Lessons from Mrs. McCarthy

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:34-35, NIV).

My wife and girls like this BBC show, Father Brown. It is a mystery show based off of The Father Brown Mysteries written by the famed by G.K. Chesterton. As the title suggests, the sleuth of the series is Father Brown; a Catholic Priest with a penchant for solving mysteries and murder.

One of Father Brown’s “sidekicks” is one Mrs. McCarthy. In the TV series she is excellently played by Sorcha Cusack.

One of the reasons I say she is excellently played by Cusack is that I can’t stand her! She drives me nuts! Cusack’s performance totally nails the persona of the quintessential old church lady. Prim, proper, and excellent at baking. She sees herself as being kind, pious, righteous, and as a woman who should be respected. But the reality is that she often comes across as very self-righteous, judgmental, and given to gossip, and she has no problem jumping to negative conclusions about people who don’t live up to her expectations. If the elder brother in the parable of the Lost Son of Luke 15 were a sister, she would be it.

To me she represents what many think of when they think of what a “Christian” is. One of the reasons that perception exists is because there are more than a few Mrs. McCarthys in the church. I know. I have run across many myself. I tell you, sometimes I have wished that these people who tell people that they are atheists and help us in reverse!

It is next to impossible to expose one of these Mrs. McCarthy types to themselves. They are often so convinced that they are right they can’t see their hypocrisy.

What can you do?

You need to show them some Father Brown.

No, I don’t mean the TV show or the books, I mean you need to treat them like Father Brown treats Mrs. McCarthy.

Father Brown loves her and is friends with her knowing full well who she is, and loving her anyway.

He does not always respond to every jab or dig or insinuation he makes. But when he does it is never a put down.

He is very forgiving of her.

More than once when Mrs. McCarthy was in the wrong because her wrong thinking or conclusions, or attitude, she nevertheless led Father Brown to a break in the mystery and so he responds by thanking her for helping him so much.

In a word, he does not give up on her. He loves her in spite of her blemishes and failures. Not because he does not see them. But in spite of the fact that he does. He knows that he can’t change Mrs. McCarthy. But he knows that is not his job. That is God’s job. His job is to love her as best he can….and to solve the disturbingly high number of murders that take place in the tiny English countryside village of Kembleford!

Father Brown represents what we Christians should be. Out for the truth, but to build people up and bring them closer to God, not to simply show them how they fall short or to expose them when they sin for the sake of exposing them. It takes no special talent or spiritual acumen to do that. But to do what Father Brown does? That takes spiritual maturity! We could all do well be channel a bit more of Father Brown…including myself.

What keeps us from being bold

The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions (Proverbs 28:1, NLT).

There are many words that I have heard people use to describe Christians. Christians have been described in my hearing as being hypocrites, judgmental, and as narrow minded. I have never heard someone say, “You know what, Christians are a bold bunch of people!” Boldness is a quality that seems exceptionally rare among God’s people today. Why do so few seem to attain the boldness described in Proverbs 28:1?

The well-known gospel singer Whitley Phipps said, “The biggest chink in the Christian’s armor today is that he thinks God is important—but not everything.” I believe that he hit the nail on the head. We put some level of confidence in God, we put some level of trust in God, we submit in some respect to God, but we do not often go all the way. God is important, God is powerful, God is faithful but God is not everything, God is not all-powerful, and God is not absolutely dependable. When your God is important but not everything, you are not going to let go of other things that are important to you. When you believe that God is powerful, but not all-powerful, you are not going to confidently enter the place where you know you are weak. When you believe God is faithful but not absolutely dependable, you are not going to live with the courage and boldness of a lion. Instead, you conclude that the effort will not be worth it.

We simply do not want to pay the cost of obedience. The cost may be comfort. The cost may be relationships. The cost may be the esteem of others. This comes from not placing our relationship with God above all else. Fear keeps us from being bold. We fear rejection. We fear the repercussions. We fear we will get in over our heads. We don’t have confidence in ourselves.


Reading and studying the Bible is preparation. When you close your Bible and walk out the door, practice starts. You control what you put into your head. God controls what goes into your life. Things are going to happen that are going to give you opportunity to learn to lean on the God of those promises.

The foundation for an unshakable hope is sure, but faith and trust to lean on that foundation in hope is something you learn to do as you walk with God through your life. In that sense, you don’t just get hope, hope is grown. You strengthen hope by being in places with God where your hope in Him is pushed and stretched. Romans 5:3-5 (ESV) says, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

When you read the Bible, you read about how God came through for others. When you live in the hope of Christ you experience God coming through on those promises for you.



14390757_1151561711573150_244181604852829473_nBeing the salt of the earth means being the carriers of His grace to the world. Salt preserves, flavors, heals, disinfects, and cleans. Grace does the same things. Being the light of world means that the truth of God’s wisdom, righteousness and grace are so evident in how we conduct ourselves and relate to others that we are proof of God’s presence and blessing.





Umm… No.


Here is another Christian meme getting passed hither and yon through the virtual world known as social media. Unfortunately, while well intentioned, it is another example of why so many Christians are confused and frustrated with their faith. Why you ask? Because prayer is not about success–no matter how piously you define it. Prayer is about building your relationship with God. It is about aligning and realigning your heart to His by spending time speaking with Jesus and listening to what His Spirit speaks back to you. Saying that prayer is about bringing about a lifestyle of “success” is very troubling. First, because success is commonly understood in our culture as professional and financial in nature. Second, because God’s plans for us often include taking us to places where “success” is the last word we would use to describe them. Would Joseph have called his life a success when he was falsely accused of rape and put in prison? Did Jeremiah think of himself as a success when he was thrown into an empty cistern? Did Job think he was a success when he was sitting in the ashes weeping over the death of his children and agonizing over the loss of his health and finances and political standing? I don’t think so. I talk about this at greater length here. Be very careful what you choose to read and post and believe my friends. Just because a meme is as nicely put together as this one doesn’t mean its true.