Opinion

I Love America, But My Country Is Heaven.

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“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” – Philippians 3:20

Folks, I love America.  I mean, Let’s be honest, it’s freaking awesome.

I am the proud granddaughter of a heroic Iwo Jima Marine, faithful voter, and my home decor is Americana. I am apple pie, cheeseburgers, the second amendment, country music, and football (the real American pastime).  I tear up every time the National Anthem is sung, and lose it completely when the families of fallen soldiers carry their photos in our local parades.  I love this place.  This place where I live as an ambassador to my true homeland: the Kingdom of Christ.

Social Media is both a blessing and a curse.  The benefits of being connected to my family and friends comes with the high price of having intimate knowledge of everyone’s politics.  It’s like the infamous Thanksgiving-table heated political debate, but every day, all day.  And if you spend a lot of time on Facebook, like I shamelessly do, it gets old fast. Even though I am a conservative Christian, a lot of what I have grown weary of are posts and comments from other conservative Christians. (This is where I really stick my foot in it)

One day, while scrolling through the feed, a question hit me out of no where like a ton of bricks.

Heavenly Citizenship“Does Jesus really care about our gun rights?”

“What about the right to collect rain water on our own property or graze our cattle on federal land?” 

“What about immigration? Does Jesus care?”

It really started to bother me.  I used to love watching Fox News because those were my people.  But I just stopped feelin’ it when I couldn’t see the Kingdom in any of it.  Maybe they weren’t my people after all. I used to read every article posted about which agency was infringing on so-and-so’s constitutional rights, and feel overcome with a passionate, “Oh no they didn’t!”, but then I slowly became disarmed when I didn’t see the Gospel in any of it.  Maybe it wasn’t my fight, after all.  Over time I began to notice a disinterest in politics all together, which was a huge shift from where I had come.

About a year ago I actually posted about my newfound disinterest and was met with some surprising comments.  One of which was that I needed to be political because Jesus was. Was Jesus political?  I was confused, so I had to go to the Word and see exactly where this was.  And you know what?  They were right.  Jesus was political.  But not in the way referenced.

When Jesus talked about government, He talked about His government. Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world – John 18:36

Even though His own people were being occupied, over-taxed, and mistreated by the powerful godless Roman Empire, Jesus’ message to the people was always about His own Kingdom, and when asked specifically about an issue pertaining to local government, He replied, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

Jesus never tried to reform government. He wants to reform our hearts.

I love our great constitution.  I wish our current leaders felt the same.  I believe it is a beautiful document with roots stemmed deep in biblical principals that when followed, brings great success, security, and freedom to the people.  But such security and assurance of a certain way of life has caused God’s people to shift our reliance off of Him, and on to the system we’ve created.  Great as it may be, no government is going to last forever.  Jesus’ government is going to replace them all.  Even America.

So what is going to happen when that which holds our security begins to fade, is attacked, abandoned, or destroyed?

Our hope is not in the constitution, our hope is in Christ alone.  If we all wake up tomorrow to the confiscation of our weapons, open borders, and the enforcement of socialism, I will not be shaken, because I am nothing more than an ambassador of the homeland.

What about my rights? “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

What about my property? “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” – Psalm 24:1
What about the American dream? “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

What about all the Muslims coming into our country?

Yep.  They’re coming.  If it’s of grave concern to you, just pick up a book or two on how to share the gospel with them.  The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. The truth is, there are thousands of Christians living in the Middle East who are not afforded the luxury of living a life free of Islamic exposure.  So let’s bring the refugees in and be ambassadors of Christ to them.

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” – 1 Timothy 6:12

So, if it’s not upholding the constitution of the United States or our conservative way of life, then what is the good fight?

If you were to read through the New Testament, some repeated themes start to stand out.

  1.  Keep Jesus as the head.
  2. Love/ serve people
  3. Make disciples
  4. Hold fast to solid doctrine/ teaching
  5. Live by the Spirit.
  6. Minister to the ‘least of these’/ widows/ orphans / poor (slaves, unborn, oppressed)

This is the fight.  This is Kingdom work.

But what about when the law of man in contrary to God’s law? I’m glad you asked!  I love this response from GotQuestions about Acts 5:29

“From this, it is clear that as long as the law of the land does not contradict the law of God, we are bound to obey the law of the land. As soon as the law of the land contradicts God’s command, we are to disobey the law of the land and obey God’s law. However, even in that instance, we are to accept the government’s authority over us. This is demonstrated by the fact that Peter and John did not protest being flogged, but instead rejoiced that they suffered for obeying God (Acts 5:40-42).”

If our lives, our identity, and what we give ourselves to is wrapped up in who we are in Christ and in our Heavenly citizenship, then we never have to be shaken by the tumultuous changing tide of the world around us.  We will, like Paul did, long for our true home, but understand that our time here is valuable, belonging to the Lord for His work and His Kingdom and use our time to advance His purpose.

I love America.  But my country is Heaven.

“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. – Philippians 1:19 – 26

She Preacher? – A Different View On An Age Old Debate

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A short time ago, this video of Victoria Osteen went viral on Social Media, with most sharers expressing their disapproval of the famous couple’s “Health, Wealth, and Happiness” doctrine.  In the weeks following this, I noticed an online resurgence of the age-old women-in-ministry debate that was sparked by this video for one peculiar reason:  She.  Blogs bounced all over the internet from many of our country’s most renowned Pastors that the heretical comments were allowed to happen because a woman was allowed to teach on stage in the first place.

I thought that implication was grossly unfair considering all of the bad theology you can get from countless male preachers just about anywhere.

Full-Bible believing theologians have been arguing about a whole array of things since the early church, including this.  If you’re curious as to where I stand:  I am a tongue speaking, medium-rare Calvinist, who is egalitarian in my view of men and women (Women can preach and teach).  My husband and I feel we have been called to Pastor someday and are firm believers in the “ministry team” approach.

But if you passionately disagree with that, don’t worry.  This isn’t a blog to try to get you to join our side.  In fact, if anyone is going to get offended here today, it’s going to be the women who militantly fight for time in the pulpit and female leadership in the church.

This issue has long been mislabeled the “women in ministry” debate, when the specific acts of service in question are preaching to, teaching, and holding leadership positions over men.  But real ministry, the kind that transforms lives and helps people to grow in Christ, doesn’t happen in the pulpit.

I have been a believer for 16 years.  Between Sunday service, youth group, camps, conferences, and Podcasts, I have heard well over 2,000 sermons.  In all honesty, I can’t point back to one specific one and say, “This changed me”, or, “This speaker made me who I am”.  Instead, it was the intentional discipleship that my Church family offered me:  The late night talks with my friend’s parents who made me a part of their family, the time my Youth Pastor’s wife picked me up and took me shopping with her for their baby furniture and would ask me how my Bible reading was going and what God was teaching me, and all the countless coffee dates with my mentors.  People showed me Jesus and were there when I needed them.  My leaders loved me when I was unlovable and walked with me through failures and victories.

I am all for women speaking and teaching, but let’s be very careful that our fight is for the cross and not the crown.  All of the ministries that count, that make the greatest impact on individual lives are already available to women.  No one is going to tell you not to have that new family over for dinner.  No one is stopping you from taking a youth out to coffee.  No one is telling you you can’t give someone a ride, groceries, or go pray with someone who is hurting.

But there’s no glamor in that.  No crown.  No one to tweet your catchy phrase.  There’s no credit, and often no thanks.

I’m not saying that everyone who teaches and leads in church does so because they’re seeking praise and fame.  almost all of the Pastors I know are humble shepherds who love Jesus and just want to serve their sheep.  But there’s no denying that there’s a temptation to desire positions that come with authority and accolades at the expense of looking past the people God has put right in front of you to serve.

And what if?  What if the traditionalists are right, and God speaks from Heaven in a loud voice for all to hear, “Just to clarify things, I don’t want women preaching”!  Do you stop serving Him?  I hope not.  We have to ask ourselves, honestly, if we’re looking for promotion or just taking joy in serving the Lord because our lives are not our own, but His.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. – Matthew 16:24

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20

 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace – 1 Peter 4:10

And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:44-45

Why Purity Pledges Don’t Work

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We’ve all been there.

That summer camp, youth conference, or special guest speaker at church that passionately communicates God’s best for your life and body, telling you their special secret to enjoying the great married sex life that God made you to have, and the the sure consequences that will come to those who chose not wait.  The atmosphere is worshipful.  Your Pastor and leaders are all there with you. You’ve spent 4 days on a remote campground free from worldly distractions while a whole church full of people back home have been praying for you.

Then, the invitation comes.  Will you make a decision to wait?  Will you take the pledge, promise the Lord, and sign the form?  There’s an awesome “pure” rubber wrist-band and/or wallet card in it for you if you do, in addition to the guarantee of an awesome future marriage, of course.  You stand up and take the vow.  I mean, who could pass all that up?

There’s just one problem.  This whole process has absolutely nothing to do with reality.

It’s not a bad thing, or even a thing that should be stopped.  But the process by which these pledges have been “sold” and implemented for decades is not only ineffective,  but can actually contribute to destructive sexual decisions.  Not because of what is said, but because of what isn’t said or done.  And those missing pieces are huge, if not the most important.

1.  The pledge is typically where the conversation ends, even though desire and hormones don’t end there.  We too often look at having the talk with our kids as something we “just get it over with it, then we’re done.”  But we’re never done.  You can’t ensure the sexual health of your child or student in one 30 minute sermon once a year, then ignore the fact that they have a sin nature the other 364 days.  Once we begin to have honest conversations about sexual issues with our students, those conversations shouldn’t stop.

2.  The timing sucks. It’s really easy to commit to starting a diet at the end of a Thanksgiving meal when you are stuffed and can’t stomach the thought of more food, but come Monday, when your co-worker walks in with KFC and fills the office with the aroma of crispy chicken, your diet commitment is a whole different story.  In the same way, I don’t often hear young people say at the end of an emotionally charged service, “You know, after everything that God has done for me this weekend and all that I have experienced, I still think I’m going to have sex before I get married”.  Of course they don’t say that.  They can no more fathom it then a stuffed stomach can fathom a cheeseburger.  I have to wonder if that is the time or place to bring that up at all.  What if “the talk” was instead a regular part of ongoing discipleship?  What if it happened when real life and real temptation was happening?

3.  It gives people a false sense of invincibility.

“Oh, you want to wait until marriage to have sex?  That’s great.  What’s your plan“?

“Plan?  Well…I signed this promise card and wrote a letter to my future spouse”.

Face palm  “You need to establish your boundaries ahead of time and surround yourself with people who are going to be able to help you carry those boundaries out.”

“That’s not necessary, I really love Jesus”.

Oh good for you.  Did He also create you without hormones”?

A look at 2 Samuel 11 shows us something interesting.  King David, “A man after God’s own heart”, sees a married woman bathing on her roof, has his people bring her, sleeps with her, gets her pregnant, murders her husband to try to cover it up, and is busted by the prophet Nathan.  Waaaaa??????  The passage starts off saying, “In a time when kings went off to war, David was looking out on his balcony” (or something).  If the kings were supposed to be at war, and David was king, why was he at home on his balcony?

Sin often begins in us when we’re in places we shouldn’t be.  Many people, who earnestly love Jesus and want to live for him break boundaries because we trust in our own righteousness and create an opportunity.  Never, of course, intending for it to lead to sin.  But the enemy of our souls is ‘crouching like a lion’ and never misses out on a good opportunity.  And all that righteousness of ours? The bible says our righteousness is like fifthly rags before the Lord, and for good reason.  It can’t be trusted to keep us from sin, because we’re sinners.

The hope of saving yourself for marriage is only as good as your boundaries and the accountability you seek out, no matter how many pledges you sign or how big your purity ring is.

4.  It creates shame when the mark is missed.  Imagine for a minute that you are a 19 year-old college sophomore, away at school, and even though you had pledged to wait, you’ve recently started having sex with your boyfriend.  You want to talk to someone about it because inside, you still want to please the Lord, but who do you go to?  The youth leader who was standing next to you when you signed your card and told you how proud of you she was?  The speaker who said that the only way to have a good marriage is to wait?  Your parents?  Probably not. The shame from not living up to your commitment can be so strong that many young people just stop going to church all together.  Now, youth leaders, pastors, and parents are exactly the people to go to when we’re struggling with any kind of sin.  But the famous 30-minute “purity sermon” can’t establish the relationship that is needed to be a safe place for people to share their struggles.  We have to clearly communicate to our young singles that 1.  There is nothing they can say or do that is going to make us be ashamed of them and 2. There is no such thing as “too late”.

My husband and I were engaged for 18 months, which turned out to be about 12 months too long, if you catch my drift.  As the “poster children” of each of our youth groups, we had made enough of these pledges that I could have made sleeves out of my “Pure” arm bands.  But because all of the things above were missing, those were just words with good intentions. If we really want this generation of Christians to experience God’s best for their relationships, we have to change the conversation.  We have to be involved, honest and transparent.  We have to both continue the conversation in discipleship, and establish ourselves as safe places.  We have to talk about the how-not-to and the restoration when it happens, because purity doesn’t stop at “I do”.  It’s a process we’ll walk out forever.

Like what you read?  Then check these out, too!

That Lovin’ Feeling – The Key to an Incredible Marriage

Is Prince Charming Really Dead?

I Guess You Could Call Me An Unashamed Slave of Scripture

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For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools…” – Romans 1:21-22

Earlier this year I was sitting at Starbucks enjoying my Cinnamon Dolce Latte (That’s a hint for my local friends.) when I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation going on at the table next to me. I guessed this group to be in their late teens or early twenties, probably college students who all seemed to have some sort of church upbringing.  They were discussing their opinions on how faith and Christianity should be applied to certain hot-button social issues.  I listened as each one assigned characteristics to God that were formed not from a thorough studying of scripture, but rather an attempt to make God into someone who wouldn’t challenge anything in anyone’s life.  Ever.

I am an unashamed slave of scriptureAs someone who is still young myself, with many young friends, and an avid Facebook user, I wasn’t really surprised by this.  I am reading more and more posts from young Christians who look at their faith as something pliable that can be molded to more comfortably fit their popular worldview instead of weighing everything against the complete body of scripture. This trend has always concerned me, but lately it has gone beyond concern.  The rampant, blatant disregard for the whole and literal word of God in His own Church has become a burden that is keeping me awake at night.

I spent a summer in China when I was in High School smuggling Bibles into a country where entire villages of believers would very often share ONE between them all because they were so scarce.  Raffles would be held among these groups to see which family got to have the village Bible that night.  Thousands of Chinese Christians have since been swept away into cults and deception because they had no tangible way to gauge truth. American Christians are swept away into cults and deception because we have a tangible way to gauge truth but never read it. While everyone is talking about the fear of Ebola or terrorism right now, this one thing frightens me more that those ever could.

I have been praying about what, if anything, God wants me to do with this burden that has been so heavy on my heart.  I’m not a person with any real influence or credibility to speak of.  I don’t have a degree or a title, just blog with a small following, most of whom will agree with this anyway, so is speaking up just a wasted effort? I don’t know.  Maybe.  But a tweet I came across this morning from a prominent Pastor, Ed Gungor, actually broke my heart so much that I can’t sit silently anymore watching this unfold, even if no one is listening.

Ed Gungor Tweet

Oh, man.  Where do I even begin?   If holding fast to the truth of scripture makes me a “slave of biblical ideals and words” then shackle me up!  Our faith is in the person Jesus Christ, yes, who is revealed to us through Biblical words. Without those words, I can make Jesus into whatever or whomever I want Him to be. I can make Him have blue hair and give him a unicorn horn and say he was a member of PETA.  Why not? If all scripture is relative, and I get to design my own Jesus, then I can also pick and chose which passages I want to apply to my life and which ones could “use updating.”  I could also define salvation itself, as unfortunately well-known author Rob Bell has done, so that I don’t have to bother with the reality that people are actually going to go to Hell, because hey, that’s harshing my mellow, man.

Belief in Scripture is all or nothing. It’s either truth or lies. People are writing their own religion and putting a “Christian” label on it in droves. It’s a progression that begins with the neglect of the Bible and snowballs into an open dismissal of its legitimacy. When it gets to that point, it is no longer Christianity, but something else entirely.

Many who see things the way Ed Gungor does base their belief off of Romans 2:12-16 that talks about the law of God being written on our hearts.

Hmmmmm……. A scritpure taken WAAAAAYYYY out of context to prove an ungodly point….. where have I seen that before?  Oh yes, Satan started that in the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11:

  • Satan temps Jesus the first time.
  • Jesus responds to Satan with the truth of scripture
  • Satan tempts Jesus a second time, only this time, throws a verse in there to try to make his point. (v.6)
  • Jesus is able to identify and refute the out-of-context use because of His thorough knowledge of the complete work of scripture (v.7)
  • Satan tempts Jesus a third time and a third time Jesus responds with…. you guessed it: scripture! (v.10)

My Pastor once said, “Postmodernism is meant to deconstruct the Bible, but the Bible is meant to deconstruct us.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Now, more than ever, we have to dig into the Word of God and guard our hearts.  I am literally begging as I write this to the Church: Stay in the Word.  Read your Bible.  You and I aren’t immune to the tactics of the enemy, and the minute we start to think that, we’ve got a real problem.

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.” – Psalm 1:1-2

“Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.  It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.” – Deuteronomy 17:18-20

RESOURCES:

The Truth Project – A great Apologetics video series.

The YouVersion Bible app – A free app for listening to scripture on the go in several translations.

THIS fabulous video clip from Ravi Zacharias:

What Can We Learn From Disney’s Frozen?

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All images used in this post are property of Disney
All images used in this post are property of Disney

Do you want to build a sermon?

Well, Disney’s mega-hit animated film, Frozen, will give you plenty of material.   Even though I am a child of Disney’s early 90s “Golden Years”, Frozen is far and away my favorite picture they have ever made.  I now have a few small children of my own, so I have seen the movie myself about, oh, 80 million times. But I just can’t seem to get tired of it, because each time through I am amazed at the depth of lessons woven throughout the story that have touched me in very personal ways.

So what can we learn from Frozen?  Let’s take a look:

*SPOILER ALERT*  If you are part of the 0.0000001% of people who have not yet seen this movie (what is wrong with you?), there are major spoilers below.

1.  We’re dying inside by living in constant fear of our flaws.

elsaperfectEveryone has flaws.  Everyone.  The people you look up to, your family, friends, your boss, and you.  But you already knew that.  Yet in spite of that knowledge, we tend to self evaluate our flaws as if we’re the only ones who have them, comparing our “real” self to everyone else’s best face.  This is tormenting, causing depression, self-loathing, and insecurity, and worst of all is completely unnecessary.  God gives us freedom from fear of our weaknesses in 2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  We can only really start living inside when we realize how God is using us through and in spite of our weaknesses.

2.  Isolation is never the answer.

elsa isolationWhen the jig is up and we can no longer hide our flaws behind a painted on church-lady smile, our tendency is to give in to pride and fear and isolate ourselves from the very people who love us the most and who can help us.  It may feel like freedom, like you can finally be yourself with no repercussions, but it is a false sense liberty.  The issues that we run from will always catch us eventually because God is always wanting to refine us and pursues us relentlessly.  The castles we build around us to hide and resist growth will never address the root of the problem deep within the heart.

3.  Don’t stop pursuing those who have thrown in the towel.

Frozen_anna_and_elsain castleAnna could have easily stayed behind, been married, and become queen of her kingdom.  But love drove her to go after her sister, even though Elsa had given up on everyone else, including Anna.  What would have happened if Anna chose her own comfort and desires over her sister?  What would have happened if Anna said, “It’s pointless, she’s always been this way and I’m never going to get through to her.  It would be a waste of my time and energy”?  What would have happened if Anna had given up the first time she was rejected while trying to bring healing to this hurting person?  What about the second time she was rejected?  God shows us how to love others by the way He is continually long suffering toward us.  He doesn’t give up on us.  Ever.  And we’re the ones He has called to show that love to those who are hurting, who have given up, and walked away.

4.  Everyone is a “Fixer-upper.”  The Answer?  Community.

Trolls_frozen_disney2013“People make bad choices if they’re mad
Or scared, or stressed but
Throw a little love their way
And you’ll bring out their best
True love brings out their best!

Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper
That’s what it’s all about!
Father!
Sister!
Brother!
We need each other
To raise us up and round us out”

I think these song lyrics from “Everyone’s A Bit of A Fixer-Upper” explain it best.  The value of being connected to a community of people who love us and have our best interest in mind is immeasurable.  God designed us to grow this way.

5.  Keep moving forward.

Frozen_Hans_AnnaIt’s easy to feel like our bad choices disqualify us from doing what we are meant to do, but everyone makes them.  Even Anna, the hero of the film, is so desperate for love and attention that she falls for the first tool who looks her way.  The discovery of just how wrong she was could have easily caused her to feel so stupid and upset with herself that she should have given up and died, but she picked herself up and kept moving forward.  Your screw-ups are an opportunity to show grace, and to empathize with others in their weaknesses. I was speaking at a camp last Spring and talked to the students about Judas and Peter.  I asked them which one of them betrayed Jesus.  “Judas”, they all said confidentially.  But the real answer is both.  Why, then, is Judas known for his betrayal, and Peter known as the “rock on which I’ll build my church?”  Because Peter came back.  Peter didn’t let the shame of his choices keep him from the great things that God had for him to do.  He humbled himself, repented, and kept moving forward.  Keep moving forward.  God has big things in store for you.

6.  Only love can melt a frozen heart.

sacrificeAnd no, I’m not talking romantic love, which is one of the reasons I love this Disney movie above all others.  It’s sacrificial love, the kind of love that God first gave to us on the cross.  And unconditional love, the kind of love that He continues to show to us every single day, in spite of ourselves.  It sometimes isn’t returned to us from others, but that’s okay, because it’s not about us anyway, it’s about them.  It’s not naturally within us, it’s God-given.  It’s a love that we have to ask Him to give us for others, to show us how to see others the way He sees them.  That’s when this happens: Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13  That is the love that melts the frozen hearts in others.  Love that brings healing.  Love that restores.

What did you think of the movie?  Comment below.

Enjoy this post?  Check out “Is Prince Charming Really Dead”?

It is OKAY to say YES to my kids!

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I have decided to take a short intermission from politics, theology, and opinionated controversy to bring you this fluffy Mommy-Blogger post about fluffy mothering stuff.

I know.  You’re excited.

There’s some brutal transparency in here, folks, so no judging.  But it needs to be shared because I am noticing that as I begin to talk to and develop relationships with other mothers, I am finding many other mommies like myself out there.  Who are we?  We are the mothers of “No.”  What do I mean by that?  I mean our days sound a little something like this:

Painting NailsChild:  “Can I help you load the dishwasher?”

Mom: “Not right now, honey.”

Child: “Can we get the paints out?”

Mom: “Not right now, honey.”

Child: “Can I flip the pancakes?”

Mom:  “Maybe another time.”

So what exactly can the child do?  He/she can sit in the high chair/Pack ‘n Play/ sofa in front of the flashing box that does all of their imagining for them while I make sure that everything looks perfect in the house.  Because, after all, having a perfect looking house means I have it all together.

And why are we the mothers of “No?”  Is it because we dislike fun?  Is it because we don’t want our kids to learn or try anything?  Is it because we’re big mean meanieheads who hate children?  No. (See what I did there?)

“No moms”, like me, are usually perfection/control personality types and it is important to us that everything is done the right way the first time.  But I’ve come to realize that trying to raise kids this way is just a constant state of chasing your own tail, and as you’re fighting to maintain perfect control of your household, your kids, and your schedule, it can feel like drowning.

Frankly, I am tired of drowning, so this Summer, I decided to do something RADICAL!  We got rid of ALL of our TV services.  No Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, Cable, Nada.  I am actually going to, like, do stuff with my kids.  Like Hiking, puzzles, going to the Pool and the park (and actually get in the splash pad with them).  And in addition to that, my goal these next few months is to say “Yes” to everything that is safe, biblical, and reasonable. Even if that means I have to re-load the dishwasher, sweep glitter off of the kitchen floor for the next week, eat pancakes with egg shells in them, and show up to a board meeting with rainbow colored nail polish all over my fingertips.

This isn’t natural for me, but I know that it is important, because one day my children are going to be out in the world on their own, making their own choices, and finding their own way and our tiny little window for putting into them what they’ll need to be Godly, successful adults is going by faster than I expected. I hate the idea of them not knowing how, or being afraid of making decisions for themselves because I have micromanaged them their entire lives.

A dear friend pointed out to me once that the ever so popular verse in Proverbs 22,Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” says, “In the way he should go”, not the way he shouldn’t.  Which means we have to show our kids how to do right, not just tell them what they can’t or shouldn’t do.  And sometimes, that means saying, “Yes.”  What an injustice I am doing to my children by telling them about Jesus without showing them Jesus.

I may be coming into the game a little late, but I am finally ready to get messy, to teach and to play, and I am excited to see the changes that will happen in our family because of it.  Send one up for me, folks, because honestly, I don’t know how the H-E-Doubble-Hockey-Sticks to do this, but I am about to give it my all, praying a lot, and depending on God’s grace to power me through it.

I leave you with today with this paper towel commercial from a few years ago that I always loved that shows the totes awesome “Yes Mom” that I’ve always dreamed of being.

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Intolerance Takes the Cake

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One of my happy places is in my kitchen, baking.  I started making fondant cakes a couple of years ago and get a lot of requests from family, friends, and co-workers to provide the desserts for their events.  I also get a lot of “You should really think about making this a business” comments.  I’d love to get paid to bake.  To me, it is art.  My heart, soul, energy, and creativity all go into each one and when it is finished, it’s a little painful to watch the knife make that first cut.

But this blog isn’t about cakes. I wish it could be. Everyone likes cakes.  Instead, it is about something that everyone likes to get up in arms about.  I try to always be considerate of others feelings, hearts, and experiences when writing, and taking a moment to pause, and put myself in another’s shoes before responding usually ends with me holding my tongue all together.  But if I shy away from a controversial topic for the sake of keeping peace, what does that make me? 

I did start the process of obtaining the proper licensing to make and sell cakes from my home, when something stopped me in my tracks and launched me into a philosophical journey on my own.

It was this story:  A Christian photographer in New Mexico who refused to shoot a lesbian wedding ceremony and was sued.  She lost, and lost big.  Her business, reputation, and finances destroyed.  That story was followed by this one and this one, and got me to thinking, “As a whole-Bible believing Christian, What would I do if asked to make a wedding cake for a gay couple?”  Honestly, I didn’t know.  I had never even considered it before. 

This blog isn’t about the morality or theological correctness or incorrectness of homosexuality.  That’s a conversation for a face-to-face coffee date.  This is more about the question, “What would happen to me if I said ‘no?'”  It’s about rights, and freedom, both of the homosexual couple and of the religious person.  These stories beg the question, “Can rights and freedoms exist for both parties harmoniously?”  I don’t know, but when you read these articles, it’s not looking too good.

 Semantics

I love people.  Short people, tall people, gay people, straight people, white people, black people, Asian people, people in the womb and outside of it, pro-choice people, pro-life people, people who live behind white picket fences and those on the streets, democrat, republican, it doesn’t matter.  If you’ve got human DNA, it’s hard for me to see you as anything other than a masterpiece of an indescribable creator, and to see myself as anything more that just as flawed as anyone.

So when words like “Hate” and “Bigot” are hurled at those of us who view a lifestyle as contrary to God’s design, we call foul.  Hate? That hurts my heart.  It’s such a powerful word that, much like love, has been grossly over and misused, and unlike love, has been brilliantly used as a marketing semantic to sway public opinion and slowly strip the rights away from those who hold the Bible to be truth.  Yes, we absolutely want to eradicate hate.  But real hate.  When we eradicate disagreement, we become 1930s Germany, and no one wins. Like I say to my children, “We need to use our words properly”.

The Double Standard

Christians don’t have a perfect tract record for the treatment of others, I’ll be the first to agree.  And the reality of those specific examples in history saddens me, too.  But it seems as though the pendulum of tolerance is in full swing to the extreme opposite side.  I would not expect or fight to require a Hindu to serve me a cheeseburger.  Religious based Carols have been removed from public school Christmas programs so as not to offend the Atheist, and the student whose gender identity is still undecided can choose which sports team he or she wants to play for.  Consideration and accommodation is being made to respect the feelings and convictions of every group except for the Christian.

The LGBT community has fought so hard for so long to get to where they are today: the right to be who they are and live what they believe.  But the freedoms that are held so dear to many of them are the same ones that some are fighting to take away from others.  Mutual respect means it goes both ways.  I respect your sexual orientation, and you respect my beliefs.  

“Coexist” is a popular word used by those taking up these efforts, when forcing Christians to violate their beliefs is actually the opposite of coexisting – it’s forced conformity.  Where is the tolerance for these people and their faith?  Or is open mindedness only for those with one point of view?

Human nature and Utopia

My state of Washington recently voted to allow gay marriage.  On this issue, I didn’t vote.  I just left it blank.  I didn’t know what to put down.  While my biblical beliefs tell me that homosexuality is a sin, I also don’t feel that it is my job to stop people from sinning.  It would be impossible to stop people from sinning, I can’t even stop myself.  A “yes” vote would be condoning said sin, while a “no” vote would be saying that what other people chose to do is somehow up to me.  Since I didn’t agree with either, I just moved on to the next bubble.

It doesn’t bother me if you’re gay.  I think a person is defined by so much more than being gay or straight, and if you want to get married, then go do it, but I expect to be afforded the same respect and not required to use my art to celebrate the occasion.  How is that not discrimination? I’ll tell you: If a gay person asks me to make a cake for a birthday, celebration of a promotion, or just about anything else, I’d do it in a heartbeat.  A person who hated gays wouldn’t do that.  Bakers like me don’t want to turn these orders down because the customer is gay, but because the wedding is.  Are events now a protected class?  Race, religion, gender, and church potlucks?

But I also understand the fear of regression.  If businesses are allowed to refuse service to anyone in the name of religious freedom the potential for abuse is great.  People on the left side of the political spectrum tend to see legislation in favor of protecting religious freedom and their minds go straight back to a wild west culture where minorities and homosexuals lose out on jobs or opportunities just because of who they are.  There are people out there who aren’t wanting to adhere to their faith, but truly do hate, and would take advantage in a regulationless world, I’m not denying that that exists.  And that is unacceptable, too. So what should be done?  Where then is the balance, or are we all destined to step on each others toes, forever infringing on one anothers liberties?

Utopia will always be fiction as long as human nature is at play.  We could be adults about it.  We could agree to disagree.  We could understand that offenses are a part of life and move on to any of the other 10,000 photographers in the phone book, but if the cases mentioned above set the precedent, I can’t say that I’m hopeful.

Your comments and feedback are welcome!  Please be civil and respectful when commenting.

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