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.

An Open Letter to Donald Trump

Dear Mr. Trump,

On July 16, 2016, I wrote and posted an open letter to Hillary Clinton on my blog, Courageous Motherhood. To my surprise, it garnered a lot of attention—more than three million views and tens of thousands of social-media shares. The majority of the feedback was positive, although I did receive many hateful messages and emails, which I guess was to be expected.

One assumption made by my critics was that because I chose to point out some of Mrs. Clinton’s, shall I say, flaws, I must be fully steaming ahead on the Trump train. It was surprising to me how many people made this assumption, as I never once mentioned you in my post, nor did I compare you to Mrs. Clinton in any way. For all anyone knew, I could have been voting for Santa Claus.

But people demanded that I play fair and write to you also.

I am not one to cave to pressure. So I refused. My intent with my letter to Hillary  was not to compare her and you as candidates; it was to show my daughter that anything is possible for a woman in this country but that emulating Hillary was not the way to go about pursuing her goals.

However, as election day draws closer and what faces us as a nation becomes more of a reality, I now feel compelled to address you also.

I must admit that when you first announced your intention to run for president, I rolled my eyes, laughed it off, and said to myself, That’ll never happen—but I couldn’t have been more wrong! I will confess, Mr. Trump, that you were not my first choice. The thought of having a thrice-married, casino-owning reality star and billionaire businessman as president was almost a little too much for my motherly Christian mind to handle. I was, and at times still am, very conflicted.

Christians in America, me included, are faced with a very difficult decision and somewhat of a dilemma come this November. You see, I can envision what a Hillary presidency would look like, and boy, would it be ugly. Integrity aside, just her liberal agenda and what she stands for politically make her an impossible option for me. A Trump presidency, on the other hand, is an unknown. That to me is scary.

Some have made the commitment not to vote, because they feel that you don’t align well with a biblical worldview. I, however, think that to forgo our opportunity to vote is disrespectful to the freedoms that we as Americans have been given. It has also been suggested that a third-party vote is an option. To me that’s a copout.

Many Christians are confused about the role of the president in our society. I am not looking to elect a man of God for president, although that would be refreshing! Neither am I looking for a pastor. I believe it is the church’s job to change and influence the spiritual and social climate of our nation, not the president’s. I am looking for a president who will give us solutions for our national debt, our open borders, our failing schools, and our healthcare system. My desire is that my children grow up in a safe, prosperous, and strong country. We need a president who will recover the freedoms and liberties that have been systematically stolen from the American people over the last decade; a president who will once again make the United States a leader on the world stage instead of a joke.

I hope you can understand why this election cycle has been a struggle for me and, I know, for many others.

Honestly, Mr. Trump, I want to support you! Some days you impress me with your composure and common sense. It is refreshing to hear a non-politician say the things that so many of us want to say but don’t. You do speak for the people in so many ways.

Unfortunately, though, some days I get up and read the cringe-worthy social-media bickering you’ve engaged in, and I find myself at a loss. It is not necessary for you to talk about Bill Clinton’s mistresses or refer to Miss Universe contestants as disgusting. There may be truth to some of these things, but they are a distraction. Discussing them does not garner respect, and it is certainly not presidential. You see, Mr. Trump, this election is not just about you! It’s about me, my husband, my children, and millions of other Americans who are looking and praying for a leader who will bring some semblance of order to a nation that is spiraling out of control.

We are facing one of the most pivotal times on our nation’s history. This election is about the enduring freedom of the United States of America. This is so much bigger than petty Twitter arguments and ridiculous banter. Your time needs to be spent listening to those who so desperately want America to be, for lack of a better word, great again!

Please, for the sake of the people, me included, who are planning to put a check next to your name on November 8, stop! Please, put your pride aside, and stop taking the bait of the liberal left to engage in things that don’t matter.

You have millions of Americans counting on you to show the rest of our citizens that you are not a joke, that you can be taken seriously, and that our votes for you will not be wasted. Please show us and your naysayers that you will make a good, strong, levelheaded, and serious president.

May God have mercy on and bless this beautiful nation—the United States of America.

An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

Dear Mrs. Clinton,

Congratulations on securing the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. It’s historical! It’s liberating to women! You’ve broken the glass ceiling!

But at what cost?

As the mother of a beautiful young daughter, my desire is to teach her every day that she is priceless, valuable and precious beyond anything else in this world. I tell her that God has placed her on this earth for a very specific reason. I make sure that she never doubts her place here.

How exciting it would be for us to celebrate the accomplishments of the first woman ever to receive the presidential nomination of a major political party! Wouldn’t it be amazing if I were able to point my daughter to someone she could look up to and admire? Unfortunately for myself, my daughter and millions of other women in this nation, I can’t.

Sadly, Mrs. Clinton, you have shown not only my daughter but all daughters—and not only in this country but globally—that in order to, in your words, “shatter the glass ceiling” you have to lie, cheat, abuse, insult, bully and ignore. You threaten others along with disrespecting yourself.

Mrs. Clinton, how can I possibly tell my daughter to follow you as an example after you allowed your husband to assault and demean multiple women throughout his political career? Were those women not important? Tell me, will you fight for my rights like you fought for those womens’? Ummmm, I hope not. What about the sisterhood, Mrs. Clinton? Did you expose your husband for his abuse? No! Instead, you enabled him as the abuser and tried to silence his victims. How can you live with yourself? Female empowerment? Nice try!

How can you get up and speak about income equality and then pay your own male executives considerably more than your female staff? How can you receive donations from countries that publicly abuse, shame and even execute their own women? Yet you continue to boast about how you stand for women’s rights. Double standard?

You try your best to relate to those of us who work hard every day to achieve the American dream. You, however, know nothing of struggle. That $12,000 Armani jacket? Those $250,000 speaking fees? They speak volumes. Hypocrisy?

How could I possibly ask my daughter to look up to and trust you? Do you honestly think that you are an example to American children? My daughter watches the news. She has heard about the Americans who were attacked and slaughtered in a foreign land while you stood by and did nothing. Then, with their blood on your hands, you did everything you could to cast the blame on others, eventually telling Congress, “What does it matter now?” Dishonesty?

The fact of the matter is, Mrs. Clinton, that you are no champion of women. You are selling the women of this country a false bill of goods. Unfortunately, many are buying in. I don’t want you fighting for me or my daughter. You have the interests of only one woman in mind here: your own. You have done nothing to bring the United States together. Quite the contrary—you have done your best to divide, and you have succeeded. Congratulations. You crave power, and you will do whatever it takes to get it. You have lied, cheated and let down your own country.

My prayer, Mrs. Clinton, is that I would be able to teach my daughter how to be a true woman. A strong woman. A self-respecting woman. A woman who sees herself through the eyes of her Creator. I pray that she would be a woman of compassion, kindness, service, selflessness. One who has integrity and looks out for the needs of others.

In a way, I guess I should thank you, Mrs. Clinton. You have made it easy to teach my daughter who she does not want to aspire to be. Now may I have the courage to stand up and show her the woman she does want to be.

Sincerely,

Helen Wickert

P.S. By the way, I will pray for the next U.S. president, whether it is Donald Trump or you. God tells us to do so, and He can turn any heart toward righteousness and truth.

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

Wickedness Abounds

This morning I am angry! Once again this country has shoved it’s fist in Gods face and said “we don’t want you!” Once again, we see a major retailer jumping on the bandwagon with so many others, drawing a line in the sand and setting themselves up against you; even celebrating their decision.

While the majority of our society is caving to the whims of the culture, I have to believe that there is a remnant of people who desire to put Gods word first, to stand for truth even if it means facing persecution and hatred. Today I am standing up and declaring ‘Here I am Lord, send me!”

I feel a little like Habakkuk when he cried out to You in Habakkuk 1:3-4

“Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds.
 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
    so that justice is perverted.

These are the days we are living in! As Moms I think sometimes we tend to freak out. We panic, “Lord, what do we do? It’s just not right!” As Gods people, do we stand by, or do we rise up?

I believe we are to be angry at what angers God. I believe we are to call sin for what it is. I don’t believe the answer is in boycotting or protesting. They do make a temporary difference, but they are not lasting. The answer is in Gods people, the church. Sin abounds and unfortunately the church is asleep.

As we see the day fast approaching when lawlessness abounds, and the righteous are hemmed in. May this be our prayer.

“Lord, help us to wake up! Help us to not be overwhelmed by the depravity of our culture. Help us to be a called out people. Help us to teach our children, not to be accepting of those things You despise. Help us to love people and guide them to Your truth, the truth that sets people free. Help us to diligently seek You. Help us to realize that the only change will be brought by a move of Your spirit. Help us, as Habakkuk did, to pray, to trust You, and ultimately rejoice in You, because You are in control. – Amen”