Just for you!

Dec. 31, 2016

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!

No.

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.

Love wins.

Nov. 23, 2016

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)

Oct. 27, 2016

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.