Just for you!
Yep...I'm about to go there..
I read an article yesterday that featured a popular Christian blogger I know, and his support of our outgoing President. It was a basic apology for the dislike he endured, and gratitude for the graceful integrity by which our President has walked in for eight years. I appreciate his words, and I would agree, our President did carry himself with class, no matter what was coming at him from the throngs of supporters and non-supporters alike. As most Presidents deal with thrashing from both sides, in the battle to create balance in a country divided.
While I too came across sheer hate during this presidency, I can’t say it was always aimed at the color of anyone’s skin, or religious background, or any part of the personal person of President Obama. No, the majority of the anger and dislike came at the policies that have changed a nation, at the often unbalanced approach that seemed to unjustly marginalize many. Sure, there were racist lunatics running around screaming childishly, or ranting on social media about nonsense we don’t need to repeat. They are there, and they have always been there, they probably will always be there.
The one problem I have with such blogging is the glorifying that goes into the description of one man’s interpretation of hate. His words often insight hate in themselves! And are always directed at Christians, clumping all of us into one bad Christian category.
Why? Why is it necessary to give the riff raff even a small bit of attention.
There were many non-supporters who waited for years to see leadership in the areas they deemed important, but never saw it come to be. There were non-supporters praying night and day for our leaders to lay down their pride and arrogance, and take the bull by the horns to create bridges to healing the deep canyons of division in the fabric of this country. There are people who had no choice but to watch government get involved unnecessarily in areas that it doesn’t belong- removing power from the States- this is the United STATES of America- not the Giant America with some states!
As Christians, we all should be aiming at one thing, to know Jesus and love like him. So in love, and with respect, I call out certain Christian leaders to start leading by example. To stop using the small minority of lost souls that shout louder than we do, to stop throwing darts of shame and your own hate at those you call brothers and sisters in Christ. You can’t justify this sort of public writing (though it is your American right, by all means) as a way to teach. No ladies and gentlemen, this is a public announcement that clumps all of us “Christians” into one big box of hate.
I do not hate. As a matter of fact, I don’t personally know any Christians who hate. They don’t hate our outgoing President, or the incoming President (though I’ve seen the same amount of dislike, as eight years ago, towards Trump). They don’t hate gays, lesbians, bisexuals, black, Hispanic or mixed races. We do not hate humanity! And I’m tired of you saying we do!
The Christians I know love unconditionally. No matter the choice of lifestyle, they don’t hate the soul that lives in the lifestyle that they believe the Word of God doesn’t align with. When you are in Christ Jesus, there is no room for hate. Hate is darkness, and His light shines in the darkness!
I watched this past month as a local family lost every possession they had to a house fire, everything, and our family of Christ believers pulled together to raise enough funds in one day to cover finding a new home and accessories for that home. I watched a small group of Christ believing teenagers spend $56 to make sack lunches that they passed out to the homeless on the streets of Denver. I watched as meals were brought to a family in need twice a week. I attended a Blue Christmas meant to help support the hurting, grieving, and down trodden through the holidays. I could go on and on, but I don’t need to. We step out to care for the children of God while we are here walking this earth. This is love.
There are misguided Christians out there. They will miss the gift of love as they go about ranting and raving about their personal, non-biblical dislike for one thing or another, one person or another, but they are NOT the majority. Their judgment is not for me, and it is most certainly not for you. Some Christians leaders claim to disapprove of the hellfire and brimstone theology, but it is what I’ve seen poured out on their brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Their words don’t signify the few. No, they improperly point to all.
I too could apologize to the President of the United States for the disrespectful nature of some Americans, and I could salute his valiant efforts to be the better man. As a matter of fact, I just did.
Simply.. and without vilifying Christians or any other religious group for that matter.
You cannot share a message of love when it is filled with so much hate. The two cannot exist.
Every morning the sun rises. It has since God said, “Let there be light”, and it was so. The sun ushers in a new day, for most of us. Some areas on this earth experience sunlight 24 hours a day, so the time is what ushers in a new day for them. But I don’t live in Norway or any other far off location. I live right here, where day is day and night is night.
I can count on the sun to rise every morning, to set every night and to repeat it all the next day. Nothing in my life changes this fact. My circumstances won’t change this. No matter what I am going through on any given day, the sun will still rise, the moon will still appear, and the days will still go on. I have faith that it will be like this for my entire lifetime.
Faith is being sure of what we cannot see and of what we hope for. It is a complete trust and confidence in something or someone.
For some, this isn’t a problem. I’ve seen it, so I know that true faith exists. True faith in God, the Father, Jesus, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. True faith that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. True faith that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, lived just over 30 years, shared a new message with all, was crucified and resurrected, and rose to sit with God on high. True faith.
But then, let’s talk about faith in our day to day lives.
When life is going well, I believe it is easy to have faith, or at least easier. But when trials come our way, when unexpected turns in our life journey show up, do we stand as adamantly on that faith? Are we as confident? Do we exhibit complete trust… complete trusts that is much like knowing with absolute certainty that the sun will rise every morning.
I’ve experienced a time of less than ideal circumstances. For some reason, unknown to me, this time of year is a time of testing for me. My life has been in a whirlwind for a few months, and not because of anything I’ve done or brought on myself, but due to the choices of others. Most years, when this happens in the fall, the stress causes physical issues, insomnia, and spiritual roadblocks. Stress is of the enemy- it is anxiety, doubt, resentment, fear, anger, hopelessness, and so many other things.
I have had to literally combat these internal obstacles with the word of God, over and over. I had to surrender in new ways, and to trust and be confident in His presence in my life. Not that He would make things more comfortable, but that no matter what, He is here.
You see, Satan has one desire- to separate me from God. To manipulate my mind into thinking I am alone, that God has left me (didn’t we see that time and again when the Israelites were busy wandering?). He wants me to question myself and what I believe. Satan does not want me to be confident in what I hope for, or certain about what I cannot see. He wants to knock me down, and literally halt all forward progress by tying me up with the ropes of stress. He wants to shock my faith into questioning all I believe in.
This is testing, and God prepared us for these times through his word:
"These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold." (1 Peter 1:7a NLT)
Everything inside me is being stirred while fired upon, so that all the impurities will rise to the top, so they can be removed. As those temperatures rise, or trials deepen, the more “pollutants or grime” are removed.
Don’t be fooled by the testing of your faith. It is a true blessing to know God is sitting right here, watching the fires burn and purity flow. Don’t be afraid of what seems to be out of control, or more than you can handle. Satan longs to tempt you into throwing in the towel and, more than anything else, to not believe in our God, and to most certainly not trust Him.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT) ~”The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
Faith is a blessing, it is something that should constantly be at the forefront of our minds. Our faith will get us through the most dire of situations, because when our faith rests upon God the Father, and in His loving mercy, grace and acceptance of who we are in our trials, including our stressed selves, we will be held in his mighty arms, cared for in ways we can’t even imagine, and loved beyond all measure.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
It’s a very difficult subject, I know. Forgiveness is one of our favorite words as Christians, right up there with love. They set the foundation of who we are in Christ- forgiven and loved! When I consider forgiveness I ponder my entire life, the life before I made the decision to follow Jesus Christ, and the life I’ve led since. Both sides of that line are filled with forgiveness, both sides have brokenness made whole, but only one has the life altering experience of freedom. There is a release that occurs when we’ve completely forgiven. The journey begins with our personal forgiving in faith, and is complete as the Lord does His work within us through to completion.
It’s that last part that people don’t realize isn’t about us, but comes through Him.
We will know when we’re still holding ourselves captive by not forgiving. We still get angry, feel hurt and pained, hold onto bitterness, and carry a deep sense of resentment against the person. People often think these things are arrows of justification aimed at the one who wronged them. While we may ‘feel’ it’s justified, if those feelings are still there, you are the one imprisoned, and no, you have not forgiven.
Those feelings stay in our mind and thoughts, and Satan has a way of convincing us we are right to feel the way we do. Of course we are going to feel hurt and anger, even be resentful from the pain others cause us, that is normal. What’s not normal is to hold onto those feelings indefinitely.
When asked about forgiveness Jesus offered the answer:
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22)
We would be incapable of such forgiveness without God. When you chose Christ, you chose the Spirit to live within you, and it is that Spirit that brings us through our pain and circumstances into a complete forgiveness- over and over. That same forgiveness God pours out for us, over and over, we are now able to pour out to others.
Jesus came to this world, the old has gone and new has come. God may have limited forgiveness in the Old Testament, but Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection brought about a new way. For us to live fully, to experience a complete relationship and joy, he laid out the path to do so. In being unforgiving, we limit His mighty work in us, and therefore, limit ourselves to the world’s way of handling things.
Forgiveness is not the acceptance of behavior, it’s the release of the emotional impact brought on by the actions of others. It is the step by step walk into wholeness and healing. You are not called to live a life of personal captivity. The Father’s intentions for you are FREEDOM.
Trust Him to set you free!
…”For decades the Christian community has moved in love, which we should. But nothing about love says to leave right from wrong behind. Nothing about love dictates that we neglect the obvious in hopes of not offending people. We extend grace while living within the realm of right and wrong and using common sense. There is nothing that says we cannot do both. And this concept is where society has now lost. Jesus preached on grace, forgiveness, mercy and repentance. So should we. There is a 'but' here, when it comes to safety, and also in following what scripture says is truth. I will not compromise truth…”
The preceding comment was in response to a social media debate regarding boundaries of known, and convicted, sexual predators. However, it is a true and honest opinion about life in general in the 2016 world.
This last week has been a bit hectic. As worldly issues have penetrated my work within the church, my mind has literally been on overload about how exactly we’ve reached this point. I’m fairly vocal that in the last four decades we took the message of love and turned it into a message that has become distorted, twisted and flipped and turned into a three ring circus. So many words of opinion have been spilt over into the subjects, that we’ve lost sight of the main truth.
Jesus Christ once walked this earth. Back then he spoke to the lost. He visited those who needed a spiritual or physical healing, he chastised those who ultimately feared him; he disciplined, through forgiveness, those who were living in sin. He became angry with those who abused his house, who left no room for prayer and worship. He called them out, He called them in. He loved like no man has loved since. He wasn’t quoting a new truth, He was the truth. Jesus Christ ushered in a new way, and yet we debate and argue until anger flows through words on a screen, tempers flare and love is the last thing we see.
It seems many today don’t want to rely on scripture, use interpretation differences as excuse and blatantly refuse to incorporate God’s Word in attempt to justify an opinion.
We have overused terms such as “offended”, “offensive”, and “judging” in place of using scripture. We have become afraid to remain black and white on the issues of right and wrong, because that right and wrong may offend those who don’t agree, may push away those who don’t want to accept truth, and lower the numbers in pews on Sunday morning. Newsflash- those numbers have dropped anyway!
So here’s my opinion. Here’s my truth. I am a sinner. Every day I pray for the Lord’s forgiveness, every day I seek His face. My living testament to the goodness of my God is that I am forgiven. The Bible tells me so. I am also a slave. The Bible tells me so.
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
I do not have time to worry about your sin. I am too busy dealing with my own. So when I point to scripture to share God’s truth, as we have been called to do, I’m not attempting to judge you, offend you or be offensive. I’m merely sharing the good news of God’s love. That He sent His son to die for my sin, and your sin, that we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and that we are invited to live in a freedom unknown in this world. That freedom calls us to some responsibility. In those responsibilities is the response to living a righteous life- and this, my beloved, is when God said something like this (as imagined in my own mind), “Here is My Word. I give it to you. In this life you will face many hardships, but I have overcome the world, and I give you my help through my Son, by my Word, and by the Holy Spirit..”
The Bible has withstood time, debate, and burning defiance (literally). The Bible is our manual for life, the only one out there that has remained the same over the centuries. Parenting in this world has changed numerous times since parenting began. A new book makes it to the top 20 list every decade. The Bible has never left the number one spot. It is the ultimate guide. It opens the door to a deeper relationship with God and sets our path straight.
So the debates surrounding social issues don’t matter. We don’t have to take part. It’s all about conversation. If we do engage, we must share truth... His truth. Our words must remain in Him, as he remains in us. Our hearts must remain devoted to God in all we do and say. His truth must NOT be compromised. In the many fired up discussions that take place, let His love shine through, and let HIS truth do the talking.
Whether or not I’m good enough has been a life-long battle for me. You would think that, by now, this would no longer be an issue. Unfortunately, the reality is, it’s the same issue it was all those years ago, when someone told me over and over just how useless and unloved I was. Or the time I had to hear I was no longer attractive, or even that I’m too old to have long hair! (before I was even 40...what????)
Words that stuck, no matter how hard I tried to release them. Some cut deep, others were simply surface wounds, barely there, but enough to leave a small, ugly scar. Certainly words that have never been forgotten.
I’ve fought the desire to believe those words on and off throughout my adult life. When they are pounded into your mind, it’s hard to hear anything else.
God’s very Word tells me they were wrong, that their worldly desire to be unkind, uncaring, and unloving is just that, worldly. They put false labels on me, and as a young child, you tend to believe what you are told, and as a young woman hearing words against her appearance, it shatters her, whether or not it should. Satan uses these lies to disrupt all that God is doing throughout our journey. He will use them to make us think we are less than God wants.
I was nothing more than-not good enough, undesirable, unlovable, broken, to someone long ago. If those thoughts are to be dismissed, I must believe what God’s Word says I am in Christ Jesus, now.
Maybe you’ve been there. Perhaps, just like me, you have wanted nothing more than to let go of these painful thoughts, and to just be who God has always known you to be..
- From 1 Peter 2:9.. we are chosen, royal, holy, HIS..called to live in his marvelous light!
- From Ephesians 2:10.. we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works…
- From Romans 8: 16 – 17.. we are children of God, heirs with Christ…
- From Isaiah 43:1.. we are redeemed..
God loves me. More than the words of my past, His Words are the comfort of who I am today, and the path to who He challenges me to be tomorrow. I am good enough, and I am loved, I am desired, I am healed, I am free!
I am a child of God. If ever I had doubt about any part of my being, I can be secure in knowing, without a doubt, I am HIS!