One of the most important parenting lessons I learned as a new mother.Continue Reading...
Archives For Faith
This is a blog that I don’t know how to write. I don’t feel qualified to write about this topic, and I realize it’s a sensitive issue to many people. So I am going to do my best to just share my heart on a matter that I genuinely care about. I hope in my weak attempt to share my perspective; you read the grace between the lines and not the judgment.
For the last month or so, the title of this blog has been going through my head over and over again. It’s been screaming at me.
Adultery is a big deal!
Over the last couple of years I have watched adultery creep into people’s lives and make a mess of things. Children have been emotionally wounded, marriages have ended in divorce, and people have walked away from God.
Adultery is a big deal!
I have seen how one act of adultery can affect a group of people. What might have seemed like a private act of attraction between two people then catapulted into a situation that affected many people’s lives.
Adultery is a big deal!
I’ve been told that I don’t understand the situation surrounding the events. I’ve gotten the response, “you can’t judge unless you have been in my situation.” Marriage is hard, and attraction happens.
Marriage is a big deal!
There is a reason why one of the Ten Commandments says, “Do not commit adultery.” God put in place the protection from this grievous sin so that lives would not be destroyed. Jesus went even further to teach about lust in one’s heart. We are all sinners, but we all are faced with the choice to act on sin. Sin destroys and grieves the heart of God.
Sin is a big deal!
But on the flip side of adultery is redemption. I have seen marriages that were wrecked by the sin of adultery completely transformed by the grace of God. I have witnessed families restored and watched a husband and wife devoted to each other in a loving marriage which was once destined for divorce. God is the healer and restorer of broken relationships. There is forgiveness for adultery. There is healing.
God is a big deal!
I hate adultery. I hate divorce. I hate how it destroys families. And I hate that so often people are not willing to fight for their marriages. Sure, maybe I don’t know “your situation.” But I know God. When we allow God to break down the walls of sin and let forgiveness in, He is more than able to do miraculous things. God thinks your marriage is a big deal. He will fight with you to restore it. But He has to be at the center of it. Don’t give in to the lie in our society that adultery or divorce is no big deal. Hold on to Scripture. Walk in the truth of God’s Word. His Commandments are to protect us from sin and the hurt that brings hopelessness. He is the hope for your marriage.
I have witnessed a casualness towards divorce and adultery in the Church. It grieves my heart. But how much more does it grieve the heart of God?
I know every marriage, every situation, every struggle is different. But I just wish we could start screaming out loud with a warning —Adultery is a big deal! And then wrap our loving arms around our friends in their hurting marriages and encourage them that their Marriage is a big deal. Maybe that’s too simplistic and idealistic. But I don’t care because I serve a God who is bigger than all it.
My children are past the age of getting up in the middle of the night and coming into our bedroom. But I remember one night when one of my children came into our bedroom crying over a terrifying dream. I still remember that dream because it frightened me too.
The dream was my child running in the hallways at school from a man with a gun. It was frightening, and I did my best to comfort and reassure in the middle of the night that it was just a dream and not reality. I prayed for my child, and despite my poor ability for being able to memorize scriptures, I managed to think of the verse in 2 Timothy 1:7, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I explained that God has the power to calm all our fears even our nightmares. We can rest in that comfort.
I went back to bed but with a little check of fear in my own heart. “God, don’t ever let that nightmare become a reality for my children,” I prayed.
This past Monday we awoke to the news of the massacre in Las Vegas. A madman with a gun and people running for their lives, but this was not a dream. This was a reality.
That tragic event put fear in my heart as a parent. Our world’s realities are nightmares come true.
My kids are the generation that has grown up with Lock and Hide drills at school of the possibility of an active shooter. Music concerts that are celebratory events are now potential target audiences for violence. The week before, my daughter attended a country music concert. Fear set in, again. “I can’t let her go to another concert. It’s too dangerous,” I thought.
Jason Aldean was the country music singer who was on stage that night in Las Vegas. He saw the massacre unfold right in front of him. “This world is becoming the kind of place I am afraid to raise my children in,” he wrote after the tragedy.
I get it. I can relate as a parent to his fears. How do we parent in a society where we have to constantly fear for our children’s safety? A place where my child’s frightening dream has been a reality for people around the world.
As I watched the unbelievable tragedy on the news, fear started to take hold of me. And then I was reminded of that one particular night of my own reassuring words and the scripture.
God has not given ME a spirit of fear.
I prayed, and I let that Bible verse seep into my heart and I not only found comfort but joy. Isn’t that just like God to not only comfort us but exchange our fear for joy?
As a follower of Christ, I am a child of God. Just like my child, who came into our bedroom seeking comfort for their fears, I found comfort from God. I do know that fear can be a powerful emotion that can hold people captive. But we are not slaves to fear. In all the uncertainty of this world- in the violence and tragic events that seem to unfold before us every day- there is God. He’s there comforting us and reminding us there is joy and peace in uncertainty. That joy and peace can only be explained because I take refuge in God’s promises. I know without a shadow of a doubt that whatever happens to my children or me, we are safe in His arms.
It’s the reason why I can send my children to school each day. It’s the reason I can let my child go to a concert or experience all life’s celebratory events without fear. It’s God.
It is also important as a parent to model my faith and security in Christ in front of my children, especially when tragic events take place. I cannot let fear take hold of my heart. My reaction to tragedy in front of my children reflects my faith or lack of faith in God. And I know in whom I trust. I am a child of God. If I live that out, so will they.
I want my children to understand that whether it’s a bad dream or a real-life event, that there is hope and peace in living for Christ. They are not slaves to fear. I want them to live in that freedom and find joy amidst all life’s uncertainties.
I read that the Bible quotes “do not fear” 365 times. That’s one for each day of the year. I’ll take it and try to rest in that command each day. I will not be afraid.
God reminded me this week that I have no fear in raising my children because God does not give US a spirit of fear. In a world where we have no control over evil, God is still the giver of peace. He will speak joy into our hearts even in tragedy. We can rest in that comfort.
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10
I am a Twitter follower or more like a Twitter watcher. I follow some prominent people of faith, and one of those people is Beth Moore. She recently tweeted out a photo of this t-shirt her husband bought for her, and the message caught my attention.
“The House (the church) That Built Me.”
Such a simple sentence but can be interpreted differently. She responded to the photo, “And it’s the dang truth. While all hell was breaking loose at home, there was the church. I took out a lot of my aggression on handbells.”
If you don’t know Beth Moore’s story, I recommend you read, Get out of That Pit: Straight Talk about God’s Deliverance. In the book, she touches upon her past sexual abuse as a young girl and her healing journey. She found refuge in the church during the tragic events of her upbringing. Praise God for her healing journey, the church, and how God has used her to speak healing into the lives of other women.
But I read that phrase with a different perspective.
I recently had lunch with a friend, and I had to apologize to her. Several years ago she reached out to me during a very dark point in her life. I directed her situation to the leaders of a church. It was messy, and she needed more than I could offer for help. The summary of her story is that the church did not help her and I wasn’t there for her either. She is now on the road to healing, but the church deeply wounded her. I am sorry to say, that I include myself in being a contributor to her pain and resentment.
Growing up in the church, I know this type of pain all too well. My friend is a part of a group of people who read the message on that t-shirt and interpret it very differently than Beth Moore. For some of us, the church has been a source of pain, and it hasn’t been pretty. Scratch that! For some of us, it’s been downright ugly.
If I could take you down the history of the church in my own life, it would contain sordid details of hurt, abuse, adultery, hypocrisy, pride, legalism, false teaching… And that’s just me as a bystander, not the pain and stings I have felt personally from the church. And by the church, I mean the community of Christ-followers I or others were among; be it an individual church, ministry, or community.
I have seen family members and friends deeply wounded by fellow Christians. I have witnessed blatant sin not addressed in the church. I have felt let down over and over again by the church. Yet, here I am laying that all down to say I am beyond grateful for that “house” that built me.
Every sting, every wound, every misstep by leadership, each painful experience among the community of Christ-followers has brought me closer to Christ. I could have chosen to get bitter and let my heart find those dark places of resentment that Satan uses to pull people away from Christ and His followers. But somewhere along the way, I realized what God was teaching me. I let Him use every painful church experience I felt or witnessed to draw me closer to His Word, His will for my life, and (yes!) to His imperfect, sinful, mess of people He calls His church.
I found freedom in the knowledge of “The House That Built Me.” I found it by embracing my growing up in “the church” and how God has used every experience (good and bad) to continuously shape my faith, my character, my interactions with people, my view of Christ-followers, and my spiritual journey. And let me tell you there is freedom in letting go of the pain and loving God’s people despite the hurt.
Now I am not excusing bad church behavior. God hates sin, and he wants the church to rescue people out of sin. Loving people is loving them out of their sin. I am merely pointing to the fact that eventually, we have to come to terms with our personal relationship with Christ within or outside the walls of the church. That means dealing with our bitterness and forgiving.
I know that not everyone is ready to find that place of letting go of the hurt and pain that the church may have caused you. But I recommend you take the journey to get there- in your own time. God is patient! I guarantee you there’s freedom on this path.
My faith journey will continue with old and new friends, churches, and faith communities along the way. I can also list all the wonderful blessings, experiences, teachings, and people that God has brought into my life through the church community. I am still learning, still growing, and still asking forgiveness when I fail to be “the church” to others God has put in my life. I pray I will continue to grow more in the knowledge of God, follow His Word and the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life, and let the house of God (the church) continue to shape who I am in Christ through the good, the bad, and the ugly. He’s building me day by day, and I am forever grateful.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10: 23-25)
It was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.Continue Reading...
I still can’t get those images out of my head. Women were marching on Washington clad in vagina suits and pink pussy hats. Just writing that sentence irks me. Am I really raising my daughters in this rude society of women?
The words of Ashley Judd’s speech at the women’s march on January 21, 2017, still have me shaking my head in disbelief. She recited a poem from a nineteen-year-old expressing outrage about our current president. The poem railed against Trump’s past vulgar remarks, ironically, with equal poetic vulgarity. It ended like this, “Our p__sies are for our pleasure. They are birthing new generations of filthy, vulgar, nasty, proud, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, you name it for new generations of nasty women.”
Me: No, thank you!
Modern-day feminism has resorted to crassness instead of respectfulness. Women who call out injustices, inequalities and a man’s vulgar remarks with equal vulgarity…well, I guess feminism has risen to the occasion.
Today’s women’s movement uses celebrity platforms of women who think they speak for all of us. Their political and social opinions wrapped in hatred, anger, and crying out for justice that looks more like self-centered relativism. It’s not the generation of women I want to raise my daughters in. I am not nasty, and I refuse to raise a generation of vulgar females because it is not who God created women to be.
I recently did a study on the book of Ruth amidst all of the recent news on women’s speeches and marches. Now juxtapose this recent news with Ruth’s story, and you might be able to find the humor in it with me. Modern-day women who are screaming about their inequalities and then there’s Ruth; who loses her husband and her only means of income in a culture that does not treat women with equal footing as men.
Yes, yes, it was a different time and place in history, but you have to look at this woman and realize there is a reason her story is set aside as a complete book of the Bible. She is the exact opposite of the characteristics that define modern-day feminism. She was humble, selfless, giving, honest, hard-working, and defined love as serving others over her needs. You don’t find Ruth on a platform screaming about her “rights” that have not been afforded to her. Instead, she’s picking up scraps of grain behind harvesters so that she and her mother-in-law would have food to eat.
If you have never read the book of Ruth, I won’t give the story away. You have to read it to understand that charity defined her life and eventually, it was her selflessness that redeemed her widow’s story. A redemption story that ultimately would become a divine legacy.
The story of Ruth is really about what it means to be a generation of women who follow Christ. It celebrates womanhood amidst the struggles of life and real injustice. There are no words of self-empowerment, filth, vulgarity, or pride. Ruth is the very definition of what I want to teach my daughters to be in this nasty woman’s world.
Women who use their talents and strengths to serve others.
Women who find worth and value in their relationship with Christ.
Women who see humility as a strength and not a weakness.
Women who value their sex with virtue and respect.
Women who celebrate life and the God-given miracle of carrying a child in her womb or in her adoptive arms.
Women who celebrate their differences with men and find equality in those differences.
Women who don’t strive for perfection but emulate grace through all the struggles and imperfections of life.
I know that raising my daughters in the philosophy of Christianity over modern-day feminism is not popular. It’s turning away from all things progressive and marching against a tide of women who will look down on them and probably ridicule them. I don’t care! We will not be judged or known by how loud we scream and our “performance” in this secular world. Instead, like Ruth, if we follow the call of Christ in our lives, we will be known for our charity and humility.
I have this t-shirt that says, “Ruth. Mary. Sarah. Esther. #Squad Goals.” It’s a reminder of the women I want to emulate in my life. Biblical representations of women who followed Christ in a culture that often rejected the things of God. I am nowhere near imitating the selfless characteristics of Ruth. She’s a squad goal, but she’s also my hopes and dreams for a future generation of women, especially the young women I am raising.
I’ll keep wearing my biblical #squad goals t-shirt against the tide of pink p__sy hats. It might not be popular, but I’d much rather carry the title of a follower of Christ than a feminist.
“Love is love.”
That’s a phrase I have seen used in support of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. It’s an ambiguous phrase because there is such a thing as abuse. Is it love when a middle age man makes sexual advances on a minor? Is it love when a teacher is caught sexually manipulating her student? Is it love when a spouse is trapped in a physically abusive marriage?
Okay, I think you get my point. You cannot put out a simple three-word phrase and expect people to jump on board because it is somehow socially acceptable or politically correct.
I understand the intentional meaning. Same-sex attraction is now socially acceptable. Love is love.
But love is a lot more complicated that merely defining it as itself. I don’t know how I could properly love my husband without the love of Christ in my life. Why? It’s because love is difficult. Putting two very different people together, even with physical attraction, takes a lot of work. After twenty years of marriage, I am just beginning to understand what love really is and there is no way to simplify it.
Here is where I am going skip to my point. So hang on…
Buzzfeed came out with a hit piece against Chip and Joanna Gaines, the hosts of HGTV’s Fixer Upper show. The writer called them out for attending a church that believes in the biblical view of marriage between and man and woman. They didn’t interview them, and we don’t even know what the Gaineses views are on same-sex marriage. All we know is that they attend a church that probably doesn’t espouse to the phrase “love is love.”
I’d like to wax eloquent about biased and dishonest journalism, but that will have to be for another post.
Do you want to know why I think so many people have tuned into the Fixer Upper show and why so many admire Chip and Joanna Gaines? I don’t believe that it’s just to get home renovation tips. It’s because they portray a real and authentic marriage. I read The Magnolia Story. I laughed at how God put two very different people together and made a union between a man and a woman. Their show, their life story has no agenda. They are simply two people with a family who have made a successful business for themselves. It is a love story, but we see the complexities and challenges about what makes their marriage work. It’s simply a refreshing view without an agenda pushed onto us.
There are plenty of HGTV shows that feature same-sex couples. This controversy is not about same-sex marriage on television. The courts defined same-sex “marriage” last year. I think it’s really about the cultural agenda to oversimplify love. When you simplify love, you cheapen it and take away the hero factor of the institution of biblical marriage. It’s about the stories of how couples defied the odds and challenges of loving their spouse and staying together for the longevity. I can’t help but use the Fixer Upper analogy here. Love (marriage) is about fixing all the things that are broken and wrong with us and perfecting them and coming out stronger for it. Except as Christians, we realize the perfecting in marriage comes through Christ.
The future will tell whether Chip and Joanna and the producers bend toward the LGBT bullies. All I know is that Chip and Joanna Gaines are self-proclaimed Christians, but their show has somehow attracted a diverse audience, even those who support the “love is love” mantra. Why? Because the foundation of marriage and the family still makes for a great American story. It’s those traditional family values that define many of us in our daily lives. It’s about our struggles, our sacrifices, the give and take in marriage, raising a family, and it’s about the complexity of what defines true LOVE.
No matter what biased media puts out there to sway popular opinion, the biblical institution of marriage will always be a winner’s circle story. We are in Chip and Joanna’s corner because their story represents most of our stories- minus their hugely successful renovating business.
Maybe you thought the Fixer Upper series was just about making shiplap a cool home feature. Well, maybe it is. But thanks to Buzzfeed and agenda-driven journalism, we can be a little more introspective and tune into a show that perhaps for some of us is genuinely symbolic of the definition of love.
Four years ago, God set me on a path to be a writer. A struggling, imperfect one who has learned so much and is still in the learning process. I have written for political sites, Christian news sources, and pro-life groups. If you read my past articles, it won’t take long for you to realize where I lean politically or socially. Within these past years, there is one thing that God has taught me about having a voice. It is to STOP being reactive and start being prayerful about the message I write.
What a difficult lesson to learn in a social media frenzy world. In a media driven society where “gotcha” titles compete for attention and followers. Everything seems to be in an instant and reactionary response mode.
The results of the recent 2016 Presidential Election have been a test of this lesson God is teaching me. I am to STOP and LISTEN before I REACT. We live in a diverse country where free speech is cherished and valued. Where differing opinions and beliefs make America such a unique place to live. A melting pot of cultures, religions, and races. Where my view differs from another’s perspective based on life experiences and upbringing. I think another word for it is simply-humanity.
Right now, in this moment in time as a follower of Christ, I have a testimony to live out. It’s not about who won or lost the election. It’s not about my view points, fears, or convictions. It’s about who I am in Christ and how I portray that to my world around me. Christianity and the gospel of Jesus Christ does not rise and fall with who sits in the White House. That’s all I need to know to stop me in my tracks before I respond in this heated post-election environment.
May God continue to mold me as a better writer but one who reacts less and responds more to the importance of being a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ- politically, socially, and to those around me who are listening.
I don’t know Jen Hatmaker. I don’t follow her on social media and I have only read a few of her posts or articles that other friends have shared. I know she has a beautiful family with adoptive and biological children. She also has a large audience and shares her Christian perspective on family and life in general in an often humorous and candid way.
I wasn’t surprised by her statements in a recent interview that have become controversial, prompting Lifeway Stores to pull her books off their shelves.
I am not going to respond to her views on homosexuality, politics, or even the Black Lives Matter Movement. There are plenty of other people who have written with more grace than I could and have articulated why many Christians disagree with her statements.
If Jen and I were to sit down and chat on these issues, I think we would both find ourselves at an impasse on where our views differ according to scripture. But Jen’s views are no different than many of my own personal friends, yet we manage to find friendship despite our differing Christian perspective on social issues.
What troubles me most about her interview and why I have not been a supporter of her platform, is something that God has had to teach and humble me about in using my voice as a follower of Christ. In the past, I could manage enough grace and mercy for those struggling with sin or who don’t identify themselves as followers of Christ. Scripture clearly commands me to love and have mercy for those who don’t know Christ. But grace and mercy for Christians- for the church- that’s was a little more difficult for me.
I could give you a list of grievances about Christians, the church, hypocrisy…. I am a daughter of a minister. Do I need to say more?
If I was to write a book, I could give the reader story after story how people who call themselves “Christians” have hurt other people, have been unforgiving, and the stories would pour out of my bitter heart of where the church has gone wrong in loving their neighbor. But God has tugged on my bitterness and revealed to me that although my grievances against the church and the Christian community are accurate assessments, they are also a form of my own self-righteousness which divides and does not unite or heal people towards the Christian community.
Jen Hatmaker responds, “I’ve seen too much pain and rejection at the intersection of the gay community and the church.” Yes, Jen, I get it. I have too!! But the church is made up of imperfect people trying desperately to follow a perfect God. Please show grace to the church (believers of Christ) as well as the homosexual community. We are all trying to navigate this world together but calling out Christians for their grievances against the gay community will only further direct the LGBT community away from Christ and the church.
I have come to realize that the Christian community and its impact on social issues is much larger than the four walls of one’s church building. I have written about abortion and questioning the church, as a whole, on where it stands in the pro-life movement. I still feel the body of Christ can do more in standing against the injustice of abortion but I strongly disagree with Jen’s statement on abortion in the Christian community. She responds, “There’s something incredibly disingenuous about a Christian community that screams about abortion, but then refuses to support the very programs that are going to stabilize vulnerable, economically fragile families that decide to keep their kids. Some Christians want the baby born, but then don’t want to help the mama raise that baby.”
I don’t understand how Jen Hatmaker- a Christian adoptive mother herself- does not pay tribute to the many, many Christian families who have opened their lives and homes to children and have been examples of the hands and feet of Christ. Does she not know of the numerous Christian organizations who raise funds each year to support pregnancy centers in their community to help the vulnerable and economically fragile? I know so many Christian brothers and sisters who have been the exact opposite of disingenuous when it comes to abortion. I ask Jen, as well as others, to look broader out into the Christian community and the numerous families supporting and raising adoptive children and the quiet but strong impact they are making against abortion.
There will always be injustice, pain, and rejection in the body of Christ. We are human. We are sinners but Christ calls us to draw closer to Him and his scriptures regardless of the hurt and bitterness. God is continually reminding me that I will never be a testimony of His righteousness to any community if I constantly call out the church for its grievances. It’s a lesson He seems to constantly teach me over and over again because I am an imperfect person worshiping God in an imperfect community of believers. By complaining, I am not honoring Him and I am not honoring the community of people I call my brothers and sisters in Christ. The foot of the cross is meant to draw and unite the sinner and the saint and none of us are worthy.
“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30