God Hates Liars

My wife and I were sitting in the waiting room at her doctor’s office last week. We only had a few minutes to wait until they called Lindsay back for her 21-week ultrasound.

There was a woman sitting across the room from us along with 4 small children, 2 boys and 2 girls. She looked absolutely miserable as she sat slumped in her chair. The kids were surprisingly well-behaved, especially considering how boring waiting rooms are (even for 33-year-old husbands).

The youngest girl stood up from her chair and waddled over to the magazine rack. Her jacket was so puffy that she could barely reach out her arms to take one of the magazines.

She looked like she might be 3 years old…

She was the cutest little thing.

She stood quietly by the magazine rack and studied the cover of the magazine she had chosen.

Sit down” said the woman in a commanding, angry voice.

The young girl said something under her breath, still looking at her magazine, as the woman stood up, walked over and spanked her in the middle of the room.

My wife Lindsay and I looked at each other, both pretty surprised by the spanking. It didn’t seem necessary at all.

The little girl walked over to her chair, crying now, but still looking at her magazine. She had taken a sharp smack in the tush, but she was still infatuated with the cover. She sat there, quietly crying.

Stop crying… you baby” the woman said.

I thought to myself, “She IS a baby!”.

Stop crying…

Stop crying you baby…

And then she said it, slowly and intentionally:

Stop crying, you ugly baby… Ugly baby. You are ugly, baby. You are not pretty, you are an ugly baby.

Now, if you know me or Lindsay at all, you know exactly how we felt at this moment. It didn’t help that she kept going…

Ugly.

Fea

Ugly baby.

Fea…

Fea…

She just kept saying that to this little girl…

Lindsay stood up and walked out of the room instead of throwing her chair at the woman.

Right then the other little girl spoke up. She was about 5 years old.

She looked at the woman and said, “You’re going to get in trouble”.

She explained, “When my mom comes out here and she hears that you called her ugly, you are going to get in trouble. You called her ugly and stupid and you’re going to get in trouble.”

Now I see that this woman is the girls’ aunt, and that their mother is in with the doctor.

The woman replies, “I didn’t say she was stupid. I never said that. YOU ARE A LIAR. YOU ARE A LIAR… AND GOD HATES LIARS. THE DEVIL IS GOING TO GET YOU BECAUSE GOD HATES LIARS.

I was waiting for my moment to say something, and this felt like a pretty clear invitation to join the conversation.

From across the room I say, “I think you are wrong. Actually, I’m a pastor and I know you are completely wrong! Little girl, you are not ugly, you are very pretty. Do you hear me? You are very pretty. You are muy bonita, very pretty! What she is saying about you is not true. And God does not hate you. He loves you! God loves liars, that’s why we shouldn’t lie, because He loves us so much.

And then my anger got the best of me and I shouted asked her “WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT TO HER?!

She rolled her eyes at me…

Don’t roll your eyes at me! Why would you say that to her?! Do you actually think that’s going to help? Do you think you can make her behave by calling her ugly?!

I was just kidding. That’s how we joke with each other…” she says.

She doesn’t know that you’re kidding! She won’t even be able to comprehend sarcasm until she’s 12 or 13 years old!! Don’t you understand how damaging that can be for her to hear at this age?

I told the little girls that I was so sorry that they had heard those things, and then I walked out of the room angrily…

I see my wife in the back room sobbing. The nurses had been watching our exchange through the window, but Lindsay hadn’t seen or heard anyhing I had said to her. I sat back there for 5 minutes with them, and then went back out to the waiting room.

Instead of sitting across the room from them, I walked over to their side of the room and sat in the row facing the woman, just a few feet away.

I apologized for getting angry with her, and then went on to explain to her how much power her words have in the life of those kids. I asked her if she had ever been on the receiving end of those kinds of words… and her entire posture changed. She told me about how she grew up in a broken home with no father and with a verbally abusive mother. She eventually shared with me that she is homeless, and that her and her young son were living with their sister.

Then it all made sense. Hurt people hurt people.

Then I just went for it…

The other reason I just had to say something is that you were completely wrong about God. Do you know that God loves you? He loves all of us, even when we’re at our very worst, even when we don’t feel like we deserve it, even when we say and do horrible ugly things.

She had no idea.

I shared the good news of God’s love with her, with the kids sitting there listening, and then I gave them my contact information and told them that I would love for them to come to my church. She thanked me and smiled with a genuine smile.

I’m hoping and praying that God will use that conversation to bring her and those kids into a relationship with Him, and a clear understanding of the good news that brings great joy for all people- the life, death and resurrection of Christ!

Heedless of Danger

I was reading a post over on Ben Arment’s blog about the sociological factors that are involved in the expansion of the Christian religion, and it reminded me of this quote from Rodney Stark’s book “The Rise of Christianity“. I’ll include the preceding paragraph so you’ll know the context:

“At the height of the second great epidemic, around 260, in the Easter letter already quoted above, Dionysius wrote a lengthy tribute to the heroic nursing efforts of local Christians, many whom lost their lives while caring for others.”

Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains. Many, in nursing and curing others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead…

When everyone else ran for the hills in fear, the Christians followed the Golden Rule. When everyone else was about self-preservation, Christians were about everyone else.

Perhaps the ultimate hope of the local church has very little to do with marketing. Perhaps it will have more to do with the small things we do with great love. Perhaps it was a good idea for Matthew Barnett to use an old hospital for their Dream Center.

100 + You

100+youMy church has listed the 100+ ways that we are serving our community and some other areas on the globe. At last count we were supporting 95 missionary families and a slew of para-church organizations. From goats to bibles to shoes, there are SO MANY WAYS for our church family to plug in!

I’m so excited to see these initiatives grow. God is doing something remarkable at Calvary- continuing to bless longstanding efforts, and giving our leadership eyes to see new opportunities.

My hope is to have high school students plugged into a handful of these. We certainly don’t have the manpower to join each and every one of them, but we can certainly do some damage to a few of them!

Check out the list on the site! Can you guess which one I am the most excited about getting high schoolers involved with? If you guess it right I’ll buy ya lunch (even if you live in the UK).

culture making

I’ve just started reading “Culture Making” by Andy Crouch, and on page 12 he says this:

“I hope friends will read this book and begin to envision their friendships not just as the companionship of compatible individuals but as potentially transformative partnerships in the places where they live, study, work and play.”

Anybody wanna be my friend?

I need a reading buddy. I recommend books to people, but half the time I get the “Oh man, I’ve got sixty-four books to read first” line. When they do read the books I recommend, they are usually grateful! Pastors are the worst people to read with… they (we) are all too busy to actually read something that doesn’t plug into their next sermon or bible study. I need a stay-at-home dad with no kids to be my reading buddy.