place? How does a marriage die?

I’m not fond of this season in my life … peri-menopausal/menopausal, hormones on chemically-altered steroids (one does not need to create chemicals for chemical warfare – they only need to figure out how to harvest the hormones from all women of this age and inject them into the population!) … old enough to have a life to look back upon and yet young enough to have to figure out what to do with the rest of my life … close to being an ’empty-nester’ but wondering if/when/to what degree my sped daughter will be able to be independent.

So cleaning out some files and coming across memories is wreaking havoc on me. I kept a lot of our cards. I don’t know where exactly everything is, but I know it’s all in storage somewhere … apparently some were in the files I was cleaning out last night. I want my girls to have the choice to keep them or throw them away someday, so I’ll keep them still.

Here’s what he wrote in my birthday card a few months before we married when I turned 21:

“God has blessed me with you.

Your beauty surpasses that of Bathsheba.

Your love surpasses all understanding.

You are the light of my life and second only to God.

Thank you for being the beautiful you, at 21 until 91.

Love always and forever,”

And a year later on my next birthday:

“I am so glad you are all mine on this birthday. These last 9 1/2 months have been the best of my life, and I want to thank you for being such a wonderful part of my life. The next twenty-two years you will spend with me, and I hope we can grow together in love. Thank you for your heart full of love. With all my love,”

(btw – those first two he hand-made with construction paper! ahhhh!!!!!) In another card from probably the first several years (I didn’t date it):

“I love you for the happiness

You bring to me each day.

I love you for the kindness

Of your always-thoughtful way.

I love you for the tenderness

That lies within your heart.

I love you for the way you say

‘I’ll miss you’ when we part.

I love you for the gentle way

You cheer me when I’m sad.

I love you for the little things

You do to make me glad.

I love you for your love for me,

So constant and so true –

But most of all I love you

Just because you’re you!”

“This card says it all. I love you,”

How does a marriage go from that to a hate that seethes from his soul, through his pours, shooting poisonous daggers from his eyes?

There are no simple answers here. And as I’ve often said, I am not sin-free. I was not a perfect wife.

Amir got it right when he wrote:

(1) He or she has capitulated to a longstanding wave of lust. That may or may not include porn, but that doesn’t matter. That lust has driven such a one to flip that switch. If someone tells you “it just happened”, there is a eight-letter word for that which is deeply-rooted in our agricultural heritage.

It’s been ten years since the divorce, two years since he died. Yet the consequences of crossing that line from his imagination to the flesh live on. Again, as Amir so aptly stated:

(2) He or she has overridden every Biblical warning against adultery. Perhaps they rationalize it in terms of, “God will forgive me…just look at what He did for King David!”. They aren’t thinking straight, as they are ignoring the warnings of Solomon in Proverbs. You might note that Solomon was born to Bathsheba whom, you guessed it, David had taken as his wife after killing her husband to cover up the affair. And if you are familiar with the story, David’s life was just short of Hell on earth for the rest of his life: the first child with Bathsheba died, his family was hit with rape and murder scandals, one of his sons would mount an insurrection and publicly have sex with all of David’s wives, even his successor–Solomon–would indulge in sexual license beyond all recognition by marrying hundreds of foreign women, and this would lead to the civil war that led to a divided kingdom that would ultimately lead Israel to ruin.

To make a long story short, sin has consequences. And it isn’t simply David. Every time a car bomb goes off in Israel, just remember that all of that started when Abram took Hagar as his “wife”.

(I’m sure I’ll write more on this later as it seems this mid-life season refuses to leave in just a day!)