Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Name:
Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vandalism

Is anyone else disturbed by news accounts of church buildings being deliberatly set on fire? Does it bother you as much as it bothers me to see buildings with broken windows and graffiti all over them? Do you cringe when you watch the train go by and see that every car, almost without exception has been "tagged" ? When I worked in juvenile justice, I attended a seminar on dealing with today's youth and the issues surrounding them. The presenter, a Dr. Richard James, PhD. addressed the issue of vandalism and specifically graffiti. A Powerpoint presentation along with handouts loaded with statistics were used to make his argument that when "kids" vandalize property, spray paint or break out windows, etc, it is usually not to destroy it but rather to "leave their mark". He argued that our society has become such that everyone, but especially young people struggle to find their identity and struggle to leave something tangible, something that identifies them. And so, they "tag" box cars, buildings and bridges, not to destroy and deface but simply to leave their mark.
I know Christians who do the same thing. I grew up in the Church, my daddy was a preacher, my first husband was a preacher, I am now married to a preacher and I worked at a School of Preaching. So needless to say, I have been "around" church people an awful lot. And while most of them were wonderful, godly, God-seeking, evangelistic minded souls, there were others who were mostly intent on "leaving their mark". We all know people like this don't we? These men and women are ever ready to argue, always on the lookout for a discussion in which they can prove their point, make someone else come along to the "correct" way of thinking. I have seen brotherhood newspapers and magazines filled with articles, read the letters to the editors, heard debates, listened to tapes and even in the blogosphere, met or at least witnessed spiritual vandalism.
It is important that we stand up for the truth. It is important that we teach others so that together we might all get to heaven. But too often we become so intent on "making our mark" that we don't seem to notice that our words have vandalized a soul, have destroyed and defaced the spirit of another. We are to be people of love, people who encourage seeking the truth, asking questions and discerning the Word. We are not to be Christians who interact with others only to send them away, discouraged and disheartened but bearing our "mark". Perhaps others see our victims and cringe, perhaps those who might have been interested in the Gospel message see our "mark" and change their minds. Attacking the faith or reputation of a brother or sister in Christ simply to make a point is sinful! That kind of self-glorifying behavior damages souls, wounds spirits and destroys unity. And it has no place in God's family. Our "mark" should be that of love. Love should be what identifies us (John 13:34-45). The love of God should be the "tag" we leave. It will drive out fear, it will instill hope and it will not destroy the soul that is seeking. God is not a vandal and neither should His people be.

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is Christ."
Ephesians 4:15


Amen?

Peace
Neva

29 Comments:

Anonymous Chris said...

OUCH!

Very good post, Neva.

The sad thing is that I (we) can always justify my actions and attitude, even if only in my (our) own mind(s), with a few catch phrases I (we) have learned from the Bible. Whether it be, "defending the faith" or something else, we are good at leaving our marks and feeling good about what we have done, regardless of our actions and attitude.

Again, great post. Great reminder and challenge for us.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous scotti said...

Wow, Neva, this should cause us all to stop in our tracks and evaluate if we are 'sharing the truth in love'. Our pastor preached last Sunday on Matthew 18:5-10. This is a somber warning about causing 'little ones' to stumble. In the sermon, he said that 'little ones' is commonly taken to mean children but could also refer to those who are new to the faith or perhaps not as muture. Well, your post has me thinking today.

God Bless!
Scotti

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Humility has been on our men's group hearts a lot lately. Seems to be something that God is definitely trying to teach us.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Neva,
this one hurts! I found myself enjoying a heated debate about scripture, and later on I am ashamed to say I felt smug and pretty proud of myself. I am ashamed that I vandalized another soul. Thank you for touching my heart and pricking my conscience.
Blessings
Corinne

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Georgian Peach said...

Amen, amen and amen! What a great post! What a blessing to be reminded that nice does matter and that making disciples does not involve verbally beating each other up all the time.
Great post!

Georgia

4:33 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

not trying to be the devil's advocate here but we do have to remember to speak the truth sometimes lately we have been so worried about love that truth seems to go by the wayside i believe that Aquila and Priscilla had some harsh things to say to Apollos. And Paul "tagged" Timothy with his methods/doctrine. That is part of discipleship and apprenticeship you can tell who they were trained by. I do however agree that in the past we have been caught up in the debate/argument mentality, but now it seems as though the pendulum has swung in the other direction.
Grace and Peace to you Neva Thank you for this post.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt,
I don't know you but I feel this is a safe place to gently disagree. I think the point of the post was the motivation behind our teaching---we dont teach just to be right or just to hear our own voices or so we can shout down the other side. The point as I read it was that we must still speak boldly and we must not just accept everything to keep peace but we must make sure we are motivated by love. Otherwise we are guilty of vandalism.

Shalom
Interested Bystander

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

also, I think it is obvious that the biblical characters you cite, Aquila and Priscilla and Paul did their teaching, however harsh it had to be, out of love and a genuine concern for the spiritual wellbeing---not to just leave their mark.

Interested Bystander

5:37 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

IB,
First let me say i apreciate your candor. I love that we can disagree respectfully.
I agree that Aquila and Pricilla and Paul all were motivated by a deep love for God and for precious souls. I was not trying to say that they were harsh without love. I went back and read Neva's post and I have to admit that I may have been off base on what the post was about. I think I was responding more to the comments, not that they were wrong, but that they seemed to not include teaching truth. Some said and please do not take offense ... that "defending the faith" is bad was implied. "Making disciples does not involve verbally beating each other up all the time." Perhaps I am the anomaly but when I came face to face with Jesus and who I was/am was a harsh moment.
thank you IB for your disagreement.
blessings

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we can defend the faith and still not vandalize souls. We just have to be aware of how we share the good news. We cannot in good conscience show God's love by shoving it down the throats of the lost.It never truly works--the truth convicts but so does love. I am not sure you can have one without the other.

Great post and great discussion,
Dan

6:28 PM  
Anonymous carol said...

I love the reminder that we should be careful with our words. Offending others right off the bat, too often shuts a door.

Great post, sister

carol

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is especially apropo for the blogworld. We have all been grieving over one of our own who stopped blogging after his faith, his reputation, his thoughts, every thing was attacked, relentlessly. Because someone "vandalized" him, the rest of us are no longer encouraged and challenged by his posts. The person who attacked him may have meant well but we only saw hurt in his words. In cyberspace especially, it is difficult to gauge the tone of the writer, we cannot see the smile on the lips or the twinkle in the eye. We cannotsee the passion, we only see words and sometimes those words trash us. We have all been there. I am grateful there are people out here who care about the feelings of others and who do not comment just to be heard and who do not trash another just to make their mark.
Thank you Neva.
Jeneane

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love this post--you get an amen from me, sister.


Carlos

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Don said...

howdy neva-
just a stop by checking things out.

11:15 PM  
Anonymous lisa said...

Great post, Neva. I wasn't planning to leave a comment but wanted to tell Jeneane that her comment really touched me, as I think I know who she's talking about. Very nice, Jeneane. Thanks for that.

1:02 AM  
Anonymous john dobbs said...

AMEN! Great post Neva! Excellent thoughts.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Neva said...

Good morning, Don,
how are you?

Glad you stopped by---when I see your comment the day feels right!
BTW did you happen to notice the "collection" we all took up over at BB's?---Read the comments on "Interesting Day" post. We are trying!
miss ya
n

8:00 AM  
Blogger Liz Moore said...

A very hearty Amen! I agree, it is important we stand up for the truth, but as you said, it should always been done in love. There is no reason to ever tear someone else down while speaking the truth. The truth is suppose to set you free, but that doesn't mean it should hold someone else captive. Great Post! Blessings!

8:19 AM  
Blogger His Girl said...

Amen, sister!

Your post reminded me of something I heard today on a tape from a preaching brother: we are often Satan's pawns to embarrass God. We must teach the truth (we are, in fact, commanded to) in love (also a command) - however, sometimes we abuse that command for our own selfish purposes - embarrassing our God. I know sometimes I can enjoy a "debate" so much that I get careless about the soul I am "debating." I need to be aware of the maturity of the person I'm talking with (sometimes I will get a little firmer with someone I believe has cause to "know better") and the relationship I have with someone. Paul could "firm up" (as my horse training husband would say) on Timothy because of the relationship they had. To be effective in spurring one another on to love and good works, we need to become all things to all people!

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have an obligation to speak the truth in love. If we can't do that then we should step aside and let someone else.

I deeply appreciate this post. It should be read by all Christians.

I give you a Amen! :)

Paula

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen from me,too.

Shari

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All my life I have seen graffiti in the past I saw lots of "Kilroy was here!" bits scratched on walls, rocks, bridges etc... Traveling I got to read all the Burma Shave signs along route "66" from Texas to California. In national parks some rocks in the mountain had graffiti on them. Most of these were a name of an individual or a heart with initials in them. Most of the graffiti I witness was innocuous and some quite humorous. Spray paint took graffiti to a new level though and some of it has a criminal ellement attached to it, ie: gangs and territory.

I guess man wants to be recognised as existing or something I am not quite sure. Leaving my name somewhere never appealled to me, but meeting people that served the Lord on my travels made a bigger impact on me, going to relatives and meeting the good folks they were friends with deffinately influenced my own attitudes. Over the years I have met so many people and those that serve Gods ways shine like new pennies, some did not share my beliefs but all had a lesson to impart. I wonder what kind of lesson I leave with those that meet me? I pray it honors my Savior Christ, I know I am a flawed human but when I let Him lead everything goes better!
Christs blessing to you Neva
madalyn

5:40 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

I know Christians who do the same thing. I grew up in the Church, my daddy was a preacher, my first husband was a preacher, I am now married to a preacher and I worked at a School of Preaching.

I bet you have seen just about everything Neva.

I am so moved by your life. I love reading your post and growing in Christ from your examples.

You have been through a lot and are still following Christ with all your heart. I am movd in one way or another by all of your post.

9:48 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Neva,
Great post.
I was a youth minister for eight years before taking a preaching position. I found just how tough ministry can be. As ministers we need to be careful with peoples hearts and how we care and minister to the needs of others. We need understand the position in God has put us in that he wants us as ministers to do what we can to help peoples hearts become more like His. I believe on the other hand elders and the congregation has a responsiblity that they do not tag the ministers or minister wives hearts spiritually. Leaving us spiritually stripped and torn. I have been at some places where members and elders have torn my wives heart into pieces. I have been at some places where they have torn tagged my heart spiritually that it took alot of God's spiritual clean up to get me where I am today. The reason ministers stay at a church about 3 years is because of what you have mentioned. It must stop! We must realize what the devil is doing! Neva thank you so much for this post. I thank God everyday that he has blessed me with the congregation that I am at now. I am at a place where I am able to heal spiritually. I am at a place where I am able to work on my relationship with God. I am at a place where Christians actually care about their preacher and their preacher's family. I am at a place where they are concerned about my spiritual heal as well as my physical heal.
Neva again thank you so much for this post. It needed to be addressed.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

What a great post, Neva!

We've all known, been subjected to and at times, have subjected others to "spiritual" vandalism. The Bible hurts more than anything other object when used as an offense weapon, imho.

We do well to remember what the Apostle Paul wrote: you gather more flies with honey than with vinegar

Paul could be firm, be a straight talker, but he always wrapped his letters in love for and from Jesus. He's a great example to follow, imho.

We also do well to remember that beautiful are the feet of those that declare the Good News...

I'm wondering what God's reaction is to the spoken violence and slander many of our preachers, elders and ministers and their families receive from fellow believers? Being a preacher's kid I can empathize with all that have been so subjected.

Thank you, dear Neva, for once again bringing out into God's light of truth where we all need to examine our hearts and minds. You are such a blessing!

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, spiritual vandalism, great analogy.

maybe someday we will allow the Spirit to leave its mark instead of trying to do it ourselves

thanks
brian

12:58 PM  
Blogger Beba said...

Hello Neva!
Thank you for prayers! God bless you

4:28 PM  
Blogger Keith Davis said...

It is freedom to unerstand that Jesus is the answer and that Love is the center. I am nothing and He is everything. My arguments or my ability to argue is not the point. Praise God for the freedom to not worry about that kind of religion any more.

10:27 PM  
Blogger TREY MORGAN said...

Love your thoughts as always. You challenge my thinking.

Sorry I haven't been much of a blogging friend lately. Doesn't look like it'll improve for the next couple of weeks.

10:18 PM  

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