Enemy of The State

I have long been engaged in a battle. Yes, a battle. One that is not of flesh and blood, but something far bigger.  It’s taken me 34 years (essentially) to really completely understand the adversary, and I am still learning his tactics. Like an eternal chess game, there are moves, and counter moves.  Sometimes my adversary likes to call “check mate” before it’s time as an intimidation tactic. But it’s far from over.

For far too long I have feared, and sometimes given into this adversary.  He has the ability to be quite persuasive at times.  Thankfully, my perspective is starting to change. Not only am I learning to fear him less, but I am learning that I am just as much an adversary as he is.

Yep. I am his enemy.

That realization alone, is a major game changer.  It takes me out of the victim role into a worthy opponent.  It gives me an edge. And because of the cross, it means I’ve already won.

We hear the word enemy, and most likely think of someone who is bad. Evil. Wrong.

But the enemy of our soul looks at it much differently. To him, God is the enemy. And because I am a child of God, I am too.  To him, I am dangerous. Why? Because I hold the key. I don’t have to be evil or bad to be an enemy to the enemy. All I need is to contain something he will never have or be. Something he doesn’t want out there. Truth.

Some of you might remember the movie “Enemy Of The State” with Will Smith and Gene Hackman. There is a scene on the top of the building and Will Smith’s Character is asking why they are after him. He was unknowingly given something that held information that the government didn’t want to get out. A murder that had been captured on video. The truth.

Robert Clayton Dean: Why are they after me?

Brill: You have something they want.

Robert Clayton Dean: I don’t have anything.

Brill: Maybe you do and you don’t know it.

Robert Dean was considered an enemy of the state because he possessed a truth that could bring it down. He was hunted down because of it. He lost people he loved because of it.

THE enemy, Satan is after me, and he is after you. Believers have become an enemy of his state because we hold the key. We possess the Truth of what God did for each and every individual. We hold the Truth about what the power of God’s love can do. It can cover a multitude of sins and it can heal the most broken hearts. He knows what we possess is dangerous to his agenda and He will stop at nothing to prevent the truth from coming out.

In Lisa Bevere’s book “Girls with Swords”, she talks about how the Satan is not afraid of who we were. He is afraid of who we will become. He is afraid of what we have and how we will use it.

He knows our potential better than we do.

Satan knows…

that each person is created by God with a purpose.

that the light of Christ in us wipes out darkness

that God’s love through us has the power to conquer hate and indifference

that God has given his creation the direct access to power through CHRIST

that he has already been defeated

 

That’s what I like to call dangerous intel.

Because of this intel, he will throw everything he can at us: Hate, pride, racism, self-reliance, fear and a whole host of other things.

Ironically, just like in the movie scene where Dean didn’t know he HAD all the power in his grasp, many of us believers don’t know or we forget that we have the power of God right in our grasp. I know this, because I have been guilty of this myself, for far too long. We allow ourselves to be bullied and convinced to fear something that we have the power to change.

Through Christ, and only through Him, we have the power…

to love all people of all races, religions and orientations

to pray for and bring healing to the sick 

to bind up the brokenhearted

to proclaim freedom for the captives

to release from darkness for the prisoners

to comfort all who mourn

to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning,and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (Isaiah 61)

It’s time for us as believers (myself included), to be reminded of the truth that we possess in Jesus. It’s time to share this truth with everyone we can. It’s time to throw off shame and condemnation so that we can help free up others. It’s time that we understand our role as a worthy opponent because of who is in us.

It’s time… to become “an enemy of the state.”

 

 

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Ephesians 6:12

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 10:10

 

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”

Romans 16:20

 

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:31-39

 

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The Undressing

It never ceases to amaze me how God will use just about anything or anyone to speak to me.  Or how He will orchestrate defining moments in my life with years in between like a puzzle that takes years to complete, and yet they all fit together–almost magically.  So how does a preacher, a coffee date, and a story from Chronicles of Narnia all relate together? Read on friend… .

This particular story starts in 1997. I am a sophomore in high school and still dealing with the insecurity and awkwardness that I had fully embraced during my junior high years. Deep down, I knew that despite the struggles with peers, and the ADD, and just the plain awkwardness; there was more inside than even what I could see. I knew there was more than what most others witnessed. But I was constantly haunted by this delusion of failure and inadequacy–like a constant, cruel reflection in a mirror.

If I remember correctly, we were having a special chapel or it was part of our spiritual emphasis week where we would have chapel every day.   On this particular day we had a speaker named Gary Zelesky. He was a pastor/speaker/preacher, and he was funny .I remember bits and pieces of the message, but it was the encounter I had afterwards that made a lasting mark on my heart forever. I approached him after the service for prayer. I don’t remember exactly why I even went down for prayer. I just know something in his message stirred me to the point that I needed to go talk to him. Search for something, anything that could put words to where I was at.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was the first time that someone (who didn’t know me at all),looked into the eyes/heart of an awkward high school girl and called out “it” out. By “it”, I mean he totally read my mail like no one ever had before.

I still remember the look in his eyes as it felt like he was looking straight through me. It’s both awkward and intriguing at the same time.  He starts verbally painting this picture of me as a princess, except that I am standing in front of a mirror, and when I look in this mirror, all I see are rags. A princess in rags. As he is describing this picture,  I can actually see this scene in my mind.  He had nailed it. However, he went on to describe how God saw me in this beautiful gown, and that I was free. He prayed over me and I left. For hours, and days,  I replayed the words in my mind. I kept seeing the visual of the full length mirror and the rags.

This whole scenario he described struck a nerve with me. He really had seen the way my mind worked. But more than that, he saw me through God’s eyes and in a way I was not able to see myself. Not for a long time anyway. I caught glimpses over the years, but have struggled to fully embrace it.

Fast forward 17 years.

I had not seen this preacher since that time.  In the fall of 2014, we were invited to a River Cat’s baseball team with some friends from church.  We walk in, and there he is, in the same luxury box/suite. I kept debating in my mind if I should say something. I waited through most of the night, but then towards the end, I could not resist and I turned to him and said something to the effect of:

“You probably don’t remember me, but a really long time ago, you did a chapel at my high school. Afterwards I came up for prayer and you gave me a word.”

I honestly really didn’t expect him to remember me.  He had potentially seen and prayed over hundreds or thousands of youth kids in that span of time. But as I continued to share what he had shared with me, his eyes suddenly lit up.  He said, ” I REMEMBER YOU!!!!” And not only did he remember me, but he remembered the word God had showed him and finished it for me.

I was shocked.

His wife was even more shocked. She jokingly said to me, “you don’t understand, he doesn’t remember ANYTHING. He will tell you.” As she is saying this, he is nodding his head in agreement, but then he smiled and said, “I do, I remember you.” I think he was shocked too.  To be honest,  as fun as that was that he remembered this sophomore girl from 1997, I felt my heart sink a little bit. Why? Because I felt like I was right back where I was on that day in 1997 with my eyes still shielded from the truth.

You see, in that 16 or 17 years, I had gone to college and not finished. I had been married and not been the “super wife” I had wanted to be. I had become a mom 3 times and realized I was not the super mom I wanted to be. I had dreams I hadn’t accomplished and I still struggled with my identity.  If I saw failure and rags before, it was even worse now. Sure, I had accomplished some things, but not to the level I desired or dreamed of.  Every time I looked in the mirror, I was still that same princess in rags.

Please bear with me as I switch gears now….this all comes together, I promise.

I have a beautiful friend that I used to meet for coffee on Monday mornings every so often. This friend is someone I greatly admire for so many reasons.  She has knowledge and experience in so many areas. She is real and raw.  On one of our Monday morning coffee dates, I remember sitting across the table and sharing my heart with her. Sharing my journey through finding identity and dealing with the “rags” I felt I couldn’t shake off.   She shared a story from one of the Chronicles of Narnia books.  It is the scene where Lucy and Edmund’s cousin Eustace had turned into a dragon, and the process in which he turned back.  For those who might be unfamiliar with the Narnia books, Aslan the Lion always represented God. I included the exact scene below…

…Eustace was silent for so long that Edmund thought he was fainting; but at last he said, “It’s been ghastly. You don’t know … but it’s all right now. Could we go and talk somewhere? I don’t want to meet the others just yet…”

 

“…I won’t tell you how I became a—a dragon till I can tell the others and get it all over,” said Eustace. “By the way, I didn’t even know it was a dragon till I heard you all using the word when I turned up here the other morning. I want to tell you how I stopped being one.”

“Fire ahead,” said Edmund.

“Well, last night I was more miserable than ever. And that beastly arm-ring was hurting like anything——”

“Is that all right now?”

Eustace laughed—a different laugh from any Edmund had heard him give before—and slipped the bracelet easily off his arm. “There it is,” he said, “and anyone who likes can have it as far as I’m concerned. Well, as I say, I was lying awake and wondering what on earth would become of me. And then—but, mind you, it may have been all a dream. I don’t know.”

“Go on,” said Edmund, with considerable patience.

“Well, anyway, I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly towards me. And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was. So it came nearer and nearer. I was terribly afraid of it. You may think that, being a dragon, I could have knocked any lion out easily enough. But it wasn’t that kind of fear. I wasn’t afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of it—if you can understand. Well, it came close up to me and looked straight into my eyes. And I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn’t any good because it told me to follow it.”

“You mean it spoke?”

“I don’t know. Now that you mention it, I don’t think it did. But it told me all the same. And I knew I’d have to do what it told me, so I got up and followed it. And it led me a long way into the mountains. And there was always this moonlight over and round the lion wherever we went. So at last we came to the top of a mountain I’d never seen before and on the top of this mountain there was a garden—trees and fruit and everything. In the middle of it there was a well.

“I knew it was a well because you could see the water bubbling up from the bottom of it: but it was a lot bigger than most wells—like a very big, round bath with marble steps going down into it. The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. But the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don’t know if he said any words out loud or not.

“I was just going to say that I couldn’t undress because I hadn’t any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that’s what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.

“But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that’s all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I’ll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this under skin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.

“Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.

“Then the lion said—but I don’t know if it spoke—You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know—if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off—just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt—and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me—I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on—and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. You’d think me simply phoney if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they’ve no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian’s, but I was so glad to see them.

“After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me——”

“Dressed you. With his paws?”

“Well, I don’t exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes—the same I’ve got on now, as a matter of fact. And then suddenly I was back here. Which is what makes me think it must have been a dream.”

“No. It wasn’t a dream,” said Edmund.

“Why not?”

“Well, there are the clothes, for one thing. And you have been—well, un-dragoned, for another.”

“What do you think it was, then?” asked Eustace.

“I think you’ve seen Aslan,” said Edmund.

“Aslan!” said Eustace. “I’ve heard that name mentioned several times since we joined the Dawn Treader. And I felt—I don’t know what—I hated it. But I was hating everything then. And by the way, I’d like to apologise. I’m afraid I’ve been pretty beastly.”

“That’s all right,” said Edmund. “Between ourselves, you haven’t been as bad as I was on my first trip to Narnia. You were only an ass, but I was a traitor.”

“Well, don’t tell me about it, then,” said Eustace. “But who is Aslan? Do you know him?”

“Well—he knows me,” said Edmund. “He is the great Lion, the son of the Emperor over Sea, who saved me and saved Narnia. We’ve all seen him. Lucy sees him most often. And it may be Aslan’s country we are sailing to…”

“…It would be nice, and fairly nearly true, to say that “from that time forth Eustace was a different boy”. To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice…”

…The cure had begun.”

As I sat there in the coffee shop, listening to my friend described this scene from the book; tears were streaming down my cheeks because it was such a powerful visual of what God does with us.  It so perfectly emulates the process that I have been in myself as I have unsuccessfully tried to remove my own “scales” or…my own rags.  Each time, I think I’ve got them off, only to turn around and realize they are still there. Over the years, it has been an exhausting process.

Fast forward a few more months… My family has just gone through an intense and difficult season of transition.  We are in new surroundings, a new church, meeting new friends.           One night, we were at our new pastor’s home for a newcomer’s dessert, and guess who walks in???  That same preacher from 17 years ago and from a few months prior at the baseball game.  I start to think to myself, “what is God trying to do here?”  After the night was over, we all stood around and talked, and laughed. I reminded him once again; “I was that girl who saw you at the baseball game, and reminded you of the word you gave me back in high school…” Once again his eyes light up and he once again remembers what he told me. As I stood there talking to him, I can hear that still small voice in my heart saying, “It’s time… The rags are about to come off”

Fast forward another year or so…

It’s now 2016 and we have been settling into our new church and new season. Things are going really smoothly (on the surface). I was going to school, and working at a pregnancy center doing something I love. I was loving the new friendships that God was bringing my way.

Yet underneath…

I was still dealing with a roller coaster of shame.

Still frustrated about my weight and health issues.

Still wondering if I can get out there and do what I am supposed to do.

Still wondering how to shake off these rags.

As if this weren’t enough, little by little, some things that I had buried deep inside are floating to the surface. Painful memories from an incident that happened to me in high school are starting to take a different shape in a way that surprise even me. After some reflection, I realized…it’s a new layer. God is pulling back another layer and letting it come up so He can heal it in a deeper way.

Some days I am totally fine, and then other days something will trigger it and send me into emotional hiding. It’s painful, scary and often times feels like a cage. I ask myself, and God, “Why is this happening? Why now after all this time? I thought I had dealt with this.” It then dawns on me that had I not moved to a new season and a new place, I might have never had the opportunity for this deeper level of healing. God knew me too well for that. I needed to be in a different place to process it. I needed to be around the people who would pray, encourage, and hold my hand during this painful process towards healing. He allowed me to gain some ground and build these friendships so that could happen.

On top of this, God is also digging up some unhealthy roots in my marriage. Things that both my husband and I had buried deep both individually and as a couple. Newsflash!! Being in marriage ministry doesn’t mean issues won’t come up! If anything, it forces you to deal with them one way or another. That said, God is catapulting us to a new level of intimacy and friendship that we know will be amazing.

I am learning first hand that healing is not always comfortable. It takes facing whatever infection or wound and cleaning it out so it can reveal new skin. Or it involves digging out that bullet or piece of shrapnel which is preventing true inner healing even if it looks ok on the outside. It feels like stinging antiseptic on an open cut. But without it, it never heals. In my case, it’s allowing myself a chance to grieve the loss, grieve the hurt, forgive, and move on.

God is removing the scales or the rags so that what’s underneath can finally be seen. It’s a painful, process and I am quite honestly going on faith for the finished product because the scales are still coming off.

Why am I writing this? Because I know I can’t possibly be the only person going through this.  In fact I know I am one of many. I write this to encourage you and myself in the process. It’s not a quick one. But having seen others recently on the other side of theirs gives me great hope.

Hope is a powerful thing. It’s actually stronger than fear. It’s what pushes you beyond the fear towards the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Silence Is Deafening

“Silence in the face of evil is evil itself. God will not hold us guiltless.

Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

         This quote was spoken in reference to Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime.  It was in reference to the millions of men, women, and children who were killed in what is one of the most devastating eras of our time. During the Holocaust, many people in Germany knew what was happening, yet they remained silent.  They were intimidated by Hitler and his army and were convinced to turn their eyes away. The cost?? Millions dead.  The estimated number of lives lost during that time is about 11 million.

Since 1973, when abortion was made legal in the U.S.; it is estimated that almost 6 TIMES that amount have died. That is nearly 60 million babies over the course of 40 or so years.  It’s happening here; not in some distant, uncivilized land, but in America. The same America who’s founding documents state 3 “God given rights” of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” As Dr. Ben Carson said recently, “you can’t have have liberty or the pursuit of happiness without life.” Fast forward to 2015, and now the moral dilemma is so much worse. Not only are lives being taken, but in such a way that is truly evil. A modern day holocaust if you will. Where at a whim, human lives are deemed less worthy because of inconvenience for some, and profit for others.

Silence can be deafening and deadly when the truth needs to be spoken.

For those who are painfully aware of the recent atrocities discovered at several Planned Parenthood clinics; the latest undercover video was just released this week.  7 videos have now been released to the public, each one worse than the one before.  Around the time the 4th video was released, I couldn’t imagine them getting worse.  Sadly…I stand corrected. This latest one is gruesome and stomach churning.  I have watched every single video and have been heartbroken over the callous nature in which these abortion providers have discussed the lives of these precious babies as if they were trash or sellable goods for the sake of profit.  This last video was the worst one for me. It uncovered more horrible truths about the practices of this so called “healthcare provider.”

**When you read the next paragraph, please do me a favor and take a minute to let the truth of it sink in.

      A 20 week old baby boy was born alive. He remained alive as they cut through his face to harvest his brain.  During this time, his heart was beating.

He was alive. 

 Yet to them, he was only worth what they could “procure” from him. The cruel irony in this is that it is all in the name of “saving lives” of those who have already had the privilege of being born. When they had acquired what they needed, they discarded his body into a bio hazard container that was already full of other dead babies. It is not clear at what moment during this process that he finally died, but one technician held him and a piece of her died with him.

Since the release of these videos, people who defend this organization and these practices have accused the man of releasing the videos for shock value.  I am sorry, but how is this NOT supposed to be shocking? How is this practice not supposed to affect us? If these horrific practices do not traumatize us to the core, then I dare say that our lack of humanity and moral courage are similar to that of the Germans during Hitler’s reign. Others have used the argument that abortion is only less than 3% of what they do.  They say that without this organization, millions of women would lose healthcare services. It simply isn’t true. The dentist who killed Cecil the Lion was socially crucified. Was it wrong for him to do what he did? Absolutely. No doubt about it. The loss of that lion was felt by many. But the irony here is that killing lions was less than 3% of what he did.  Yet the moral outrage was far greater for one lion, than it was for the thousands of babies being talked about in the same week.

As I watched the footage from this last video, it felt like my stomach leapt up into my throat and then crash landed again. My heart physically hurt. My youngest daughter woke up shortly after I watched it and I instantly went and hugged her for a few minutes. The girl who was my most traumatic delivery. Had God not intervened, neither she or myself would be here today. My OB who did my c-section just shook her head for days and was astounded at how close I came to a uterine rupture. Something that in many cases claims the life of the baby and even sometimes the mom. I say all this because I can’t imagine this sweet and spicy girl not being here.

Here is what astounds me… As each video is released, the contents get more gruesome and heart wrenching. However, the conversation about this is actually getting lighter, almost to the point of non-existent.  With the exception of the pro-life sights I follow, and a couple friends; it literally feels like NO one is talking about it. Everywhere I look, silence. The mainstream media is not saying much, and what is being said is not truthful.  It’s almost like it’s old news now and that it has lost it’s urgency. I can’t help but ask myself and others, WHY? One would think that this would elicit thousands if not hundreds of thousands from all over to protest this awful reality. Yes, there are many who are speaking up, and they are working hard to be heard. But to my dismay, I also hear deafening silence.

Friends, I feel like now, more than ever, the conversation needs to amp up.

If you have watched any or all of these videos; you might have had one or more of these responses.

A. How awful. This is beyond horrible.

B. “Those poor babies.”

C. “How do these people sleep at night?”

D. “Someone needs to do something”

E. “I need to do something”

F. I actually can’t watch it because it’s so horrible

G. Insert response here _____________

Personally, I experienced all of these responses to varying degrees at different times throughout the last few weeks. Once I got over the initial shock and horror of what was happening, I have moved on to option D and E.  Why? Because I believe that if you know something to be unjust and it affects you even a little bit, then it is both mine and other’s responsibility to do something about it.

This is where it gets tricky and a bit confusing. What do I do?  What do I say? How can one person make a difference? 

Those are valid and real questions that all of us have probably had at some point. The important thing is that it starts somewhere.

It usually starts with a discussion.

But where, and with whom? With so many variables to consider, it can be daunting to start or join a balanced, loving discussion on how to change what we see.  I am not the expert on this.     I would say that while I am an avid PRO-LIFER, I also have a heart for those who have beliefs that differ from mine. I am not one to hold back what I think or how I feel when it comes to matters like this.  I have had to take a step back and truthfully evaluate my own approach to this, especially in an open forum such as social media.  I want to display a balanced approach of truth and love. That is always my goal and desire. Does it always happen? Or does it always come out in the way I intended to, even with the best of intentions?  Eh… Probably not.

I say all of this because I know there are a huge variety of people out there from all journeys and walks of life.  People with stories that I can only attempt to relate to or understand. People who have made the excruciating decisions I was never faced with.  I often ask myself, and God, “How do I even talk about this when I haven’t dealt with it personally?”  It’s always the same answer, “with truth and love.” I think the other key is discernment. There are times I have wanted to say something, even though it was totally true, but I got a firm “NO”.

I realize as this abortion debate is raging, there is most definitely a large group of women who are now re-living their “choice” and can have a myriad of emotions or thoughts about it. To have the images of babies torn apart pushed right in your face can be traumatizing.  For those who regret this choice, it can be extremely painful to be faced with the reality of what has taken place. If you are that woman, my heart aches for you. In fact, as I write this, I am praying for you.   You need to know that God loves you and forgives you. That said, even those who have received and accepted the covering of God’s love and forgiveness can be dealing with this all over again.  Then, there may be those who don’t feel that way.  Either way, my heart aches for you.  I won’t say “I understand” or that “I know” because that would be insulting.  I desire with all my heart that everyone can know and experience the supernatural healing that God can bring through our brokenness. Whether for the first time, or the tenth time. We all have brokenness. We all need healing.

Where do we go from here?

I wholeheartedly believe that it is the responsibility of all believers to acquire the truth and the facts of the different moral dilemmas facing our country, and to act.  That will look different to each of us.  If you are like me, you might feel led to at least start the conversation and be vocal.  As part of the body, I am one part and have no problem voicing something. But for others, it can be through intercession, volunteering, mentoring, etc. We are not bound by one of those options, but we can and we SHOULD do something.

For me personally, I like to write, and speak about what I am passionate about. As a stay at home mom, my audience is minimal.  So where do I end up sharing what I feel about these things? Well, for one, this blog; and then there is social media. I can already feel the cringing happening, so bear with me. Social media has become a powerful tool of today’s culture, that can be used for both good and evil.

The issue of abortion can be an extremely dividing topic.  I have heard people say, “Facebook is not the forum to have these discussions, especially about polarizing topics.”  While I understand the idea behind that statement, I don’t agree 100%.  I respect it, but I don’t entirely agree and here is why. I believe it IS possible to have a balanced, truthful and loving discussion.   Do I see it all of the time? Sadly no; but I have seen it and I have been a part of them.  I have several friends that view certain issues very differently than I do, and we are often at crossroads politically; but we share a mutual respect for each other and both try our best to be respectful while sharing our view points. I celebrate the times we agree, and have learned to celebrate when we disagree because I am constantly learning something. I am learning to look at things from more than one angle. Sometimes I come away with questions that I have to pray about and research to settle my spirit. Other times,  I have to simply lay it down and remain confident in what I feel to be true in the Word and what God has shown me. Either way, I am grateful for the dialogue I have been able to participate in.

Sure, there are those times when others join in and it can get heated with so many differing viewpoints being tossed in the ring.  Those are the times I try to either bring it back around or shut it down when it gets unhealthy. Sometimes, it gets unhealthy because of how I am internally reacting to it and I know it’s time to walk away.

I believe these discussions among believers are important, both on and off social media.  It is important for us to be sharpened together and it is important for those who are outside of the community of believers to witness and experience a truthful, but diverse and loving exchange. As my Pastor and Pastor’s wife say, “the kingdom is activated, not just in the church, but when we step outside the church and apply kingdom principles within the world.” (Paraphrased) Basically they are saying, that God does something amazing when we take Kingdom principles and exercise them with our neighbors and friends outside the church community. Not in the means of shoving something on them, but as a form of witness of who God is. How cool is it when my “friends” on Facebook or in my own neighborhood get to witness a diverse, but loving conversation? Sure, the argument could be made that it would be better not to risk it at all. But if we are called to be “a beacon on a hill” and people outside the church are able to have these balanced exchanges; shouldn’t we be part of that? Shouldn’t we be the rule, and not the exception?

In order to bring this back to my original point, I want to challenge all of us, myself included.   I want to challenge us to prayerfully consider how we are supposed to participate in the global “discussion” about some of these topics. Especially the topic of abortion. God may tell you to be bold and speak truth (in love) without fear of the response. He may ask you to do something that falls far outside of your comfort zone. Either way, please know that each voice/action can make a difference. It may be small at first, but that’s ok.  If He calls you to intercession, then pray like your life depends on it.  If He calls you to volunteer and/or mentor one on one, DO IT!

If He calls you to share your story with one or many, I pray for you to receive courage to do so. God often allows us to go through pain and healing so that we can be a vessel for others to receive theirs. Even if only one or two people hear and receive it; it is WORTH it!

For those of us who are Christians, I believe it is our responsibility to lovingly be part of this conversation.  If the people who do not support this practice won’t speak up, then who will? If we sit by and turn our heads in disgust, or in ignorance and don’t do something; are we not guilty of condoning this behavior by our silence and our apathy? God’s word is clear about how He created us and how he knew us before our body was even formed. Jesus was clear about children’s place in the kingdom of Heaven.

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      I beg you. Be someone who makes a difference in a loving, but bold way. Don’t just condemn the practice. Be part of the change. Let’s never, ever, be a voice of condemnation for those who have struggled with this decision.  There are so many ways to participate in turning this tide. I believe it IS possible if we stand undeterred by the armies of those who still support this organization in the name of “choice”. They are not the enemy. I believe it is possible to make a difference, but the conversation has to keep going.

This highly politicized issue is not political. It is a moral one.  It’s also not a partisan issue. This is not about the Right or the Left.  It about right or wrong.

Lives are ending. Thousands by the day. Lies are being spoken. Are we speaking the truth? Are we speaking at all?

God gave us a voice. It’s time we use it for those who cannot speak for themselves.

“To not speak is to speak.” 

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It’s 2015, Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

Remember this?

It wasn’t very long ago, that every night before the 10:00 news, a service announcement would come on with an ominous voice saying  “It’s 10:00. Do you know where your children are?” This was back in the day, before social media was even around.  Back when your kids being home meant they were safe from harm or trouble. These days, our kids could be in the same house, or even the same room, yet we have no idea where they are when it comes to the internet.

My oldest daughter came home earlier this week and briefly mentioned something that the kids at school are talking about. Long story short, it was something related to a movie character and a new “movement” that can ultimately be described as disturbing. Very explicit descriptions of things that you could probably guess the topic. Only it involves a cartoon character. And again, it’s really disturbing. And it can be found easily, and quickly on the internet.

Two things I am already grateful for:
1: Her friends refused to tell her what it was when she innocently inquired what they were discussing. They actually made a point to tell her that “she” wouldn’t want to know. I had this thought already, but others reminded me as well that it signified a distinction between her and some of her classmates. Not in an elitist, or “better than” mentality, but a distinction of innocence nonetheless. I am extremely grateful for this!

2: She feels she can come to me with these things, even the things that don’t seem like a huge deal at first (because she doesn’t know any better) but also about the big stuff. That is huge. It’s one of my main desires with my girls to create that environment where they can come talk to me. I have learned over the years about not freaking out over stuff, especially the small stuff in order to build that trust. If she is going to learn things, especially about sensitive topics, I want to be in that conversation, and FIRST if at all possible. I wish I could say I nail it 100%, but I don’t. It’s a process.

One more thing: I am grateful my hubby and I got to the info first so we can appropriately handle it where she and my other two are concerned.

The more I talked with my daughter about it, I learned that she had overheard these discussions all while in the classroom. The teacher, totally unaware that the “code” these kids were using to discuss it meant anything bad at all. That night as my husband and I researched it, I felt sick to my stomach.  It was yet another huge wake up call to where our world is at. It feels so different than when I was growing up.

I used to say I grew up in a very “sheltered” home, but I would rather describe it as “protected.” I don’t see that as a negative.  I remember with appreciation that my parents were careful in how they introduced certain topics, especially ones in movies. They always had conversations to highlight the differences in what we saw. They would preview movies and then have us come in and we would watch it together. I remember this specifically about the movie “Schindlers List” because of some of the themes in it. They wanted us to have the appropriate amount of knowledge without all the “other stuff”. They didn’t want to completely shut us off from civilization, but to protect us from what kids our age shouldn’t have to deal with. They wanted us to be able to distinguish between the examples of God’s design, and what the world offered. Whatever your approach to parenting was through your upbringing, or now as a parent yourself, I stand by what my parents taught us. I know that in some things, they would say they would do things differently. I’m already saying that now about myself now.  My point is, they tried their best to create a balanced approach to our life outside the home while teaching values and principles inside the home. I give them honor for this and am trying to pay it forward for my own kids.

I used this example because over the years I heard the terms “sheltered” and “over protective” when it comes to raising kids. And it’s usually described in a negative light. Why is that? Why do we look at “lack of knowledge” or “experience” when it comes to things of the world as a bad thing?

That night as my husband and I discussed this, he brought up the story of Adam and Eve in the garden. I thought it was a brilliant example of what we see here and now. They had beauty all around them. It truly was a paradise.  In that garden, were multiple trees that they had free access to, except one.  What tree was that? It was the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil.” God didn’t explain why. He just said, “don’t do it”. God didn’t say no to withhold good things from them. He said “no” to protect them and future generations.

Most of us know how this story ended. With a serpent successfully convincing Eve that she had been shortchanged. That God was holding out on her and she would see more and know more by eating of the fruit. He convinced her she needed to know as much as God. Eve and eventually Adam ate of the fruit and their eyes are opened, but not in a good way. They now had full access to what God never intended for us, even though He knew it would happen.

I believe that God designed us for knowledge of Him. I also believe that as the creator of the universe with all the details and intricacies, it means He has limitless knowledge and creativity. He has placed a fraction of that within the human mind; but as His creation, we were not designed to know it all.  Afterall, we are the creation, not the Creator. God’s design; is protection for us. The enemy’s job since day one has been to undermine God’s design for us.

Fast forward to 2015 and because of the state of increasing technology and the access to it, knowledge is literally a click away 100% of the time. It’s why Google is what it is today. Am I saying that’s a bad thing? Not at all. But as I look at my 11 year old daughter, I am even more convinced that knowledge of certain things will actually harm her more than it will serve her.

She is one of a small few who don’t own phones and who have strict boundaries with internet, movies, and music, etc. There is a reason for that. She also has friends with unlimited access or a lack of supervision and boundaries when it comes to internet access. It’s something we have had to address with her and monitor when she is with them. This is probably the reason the kids at school know as much as they do. She doesn’t necessarily get it now, but when we tell her she may not be with her friends on youtube (from their device) without permission or supervision, it’s because there are things on there that cannot be unseen or unheard. It would forever alter her view on things that she is not at a maturity to process yet.   Yet our kids are bombarded with it, on a daily basis. Even now, with all the parental blocks or apps out there to restrict access; just having internet or Google on their phone can still open some harmful doors because of a character from a movie that no one can block or filter. Not to mention the movies out there that are now aimed at kids my daughter’s age that carry themes and scenes that were considered an R rating 15 years ago. Movies and T.V. shows that glamorize disrespect towards authority figures, and relationships, among other things.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against technology, OR fun.  But I am ALL FOR boundaries, and limitations as a means to protect the innocence that is still there. Have I been perfect in this? Absolutely not. I know that there are things that have slipped by under the radar. I know that the enemy will use every angle and become more cunning over time. It’s in that realization that I am reminded it is only by the grace and protection of God that I can stay sane in my endeavor to protect my kids.

As I searched for scriptures about knowledge, I saw a theme. Knowledge and wisdom are not the same thing. Solomon who was considered the wisest man of his time asked specifically for “wisdom” instead of knowledge.  Wisdom is knowing what to do with the knowledge you already have, not unlimited knowledge.  I found this verse and got so excited because it perfectly talks about this from both angles.

“For wisdom will enter your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
 Discretion will protect you,
    and understanding will guard you.”

Proverbs 2:10-11

Just let this verse sink in a for a moment. First off, it highlights wisdom before it addresses knowledge. But the knowledge that comes will be pleasant, meaning it will be helpful to us, not harmful. Secondly, it addresses that what we do with the knowledge and understanding will guard and protect us.  From what? From the things that unlimited knowledge can bring. Things that are outside our scope of reasoning or ability.

It was then that the concept or thought of being “like a child” blew my mind even more.  Is it possible to consider that when God talks about us having “faith like a child,” that He possibly wanted us even as adults to rely only on the knowledge HE gives out at the appropriate time? Because children were never meant to process everything He knows? Or everything the world has to offer in it’s quest for more.

 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Hebrews 11:1

Faith is defined of being sure of something we can’t see or tangibly prove. Faith actually cancels the need for knowledge and re enforces the need for God to hand out what we need at the moment we need it.  I always thought of “child like faith” in a surface way, and in connection for believing for things we hope for. But now I realize it is so much more than that!

Mind.Blown.

The next morning when I opened my Bible App, I saw the verse for that day and it made me smile. It was like a heavenly reminder that God has me AND my kids under his wing.  Then my friend posted the verse and it was once again confirmation.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

  Surely he will save you

    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
 You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

Psalm 91:1-16

  Reading this verse reminds me that under the shadow of God’s wings, I am safe. My kids are safe.  It doesn’t mean nothing bad will ever happen. It does mean that God knows and that He can handle it. God wants to protect us and our kids from things we are not designed to deal with. As a parent, I am relying on Him to give me wisdom in monitoring the knowledge they are faced with on a daily basis. It’s a full time job.  I have messed up. We all have. God can cover that and He does.  I want to encourage you to know that God loves them far more than we ever could. We have the Word and the Holy Spirit as our resource. I am so so grateful for this.

Here are some more verses I found about wisdom and knowledge… Each of these talk about wisdom separately from knowledge.

“My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.
 Then you will go on your way in safety,
    and your foot will not stumble.”

Proverbs 3:21-23

“For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
    the more knowledge, the more grief.”

Ecclesiastes 1:18

“By wisdom a house is built,

    and through understanding it is established;
 through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.

The wise prevail through great power,
    and those who have knowledge muster their strength.
 Surely you need guidance to wage war,
    and victory is won through many advisers.”

Proverbs 24:3-6

On the practical side, I’d like to challenge parents out there to not be afraid to monitor their kid’s access to what’s out there.  There are several apps and protective software out there to help against predators and harmful websites. But the checks and balances shouldn’t end with an app. We should communicate daily with our kids. We shouldn’t live in fear, but we should use wisdom on behalf of our kids. I have heard way too many tragic stories of kids who have been emotionally, or physically harmed because they had too much freedom online before they were mature enough to handle it.  Let’s come together as parents and support each other in this endeavor!

It’s 2015. Do you know where your children are?

The REAL War on Women…

For the last week,  I have had these thoughts burning in my spirit. Words, pictures and various scriptures have been resonating in my mind today about a certain topic. It’s bothered me for a while now, and I have held back against writing about it. But today, I sensed an urgency to address it. So I have been praying, thinking, sitting, and waiting. Last week,  I went to prayer/worship service and in the last few minutes, the Pastor gets up to close out the service in a huddle at the front, and basically preaches most of what’s been in my heart. I was practically cheering!!  I love when God confirms that He is speaking to numerous people about the same thing. To me, that means it’s on HIS heart too. And I believe, His daughters are most certainly on His heart.

These words are said from the heart of a concerned wife, mom, and sister. This is meant to join the conversation about a really dangerous trend happening right now. I know several other moms, counselors, and ministers are addressing this topic,  but I would like to participate by adding my own perspective. I firmly believe the more we talk about it, the more chance we have of making a difference. I ask you to prayerfully consider these words, and the question I pose at the end.

50 Shades of Grey…  What started as a book, and was eventually expanded into a trilogy has many people talking right now.  It’s been nicknamed “mommy porn”. That name alone says so much about where our culture has gone today. Thousands are planning to see the movie coming out this week. I can honestly say I have been dreading this day. I have not read the book, nor do I plan to. I will definitely not be seeing the movie. Honestly, I can’t even stomach the ads. That said, one does not need to read the book cover to cover to know what is in it.

However, I do want to tell you my personal experience with it. One day (a couple of years ago) as I was shopping in Costco with my youngest daughter, I was browsing through the book area. I happened to catch a glimpse of the first book. I had heard about it, but honestly had no idea what it was about. SO I picked it up off the pile and just opened it up to a random page in the middle of the book. In a matter of seconds, I had a wide range of thoughts surge through my brain. Among them, shock, awe, and disgust. That said, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you there was a brief moment of curiosity as well. It was uncharted waters for me.  What I read in those few seconds detailed a very explicit and very graphic sex scene in the book.  My next thought was this: Surely I had happened to open to the ONE page where this sort of thing occurs.  What are the odds? Well…apparently pretty good because I flipped to a couple more pages, and found two more.  In those few seconds,  I felt confused, slightly violated, riveted, and extremely concerned; all at the same time.

Over the next few months, I watched as it became a rising “hit” and it was being talked about everywhere. But this is where it hits home for me. Several people who are Bible Believing Christians were getting sucked into this craze, and are now overwhelmed by a fictional character named Christian Grey.  Those were just the ones that were willing to admit it on social media. I would guess there were a ton more. But this character, a supposedly handsome, dark billionaire who has his way with multiple women has captivated the hearts and minds of Christian women everywhere.

It gets worse. He has a room. With whips, chains, blindfolds, and an assortment of other things. Again, I haven’t read it, but from what I have heard, the basic plot is about a young college girl (who happens to be a virgin). She is not the stereotypical girl in that she is rather plain, and even more unexperienced. She becomes involved with Christian, and the story goes on to tell of how he “enlightens” her to the possibilities of sex, which for him include sexual humiliation, extreme submission, and control among other things.

That small, seemingly innocent portion of time has left a particular imagery in my mind that I still cannot forget to this day. I don’t want it there, but it remains.

On that day in Costco, I practically threw the book down on the pile and just walked away scratching my head at the fact this book was so popular.  Ok people, let’s be real, I’m married, and not from outer space. I know WHY it’s popular. But there is still a deeper question of why? Are women everywhere that vulnerable to this particular story line? The sad answer to that is a resounding YES. Let’s take a closer look at why? We have to ask ourselves; what is the allure here?

Who was 50 Shades of Grey written for?  Anyone who has read The Hunger Games, Twilight or even Divergent, could tell you the exact demographic those books were intended for. Teens and young adults. The main characters in those movies are all in the age range of 12-18. It’s relatable to them. All of these stories have similar themes throughout them. Themes of individuality, freedom; even empowerment over the things or institutions who have the potential to keep them down. These stories have the potential to change cultures and mindsets.  It is the power of the written word.

Who then, is 50 Shades of Grey aimed at?

It’s aimed at ME.  A wife, and mom. That age range could probably span anywhere between the age of 20-40 (give or take a few years). There is a significant reason it is called “mommy porn.” The realization of this actually really frustrates and offends me, but it also makes a lot of sense.  It makes sense that the author of this book was a middle aged women; a wife and mother who had admitted in T.V interviews that she dabbled in erotica.  Through a stroke of genius, this author thought she could use the framework of a series like Twilight and insert erotica into it.  The sales of this book, and the upcoming movie have proven this theory to be hugely successful. This author is most likely similar to a lot of moms I know, or even like me in some aspects. She may be tired, sometimes lonely, and maybe sometimes feeling unappreciated by either her spouse, or kids, or both. Maybe she feels like she has given up on her dreams and resents herself.  Or maybe… she is just bored with the everyday aspects of life.  What woman would not want to escape that reality from time to time? What woman wouldn’t want to enter into a fantasy world where she, however homely, or poor could attract a man who would shower her with gifts, and affection.  Sure, there is a price. She has to be willing to endure humiliation, and abusive control. But what are those when you consider all the bonuses?

While I don’t believe 5o Shades of Grey was originally aimed at teens and young adults, I am discouraged to see and hear of young girls (in their teen years)who are now being influenced by it. As a mom of 3 beautiful girls myself, I actually shudder at the thought of any of them being caught up in this mindset.  They are precious, and innocent. The enemy is cunning. He knows the ripple effect this will cause.  If he can get the mom to think it’s ok; it’s not a far stretch that our daughters will think it’s ok too. Do you see where I am going with this? This book and movie have the potential to influence multiple generations of woman to be casualties in a war.

Now, we’re getting somewhere.

The war on women… We hear that term constantly these days.

There is a real war on women, but it didn’t start on Capitol Hill, or at Hobby Lobby. And it has nothing to do with contraceptives.

No, the real war on women, started thousands of years ago, in a garden, with a woman named Eve. Her mate, Adam actually gave her the name Eve. It means “life”.  Eve, was the other half of God’s image being expressed through humans.

Eve is significant for many reasons, but I feel that the issues we as women deal with today stem from the original assault on Eve. Eve had it all.  Physical beauty, innocence, intimacy with God, and her mate, Adam. As a friend recently pointed out to me; Eve was the ONLY woman ever to have the “perfectly designed” man before sin came into the picture. That realization blew my mind. With all of that, the enemy’s main objective was to convince her that what God had already provided was not enough for her,  and that God was withholding something. He was able to convince her that her mind needed to be opened.  He also knew that once that happened, her eyes WOULD be opened.  He knew she would feel shame. And she did. As soon as their eyes were opened, they hid, because they knew there naked.

From that day on, the only way of restoration, was through the cross.

Last year, I had the opportunity to speak at a marriage retreat with my hubby.  I addressed this very topic. I talked about how the enemy has always gone after our identity and through various ways. He has convinced us that we are not enough, or that we don’t have enough. When we come into agreement with that lie, we search to fill a void with counterfeit things.  Things that fill us up for the moment, but are not lasting. Things as innocent as an extra scoop of ice cream, or getting our affirmation and validation from things like social media. Or maybe even the clothes we wear, or the social circles we are in. Sometimes, we can look to things like romance novels that fill our mind with fantasies about men who do not exist.

I personally believe that romance novels are the female version of pornography.  They usually aren’t visual, but they tug on the heart strings of women and create unrealistic expectations of men. I can’t speak for all women, but I would be willing to bet that most women are offended if or when their husbands engage in pornography.  They should be.  Pornography creates unrealistic expectations of women and it reduces them to objects instead of the beautiful woman that they are. Am I prescribing blame on married women for wanting to “spice up” their sex life?  Absolutely not. I want to challenge you; this is not the avenue to do it. This movie is opening up the door of pornography to women by appealing to the female appetite in the same way that visual pornography appeals to men.

What I shared with our retreat group was a story about my own journey as a wife and trying to find my identity.  I gave an example of a tough time in my marriage where I was not convinced that my husband really loved me. All I could see during this season was where I lacked. I was in a deep pool of self loathing, struggling to get out. Ironically, I expected him to be able to fill that hole inside.  He tried to tell me in all sorts of ways that he loved me, but I wouldn’t believe it. At that moment, I threw out this half hearted and hesitant prayer.  I asked God why I couldn’t believe my husband.  I was totally caught off guard when I heard this in my spirit, “because you think you are un-loveable….if you don’t think you are worthy of love, how can you accept it from anyone when it’s given?” It was a wake up call for me. The revelation hit me then, that until I could accept my God given identity as someone who was dearly loved(by HIM first) and created for a purpose; then I would never be able to accept love, even in it’s purest form. Furthermore, I would never feel fulfilled, and complete. That friends, puts a HUGE target on my back. One that the enemy would prey on and use to seduce me into unwanted territory of believing that God has short changed me.

If we as women are not able to believe the truth of WHO and WHY God made us, then we will fall prey to these counterfeit forms of identity. Inevitably, when we realize that things are not what they are presented to be, we feel loss, and shame. There begins the vicious and unmerciful cycle for us to keep searching for things to make us feel better about who we are. But if we don’t find it in God first, we will be searching for the rest of our lives, and miss out on the things God has in store for us.

To bring it back around, I will say this.  I feel this movie will only accelerate what is already so wrong in women when it comes to sex and the human soul. It is a blatant, perverse, and disgusting portrayal of something that God created to be an amazing gift to committed couples. This industry is desensitizing people to the abuse and the demeaning of women.  I believe the porn industry is the gateway drug for many other things inflicting our culture today.

When media outlets like The Today Show, Superbowl ads, or even commecrials on Hulu celebrate movies like this; it sends a clear message that we (as a gender, and as a nation)are basically saying “it’s ok” to treat women as just sexual objects.  This could not be further from the truth, and it literally makes my heart sick. It also devastates the heart of our Father.

Like I said before, I have not read the book. What I have read is God’s word which says we were made in His image and likeness.  Eve was our blueprint. What is portrayed in this visual narrative is NOT His design or His heart for intimacy. All humans were created for relationship and love, not to be reduced to sexual fantasy. Sex was HIS idea! God designed this expression of love to be shared in a unique way that creates life;  not just physically, but spiritually. He wants MORE for us than what the world has to offer or what the human mind can conjure up.

Sex is not just a physical act. It also engages our spirit and our soul.   Sex was created to be within the context of marriage. Marriage is the only earthly example of God’s covenant love for us which says, “to my death, I will love you and will never leave you.” It’s that type of relationship we were created for.

This isn’t just a war on women. It’s a war on men too. It’s also a war on marriage. The same lie the enemy whispered to Eve is being reinforced in men as well.  The lie is that what God created this gift for, somehow isn’t ENOUGH. It’s telling us that loving and giving our life to someone over decades is not exciting.  It says that to have a “thrilling” sexual experience; we must engage in pornography or different partners to be happy. It’s an empty promise. I have listened to several pastors and Christian authors say that when the marriage is healthy; sex is actually more fulfilling  as we get older. As a woman who has been married almost 14 years, I can vouch for that truth! I fully expect it to keep getting better!  That said, anything great takes effort and intention.  If your marriage is failing, intimacy will suffer too.  The kind of sexual intimacy God created us for will not look like a hollywood movie or sound like a steamy romance novel; because those are totally fake.  I have watched interviews where the actors talk about those scenes. They are mechanical, and awkward; anything but romantic.

Sisters, please hear me.  YOU deserve better!!

Here is a thought…  If Christian Grey were a middle aged, low income, regular joe; he would be considered a pervert and a sexual predator. This author wrote a character to appeal to the masses, because anything less than a rich young guy would have ZERO appeal.  She has probably made millions feeding the lie that women are only as valuable as what we will allow men to do to us.  That is not what God has in mind for you, or your daughters, or sisters, etc.  Your value is so far above this.  You were meant to cherish and be cherished. You were made to love and to be loved, tenderly and sacrificially. God meant for you to have a satisfying and joyful intimacy with ONE person that would be willing to give their life for you. REAL love is giving all of yourself to your best friend, lover, and partner for life. (hint, those are all the same person).   We do not have to buy into the lie that we are missing out. We actually have the potential to share in an intimacy similar to the one described in the Song of Solomon.  Solomon’s wife, his beloved, became famous for her ability to thrill her husband by her devotion and her physical act of love. There is a reason this book is in the Bible. It gives us a glimpse into the creativity God had when He designed this amazing gift.  It also showcases the level to which He designed for us to enjoy it WITHOUT shame. What God created for beauty and life; the enemy has distorted and perverted.

To close, I will end with this.  Look at Jesus and the example He has set. Compare it to what is being offered in this movie.  Then, you get to decide if you still want what this movie represents or what Jesus offers us instead.

Jesus doesn’t put you in chains or anything that binds you.

He BROKE them.

Jesus doesn’t blindfold you.

He said, “you are the apple of my eye.”

Jesus doesn’t remove your clothes to shame you.

He gave us a robe of righteousness.

Jesus doesn’t wish to control or dominate you.

He gave you a free will to choose.

Jesus doesn’t whip you or humiliate you.

HE took the whipping and humiliation FOR YOU.

We don’t need 50 Shades of Grey.  We were given two.

The crimson blood that covered us and made us white as snow.

Big God, Small Patriot

“This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”
(‭Isaiah‬ ‭66‬:‭1-2‬ NIV)

I was reading in Isaiah this morning and this jumped off the page at me! It resonated with me for a couple of reasons. First off, if we ever need a reminder of just how big and amazing God is, and how utterly small we are, this verse ought to do the trick. “…the earth is my footstool…” Just chewing on that for a moment blew my mind.

I get the visual picture of God, sitting on His throne kickin back, kickin his feet up and resting them on an earth shaped footstool, except it’s actually earth! That thought is sobering enough, but this part is what brought it home for me. He says, ” has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” THEN He asks, “where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?” Now after reading the bible for some time, I have discovered that anytime God is asking a question, it’s usually rhetorical. It’s to make a point, because He already knows the answer!

Side note: when He asks about the house being built, who is He addressing? And what house? An actual house or is it a temple? If I have read the commentary correctly, it is referencing a house of God. Or in that day, better known as a temple. But God also knew the temple was temporary! He knew it would be destroyed. So again the question remains, why is He asking who will build a temple when “his hands made all these things?” He obviously knows that since He created everything under his feet, that there isn’t a temple, or building that could be built that He couldn’t build better! So why is He asking who will build one? I will come back to this in a minute.
I think the clue to the answer comes next when He says “these are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at MY word.” As I sat here pondering this, this next scripture comes to mind.

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself…”
1 Corinthians 6:19

Now it starts to come together.
On one hand God is posing the question, “who is gonna build my house? (Knowing He can and has built everything). But then hundreds of years later( I am guessing) Paul gives us this nugget of truth. That WE are the temple and we really can’t build ourselves because God already did it. But if we really ponder this, we realize that He resides and dwells in those with a humble and contrite spirit and who tremble at My word.”

Does that mean that houses of worship are meaningless? No. There is purpose in them. But I have to ask myself how many houses of worship have been built with such careful detail and decorative things, and yet the people who inhabit these houses, are actually empty because of a lack of a “humble and contrite heart”.  But to bring it even closer to home….How many times have I walked into a house of worship the same way?  Knowing that I am a temple, how often do I concentrate on the outer appearance than I do what’s inside? I have been guilty of getting so consumed with my weight, or my skin and attributing value to the “walls” and completely missed the point of the foundation and inner workings of “the temple”.

On the flip side, I believe God wants us to take care of our bodies and to be healthy. As Paul said later in the verse, “you do not belong to yourself.” That’s right, our bodies are not our own.I read a quote the other day that said something to the effect of, what we have is not about ownership, it’s about stewardship! The bodies/temples God gave us are on earthly loan. As such, we were designed to steward our bodies, but ultimately we are to host the Holy Spirit. By hosting the Holy Spirit, we can carry out the purposes God has for us in bringing His perfect love to all! But like a building needs walls. A humble and contrite spirit are the walls in our temple. When we know how big HE is, and we offer Him The praise He deserves, He inhabits us. And when He is in our midst, really great things start to happen.

We are going through a book with our current church called “Humility and Absolute Surrender” by Andrew Murray. It’s a tough read and really chewy. I have to go back and re read it many times to absorb it all! It is worth the effort!! He points out that “humility is the root of all other virtue”. He talks about how humility is what releases the actual fruits of the spirit and that without it, we cannot operate in the fruits as we were intended. That’s a pretty sobering thought. We talk so often about “love, joy, peace, etc” but miss the basis from which we can exhibit those. Real LOVE for example, cannot work without humility because it has to be selfless. Jesus modeled that love on the cross. He had to humble himself to the lowest level to operate in Gods perfect love. If He who was sinless and perfect could humble himself, how much more should we? Without Him humbling himself and taking our place, HIS love wouldn’t mean as much to us.

In closing, I myself am challenged and humbled by the fact that a God who could use earth as a place to prop up His feet, would be willing to reside in THIS temple with all of its flaws. Beautiful houses of worship are awesome. But in the next 100 years, who knows if we will even be allowed to gather in such places? I predict the “church” at some point will either have to underground or be mobile, but that’s an entirely different subject for another day. So just like our bodies are earthly loans, our earthly houses of worship are the same. WE are the temple! We are the church without walls!

Thanks for reading my ponderings from this morning! Happy day to you!!

She laughs…

she laughs
She laughs…
Proverbs 31 talks about a woman that many of us strive to be, and if you are like me, maybe you wonder if you will ever even come close. There are many scriptures that talk about certain traits of a Godly woman, but one has always stood out to me. The scripture that says…

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, she laughs at the days to come.”

She laughs at the days to come. If I really stop and think about what that means, it blows my mind. Every time I read this I would interpret it to mean that she was never worried or upset. I think to myself, what kind of woman NEVER gets worried or upset? I mean, isn’t that in our DNA? And I don’t know, I guess there is always the possibility that maybe she wasn’t worried. But she was a woman, who had children, and a husband, and a home. Chances are, she had “moments”. I mean she was human after all. I am past the days of thinking that people in the bible were somehow these super hero, non humans.  They were just as human as us.

Have you ever had the kind of day (or season) where every time you turn around something bad happens or in a couple months time,  your whole life changed and you have no idea what’s next? Or maybe it’s something as simple as your cranky toddler being so ridiculous in a tantrum that all you can do is just laugh? I have. There are times when the most logical response would be tears and fists in the air or if we are REALLY being honest, a few unsavory syllables muttered under our breath. But sometimes I am surprised at the almost involuntary response of laughter. Where does that come from? For me, it’s been the kind of from the belly laughter that makes you think, “ok, that person has officially lost it.” It’s what you would expect from someone who has just suffered a mental breakdown. To some that might not LOOK like a good thing. Some may interpret laughter to mean many things.  To me,  it represents surrender. It says I have come to the end of my rope and all I can do is laugh at the ridiculousness of either the situation or my response to it. I picture someone who is walking and suddenly trips and falls flat on their rear.  That’s pretty embarrassing, but that person has the option to react in multiple ways. They can get mad or they can laugh at themselves.  I have done both. Can you guess which response left me with joy? Sure, I understand the falling down scenario is quick and probably won’t have lasting affects or consequences, so one could say laughing isn’t a hard response? But it’s all in how we approach things and I am learning that; the hard way.

I got to experience this first hand recently. Jer and I have had to walk through an extremely challenging situation lately. (He and I are totally fine, and no one is sick).  But to be honest, it’s been probably one of the hardest things I have faced up until now. It’s been a battle, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And while the intensity of the situation has died down, I am now going through the recovery process, and God only knows how long this will take.  This last month, on a random night at home with the family, it just happened. With no warning at all, the floodgates just opened.  I literally wept.  I don’t think I had actually ever wept before.  It’s beyond crying hard, or even sobbing.  It’s the soul crushing, crying from the depths of your body kind of crying.  It’s the release of weeks/months of heartache, prayer, surrender and repeat. It’s the knowledge that nothing will ever.be.the.same. For me, it was the realization that the first 30 years of my life was one way, and now it will be something else. And had anyone besides Jer been there with me, they would have thought I had completely lost my marbles. But then something suprising happened. In the midst of the weeping, I actually started laughing.  Totally involuntary, but yes I was laughing and I could not stop.  I had never experienced that before, at least not in the middle of a crying session. But there was something revealing about it. That in the biggest expression of grief, there was a release. So where does that come from?

In my life experiences, where it almost seems too impossible to figure out or accomplish on my own, I have come to believe that it is a supernatural release and response.  And I believe that this Proverbs 31 women, in all her attributes was the most wise and real woman because she simply laughed. Why? Because sometimes it’s involuntary, but sometimes it’s a choice. A mindset that surrenders our response to something bigger than us.   It says, this is really crappy or frustrating but I am going to laugh as a sign of inner joy that comes with the security of a God who holds every moment in his hands. The verse says she is “clothed with strength and dignity” which means she is NOT melting down and going crazy.Yet she still chooses to laugh! I, however am still working on the not melting down part. But to me, this means I could be laughing at some pretty crazy stuff that most people would frown or be upset about!  And how many times have I been super worried or upset about something? I have to ask myself, “how much better off would I be, if I simply chose to laugh?”  When I really stop to think about it, I realize that as Holy and awesome as God is, He is also super creative and has to have a sense of humor with some of his creations and because he created laughter.  But for me it’s about positioning myself to be able to just laugh.

To be completely real, right now, at this very moment, I don’t feel like laughing. As I wander through the ups and downs of this cruel roller coaster of emotions and thoughts, I want to just get mad.  I want to cry, and/or run away to the ocean for a indefinite amount of time.  Right now, every day is different and each day holds precious, and priceless moments. But they also hold memories and reminders that life will never be the same. But as I sit here in my funk, frustrated about a handful of things, I feel this pulling, or nudging to a place of throwing my head back and laughing. To release it, and let it go. So I have been trying.  Some days I am trying to lighten up with my girls and just go crazy. Other days, it’s more of a chore.

SO I have to wonder, what are some things that you/I could laugh at?

Loss: job, home, relationship, etc

Infertility

miscarriage

death of a loved one

marital difficulties/divorce

betrayal

injury

illness

big life change/new season

other__________________________

The list could go on and on.  Things that are legitimately devastating. So how does that verse apply to those scenarios?  And is this verse ONLY in a passage of scripture that refers to WOMEN? I realize the answer is that God created us women, and He knows us so intimately, and so well, that He knew this was a struggle. It was another area where we would have to rely on Him.  From what i have observed by being married, is that while men definitely carry emotional weight, they are much better at compartmentalizing things. They can be worried about something, but most of the time, they are able to put it aside to focus on something else. Women, are not.  I am not the expert here, but I think God wants to get us to this place. The place of surrender.   And only He knows how. And all of us have our own time frame. There is no cookie cutter mold, except for how He leads us into that place where we can really laugh. The next surprise revelation to me was that “laughing” is dignified. The verse even says so.  “She is clothed in strength and DIGNITY. She laughs at the days to come.”  Her laughing at her situation is her diplomatic approach to the world around her to let the cares of this world melt away with a good, old fashioned belly laugh, rather than the alternative, freak out and panic method.

The more I get into this, I asked myself, there has to be other scriptures that talk laughter. There are…

“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” Luke 6:21

“… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” Ecclesiastes 3:4

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,  “The Lord has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:

God created laughter for a specific purpose. As a release.  As a method of inner joy. As a step forward towards Him and towards the future. But He also created it for many other things, and I find it fascinating that even scientifically, they have found laughter to be better forms of medicine than what even modern medicine can offer us. For instance, laughter has been proven to do the following…

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Those are the physical health benefits. Here are some of the mental health benefits.

  • Adds joy and zest to life
  • Eases anxiety and fear
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Enhances resilience

Laughter is an ancient but useful tool God has given us to lighten the heaviest of loads.  It makes sense that during wars, they would send comedians and show people to the troops/soldiers to lighten the load. They faced death constantly which can be a scary and heavy thing. Something as simple as laughter gave them the push to get to the next battle. It helped them forget for just a moment that they were away from their loved ones fighting for their country or their cause.  It also makes sense on a lighter level why when I am feeling down, I sometimes like to go watch Tim Hawkins clips, or the read through the humor page on pinterest.  Something deep down, whether I realize it or not is craving that release from heaviness.  There is something to be said about grief and allowing it to take it’s course.  But God has offered us a precious way to pause it and/or see it through with some lightheartedness.

One of the most painful lessons I am learning is that the days that have passed, and the “days to come” are not in our control.  People’s actions or thoughts towards us are also NOT in our control.  What we can control is our response to them. I am daily in a process to move towards excellence as a woman. It’s a delicate balance between striving and letting go.  I am not great at that all the time, but I am learning. So here is to laughter as the best medicine and for giving into the gift that God gave me to make the journey just a little bit sweeter.

Feedback: Is there a time you are willing to share when laughter lightened your load and changed your perspective?? Would love to hear about it!

Being a Patriot Isn’t Always Peaceful…

For my first official blog post, I thought I would address something that has been on my mind quite a bit lately. In fact, by the time this blog is published, it will have been quite the project because I have been writing and praying through it for weeks. Hopefully you were able to read my first post about why I am starting this blog. I named this blog “The Peaceful Patriot” for a reason.  It sounds a little self contradictory doesn’t it? Those two don’t typically go together, and you would be right. But for now, I want to dive into this. In this blog I will cover the definition of a patriot, the boundaries of a patriot, and the reason it’s important to BE a patriot and what that looks like in 2014 in the various establishments we are apart of… Who were the patriots of the Bible?  I have a ton of thoughts and will try my best not to write a novel. That’s possibly for another day, so here we go.

What is a Patriot? What are the first things that come to mind when you think of that word/character? For me, it brings to mind a person who is willing to do what’s necessary, even to the point of martyrdom to stand up for what that person believes in. They are willing to fight injustice with more than mere words, if it comes to that. One could assume that a patriot is always wanting to go to war. But I don’t think that is true. Martin Luther said this:

“Peace if possible, truth at all costs.”

Being a patriot doesn’t have to immediately imply battle. This is why I named my blog what I did.  I believe that God wants us AT peace within  ourselves and through Him. I also believe that God wants us to live in peace with others when it’s possible. (Romans 12:18) But I also believe that truth requires a battle and is WORTH FIGHTING FOR. That’s where the patriot part comes in.

By definition:

  1. patriot n.noun

    1. One who loves, supports, and defends one’s country.

Synonyms loyalist

Now lets talk about Loyalist for a minute. The synonym for Patriot is listed as “loyalist” But I reject that notion that they are one and the same. The definitions alone prove that they are in fact the opposite.

loyalist n.noun

    1. One who maintains loyalty to an established government, political party, or sovereign, especially during war or revolutionary change.

 

As I have been thinking about and praying through some things I see going in the world today, and in my country. I have become burdened with all that I see going on.  My “patriot” or “revolutionary” tendencies are twitching in full force.  To be honest, at times, I feel helpless to do anything at all. But it was in those moments of crying out to God about what was going on and what God wants me to do.   First of all it was to PRAY.  This was bigger than me, but as He reminded me, GOD WAS BIGGER than all of this. Through this process though, I believe that there is a reason He has created me to be a revolutionary.  During this time, God started to shift my thoughts about being a patriot. As we established earlier, by definition a patriot is someone who loves, supports and defends (fights for) one’s country.  But is our country just bound to our geography?  Or can our “country” also be whatever establishments we have committed our allegiance to?  Which begged the next question. Could my church ALSO be my country? Yes, yes it can.  And it SHOULD be.  Our church is the body of Christ. An extension of HIM. How could I not do my part to fight for the “institution” that is responsible for the preaching of God’s covenant love for us?  It is not a mere building but so much bigger than that. God does not promise the church or his believers that we will not endure hardship, or false prophets, or persecution. In fact, he promises it.

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.”  2 Timothy 3:1-5

“And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them.” Romans 16:17

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”

1 Timothy 4:1-2

“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22

How is that for a warm fuzzy?

I honestly believe that being a believer automatically enlists you in God’s Army and makes you a patriot. Someone who is willing to fight for the freedom of our church and the body of Christ against all that would try to destroy and ensnare it. “The enemy comes a roaring lion seeking that which he can destroy.”  He WANTS to destroy the church. Every church. He will use ANY means necessary to do it. And just like the enemy soldiers who are also patriots for THEIR cause, the enemy is a patriot of HELL.  Make no mistake, he has already been defeated and will meet his ultimate end but he will also try to kill as many of our patriots as possible in the process. He will use deception and tolerance to sway our leaders, friends and coworkers.  He is no respecter of person and knows no boundaries.  He KNOWS it is harder to stand up to our friends than to our enemies.  So why not use the church and the people in it to further HIS cause without them even knowing it? In essence, he has declared a WAR on the church. How has he done it? Through division, pride, deceipt, and discord, among other things. He is smart, he is cunning. He knows all he has to do is divide within.  He knows that he can come “as an angel of light” and bring a hint of truth surrounded by lies and that there will be a few that bite.  He also knows that over time, if something SOUNDS good, or FEELS good, then it must be true, right?  He also knows how to play the pharisee game.  Yes there were pharisees, and Jesus openly rebuked and corrected them.  They were known as the legalists of their day.  But he also knows how to play the dangerous game of deceiving people in thinking that those who ultimately stand for the truth of Gods word could/will be labeled as such as to discredit them.  You see it in the news.  People who are called “Truthers” are talked about as if it’s a bad thing! Those that want the simple truth are mocked and ridiculed.  The enemy is camped at our churches waiting for the opportunity to dive in.

“For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel.” Martin Luther

So what does that mean? Fellow believers could use the argument:  I don’t want to stir up “discord” or “division” in the church. That’s one of the things the Lord hates.  “I don’t want to OFFEND my leaders or my friends”  Good point. That is true. We are to be vigilent in our patriotism to avoid gossip, and dissension to the WRONG people.  But lets not for one second be deceived in thinking that it means we are not to hold our leaders accountable and for speaking out for truth. We are to do this is love, but we are to do it.  And we are to seek wisdom and discernment from the Holy Spirit on how to do so.  God actually empowers us to “test every spirit” and to be alert.

SIDE NOTE****Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not calling for you to march into your church and start screaming and rebuking someone that you feel is not doing the right thing. That’s just not using wisdom. God is also a God of order and the right steps.  Matthew 18 lays that out.  We are to walk in the spirit of truth AND love AND wisdom. If we react out of anger, or self righteousness, it will only invite more damage. As a good friend of mine says, “Stupid hurts.” Walking out in love means knowing what love looks like.  Love is patient, it is kind…Love does not attack and is NOT puffed up. We are not to make ourselves enemies by conducting ourselves in a dishonorable way.  We are called to sharpen each other and have each other’s backs.  But we also need to go in aware that people will not agree. And in that instance, we are not to waver in TRUTH, but we can remain in love. We are to approach our leaders with honor and respect as David did with Saul.  We are not to undermine the authority God has rested on them and we are responsible for HOW we proceed. Furthermore, and most importantly, we are to PRAY for our church leaders, just as we are to pray for our government leaders. I will be the first to say that I do not do this ENOUGH.  Leading God’s people is certainly not for the faint of heart. They are responsible for shepherding others and God requires a great deal of responsibility from them.  That opens them up for major attack and assault. They are not to be put on a pedestal or assumed to be perfect and without flaws.  They are not immune to falling prey to deception, lust, or any other sin or addiction. They need a covering in the form of prayer to do the job God has called them to do. We must pray for and impart courage on our leaders.  IT takes great courage to lead people, but it takes even more courage for leaders to be led. They are spending time and resources to do the will of God and the job is not a piece of cake.

That being said, we also have the responsibility as peers, friends and believers to participate in sharpening each other for the purpose of building up the body. Not for revenge, not for the sake of being right or appearing more “holy” or whatever that means. But for the sake of encouraging others to be all that God asks us to be. It needs to be with the motive of protection; for the leaders, and the body.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 

As Patriots, we need to know the word of God enough on our own that if/when someone is in need of “reproof or correction” we can stand firm in what God says and proceed accordingly.

 God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what. Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”  Hebrews 4:12-16 (MSG)

One could say… That is really hard to do. Question others?  If I stand up and speak out for truth, I will be putting a target on my back!” Yes, that’s possible.

I would love to believe this statement…

“It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.”  Unknown

But that is not always possible. It would be great if we could speak the truth in love, and it would be received and people would adjust their actions, or behavior.  But if not, this would put you in the same category of several other people who have had to stand alone, in the face of friends, family, coworkers, peers, you name it.  And that goes along with what Jesus asked of us when He said to “take up our cross and follow him.” No, in reality, a patriot has to be willing to stand alone. It takes courage to stand alone.

 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

“In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” Mark Twain

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” Edward Abbey

And if God calls us to stand up for something; when we do, we have reward. By reward I mean that He will stay with us through the storm that can come after. He never leaves us or forsakes us.

“Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mark 13:13

“The patriot who feels himself in the service of God, who acknowledges Him in all his ways, has the promise of Almighty direction, and will find His Word in his greatest darkness.” Francis Scott Key

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come…

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;

in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”  2 Timothy 4:3-8

How totally awesome is it that God promises us to be with us going into, in the midst of, and coming out of the battles we must fight???

 

If we look at the people who called themselves loyalists in the revolutionary war times, we see that they also considered themselves patriots. They wanted the same things that the patriots wanted. They wanted freedom to govern themselves and worship as they wanted.  But at the end of the day, their choices defined them. At some point, a line gets drawn in the sand and we have to decide what we will do, or not do.  At the end of the day, good intentions are not enough. Some could see that last statement as rather extreme. I would agree with you.  But one day, I will stand before the throne of God and give account for what I did, not what I intended to do. Our founding fathers fought for freedom and for the right to live it out. Our constitution gives us the right of free speech and to worship who we choose.  With that freedom, we have a responsibility to use it for good.

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:16

Being a patriot is NOT easy. It’s not comfortable.  But I believe God didn’t call us to comfortable like some would want us to believe. Just reading the book of Job should be proof enough that God allows us to go through things. It is up to us how we respond.  Notice there is only ONE Job. Notice he is the ONLY one mentioned in the Bible that Jesus offered up as a servant as Satan was roaming the earth. Being willing to stand for God can feel like a one man army at times.

And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. “Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:2-3

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14

 

Patriots of the Bible

First and foremost, I believe Jesus was a patriot. His death on the cross alone proves how far He was willing to go for the greater good and ultimately our salvation. He was NOT a loyalist, except to His heavenly Father. In fact, He was famous for speaking out against the “religious” law of the day going against their protocol and calling them out.

Esther who happens to be my FAVORITE story and person in the Bible (other than Jesus of course) was a TRUE patriot and in some ways, a double agent.  She was the Sydney Bristow of her day (I’m an Alias geek).  She was obedient to what God called her to do and through her wisdom, God granted her great favor with the King and some of his people..  But at the end of the day, she was willing to face evil and willing to die in order to save her and God’s people. “If I perish, then I perish” Esther 4:16 CANNOT get enough of this story!

Paul was definitely a patriot of his day and during very perilous times. “Paul knew how to keep the salvation message as a priority. There were many other services that Paul could have rendered to the Jews, but it was the gospel and evangelism that burdened his heart..… Paul was ready for any sacrifice to help his kinsmen find salvation through Jesus Christ. Paul was willing to expose himself to much pain, heartache and ridicule because of his love for his people. He prepared himself for great risks… Paul’s fixation on the glory that would be revealed to him helped him overshadow any immediate hardship that he might have to face. Paul tried to make his country better by bringing new birth to those around him. God will always provide compensation for those who are willing to be a good soldier of Christ. The temporary troubles of advancing the kingdom of God are insignificant in comparison with the glories that will be revealed to those who exemplified Godly patriotism…”

“…Someday God is going to ask you why you were only willing to go so far in your patriotism. Follow the example of the apostle Paul whose sad realization that many of his fellow community members were on their way to a Christ less eternity in hell unless they heard and responded to the gospel. Should we not do the same as Paul or are we merely willing to just be C- patriots?”  Taken from a sermon by Paul Fritz

Job as I mentioned before was also a patriot. Now if you read his story, you don’t see him immediately reaching thousands because of his choices. It was to his own family and his friends that he stood up against.  They all told him to “curse God and die” because of what he was being put through.  HIS OWN FAMILY PEOPLE.  That would be like your spouse or mom or dad looking at you and telling you not to follow God anymore.  He didn’t relent though.  He stayed strong.  He may have not fought in great battles or affected government.  But his “country” was his own salvation and that of His family’s. He set the example and never wavered in his allegiance to God.  He was willing to face hardship and possible death. We have to ask ourselves, “Am I willing to do the same? Am I willing to go against those closest to me to stand for truth?”

There are many more in the Bible, including but not limited to Moses, Aaron, Noah, David, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Nehemiah, Timothy, the disciples, just to name a few. All imperfect, but it is their lives that lead us by example. However, naming all of them would make this blog much longer.

 

Patriots of the Church

The famed Nineteenth Century revivalist Charles G. Finney had some bold words for the church. He said:

“If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discernment, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in Christianity, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it.”

So here is my question. If the pulpit and the pastors/leaders behind it are responsible for the moral fabric of our nation; WHO will defend and protect the pulpit?

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ however boldly I may be professing Christ…

Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

Martin Luther

We cannot forget Martin Luther. HE was a patriot.

“Martin Luther nailed a sheet of paper with 95 theses on the university’s (University of Wittenburg) chapel door. Though he intended these to be discussion points, the Ninety-Five Theses laid out a devastating critique of the indulgences as corrupting people’s faith. The Church eventually moved to stop the act of defiance. In October 1518, at a meeting with Cardinal Thomas Cajetan in Augsburg, Martin Luther was ordered to recant his Ninety-Five Theses by the authority of the pope. Luther said he would not recant unless scripture proved him wrong. He went further, stating that he didn’t consider the papacy had the authority to interpret scripture. The meeting ended in a shouting match and initiated his ultimate excommunication from the Church .In January 1521, Martin Luther was officially excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. In March, he was summoned before the Diet of Worms, a general assembly of secular authorities. Again, Luther refused to recant his statements, demanding he be shown any scripture that would refute his position. There was none. On May 8, 1521, the council released the Edict of Worms, banning Luther’s writings and declaring him a “convicted heretic.” This made him a condemned and wanted man. Friends helped him hide out at the Wartburg Castle. While in seclusion, he translated the New Testament into the German language, to give ordinary people the opportunity to read God’s word…”

“…Martin Luther is one of the most influential and controversial figures in the Reformation movement. His actions fractured the Roman Catholic Church into new sects of Christianity and set in motion reform within the Church. A prominent theologian, his desire for people to feel closer to God led him to translate the Bible into the language of the people, radically changing the relationship between church leaders and their followers.”  Taken from a biography of Martin Luther

 

Revolutionary Patriots

“The “Black Regiment” (also called the “Black-Robed Regiment”) is a group of patriot-pastors who greatly assist America’s fight for freedom by courageously preaching the Biblical principles of liberty and independence from their pulpits. These are preachers from virtually every protestant denomination throughout. The moniker came from the tendency of these preachers to wear long, black robes in their pulpits. Modern-day preachers who emulate our Christian forebears and once again “proclaim liberty throughout the land.” Courageous men of God who are not afraid to preach the truth to power. Men who are not enamored with popularity or position. Men who are not trying to be politically correct or appeal to the wealthy and affluent. Men who love America’s Christian history and heritage. Men who support and defend the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence. Men who are willing to publicly condemn injustice, duplicity, and infidelity (to the Constitution and the American people) regardless of which political party or individual politician promotes it. The “Black Regiment” is a group of patriot-preachers from virtually every protestant denomination located throughout who courageously preached the Biblical principles of liberty and independence”

It was actually THIS group that England feared MORE than the armies and soldiers. They had influence and they used it.

Other patriots of that day include: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Sam Adams, Benjamin Franklin, all the soldiers who fought in the war and the families who supported them.  There are many many more.

 

Modern Day Patriots

This is a great question… Who are the modern day patriots? Who are the people who have stood up for truth in a culture that tells us God is irrelevant, among other things? Some that come to my mind are Billy Graham, John Ashcroft, Franklin Graham, Ronald Reagan, and many more unnamed ones.

Ronald Reagan happens to be my favorite modern day President. I was a small kid when he was president but I remember the way my dad talked about him. My dad even had the honor of working with him at times.  Reagan was the real deal and while he was not perfect, he was not afraid to speak the truth and stand by it. He was a true leader and his words were spoken with a gentle authority that is rare these days. This was one of his famous speeches.  It was truly amazing. It is true in so many arenas.  I would actually encourage you to listen to or read his entire speech.  It has many eerily spot on remarks about what our nation and the church are faced with today, 30 years later. The link to his whole speech is underneath the video. As you are watching the video, I ask you to listen to this, not just in the context of our nation, but the church as well.

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/ronaldreaganatimeforchoosing.htm

“There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”

Ronald Reagan

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. Would love to hear your thoughts on anything I brought up in here.  I will ask you this… Where do you stand?  What do you consider yourself to be? A Patriot? A Loyalist? Me personally, I believe there is NO in between. We are called to be PEACEFUL PATRIOTS and this is our battle cry!

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

Blessings on you and your family!

The Peaceful Patriot