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Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”
~1 Chronicles 21:8 NIV~
Have you ever done something you knew you should not have done?  Of course we all have at one point in time or another.  I’ve been guilty of this many times, even after I thought I was incapable of such stupidity.  I was watching the movie, Maleficent with my daughter today and it occurred to me that there must have been times when Satan felt guilty.  Though I’m sure he would never admit it, he cannot feel good about the way he’s acted or the reputation he has earned.  Even if there is pride there, surely he realizes that he has made the gravest of errors.  Or is it possible that he’s just so bad that there is no part of him that experiences remorse or feelings of shame for doing so much damage to God’s creations?  Would he ever come to a point where he would feel compelled to beg for God’s forgiveness and try to right the wrongs he has done?
Before you freak out, don’t think that I am in any way so gullible that I would trust Satan.  I’ve read the story, I know what he has done and what he continues to do.  I also know how God plans to deal with him in the end.  This is just a question that occurred to me after watching a pretty interesting version of one of my all-time favorite fairy tales.  Imagine how different our lives would be if Satan would only relent.  What if there was no evil in this world?  What if all that is bad in man suddenly disappeared and we were left with the perfect reflection of our God in each and every soul we encountered? Well, it’s not really a matter of if…but when.  God is going to bring Satan to his knees and although it won’t be in a peaceful, okay-I-give-up kind of encounter, it will happen and we will see God’s glory come bursting forth as a new Heaven and a new Earth.  As in Revelation 20:10, “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
The judgment of Satan will occur, no matter how desensitized we all become to what constitutes evil.  No matter how pretty a picture Satan tries to paint of himself as he continues to prey on those whose foundations are not in Christ.  And so, while there are attempts through media and entertainment to make me consider the possibility that maybe Satan is just a misguided soul like the rest of us, I’m grounded enough in the Word to know that Satan possesses an altogether different level of evil.  There will not be a time when he can turn back and find redemption as he has already rejected God and even worse, tried to overthrow Him.  It is only fitting that Satan be bound in the same way that he has kept God’s creation bound by evil and sin.  With each soul that breaks free from his hold, he loses just a little more power and we get closer and closer to the day when he will be bound in chains and cast into the lake of fire! Praise God!
So naturally, for those he can’t seem to win over any other way, he is trying his best to find ways to make God’s people consider having sympathy for him.  He knows there is no heaven in store for him, so all he has left is to try his hardest to prevent anyone else from experiencing it…and sadly, many of us fall for it, hook, line and sinker.  This is where the mentality that some sin is probably okay comes from.  Satan trying to make us believe, as he convinced Eve, that God really didn’t mean what He said.  Yes, God means for us to have compassion on our fellow man, but not on demons.  This includes the demons that have taken up residency in the people we love.  So, we must be vigilant to show the love of Christ in all things, but to remember that being tolerant of sin is to invite evil into your heart and give it clearance to consume all that is good.  There is a reason why God’s word tells us to guard our hearts.
The devil will try to convince you that it’s okay, everyone makes mistakes…and besides, you’re not really doing anything that other people aren’t doing.  He might even try to convince you that being bad is somehow good.  And until your flesh is lined up with your spirit, that logic might work.  He might convince you that as long as you’re doing something good somewhere in your life that you don’t necessarily have to be all good.  Be advised that this is very much an instance when we MUST choose sides.  God is paying attention.
He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil.

~Job 36:10 NIV~
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On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.

~Acts 16:13 (NIV)~
This is my first major post of the new year for this blog and I have prayed long and hard about what to say.  Even as I sit here typing this, I have a lump in my throat.  I’m learning to trust God more and more these days and as I sit here scrolling through my Facebook feed, seeing friends bashing God and the Bible, I’m compelled to present a different side of my God to those who may not know Him in hopes that they will seek the actual truth of Him and not just these misinterpreted perpetuations of who He is not.  One of the biggest reasons why God is misunderstood, in my opinion, is that as humans we tend to desire a Savior.  We desire a Savior, but we don’t look to THE SAVIOR to be that Savior.  We put our hopes in each other and when they are unable to live up to what we believe our Savior should be, we automatically assume that God is the same way.  Let me clear up a huge myth for you here; HE IS THE ONE AND ONLY SAVIOR AND NO HUMAN BEING CAN EVER HOPE TO LIVE UP TO THAT STANDARD.  When we put our hopes in each other, we might as well prepare to be gravely disappointed.  The only one who can truly fill you with peace, love, and strength is God Almighty and there is NO substitute.  There is NO close second.  There is NO alternative that will be able to provide for you what God can.
That said, I’d like to share something that I’ve recently experienced.  This is very personal and I would not share it unless I felt that what I had just experienced might resonate with some who might be reading this blog.  I am a single woman.  I’ve had rotten luck with relationships and up to this point, have never really had the kind of relationship that provided a safe, peaceful, loving atmosphere from which I could say that I felt truly loved by a man.  It’s unfortunate, but that is just the way it is.  I’m naturally somewhat distrustful when it comes to dating and I generally don’t jump too quickly when a guy claims to be everything I’m looking for in a partner.  A few days ago, I started talking with a man online who represented himself as a single, Christian man.  Here is an excerpt from an e-mail he sent:
 I don’t want to scare you off but feel I need to tell you that I have not been able to get you off of my mind. I am looking forward to getting to know you better, who you are, more about your family, Etc. I too am very cautious about who I talk to. I got burnt in the past, I am not bitter nor do I dwell on it, the past is the past but I will never understand how a person can be a cheat.
There are a number of red flags here that I didn’t actually see until I started really listening to that still, small voice that kept saying to me, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”  I had declared earlier in that same day to a close friend that I wasn’t looking for a relationship and that I was quite happy with my single status for now.  Of course, everyone says that when you make that kind of statement, that is when your dream guy will appear.  Oh, so magically.  Well, instead of hearing God on this, I heard the voices of all those who had said to me, “When you least expect it, there he’ll be.”  So, I almost let myself get a little excited over the idea that I might have finally found my Boaz.
Several days passed and we exchanged several e-mails.  I wanted to do some research online to make sure the person I was dealing with was legitimate.  This was difficult because he didn’t divulge his full name to me until yesterday.  At that point, I was almost to a place where I didn’t feel the need to check up on him.  He was charming and claimed to be a God-fearing, Christian man who was looking for someone who would treat him better than his ex-spouse supposedly had.  I felt many things; sympathy, curiosity, hope, fear, and even a twinge of compassion for this man that I had not yet met.  Thankfully, one of the things I hadn’t yet developed for him was trust.  And being the investigator that I am, I set about the task of finding his truth.
It didn’t take long, once I got down to business, to find that he was not, as he had claimed, divorced.  In fact, his wife has a very nice, detailed profile on a social networking site that allowed me to view the very same photographs of him that he sent me.  He had claimed that he didn’t have any pictures of himself online and that he didn’t get on social networking because she had cheated on him and it was a long story and blah, blah, blah…well, how awful for him.  As I looked through the photos and read her most recent updates, it was very clear that they were still very much together and that he was very much a liar and a cheat.  Immediately, my feelings of compassion, my sympathy, and my curiosity about this man pretty much vanished and it was obvious that there was only one thing left to do; confront the sin.  But how?
As I lay in bed thinking about how angry this man had made me and how I had almost let him into my life, God reminded me that He had given me exactly what I needed to navigate this whole situation in a way that would bring Him glory.  Years ago, my response would have been to rip into this man and threaten his life, effectively glorifying no one.  Today, I know that what I need to do is to find a way to help others protect themselves from this very thing by helping them to understand how these kinds of people thrive.  Obviously, this man is sin-sick.  He has no real roots in his own faith and that is sad and pathetic.  The word that he has been given has been planted in the thorny, rocky soil of his heart and its seed lies among whatever pain and hurt that has prevented him from letting it into his soul in the way it was intended.  I feel sorry for him, but most of all, I feel sorry for this man’s wife.
To think, he knew from what I had told him that I am a women’s advocate, a strong believer and follower of Christ, and that I’m intelligent enough to figure things out.  Yet, he went ahead with his game.  That’s how strong a hold Satan has over us at times.  He can make even the most seemingly devout act like complete heathen idiots.  He does this by brainwashing us into believing the lie that our flesh tells us; that God is failing us because of the way other people treat us.  Well, he didn’t win this round with me.  I’ve been stupid before about things and I allowed myself to fall into the trap of infidelity.  This wasn’t during my marriage, but I was convinced at one time that my affair with a man I knew was somehow justified.  By the time God got finished with me, I knew that I had done this man and myself a grave disservice and I swore that it would never happen again.  And to date, I’ve stood by that.  I’m not perfect, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t want to be.  And while God wants us to want to be like Him; He understands that we cannot and thankfully for this man’s soul, He allows us to make mistakes and grow from them if we are willing.
The long and short of this story is that while this man tried to pull me into something that served his own need to hurt someone else, God alerted me to it and I was able to make the right choice.  He has healed me to the point that I could not be convinced of the value of this man’s admiration and that I recognized him as a false Boaz.  Today, I pray for his wife.  I pray for him as well.  I pray that God will deal with him and I know that He will.  Last night, as I made these discoveries, I was very angry.  But it was clear even then that while the man had destroyed my feelings of compassion and sympathy for him, he was not able to destroy my hope and my faith that somewhere, God is preparing the right man for me.  I don’t need him to show up right now, but when he does I can be sure that I will recognize him because deep in my heart I recognized that this guy just wasn’t the real deal.  That’s how my God works.  That’s why I trust Him completely.  That’s how I know that He has done a work in me that no man can reverse and no devil in hell can overcome.
Praise God, He gave me wisdom and discernment.  My Redeemer lives!  My ONE AND ONLY SAVIOR is Christ, the Lord.
Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
~Psalm 62:8 NIV~

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

~Deuteronomy 6:5~

I don’t know about you, but my Christmas just didn’t last long enough. It’s my absolute favorite time of the year and I can understand why we would want to rush into it, but it makes no sense to then speed through it and be done with it before we even have time to catch our breath. The whole idea that Christmas is about love and peace and giving should make us want to drag it out as long as we possibly can. But, in what can only be explained as our unrecognized self-loathing, we never seem to allow ourselves time to fully reflect on what the season means. At least this seems to be true on a societal level; if not on each and every individual’s own personal level.  Why do we prevent ourselves from carrying the love of Christ with us each and every day of the year?  What causes us to relegate our outward recognition of Christ’s birth and the purpose for that birth to a one-day celebration that is basically driven by commercial extravagance and a lack of true understanding for the greatest gift we have ever received?

For some, it is simple unbelief.  If you don’t believe in Christ, then it just makes sense that you have nothing to celebrate during the Christmas season and the whole thing probably just gets on your nerves.  But what about the poor souls who claim to believe, but refuse to experience the true joy of the Christmas season?  We know better, so what’s our problem?  For me, I can say that my problem used to be that I simply had no understanding of who Christ was and what He had really done for me.  Years of false teachings and sugar-coated spirituality kept me from having a realistic grasp on what it must have meant for Christ to be born at that moment in time and how His whole ministry and crucifixion was all planned before His birth.

For years, I thought being a Christian was a waste of time.  I couldn’t see the purpose in Christ’s ministry because I had been taught to follow what the men of a particular church saw as the most important things; conformity and legalism.  It was only recently, through a variety of teachers, that I learned the meaning of grace.  And now that I know this, I am pretty sure I never would have completely understood the concept had I lived under the rules of my former teachers.  Under their laws, I had no opportunity to understand what it means to fall flat on my face and then to be lifted up by the healing and forgiving power of Christ.  I had no opportunity to feel the emotions that God gave me the ability to feel without fear of retribution.  I had no opportunity to step out in faith because every move I made was under their scrutiny and if I strayed even a step, the message I got was that I would never be more than an unworthy, backslidden wretch who had no purpose in this life.  That is decidedly not what Christ intended.

He wants you to feel.  He wants you to think.  He wants you to put your eyes on Him and take a step forward into the unknown with the knowledge that He will hold your hand through anything.  And yes, He will forgive you if you make a mistake.  He will forgive you if you miss your call.  He will forgive you if you can’t quite get it right the first ten times or so.  His glory is shown through our weakness.  He delights in being called on to pick us up and dust us off after we’ve done a major face plant in life’s muddiest potholes.  Not that He enjoys seeing us fail; but that He seeks our love and our trust and He wants to be able to fix what is broken in us.  And not just in that twelve days or so where we are in the “Christmas Spirit,” this is every day, every hour, every minute, every second.  Every breath we take and through any and all trials we face.

If you haven’t figured out why He is so important yet, I challenge you to seek answers this year.  Don’t let another day pass without knowing what He’s really about.   If you haven’t found a good church; one that isn’t beating you over the head with a message that tells you how unworthy you are or one that places too much emphasis on being like each other and not enough emphasis on being like Christ, then tune in to some of the great teachers you can find online or on television.  I recommend Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer and Creflo Dollar.  Or you can just sit down and read your Bible with an open mind and an open heart and ask God to give you the wisdom you seek.  If you truly seek Him, you will find Him.  He’s just waiting for you to realize that His love is always right there for you.

I pray blessings, peace, and wisdom over you this year and that you would have the guidance, the protection, the provision and the healing power of Christ in your life.    If you hear nothing else I say this lifetime, please hear this, “There is no better gift than the love of Christ and it is free for everyone at all times.”

God bless you and Happy New Year!

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
~Psalm 33:22 NIV~
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Please feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more about what I’m sharing here, talk about your beliefs, or if you’re simply trying to sort things out.  This blog is meant to encourage, but I am also able to mentor those who wish to develop a new relationship with Christ and I would be happy to pray with you, pray for you, to help you get started on your journey or help you get back on track.  Just e-mail me here.

Now they sin more and more; they make idols for themselves from their silver, cleverly fashioned images, all of them the work of craftsmen. It is said of these people, “They offer human sacrifices! They kiss calf-idols!”

~Hosea 13:2 NIV~

We can always find justification to sin if we base our satisfaction on the things of this world.  I see so many people trying to make a case for living lives that don’t honor God or the sacrifice of Jesus Christ through selectively quoting or mis-quoting the Bible.  My suspicion is that this stems mostly from faulty or non-existent teaching about what the purpose of the Bible is and how it can help us gain a full understanding of the meaning of Christ in our lives.  When we open up the book and start reading without having even a partial understanding of the various authors, divisions, literary devices, contexts, etc. that are present in Scripture, it is easy to step back and say that it either doesn’t make sense or worse, to believe that it lifts up evil behaviors as being the desired manifestation of the Holy Spirit in us.  If we take the time to learn how to read the Scripture, we can reap the full benefit of the teachings it contains and apply them to our lives to bring about a rich harvest of the full and complete truth of who God is and what He wants to do for us and in us.

The reason I suspect that the basic misunderstanding of Christianity and of the Bible as a tool for learning about Christ lies in a lack of good teaching in our churches is because I experienced this firsthand.  I first attended church as a teenager and was very much in love with the idea of being a Christian.  I had no idea why, but it seemed like fun at the time and so, I figured that’s all I needed.  I had no clue about the depth of the Scripture and how it all connected to my destiny as a child of the Most High God.  The sermons I heard back then had nothing to do with helping me understand what it means to be forgiven; to have been redeemed by the blood of Christ.  The preacher didn’t teach us, he lectured us on what a terrible group of people we were and how we’d better watch our step if we wanted to go to Heaven.  The preaching tended to stick to the “big ten” topics for all Christians to memorize; the birth of Christ, the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, tithing, stewardship, repentance, the Ten Commandments, no sex before marriage, no divorce, and of course the Rapture.  There was little, if any teaching about understanding our duties as Christians, Jesus’s teachings about love and grace, knowing that we will always sin, understanding forgiveness, what it means to sow and reap, how God uses our experiences to shape us into the people He means us to be, and so on and so on.

There is so much that is left out of our regular church sermons that we must be willing to diligently seek Him in order to know the truth of His word.  Without a desire to know the fullness of His truth, we are only playing at being Christians.  If we are satisfied with a superficial Christian experience, then we aren’t really experiencing what it means to be a follower of Christ.  This isn’t to say that all churches are failing at teaching the word of God; it is saying that the responsibility of teaching us God’s word doesn’t lie solely with the preacher and the Sunday school teacher.  We must actively seek to understand Scripture and apply it to our lives in ways that glorify God, not in ways that seek to justify our sinful behavior by finding fault with something that vaguely applies to our situation and spinning it out of context.  God knows we are sinners.  He isn’t surprised by the fact that we do things we shouldn’t do.  Sin is part of the process required to become righteous.  And becoming righteous is a never-ending journey that we must be willing to travel as we make our way closer to God and the eternal reward that He seeks to give to those who love Him.

So, it isn’t about following all of the rules perfectly and pointing a self-righteous finger at those who aren’t doing or can’t do what we believe to be the right thing.  It isn’t about deciding to believe in nothing and seeking to blast holes into what others believe in order to justify our own lack of faith.  It is about understanding that the underlying theme of the Bible is to love.  There is no room for hating those who are still “in process” and there is no room for thinking that we will ever know all there is to know about God and His word.  Our job is to love Him, love ourselves and love others as we live out the plan that He reveals to us through an ever-evolving cycle of sin and grace.  The closer we get to understanding how He loves us, the easier it is for us to accept His grace and move away from a life of sin.

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

~Luke 15:7 NIV~

Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

~ James 4:11 NKJV~

The word of the day seems to be, as usual, insensitivity.  It amazes me the things people will post on social media in the name of justification of their own beliefs about a particular issue.  Pictures or sentiments that fail to see that choosing abortion is a very difficult decision and that women who are in the position of having to figure out what to do with an unexpected pregnancy are in enough pain and will continue to suffer long after the decision has been made no matter what they decide.  Never mind the very negative impact some of this stuff has on those of us who have miscarried or otherwise lost a child.  The constant verbal abuse and judgment being laid out for women who have or even consider having an abortion is just plain un-Christian.  That’s just not how Jesus would have handled it.  I’m sure.  I would never encourage someone to have an abortion, but I certainly don’t see the point of hurting or berating someone who has had one or who is considering one.  It isn’t as easy as just carrying the child to term and then giving it up for adoption.  That doesn’t always solve all of the emotional and psychological problems for the mother or the child in spite of what most may believe.  While it may be the solution for some, it isn’t necessarily the right option for everyone.  If you need proof of that, just look at all of the children who are currently waiting to be adopted or who are suffering abuse at the hands of unqualified foster parents or other caregivers.  And please don’t say that this doesn’t happen, because I’ve seen it and I know that this is a monster that does exist.  Sadly, even some of those who profess to want to do the Godly thing and adopt children to spare their lives are only doing so to collect a check or other benefits and have absolutely no interest in giving that child more than a mere existence.  Note:  I did say some.  Not all are abusive, but the existence of abusers needs to be acknowledged just as much as the existence of the alternative.

Whatever your own personal view is on the subject, it simply isn’t right to post something that shames or degrades a woman for her choices or her actions.  We’ve all made choices that were suspect and some of us continue to do so.  It would be nice to see Christian people lifting one another up and trying to help heal what drives a woman into a situation where she ends up with an unwanted pregnancy instead of stoning her repeatedly for a choice she should never have to make.  The ultimate failure in situations like these lies with those who know the love of Christ, but fail to share it.

I know that many of my friends are very much against abortion, some to the point of just being downright hateful about it.  And I can understand your outrage.  I used to be critical of each and every thing that I thought was wrong and I would say whatever I felt I needed to say to justify my own outrage.  It made me feel better.  It made me proud of myself.  That is, until I came back to Christ and saw that the words I’d been saying were hurtful and hateful and that I was not walking in love when I was criticizing my fellow man or woman for basically working with the tools God had given them.  Not everyone has a good spiritual foundation or even a good mentor to turn to.  Some people stumble for a very long time before they find even one individual who would take the time to help them to their feet.  And with the number of professed Christians in this world, that is a true shame.

I just want to remind you that we are all sinners and there is not one sin that is worse than another.  There are, however, many things that God hates besides abortion and these are spelled out in Proverbs 6:16.  He says, “These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.”  So, while it may seem that we are fully justified in battling the issue of abortion because it is considered to be the shedding of innocent blood, we must also be careful that our words and actions aren’t betraying our true nature and intent in doing so.  If we commit the other sins in the process of exposing one of them, then we are not operating in Christ, but in our own pride.  And when we are hateful to one another (yes, it is hateful to post pictures of fetuses covered in blood), then we are also committing our own murder in a sense.  For when we hate, we murder according to 1 John 3:15.  While it is perfectly alright to point out that something is a sin, we need to be careful that our judgment of the person who is in sin isn’t crossing over into hatred and that it isn’t being done to satisfy something in our own sin nature.  Often, the things we hate in others can be found in some form within our own character.  So, before we cast that first stone, we need to take a good long look in the mirror.  Are we reflecting something other than Christ?  If so, we’ve got more important things to do than chase down women who are considering abortion and bully them into doing our will.  God has a plan for their lives, too and most often, as with our own lives, that plan includes sin.

 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.

~Proverbs 10:12 NKJV~

I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.
~Romans 6:19 NIV~
One of the hardest things I’ve dealt with since I’ve been trying to follow Christ has been whether or not to continue to promote some of the writing I did when I was still away from God.  I started writing my mystery series, The Rona Shively Stories, in 2006 when I was still living a life apart from Christ.  I was basically a back-slidden Christian, but one who didn’t realize why it was important to live a life that pleases God.   Although I had gone to church regularly during my teen years, I had little understanding of what a relationship with Christ really meant.  That wasn’t what I’d been taught when I went to church.  For me, the purpose of church had been to offer myself up for a good tongue-lashing once a week so that I could be reminded through the sermons that I was a pitiful sinner, then I could enjoy some good music and the occasional potluck dinner.  I didn’t think there was more to it than to show up and try to fit in with the others who had already gotten good at showing up.  Even though I’d heard the stories about Jesus, I never made the connection to how they applied to me.  I had no clue that Jesus had presented Himself for crucifixion on my behalf and that the whole purpose of this was so that I could enjoy a life that God created especially for me.  He sent Jesus to die for me so that I could live out the story He had written for me without living under a cloud of condemnation and sin.  And when I received that, it then became my responsibility to live that life in a manner that would be pleasing to Him.
So the question becomes, if He gifted me to be a writer, should I continue promoting the writing that I believe fails to glorify Him?  What I mean by this is that my mystery series started out showcasing a very crass, very opinionated, and very promiscuous female Private Detective.  She cursed like a sailor, she had affairs out of wedlock, she had a terrible attitude and she had absolutely no foundation in Christ.  The one redeeming quality she had was that she had a conscience and she really wanted to help people in bad situations.  At her core, she was a good person trapped inside a brokenhearted sinner.  At her core, she was basically the person I had been and as time progressed, she changed just as I have.  And now, by the writing of my seventh book in this series, she has actually been trying very hard to clean up her act and develop a relationship with Christ.  She’s struggled through many life challenges, mostly those involving the loss of significant relationships.  She has not yet learned how to fully lean on God, but she’s getting closer to solving that mystery every day.  Is all of this transformation enough to justify showing all of the ugly to those who might pick up the series for the first time with the expectation that they are reading something written by a writer who professes to be a Christian?
The question comes up even more often for me now as I deal with my daughter’s ever-broadening interest in music.  Recently, she’s picked up the habit of wanting to watch music videos on Youtube and she’s basically hooked on the music that is popular to the young kids these days.  Some of which I allow, some of which I simply won’t.  The dilemma comes when you see artists like Justin Beiber or Katy Perry, who have professed at one point or another to be Christian, but whose music and behavior doesn’t always match up with that declaration.  Or maybe the artist presents themself as kid-friendly at first, but then decides that they also need to cater to a more adult audience.  While I appreciate the musical talents of these individuals, I don’t fully appreciate the fact that they are in a position where they have become role models to our youth but yet, sing about things that ‘tweens and teens should not be doing or seeing.  For example, one Katy Perry video that I watched depicted the girl waking up after having a wild party where there was a lot of drinking and it was implied that there may have been some sexual activity.
Not that I’ve never seen these things before, but it’s a very different matter when my nine year-old daughter picks this video out to watch based on the fact that she likes Perry’s other music. The music that basically hooked her didn’t have the same message as songs like this one, but because the artist seemed safe enough she found herself looking at something she didn’t understand and then having to reconcile the image she had of this artist with what this particular video depicted.  Thankfully, I don’t let her watch videos unless I am right there looking over her shoulder so that I can answer any questions she might have.  This one brought lots of questions and basically resulted in my making the decision to remove her as an artist that my daughter is permitted to follow.  Even if Perry doesn’t still consider herself to be a Christian, she still needs to be remember that there are a large number of young girls who are watching her every move and modeling their behavior after hers.  This isn’t her fault and it isn’t necessarily her responsibility to direct those girls to model their behaviors appropriately, but people of great influence seem to only want to fade into the background when they face criticism for any negative impact they may be having on others.  Not so much when everyone loves what they are doing.
Whether they asked to be role models or not, they still need to be more responsible about the music they perform if they are, in fact, attempting to portray themselves as entertainers who are also Christians.  Understanding that they may be suffering through the same dilemma that I’ve been dealing with; the desire to put out work that more accurately reflects God’s glory, but needing to promote what they’ve already done out of respect for their craft.  In essence, trying to decide between our God and our gift.  The answer is really clear, but the action doesn’t always come so easily.
The answer is that if we are truly followers of Christ, we understand that He has forgiven us for our sins and that He loves us without end.  Our part in this is that once we understand what He has done for us; the impact of a love so all-encompassing, so freeing, so enduring, that we would begin to set aside all of the things in our lives that conflict with our presenting a clear reflection of Him in all that we do.  That process takes longer for some than for others depending upon how far away we have gotten from Him.  When we are buried under mountains of sinful behavior, it can be difficult to think we could ever emerge with any sense of pride or joy.  Sometimes it’s just easier to “go with the flow” and continue being the person everyone has known us to be.  To continue to fit in with those who don’t believe that anyone including God could ever love them sometimes seems easier than making the changes necessary to set us back on the right path to salvation.  It’s true, life often seems to be easier if we just continue to stay entrenched in behaviors that limit our potential.  But God made us for a purpose and that purpose was not to spend every free moment looking for our next high; whether that be through alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, or other means.  We were meant to reach out to one another in love and help each other through the challenges we face as human beings through reflecting God’s love and reminding one another of God’s promise of an everlasting life for those who receive His gift of salvation.  We will undoubtedly make mistakes as we try to do the right thing.  And more often than not, we’ll do things that we know we shouldn’t do.  Even when we have been trying to be “good” and live our lives for Christ.  Being a Christian doesn’t make us perfect; it only means that we understand His perfection and we honor Him in our attempts to be more like the One who has already shown us a love that cannot be matched by anyone or anything this world has to offer us.
I don’t personally know any of the entertainers who call themselves Christians, but I do know that in such positions of power they must exercise some degree of responsibility to those who are watching them.  So while entertainers such as Justin Beiber and Katy Perry struggle publicly to decide whether or not they are going to model His perfection or strive to display their own, I’m still praying about whether or not it is possible for me to accurately depict through my writing one woman’s ongoing transformation from a sinner to a saint.  The journey is the thing, but unless the writer makes a conscious effort to ensure that what they write doesn’t glorify the worst in us, then the gift no longer comes from God.  If we’ve ever loved our God, we must remember Him in the way we display who He is in us to the world.  If you represent Him, then represent Him.  No one really wants to follow us…we’re all lost.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

~1 Timothy 1:15-16 NIV~
In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
~1 Timothy 6:19 NIV~

 

My Easter weekend was strangely exhausting and tinged with sadness and anxiety.  One would think that after spending time in God’s word and having dinner with family and all, that the end result would be at least some level of joy.  But instead of feeling victorious; I emerged from this weekend feeling much like I’d been stood in the courtyard and stoned.  Thankfully, that wasn’t the case and today, after considering all that was said and done, I think I may have actually learned something.
My apprehension was the most human of self-defense mechanisms brought about in part by watching hours of television programming about how much pain Jesus had gone through on our behalf.  My feelings of anxiety were brought on by hearing about all that He suffered because He dared step out and attempt to teach people how to love one another.  His only crime was that He had endeavored to show people how to live a life that was built on loving and encouraging others rather than abusing, manipulating or taking advantage of them.  When the weight of all of this settled on me, my initial reaction was to be angry.  Angry that there are still so many people who would rather crucify Jesus than to take the time to understand what He was saying.  Angry that there are those who don’t believe that He was the Messiah and that He took all of that pain on for us.  Angry that even among those who claim to believe in Him there are those who place more value on the quality of their Easter ham than on the life of the Man who made our continued existence possible.  And with anger comes anxiety.  And with anxiety comes frustration.  And with frustration comes doubt.
So for all of the struggle, it all came full circle for me until I had to ask myself why it is that I believe at all.  And as God always does in my life, He provided the answer in the strangest of ways.  While I was pondering all of these things and trying to figure out why it is so important for me to believe and to help others believe, my daughter came to me with a very direct concern.  Generally, she goes along with my efforts to stage the appearance of such characters as the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, but today she wasn’t having it.  She came to me in tears and said, “Mom, is it really you that does all of this?”
“Does all of what?” I said.
“All of this stuff with the toys and the candy.  I know it’s you.  It’s your handwriting,” she says, “Tell me the truth.”
I didn’t know what to say.  On one hand, I know that my daughter is smart enough to understand that Easter and Christmas are very real events and that what we are supposed to be celebrating at these times is very different from what our society tends to promote.  On the other, she’s still my baby and I don’t want her to grow up too fast because I had to spoil the fun by telling her the truth.
“What do you mean, tell you the truth?” I said, “About the Easter Bunny?”
“Yes, I know it’s you,” she said, “Please tell me.”
At this point, she’s in tears and I’m weighing the possibilities.  Will I somehow scar her for life if I let her in on the fact that I am the mastermind behind the big Easter Bunny thing?  Since she knows already that Easter is about Jesus and not about chocolate bunnies and colored eggs, will it really be such a bad thing if I just tell her the whole truth?  How in the world can I answer this question without causing her to doubt her faith in all things she cannot see?
I chose my next sentence carefully, “You know that Easter is all about Jesus and the resurrection, right?”
She nodded.
“And you understand that the basket and the eggs and all of that has little to do with Him, right?” I said.
“Yeah, mom, I know all of that,” she said.
“But you know that what makes Easter fun for kids is the bunnies and the candy and stuff,” I went on…stalling.
“Mom, you’re not answering the question,” she said.
She is truly my daughter.
“I’m trying to,” I said, “I just don’t know how to answer it.”
There was no reason not to be honest at least about that part of it.  I didn’t know how to answer her.  I was terrified that if I handled this wrong, she would lose hope.  What if I inadvertently switched off a light in her by telling her that these fictional characters were just that; fictional?  Isn’t my responsibility to help her believe more in Christ than in those icons anyhow?
“You see, the thing is that I want you to believe with all your heart in Jesus and in God,” I said.
“I do,” she said.
“And I want you to understand the difference between them and the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus and all of those characters,” I said.
“I know they aren’t real, Mom,” she said.
“Just to clarify, you know who isn’t real?” I asked.
She let out a big sigh and said, “The Easter Bunny and Santa Claus!  I know that you are the one who hides the presents and writes the notes and does all of that stuff.”  And the tears just spilled out of her little eyes as she came to terms with the whole thing.  The things she had wanted to believe in wholeheartedly for so long were starting to look unreal to her and in part, I worried that this was yet another bi-product of the divorce.  My biggest worry has been that the loss of that foundation in her life would translate into a shaky foundation for everything else she held dear.
“Honey, I don’t know what you want me to say here,” I said, “I know that you are a very smart girl and I know that you understand how things happen.”
She nodded again, not giving me much to go on.
“I wonder though if you would have wanted to learn about Easter and what it was really about if some part of it hadn’t been fun and just a little bit magical for you,” I said, “Do you think you would have wanted to understand Jesus and all He did for us if you hadn’t been receiving these gifts every year just for being the wonderful little girl you are?”
“I don’t know,” she said.
“What about Christmas?” I said, “Would you have been interested in knowing why Christmas is important if there hadn’t been something fun associated with it?”
Lord, this was getting deep.  As a parent, I’m not sure I’m equipped to handle to big questions like this just yet.  I was just praying that God would give me the words I needed to say to bring this discussion to a fruitful end.
“I guess not,” she said.
“So, instead of just talking to you about how much people wanted Jesus to stop teaching about love, I chose to show you how much He celebrates you,” I said, “The gifts are just another way of saying that you are loved and that this is what Jesus stood for.”  And I’m thinking to myself that I truly wasn’t just trying to bribe her into believing in things that don’t exist.  God help me if she ever thinks that.
As if she is reading my mind, she says, “But you don’t have to get gifts to be loved.”  Wow, I really hadn’t thought any of the stuff I’d been telling her up to now was really sinking in, but evidently she understands the important stuff.
“No, you don’t,” I said.  “Gifts are just a way to show love and an even better way to see happiness in someone we love; by giving you something and seeing that it makes you happy, I am also getting a gift.”
She looked really confused at that and I wondered when I had started talking like Mike Brady.
“What I mean is that your happiness is a gift to me,” I said.  “As someone who loves you very much, your happiness makes me happy, especially when I have something to do with making you happy.”
“It does?” she said.
“Very much so,” I said.
She smiled and I thought for a moment that I had finally been able to successfully avoid the question.
“So, you’re the Easter Bunny?” she said.
I had to laugh at this.  “Well, I guess if you’re going to keep asking me the question, then the answer is ‘yes’, I’m the Easter Bunny.”
She took a moment and then said, “Okay.”
“Okay?”
“Yeah, okay,” she said.
“And you know that I am not Jesus, I am not God, right? They are very real and they are very much with us,” I said.
She looked at me like I was the biggest idiot in the world and said, “Um, yeah, do you know that you’re not God?”
“Well, that’s always the question isn’t it?” I said.
With that, she had answered my big question.  Why did I believe in what I had not been able to see?  Why was I so upset that others didn’t get what Jesus had been trying to teach?  Why did I let myself get so frustrated over things that God was clearly working on in everyone and not just in me?  Well, because I forgot that I wasn’t Him.  These aren’t questions that I can answer for myself; but questions that I must allow Him to answer for me through all that He does in my life.  I know that I am not God or even close to understanding the things God does.  I am not able, as a human being, to know why He didn’t just give up on all of us when Jesus was treated so terribly all those years ago.  But it wasn’t my plan.  His plan for me is completely different than His plan for any other person on this earth, including the one He had for His own Son.  So if my nine year-old daughter can accept that there is no Santa Claus and no Easter Bunny without it completely destroying her world, then surely I can put on my big girl pants and accept that God is God and that no matter how smart I think I am, I’ll never be able to understand Him the way He understands me.
By perpetuating the whole idea of the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, I had unwittingly been developing a foundation of faith in my child.  Now that I look back on it, it all makes sense.  It wasn’t that I wanted my little girl to believe in fake bunnies and fat men in red suits inasmuch as I just wanted her to believe and not be afraid to believe.  So that when it all comes down and she has the opportunity to stand up for Christ, that she will not be afraid to do so.  Sometimes we fight so hard to protect the things that don’t matter that we forget the most basic principle at work is learning how to love each other.  Not necessarily why, but how.  God doesn’t want us to sit around questioning why we love Him.  He wants us to figure out how to love Him.  And that can only be done when we let go of our need to justify loving Him.  He loves us because we are His.  That is all.  And with that, it is finished.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
~1 John 4:10 NIV~

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

~James 1:22-24 NIV~

In a recent discussion with some ladies at my church, the question came up about the significance of blood as sacrifice.  We spent several moments pondering why the sacrifice of blood has been so special.  Of course, we all could relate to the fact that blood is a driving force in our bodies and as such, bears great enough significance to warrant being used for the purpose of sacrifice.  We also understand the parallels between the sacrifice of animals during the earlier books in the Bible versus the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Himself in the New Covenant.  But why blood?  Why was it necessary to shed blood at all?  My questions about this may be quite different from those presented by others in the group I was talking with, but generally, I think we all had questions about why the blood would be the thing? How can we effectively witness to others and get them to understand why we are Christians if we don’t fully understand why God used the blood in this way?  Ultimately, we had to concede, as in most things, that God knows why this is so and we just have to be content with not knowing some things.   We have to have faith in the importance of sharing what we have learned about the blood and its importance even when we may not be able to answer all of the questions someone may have about it.  In other words, our duty is to believe in what He has said in His word and to help others see it, know it and believe it.  The operative word here, of course, is help.

It is not our job to tell others what we think it all means and expect that they would process it in the same way we do.  It is not our job to interpret the Word and then presume that our interpretation is the one that stands out as wholly correct among all others.  We can know that we know that we know and still know the wrong things.  No, our job is to provide others with the resources to take it all in and examine it in the context of their own lives, synthesize it with the God they are hearing with their own ears and understand it based on the manifestations of their knowledge and application in their own lives.  The outcomes will not be the same for any two believers.  He has a unique path for each of us and no matter how much we want to match up with someone, that’s not His intention. We must not look at our fellow believers and assume that they are not walking their walk in the way He intends for them to walk it.  We must not get all tangled up in our own understanding of things and apply an overlay of our plan to someone else’s.  That’s not walking in Christ’s image; that’s walking along with mirror in hand while we admire our own reflection.

So, our understanding of the blood and the importance of the blood will only truly make sense to us.  For example, I was telling the ladies as we discussed this point that my context as it relates to blood revolves around several traumatic miscarriages and an incident where I bled out after a medical procedure.  For years, blood was such an ever-present and frightening reality that I couldn’t process anything that was going on in my life without reliving the fears and the pain that came with the presence of that blood.  Ironically, those very incidents would serve to lead me down a path where I ran headlong into my Savior and decided that I had been running away from Him long enough.  Praise God!

Now whether or not everyone I talk to believes that my experiences impacted me as profoundly as I claim they did remains to be seen.  And quite frankly, there have been times during my own walk when someone has shared a testimony and I’ve wondered to myself whether they were being genuine or not.  It hit me today, however; that this is one of the biggest places where I falter as a believer.  In not believing the testimony of some, I have effectively made myself their judge.  How dare I question someone else’s feelings about the experiences they are having in their life.  To go even further, consider that some people we know are still in the middle of dealing with the things that will later become their testimony and when we question their dedication to fixing what we perceive as a stronghold in their life, again we become their judge instead of their support.  I’m not saying we should believe everything we hear, as we know that the devil is a liar and that He works through those whom he has possession to shake the faith of those whose eyes have been opened.  I’m saying that we need to stop thinking that God has created us in such a way that there would be one, cookie-cutter reality that He finds acceptable and right for each person.  I’m saying that we need to stop questioning God’s plan for others.  There are those whom He means to have experiences that others would shy away from.  Some were meant to be harlots, adulterers, thieves, blasphemers, murderers, saints, etc.  And through each of them, He will show Himself working in all His magnificent glory to prove that each and every one of His creation is worthy to be called His child.

If we spend our lives doubting the capacity of others to change, we discount God’s power and how it can be applied in the lives of those who struggle.  And in doing so, we doubt His capacity to work in our own lives.  Perhaps the point He is trying to make is that we cannot have faith in Him if we are unable to have faith in one another.  If we are to be a reflection of Him, how can we do so if we hate one another for not being a reflection of ourselves?

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
~1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV~

I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

~Psalm 31:7~

Sometimes the very things we use to help us deal with the pain in our lives become the biggest source of pain that we will face. I’m talking about our addictions. Our fixations. The strongholds that get in the way of our dealing with the real issues. At what point does the medication become the contaminant? What would happen if we just threw out all of the coping mechanisms and stared our problems right in the eye? Could we prevail? Could we overcome? The answer is YES!

Contrary to popular belief, God is not a crutch. His word is not a coping mechanism. The Truth is not some sort of spiritual band-aid. Those who come to know Him will find peace like they’ve never known and if we are willing to lay down our idols and bring our wounds to Him, He will heal us every time. What we often fail to understand is that in order for us to receive true healing, we have to allow the sickness or injury to truly take hold of us (we have to admit it exists) and then we have to have the courage to give it all to God. We can’t look at our situations and become frustrated because God isn’t working as fast as we would like Him to work. His timing is always perfect and if we feel that there is a delay, we aren’t understanding something that He needs us to see before true healing can take place.

The other night, I came face to face with my former self. Not literally, but in a manner of speaking, I met a young woman who reminded me so much of the girl I used to be before I knew Christ. She was loud, angry, sad, mixed-up and just lost. She started talking about her life and before I knew it, she was in tears. All I could think of when she was talking to me was how hard it had been for me and how scared I had been when I was her age. She was twenty-five years old and she had been a victim of molestation and many other terrible things. She was in an abusive relationship with a controlling boyfriend. She was drunk. She’d had significant loss in her life which included the death of a mentor and estrangement from two siblings. She was in a state of utter brokenness and as she spoke to me through her tears, I couldn’t help but feel her pain. This was me. This was what I had felt like all those years ago when I’d been lost in sin and broken into so many pieces that I was sure I could never be put back together.

The girl told me that she prayed every night. She told me that she wanted to go to church. She told me that she needed someone to talk to and that she was thankful to have someone listen to her. My heart breaks for all of the women out there who are in the same situation. Looking around, I can see that she is probably representative of a much larger population that exists in our midst. Women who have no hope. Women who are afraid. Women who haven’t been beaten up enough to get help according to the standards of the agencies that are set up to help them. Women who don’t even realize that they are being abused. Women who have been brought up to believe that this is okay. Women who have been self-medicating with alcohol or drugs in order to feel strong enough to face their abusers or simply get through each day. Women who put on their best tough girl costume to take on the challenges they must deal with. Women who have such a hardened shell that they cannot even allow the love of Christ to come into their lives. This is not His plan for us. This is not okay.

Cheating husbands who have no idea how to value us, children broken as a result of either our poor choices or the abuse they have seen us suffer, continued persecution at the hands of abusive parents, friends whose only motivation is to have a little company for their own misery; all of these things are attacking us every day. All of these things are standing in the way of Jesus until we have the courage to set aside those self-destructive patterns that have become our way of life. Beth Moore said that our lives are often a reflection of the memories we hold onto or the perceptions of ourselves that we have come to cling to. We can become so used to the person we are that we forget who we can be.

I’m reminded often of the story of the woman with the alabaster box of perfume who came to Jesus and proceeded to wash His feet with her tears and with the perfume and then dried them with her hair. She had come to the end of her rope and was finally ready to turn away from what had been her sinful lifestyle and all she felt she had to offer Him was this gift. We don’t have to give Him anything but our attention. He doesn’t require more than our acknowledgement that He is Lord and our belief that He can and will restore us. His love is more valuable than any perfume and it washes us clean.

By coming into relationship with Christ, He can restore our memory and His love will remind us of the wonderful creature He designed us to be. Our horrible experiences don’t have to become trophies. Our failures don’t have to define our futures. We are more than conquerors and we must trade our fears for the love that is poured out freely and unconditionally by the Creator. He loves us so much that we don’t have to settle for last call, ladies. If you know a woman who is struggling with an addiction of any kind, please reach out to her. Help her to understand that Christ can heal every affliction. He can break every chain. And if you don’t feel comfortable doing this for her, then maybe you need to reach out to someone as well. We have got to start lifting one another up in Jesus’ name if we ever hope to restore the brokenness in this world. This is the only way to bring light into the darkness.

“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal. From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will touch you.”

~Job 5:17-19 NIV~

Lately, it seems like whenever a person speaks up for the good of something, they had better be prepared to be treated like crap. With that in mind, those of you who have thin skin might want to pull in your tails, because I’m about to step on them.

When you are friends with someone, you have love for that person. You understand that they have different opinions, different beliefs in some cases, and that they may not agree with everything that you say or do. Calling yourself a friend means more than simply accepting someone’s request on Facebook. A friend is someone who means something to you, not just a profile of someone who may or may not have been attractive to you at one time for some reason or another. That said, our friends may present certain challenges to us at times. It is our responsibility as their friend to let them know when they are speaking things that aren’t necessarily true. It is our responsibility as a friend to help them see when what they are saying or doing does not make sense to the rational individual. By the same token, they should be willing to do this for us.

In this age of tolerance and political correctness, we have become a society that wants to hold hands and sing campfire songs with one another so long as we don’t have to hold hands with someone that wishes to assert their stand on those things which we have decided are offensive to us. We can only align ourselves with those who believe absolutely as we believe. We wouldn’t dare say that we don’t like you because of your inability to follow the crowd, but we won’t go out of our way to try and understand why you believe what you believe either. Oh, and we probably won’t even care what you believe if it in any way threatens what we believe to be true. Because if you’re not in agreement, you’re just wrong.

Okay, well. That explains why we are in the shape that we are in. That explains why Christians engage in heated debates with one another over the issue of who they are supposed to love and who they are supposed to hate instead of how they are supposed to love and what they are supposed to hate. That explains why those who don’t believe in Christ can justify that unbelief by hiding behind the failure of the Christian to display God’s glory through their hateful speech and through their hateful actions. It explains why people simply don’t get that the whole point of Jesus dying on the cross for us was to erase the need for us to constantly wave the red flag at each other and to feel that we must justify our every action by condemning those who make mistakes we haven’t yet made in an effort to cover up those we’ve already mastered.

Our whole mentality these days is about labeling someone else’s misfortune as willful ugliness and calling our own ugliness a bout of misfortune. It’s about calling someone’s choice to be disobedient and self-serving their right and justifying the unfair treatment of those who had no choice by saying that those individuals feel it is an entitlement. It’s about talking out both sides of your neck and simply turning from one side to the other as it suits us. It’s a ridiculous inability to commit to truth and fairness in the interest of justice and self-preservation. But the bottom line is this; if God isn’t in it, then it isn’t worth having or doing.

I would say that I’m hoping not to offend anyone with this post, but I’m not even sure that it would matter what kind of disclaimer is used. Someone, somewhere won’t like it. Someone, somewhere will say that I am wrong to uphold Christ’s teachings by not being willing to say that everyone out there is okay the way they are. Well, Christ never said we were all okay the way we were. He said God loves us as we are, but He doesn’t always agree with what we are doing. God loves us because He created us, but He wants us to strive for a life that glorifies the Maker. In everything we do, we must have confidence that Jesus would be comfortable doing the same. If we have to stop and question whether or not Jesus would engage in the things we do, then we probably shouldn’t be doing them. If we become angry thinking about what God might think of what we are doing or saying, then it is probably safe to say that what we are doing or saying is wrong.

But God did not put us on this earth to go after one another and to play the role of judge and jury over those who don’t share our enthusiasm for Him. He put us here to be a light that illuminates the darkness. He put us here to share the joy He puts in our hearts as we grow closer to Him. He didn’t call us to beat down those who are already beaten down. He didn’t call us to throw angry words at one another because our understanding of a Scripture has given us a case of the big-head. He didn’t call us to stomp our feet, take our toys and go home whenever someone questioned why we didn’t believe the same way they believe. He called us to give our testimony in such a way that the person listening is so overtaken with love and kindness and warmth and admiration for the respect we have given them while sticking to our convictions that they cannot hate us no matter how much they want to. He called us to make others want Him the way we do.  I don’t know of any salesperson that closes a sale by insulting the potential customer’s previous choice of merchandise. I don’t know of any successful business person who closes a deal by calling the prospective client an idiot because they’ve never heard of or understood the need for that company’s particular product. In most cases, if you pull that kind of thing, your customers walk right out the door and look for someone who is willing to sell them something that sounds like it will love them back.

I’m frustrated with us, my friends. I know that we can do better than this. I know that He wants us to do better than this. And God help us, I know that we should do better than this. So what’s stopping us? What is so much more important to us that we can’t set ourselves aside and think about what our decisions and actions will mean on the Day of Judgment? Which alliances will serve you when all is said and done? If those we call friend cannot trust us to understand and respect God’s authority and power, then we can be no friend to them at all.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

~Proverbs 18:24 NIV~

Introduction

My name is Rebecca Benston. I'm an author, speaker, and advocate for women and children. My spiritual journey has led me to many questions about what is right and how to live out the purpose that God has set for me.

I am finding that after considering all other possibilities, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that without living a life that acknowledges the blood of Jesus we are lost. Yet, there are many who claim to know Him and understand His teachings who spew hatred and look for any and all opportunities to judge others instead of seeking them out to lead them to Christ. The goal of this blog is to work towards removing the animosity that exists between followers of Christ who subscribe to different doctrinal approaches and beliefs about what is expected of a "good" Christian. Also to draw the unbeliever closer to Christ through practicing His love and patience and to help all followers understand that love and true faith cannot co-exist where hate, intolerance and a sense of superiority live.

I also hope to open a dialogue with people from many different religious backgrounds and to work together with followers of this blog to break down some of the barriers to harmony that exist in our society. I hope you will join in the conversation!

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October 2017
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