The Girl With The Teal Scarf

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It was one of those unforgettable moments when I first really met her.

She was wearing a beautiful scarf, knotted over her black wool coat.  The scarf stood out because it was the exact color of scarf I had been searching to buy to wear on an upcoming trip.  The scarf was a beautiful blue with a hint of green in it.

She looked so beautiful, standing in line, waiting for her son to be dismissed from preschool.  Her infant daughter was nestled in an infant carrier next to her beautiful mother.

The first thing I always noticed about this woman was her beautiful blond hair, always perfectly styled.  The other thing I always noticed was her unusual eyes.  They are this rare color of what one might describe as a mix between aqua and mint.  Gorgeous!  They are deep-set, expressive, beautiful!

She is one of those women who has a rare talent of always looking beautiful no matter what she wears.  I have never, ever seen her look anything other than amazingly beautiful.  Her hair, make-up, clothing, and accessories are always tasteful and attractive.

Even more rare though is the manner with which she greets people.

I remember standing in line with all of those other mommies, waiting to greet our preschoolers.  Some of us would chat a little, but for the most part, there was this “protective barrier” that seemed to be separating a lot of us.  Few were willing to bridge the “walls” and experience the rebuff.

There she was.  I saw her that day, wearing her scarf which matched her eyes so beautifully.  She was tall, beautiful, and so friendly.  It could be intimidating for the rest of us who saw ourselves as the “plain-Janes”.  Surely, she would be just like all of the other “popular” kind: mean, self-centered, and contemptuous.  But she wasn’t.

As I verbally expressed my admiration for her scarf, I asked her, “Where did you get your scarf?  I have been looking everywhere for one like that.”

To my amazement, she unwound her scarf and then handed it to me.  “Here, you take it.”  I was flabbergasted!  I wasn’t sure at first how to respond and then realized that a gracious answer, expressing gratefulness was the best.

From that moment on began the start of a friendship that continues now.  It is a friendship that has been a blessing in so many ways.

Her unforgettable act of kindness those years ago represent the heart of this woman: a rare gift in building others up, in encouraging others when they are struggling, in giving generously without expecting anything in return.

In this rare “jewel” among women, I have found one of the sweetest gifts of all: the rare gift of a friendship that is built upon respect, a mutual love for Jesus, showing grace, and the ability to encourage and challenge each other in the Lord.  This is indeed a rare and treasured gift!

As this amazing woman prepares to celebrate a milestone birthday, I am so thankful for the day I first saw the girl with the teal scarf!

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Doctrine Or Is It Tradition?

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Anyone who has previously read my posts on the subject of truth knows that I believe in absolutes.  Setting that aside, let’s delve into the topic of doctrine versus tradition.

So many churches cling to their traditions.  These traditions were often established to give a sense of order and “security” to those who like the comfort of familiarity and order within their worship.

Order is good and beneficial.  In fact, God is a God of order.  Most of life functions better within some sort of order.  The opposite is true; randomness breeds chaos.

The danger with our forms of order and/or traditions is the following:

  • Tradition can easily become so familiar that it becomes part of what we “worship.”  Worship may seem like a strong term to use, but if we follow something with no willingness to change the way we practice it, then it is part of what we obey and therefore “worship.” 
  • Sometimes, the practices we follow are more a result of the familiar and personal preferences then of actual conviction or of Divine guidance.

It can become difficult to distinguish between what is doctrine and what is tradition. Differentiating between the two is extremely important.

Tradition is an order, a form, a preference, a practice that has been established over a length of time (generally passed down from generations).  It is merely a personal preference.  This does not make it necessarily wrong in and of itself.  It can become very wrong though when it is adhered to with as much staunch teaching and in practice as if it was doctrine itself.

Doctrine is clear, Biblical teaching, based on the truth of God’s Word.  It is to be obeyed. 

It is also important to delineate between major and minor doctrines.  So often minor doctrines are emphasized as if they are major doctrinal tenets of our faith.  As some have said, “Don’t major in the minor.”  And another famous cliche’, “Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.”

What becomes even more dangerous is when we are unwilling to change when it becomes apparent that the tradition is no longer applicable and has no reason for staunch loyalty due to its lack of Scriptural teaching.

Fear and pride can be the “root” of many of our traditions and resulting practices.  On the surface, it can all sound good, spiritual, and wise.  Yet, if we put our traditions above actual Scriptural teachings and use it to become the “pulpit” upon which we “bully”, ostracize, or discipline fellow Christians, we must ask ourselves, “What is really behind why we do the things we do?”

I love the following quotes taken from the book, Think Differently, Live Differently by Bob Hamp.  He said:

“Familiarity becomes tradition and unbending tradition becomes rigidity. Rigidity refers to a way of viewing reality. It is a mindset that says, ‘We’ve always done it this way, and change is evil.’ … Rigidity is a way of thinking that limits the fluidity of life and in so doing, reduces the quality of life. The Pharisees believed that a crippled woman should stay crippled because people were not supposed to ‘work’ (including healing) on the Sabbath. But Jesus healed her on the Sabbath because He had a bigger and better understanding about the true purpose of that day. Rigidity is not the same as order, though its proponents would say it is. It does not allow for change, growth, context, priority or any one of a multitude of factors that influence life. Rigidity is often the precursor to collapse. In the building industry, architects and engineers have discovered that in order to build earthquake-proof buildings, they must allow room for flex. When the ground moves, a building that is too rigid will topple. If the structure has some ‘give’ to it, it will sway with the movement and remain standing and intact.”

Traditions can replace the life of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but there is “fluidity” where God’s Spirit is working.

Don’t let your order become your god.

“And The Truth Shall Set You Free”

We live in a day when it’s unpopular and considered even intolerant to state that there are absolutes when it comes to what we believe — especially in moral and religious matters.  In all other matters: science, mathematics, medicine, etc., there are standards, disciplines, rules, and laws that govern the way we solve the rest of life (mathematics, medicine, language, etc…).

Yet, when it comes to moral and religious matters, it becomes apparent that not only does the social trend find it unacceptable to hold opposite points of view then what is considered socially and politically correct, but it is expected that you confirm to their “tolerant” views on these matters, or you will be ridiculed, shamed, sued, perjured, and slandered. 

Because it is inconvenient and unpopular to have any views that won’t continuously change to agree with current opinions, today’s culture has disparaged the thought of absolutes. 

This is from where the term “moral relativity” generated.  It’s the idea that morals are relative and subject to our own personal interpretations and preferences.

Absolutes imply an unchanging standard, a measure of truth that won’t change with time, or people, or cultures. 

It’s interesting to compare moral absolutes to the rest of life, where absolutes are followed and accepted.

Think of the engineering disciplines, pharmaceutical standards…

Our universe operates on absolutes. Our educational system. Our medical system. Mathematics. Our justice system (to a degree). Otherwise, why teach math?  Why teach English?  Why teach science?  Why teach history?

My husband is an engineer, and his job would be worthless if there weren’t absolutes. Try designing any building or system without believing in absolutes.

Try being a pharmacist without believing in absolutes.

If you honestly don’t believe in absolutes, then you can’t have an opinion. Opinions are based on a belief. Beliefs are based on a recognition in your mind of some type of absolute — whether it’s false or right.

The problem is not that people deny there are absolutes. The argument is really with what people want to define as absolute.

The natural desire is to self-determine our own absolutes. Whatever makes us uncomfortable, we as humans tend to define as negative. Whatever evokes pleasant feelings in us, we tend to define as positive.

This is where the problem lies. If we can all personally define what is absolutely wrong or absolutely right, then we are our own gods. We establish ourselves as the foundation for truth.

Truth though is truthful only to itself –– not to a person, persons, certain religion, feeling, political system. Truth in itself cannot be manipulated. It isn’t partial. It isn’t self-pleasing. It isn’t capricious. Truth is eternal. Truth is final. Truth is authority.

To understand what is truth, we need to first get past ourselves, what makes us comfortable and happy, and be willing to seek truth no matter how it changes our own perceptions, thoughts, behavior, and life.

Truth will always trump the lie. In a finite minute, it may not appear to be “winning;” but truth always wins.

A lie is something that is absolutely wrong in its conclusion — whether or not there is some truth mixed into it. The end result/conclusion is false.

This, in essence, determines that God is the final authority on truth. The definition of God is absolute, final authority.

If we want to know what is absolute truth, then we need to know who God is. To know God, we can simply start by asking God, “Who are you?” Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. You might be surprised by Who He really is and what He is really like.

Our thoughts of God are not necessarily even close to what He is like. We all get a little “hung up” on others’ interpretations of God or our own. God though is Truth — regardless of human interpretations.

In the book, Think Differently, Live Differently this was said “Too often we define truth as a collective set of accurate information or even doctrine. While the information or doctrine may be accurate (and therefore true), it does not necessarily have the inherent power to make us free. Truth is as much a way of knowing as it is what we know. Truth isn’t the destination, but rather the compass that we travel with to get us there. Truth isn’t subjective; it is grounded in the core of Someone … just as a plumb line is anchored by gravity in the core of the earth. When we compare other things to the plumb line, we can clearly see what is crooked and what is truly straight. In fact, the way to know truth is to know the One who is the Source of Truth. Jesus said, ‘I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life’.”

Lots to ponder on this but extremely important if we want to have a foundation of truth to under-gird our lives. My goal is to be a seeker of the Truth.