Monday dawns, and Jesus begins His week by entering the temple to heal and teach, but what He finds there is unsavory to say the least. People are buying and selling, money changers are collecting (and probably swindling…that’s an assumption, but probably a safe one). Bottom line the temple is being used to turn a quick profit rather than to turn hearts’ to worship.
It’s late Spring and the sun is high in the Israeli sky. Ruth bends down to collect pieces of barley dropped by the harvesters. She is a foreigner in this land and a childless widow. Fortunately, Israel has provisions in its law made for people like her, a woman with little lot in life, so she can glean in this field, and at least she won’t starve. When she returns home, the only one to greet her will be her mother-in-law, Naomi. A woman who too has seen loss: a husband and two sons. Naomi now desires to be referred to as Marah, which means bitter.
I didn’t want to be angry at my ex. I didn’t want to be angry at myself. I didn’t want to view our time together as wasted time, or lessons learned, or any other classic view people take when a relationship dies. I wanted a renewed vision of the time we had spent together. I wanted God to take my feeble natural perspective on things and help me see what He saw, and if it wasn’t asking too much, I still wanted a way to be able to show my ex I cared.
Lucy’s is just one of many stories author Abigail Shrier tells in her book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. Although not a Christian book, Shrier analyzes a problem facing a segment of our population Across My Heart Ministries cares deeply about: teenage girls. In her book, she unpacks the gender identity crisis seizing today’s adolescent girls like a viral contagion. For this reason, I read the book, and I am so glad I did!
I wouldn’t use the word bold to describe myself, and I’ve struggled with courage, but I’ve tried to be faithful. I don’t hide the fact I’m a Christian. I’ve been intentional about looking for opportunities to work my faith into my conversations. I’ve prayed for or with people when they are feeling hopeless or weary. I’ve shared the Gospel a few times, and in general have tried to bear good fruit. But, in all my subtle and overt faith-sharing experiences, I’ve never been met with hostility.
We’ve all seen it happen. Someone you know, or maybe it was you, fell too quick too fast and ended up with a broken heart. “Maybe next time,” you think, “I should play hard to get.”
I get it. It can be confusing knowing how to live out your faith in a practical way. You want to love Jesus and be a good Christian, but sometimes it can be hard to know how. Sometimes Christians do a great job demonstrating what it looks like to “Be a Christian”, but sometimes Christians are completely uninspiring or conduct themselves in a way that makes calling yourself a Christian seem downright embarrassing.
I lost track of the brothers after they split up 6 years ago. On their own, Nick and Joe’s independent pursuits weren’t as wholesome as what the brothers had produced together. It quickly became apparent that their previous convictions to sexual purity were not taking priority as their music became riskier and the purity rings disappeared.
I’ve always found Mary’s response to the shepherds sharing what the angels told them sweet, but now, as a new mom it holds new depth. Mary wasn’t just being sentimental, she was being wise.
A generation of girls made an abstinence pledge with the doe-eyed hope of a passionate wedding night only to discover their new husbands (who often were virgins themselves) had no clue what they were doing. Depending on how good your communication with your new spouse was, this night could still end up being sort of what you hoped and dreamed for. But, it could also end in frustration. Your first sexual encounter, what you had been waiting for and saving yourself for, could seem to be a disappointment.