Christianity & Target

YouTube_ProfileImage_250x250As a Jesus follower, I have really been questioning my involvement in politics. I was once the super opinionated type that delighted in shoving a powerful political meme in the face of a liberal- in hopes they will see the error of their thinking.  And yeah, that never works.

Many of us Christians were once liberal rebels too, and I can almost bet that God didn’t get our attention with waving fingers and witty memes.  I can bet that he got us with love.

What am I trying to say?  I am trying to say that I have been a rebel. I have also been saved by a Holy God. After that I became somewhat judgmental, religious, and condemning. And finally, I was delivered of all that whitewashed sepulcher business.

For months now I have pondered how I should approach politics. The political world is super important and many would agree that it feels like we are losing our country.  After agonizing for a long time, I resorted to something that should’ve been my first defense, PRAYER!

After truly seeking what the Lord had to say everything became crystal clear to me.

The most important thing is protecting children and that’s what I brought before the Lord. I told him that evil men will take advantage of this law and hurt children in the bathroom. I reminded him of the slippery slope that this law would cause. I thought of little Sherrice Iverson who was unattended and murdered in a Nevada casino bathroom….

What became clear to me was this; Children will be harmed because they have neglectful parents whether a transgender person is in a bathroom with them or not. A Target boycott can certainly be done, but it will never change the hearts of an unbelieving world.

Do we love this world? Is the church just a fancy building with entertaining programs or do we love this world like Jesus did? Let’s get our minds off of bathrooms for a moment and remind ourselves of what Jesus said about orphans. James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

The American church has left the responsibility of the orphan to the government. Foster care is overflowing but we love to point the finger about gay marriage, gay wedding cakes, abortion, and Target bathrooms.

The American church as a wonderful opportunity in this hour. Can you imagine what a witness it would be if just one or two  families from every church in America opened their heart and home to an orphaned child? We wouldn’t just be the group that tries to “control woman’s bodies” and tell them not to have abortions, we would be the group that is selflessly taking our abused and innocent members of society into our homes because we love Jesus and want to do what he says! And what better way to change culture than to raise a generation of children in Christlikeness, that would otherwise be further victimized by living in multiple foster or group homes.

Let us wake up out of our adorable Hobby Lobby decorated homes and lives and really practice some undefiled religion! Let’s change our nation by action. It’s easier to point the finger than it is to clean the inside of the dish. But when we are willing to serve God and not our fears, we will certainly be blessed!

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The Religion of Self-Sufficiency

When I look back on my fourteen years as a believer, I see some sins that differ from the ones I used to commit when I didn’t know Christ. I used to be immersed in sex, drugs, and fleshly pleasure that dug my pit so very deep.  I am forever thankful that God decided to make good on his promise to “Make all things new!”.

However, God never stops with the obvious “nuisance sins” as he draws us out of the world.  He is ready to shine a light on our inward parts, our attitudes, our thoughts… the meditations of our heart.  When God was dealing with my idols and discontent I took out devastating student loans because I hated my current job. I kissed an atheist during my time as a single mom and struck up a relationship with a Christian man I shouldn’t have because I was serving my idol to be married. I struggled with pride as a baby Christian and alienated certain people instead of drawing them to Christ. I now shake my head as I think about some of the fruit of my belief as God was “making all things new” in my earlier years.

I came across Psalm 69 one morning and couldn’t help being drawn to King David’s reflection on his own sins. Adultery, and you know, hiring a hit-man for his mistresses’ husband. Maybe when he wrote this Psalm he was reflecting on this disaster, or maybe he was thinking about his lack of discipline with his sons which caused much chaos.  Whichever sin David was referring to in verses  5-7, his repentant heart is clearly understood.  David is not justifying or blame shifting, he is owning his failure.

There is a type of Christianity out there that I believe we have a warning against in Psalm 69.  This type of religion is as old as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day and the serpent in the garden. The danger of this religion is that those in it’s clutches many times do not know they are tangled up. Pride is this religion and its nothing new under the sun.

David reflected on these people immersed in pride in this Psalm.  His heart is broken and he knows God himself is chastening him.  I am not sure if his persecutors were professing believers but we do know in the book of Job that Job’s so-called friends were.  Its so easy to look at the speck in our brothers eye while ignoring the plank in our own. Gossip, self-justification, and tarnishing another believer is so very easy, but God will not let us get away with it. We are all accountable for this sin.  We have to be desperately careful when dealing with the sin of others because we are not God.

How do we avoid this trap?

1. Don’t be the judge of others. Some Christians in your church have been delivered of some deep darkness and have behaviors that still offend, but God could be working deep within their hearts. They will be delivered in God’s timing, not ours! Pray for the specific issues, extend kindness, and be a Godly example. See if the Holy Spirit will use you to break a chain in their life with your words or actions because you truly love the person and have left the judgement up to God. It’s easy to be a judge if you haven’t been delivered of much before coming to Christ.  But we know that the righteousness of all people is a filthy rag compared to God, so we must not compare our lives to others. Mercy always triumphs over judgement.

2. Take our own mask off. Are you always counseling others whether formally or informally? Does everyone see you as a spiritual giant?  If you like that attention, stop it right away! There is only one on a pedestal to be worshiped and that is Christ the Lord! Taking off your mask does not mean to stop helping people, it just means to always check your motives for what you do. Why do you help others? Do you get identity in the adoration of people instead of identity in Christ? Do you keep your own sins in blind spots, refusing to see them or refusing to think they are as bad as another persons folly? The sin of the Pharisee wasn’t outward sexual lust or drunkenness, it was pride.  Pride thinks, “You poor thing, you would really benefit from my helping you.” Pride says, “I told you what you should do, and now that you chose not to- God is not pleased with you!”  Pride has a controlling agenda as it deals with people and is not the selfless love of God. Pride blinds us and makes us think our darkness is really light. Only God can deliver us when we are infected with pride.

3. Do all you can to identify more with the tax collector than the Pharisee in the Luke 18 parable.  Jesus starts the parable with telling the people it is for those who trust in their own righteousness and despise others. It takes activity on our part to not be a prideful Pharisee. When we see others who are in sin, who have wronged us, or those who we flat out don’t care for, we must consider them in the eyes of God.  There is a time and a place for church discipline but let it not be biased according to our pride, our agendas, and our insecurities.  

At the end of all things, I pray that we all are not immersed in this sin of thinking God is on our side and not with other people whom we may disagree with.  If we remain humble and bless friends and enemies as the Lord instructs, we will be pleasantly surprised as we leave the judgement, and vengeance up to the Lord.  He is the keeper of those powerful swords anyway.

All My Divorces

Divorce has always been my unwanted companion even before I experienced one for myself.  My mom and dad divorced when I was four and all my grandparents were divorced from one another too.  My mom went on to have two more divorces after my dad, before I even hit my thirties.

I was pretty much puttering in line with this pattern before Jesus interrupted.

God reached down and saved me when I was twenty-two years old, or maybe that’s when I answered his call.  Regardless, by that time, I was five months pregnant and married to a physically abusive man who desired to be the neighborhood drug dealer.  Suffice it to say I was divorced before our only son became a toddler.

So there I was, a freshly divorced baby Christian.  The “divorce” label in a church community definitely felt bad enough, but I also had a beast named CONDEMNATION following me wherever I went.  I didn’t really need the the judgement of people because I was my most severe judge already.

The Holy Spirit and other believers placed in my life interrupted my tormented mind and helped me to cripple this condemnation beast.  It would literally take four more blogs to explain how this beast was crippled in my life, and one day I hope to write an entire book dedicated to the subject, but for now I will share just one incident.

I decided to go up to the mountain to pray.  Just me, my bible, and a pen to hopefully rid myself of this beast for good.  When I got to my spot I stayed in the car because it was freezing.  I sensed God’s incredible power as the wind whipped.  The mountains were so big, and I was so small. It was then that I heard that still small voice as clear as day, “Mark 3”.  I know the word pretty well but I was not sure what was in Mark 3 exactly.  I read it diligently. I admit I questioned if I heard The Lord correctly since what I was reading wasn’t making sense for my immediate need.  But than verse 28 and 29 hit me upside the head. God spoke powerfully to me that day.

28 “Assuredly, I say to you, ALL sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; 29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”— 

That verse did for me what all the scriptures on divorce couldn’t.  That one verse put divorce in its place. Divorce was sin. And divorce was not even the unforgivable sin!  There are many sins in this life we can involve ourselves in but according to Mark 3:28 they ALL CAN be forgiven.  I know I did not blaspheme the Holy Spirit because I still desire God. I desire to walk with him and obey him.  I desire to love him.

I would love to say condemnation went out of my life for good at this point but that would be a lie. Satan was still telling me that I was a second rate Christian, that God tolerates me, that my second marriage was illegitimate. I still struggled with these thoughts mentally for a few years until the Lord delivered me of it for good in a prayer meeting.

I was not present at the cross to see Jesus crucified.  I believe this by faith. I did not see Noah’s ark or the world wide flood. I just have faith that it was.  I have faith that at the moment of my death I will be carried to heaven and not deposited into hell because I believe in what Christ did for me on the cross. So I must have faith that Jesus covers me like a clean white robe of righteousness. I must believe that Satan desires to keep me depressed and ineffective so I cannot tell others about the freedom in Christ… that in Jesus Christ, condemnation is a lie!

Words from a bestie: “You can’t understand why Christ has forgiven you because you don’t deserve it. But no one deserves it.  That’s why GRACE angers so many religious and pride-filled people. They can’t earn it.”

Have you struggled with this condemnation and/or divorce beast? What has helped you? Do share.

 

 

 

 

 

Flip the Script

Sometimes my life feels like a scene from a movie.  Right now I would say that I am on the edge of something great.  But this is a literal edge, and something evil is pursuing me.  I must jump off the edge and believe flight is possible in order to get to a place that I was destined to be.  I cannot stay lazy in this moment.  I cannot stay selfish, or lose precious time sitting on the sidelines doubting.

This destiny has been spoken over me but I have to put in the hard work to make it a reality, if that makes any sense. My first daily task is to believe.  I must believe that I can accomplish greatness as I allow Christ to work through me.  I must believe that he wants to use my talents to bless others.  My belief has been sideswiped by doubt many times, the doubt that says I cannot make a huge attack on the gates of hell.  These gates are strong and the gatekeepers come against me relentlessly. They attack my health, my finances, my marriage, and the worst attacks are the ones on my mind.

But I know how powerful Jesus truly is despite my failure and weakness.  He has told me he would do this great work through me.  I have his promise so I continue to get back up through the assaults. He has shown me clearly that all the powers of hell cannot overtake me.  They are like having a nightmare…they can only scare you for a moment, but they can go no further.

God is in the business of glorifying himself.  He allowed his servant Joseph to be mocked and taken into slavery only to later be risen to royalty because God was on his side.  So many times in scripture when people exalted themselves against others, it was those “others” that God rose up.  God likes to flip the script.  

When you struggle, and hell is coming against you, and you decide to stand and not cower, walk forward and not waiver, believe and not doubt, you should be prepared because God is up to something.

*The future will be revealed to the humble and not the proud*

Control < Trusting God

Don’t you love it when God shows up? This morning he proved again to my mind of flesh that he sees what I am going through and will provide understanding so I can conquer this world. #BOOM (Yeah, I know hashtags don’t work here)

I have been having some anxiety about parenting and my past. Wondering what it will take in his life for my son to see the reality of not just sin and the coming judgement, but the immeasurable love of Christ.

Now-a-days boys have girlfriends at 13 years old (uh, huh? yeah.) Yet it’s my job to steer him toward integrity and marriage.  This is my task in a culture that switches boy/girl friends like underwear.  A culture of “do what you think is right” and pushes pornography on young minds that continues to get more degrading and violent with each passing decade. And just because a kid is in a Christian school or you are sure they attend youth group, statistically does not release them from these cancers in our society….yet as parents we hope.

Enough of my own understanding.  This morning as I woke I started praying. I was releasing my worry about the whole thing. I am pretty good at going back to trusting God after I have a little anxiety breakdown session.  He is either God or he isn’t.  Right?!    I can only teach my son truth and display it- but I cannot force him to “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” That’s between him and the Lord and I will display love to him either way.

I opened my bible and the Holy Spirit spoke “Philippians 3″ to me. I was not sure if I heard God correctly, but after some of its content was unlocked for me, I had my proof.

7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 

 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

I have read this scripture two dozen times, but today it was spiritually discerned it for me…  My past is something I still conquer mentally even though I have left it physically.  Why did I have to get divorced Lord? Why wasn’t I raised in a home with Christian parents? My son wouldn’t have been fatherless (and all the crap that comes along with that!) if YOU Lord would have just…..

Then it hit me. What I have been through was not just for me, it was for others too.  I was entangled with so many people during my years I lived apart from Christ. How in the world did that glorify him? Well, that many more people saw my conversion. That many more people saw me walking away form a 7 year, all day, erry’ day habit of smoking marijuana.  That many more saw me completely change as a human being. Did most of them appreciate the change? No way! I lost all my friends, I lost my husband who was in love with drugs and the Vegas nightlife…I was laughed at and still am. I lost everything I knew and needed to rebuild my whole life. But I gained eternal life.

“the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

What if the “why” questions we have for God can only be understood through the lens of humility?  Humility that says, tribulation produces repentance that leads to eternal life for some. Your tribulation is not just pain for you.  It will produce conversion in your soul and will magnify the reality of Christ to others. Will you accept that answer?

And my own son. What will be of him Lord? Same thing. “if BY ANY MEANS, I may attain to the resurrection of the dead.” I don’t want to even attach that verse to my boy. My flesh says, “that’s MY boy. Satan will not take him.”  But you see, I have no power over that.  That’s between my son and his creator.

Just like any person, God has put us on this earth to experience good and evil. Without evil we cannot know what’s truly good. My job is to intercede in prayer and let Christ live through me by his spirit.  That is the only control I am allowed to have over others; anything else would set me up as a god.  And I don’t want to be God, like, for sure!