How to Disagree With Anyone

Why I disagree (and why you shouldn't take it personally)

The young man asked to talk to me privately about church matters. He seemed to have two main things on his mind:

  • Why didn’t I go along or fall in line or be agreeable in certain matters?
  • I underestimate the influence (on some people) of the opinions and perspectives of “Brother Mark.”

I assured him that when I disagree, it’s on principle. I told him I don’t make such things personal. He seemed surprised. I was surprised and dismayed at his surprise. And I wondered what he had been “fed” about me.

That was several years ago. As I recall, it was during a recess from an all-day, heavy-duty men’s meeting of our church. It may have been in that time period that I posted this on Facebook on January 26, 2014:

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? (Galatians 4:16)

“Am I therefore become your enemy,
because I tell you the truth?”

(Galatians 4:16)

More recently I posted this on FacebookRead it all

Eclipse 2017: “What I really need is a bathroom!”

When the answer to "Why are you so nice?" is "Jesus"

I salute the Paul Smucker family for opening up their house — fridge, pantry, bathrooms — to passers-by of The Great Exodus after yesterday’s total eclipse.

Total Eclipse 2017: Simone handing out free drinks at Paul's

“What I really need is a bathroom,” one woman confessed. So we made a new sign. “Restrooms Available!” And soon had a long line stretching all the way out our back hallway. Matt sat in the living room and directed people to our upstairs bathroom, while Mom showed people where the downstairs bathroom was as she mixed up batches of lemonade. Soon we had groups of people in our driveway chattering in Chinese, as children swung on our ancient tire swing.

Did you know Mennonites (or other Christians) were that hospitable? I’m certainly not! Oh, I would have enjoyed handing out free drinks and nibbles. But opening my house for an invasion of strangers to use the bathrooms, upstairs and down?! I. Don’t. Think. So.

I’ve got so much to learn and live yet…

But back to the story:

But still we gave them drinks and they used our bathrooms. Mom made tea until she ran out of ice, then lemonade until she ran out of lemonade powder, and finally we just handed out water and whatever odd grocery depot macaroons and brownie bites we could find.

I felt like Jacob who just happened to have some stew, and here were these desperate Esaus who were willing to give up their entire birthright for a cup of lemonade and a chance to use the bathroom. “Why are you so nice?” They asked, pressing money into our hands even though we insisted it was free.

Look, I know these people (to a certain extent). I vouch for their humanity (because that condition is a safe thing to vouch for). So don’t go thinking that I’m pedestalizing them. But I make no bones about hoisting them on high here as uneclipsed examples of loving their neighbors (perhaps even some on the road to Jericho).

With these thoughts in mind, I urge you to read the rest of Emily Smucker’s The Strangest Day of my Life. Like I said in my comment there:

Such pleasant Sonshine after the eclipse!

Aunt Rosie Tribute

A nephew's expanding tribute...

Scroll to the end for this update: Sunday morning, May 14.

First, the obituary for Rosana Roth as found in the funeral bulletin…

“The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:34).

Rosana Mae Roth was born on November 11, 1931, in Upland, California. She was the second of the seven children of Jacob and Mary (Buckwalter) Roth. She and her older sister Lois graduated from high school in 1950 with the rest of Western Mennonite School’s first graduating class.

Never married, Rosana cared for the things of the Lord. She was a school teacher in the States for a total of eleven years in three communities: Deep Creek, Virginia; Elida, Ohio; and Harrisburg, Oregon. She went on to serve about three decades as a missionary and teacher in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Read it all

On My Heart to Talk About at Church

That which is most foundational and essential

Several weeks ago I was asked to speak this Sunday evening at our church. And I can talk about whatever I think I should talk about.

Mark looks at laundry machines

I have so many subjects and themes tumbling around in my head! But I’ve decided that more than anything else, I want to focus on that which is most foundational and essential. Perhaps I’ll tell you about it later.

Now for the list I compiled last week and the week before (so it’s bound to be incomplete). As you will see, I could be blogging for years to come. 😯 😀 Read it all

The Christian Bares of Trillium Lake?

Laid bare: a lake, a mountain, and other handiwork of the Creator

Yesterday we had a family outing to Trillium Lake. (It was a birthday thing.)

Summer Bare Country
Summer Bare Country

This morning early I thought back on the other vistas of God’s creation which awaited us there. And I wondered…

  • How many of those nude legs belong to women worship team members?
  • How many of those barely covered breasts have the heart of a female Sunday School teacher beating behind them?
  • How many Christian male eyeballs tracked back for one more discreet look?
  • How many Christian men wrestled with wistful wishes, treacheous thoughts, and deadly desires?
  • How much ache in the Creator’s heart?
  • Will His heart have any revulsion in church services today?

You could read that as me looking down my nose on fellow Christians or fellow fallen humans. You could accuse me of being a Puritanical prude. You could charge me with contemptuous condemnation. You could slam me for sanctimonious something-or-other. And you’d be wrong.

I’m not blind to the beauty of forbidden fruit, OK? But in my other-world moments I look beyond eyeball-grabbing displays and feel compassion. Read it all

Above all, love God!