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Dr. Julie Barrier Christian Blog and Commentary

Julie Barrier

Crosswalk.com blogspot for pastor's wife, author, and teacher Dr. Julie Barrier

#GodLovesOldPeople. Medical charts don't lie. My doctor knows how old I am. I've tried all of the tricks: photo-shopping, neck-covering and youthful clothes. But, truth be told, I'm old. Not really old, but semi-old. Age happens. It chaps my hide when people treat me differently.  All of us have unique challenges, so why don’t we make it easier on each other? A little understanding goes a long way…..

Here are three ways Spring Chickens can love Old People, and three ways Old People should love Spring Chickens.

My advice to the Young:

1. Keep loving me. Assure me that you will still care when I get wrinkly and gray (and possibly pudgy). God still loves me, old or young, warts and all. I fear being rejected or forgotten.

He promises:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.” Jeremiah 31:3 AMP

2. Respectfully listen. I’m smart (occasionally). I can teach you a lot.

No one cares if I earned a Doctor’s degree. The IRS just wants to know if I paid my taxes on time. The reason older people want to share what they have learned is because they want to save you the grief of making the stupid mistakes they made when they were younger. We really have been around the block. We know what’s on the other side of the hill because we are over the hill.

The Apostle Paul writes: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16 KJV

The basic meaning of Latin circumspicere is "to look around." It implies a careful consideration of all circumstances and a desire to avoid mistakes and bad consequences.

However, I must not infer that the "good old days" are better than the present. Untrue. 

 “Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” Proverbs 11:14 MSG

3. Connect with me.

I have many dear Facebook friends who used to hate me. Some left our church for one reason or another. When you are old, the little stuff in the past doesn’t matter anymore. (At least it shouldn’t). Friends are important. They are worth keeping.

King Solomon aptly wrote, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1:1. KJV

This phrase does not mean life is a waste. Vanity simply means mist. Time flies. You don’t get it back.

Now is the time to show appreciation, affection and affirmation to the elders in your life. They won’t be around forever.

When you are seven, your birthday seems like a century away. When you are old, you rack up birthdays like poker chips. Make every moment count. Love deeply…like Christ loves you.

 

Now, let’s preach to the choir.

My advice to the Elders:

What should I do for the Spring Chickens?

As an old person, I need to step up to the plate for those who are still in the game. How should I treat those who are wrinkle-free?

1. Let go. Little birdies need to fly.

Animals are smarter than people. They push their young out of the nest or into the wild to grow and flourish. Old people want to hang on rather than release control to their successors.

Sagely Paul advises:

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. Instead, set an example for the believers through your speech, behavior, love, faith, and by being sexually pure.” 1 Timothy 4:12 CEB

Paul encouraged Timothy. Some church deacon told Timothy he was too young and inexperienced to be the pastor. Timothy was more than capable.

Use your influence to empower and encourage the young.

2. Keep up.

Since we were here first, old people assume that a younger generation’s culture and technology should adapt to them.  Not true. Take the time and energy to relate. Be relevant.

I took my new iPhone to the Verizon guy to fix a glitch. Thirty minutes later, the guy was still mystified by my issue. He reluctantly handed the phone to his manager. The manager chuckled and confessed a four-year-old kid taught him how to fix the problem last week!  

If you want to relate to your kids and/or grandkids, use their technology. Go to their soccer games and recitals.

Be involved in the activities they love. Be passionately engaged in their world.

Paul referred to the importance of relating to others in his letter to the Corinthians:

“ Yes, whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ.”  I Corinthians 9:22 LB

Entering someone’s world builds trust. Be the hands and feet of Jesus to the next generation.

3. Be the Spiritual Grownup

Seniors have a reputation for being childish and set in their ways. Shame on us!

Spiritual maturity implies that we walk more closely with God. I love the fact that Moses was so intimate with Jehovah, he was buried by God’s own hand.

Old Paul knew the secret of aging God’s way:

“This is the reason why we never collapse. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain.

For we are looking all the time not at the visible things but at the invisible. The visible things are transitory: it is the invisible things that are really permanent.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 Phillips

My husband Roger had a spiritual mentor. Albert Fox was his Sunday School teacher and friend. Mr. Fox walked alongside Roger every day, loving him, praying for him and teaching him how to be a dynamic follower of Jesus.

Roger visited his spiritual father in the hospital. Albert had an inoperable brain tumor and was near death. He quietly whispered into Roger’s ear, “Son, I want you to learn how a Christian dies.”

Roger was never the same. He was imprinted for life by his spiritual father.

Less of me, more of Jesus. That’s what our Spring Chickens need to see!

 

Jesus Christ always respected and cherished women! In a time when females were considered inferior to men and treated as property, Christ counted them among His most valued disciples and friends. I want you to look at four of “His Women,” healed by His mercy and grace, and learn how He cherishes YOU. I want you to know Jesus intimately, the real Jesus…not the Sunday School one, or the painted sissy Christ with a pasty face and girlish hair (they make him look like a shampoo ad!) This spectacular Savior is the One who looked at a woman and made her feel like a million dollars, that she could do anything. These desperate, lonely women looked into Jesus’ eyes and knew that nothing else in the world mattered because He loved them completely and unconditionally.  We will look at three wounded women in the New Testament, all from John’s gospel, and see how Jesus re-shaped their views of God when He touched their lives. The fourth, Mary of Bethany, loved her Savior at first sight and understood His passion for people and mission to save mankind.

1. THE ADULTEROUS WOMAN

            In John 8, Jesus is in deep water.  The plotting Pharisees tried to trap Him, by asking an accusing question—“Who’s your Daddy?”  And they didn’t mean Joseph! Mary’s dubious pre-wedding pregnancy still caused skeptics to believe He was an unwanted child. So they tried to place Him in a no-win situation.  They accosted Jesus teaching in the temple, and threw an adulterous woman at Jesus’ feet.  My question is, “How did they catch this woman ‘in the act’?” Did they hire a Private eye?  Did they find a Peeping Tom?   Women had no civil rights in the Mediterranean world. They were not considered to be citizens, they could not vote, and they could not seek or gain justice in the court system.  

According to Jewish law, both adulterous parties were to be stoned, but the man somehow conveniently eluded their grasp. The trembling, disheveled woman was left to the whims of her accusers – with no protection or recourse.  These treacherous hypocrites hurled the harlot at Jesus feet and asked Him what to do with her. The Catch 22 was if Jesus told them to carry out the letter of the Jewish law (her stoning) he would break the Roman law.  The Romans did not permit Jews to execute anyone.  If Jesus let her off scot-free, He would be breaking Jewish law, and they would call him a liberal and a heretic.  Sneaky!

Notice Jesus’ focus.  He ignores the Pharisees; he is deaf to the clamor of the mob.  Instead of looking at those who had the power to take His life, He knelt in the sand next to the woman. What must she be feeling?  Humiliation, terror, shame….What drove her to such desperation that she would risk her life to be with a man in an illicit affair?  Was her husband abusive?  Did she feel trapped?  Was she desperately unhappy?  Was she depressed—did she really want to be found out to end her miserable existence?

What did Jesus see in those tear-stained eyes?  Fear, condemnation, shame?

            No Biblical scholar can verify exactly what Jesus wrote in the sand…was it the sins of her accusers?  Was it the name of some prostitute in town all the men in the mob knew a little too well?  Was it a scripture verse from the Torah?  From the oldest to the youngest…they walked away. We just know one thing for sure.  Jesus was on the ground because SHE was on the ground.  He looked into her eyes, and said three things.

“Woman, where are your accusers?” Those who had the power to harm her were gone. Her tear-stained eyes met His in utter relief and gratefulness.

 “Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus said. “Go and sin no more.” 

Jesus’ face told her so much! “Forget the people, forget your reputation, forget the shame of the past…all the wake of your stupid choices.  It’s about you and me.”  Christ saw her through the lens of unconditional love.  She was pure and clean in His eyes – the only eyes that mattered.  Jesus related to this broken adulteress with love, compassion, and forgiveness, countering the view of God as disappointed and CONDEMNING.

Disappointment…unmet expectations…dashed hopes.  And many times these expectations are unrealistic….the result of self-deception.

If you had a disappointed Daddy, if you feel you blew your chance at life, you may believe all hope of change is gone. You are a lost cause.  Meet the Christ who knelt in the sand…the Jesus of second chances….the Jesus who exchanges approval for shame, and hope for hopelessness.

2. THE WOMAN AT THE WELL

Let’s look at another lady Jesus loved.  In John 4, Jesus felt compelled by His Father to travel through Samaria.  Christ’s “road trip” was not an evangelistic crusade, or a big “red carpet” synagogue appearance. God sent Him to meet a woman in need. Now just for the record, Samaria was not the garden spot of the Holy Land, it was the armpit of the Middle East. The story began at noon beneath a scorching, blistering sun. The disciples were hungry and headed for McDonald’s. They left a parched Jesus sitting at a well in the town square without lemonade or Diet Coke.  Enter a Samaritan woman of dubious reputation. This “scarlet” woman and this holy man were from two different worlds.  Jesus was a Jewish rabbi. Normally, rabbis were snobs. In Luke 10, we read that an indifferent rabbi encountered a wounded man. He rudely ignored him and crossed to the other side of the street. 

Jews didn’t talk to half-breed Samaritans from the other side of the tracks.  Jewish men didn’t talk to strange women…they were not even supposed to make eye-contact.   And this woman was the ultimate outcast—she had no husband, no visible means of support.  Shunned by society, our nameless woman couldn’t draw water in the evening with the rest of her neighbors.  She had to come in the middle of the day.  Here’s the real shocker, the twist to the story. Jesus, the rabbi, asked her for help.  The Creator of the Universe, who made the waters and the seas, who turned water into wine, asked a low-life half-breed for a Thirstbuster.  Does it get any better than that?  She was so stunned she asked him why he was even talking to her!  And then, she did what we often do when we encounter true grace—we try to prove that we deserve it.  This woman of ill-repute asked Jesus where to go to church. Shocker!  “We Samaritans worship here, you Jews go to Jerusalem…where should I go to church?”

Isn’t it just like us to turn the grace of God into a brownie point system?

We often do the same when we become Christians. We receive the free gift of salvation and self-righteous pride causes us to leave grace behind and create a works system to earn favor with God.  We baptize people and then teach them to be Pharisees and legalists.  We give them just enough truth to make them miserable.

The woman at the well tried to impress this Rabbi with her church attendance. But Jesus told her worship was not about measuring up, it was about receiving.  It was about relationship.  The Hebrew word for worship is indicative of a dog licking a master’s hand -- spontaneous, ebullient affection, unabashed enthusiasm.  It doesn’t get more personal than dog slobber. 

Jesus then asked the woman to call her husband…” He might as well have opened her chest and ripped her heart out.  Her life was a series of broken affairs.  “You’ve had five husbands and the man you’re living with now is not your husband,” Jesus said.  Now Christ went to the core of her heart of hearts and dealt with the grief and despair she felt over lost love.  He saw her, warts and all, and offered her unconditional, sloppy, gorgeous grace.  He gave her life-giving acceptance that filled the empty places where pain used to be.

You may, as a woman, struggle with rejection issues, with the constant fear that if someone really knew you, you would be hated and avoided. An inspecting view of God is countered by Jesus’ actions with the Samaritan woman. 

3. THE WOMAN WITH THE ISSUE OF BLOOD

Some of you ladies are living in pain because Jesus seems far away.  He feels like a Cosmic force disinterested in your tiny life. Maybe you see God as distant because Daddy wasn’t there.  Maybe he left when you were too little to understand why he and Mommy couldn’t get along.  Maybe Daddy just worked too much and didn’t have time to go to your recitals, or play with you on Saturdays.  Maybe he beat you when he was drunk.  Maybe he touched you where he shouldn’t have.  You pray and feel like your words bounce off the ceiling.  “Where was God when I needed Him?” you cry.  

MARK 5:25-32 describes the miraculous healing of the woman with the issue of blood. This anonymous woman suffered with a twelve-year hemorrhage. What was her illness??  Fibroid tumors, endocrine gland disturbance, a polyp, or tear in the cervix?  Today she could probably be cured with a ten-minute DNC.  She was at wit’s end after a dozen years of isolation….no houseguests, no potlucks, no hugs, no husband, or children or family.  She was exhausted from constant cleaning---everything she touched, everywhere she sat was contaminated.  If others touched her, they were considered unclean until sundown.  Jewish women were ceremonially impure during their menstrual cycle.  The basic Jewish interpretation of the law was that a woman was pure when she was pregnant, and her only value lay in bearing children.  Our poor victim was tired of quack doctors and their foul remedies. Bleeding was treated by garden crocuses dissolved in wine, by sawdust from a lotus tree mixed with the curdled milk of a hare or ashes from an ostrich egg worn around the neck in a linen bag.

If you are chronically ill, were your hopes ever dashed when you visited a new specialist only to find nothing really helped?  Where is this God who is supposed to care?  This despised woman could not even go into the temple to ask God to heal her. The people around her probably called her demon-possessed,  just like the man born blind in John 9.  Demons were called unclean spirits. You can imagine what folks whispered about her behind her back!

 This pitiful creature made the arduous two-day journey-thirty miles on foot from Caeserea to Capernaum-without Nikes. The woman couldn’t sleep in an inn. She was cold, anemic, probably half-starved.  But she courageously came for the cure.

She was desperate for a touch from this Galilean prophet.  Trying to reach Jesus in a crowd pressing around him to the point of suffocation was probably like trying to get an audience with the President surrounded by the press and secret service.  We know Jesus was almost inaccessible because the disciples laughed when Jesus said… “Who touched me?”  Jesus and His disciples were packed like sardines in the midst of the mob, and nobody used Right Guard or flossed in those days.  But Jesus felt the power (energydunamis) of God released from Him.

This weary woman’s only thread of hope was her faith.  Somehow this God who had looked away for twelve years, this God who lived among men, this miraculous Messiah took time to touch her, and she would never be the same.

            The real God is not afraid to touch the untouchable, or love the unlovable. He doesn’t care where you’ve been, only that you come to Him. 

4. MARY OF BETHANY

One remarkable woman in John truly knew Christ’s heart, not because she was someone special, but because she discovered the value of being loved by Jesus.  Mary of Bethany did the unthinkable.  In a day when women were never able to attend synagogue, when they were prevented from going into the Temple except the outer courts, Mary sat at the feet of Rabbi Jesus. In Jesus’ day women were seen as inferior or defective.  Men were the thinkers, capable of being educated.  Jewish men believed women couldn’t be educated because they were fragile, emotional, irrational, inferior and ignorant.  Jesus broke down these barriers by teaching and treating men and women equally.  He never patronized Mary, but taught her as an equal with Peter, James and John.  He allowed her to sit at His feet. Martha, her busybody sister, was furious.  Mary’s stubborn sibling believed that a woman’s place was in the kitchen, barefoot and bearing babies. They served the men.  Females had no business expressing interest in spiritual matters.  Jesus rebuked Martha, told her to get out of the kitchen and join her sister. He encouraged her to do the better thing--to be like Mary, sitting at his feet and hearing His heart.

How close were Jesus and Mary?  When Mary’s life was torn apart by her brother’s death,  Jesus responded in a way she could not possibly have understood. He waited. He didn’t come to heal Lazarus, His dearest friend. Lazarus was dead and her Savior could have been there.  He healed everybody else.  Why wasn’t Jesus there for the family He loved so dearly?  In spite of her grief,  Mary threw herself at her Master’s feet when Jesus arrived.  She took all of her anger, all of her questions, all of her pain and mourned before Him.  And what did her Lord do?  He wept with her.  He wasn’t weeping for Lazarus. He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead.  Jesus shared in Mary’s pain at the deepest level.  In those moments, Christ truly showed us His heart. He is a God who weeps with us. 

Jesus’ clueless disciples ran around trying to make Jesus King. Only Mary knew what Jesus came to do.  She knelt at his feet in the dining room where women were not allowed, she poured out her life’s savings in perfume on his dusty feet, and she worshipped him lavishly. It was a daring, unconventional thing to do---a million-dollar pedicure in public for this itinerant preacher.  What a terrible waste!  She mortgaged her future to comfort her Savior.  And Jesus smelled the perfume as He hung on His cross.  For all eternity, Mary will be the one who truly knew her Savior’s heart.

The real Jesus loves you completely, freely, fully! Kneel before Him today. Give Him your heart.

 

 

Merry Christmas! Oh, excuse me! Seasons GreetingsHappy Holidays. Finding Jesus at Christmas is just like playing “Where’s Waldo.” Look hard. He’s nowhere to be found! I attended a middle school “Christmas” concert with my daughter. The word “Christmas” was never uttered. Nary a carol was sung. The night was not silent. A spoiled two-year-old screamed and kicked the back of my seat. Santa made a movie for two boring hours. I left dejected and deflated.

Unchurched kids in that pageant will never know the lyrics to “Silent Night,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” or “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” The beauty and wonder of a loving God who came to us as a humble baby will fall on deaf ears. My heart hurts.

I drove through our “star-studded” neighborhood on my way home. Disney lights twinkled. Inflatable snowmen swayed in the breeze. Charlie Brown and Lucy petted tiny reindeer. Man, these houses were decked! I asked a neighbor the cost of having professional lighting companies install and remove Christmas lights. (Almost everyone in our neighborhood pays big bucks for stunning décor…$600). Unbelievable!!!

After surveying 63 homes in a three-block radius, our community was officially “Jesus-less.” Finally, we turned down a lonely lane where houses were smaller and simpler. One lone home displayed a manger. Baby Jesus was barely visible from the street. It was obvious these folks had no spare cash for decorations. But they proudly placed the single symbol of their love for Christ in their yard. I wasn’t planning to decorate this year. But I’m on my way to Home Depot to buy a manger, by golly!

Where did Baby Jesus go? Don’t throw Him out with the bathwater!

Our only hope of returning Christ to His rightful place is to make Him Lord of our homes and churches. Then, and only then, can we reach our communities with the Gospel or affect changes in our society.

How can you bring back the Baby?

1. Mezuzah your home.

One easy identifier of a Jewish home was the mezuzah, a case affixed to the doorpost of every Jewish house. The Jews marked their homes in a visual, critical way to remind them of their devotion to God:

“The Lord is our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord, your God, with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your means. And these words, which I command you this day, should be upon your heart. And you shall teach them to your sons and speak of them when you sit in your home and when you walk on your way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall inscribe them upon the doorposts of your home and upon your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:20-21. (KJV)

Fill your home with visual reminders of Christ’s coming. Our year-round mezuzah plaque proclaimed “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 (KJV). Our children knew that our home was a place where God came first.

Manger scenes, Christmas verses and advent calendars celebrate the holy entrance of the newborn king. Photos are precious mezuzahs in our home. We have 15,000 family/ministry pictures in two rotating frames on the bar of our kitchen. (We used to call my husband ‘Flash’!) Each snapshot reminds me of God’s blessings upon our family, His favor and protection throughout our children’s lives and His mercy as we pastored and served on the mission field. I fondly remember God’s faithfulness as I gaze upon our mezuzahs.

2. Tell the Story.

Beautiful passages about Christ fill the Scriptures. Don’t just focus on Luke 2, the traditional account of Jesus’ birth.

Read these four kinds of Bible verses at Christmastime:

Christ, a Sign from the Lord: Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 2:10; Luke 2:12

Christ, highly exalted, Prince and King: Isaiah 9:6; Zechariah 9:9; Acts 5:31; Philippians 2:8-10

Christ, the Promised Messiah, born of a Virgin: Isaiah 11:1; Matthew 1:21-23; Luke 1:30-31; Luke 2:15-16

Christ, Good News, Great Joy and Precious Gift: Luke 2:10,11,14; John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Romans 15:13; 2 Corinthians 9:15 (KJV); James 1:171

3. Sing Carols at home and at church.

Attend Christmas services and pageants. Go caroling in your neighborhoods, hospitals, nursing homes and homeless shelters. Play your harmonica, trumpet, guitar or kazoo (just kidding! Leave the kazoos and accordions at home!) FYI, scientific research has proven singing improves memory, multi-tasking and stimulates feelings of well-being and calm.

Most importantly, God tells us to sing 208 times in the Bible:

“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. ...” Psalm 96:1 (KJV)

Where did Baby Jesus go? I feared the world had forgotten Him.

I had a bad case of the Christmas blues. Then I watched “Black-ish, ”one of my favorite family sitcoms. “Stuff” was the title. Daddy Dre was sick of his greedy, selfish kids tearing through Christmas presents, asking for gift receipts to return them. The Johnson family finally found Christmas joy when they pared down presents to one gift each, volunteered at a homeless shelter and baked a cake for Baby Jesus. Grandma’s cheerful words concluded the show: “Come on, kids, we have some leftover pieces of Jesus’ birthday cake to share!

That’s what I’m talking ‘bout! Bring back that Baby!

1http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/20-great-bible-verses-for-christmas-cards/#ixzz3uDgA6b9R

 

 

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