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Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Keeping Up Appearances

posted by Ruth Graham

How many people in recent years have been felled by a hidden sin in their life? It wasn’t bad enough to have their sin, mistake, crime found out but they compounded it by trying to cover it up. Presidents, Governors, Senators, pastors, sports figure, leaders of all sorts…TV personalities… Often the crime is not as bad as the cover-up – though the crime is pretty bad…the explanations, stories, lies, excuses are pathetic.  The latest is Dennis Hastert. But he is just one of so many. His crime was 30+ years ago. I can only imagine the fear of being “found out” he carried for all this years. And after all of that he was found out anyway. In actuality, at this point it is the cover-up, not the crime, that has put him at odds with the law. Certainly it wasn’t worth it.

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I hesitate to jump in too early because we don’t know what the situation was but at this point, it looks bad. I do have questions as to the timing of the revelation. Why now? Who is behind this? Politics is a very dirty business. (I am very sad about it. He had seemed to have such a clean record. He served at a difficult time. He had a good reputation. A good legacy… so sad… I do pray for him and his family.) I believe him to be a Christian so I assume he has asked for and been given forgiveness by God and others.

Although we, and I include myself in that, try so hard to look like we have it all together and have a handle on life…we don’t. All of us are broken but we work so hard to keep up appearances. We wear our masks – some decorated quite elaborately and expensively but they are just masks, soon to expose us for what we are – pretenders. Why do we pretend? We are afraid. Afraid of what? People won’t like us or find us deficient.

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I’m not sure how many of you watch the BBC/PBS show by that name, “Keeping up Appearances” on Saturday night. Set in England, the main character tries so hard to be what she isn’t (a member of the upper class) and hide the things she is (a pretentious ordinary housewife)! She gets into all sorts of predicaments – it’s quite comical. But it is so true of human nature! We want people to think well of us. Sadly, we pretend to be what/who we are not. Richer than we are, more educated than we are, more popular than we are, busier than we are…the list is endless. How many of us are really comfortable in our own skins, if we really think about it? It is sad. We envy and try to emulate those around us that seem to have more than we do in a variety of areas.

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How many times have we driven by a shabby house only to see a brand-new Mercedes out front? I remember looking for a house in Florida years ago…often the downstairs was furnished but not the upstairs! The family couldn’t afford to furnish the whole house but didn’t want people to know! So sad.

To live authentically is freedom. To be who you are inside and out. (I’m not going to comment on Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner at this time.) It is easier to be authentic. It does take energy to cover shame. But shame is a lie. We don’t have to live there. We can be free. And it is so much easier to tell on ourselves rather than have someone rat us out! The Bible tells us to “confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) So true. Find someone that is safe – someone who is authentic (Willing to confess their sins to you) and begin to confess even your darkest secrets. You will find it painful at first but so liberating!

You will no longer be afraid of being found out, of the other shoe dropping, nor will you have to keep up appearances!

 

 

 

 

 

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Sexual Abuse

posted by Ruth Graham

So much rain! I am sure the dear folks in Texas wonder if it will even stop. Maybe they are identifying with Noah by now. If only we could send some of that rain to California where they are suffering a record draught.

The devastation in Texas and Oklahoma I see in the news is heartbreaking, not to mention families that lost loved ones. I lived in Texas for 6 years and I know how fast flash floods happen. Actually, my husband got caught in one coming home one afternoon. It was frightening.

My prayers go out to those trying to clean up and sort through the wreckage. It sounds like a very redundant thing to say, but, water is so wet. It gets everywhere. It’s not like dust that can be  vacuumed or swept. Or fire that turns it all to ash, as bad as that is. Water just seeps in and destroys. And if things are not properly dried out, mold and mildew develop – the devastation will continue. It’s a mess.

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Events like this are overwhelming. My prayers go out to those having to deal with their loss and the clean-up.

Another loss this week that has saddened me…Josh Duggar. My oldest granddaughter has watched that show for years. It is a wonderful reinforcement of the values my daughter holds dear and tries to teach her children. A refreshing TV program against all the trash that fills the airwaves. (Not that we agree with everything the Duggars do but it’s a whole lot better than the Kardashians!)

I don’t know of the details of Josh’s transgression. But I do know sexual abuse has to be dealt with swiftly and thoroughly. I understand his parents trying to protect him and the others involved as well as the TV show – they are celebrities. And a when something like this happens you want to keep it a secret. Cover it. And there are Bible verses one can quote to support that line of thinking. But it is dangerous. We are as sick as our secrets.

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We try to build safe places on shaky foundations.

Abuse indicates a deeper issue – a root cause. I am not a psychologist or counsellor but I do know this sin has tentacles that if they are not cut off will create havoc for years to come. I am concerned for his wife. Yes, she knew about it before the marriage but we tend to see things through rose-colored glasses when we are newly in love. Now that the secret is out and there is job loss and a tarnished reputation the stress will be more than enough on the marriage and the family.

Just like Texas and Oklahoma it will be a messy clean up. It will take long time. It cannot be rushed. It takes professionals who know what to look for and what to clear away. It takes understanding people to come alongside to help. The Duggars had a flood hit them. They tried to stem the tide and hold back the waters. Their efforts were not sufficient. More damage was done…but the story isn’t over. God is in the restoration business.

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We need to pray for them.

Yes, sin was committed. A horrible and devastating sin. But it doesn’t have to destroy lives, yes, scar lives, but not destroy. And scars don’t heal. But they can be testimonies to God’s amazing grace. Sin doesn’t have to win. By God’s grace and mercy, can sin be forgiven. Lives rebuilt. And I pray all that has begun.

I pray for the victims. That they have or will receive professional counseling – not just quoted Bible verses and prayer by a pastor. They need an expert counselor who knows the psychological damage done but also knows the healing power of God.

Sin is an opportunity to give and show grace. Let’s be people of grace as the process continues. God created out of chaos back in Genesis chapter 1 – He is still doing it today! Amen!

 

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War is Hell!

posted by Ruth Graham

War is hideous. In recent years I think, in many ways, we have become immune to war’s hideousness and ugliness. We watch wars play out on television sitting in our living rooms. War is a decision men/women make in Washington and we rarely feel it’s consequences.

But this weekend may we pause to think about war. And those that fought. And those that lost their lives. And the families that miss them. Let us remember those that served us so bravely and sacrificially.

The movie, American Sniper seemed to show the hideousness of war from all angles. Not just the deprivation and hardship of the battlefield but the emotional toll taken by the men and women and their families.

As we raise our beer glasses and flip our burgers there are many who are not here to enjoy our celebrations. They paid the ultimate sacrifice. As did their family. We cannot remember our brave men and women without remembering the spouses, the parents, the children, the cousins, the aunts and uncles that remember them every day of the year. Not just on Memorial Day.

Those of us able to enjoy the holiday weekend are blessed by those who have worked so hard to protect our freedom. Let us thank God for His rich blessings on us and for those who protect us even now in a foreign land.

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New Hostages

posted by Ruth Graham

I heard on the radio this morning that ISIS has taken more Christian hostages in Syria. And the politicians are wringing their hands wondering what should be done.

So much is happening in the world but Monday morning the news broadcasts were filled with news about the Oscars: who won, who wore what, who said what…

Is it the proverbial “whistling in the dark” or the “Ostrich” syndrome? Are we really so shallow?

I did see and hear Melanie Griffiths’ answer when a reporter (although not a journalist) ask her if she had seen her daughter’s movie, “Fifty Shades of Grey”. She said, “No, I know she is a good actress without seeing that movie.” Good for her. I know I wouldn’t want to see my daughter is such a film. (I haven’t seen it or read the books but I know enough to know to stay away. If the lead actress’ mother won’t go see it, why should I?) I can spot a garbage dump without climbing into it.

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I was flipping through the channels to try to find some “hard news” – something of substance. The network morning news shows are not news anymore. Oh they tell pop-culture news but the talking heads are not journalists they are in the entertainment business. There are some

Many of our so-called journalists have proven to be liars. I loved the congressman who apologized for saying he served in the army Special Forces, when he had not. He apologized for “mis-speaking”. That’s the new term for “lying”. He out and out lied – as did NBC’s Brian Williams and CBS’s Dan Rather. Making mistakes is one thing; lying or making something up is quite another.

Just as we no longer have statesman in DC (or very few) we no longer have journalists. Where are the Edward R. Murrows or David Frosts of our day? We are not demanding more so we get less and less. Are we hostages to the lack of critical thinking and lack of hard questions with truthful answers?

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Keeping Up Appearances
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