By Mollie Bond –
I listened to a radio program’s promotion touting the latest report on the “Emerging Adults” Generation. The promo added that the beliefs held in this upcoming generation were unbiblical, and expressed concern that the church had no future.
My insides crinkled. I smoothed out my emotions before continuing to work while listening to the radio. Yet again, I stewed, it seemed the elder generation was trying to “fix” the younger generation, implying there was something terribly wrong with them. What gripped me the most was that the show did not have any “Emerging Adults”: no one younger than 50 to give an opinion, good or bad. No one to have a conversation with, to grapple through what was unbiblical. “Emerging Adults” were a study to be done, not people who needed grace and love.
How many times had I judged the older generation before me? Am I condemned to judge the generations after me as less respectful than my own? Will I have conversations to learn why generations swing one way or another, and then use the opportunity to be grace-filled?
God doesn’t bias Himself against one generation or another. God is about people, not studies. He shows his love to a thousand generations. As his daughter, I should learn to do the same.
After listening to the radio ad, I engaged in a conversation through e-mail that lasted for months with another from the Baby Boomer generation. I learned some valuable insights. I allowed the opening of my mind as I took time to listen, with the radio off.
PRAYER: Lord, so much of the time I find myself judging someone for various reasons, but especially their age. I pray I find those moments as opportunities to distribute Your love, and to reflect a desire to keep Your commandments.
“but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:6 NIV).
By Mollie Bond –
Sitting on the sidelines is where the ministry took place.
My friend, Leanna, went on a mission trip to Africa as part of the basketball team from a Christian college. They rode in a limo. They played basketball. They were on the national news where they visited. No street preaching, no dramas, no spontaneous worship. They played basketball. “Where’s the suffering for the gospel?” she wondered, “Where is the ministry?”
Leanna and her team visited a closed Muslim country, so some restrictions caused them to focus on what they came to do: play basketball. In the last game the refs were slightly against the Americans. Bad calls gave way to bad attitudes. Leanna was done trying to do ministry and played hard enough that she ended up on the sidelines. While sitting and internally grumbling, she listened to some of her teammates. They were upset, too. Their emotions didn’t come from hatred, but from wanting to play a fair game. The other team noticed.
A player from the other team, who happened to be sitting closest to an American named Tasha, said, “Why aren’t you guys more upset? Why are you not cursing? Why are you acting so nice?” Tasha explained that Jesus affected her team so much that they wanted to be gracious to everyone they met. Jesus had transformed they way they function, even in a game of basketball.
Leanna overheard this, and realized mission trips aren’t about accomplishing a mission. It’s not about saving so many people, or “doing” ministry. It’s about “being” ministry. She said “It’s important to keep in mind my identity in Christ because others are watching when you least expect it.” Ministry isn’t an action; it’s a state of being. Sitting on the sidelines is just as much a ministry as being in the game.
In Galatians 5:22, we’re given the fruits of the Spirit. Some people try to tackle these fruits, doing the work they think will bring ministry. Yet fruits don’t come from force. Hiding your life in Christ will bring fruit. Just like Leanna, who learned that sitting on the sidelines was a ministry to others, we need to sometimes take ourselves out of the game and let the fruit grow naturally.
PRAYER: Dear God, I want to produce fruit. I know that won’t come from me working harder, but from being with you so that it is a natural state of being. Please help me to see my ministry in my daily life.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22 NIV).
By Mollie Bond –
One person at every party wins these titles: drama queen, party-pooper, Debbie downer. When I was 12, you could have called me Debbie.
At my friend’s thirteenth birthday, her mom let us watch a “scary” PG-13 movie: Death Becomes Her. I was almost 13. My mom said I could watch it. After eating pizza, watching the movie, and calling the radio station to play “It’s My Party,” we fell asleep in New Kids on the Block sleeping bags under a cake-covered tablecloth fort.
I woke up at 2 a.m. haunted by scary parts of the movie. I saw blood-drenched limbs everywhere. I put my hand gently on the wall, avoiding light switches. I found the phone, called home and said, “I’m going to die! Come get me!” My sleepy parents talked me out of my wild fear and fetched me in the morning.
We read in Genesis of how Joseph’s eleven brothers dramatized a scary moment, too. Reuben and Joseph’s other brothers had sold Joseph long ago. Joseph became head-honcho in Egypt. Not knowing what became of Joseph, his brothers came to Egypt to buy food and did not recognize him. Joseph pretended to believe they were spies and kept Simeon, a brother, in prison.
Reuben, the “I told you so” brother, thought this evil ruler of Egypt was going to lock up Simeon forever because of his past. Reuben wailed, “Oh, how terrible!” (True.) “We killed Joseph!” (Not true, they sold him.) “He cried out to us and we didn’t listen,” (True.) “and we’re going to die!” (Not true.) Reuben exploded into a woe-is-me party. It’s his party and he’ll cry if he wants to.
Sometimes our memories warp and we exaggerate scary moments. What stressors seem magnified now, but won’t matter in a week, a month, a year? What scary memories haunt you? Are you remembering them correctly, or are they food for a pity party?
PRAYER: Father, I’m calling on You because I remember something horrible, but perhaps it wasn’t as terrible as I remember. I’m glad You took care of me and want to use those scary moments for good. I’ll dry my tears and scale back the drama. Amen.
“Speaking among themselves, they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this trouble.”
“Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy?” Reuben asked. “But you wouldn’t listen. And now we have to answer for his blood!”” (Genesis 42:21-22 NLT).
By Mollie Bond –
When I was a 5 year old, I often watched my mom get in the car, put the keys in the ignition, and turn the key. One day, as my mom wrapped up her day as the church secretary, she handed me the keys to the jeep. “Here,” she said, “wait in the car.”
Feeling the weight of her trust in the keys she handed me, I pranced outside. Thinking I could do something that would make my mom happy, I got in the driver’s side, and just like my mom, put the keys in the ignition. Look at me! What would really make her happy? Trying to do everything just like she did: I turned the key.
I think I screamed. The steering wheel felt unnatural in my small hands. The manual transmission had been left in neutral. The jeep lurched past the sidewalk, down the little embankment, and straight into…this is where my memory stops.
The top level of our church had two wings held together by a narrow hallway with offices on the right, and the sanctuary on the left. The hallway area also enclosed the entry way to stairs leading to the lower level and overlooking the basketball court. The jeep hit right between the two wings, smack-dab at the top of those stairs. I took out the front wall.
The following Sunday, plastic covered the front of the church. One beam remained unbroken. If that board had broken, I would have traveled in the jeep down the stairs and out to the lower level.
Gripping the steering wheel and making sure I kept straight, kept that beam steady enough to hold.
PRAYER: God, I might try to take hold of the wheel and do what I think will make me happy. Instead, I’d like to learn how to keep going straight, listening to Your voice before I put the car in gear. I’m giving You room to speak to me today.
“Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them” (Deuteronomy 28:14 NIV).
By Mollie Bond-
Sizzling, succulent, scrumptious. In other words, a Brazilian steakhouse. I winked at my friends Tammy, Jennifer, and Callie at the decadent restaurant as the servers slid out the fabric-covered chairs. Slightly drooling, we found our way to at the salad bar, which included raw fish, mozzarella carved from the wheel, and basil salad dressing. The girls waited for me to finish. At the last bite, the real fun began.
“Turn the cards!” Tammy said with much flair as she picked up the card next to her plate. We flipped the card to green. When we needed a moment, we flipped the card back to red. However, I saw most tables had green cards because of what came your way with a green card.
Meat sizzled past my ear. Foot-long skewers of meat came right to my table. The server slid the sharp knife through the meat while the tongs I held keep it from falling. Instantaneously, lamb, beef, chicken, spicy sausage, and filet mignon wrapped in bacon, were rushed to my side with one flip. Just as we started whispering in an un-lady-like manner about how a belt needed to be loosened, Callie said, “I can’t even taste what I’m eating anymore.” It reminded me of the verse in Proverbs that warns about eating just enough.
“What is this?” as her fork held up some type of meat. Defeated, the fork and the meat landed back on her plate. She’s right. The more we ate, the less appetizing meat sounded. Even bacon.
I wondered how many other times in life do I gorge myself? What about in my finances, or my quest for a better job, or my desire for more down time? Contentment, knowing when enough is enough, is so hard to come by in America; especially in American Brazilian steakhouses.
PRAYER: Father, I’m turning my card to green to You. Yet I am leaving it on red for that feeling of discontentment. I’m glad for the many good things in my life, and I’m determined to enjoy them fully.
“One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet” (Proverbs 27:7 NIV).