Feb 04 2012
Dust and Flowers

For those who are knitting, or crocheting, for mothers and their babies in Afghanistan, I wanted to give you a little glimpse into lives of the women you are serving. I wrote this during my first trip to Kabul two years ago. Please know you are doing something I believe is very near the heart of God.

I'm so excited!  I can't breathe!

I wish the second sentence had to do with the first, but...no.  I "can't breathe" because Kabul is dust.  Dust, at high altitude, mixed with a heapin' helpin' of good ol' fashioned pollution, just like the kind grandma used to make when she set all the neighborhood tires on fire.  

Good times.

It's equally true, though, that I'm very excited.  Rain can tamp down the particulate matter, and rain is a rare thing here... but it rained last night.  And rain, in a place like this, can mean little flowers, almost instantly popping up in the ever-present brown-ness of things.  And little flowers, growing in acres of tragic, land-mined dust, mean God is not through with this place yet. 

And, my friends, He is not.  

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A little girl, maybe 10, is carried in by her mother to CURE's hospital here.  She is burned from her chest down.  Her abdomen, the insides of her arms, the insides of her legs.   She is burned in this curious manner, because she hugged a heating stove, as tightly as she could.  She wanted to die.  It was the only way she could figure out of her life of abuse, and her upcoming marriage to another abuser.

It gets sadder:  CURE's doctors knew what she did, because she's not the first they've seen with these burn patterns.

Women, more grown-up women, set themselves on fire here, trying to get out.  Read about it yourself, sometime.  It is hardly uncommon.  They suffer in ways that American men or women simply cannot understand.  I can't unpack all of this in a blog entry, and have only recently really begun to take it in, myself, but this is life here:  It is, for a great deal of the population, for women and children, often worse than death.  (CURE's hospital here, in the name of Jesus, not only gives women knowledge, it gives them hope, even training them to become doctors.)

Babies are hope, and babies are meaning, and women here often lose all three.  In fact, the infant mortality rate is among the highest on the planet.  What's more, doctors here tell me: the maternal mortality rate is also at the top.  Moms give birth at home, have no heathcare, no medical advice, and no one with any knowledge helping them.  Their babies so often die, and often, as they get back to work immediately -- literally, immediately -- after giving birth, so do they.  

And dust returns to lifeless, colorless dust.

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But, like I say, it rains here sometimes, and little flowers pop up, and, my friends, God has not left the building.  Or stable, if you will.  He knows about being born in dust.  He knows about poor mothers, about their tears, and about turning mourning into dancing.  He knows about little girls with horrific burn patterns.  And His Kingdom is about setting things right.

Did I mention it rained here last night?  

This story ain't over.

Feb 01 2012
"I Found Out Today One of My Co-Workers is Transgender..."

 

Here's a question from an Air1 listener.  I forwarded it on to a friend of mine, who handles the questions often in his field of counseling.  Thanks for the great question (I changed the listener's name) and Ray, thanks for your willingness to answer.

Your honest questions, by the way, are always welcome. We have a terrific pastoral staff at Air1.  They can be reached at 888.YES.AIR1.

 

Hi Brant.

I found out today that one of my coworkers is transgender. We had a sensitivity training seminar talking about what terminology to use and how to act around this person. This is the first transgender person that I will have encountered. I want to be friendly and "normal" around this person, but I'm nervous. I believe that God chose gender for each person, so I don't agree with the lifestyle this person has chosen. How would you advise me to act? And, could you please pray for me?

Thanks.

Chelsea

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Hello Chelsea, 

Friendly and normal is great place to start. It's natural to feel nervous around a new person and if in the process of working together you make a mistake and do the opposite of what your sensitivity training has taught you, just apologize. From a Christian perspective my thought is this...you are responsible to love your neighbor and do unto others how you would have them do unto you right? That's it! We are free from the law of sin and death to love others and judge ourselves so that we live before them as a witness. Even if you disagree with your new coworkers way of life you don't need to say so. Instead find the common ground you can agree on. You might be really surprised what you come to like about this person. 

This is a great opportunity for you to practice valuing someone who needs it. Be a blessing! I know sometimes Christians feel that if we don't "represent" God by telling the pagans that they are living their lives wrong; then as Christians we are condoning the act of sin in a persons life and God is upset with us. But this untrue, in fact by befriending your coworker you are placing value on them. Which is what God did with the woman at the well and many other biblical examples. Jesus was the friend of sinners after all.

One of my favorite quotes by Sy Rogers says this: "People do things (sin) for reasons. This doesn't make their sin okay but it does make it understandable, forgivable, and correctable." You don't have to be a therapist or know why your coworker has made the choices they have. You are not responsible for their lifestyle you are just responsible to live your life before them as a witness as to how good of an advocate God is.

Who knows...maybe if your coworker gets to know you close enough perhaps he or she will ask why you are so different. You can say: God's love, grace, and mercy. You can let them know that God loves them too just like they are (when we come to God in relationship he always takes us further). The point - like in our own lives we needed to find Jesus first before any thing else could be addressed. 

Lastly, take the transgender issue out of the equation. In reality it doesn't matter if someone is gay or straight. It matters if that person is reconciled to God through Christ. Everything else is symptomatic of how surrendered one is.

We are all getting over something in our lives even with Jesus. I'll keep you in prayer that you have the courage to be a friend to this person that is new because being new at work is sometimes hard. 

In Christ,

Ray Sullivan

For more resources: 

www.syrogers.com

www.servingsouls.com

Jan 28 2012
Ask Mr. Moralism!

Welcome. My new book, due out this spring, is called, Victory: Living the Morally Pure Life.

Now to the mailbag:

 

Q:  Dear Mr. Moralism,

I was wondering if I should take a stand on this, since I know we need to take stands on other people's morality:

There’s this guy who says he’s a Christian, but he apparently thinks about his body a LOT.  He works out HOURS a day, and poses for pictures in his underwear, knowing they will be displayed publicly.

He works at this place where they have dancing girls, getting paid to do sexy dances.

And there’s TONS of drinking there. His salary comes from an employer who's made millions off alcohol sales!

Like I said, he says he’s a Christian.  Should I take a stand to show people I disapprove?

Sincerely,

Concerned

 

A:  Dear Wondering,

His job helps him profit from alcohol sales?  That’s wrong. It’s clear, biblically-speaking. (Gal 5:21)

All that working out, and pride of a body that won’t last?  Hard to escape this:  That's very shallow, self-focused, and, I’m sorry, that’s not what we’re supposed to be about as Christians. (I Tim 4:8)

He poses in underwear? No justifying that. It’s clear, biblically-speaking. (I Cor 10:32)

Sexy dancing girls where he works?  You can’t square that with the Bible. (I Thess 5:22) 

He may say he’s a Christian, but based on this moral behavior, I think we have to take a stand and disapprove heartily. (I Cor 5:11)

Being a Christian means rules.  Sure, there are those who say “It’s not about rules, it’s about the heart, and we don't know his heart, etc.,” but they are namby-pamby types who aren’t holding the standard.  I discuss this in my new book, due out this spring, called, Victory: Living the Morally Pure Life.

What do we need? More moral stalwarts, truly morally GOOD men, heroes of pure morality, to give us an example of victory through our personal moral purity. 

We need more men like Tim Tebow!

Taking a stand,

Mr. Moralism

 

Q:  Uh...actually, that's who I was talking about, Tim Tebow, and - 

A:  Thanks for reading, everyone.  My new book, due out this spring, is called Victory: Living the Morally Pure Life.