Choosing Culture Over Jesus

A couple of days ago, I was browsing Facebook and stumbled upon an interview of Pastor Carl Lentz on The View. The headline was this; Hillsong ‘Pastor’ Folds Under Abortion Question On The View. Of course I clicked on the play button to find out what the story was about. I should be able say that I was surprised by what I heard, but sadly, I wasn’t. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a so called pastor or church leader choose culture over Jesus. In fact it’s becoming the norm.

When asked very clearly if he thought abortion was a sin, ‘Pastor’ Lentz waffled and dodged. Honestly, it was embarrassing. “Well, I would have to know the situation first”, “God’s the judge, not me” and “I would choose to go higher and get to know the person first”. These were all comments he made as he trampled the Word of God in front of millions.

Mr. Lentz, your response should have been an easy one. How I wish you would have used the platform you had, and said to all those watching, “yes, abortion is a sin. Abortion is murder, and murder is a sin.” That’s an opportunity you are not likely to have again.

Obviously the response to this interview has been mixed. Some say he is relating, he’s loving people where they are. Others say he is a heretic, a false teacher. I happen to believe the latter. However, Carl Lentz is one of many prominent men in our nation that are leading churches down a dangerous and deceptive path. Choosing culture over Jesus.

We are called to love people where they are, we are called to bind up the wounds of the hurting and restore the broken, however we are also called to preach the uncompromising truth of the Word of God. We are called to offer life changing truth, not watered down, palatable niceties.

So, this begs the question, how can we, Jesus’ ambassadors here on earth, love and give compassion, all while calling out sin for what it really is? It amazes me how much time we spend looking at books and blogs, trying to find out how to respond to different situations and circumstances in life. The answers are often times right in front of us if we will take the time to dig in to God’s Word.

In John 4:1-26, we have one of many perfect examples of how to love and yet call out sin in an uncompromising way. In this passage of scripture, Jesus was traveling through Samaria when He came to a well. Upon arriving he noticed a woman there drawing water and asked her for a drink. The fact that she was there in the middle of the day, alone, shows us that she was somewhat of an outcast in her own community. Typically, the women would come in the early mornings and take the time to catch up with each other. So we see that even the culture of the day looked down on this woman. As we read through the story, we notice that Jesus ignored the culture to speak directly to her. He took the time to, engage her and ask about her life. He was kind, but did not hold back in pointing out her sin. In verses 14-16 he calls her out.   “He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true” (NIV) Jesus didn’t pull any punches, but His affect on this woman was life changing. She became an evangelist in her own town, bringing many to hear the message of Jesus.

Jesus didn’t offer the Samaritan woman a watered down gospel. He offered her the truth. He calls us to do the same, and shows us exactly how to do it. May we be obedient and follow.,

“Lord, help us as Christians, as the church, to unashamedly speak truth to a world that is so desperate to hear. People need answers, not comfortable ideas. Help us to engage the culture, without conforming to it. Help us to love people enough to not tickle their ears with what they think they want to hear, but to offer them true hope that only comes from you. Amen”

The Hands and Feet of Jesus

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So much has happened in our nation since the inauguration of President Trump. At times I have felt that I can’t keep up. Our new president is making some big changes and following through with many of the promises he made during his campaign. Although it is refreshing to see things being done, I find it a little scary and sometimes confusing.

One of the  issues that is flooding our televisions, social media feeds and conversations is refugee immigration. Over the past few days, I have listened to the arguments for and against. Angry people, happy people, sad people.  Although, I do agree with the president’s stand, I see merit on both sides. After all, we are dealing with real lives here; human beings, children. It’s hard for our hearts not to go out to the innocents that are caught up in the mess. It is easy to become swayed by the strong emotions that issues of this nature generate. It is also difficult to sort through media coverage and discern truth from lies. We can get so bogged down by news reports, blog posts and social media opinion that we fail to address these issues as we should.

So what am I, we, to do? Sit back and carry on with the day to day? Lobby our government officials? March on Washington? Amidst all of the chaos,  I am reminded once again to turn to the Word. What does God say? As Christians this is the first question we should be asking  before jumping on any of the multiple bandwagons available to us. God’s word has answers for every situation we deal with in life, if we are willing to find them.

The first thing I read is that we are to honor those in authority over us. Yes, whether you like it or not, that means our President. Romans 13:1-5 speaks very clearly on this issue. Honor does not mean to always agree, but it is an understanding on our part that the leaders we have are placed in their positions by God. His plan might not be obvious, but it is perfect. If we say we trust Him, then we need to obey what He has required of us. God has the ability to move the hearts of kings, we have to trust His plan.

Secondly, suffering is part of living in a fallen world. The harsh and ugly reality is that the poverty, persecution and suffering we see throughout our nation and world is as a direct result of sin, and the rejection of God by the people He created. We can not, nor will we ever end the atrocities happening in our day. The heart of man is wicked. Sin abounds. Matthew 24:9-14 tells us that Christians will be persecuted, that we would be hated by all nations. As our leaders start taking a stand against the evil that threatens our country, people will rise up against us. Even believers will turn away from their faith, because their hearts are stirred more by a cause than the truth of God’s word.

Thirdly, as Christians, the Church, it is our responsibility to take care of those in society who are hurting, lost, destitute, without hope. Whether they be Americans, foreigners or refugees. Our job is not to try and change the politicians that make decisions for our nation, rather we are to pray, and do that which God has asked of us. That, being to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV). To every people, to every nation. We have a mission field right on our doorstep. I have to ask, are we wasting that opportunity by arguing, being negative and divisive? The truth is, souls are at stake. Do we feel the true weight of that?

And it doesn’t stop there; for what are words if they are not accompanied by actions? They are merely a noise similar to loud and clanging cymbals. (1Corinthians 13:1, NIV). We are to exhibit our faith through our actions. Our love. Scripture clearly warns us not to turn away from the needy. “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses” (Proverbs 28:27 NIV). We are promised a great reward for taking care of the have-not’s and the vulnerable “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” (Proverbs 19:17, NIV)

My prayer is that the body of Christ would rise up. Not in protest or to voice it’s social opinion, but to extend hands that God can use to build His kingdom. That we would be able to properly separate our emotions from truth, be the hands and feet of Jesus, and leave the rest to Him.

No Longer Silent

As I have watched many of the events in the American news cycle this past year, I have felt a range of different emotions—sadness, frustration, disappointment, and confusion.

I have watched news of the riots that took place recently in Charlotte, North Carolina. I have watched the news from Dallas, Texas, and from Ferguson, Missouri, and now from San Diego, California, where violence, looting, and stealing have been rampant. Lives lost, others forever changed.

I have  listened to presidential candidates seek to destroy one another, name calling and stooping to preschool-type behavior all while trying to persuade us that they are the ones best suited to run our country. I watch as our leaders lie and deceive us, seemingly without consequence, when the truth is right before us.

I have heard of baby parts being sold on the black market. Baby parts! Do we even comprehend the evil it takes to do such a thing? We hear outcry over suspected criminals being shot, yet we murder more than three thousand babies a day! A day!

I have seen people vilify law enforcement for maintaining order and security. Does it not occur to those who are taunting and disrespecting police that these officers are human beings? That they are people with families who pray for their safe return at the end of every shift?

I have seen spoiled, entitled athletes and other members of our society decide that it’s okay to spit in the faces of those who have fought and continue to fight to defend our nation. They disrespect the very flag that represents the right they have to speak their minds.

As I look around at the chaos perpetuating itself throughout our nation, from government dishonesty all the way on down to riotous conduct by people in the streets, I am honestly astounded with regard to the depths to which we have fallen as a society. While I cannot claim to have walked in others’ shoes or to know what it’s like to be of a minority race or to be poverty stricken, as a mother, my heart is broken. Not because of wrongs done to me personally but because I wonder what the future holds for my children.

So, fed up with all I have seen, I decided it was my job to fix the situation! I sat down to write a post. I began it as an open letter—one full of frustration, disappointment, and annoyance.

My intention was, in some ways, to point a finger at people engaging in these behaviors. To tell you all whose fault I think it is. I thought about suggesting that it was the government’s fault, since in many ways our political leaders have facilitated much of the behavior of our day and are responsible for a portion of the unrest and social degeneration we see. I thought about pointing to certain civil-rights groups or even church leaders.

But as I pondered and prayed, and as I listened to counsel from a wise friend, the old adage “When one finger is pointing forward, four are pointing back at you” came to mind. Not that I am directly responsible for any of these issues, but the question I began to consider is, have I been complicit in the unrest I see around me by keeping silent regarding the things I see happening? Has my desire to be a loving, kind Christian actually helped pave the way for some of the issues facing us today?

While it’s true that we gain nothing by pointing the finger at others, it’s also true that as Christians, we must speak up against wrongdoing. It’s as Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias recently said: “If you and I don’t stand up and speak with love, and speak with concern, the day will come, as Margaret Thatcher warned us, that if the church does not rise up and speak, the political structure will collapse.”

We have become a church full of silent people! We are afraid. We are scared of being labeled. We have become so politically correct that we are crippled. As Christians, we have somehow come to think that speaking truth is not loving, not Christian. But love speaks truth. Love is just. Love speaks for righteousness. Love serves; it does not take; but love is not always easy, not always pretty, often times hard to hear. Jesus spoke out against unrighteousness, sin, and lawless behavior. We are His voice here on earth. We, I, need to start using our voice.

So I am asking, as a Christian mom, how do I teach my children not to lay down in the face of unrighteousness yet still love? How do I  teach them to be strong and courageous but also to have hearts to serve others and show empathy toward them? How do I teach them to block out the voices that tell them they are owed something in this entitled generation and grow into responsible servants in society?

The truth is this: Americans owe a debt we can never repay. We owe a debt to the Pilgrims who decided in the face of persecution to say “No more.” We owe a debt to our founding fathers who, despite what some may believe, laid down laws that not only granted and perpetuated freedom but honored God above all. We owe a debt to those who have fought for our freedom, not only in foreign lands but on our own soil. We owe a debt to those who have said “No more” to oppression and segregation—those who gave their lives for peaceful resolution and change and who spoke wisdom and truth. Above all, we owe a debt to Jesus. He came, He died, He rose, and He did it for one purpose: to give you and me life and to call us into His service.

People have sacrificed their lives for my children’s freedom, just as they have for every individual blessed enough to call America home. In light of that great sacrifice, should we sit quietly for the sake of political correctness and tolerance so as not to rock the boat? I know I can’t. I cannot in good conscience sit by and watch while the fabric of our nation is slowly unraveled by selfish, lawless, and godless behavior.

So as I put away my pointing finger, I pray that God would instead use me to be His voice. Not to shrink back, not to be afraid—but to stand for truth and righteousness.

Excuse My Language!

unwholesome talkIf one more Christian asks me to “excuse their language”, I think I’m going to lose my mind! I feel like this needs to be addressed. I am bothered by the amount of Christian people who use God’s name in an inappropriate way; that allow curse words to roll off their tongue without a second thought, and somehow think it’s acceptable to share videos or posts that may include bad language (as long as they preface with a disclaimer ‘excuse the language’), because said video or post may be cute in content.

Before I go any further,  here is my answer to you once and for all. NO! I will not excuse your language anymore. Let me explain why.

Our call, as the Church, as Christians, is to be SEPARATE!  If we speak like the world, how can we be differentiated from those in the world?  If we behave like the world, so as to ‘relate’ to the world, how are we supposed to be the Called Out ones that Jesus teaches about in 2 Corinthians 6 & 7.  As believers, we are to detach ourselves from the world and live differently, act differently, speak differently.

All too often I hear bad behavior or off color speech justified because we are ‘covered by grace.’ We convince ourselves that God is only concerned about the heart. Yes! He is! His Word says in Luke 6:45, “from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” What comes from our mouth, is in direct relation to what is in our heart. So, how can we continue to speak like we used to speak, if or hearts have been changed?

Let me make it clear; grace is favor from God that we did not earn. His gift to us through His sacrifice on the cross. Grace is NOT license to continue living or speaking how we please.

“Jesus hung out with sinners,” you say. Yes! He did. However, it was always on His terms. He was always calling people to Himself, never speaking or behaving like they did.

Have we drifted so far, that we don’t open our Bibles anymore to see what it says on these matters? Is it a case of ignorance is bliss? Maybe the theory is, if you don’t know, you can’t be held accountable? Or, is it that we have been led so far away by the teachings of modern church culture, that we really have bought into the false doctrine of ‘grace covers all’, and there are no requirements of us? Is it possible that holy living is no longer a priority?

We have become a lukewarm church. We are more concerned about what others think of us, than what the God of the Universe thinks. Our greater concern is offending those around us with our ‘God speak’, rather than worrying how our ‘world speak’ and actions offend God.

Here’s a little truth nugget. The Bible is offensive! It is also confrontational and demanding.

We have been given the most precious gift of grace through Jesus death and resurrection. It has been given unconditionally, it is unmerited, it is free. HOWEVER, Jesus tells us to no longer live according to this world. We are to be transformed. That means we are to be different than we were before. In our speech, our attitude and our actions.

So, my friend; the next time you ask me to excuse your language, the language in a movie, YouTube video, or whatever else you might be sharing, let me remind you of Paul’s words to the Ephesian church. “Don’t use any foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them”

My God help us. – Amen

Are You a Hater?

Be-sure-to-taste-your-words-before-you-spit-them-outHate. Haters. Hate speech. All words commonly heard or spoken in our society today.

Any opinion, belief or thoughts contrary to our liberal culture is immediately branded as hatred. Especially if those thoughts come from Christians.

The Bible tells us to hate and also to love. We are to hate what is evil and cling to what is good (Amos 5:15). We are also called to love people, practice kindness and hospitality, even lay our lives down for others. So how do we, as Christians reconcile the two. Hate and love simultaneously?

The Bible NEVER tells us that we are to hate any person. Jesus came for ALL that are lost. Gave His life for EVERYONE! Not just a select pre-chosen few. But we ARE to hate sin, godless behavior and the things that separate people from relationship with Christ.

Through the years, I have often disciplined my children for using the word ‘hate’. It is such a strong word! “The only thing we should hate is the devil” I would say. However, as I’ve been thinking over the last few weeks and months about this issue, I wonder if I have taught them correctly. If our children grow up thinking that hating is wrong then how can they possibly have a biblical world view? We must teach them what and what not to hate.

According to God’s word we are to hate:

Evil – (Romans 12:9), Hands that shed innocent blood, Haughty eyes, Lying, A false witness, A person who divides, Feet that rush into evil, Robbery & wrongdoing. (Proverbs 6:17-19)

We are not to hate:

Our brothers (1 John 3:15) Our enemies (Matthew 6:43-45)

Pretty much sums it up, don’t you think? Hate the behavior (sin) not the person (God’s creation).

Our job is to call people out of sin. To hate it so much that we are compelled to pray for people to turn their hearts towards their Savior. We are to be uncompromising in our hatred of sin and love of the truth, but unrelenting in our love for others.

“Lord, help us to be a people that will call sin for what it is, but love the sinner unconditionally. Help us to love them asYou love them, and enable us to teach our children to do the same. Amen.”

Orlando

prayingThis past weekend we saw the deadliest attack on US soil since September 11, 2001. My heart goes out to the families of those killed and injured. It is horrifying to see what is going on, not only on American soil, but around the world.

Over the past couple of days as I read the articles and watch the news, one thing resounds. People don’t know where to look for hope. There is an abundance of questions and a lot of blame. Guns, Muslims, the FBI, Homeland Security, privacy laws, politicians; the list could go on. Yes, the person responsible for the carnage was an evil man, a Muslim, with weapons and explosives, who somehow slipped by the FBI. The physical threat against us is very real. However, as the church, we should be reminding ourselves of who is really behind the evil that is so prevalent in our day? Who has the answers to the questions being asked?

As Christians we often get carried away in the waves of emotion that always follows this type of devastation. We get caught up in the ‘lovewins’, ‘lovemorehateless’ hashtags, and the calls to stand united.  As the church we should be reaching out, praying for, and encouraging people in any way we can. We should mourn with those who mourn. Our law enforcement and government should be doing everything necessary to wipe out this type of violence and hatred. However, we can not forget what 1 Peter 5:8 tells us. “The devil roams about the earth seeking out whom he may devour.” The devil.

Church, our battle is not against the physical. Our battle wages in the heavens. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the true enemy of this world. An enemy that is bent on sending as many souls to a lost eternity as he can.

So where are we, church? Are we as quick to fall to our knees in prayer as we are to jump on our Facebook or Twitter page? Are we as quick to blame that we can’t see over that which is tangible? Sadly, I think not. The world we live in is becoming darker and darker with each day. Our own nation is becoming more and more Godless. If we, God’s people do not stand in the gap, nobody will. Our job is to bring the only real answer to the questioning. To speak the truth in the midst of confusion and chaos.

As we reach out and minister to those who are hurting, broken and lost, I pray we would not lose site of the battle we face, and resolve to fight accordingly.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4

From the Mouths of Babes……

 

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“May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.” Psalm 20v5

I woke up this morning excited for the day! Ready to celebrate a special birthday with friends.

I started with my regular routine. Started the coffee, checked my email etc. Even before the coffee finished brewing the Lord’s words to me were short and sweet. Given to me through my son.

Seeing my child at thirteen, digging into Gods word first thing in the morning blesses my heart. It makes me so thankful for children that love and want to serve Jesus. I have prayed for my children since the day they were born. So, I shouldn’t be surprised that God is answering my prayers. I vow to never take that for granted. I pray that I would never rest on my laurels when it comes to my children and their hearts.

“What are you reading?” I asked. “Psalm 20 & 21” he replied. “Mom, you know what?” He continued. “Psalm 20:5 teaches us that we should be giving praise reports out loud on a regular basis.” “Ok” I answered, waiting for the rest. I know whenever Adam speaks, he has something wise to say. “Shouting for joy, and waving banners is not a quiet or private thing. We seem to have no problem complaining out loud, but we don’t always celebrate our victories in the same way.”

My heart was filled with both joy and sorrow at the same time. Filled with joy that my son is hearing from the Lord and responding to His voice. Filled with sorrow, because he is so right. I find it so easy to gripe at God. To complain about my circumstance; to demand what I want. How often do I SHOUT with JOY? Do I wave my figurative banner, to honor and acknowledge the victories and blessings the Lord has allowed into my life? Sometimes. But not enough.

“Lord, help me to always shout for joy and wave my banner! Because you are good no matter what my circumstances.Thank you for my son, and his encouragement to me this morning. Help me to be a blessing today! – Amen”