A Whitewashed Tomb

The Whitewashed tombs

As often as I speak to people about the Lord, I’m still amazed that so many just don’t get it. I will still be asked the question, “So what religion are you?

I explain, once again. None! I don’t follow a religion and I sure don’t claim to be holy.

Yesterday, I was working with a woman, who was telling me about some woman in her life, Her friend sounded much like a friend of mine. But this woman, seemed disgusted by her and made all kinds of moral judgments about her. Then she told me about her niece. Who happened to get pregnant. “I just don’t understand it. I’ve talked to her about sex and my sister and brother-in-law have gone to church with her every Sunday!” As if any of this was the secret cure. If any of that really works, then our society would be a reflection of this. The whole issue, of passing out condoms, going to religious ceremonies. Etc. It’s all so exhausting, and in the end, we’re worse than we ever were.

The woman told me another story of someone she had worked with, that ‘claimed to be a good Christian, yet she had cursed.” This is when I began to laugh. I realized that she didn’t really have a grasp on what makes someone a Christian.

Then she looked at me in shock, as we were talking about the shows which are on television. I said, “I absolutely hate the show, Jersey Shore. My daughter enjoys watching it though.” “Oh, I know, what is that junk?” I said, I told my daughter, “If  being promiscuous, and getting drunk was celebrity material, me and my friends should have all been famous, years ago!” “You told your daughter that?”The woman’s eyes, opened wide. “Of course, I did. I share my past with my daughter so she knows, that I realize what a mess I am.” I told her, but I could discern, that this woman, was still hiding her own.  She had already shared that she had the same boyfriend all through college, and thought she was going to stay with him, after she did the deed.  But she didn’t. So, to her, she had the moral, high ground. 

“I use this as a powerful tool for educating my daughter.” I told her. I want her to understand that I’m in no way perfect, and never was.How can I expect my daughter to share with me, if I’m pretending that I never sinned? Who can live up to this?”

When we try to act perfect, it’s too heavy a burden and line, for other’s to tow. And it is for us, as well.We set ourselves up as the judge and the jury. I told this woman that there was a guy my daughter had been involved with. I didn’t care for him, and I saw things right after my first meeting which disturbed me about the relationship. My daughter told me, “Mom, I have to learn things by experience, just like you did.” Ok, that’s a valid point, but I would say this is only when it’s a positive lesson. I responded, “A wise person, will learn from people who have gone down that road. And they avoid the painful consequences.”

Later, when she did, indeed, have trouble, I reminded her of this conversation. “Yes, I wish I would have listened,” she said. And for me, it was difficult to watch her suffer. But knowing the Lord, makes it easier to deal with. He has promised that He will make everything work out for her good. I told her this. He does this, in spite of ourselves.

Now, when I was sharing with this woman, I told her, “Look, when it comes to being bad, I was really good at it. But I am a Christian. And Christian’s aren’t different from anyone, in the sin department. In fact, Christ had pointed this out, just in case, the religious zealots, got it wrong. “We all have sinned and fallen short, of the glory of God. “Yes, I told her, every one of us.

The most difficult time that Christ had been with the religious people. Blinded by pride. We cannot even begin to see out need for Him, until we’re ready to acknowledge that we are hopeless. The sin, disease has infected ever one of us. I was beginning to ‘chip away at her own religious pride, as I spoke. Using my own examples, I could see her searching herself, as I spoke.

I had been in Jerusalem, just recently. And I was so impressed with the words of Christ which came to life. “At one point I stood on the huge steps of Solomon’s Temple, and the guide told us, “look to your left. You see all those tombstones? This is exactly where Jesus stood when he cried out against the Pharisees.” “Look at those tombs!” He said. “You are just like them. Whitewashed tombs, full of dead men’s bones and corruption!” This was such a powerful word picture, as I saw thousands upon thousands, of these tombs. And I had learned from teachers many years before, that they would painstakingly, paint these white. So that they had a clean, pristine look.

Yes, this is what Christ was pointing out about these teachers. They thought they were hiding, because they were covered in this white paint. But how far from the mark, they really were. They were masking the truth. And the truth was, that they, were desperately in need of a savior. But by pretending, they were without sin, negated the sacrifice, which Christ made, with His own blood.

How many of us, still believe, that our salvation is found in some religious ritual, or the pretense of, “I’m better than you. Because I didn’t do that!” No, when I found out the truth, I had to look at myself, and say, I’m a disgusting mess in need of you, Lord!” He said, that, “Although your sins are as scarlet, I will make you white as snow!”

His blood, cleansed me and it is only in the recognition of this, that I’m saved. And this is by His grace. Nothing that I’ve earned, not that I ever could earn it.

Paul told us, “It is by grace that we’re saved. And where sin, abounds, grace abounds, much more. But he was also quick to point out, “Does this mean, that I should continue to sin, so that His grace abounds even more? Heaven forbid!” So, he wanted to show us that this understanding in itself, would lead to religious rituals, that man created, to reduce feelings of guilt. This is exactly what man does. We always want to believe that God needs our help.

Christ did this for us and His powerful point to His disciples was to allow Him to wash their feet. At first the pride in Peter, was appalled, that Christ would stoop down to wash his feet. But Jesus was making another picture for us to follow. “Unless you allow me to do this, you have no part in me.” He said. This is what we do, when we come to Him. We accept His sacrifice, which He made for us. Our pride must be broken, to allow Him, to wash us. He started with the part of the body, which was so symbolic of the dirt of this earth. But in reality, it is our hearts, which He cleanses and heals.

I reminded this woman that there isn’t any program that really works when the goal is rehabilitation. It doesn’t involve the heart of a person. It only involves works. But when we accept this salvation, it becomes a regeneration, which means, a new heart. It is a known fact that only, ‘faith based ministries,’ are successful in these dark places. The statistics have proven this.

So, sex education, passing out condoms, and these programs don’t change a person’s lifestyle. And the Lord pointed out that knowledge, in and of itself, is useless, and can only lead to puffing someone up with pride. But, wisdom, is the truth that can bring change. Yes, it is the only way possible. And we know that “The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom.

I shared many things, with this woman, who was searching and I felt the Lord tugging at her heart. At one point, as I told her about my life and the Lord’s touch, she said, “You gave me goosebumps!” I could see the Lord doing His work. It certainly wasn’t me. I am only the vessel, and I love to watch the Lord answering the questions of a person, who is searching.

I look back at my life, and wonder how He could use someone like me, and He reminds me that, it is all of this junk that has made me fit for His use. He shows us this picture with His disciples. They were ordinary, sinful men, with short patience, bad tempers, and all kinds of junk. Just like me. This is why He chose them. Because we were to see the contrast between, these men, who had recognized Him, because of their need, versus the religious teachers and their pride. They never knew it was their own deliverer, standing before them.

In the end, I said, “It is only the need, which we’ve recognized, which makes us, Christian’s. When I was leaving, she gave me a big hug, and said, “it was so nice to work with you.” I told her, Yes, it was nice.” But I know, that today, the Lord had set an appointment for her. I feel blessed to be a part of the process.

Donald Dump and a Dog Named Bill

This kid is looking for trouble!

I took my mom, my son and my daughter out to dinner somewhere tonight. It was just a way of getting my mom out of the house. There are very few things we can do, which don’t require a lot of energy.

Today, my crazy cousin called. I can only handle him in small doses. But he does make me laugh. At one point, he said, “I’m bored and I really want to go somewhere. How deep is your pool?” Oh great, now he thinks he’s coming down here. “It’s way over your head!” I tell him.”Oh, and don’t even think you’re going to do what your mom did years ago.” I said. “She came for a visit, and I realized she had moved in,when her mail started coming to my house.!

My mom was sitting on the sofa,listening to my conversation and just laughing so hard. I love to see her laugh. This little anecdote, was about her sister, who has just passed away, and this made it all the more hilarious, to my mom. Not one to dwell on the sadness, we learned many years ago, to add humor to all of our suffering. This is what makes it bearable.

“Yes, I continued. Your mom really didn’t think I would know she was living with me.” I think it was about a month later, that Rick took her to the mall, so your sister could come and pick her up.” Now my mom was laughing even harder. This particular aunt, was always pretty crazy. So none of this was meant in any way to be cruel. We were joking about her, and her antics, the same way we did when she was alive.

Now, I listened to my cousin debating whether he should come down to Florida or go to see his brother in Texas. As he was thinking out loud, he said, “Well, I could go down by Terri’s wife. She lives in Florida too. But she only takes me out to fancy dinners, like old people do.” At this I began to laugh so hard, and repeated it to my mom. “He doesn’t want to go to his friend Cheryl’s house, because she just takes him to fancy dinners, like old people.” Then he started to explain, “Yea, you know, old people always say, “Hey, what do you want to do tonight? Why don’t we go to this place for dinner? Because they don’t do anything else.”

Oh, my gosh! If my cousin could see me this very minute. I’m officially an old person. Except for the fact that I am not taking my mother to a fancy dinner. Hey I thought old people, clipped coupons, and went for the Early Bird Special’s. Well, now I remembered, to my cousin, anything besides, McDonald’s, is fancy.

So, here I am. My brother went to his basketball game. And I thought,”You know, this might be something I can do with my mom and kids. Then again, perhaps my cousin subliminally, planted this in my old persons, head.

At any rate, my son, is always hilarious, so dinner has no boundaries. I don’t think I could possibly take him to any fancy dinner.So it’s not going to be part of my old person, repertoire. I have serious concerns when I watch him eat. Not to mention, the conversation. Oh, Lord, I say a silent prayer. for his future mate. His cute factor, can only carry him for so long. I can say, with all honesty, He did not develop these terrible manners, because of me. As much as I hope for him to change, no prodding or nagging, is going to change him. Even my daughter, tries in vain to advise him, and he seems to get a charge out of making us cringe.

But my mother? She loves everything he does and says. I admit, he gets her to do things she would never do. It is so funny that I am trying to capture them on video most of the time.

Now we are sitting at the table, and he says, “Grandma, I saw you on The Jersey Shore, in a hot tub, fist-pumping, with The Situation.” Of course my mother, had no idea, what he was talking about, but we all started laughing so hard. My daughter, who happens to love watching that show, was just cracking up. Then my son continues, “You remember, you were swimming in your bloomers! And pumping your fist in the air, like this; as he raises his fist and gives his best Jersey Shore, fist-pump.

Just the visual was making us laugh, and my daughter says, “Yea, and you had your purse hanging from your shoulder.” As we know, my mom, never leaves that purse anywhere.

Now, we were listening to my son again, as he changes the subject. He begins to talk about Donald Trump. At this I said his signature phrase; “You’re fired!” Now my son says, “Oh, you know what that sounds like? You farted!”

He continues, “They should have him named, Donald Dump, and he says, “You farted!” “Hey,that’s actually a good SNL skit.” I said. “You could have, a Donald Trump, lookalike, and his name is Donald Dump. He sits at a huge conference table, with a number of people and looks at one of them and says, “You farted!” As the person tries in vain to blame the other person.Donald asks his token, questions, just as he does on The Apprentice.He  looks to the person, who was paired with the violator and asks them, “What did he/she do, or not do, which could have prevented this flatulence? Do you think, they made wise choices?” They nervously look at each other, “Well, I didn’t want to say anything, Mr. Dump, but that, trip to the buffet table, was a Big mistake. When I saw him reaching for another plate of that broccoli, I knew it was all over!”

Now the look, which they all dread; Mr Dump,  looks at the offender, and speaks the two words, which illicit s pure terror, You farted! Please exit immediately.” At this the person, humiliated, slinks out of the room. The escort, parts company, as no one will share the elevator with him.

Now, my daughter reminded me of our trip to the doctor, this morning. I took my mom to the Behavioral Health Specialist. She cannot hear a word, psychiatrist, because she thinks that denotes, a label of crazy. Although, I wouldn’t argue against that belief, in my family. Now my daughter said, “Hey, do you remember that dog?””Oh, yes!” I said. “That was funny.” A woman was sitting with a little lap dog, in the lobby. They called her and name, and then looked at her dog and said, “Oh, look at Bill! She’s so cute!”

Wait a minute. I looked at my daughter, and my mom. When both the woman and her dog  entered into the office, I said, “Didn’t she refer to her dog as she? And it’s name is, Bill?” “Yes, my daughter said, and did you see, what Bill was wearing? She had on one of those things that Jewish people wear! The woman wrapped him in it.And said, she’s cold.” “Wait a minute!” I said. “So Bill, is not a male dog, but a female? He’s not rabid, but a Rabbi?” “It must have been the dog, that was going for therapy, not the woman!” Just when you think you have it bad, you find a dog, who has it worse! I shook my head.

Now we are all laughing as we discuss these this little episodes, together. It’s a team effort. And it’s all the makings of a hilarious skit, yet we are at dinner. I’m thinking, what kind of a family does this? As I watch my mom, laughing so hard, she’s almost crying, I think….who cares? These are the memories, which life is made of. I look at each day as an opportunity to write another skit. There’s a wealth of material!