Divorcing The Church? When the American Church Crucifies Each Other. And UNITE

I have a reputation. A reputation for not engaging with anyone who attacks the church. It's like if you came up to me and started correcting, criticizing, complaining, interrogating, and exploiting every one of my husband's idiosyncrasies?

How do you think I would react?

No, my husband isn't perfect.  My guess is, your spouse (if you have one) isn't perfect either?  But we love those that God has yoked us with, the ones He chooses, those we are committed to defending until our dying days.

Or do we?

Maybe that's the problem?  Maybe in a day where strife, and conflict, and sometimes petty squabbles increase the rate of divorce in our nation...We would rather divorce the church, divorce other Christians...than live with the reality that we all have inadequacies, imperfections, and failures?

One of my husband's oldest and closest friends is what some might call a famous MMA fighter. He has traveled the world fighting.  Made millions.  He now has a gym and trains a whole host of rising MMA professionals.

He is tough, determined, persevering.  Yet despite his over-coming spirit, one thing I never imagined in my wildest dreams he would become?  A Christian.

One day, we went to a service where 10,000 gathered in Key Arena, in Seattle.  It was Easter, and although we love our smaller church, we wanted to celebrate in mass, with the multitudes, out under an open roof, singing with every tribe, tongue, people group, and economic status.  (Because yes...I LOVE unity!)  :)

It was one of those days.  Couldn't have been more perfect.  Jesus was preached. And at the end, hundreds came streaming forward to be baptized and saved, mostly spontaneously. It was a day where the entire city seemed to celebrate Jesus being alive, and the ceilings under which many reside...just didn't exist.

It was revival, if I had ever seen it.  A place children, old people, the poor, the rich saw no differentiation in the one sitting next to them. 

Better yet.  It was absolutely free. Come as you are.  "We don't want a penny".  All we want is to point you towards true freedom, a Savior for your difficulties...JESUS.

To top it off?  The focus wasn't on the faith-giant we heard speaking, standing small as a mouse in the center of the gigantic arena.

The focus was again, yep you guessed it...Jesus.

On the way out, we floated among thousands of people; orderly, joyfully, almost in a daze at what God had done. It was then, we ran into our friend who was the MMA fighter.  We found out he turned Christian, and has been attending Mars Hill for quite some time.

It took me months to digest, someone we have known their past, their history, and the depths of their sins, was now miraculously saved by faith in Jesus Christ.

I left telling my husband that if God can save our friend, it is fact, He can save anyone.

And after what I had seen, I got it.  God truly loves people, all of them, regardless of the extent of their sin, or just how imperfect they are.

O.K. I'll admit it.  I am kind of a sermon junkie.  In the Northwest, it is like trying to find fresh air in a world warring for faith, in a battlefield that you could never know, unless you lived here.

Here in the Northwest, we are anything but a Bible belt.

In fact, our culture prides itself on tough, imperfect, open minded, tattooed belief systems that hurt to be erased, hearts dosed with real sins, lies tangled so deep even we ourselves struggle to see them...let alone even hope to be set free.

You have to be tough to survive in Seattle, resilient, persistent, knowledgeable, and fearless....That is, unless you live in a Christian bubble, trying to hide from our culture.  And many do that, don't get me wrong.


Many of us believers have scars, deep scars from the battles we have faced.  Many of us can be easily hardened, as sin is rarely preached.

In a day and culture of blatant rebellion, it is no wonder that someone blunt, truthful, hard-hitting, like Mark Driscoll, has been able to break up the fallow ground of our spirits and preach the gospel in a way that shakes the core of our rebellious, sinful nature.

Even the most ignorant can attest, it is nothing but a miracle, Mark Driscoll has been able to reach what once was classified as the, "Least Churched Region", in America.

People may lie, but numbers never do.

And let's face it, this kind of a sermon junkie, can't just "sit pretty" on church only on Sundays and expect my life to float.  I need Jesus, I need scripture, and I need a preacher who won't just dance around our rising egos.

We here in the Northwest need it real.  Like it honest.  In a place where sin is marginalized, not confronted, Jesus rarely mentioned, spiritualism or false doctrine run rampant, the Bible almost foreign and unopened...

Mark Driscoll was like a breathe of fresh air.

Someone like him "got us".  He knew we needed, "right at ya" preaching.  He knew we needed doses upon doses of Jesus.  And He gave us not just doctrine, but sermons that challenged the sins rampant in our area, sins like the Jezebel/Ahab spirits, the ones that kill marriages faster that we can search the internet.

Mark went after the root, while others were content plucking off buds, arranging us nicely, or decorating a specific bent of Christianity that "fit" nicely into the their pews of lukewarm, complacent bystanders on Sundays.

He understood those with hard lives, were unable to survive unless we chose to live Holy Lives, in a day where holiness is like a curse word, and pastors and other people of God are eaten up and spit out on social media, every day....joyously.  In a day where preachers end up in Roman Coliseums, in real life crusades, where the lions don't have manes, but are disguised as ex-servants.

Ripped apart. 

And yet, from the stands...or from our comfy couches, holding our computer screens....we cheer.  We may not think it, or admit it, but it's real.  Us warring on fellow believers without fear or trembling, let alone acknowledging the sacredness of the blood of Jesus...the blood He shed, to make us siblings.


And I wonder, in a day where we scoff at a "bad look" or get depressed at a negative comment on Facebook....leaders and their families get assaulted, sometimes very tangibly.  Other times secretly, by hundreds of people, inside homes, after sermons, from people they can't see. 

And how many of you could handle that week after week after week?  I don't think I could.

And for the record, I "get" church pain.  I "get" church splits, and gossip, and sabbaticals, and pastors needing to leave for their own sanity....or for the sake of "correcting" whatever it might be.

But what grieves me?  What's really mournful? 

When we lash out on pastors like Mark, who have been rushed on the pulpit with weapons by those who literally try to kill him...

Yet, attempted murderers can't destroy him...but a bunch of disgruntled people don't think twice about publicly humiliating their leader.

And isn't Christ exalted by pastors, whose ministries weren't build because of some extraordinary fifth generation Christian "right of passage"....but because God chose Him, and God's grace is sufficient, it's evident by all those watching.

And doesn't God often choose, the most unlikely people anyway?

Yes, let's face it, Mark Driscoll isn't perfect.
  • He wasn't perfect when I saw John Piper in His pulpit a few years back.  
  • He wasn't perfect when prostitutes and drug addicts got delivered and set free week in and week out.  
  • He wasn't perfect when that twenty-something new Christian began preaching Jesus, and what started as a handful turned to tens and tens of thousands of people listening all over the world.
  • He wasn't perfect when just a few years ago, He was announced as one of the most bold, Biblical accurate preachers alive today.  
  • He wasn't perfect when all the great preachers came flocking or started modeling what He was doing...because they just wanted a ministry that actually changed lives....like Mark's did.

So, let's face it.  Pastors are like all of us...human.

And truth be told, I am not even against this process of trial and refinement God is taking Mark through, because nothing can be done, unless God allows it.

What I am grieved by are the so-called Christians posing as "concerned believers"; the one's acting like they love "The Church" yet are slandering and gossiping, while damaging a man who has given His life to serve God's people.

What bothers me, is that we proclaim love...while Christians...real Christians are dying for a real love for God.  We say we love the church, while secretly, in our hearts, we are devouring our own, starting forums to publicly slander the leaders that not long ago, we hailed, and followed on Twitter...pouring our love and devotion into...

But then, I get it.  I see Jesus.  Riding on a horse.  Palm leaves. Praises.  Three days later, crucified.

And didn't He give his life that His church might prevail and His Kingdom would come here on earth as it is in heaven?

So, I am wondering right now...
  • How many of you have talked to someone on the phone to "discuss" another believer?  
  • How many of you have said, "Let's pray for so and so", when in reality, your words (regardless of how holy they sounded) were destroying other well-intended people?  
  • How many of you have protected your spouses, defended them, and would die for them, yet you think nothing about gossiping, and slandering, and being a stumbling block for God's people?

Do we not remember that the church is the Bride of Christ, and when we insult it, we are condemning Christ and what He built and ultimately came and died for?

Plus, if we slice off the heads of other believers with the hateful words inside us...How can we punish the ISIS?  Are they less guilty than us?  Crucifying others for what they justify as purifying, for the sake of true religion?

And what happened to love? What happened to forgiveness?  What happened to looking to Christ as our healer, our redemption, the justice we are seeking?

When did we get the right to judge?  To play God? To let hate reign, instead of love?

Shouldn't we feel every wound, every punch, every word directed towards God's people...no matter who they are, or what they deserve?  Aren't we the "body" of Christ?  One?  Functioning not against...but for each and every believer?

And if we are actively "throwing arrows"...isn't it really us we are aiming for?  Isn't it a part of our skin we are causing to bleed, instead of mending and healing the wounded in front of us?

The body of Christ?  Suffering when one suffers?

I cried when Mark Driscoll announced he was leaving the pulpit.  I cried not because I necessarily deemed him perfect or innocent.....but because in a world of false gospels and watered down preachers.  In a day where Jesus is like a cuss word and offensive to the rebellious here in the Great Northwest...

I wondered...How will Jesus shine without bold, fearless, gospel preachers, confronting sin, with the utter honesty of the Bible? Those who tell us truth un-apologentically, pointing to His great name?

Will the church be muted?  Silenced? Paralyzed? Will His Spirit sweep our land? Will the stone-throwers gain power, like the Pharisees who ruled and reigned when Jesus told the adulterous women guilty of sin..."Where are your accusers?  Go and sin no more?"

Will we get on our faces and repent?  Repent for expecting the church to be perfect?  Repent for our own sins?  Repent for going after the Bride of Christ?  Will we repent for those "prayers", those phone conversations, those texts of so-called,"concern"...attacking believers every chance we get...because somehow it makes us seem, more righteous, more holy, less guilty when we hold the candle against other peoples sins?

Or will there just be left a very small remnant?  A remnant of faithful believers, like our MMA friend; tough, steel-like, unafraid to fight....not just in the physical, but spiritually, for the sake of Christ?

A church that scripture tells, regardless of these trying times....The gates of hell will never prevail against.

Now, I want to apologize if you are reading this and you are someone who has been hurt by the church.  I grieve for your pain, those real abuses, those dictating leaders who Lord over people, or abuse God's children on so many levels.

I feel your pain.  I have hurt with you.  I once almost couldn't stand and wanted to abandon "the body of Christ" all together because church can be messy and I could barely "get" how people can be just plain mean and selfish.

But then, God reminded me of something important...Christ didn't abandon me.

Though I am tarnished and stained, though I am unworthy, unjustified by anything I could ever be....though I fall and fail, and end up on my face, repeating sins, over and over again...He still loves me.  He still believes in me.  He still calls me a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And I rejoice that Christ didn't take my list and hold it out to condemn and judge me, flaunting my faults and forgetting my rights.  He didn't tell me of all the reasons that I couldn't be a vessel, a minister, or an ambassador of Christ to His people...

Because like all of us, I clearly have fallen so short of the glory of God.

But doesn't scripture show us...

  • A woman at the well converted her entire city, though her husbands were many and her doctrine I am sure was riddled and tainted by her past experiences.  She had no legacy of faith, strong connections, or years of righteousness she could stand upon.  All she had was that she saw Jesus face.  And yet, somehow that was enough.
  • How a man like David could have been disqualified too.  He was an adulterer, a murderer.  Where was His media platform of accusers?  The ones ripping him apart, telling about why he should be exempt from being the King of Israel?  Why did God let Him live the consequences of his sins, but then allow Him to reign, calling Him a man after God's own heart, in light of his past sins?  

And yet, we want our preachers to be God.  We attack, we torment, when, let's face it...Every one of us are flawed.

And could it be...that in a world of pointing fingers....In a world that loves idols...Could it be us who are personally guilty, from turning our affection to a person instead of God?  

And if so, doesn't that mean, part of the responsible falls on us?  

Aren't we ourselves at least part responsible for dethroning God in our hearts and living for a church culture, group of people, or for the approval of a pastor, instead of bowing to God alone?

In writing this, let's face it....I don't want to unravel all the pieces of the mess of Mars Hill...or any other church or people group, for that matter. 

It's just....call me crazy, but I love the church.  I would die for her.  Just as much as I would lay my life down for my husband, I feel a devotion to stand for what others are bashing.

And I get defensive of any person condemning my husband in front of my face. I will not remain
silent when voices come bashing something or someone, that most don't know the details of full extent
of.

So, what if we treat the church the same?  How about if we just stop talking about the dis-function of the church?  How about if we stop ranting and start praying for those with a real faith, those ones who are willing to get crucified, hung, and be-headed for sake of the gospel?

How about if we act more like doctors for one another, pointing people to The Healer, instead of uncovering wound after wound, pointing to our battle scars, harboring the same offense the Bible mentions we'll suffer from, in the end of times?

"Will I find faith on the earth?"  Is His question. Can't you almost hear Him say it?

And there is no doubt about it...God is purifying the church.

Yet, if we have all learned anything from the heartbreak in the churches these past few years...It's that faith isn't in a man, in a club, an organization, in a culture, our riches, our popularity, or in any other group of people...

  • Faith is a worldly MMA athlete coming to Christ.
  • Faith is hundred's of people coming from the bleachers to be saved and baptized.
  • Faith is the healing of the sick, the distraught, and those just plain offended by life.
  • Faith stands when the world rejoices at the fall of human weakness.
  • Faith declares truth, instead of listening or entertaining speculations and accusation.
  • Faith is looking up, not looking around or in at our own sabotaging feelings.
  • Faith is scripture.  It is life.  It is power which still stands in light of all the heartbreak in a world gone so wrong.
  • Faith is Jesus.  Jesus alone as the head of the church and the author of all our faith...regardless of how deserving we are...

And yes, Faith believes.  Reaches.  Asks for wisdom.  Trusts.  Faith rises when we cling to Christ, when we grip desperately to love.

So how about if we build the dwindling church, instead of striking it, crucifying, be-heading fellow believer with rising words inside us?  How about if we infuse life, and hope, and encouragement in each other....instead of becoming dis-hearted, distraught, or divorcing it all together...

Because if I have learned anything over these past four decades of my journey in faith...it is that all of us are human, and churches aren't perfect. 

But then again, if I remember right....neither am I.


"Little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods) [from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God], from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life." ~ 1 John 5:21

"Look to yourselves (take care) that you many not lose (throw away or destroy) all that we and you have labored for, but that you may [persevere until you] win and receive back a perfect reward [in full].  ~ 2 John 1:8

"And what this love consists in is this; that we live and walk in accordance with and guided by His commandments (His orders, ordinances, precepts, teaching).  This is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, that you continue to walk in love [guided by it and following it].  ~ 2 John 1:6

Photo credit found, here.

UNITE LINK UP

Sorry for such a long post everyone.  I pray despite my long rant, you will still take time to link up below.  Remember at UNITE....it's not about how bright you are, how well you write, it's not whether you are even a Christian or have never stepped in a church in your life...

UNITE is all about taking some time to show us who you are.  It's about UNITING with others here and connected people from all around the bloggersphere.

How to UNITE?  Add a post.  Add a link back here.  Comment on a post, or a few before yours.

Happy linking...







When It's Time to "Just Be YOU". And UNITE Linky

I don't know how to say this.  So, I am just going to blurt it out.  Writing is my therapy.  The mirror I use that helps me see a soul that seems to get buried in this messy thing called life.

And I don't write for money, or awards, or even publicity.  In fact, when I started blogging, I had two separate lives...my blog life, and my real life friends and family.

But then it leaked.  

Because we can never really keep a seal on who we are for too long.  Eventually the pouring out of our authentic self will stain, and taint, and smear across any mask we have created for ourselves.

And I am a mess. A broken one, desperately in need of Christ. And the only healing I have found has been at the feet of Jesus... and through writing.   

And though it would be easier to silence the pen.  I have found time and time again, any gifts un-used will only implode in us, if we don't choose to open them.

I remember when my inward life leaked to the world.  It was the day I accidentally posted my blog to my Facebook page. I remember it well. And though I started to cringe, it was also the day I subconsciously started filtering the shouts in silence, the passions burning inside me, the doubts and dreams...

And slowly, without realizing it, the lies began to crowd in from the world....to my identity...

The one who had been so beautifully blossoming, online, now shrunk in intimidation due to "fear of man".

And why is it, we can hide in fancy words, pictures on Facebook, speaking to thousands of what we feel...but cannot express elsewhere our true identity?

Failing to uncover our heads, unveiling all that we are, all that we are needing, to a world that likes to mold us into its form?

And I want to be authentic, real, a passionate lover of Christ; without improvising, falsifying, apologizing for who I am. Don't you?

Please tell me friends, that you have felt the same colliding?  The collide of being what others want, molding, and fixing and making yourself so that you will be more loved and accepted by the "circles of small lives" closing in to suffocate you....

Yet, all God wants is real. All He has ever wanted was the genuine, authentic, transparent souls of His people....even if they are a little messy.

So today I take my hand and pull off the covers hiding me.  Stomping upon all those sub-groups that want to wrap me up in unrealistic expectations of perfectionism...

And I come to my Savior, to a dying world, to you...to the mirror.....lost, a little broken (still). I come weak, incapable, seeking the voice inside me, laying all I am at the feet of a God who loves me and calls me to "just be real"...

And I ask you.  Will you take me?  Will you take your neighbor?  Your friend?  A family member?  Whoever it is trying to reach you? Will you embrace the ones around you trying to unravel the bandages covering their identity?

For life is lived better, more fully, ceiling-less, don't you think? And true joy resides when we are free to come into the open spaces EXACTLY like we are...unchained, completely accepted, and fully loved by our God, even if rejected by a world who quickly rejoices at judging us.

And I am a little eccentric, a dreamer, way too passionate, and quietly persistent....but I wouldn't trade a thing about how God created me....because that is me...and He loves me!  He loves YOU! 

And what if today, we vow together to stop dissecting, picking apart, or recycling our inner beauty?

What if we just threw off the confinement of who we are and truly loved one another with grace and mercy, in forgiveness, acceptance, and with a joy that says, people...all people...are important.  Each one is a creation of God...

For friends, truth is, we will always be happier when UNITED together, stronger when we stand firm in solitude, more effective when we smash the barriers and just love the broken messes and unique people God has called us to be...don't you think?

Yes, writing is therapeutic.  And truth is, I am so beyond ready to "just be me"...

Will you join me agreeing, living life mask-free, reaching past the ceilings, breaking down the walls that confine us, divide us, hindering us from all that we can be?

Will you join me in this hour, for these last breathes of thanks, embracing, and walking free because God has created us not for popularity poles, but for us to exonerate Him and live life full and blessed and gifted in all the little quirky, fun, unique, glorious ways that He has seen fit?

Will you imagine with me for a second...what would it look like if the world was "just them"...and for once, for now, for a life time, you threw off everything that entangles you, and truly was, "Just be You"?

UNITE LINK UP

This, "Just be You" is the very essence of UNITE.  UNITE link party is not about molding you, making you, forming you into what we want...

Instead, UNITE says, "Come as you are", "Be real", "Take off the masks" and "Let's just share stores so we can find a point of connection".

Dear friends, this world is so much smaller than we make it.  We are more alike, than different, we have more in common that you think, really!

Take a few minutes and link up, add a link back, then read other posts and comment...because we can only grow when we learn more about other people!

UNITE is not particular about what you link up, but if you could just minimize how many posts you post, so that other will have space to share their hearts...that would be great!

O.K.  Let's get started!  Love and blessings to each one of you!





What Robin Williams Taught Us In His Death

I used to wear the suspenders.  You know, the ones with horizontal rainbows.  (Back when rainbows didn't have duel meanings.)  I used to separate my fingers; pointer and middle, with ring and pinky, and shake them furiously up and down with my cousin Kristy saying, "Na Nu Na Nu".

As children, "Mork from Mindy" was a one of a kind t.v. show, one where you didn't have to be cool to belong, you didn't have to wonder the morality of it all....all you had to do is sit back and enjoy.

And with a man like Robin Williams who ingeniously took us outside our worlds, how can we help but grieve the brilliance of a man didn't just "entertain us", but opened our hearts in through child-like humor.

Williams was the "real deal" in a day where plastic facade are the epitome of Hollywood.

And we could grieve and go on to the next news making incident, being caught up in wars, and forgetting about the loss of a man that touched our world.  Or we can stop, reflect, and find the message without words that came from the death of an actor who impacted generations.

The thing about Robin Williams tragic death was that others didn't see the suffering that too often hides in heroes.  Or, more fatally, they may have even saw it, but chosen to ignore it.

Because, let's face it, in the world of profiles, platforms, seeker sensitives, and entertainment...we don't want "real" but simply crave increasingly; grander, funnier, louder, bigger.

And it's it these drives of the deceptive heart where "honesty" can be a like a four letter word.

Yet, Williams death has taught us something...

  •  It's o.k. to be small.  It's o.k. to rest, and coddle, and tend the soul. As a writer, Robin's message to me is that we don't need to keep climbing higher; because at some point our balloons of grandness will eventually deflate and we need to know ourselves, love ourselves, feed our souls so that we can make it through those dark nights without the enemy whispering or entertaining the question, "I'll never be good enough. Life isn't worth living".

  • Guard our minds.  I have wondered that day, what Williams last moments were like. Did He feel old, unnecessary?  Did he feel tired, weary?  Did he feel washed out, replaceable, expendable, under-utilized?  Or did he just ache so long and so hard that the enemy, the one who comes to kill, steal, and destroy had whispered one too many times, "Death is the only answer"? 

    And let's face it...our biggest enemy is never in the pages of this life, never in problems, or other people...the biggest obstacles we face are those lies between the spaces of our ears.  That whispering unchained that can get away from us and take us to places we wish we didn't go. 

    Oh friends, might we truly guard our souls, rest, find hope when towers of lies want to suffocate us and rob us from our dreams?
     


  • Value others. Who is in your life today?  Value them.  Who have you walked past, while caught up in your own issues or problems?  See them. Who comes to your mind and you know you need to call, write, text, or message them?  Do it now. 

    Too often, we think we have tomorrow.  Too frequent we think we can mend bridges, mail packages, love on, or give others what's asked of us, tomorrow...When reality can be, today is the day they need it.  Tomorrow might be too late?

    Hold tight your loved ones.  Ask for patience when people try us.  Give sympathy, a needed ear when life wants to devour.  For, we may never know how thin of ice their life is really sitting on.
     

    And who wants to be the thread that broke the camels back? 

  • It's time to take off our masks.  I have heard people judge Williams.  He smiled all the time.  He was talented.  He made us laugh.  How could he take his life?  Yet, Williams wasn't ours to witness, watch, created to entertain us.  Williams was God's.  And as God's, he had a "thorn in his flesh", one he warred with silently. Yet, don't we all wear masks, sometimes?  To "How is your day?", don't we answer, "Fine"? Don't we paint our faces, get out in public and play the game while inside there hides the tears of a clown?

    Isn't it time we take off our masks?  Isn't it time we stop laughing at the "funny guy" and ask, pry, dig deeper into the heart of other people?  And when they close up...shouldn't we still love on them, offer grace, and be real anyway? 


    How might the world change if we really lived understanding, transparency breeds transparency?

  • We all really only have one hope.  I am not too sure about you, but Williams is not that different from us, really.  Yes, he was a visionary, a dreamer, an extraordinary person who lived his God-given purpose.  But at the end of the day what he taught us was that he too was simply human. 

    And I am not sure where he was with God...but I do know, there is only one hope that never leaves, one author of our faith that can keep us...when we just don't think we can go on any longer.

    Fame fails us.  People fail us.  Money fails us.  Even Hollywood deceives us
    ....but a God who is the rock when all our thoughts cave in on us, is the One we can stand upon, always, for eternity. 

So, today friends, I challenge you.  Instead of grieving, dancing, or laboring around the issues of suicide, death, and loss that robs life and people we love like Robin Williams...How about if we heed his wife's request, refusing to let death take one more thing from us? 

How about if we learn from Robin Williams and tend our souls, guard our minds, value those God has put around us? How about if we just get real, step down to earth, and put our hope in The One that even transcends eternity?

Let's learn from William's experience.  So that all the "Robin Williams'" in this life will find that small glimmer of light, when the world seems dark and the Author of Lies tries turning laughter....to crying.



Why We Must Refuse to Hate those that Behead Children. UNITE

I see them in the desert, the wandering ones. Those caught up with nothing but sky to cover them. No earthly possessions...Just the feet of oppression carrying them to places unknown. 

And we all know, evil reigns and attempts to destroy us when children are be-headed, women savaged, and the cross itself becomes the instrument Christian brothers and sisters are put to death by.

I see them hanging.  On the crucifix' in the park.  Public demonstrations, radicals used as fear-weapons to drive other believers to denounce their religion of holiness, purity.  Denounce their faith not in a church, but a Jesus that threatens nations like Iraq and their ruling tyranny.

And isn't it funny how in one world death and hate can drive a people to think they can get heavenly benefits by murdering people...While another religion sits silent in love, giving up their lives, even hanging on a cross like The One they believe in.

And while many grip fear, turn a blind eye to the death and murderous rampages going on in Iraq....Somehow I see God, there in the clouds leading a people who have been driven away, opening the heavens and greeting each martyr as they hang, in quiet, for His great name.

And when did we ever entertain the idea that we have a God who forsakes His people?  Did we ever think that blood can shed from His precious people and He would not see it....He would not grieve over it....He would not avenge those who suffer for His Great name?

What parent would sit back after hearing the cries?  Or turn their back to their own sons and daughters suffering?  Walking away?  Or saying, "I am just too busy to not cry out and call the angels to recompense everything stolen from those I have lived and died for...My family?"

And though scripture teaches love and peace, somehow we forget that God is still Just and that He is mandated to repay back those who do the persecuting, unrepentant.

Yes, can't we just see Jesus hanging there, dying at the hands of His haters and evil doers?  Yet, we forget that God's wrath is real, apparent, and that without the blood of Jesus...none of us are exempt from paying the price for our evil.

I see the hate in the eyes of one who holds the severed head of a child in his hands.  I see the bleeding, the weapons drawn on children.  I see those driven, searching, seeking for a God they can't see.

But am I surprised?  No.

Do I hate them?  Absolutely not.

Do I allow fear to ravish my body the way they have devoured others with their in-furious and a murderous spirit?  Never.

Why?  Because the enemy would love to drive us to fear, panic, hate, anxiety that stocks us like the Jihad with their swords of persecution.  Yes, the enemy would love us to hide with doubts from tormenting questions like..."What if the knife was at my own throat?  Would I renounce my relationship with Jesus?"

And what have we got, if we cannot see that evil doesn't start with shooting and chopping up and slaying the innocent?  Evil dances around all of us...looking for an opening, a door, an entry, a way to plague us with so much worry that we cultivate seeds planted in our minds, resorting to vengefulness, anger, ragging, guilt, or fear that drives us to do things that lean on something other than the Sovereignty of God.

And I will not live my life running from the lies.  Driven to the desert in my own soul, away from where "danger" can strike...

Because friends, we should not be surprised when trials of all sort come upon us...the Bible says.  The apostles were tortured, God's people have always been the target since the serpent filled lies into the heart of the very first creations.

And call me foolish...But since Jesus, we can long for more than evil, hope for more than pain, reach for a heaven here on earth where God is not only crucified but rules and reigns in our lives, in every ne of our circumstances....

Yes, death might take our family.  The enemy may come here and drive us and hurt these rags of flesh that hold our souls....

Still oh the joy...Nothing and no one can destroy this Spirit living in us.  Nothing can separate us from the love of the Father resurrected and burning through us...

So, I choose to love. 

I choose to cling to this Christ within me.  I choose to pray for the persecuted, weep for those who are weeping.  I choose to lavish love over the souls of my enemies...

Yes...
  • I see Him there in Iraq even now as I close my eyes.  
  • I see heaven open, angels of the Lord ministering in ways that we cannot even begin to realize. 
  • I see a God who is alive...even there in the desert. Though we can't see His footprints, He is a God who can be trusted.  
  • I see a people whose reward in abundant, not just because they lives full of grace...but because they died as martyrs.  
And oh how great are those who die a martyrs death without recounting His Great Name. 

And oh friends, during this persecution in Iraq, and Israel, and Ukraine, and North Korea....and all throughout these lands we see and hear about through social media....Let it do a few things for us...

  • Let it make us crave the Word of God as much as our very breath.  Let Scripture rid us of the lies that we are all going to disappear before persecution comes.  Let Our Black Book purify us from the false doctrine that says we are all going to be wealthy and prosperous and will never face trials because we are Christians. Let scripture give us confidence in our testimony, so that in times of suffering, we may be ready to give a reason for The Hope we believe in. 
  • And oh, might these horrific tragedies drive us to pray, drive us to burn with a passion to pray more fervently than we have ever have before. Getting past those ritualistic prayers, dropping to our knees and yearning for the healing power of a God who died for more than the silencing of those who have a reason for the hope they cling to.  For God didn't create us to hide in a box, put a bubble around ourselves, simply because we are Christians.  He didn't exempt us from suffering, or isolate us from the evil that lurks around us.  He died that we might hold the key to freedom, declaring the promises of a Lord who shed His blood for us...
  • So, let's not be quiet.  Let's not let fear grip us, the enemy's tactics work, anxieties filling us, doubts lurking, telling us, God isn't good, He is not Sovereign, and that He cannot be trusted.  For, He sees.  He is near.  He is watching.  And just because we don't understand it...doesn't mean we get to point fingers and dethrone a God who is not foreign to the same suffering we see, One who was also driven to the desert, and crucified like those we watch on our laptops or t.v.s.
  • And oh, that we might train our children up in the ways they might go. Less worried about scholarships, and sports, and how successful they might be when life turns decades from now.  But that we might raise them as children who know their God, children who accept Christ early on, and children who own their walk with God from a very young age.  Children that aren't dependent on their parents "religion", on a church, or a leader, or on any other person to keep them standing when suffering comes knocks on their door...
Because it will come knocking on the door.
And who can attest?  Our feet must be planted on the rock strong and long before the storms come.

For let's face it.  The sands of temporary idols will never hold us, or our children, or religious doctrine.  Or self-righteousness.  Or prideful perfecctionism.

Only Jesus is our hope when the sword of adversity come upon us.

  • But most of all friends....in that secret place, the one holy, and sacred, and set apart place for Jesus, may we not fill it with the same Wrath of Hate found in the hearts of those who kill people in the name of Allah.

For we are of those where love reigns.  We are of those marked by the seal of His promises.  We are of those who stand and look our accusers in their eyes, and are willing to die for the Hope that is Christ in us...

We are of those who love. 
  • Love when it feels so good to hate.  
  • Love when even the most leaniant of governments might want to hang those who hang others.
  • Love when we cringe inside, or look away, or mourn for the children who lost their innocence at the hands of others who burn with evil...

For what keeps us different?  What keeps us pure?  What keeps us set apart and holy for His purposes?

It's not the turning away.  It's not the, not-looking.  It's not denial, or excessive grieving.  It's not sinking into a terrible depression because it looks like Satan is on the lose and He is not stopping anytime soon.  It is not hyper spiritualizing in this life, living as if on a bubble and that nothing evil could or would ever happen to us.  It's not, needing excessive knowledge and intellectualizing to comprehend life's difficulties.  It's not running out and doing good deeds as if somehow our behavior will save us from anything bad happening...

The only hope we have is in one name, Jesus.  And that God is love.  His name is the embodiment of His words as He hug on the cross for sinners like us who drove Him to His crucifixion.

And there was no hate in his words, "Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do".  The Father of Love simply willingly died to reverse all our sin, abolished hate, sacrificed for the pain resulting from a driven people who deserves hell, nothing more, nothing less.

Yet, let's face it...

I don't know how to love like that.  How to forgive like that.  How to live redeemed or see eternity with such pure and Christ-like eyes...

But, He does.  And it is not anything we have in and of apart from us that sanctifies us anyway...

It's only Jesus.




"Then I heard further [perceiving the distinct words of] a voice from heaven, saying, Write this: Blessed (happy, to be envied) are the dead from now on who die in the Lord! Yes, blessed (happy, to be envied indeed), says the Spirit, [in] that they may rest from their labors, for their works (deeds) do follow (attend, accompany) them!" ~ Revelation 14:13

Photo credit: The Guardian
 

UNITE LINK PARTY

In a very somber week of many international crisis, we stand come here today to stand together for hope, love, and in UNITY in a God who, no matter what it looks like, STILL hold s the world in His hands.

UNITE is a non-exclusive blog hop where YOU are welcome to link up, add a link back, and read and comment on, at minimum, the post before you!

Thanks for joining us and for sharing in this dream to UNITE the bloggersphere...in a world filled with far too much division.





The Risk of Un-Apologentic Worship

"Music is the chorus of the unsung heart, the healing for the wounded soul, the wings in a world lacking any melody of its own."

The winds rise high, air thick, stress levels taunt before hearing the chord strum, from my son playing upstairs.

His sister rises soft, a little uncertain, in her resurrected youth.  Her voice, the echos of some heavenly angel.  Neither one of them know I am listening...but I don't care.

Spirits lighten, I hear it in the melodic rhythms, the un-stagged presence of a God that makes beauty in so many ways.  And I am lifted from these circumstances, from the gravity of this weightiness, from the confusing state of lists taunting its hold on me...

And why is it, songs lighten the spirit?  Why do we soar far away when notes play in perfect rhythm?  Have we lost our chorus....been looking for our own song...but find the journey to it's free flowing sounds, sometimes too hard...too long?

And in a world that looks so hard for "holy".  People seeking "happiness".  Striving for "glory".  I wonder why in heaven there is music all around us.  But yet, we settle for silence for our searching souls, here in this fallen existence....when we were made to sing.

In steeples we hide our reverence, saying it's arrogant if others notice us when we praise the King of Kings.  And yet, David....the King after God's own heart...danced wildly, irreverently careless of anything...or any one.

Because when hearts lighten, His Spirit comes, our lives get small in the presence of a big and glorious God.  And we can't help but worship...Regardless of who might see.

Yes, we praise football, and soccer, our kids sports teams, even our own achievements....but when it comes to God, we stay silent as if somehow that is being "respectful" or "reverant" to a God we can treat like an ogre who just might slay us.

But true worship doesn't draw us away from the glory from God..it draws us to Him.  It shouldn't separate people...it was made to drop the walls, like that of Jericho.

Until we walk away and discover we are more free than when we came...

And I don't know what it is. I can't say I am any expert on much of anything...but I do know, when I am lost in the cloud of His glory like the Israelites on their way to the Promised land....yesterday or tomorrow, Egypt or Israel doesn't matter....nor does what I have or don't have...

All that matters is God.

And didn't scripture tell us, "If we are ashamed of Him in front of others, He will be ashamed and not acknowledge us?"

And yet, we do church, and devotions, and personal communions with the Lord....and what can consume us is what WE look like, what OTHERS think, and if somehow we are offending others or are cohesive with an establishment or group of people....

But my healing has always come through worship.  The enemy can't stand, when we rise in unified  
praise to a God we see as bigger than any enemies attempt to slay us.

Yes, doesn't His word clearly tell us, no man can have glory in the fullness of His presence?  So why do we care about pleasing man more than God when we praise?

I listen to them play upstairs.  Voices dancing across each other in harmonious worship...

And I can't help but know, I have done many things wrong as their imperfect mother. But above all I rejoice that my children are fully free to worship.  That they have found their own songs....that they
can hear the God who created them and has placed "Eternity in their hearts".

For we can have the whole world, we can do the right things, we can impress everyone with our "right
rituals of goodness".....
But if we have lost our song.  If we have stiffled The Creative One.  If we can't breathe and feel suffocated because our lists are too long...

What have we earned?  What have we gained?  How full have we lived....if we can't hear The One who dances and sings over us....

For the angels worship Him night and day, they bow, they worship, they exonerate the King of Kings....The Alpha and Omega....The First and Last....The Beginning and The End...

So as flawed, carnal, selfish human beings....

How much more should we, lay our lives down to Him, willingly and freely giving it all to praise Him?


This post is part of a challenge given to us by Amy Sullivan.  A lot of crazy things are happening over at her place!  Months ago she challenged many of us to live unafraid of RISK.  She challenged us to live bold, fearless, un-apologentically intentional in so many ways.  Some have quit jobs.  Some are committing to stay at home with their children.  Others are moving across the country to follow their dreams as a music artist.  Some are writing books. Others are starting up businesses.

This month for Rick Rejection I have cut off the fingernails that have grown continuously since I was about fourteen...(yes, I can't stop them from growing.  Please don't judge)....And after a deep longing to make music of my own, I have picked up the guitar and are now taking lessons from my son.  

I played piano as a child, but at that time had no song within my soul...(or if I did, I sure couldn't hear it).  I now get exited to not only play, but sing.  Hopefully one day, along with my older two who are extremely musical. 

My goal in learning guitar?  So I can not only sit outside with my ipod and worship...but so that I can play and initiate music of my own. (O.k. I mean something other than the song "Beep Beep" I wrote when I was ten!:)

Want to join Amy, me, and so many others for Risk Rejection the first Thursday of every month?  Stop by over HERE. She is a blessed soul and I just know you will love her!

Stop Writing? And Why We Need Each Other

I was going to stop blogging.  No, really.

I even posted it on last weeks UNITE, "Why God Hasn't Given Up On You"...that I was going to stop writing in order to "think and pray" about what God was doing on my blog.

But truth is, I was tired...really, really tired.  

For days before last weeks writing, I had written and edited a post, yet never felt content with what I was planning to post here.

So, at 4:45 last Monday evening, I went to my front porch and almost instantly God whispered to me, "I am not done with you". I felt inspired and knew I better not let this fiery word die in me...so I ran to the computer, to get it down in writing.

More amazingly, my four kids were gone...yep, all four of them.  And my husband too.  In years and years, this is something that never happens and I knew it was strange and God wanted me to do something with this time carved out for some clear purpose.

Soooo, I jumped on the laptop and utilize this quiet....brainlessly tapping away, whatever came to my mind.  Posts usually go up at 6:00...and I didn't want to miss a deadline. 

Later, I learned, it was a moment chosen only by God. 

By 5:15 I had tapped out my thoughts.  Then, I spent the next forty-five minutes editing, finding pictures, and adding the linky for all you to connect here.  

I knew it was unbelievably strange that within 1 short hour, an entire post was ready to go...which is about two hours shorter than what it usually takes me....

But, I just "chalked it up" as a miracle.  Said a little prayer.  Then, hit "publish". 

A few days later a friend I had never met writes me a private e-mail.  She says how God used my chaotic moments of typing to speak to her and her family. I was blown away.  God use me?

But know what was even cooler??  

Later, she types me saying it was exactly at 4:45 - 5:30 that God called her away to pray.  Did you get that?  She had been praying at the exact time that my husband left with the kids, and my heart was lured to the porch.  Yep, none of it was a coincidence.

Yep, that's right....Her praying somehow sparked my writing frenzy.  And those words "coincidentally" confirmed her prayers.  Then, her initial e-mail of encouragement stirred in me the notion that, "God is not done with me yet", Him pricking my conscious to not step away from blogging yet.  (Does that even make sense?...I hope so!)

And O.k. Yes....For all those skeptics..God could have spoken to each of us encouragement or confirmation separately...but He didn't.  He could have sent a pastor, or leader, or a friend who lives near us to call us towards His will...

But instead, He picked two complete strangers, linked their hearts and their purposes together and then used each one of them to bless the other.

Can someone say our God is so unbelievably amazing!?

But better yet?  When encouragement or confirmations comes through someone you have never met...you just know it's not our imagination....and it is then that God gets all the credit.  
   
There is so much more to this story, but the gist of what I am trying to say is that God's people were never meant to be strangers, distant, unheard of, or unseen by like-minded women fighting the same battles, living in this same world.

God purposefully chooses to use other people to reveal...He sees our needs, our worries, our doubts, our prayers...and by grace He speaks to us, if we will pause,  
and wait on, and listen with the intent of obedience.

O.K. Now here is my confession? God didn't call me to stop blogging.  He didn't call me to "take a few weeks to pray about the direction of my blog".

That was MY idea.  

And friends, sometimes we cannot grab the full picture of what God is doing. Sometimes the road looks dark, the days of dreaming seem to go on for an eternity...and we get frustrated and doubt as our vision seems bleak, as if we are led through a proverbial desert, trying to figure out what God is creating...

But today, I am stirred to turn away from logic, or even Jen's "wants" or "reasonings".  Today, I am determining to wait upon His Spirit, rest in His timing, and anticipate with joy that what God has spoken, HE will bring to fruition...

Because God has only good things in store for all of His people...Even if it doesn't look like it yet.

Will you join me today friends in committing to, treading, pressing forward, looking, and seeking the vision He has planned for you?  

Because watch out!  You never know when He just might bright strangers who become friends, people you never expected (like my friend)...to come and encourage you.

Friends we can join arms with, fearlessly walking by faith, not by sight with...

Here.  Now.  As Ambassadors of Kingdom purposes. 

Hebrews 10:23-25 
So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word. And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.

UNITE LINK PARTY

It's now time to UNITE. Join us?  Here's how.... 
Post a link, add a link back, then take a minute to comment on a few other posts.

Remember, UNITE is an all-inclusive, no-rules, blog hop.






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