Sunday, April 29, 2012

We Are All Called to a Purpose!

Maybe the most under publicized character in The Help was Constantine Jefferson played by Cicely Tyson.  When I saw the movie, it was her character that showed me the truth of what God wants of us.  Oh, yes, I know the heroes were Abilene, Minnie and Skeeter but in reflection, it was Constantine that was the strength of all of them.  This great woman of faith taught them all.  Constantine knew the truth-- that women needed each other and that we learn from each other. 

Her life was one of service…perhaps for money but I don’t think so.  She found joy in serving…she understood people.   Her conversation in speaking to Skeeter after Skeeter wasn’t asked to the big dance spoke worlds to my heart:

Skeeter: All the boys say I'm ugly. Mama was third runner up in Miss South Carolina and I just...

Constantine: Oh, you quit feelin' sorry for yourself. Now, that's ugly. Ugly is somethin' that grows up inside you. It's mean and hurtin', like them boys. Now, you're not one of them, is you?
[Skeeter shakes her head]

Constantine Jefferson: I didn't think so, honey.
 Everyday...everyday you're not dead in the ground and you wake up in the mornin', you gonna have to make some decisions. Gotta ask yourself this question; am I gonna believe all them bad things them fools said about me today? You hear me? Am I gonna believe all them bad things them fools say about me today? Alright?

[Skeeter nods her head in understanding]
Constantine Jefferson: As for your mama, she didn't pick her life. It picked her. But you, you gonna do something big with yours. You wait and see.

Here is real power!!  The power of encouragement and of teaching those younger than us that life is not about feeling sorry for ourselves but in believing the truth.  Here are a few wonderful truths God has for us:
            • I am loved with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)

• I am the apple of His eye. (Proverbs 7:2)

• My name is engraved in the palm of His hands. (Isaiah 49:16)

• I am carried through every storm. (Mark 4:35-41)

• I am wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

• I am watched over day and night. (Psalm 121:1-8)

• I am forgiven. (1 John 1:9)

• I am rejoiced over with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Women pass on to their daughters about what they think is important.  
We taught our daughters: 
  • Recipes
  • How to iron
  • How to load a dishwasher
  • How to get along with other women!!    
  • Table manners
  •  How to dress and talk
  •  How to get good grades so we can get good jobs
  •  That we should always look like things are ok?  
  •  To not embarrass our family
  • How to get the “right” husband.
  •   Etc.

·      These things had been passed down through generations but what about godly things and the Word of   God???

The Bible is NOT silent about what our legacy is to be as followers of Christ!!  It is not dependent upon what society says but what God has told us very clearly in His word.  God understands us better than we do ourselves and He gave a command to the Hebrews in Deut. 6: 1-9 (read) Verses 4-9 is called the Shema and was extremely important to the Jewish people.  They were to teach their children morning, noon, and night that God was the only God and the only one to worship.  Somewhere along the way, we quit teaching that to our children.  Yes, we took them to church and Sunday School but at home? Leaving a legacy of Christ is more than just going to church.  Today we are saddened by the numbers of young people who no longer go to church…could it be that we passed off our responsibility to others? 

What else does the Bible have to say???
PS 71:15-18
PS 78:1-4
PS 119:89-90;111
PS 145:4-5
Amos 8:11

 What are we to do?
Read Titus 2
Everyone is older to someone!!
Now, I am going to meddle!!  We older women have not been obedient to this.  I hear all the excuses:
  •  I have done my part
  •  They don’t care what I say
  •  They wouldn’t listen anyway

We have thrown our younger generation into the fight without any training at all and then we sit back and condemn them for not doing things the way they should be done.  We talk about their dress, the way they raise their children, etc. but never once think that they have never been taught.  Paul understood this.  We gain wisdom as we get older. 

We do have a purpose. The way we live will affect everyone who comes into contact with us.  We are influencing someone and our influence will influence them and those with whom they come into contact.

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.

When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.

It is not too late to change your legacy.  You will not be finished until somebody leans over your coffin and says, “Don’t she look natural!”  It might be hard…Satan will tell you that it is not worth it.  But God’s word is clear that if we don’t spread the great news of who God is…then no one will. 

I want my legacy to be that I loved Jesus with every bit of me and that I told everyone who He is.  Today, become intentional in teaching your family but also those in your church.  If you have trouble, then first renew your own relationship with Christ.  If He isn’t everything, then He is nothing.  Take care of your own relationship and then get busy building your His legacy of faith onto the generations to come. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

We Are All Sweaty Messes

James 4:1-10

Ok, let’s talk about the villain in The Help!!  The woman we loathed:  Hilly Holbrook!!  We see that she is controlling, selfish, cruel, more concerned with what people see than what is inside her heart, and covers it all with a covering of spirituality… taking up donations for people far away.  Aren’t we glad we are not like Hilly???  Well, that is what I thought until I truly started looking at myself…Controlling???  Moi???  I like to call it taking care of people but if I really look deep inside, it is because I want things to go my way…always.  Edith Ann, the 70’s little girl in the great big chair said, “I am not bossy…my ideas are just better!”  But there is much more to Hilly than her controlling nature.  Much more…when we see this in us we must begin to ask our selves why we need to have so much control…not only on our situations but on others as well.  Could it be that if she let go, people would see her as she really was? Could it be that she was so doubting of being loved that she wanted to keep others around but used control and fear in doing it?  Could it be she couldn’t trust anyone or anything??  Could it be that she’d rather swim in a sea of denial rather than admit that she needed the other women, too?  Hilly’s problem is one of Pride…and it is the downfall of most of us! Last week we spoke of the woman at the well…I mentioned that there were other women, too…the ones who came in the morning who looked down on her, who lived “above” her and shunned her so as not to “catch” what she had.  I am afraid this is where a great number of us live our lives.  Last week we said that admitting gave freedom…well, denial gives us only bondage and eventually we will discover we never really had control at all; it was an illusion.  

I think one of my favorite lines in the movie, The Help, is when Skeeter’s mother comes onto her front porch to confront a “wet-hen-mad- Hilly “with these words, “Why Hilly, you are just a sweaty mess!!”  The “always in control president of the Junior League" had discovered she was not infallible!! Truth had hit her in the face and her life was falling apart.  She reacted with rage, violence, and threats.  That is what happens when we have built our lives on perception instead of reality!   

Jesus was confronted with lots of Hillys!! People who wanted life to be just the way they wanted it to be…they wanted the honor from the world but wanted to keep their spiritual lives as well. They weren’t the president of the junior league but they were the leaders in the synagogues. We call these people Pharisees. Let’s read what Jesus had to say about them:

Mark 7:1-9. 

They had everything wrapped in a pretty little box and as long as no one came along to disagree with them, they were fine.  They smiled and walked through life with arrogance…swimming in a sea of denial.  But Jesus came along and spoke truth to them…just as He had spoken to the woman at the well.  Instead of being glad someone had finally released them from the ball juggling they had been accustomed, they fought back.  They fought with anger so great that murder and violence was the only thing they could think of to retaliate.  When we don’t want truth and we prefer delusions we find ourselves in a sweaty mess.

I am very familiar with these people for I often refer to myself as a recovering Pharisee.  Being a person like this comes from deep inside…it comes from feeling completely inadequate and empty…to fill that emptiness Pharisees take control…they put burdens on others that they cannot fulfill.  They have all the answers even though they haven’t clearly understood the questions. All that matters is what people perceive…not what is truth.  Women do this through mask wearing!!  I was an expert at putting on the masks…I believed perception was reality until my life fell apart and my masks were cracking all to pieces.  Hilly’s denial led her into a false sense of security and that lead to her downfall and her looking like the sweaty mess she always was.  At the end of the movie…Abilene asked a very important question:  Mrs. Hilly, Aren’t you getting tired??

Maintaining this delusion is tiring.  No, it is exhausting. Jesus asks of us authenticity and that requires admitting the truth and giving up control…control we never really had anyway.  I don’t know how Hilly’s life turned out after the movie but I do know how my life did!! I now know freedom I never knew existed.  I have discovered I can only control me and I freely give that over to the Holy Spirit!!   The masks are thrown far away.  When Jesus said in John 8:31-33:  To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
When we experience this freedom, then we truly can experience the next phase of spiritual life…that Jesus came to give us!

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  Or as the KJV says:
John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

The thief is the same thief that was there in the garden with Eve…wanting to destroy us.  Do Not allow this in your lives…get rid of pride for it is a delusion.  Accept the truth of what Jesus says about you and live this life abundantly!!  Then you will begin to understand your true purpose and meaning in life…which is what we will discuss next week. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We Are ALL from Sugar Ditch!

I love the movie The Help…but maybe for different reasons than others do. I see it as a movie about women and how we treat each other. There were all types of personalities and at one time or another, I have taken up all of them. I want to start with Celia Foote, who was from the other side of town!  She was treated badly but instead of becoming bitter she ended up being the better person???  Think about that for just a second…and then look at today’s world.  Mean girls actually grow up to be mean women…exclusionary girls grow up to be exclusionary women…girls who think they are better than other girls grow up to be women who think they are better than other women. The women in The Help did not even realize how they were…they did “charity” work but ignored the needs around them.  Some were so strong others were afraid of disagreeing with them.  Celia, in the beginning tried to be a part…she tried to do all the right things…the most moving scene in the movie was when she was bringing a pie to Hilly and saw all the women hiding and laughing at her.  She left crying, pie in hand.  But by the end of the movie, Celia came to grips with who she was and who the others were resulting in having the love of her husband and her dignity in tact.  

One of the most wonderful passages in scripture to me is found in John 4 and is about a trip Jesus took to the place where the disciples did NOT want to go…In the Bible it is called Samaria but it could also be Sugar Ditch!!  It is a place where people who are “less than the standard” live!  It could be called the other side of the tracks…or where THOSE people live!  It is where some women live who do things we in our comfortable churches would never do and with whom we would never associate.  (After all, our mothers told us not to!!) But if what I said in the last session is true, (and it is!) that all women are the same and desire the same things out of life, then these women are also looking for love and acceptance but in the wrong places.  They are you and me on the inside praying someone will really see them beyond their circumstances!

One of the ploys of satan is to have us confuse “the choices we have made” with “who we are.”  Jesus on the other hand sees us all as daughters of Eve and pursues us with His everlasting, unconditional love to show us what we can be.  That is what we find here in this story. Jesus broke all of man’s rules just to give truth to the soul of one woman. 

Let’s read it:  John 4:4-30;42.
·      Jesus HAD to go….there was someone who needed Him
·      Jesus SPOKE to this outcast and offered her freedom
·      Jesus spoke TRUTH to her.
·      She DIVERTED the truth to talk about spiritual things…trying to cover up who she really was.
·      He offered her HOPE with dignity and no shame.
·      She LEFT where she was and SHARED with others. She was changed.

This woman had sinned outwardly and was an outcast.  It is so easy to look down on people with outward sin but if we look at Celia Foote in The Help…we find a woman who only wanted to belong…to fellowship with other women.  Her heart was pure --even if her body wasn’t…I am going to say that again, her heart was pure even if her body wasn’t, because there are many women in our congregations who understand this…they only want to be loved, accepted and brought into relationships yet because of their poor choices continually find themselves on the outside looking in.  

What about INWARD sins??   You know the ones we can hide from others…the ones that only God knows about???   Bitterness?  Anger?  Lying?  Slander? Malice? Unforgiveness?  Pride.  Pride is the very thing that caused Lucifer, the angel of light, to fall and become the enemy of the daughter’s of Eve and son’s of Adam.  This woman at the well knew who she was and was ready to admit it and take on the new life Christ offered her.  She received freedom.  The point is, when we admit….we receive freedom.  However, denial is deadly.  Next time we will take about the other women at the well…the ones that came in the morning…the ones lead by Mrs. Hilly Holbrook!!