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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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Am I a Pharisee?

Posted by admin in March 1st, 2015 | 4 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 said, “Judge not…unless you want to be judged?” People really like to quote that verse.

But I believe…brace for it…that we are to judge. I think it is part of our role here on earth as the Body of Christ. Sentencing people to hell? Nah…that’s not our job! But declaring truth and explaining the rightness of things…yup! That is. Discernment is a form of judging.

What do we do with Scriptures like Paul telling us not to eat with a brother who is living in sexual sin (I Cor. 5:9-13)? How do we handle Scripture that says, “Judge every word that comes out of the mouth… (I John 4:1)” or even when Paul tells us not to be unequally yoked – that takes judgement, right (II Cor. 6:14)? That verse is not just referring to marrying a non-believer – it is referring to business partnerships, contracts, as well as marriage. Peter tells us to “know those who labor with us,” (I Thess. 5:12) in order to do that ya need a little judgment.

Jesus said, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24). So I have to ask the question, Is there such a thing as right judgement? And if so, what is it?

It’s dicey! And I know every deed done outside of love becomes hateful. All our actions, decisions, and even our judgments have to come out of a heart filled with love. And we need a large dose of wisdom to know the difference.

For me personally, I am alive today because someone cared enough to speak judgment into my life. My Mom had come to visit me in college. I was doing drugs, living with a boy, smoking 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day, and dressing inappropriately. I was a mess. My Mom was leaving for home (it must have been a weekend in hell for her) and as she was leaving she said, “God is not pleased with the way you are living.” I replied, “Why don’t you let God tell me that?” And my Mom’s words cut deep, “Because I think He can’t get through to a heathen.” My Mom called later to tell me that she had made a hard decision: to cut off all contact with me. “I will always love you Teri, but your lifestyle is wicked and I can’t condone it. I love you too much to act like you’re okay.” And she exercised very tough love. It took less than a year. Not hearing from her; not having any communication; no money; no help; no support; no one to listen to me when I needed a shoulder to cry on–these actions of her judgment slammed me to the ground and forced me to cry out to God. Sometimes God’s judgment is His greatest grace in our lives. I will say that it was the greatest gift my Mom ever gave me. I hit rock bottom and found the Rock of my Salvation – Jesus my Savior Who forgave me of all my sins and cleansed me from all my guilt! My Mom’s judgment saved my life and I am grateful.

The kind of judgment I’m trying to explain here is like this: say you see someone out in the street and a truck is coming. You know that if he doesn’t move, that truck is going to hit him and kill him. You shout, “Hey! Look out!” and if he doesn’t hear you, you run into the street and you knock him out of the way and you try to save his life. It’s not gently, quietly, or even gracefully – it is a hard-hitting, I-love-you-too-much, you won’t die on my watch kind, a passionate pushing to safety.

When I see a person living in sin – living in ways that are contrary to the Gospel – I want them to know that there is freedom in Christ. Sometimes I think love, true love, is speaking judgment into peoples’ lives and allowing them to hear God’s words on lifestyles that are contrary to His will and way. I know it is a silly refrigerator magnet, but it is true, “God loves me just the way I am and He loves me too much to leave me there.”

I think it is wrong for brothers and sisters in Christ to yoke up with followers of demonic religions (i.e. Scientology). I think it is wrong for brothers and sisters in Christ to attend same sex wedding showers and marriages. I think it is wrong for followers of Christ to neglect being the salt and light we are called to be – Truth Speakers – not sentencing those held in bondage, but prayerfully, carefully, lovingly opening the locks of bondage to their chains with Truth and Deliverance. This is our calling. And sometimes it is not pretty and sometimes it is not popular and sometimes it’s awkward and sometimes people will think we are Pharisees. But for me to be anything less would be disingenuous. I love sinners. I am one saved by grace, but I also have a duty to speak truth and the truth is this: Jesus is the Way, the only Way and no one comes to the Father but by Him and His words are clear – obedience is mandatory.

Sherif Girgis writes, “Friendship isn’t served by supporting what we think wrong. We must trade our safe, undiscerning love for Christ’s own—aflame with truth but also vulnerable and understated, free of smugness or distance. Then we must get on with serving our friend, now on alert for signs our love was conditional. We prove those suspicions wrong, slowly, in every interaction.”

“I love and live by the ethics of Jesus…He was a friend of tax collectors and sinners because that was how he could connect. Jesus’ love, though unconditional, was not static. Beginning with acceptance, he moved into challenge, as seen with Zacchaeus. Would Jesus have shown solidarity by collecting the odd bit of revenue? I don’t think so. Jesus separated the person of Zacchaeus from his iniquitous business practice in order to redeem him” (CT, Feb. 23, 2015) Lisa Severine Nolland.

Am I a Pharisee? Perhaps, but I hope not. I hope that I am a lover of people. I hope that I am a friend who will snatch a loved one from the flames even if the extrication is painful. Peace.

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 | 5 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 gotta start out telling you how all this came about. I wanted to read the Book of Acts this year and remind myself of the life and times of the early Church. This has to be at least 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 guys […] 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…

I’m Simply Not Good Enough

Posted by admin in August 10th, 2011 | 8 comments 
Published in Lithuania, missions, obedience, teaching

We are one week from leaving for Lithuania and we still don’t have a place to live. But I keep humming the Christmas carol, “No crib for a bed…” Even the Son of God on His advent to earth didn’t have a place to live. That strikes me as so strange. It wasn’t like God didn’t know He was sending Jesus to earth during a census. That’s so odd to me. Is there a lesson in that? Probably.

I’m still struggling with certain aspects of leaving the U.S. We kept our grandsons for several days last week and I found myself crying at every funny phrase, every hysterical expression, every tender moment. How can we leave such precious ones behind? Will they forget us?

I found myself saying a bad word on Monday when I dropped something on the floor. What a mouth I have! And yet I want to use this same mouth to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to the lost. I’m such a weirdo.

We’re trying to get packed and I am fretting over what to take, what not to take, what we’ll need, what we don’t know we’ll need and over and over in my head […] Continue Reading…

Heading Back to Lithuania

Posted by admin in June 5th, 2011 | 3 comments 
Published in Blessings, Lithuania, prayer

Sorry guys. I think I promised not to use my blog for newsletters and self-promotion! Ugh. But again, I’m up against a timeline and so wanted to let everyone know how God has answered prayers and opened doors. Please forgive the format.

Abraham heard from God at Ur. God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai. Paul had that Damascus Road experience. And Teri McCarthy? Well I heard God as I was coming out of the ladies’ room at Vilnius Pedagogical University. (Of course you did!) It was May 12, 2009. Daryl and I had just met with university officials working to place IICS professors in Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania.

After our meeting, I went to the ladies’ room. When I came out, the bell rang dismissing classes. Suddenly I was caught in the helter-skelter of students running to and for; from one class to the next. As I stood there everything went kind of slow motion. I started hearing students’ voices clearly and distinctly. My heart started racing. I stood there for what seemed like minutes, but was actually just seconds. But something happened to me in those brief moments in that crowed hallway and I […] Continue Reading…

Am I Free or Just Loose?

Posted by admin in March 3rd, 2011 | 3 comments 
Published in freedom, obedience

Annie Dillard makes a very interesting distinction between freedom and just being loose in her book An American Childhood. Daryl is reading this book to me as part of our evening ritual. Dillard’s phrase, (used to describe her father that quit his job to travel the river), keeps rolling around in my head, “He wasn’t free so much as loose.”

So I have to ask, what’s the difference between free and loose? I think it’s a very important question. It makes me think of the Chinese legend about the Jealous Empress and the Favored Concubine.

The Empress hated the Concubine because she was the Emperor’s favorite. The Concubine was always happy and singing and she was a beautiful dancer. Every night the Emperor would ask the Concubine to dance and sing for him. She was doted on by all of the Palace because she was pleasant and kind and happy and beautiful. The Empress was beautiful too, and of excellent royal breeding, but people didn’t dote on her. So in a fit of jealousy and anger she had the Concubine kidnapped and hidden away in a prison-like fortress many days’ journey from the Capital. On occasion the Empress would […] Continue Reading…

Epaphroditus and Fibroid Tumors

Posted by admin in February 18th, 2011 | 2 comments 
Published in Blessings, faith, gratitude, missions, prayer, Uncategorized

Some things I’ll just never understand this side of heaven. A friend said to me recently, “I don’t want to go to hell over a mystery.” I know exactly what he was saying even though I believe once saved always saved. If I edited that statement and made it mine it’d go like this: “I don’t want to lose my love relationship with Abba Father and His peace that passes understanding just because I can’t figure out why He said no to something I earnestly asked Him for.” Yeah. That’s more my take on it.

Daryl and I love Lithuania. I can’t explain loving a piece of land. We love the people too, even though we don’t know each and every one of the three million there personally. But I can definitely say I love the ones we met. I love teaching and my students carried me away into one of the sweetest dreams I’ve ever known. But…and in my life there are some pretty big buts…

My body started going through a process that every woman in the world can relate to in one way or another. I thought my process was pretty well complete and I was on the […] Continue Reading…

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  • 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...
  • Walking About On My Own
  • I hate being a hateful person who hates people. A good friend of mine wrote to me today, “You know...
  • A Postcard from the Ledge
  • I love being in Lithuania. Especially on days like today when the sun is shining and there is fresh snow...
  • Patches of Godlight
  • In our apartment building here in Vilnius we are required to clean the common areas/entry areas of our building every...
  • Who Remembers Second Place?
  • Okay, I gotta start out telling you how all this came about. I wanted to read the Book of Acts...

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