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.

Is Your House Clean?

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Have you ever noticed how God uses the ordinary, mundane things of life to teach us? I love that the lessons He has for us are not usually sent by audible voice or great revelation but by everyday things that we can all relate to. It’s a new year! A time for new beginnings, resolutions, and plans.

By the time January 1 arrives, I find myself rather grumpy at the clutter of Christmas decorations and chomping at the bit to take them down. As much as I love Christmas and the beautiful décor that comes with it, I enjoy putting it all away and refreshing my home just as much as I did putting it up! Am I weird, or can you relate?

So earlier this week, I grabbed my storage boxes from the garage and started pulling down my garland and unplugging my lights. But as I did, I noticed something unpleasant: my house was dirty!

I’ve always considered myself a good housekeeper, one of those “a place for everything and everything in its place” type of people. But as I went deeper, I started noticing the crumbs and dust bunnies under the furniture, the dust on the top of my kitchen cabinets, the sand and debris under the living-room rug. Everything looked great on the surface. But those hard-to-reach hidden places that I don’t look at on a daily basis needed a lot of attention.

As I rolled up my sleeves and started to pull apart my house to take care of those neglected areas, it was almost as if the Lord nudged me. “This is what I want to do with you,” I heard Him say.

As I went deeper and moved more things, I found more dirt, more dust, and a couple of stains that I hadn’t known were there. What God wanted to speak to me was so evident. How often do I, do we, look nice and clean on the surface but hide dirt, dust, cobwebs, and stains inside? This is a short and simple truth, but it cuts right to the heart of our Christian lives.

Matthew 23:25–26 says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (NIV). Jesus was speaking to the religious, self-righteous, learned men of the day. He saw their pride and was unmoved by their words and actions. He saw beneath the surface, into the heart of each one.

What was spoken back then is still being spoken today. Not to the Pharisees but to us, God’s people. We spend a lot of time working on the surface stuff that people see, but much like in our homes, we don’t go deeper very often. I believe that as we move further into this new year, God wants us to dig deeper, to move things around a little so we can expose the dirt and stains in our lives that maybe we don’t even realize exist.

As I finished up my cleaning project and started putting my home back together, it felt good to know that even though those hidden places are usually unseen, the layers of dirt and dust in them were stripped away. They were spotless. For now. But I realized that it will be necessary to uncover those areas more than a few times a year. I made a decision to incorporate that task into my regular cleaning routine.

May it be so with our spiritual lives. I pray that God will continue to nudge me this year. To show me through the mundane, everyday activities and jobs I find myself in that He is interested in me, in my heart, and that He wants to make things new and fresh. May we recognize His voice, pull out the feather duster, move around the furniture, and respond.

Lord, help us to hear Your voice and act in humble obedience to it. May we allow You to expose the dirt that we try to keep covered and hidden. I pray that we would be transparent and allow You to do the work in us that You desire to do. Amen.

Happy New Year!

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Good-bye 2016! Wow! What a year it has been.

From the Olympics to the US election, from the devastation of global unrest and violence to Chewbacca Mom’s viral three minutes of joy, 2016 has had ups and downs, uncertainty and unrest, hope and despair. In the midst of it all, I have found myself reminded over and over again that the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills holds everything in the palm of His hands. Nothing happens without His knowledge.

For my family and me, it has been a good year, one of provision and blessing. I am so grateful for my hardworking, faithful, godly husband and my precious children.

For me, 2016 has been a year of learning to be content where I am—to bloom where I have been planted. In the past, living in Florida was never on my radar, so moving here six years ago was not in the plan—well, my plan! I am definitely a four-seasons type of girl. I love the fresh air and new life of spring; the changing colors of fall; and cold, cozy winters. Living among palm trees, sand, and 80 degrees year round is not something I get excited about or particularly enjoy.

This year however, I have come to accept that I am here in Florida for a reason, or, you might say, for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14, ESV). It’s only taken me six years of complaining to figure this out! I don’t know what the purpose for being here is, but I am resolved in 2017 to rest in God’s plan for my family right where we are. You see, God knows what we need and wants to be intimately involved in every area of our lives.

As the great preacher and writer A. W. Tozer said, “Outside the will of God there is nothing I want. Inside the will of God there is nothing I fear.” That is my heart for 2017. God is in control, and I choose joy while placing myself under His will.

Moving forward into 2017 comes with a little trepidation. Big changes are coming for our nation, and in turn, our world. I am hopeful, but we really don’t know what these changes will bring. However, we do know who holds our future!

I am reminded of Psalm 20:7: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (ESV). It doesn’t matter who the president is or who is running our government. We trust in the Lord! He has the final say.

I pray that as Christians, as the church, we would not continue to be complacent. That we would not rest on our laurels because we now have a God-fearing president and a few Christian leaders. We are still called to be light and salt. The world is still lost and in darkness. Let us be awake in these days, alert, bold, standing firm for truth and ready for whatever we are called to do.

May your 2017 be full of blessing, learning, and God’s mercy and grace. Amen!

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;  the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24–26, ESV).

He Never Sleeps!

How thankful I am this morning for His promises and faithfulness to me! The Lord directed me to Psalm 121 as I woke up today. hillI lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

It still baffles me how the God of the universe is able to watch me day and night. He know my thoughts, my movements, my challenges, my struggles. He is my help! Even though He is the maker of heaven and earth, He still concerns Himself with my daily life. He never sleeps. He is always on the throne. His promises are always good. Now, if only I would only trust them and not just give them lip service! I wonder how my life would change if I truly believed what He says. I would have no fear, no doubt, no anxiety, no frustration, no concern for the future. I would be secure, solid, content, able to walk through any situation, knowing He is in control.

Lord, help me to see Your hand in my daily life. I am so blessed that you have my back in every situation. You see my day before I wake! Help me to let go and trust you.

May I be a blessing today.

Amen