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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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Living Right-Side Up in An Upside-Down World

Posted by admin in January 31st, 2017 | 2 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

I just read an essay by Stephen Mattson, “History Will Judge Today’s Christians According to These 4 Questions.” Mattson lists the four questions he decided were the important issues the Church in America is miserably failing to answer. There’s an arrogance in Mr. Mattson’s approach and an assumption that he alone knows what is the high moral ground all Believers should take because of his superior intellect. BTW, he published his essay in Huffington Post – who by their own definition call themselves, “a left-leaning American online news aggregator…” After reading Mattson’s article, I had to ask myself the question, “How did a young Christian man from Moody Bible Institute come to this?”

Some days I feel dizzy. Not from hot flashes or sugar lows, but from some of the things I hear in person and see on social media. Do you ever wonder, “What in the world is going on?!?” How am I supposed to navigate in today’s swampy waters and alligator infested bayous? It’s tough. It’s disheartening. And sometimes it seems impossible.

Recently, I was talking to a family member about our family doctor and I said, “He’s an excellent Catholic…” Someone overhead the comment and yelled at me, “What does that mean? Are you implying there are Catholics that aren’t excellent?” Uh…well…that’s what he calls himself. You know, like the description, “She’s a good Catholic girl?” His words, not mine. It felt as if the person thought he’d caught me doing something wrong and immediately needed to right that wrong.

Last week, like a crazy person, I criticized Madonna (the singer not the Virgin), for her comments about “any woman who voted for Trump is despicable.” I thought it was ironic that a woman who was nearly arrested in Toronto for simulating masturbation on stage called me “despicable.” The Madonna thing was bad, but what was worse, when I criticized her and spoke of her hypocrisy, a family member called me a “sexist.” What?!?

It seems to me, especially among Millennials, that white, middle-class, educated, raised-in-the-church individuals are looking for a cause; looking for something to fight for. They seem very prone to jumping on a bandwagon (be it BLM, refugee issues, LGBTQ community issues, and/ or pro-pot and its legalization) rather than to define and defend the traditional biblical values and beliefs of Christianity. Why is that? Is it a sign of the times? Or does it go deeper? Maybe, just maybe, it is because my generation failed to teach them what a true and reasonable Christian worldview does and how it impacts society, our culture, and our personal lives.

I joined the Christian movement in 1980. Oh my, the things I have seen in these past 40 years! I attended churches that taught we needed to make the Christian message relevant; I attended churches that believed strobe lights were good for worship; I attended churches that taught that prosperity was God’s will for His Bride around the globe; I attended churches that preached healing was always God’s will. You know, it is a miracle that the Church has survived with all these erroneous and crazy off-balanced teachings. And what one generation does in moderation, the next generation does in excess. What I mean is this: there is a whole generation of young Believers who has not been taught how to “rightly divide” the Word of God and whose home churches spent more money on entertaining them and trying to make them happy than they did in training them in developing a Christian worldview and helping them to become holy. So, you see, I think we are reaping exactly what we’ve sown.

We plowed their hearts without sowing good seed. We exposed them to the dangerous idea that they could make a difference in the world; that they were special, and called, and unique, without doing the hard work of equipping them by defining right and wrong, good and bad. They want to make a difference and they want to throw off the hypocrisy and disingenuous attitudes of leaders and parents within the Church, and so they are like small magnets attaching themselves to any metal causes that pass by. Unfortunately, they do this often without thinking, without using sound judgment, without critical analysis, and most importantly, without asking the most fundamental question of all, “What does the Bible say about this?” The result is an anemic generation of Christians trying to give the world a blood transfusion. What’s left is a generation of folks who believe they have the moral high ground and superior intellect simply because what they are supporting and believing is different from my generation’s superficial and unbalanced Christianity. To many, different equals better.

How then can I blame Mattson, and others like him, who want to make the world a better place, who desire to bring justice, equality, and faith to a fallen world, but simply have never been taught the core principles of Truth and a Christian worldview of all life and living? It is because of my generation they cannot recognize the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. We didn’t live these principles out before their watching eyes and open hearts.

Sadly, for them to rhapsodize about injustices, without seeking purity of mind and heart doesn’t seem inconsistent. Why do I need to be careful about what I see in movies and on TV? I care about the poor and the marginalized. What does it matter how I spend my time? As long as I am fighting for the underdog, I’m good. After all, my personal activities aren’t really relevant as long as I believe in noble causes. How I spend my money is not important as long as I decry injustices as I see them; as long as I call out sexists, fascists, and hypocrites—it’s all good, after all #LoveWins!

Unfortunately, it looks like we’ve raised a generation of Christians that believe it is more righteous to criticize and protest against refugee vetting, against antiabortion rallies, or anything conservative or traditional than to live out faith which requires clean hands, a clean heart, and a pure mind. Inconsistent? Sure, but they learned it from us. You see, many would rather cry out against the treatment of marginalized individuals than to look biblically and honestly at the sin that holds those individuals in bondage. This is why they can throw out a verse about what Jesus would do in today’s world, but not truly understand the basic principles of protecting life and pursuing holiness. There is a micro and a macro application of Scripture to all of life – a personal application (as Christ’s commanded His followers) that isn’t a governance principle or meant for matters of State. Remember, Jesus lived under Roman rule and occupation. Shame on me. Shame on us for not training up the next generation to understand what it means to fully follow Christ and to fully understand what is genuinely Good, genuinely True, and genuinely Beautiful.

Of course there are exceptions. And I have met brilliant young people whose walks with God I would do well to emulate. But still, there is a generation of young Believers who have called us out on our phoniness and put out a clarion call to rebel, all the while not understanding the basic and fundamental precepts of God’s Word and how to apply it to life and living, as well as to matters of State. What remains is a lot of righteous verbiage without an understanding of right and wrong. Maybe that’s why so many of us are feeling like we’re living right-side up in an upside-down world. Maybe. Peace.

The Misery of Being Misunderstood

Posted by admin in November 2nd, 2016 | 4 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

The more you try to explain, the worse it gets. Ever been there? The more you try to bridge the gap, the wider the gap becomes. One of my greatest struggles in this world is the angst I get if someone misjudges me. Makes.Me.Crazy. There is a hilarious episode of Everybody Loves Raymond titled “Somebody Hates Raymond.” The entire episode Ray is trying to figure out why this guy hates him so much and how Ray can clear the air and make things right. Doesn’t happen. The writers were able to hit on the average Joe’s struggle with rejection over misunderstanding. “If they only knew my heart!” Or, “If I could just explain, I know I could make him understand.” And the always useful, “If we could just sit down and talk…” But sometimes, for whatever reasons, there will be people in our lives that simply want to keep their negative opinions of us. Why? I have no idea. But it happens and I guess the upside of it all is that it happened to Jesus too…a lot. As Jesus Followers we are called by God to be conformed to the image of Christ and most of the time […] Continue Reading…

Road Signs

Posted by admin in October 6th, 2016 | 7 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

Am I the only person who likes road signs while driving? I like them because they tell me what is ahead and if I need a warning. Caution: curve ahead. Yield: there’s oncoming traffic. Slowdown: school crossing. Love those road signs. Need them.

There are some “road signs” in our Christian walk, but not always and not as many as I would like. In July 2015, Daryl and I moved back to the US after a dreamy and wonderful five-year existence in beautiful Lithuania. Loved my job. Loved my students. Loved my friends. Loved Lithuania. I truly felt God’s good pleasure (in the words of Eric Liddell). But we knew in our last year there that God was calling us back to the US. Promptings. Urgings. And some tangible evidence that we were needed back home. So we packed up our wonderful life in Lithuania and returned to the States with joyful expectations and a plan. Plans are funny. Plans are stupid.

On the night of our arrival back home in Kansas City, all of Daryl’s kids greeted us at the airport and all the grandkids were there too. It was a lovely sight and all felt as it should […] Continue Reading…

Heroes, Transitions, and Faith

Posted by admin in April 20th, 2015 | 3 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

Whenever I write a post for this blog, I always wish that it could be brilliant. I wish I could be a brilliant writer, but I’m not. I have this deep desire to write profound thoughts as well as thought-provoking ideas. I’m that land-locked penguin that wishes she was a swan. But that doesn’t stop me from trying.

Sadly, after five years here in lovely Lithuania, Daryl and I are moving back to the USA. But leaving Lithuania is not the only big change. After nearly 20 years of working with IICS (now called Global Scholars) neither Daryl nor I will be with the organization any longer. Our departure from Lithuania inadvertently becomes our departure from IICS.

Wow. Big change. Big transition.

Here’s a piece I put together for our colleagues and friends. My words, though not eloquent nor terribly weighty, do come from the heart.

Greetings from cloudy and very cold Vilnius! Spring in Lithuania is more of a state of mind than an actual season change. I hope and pray that you are flourishing in your walks with God, your host cultures, your classrooms, and of course your families! All of you—each of you—have been a tremendous […] Continue Reading…

Am I a Pharisee?

Posted by admin in March 1st, 2015 | 6 comments 
Published in freedom, obedience

Recently I received an email from a sister in Christ calling me a Pharisee. Hmmm…a Pharisee? The dictionary gives two definitions of Pharisee: 1) A Pharisee was a member of an ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretation and observance of the Mosaic law in both its oral and written form; 2) A hypocritically self-righteous person. I think my sister was probably referring to the second definition. And maybe she’s right. However, it is that first definition that I was really aiming for – in a New Testament kind of way. I think anyone who knows me, knows that I live in a black and white world. I am devoted to absolutes: right/wrong, good/evil, yes/no. I am teaching a semantics class this semester and I repeat again and again, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Yup. Pretty black and white.

Sadly our world is often lived in the gray areas. Gray. Dismal. Unclear. And if you try to draw clear distinctions, as I am prone to do, then there is the question of being judgmental. Are we as followers of Christ ever directed by Scripture to be judgmental? And what is Christ referring to when He […] Continue Reading…

Walking About On My Own

Posted by admin in May 11th, 2013 | 5 comments 
Published in Uncategorized

I hate being a hateful person who hates people. A good friend of mine wrote to me today, “You know one of the reasons I want to be in heaven is I want to see what it feels like to have no sin in my life—I am not sure how we get rid of the hate and frustration…and I am sure my sin clouds my view of things. So I would love to know what it feels like to have no sin.”

It was the first time I’d ever thought of Heaven in those terms—as being sin-free living. To me Heaven always has meant seeing Jesus (yay), being healed of all of our diseases, getting along well with others, and being able to live in peace. But being completely free of sin hadn’t really entered my mind; not like that. I read my friend’s words and just started to weep. Yes. I want to be free from sin. I know I’m forgiven each time I ask God to cleanse me of my sin. And I know the Holy Spirit works in me to convict me of sin and help me to overcome it, but I can honestly say […] Continue Reading…

A Postcard from the Ledge

Posted by admin in December 4th, 2012 | 9 comments 
Published in faith, Lithuania, obedience

I love being in Lithuania. Especially on days like today when the sun is shining and there is fresh snow on the ground. A delicious 21 degrees Fahrenheit is for me a perfect temperature. But not all days are like this…some days it’s a struggle. Not because of Lithuania, but because of homesickness, missing family and friends. I often wonder what am I missing in the lives and events of those I love back home in America?

Obedience means different things to different people. For some it is raising a family; for others it is starting a small business or keeping financial records at an organization that provides humanitarian aid. For Daryl and me it has meant to travel 5,057 miles away from home to live as strangers in a foreign land. We are deaf—we have no idea what is being said around us. If someone was to call out, “FIRE”, we’d have no idea what was going on. We are illiterate: as academics it is a difficult struggle to not be able to read or write; not to comprehend something as simple as a label on a jar. We are mute: we can’t answer when people speak to […] Continue Reading…

Patches of Godlight

Posted by admin in October 1st, 2012 | 6 comments 
Published in faith, Lithuania, obedience

In our apartment building here in Vilnius we are required to clean the common areas/entry areas of our building every third month. There’s a list on the door as you leave the building reminding all the tenants which month is their month to clean. Welcome to the cooperative neighborhood of a former Soviet State. September was our month.

It’s not that I mind this duty so much, it’s more of a hassle than anything else. Daryl and I do clean the area together, sweeping, dusting and mopping. We also shake the welcome mats and clean off the sidewalk leading up to the building. But to be perfectly honest, it’s not my favorite thing to do. Once I just half-heartedly swept and didn’t even mop! There are times when it is our turn that we take a paper towel and spot clean. Not really the right way to do this job. Argh! (Not the pirate argh, more like the ugh argh).

But recently Colossians 3:23 kept rolling around in my head, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Not just when you get paid? Not just when people are watching? Not […] Continue Reading…

Who Remembers Second Place?

Posted by admin in May 23rd, 2012 | 9 comments 
Published in Lithuania

Okay, I have to start by telling you how all this came about. I started reading the Book of Acts this year to remind myself of the life and times of the early Church. This is probably my 20th reading of this book, but for the first time EVER something hit me. Let’s look at these verses then I’ll explain.

Acts 1:21-26: “‘Judas must now be replaced. The replacement must come from the company of men who stayed together with us from the time Jesus was baptized by John up to the day of his ascension, designated along with us as a witness to his resurrection.’”

(Insert: So we’re talking about 120 people. And out of that band of Jesus’s followers they selected two…)

“They nominated two: Joseph Barsabbas, nicknamed Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, ‘You, O God, know every one of us inside and out. Make plain which of these two men you choose to take the place in this ministry and leadership that Judas threw away in order to go his own way.’ They then drew straws. Matthias won and was counted in with the eleven apostles.”

For me, this story illustrates perfectly how men think. Jesus told […] Continue Reading…

Waiting…

Posted by admin in November 21st, 2011 | 5 comments 
Published in Waiting

I spend a lot of time waiting these days. Waiting for the bus. Waiting for FedEx. Waiting for OTR carpools. Waiting for water delivery. Waiting for laundry to dry. Waiting for translation. Waiting for Daryl. Waiting in line for groceries. Waiting.

Funny thing about waiting in a foreign land–it’s not like waiting for a checkup in the doctor’s office back home or teeth cleaning at my dentist’s. For those things I usually take a book, a favorite magazine and a nice cup of coffee and actually enjoy the wait. Waiting in that way is different. No real worries like, “Did I misunderstand my appointment?” “Am I sure I’m waiting in the right place?” “What’s holding things up?” “What am I missing here?”

Waiting in a foreign land is more difficult than in one’s native country. Why? Well there are two main reasons: one, if you don’t speak the language you are a deaf, illiterate mute. Secondly, you can never rest while waiting in a foreign land because you are constantly looking for cues, clues, watching others, ‘on alert’ in case an announcement is made and the crowd moves. In a foreign land you are always defining, redefining, interpreting and most […] Continue Reading…

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  • Living Right-Side Up in An Upside-Down World
  • I just read an essay by Stephen Mattson, “History Will Judge Today’s Christians According to These 4 Questions.” Mattson lists...
  • The Misery of Being Misunderstood
  • The more you try to explain, the worse it gets. Ever been there? The more you try to bridge the...
  • Road Signs
  • Am I the only person who likes road signs while driving? I like them because they tell me what is...
  • Heroes, Transitions, and Faith
  • Whenever I write a post for this blog, I always wish that it could be brilliant. I wish I could...
  • Am I a Pharisee?
  • Recently I received an email from a sister in Christ calling me a Pharisee. Hmmm...a Pharisee? The dictionary gives two...

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