Wednesday, September 16, 2015

This one's for the Girl's

Are you ready to hear a story? One that has been on my heart for quite some time. The Lord has pushed and prodded but if you want to know the truth,  I still was not ready to face the truth. I'm still not what I would consider ready,  but over the past few weeks I've had multiple instances of the Lord whispering that someone was waiting to hear this. If you the person who this is meant for,  know you are loved,  you have a friend in me,  and the Lord has plans for you larger than your wildest dreams.

Once upon a time..... okay so this really isn't a fairy tale. It all ends amazing but the road to here was bumpy and full of lessons I really would rather not learn again. I became a Christian at a very early age. I knew that Jesus had died for my sins. I knew that asking Him to forgive me was my only way to heaven. I could not wait to ask him to save me and learn as much as I could.

I know so many hymns,  I memorized scripture. I knew where to find verses in the Bible,  I could witness to people. God gave me the type of personality that enjoys being pushed out of my comfort zone. I also have a really good memory. I was in Sunday school,  awana, GAs, and church services. I took notes,  I even took Bible class at school. I absorbed all of the information I could.

Do you hear a common theme????

I, I, I..... listen to how impressive I think I am. Read all the words I know. I know obscure facts. I can talk to people.  I know the Bible.

Do you know the problem? PRIDE. I can do all of this. I know all of this. What's the point of studying because I know all of this. What was the next thing to happen to someone so convinced of what they knew and what they were worth?

Well,  God in His infinite glory took me down a peg. I had to question who I was. I was a target of bullying. I spent my middle school years and part of my high school incredibly unhappy. I didn't feel pretty,  I didn't have a lot of friends,  and I cried almost daily. I was so ready to be done that I clung to God and found my identity in Him. I began to see how He worked and this head knowledge of a just God became my heart knowledge of a loving God. In Christ I was happy, I put my heart and soul into worshiping Him. Instead of doing everything in church to fill my head,  I wanted to fill my heart.

However,  just like Israel, learning a lesson once was not good enough for me. When I got into college I knew God had a plan for me. I had learned so much, I had served in so many ways. I enjoyed choir and I loved to teach. I was smart, I was deserving. See, God was going to bless me. I knew that he would send me a boyfriend,  an amazing job, and a place for me to serve in the church.

But the problem remained the same,  I was waiting for what I deserved. And do you know what I deserved?  An eternity separated from God. I deserved death for my sins. It didn't matter how much I knew or how impressive I thought I was,  I was still a sinner saved by grace.

I thought that the more I knew,  the more I pushed myself out there,  that I was making God proud. The truth was,  I was proud of myself. Not proud of what God had given me but proud of my abilities. Proud of me,  what I can do. I had a great plan for how God was going to bless me because I was such a great Christian. However,  I was a perfect example of fake it til you make it.

I faked my self esteem. I faked part of my personality. I didn't know who I was,  where I belonged,  what my story was,  so I took control of what I could,  my image. That became more important than who I was. I wanted everyone to believe I knew the answers,  that I was blessed,  and that I loved my self. I didn't need friends and it didn't hurt that I didn't have them. But recently I've been forced to face that hard truth face on.

Those things hurt. I wasn't me,  I was pretending to be a version of me people would like. I was so focused on my abilities and my pride that I missed God's blessings. Cause here's the thing,  God has s allowed me to go on this amazing journey surrounded by women who love me and support me. God does not want me to rely on myself or my strengths. In fact God has taken away things to break my pride. In the end it has nothing to do with me.

My greatest story has nothing to do with what I can do. My story is about what Christ has done for me. How if Christ loved me enough to die for my sins that I can love myself too. I now surround myself with people who help keep my pride in check. My greatest sorry is that Christ saved my soul. And if I can keep my pride in check, I want to spend my whole life helping show people what God has done. I want people to see Him in me. And I never,  ever,  ever want to hear God tell me again that I am in His way. My life is His to use.... even I have to painfully admit what I consider my largest flaw and growing point!  I hope you find encouragement to get out of God's way and just allow Him to fill you completely with his mercy and grace.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Lies The World Taught Me

It seems like these days if a person is not grounded in the Word daily, it becomes too easy to get brought down in the lies of the day. The biggest lie that Satan sold to the world and even Christians are buying into, is the rationalization of sin. Things that the Bible clearly teaches as sin are rewarded are heroic in this day and time. Satan has manipulated people into believing as long as their sin doesn't affect other people, then it really isn't sin.
However Romans 1:18-32 Paul warns against the results of an impure nation. He tells of the judgement that comes to a nation that turns away from God. In verses 24-28 he narrows in on the idea that as we become a more depraved nation, the more God will turn us over to our desires. Because of a lust for sexualities that go against nature, we as a nation have turned away from the truth of God for the pleasures of the flesh. Things that are sin will be accepted as good and things that are good will be taken as evil.
In that same mentality I'm sure people will read this as hateful and bigoted. However this is another lie told by the world. A lie that the Christian population has bought into majorly! A lie so big that there are few people willing to challenge it. That lie is "as a Christian it's my place to love not to judge". I agree we should love everyone. Here's where the lie comes in, showing love means not voicing that you disagree,  not supporting the people who are willing to speak up, and to allow the world to tell you the standards of calling sin, sin. If I love you, what shows more love? Turning a blind eye to sin, or out of love showing you the love of Christ but the reality of the cost of sin.
Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. Did you read that? The wages of sin. All sin. Anything that goes against the will of God is a sin. Anything that goes against the nature of God is a sin. Everyone has sin, and the wages is death. The wages of any sin, not just sexual sin, not just murder, not just hatred, but anything sinful causes death. Something as simple as knowing the right thing to do, but not doing it. Having an opportunity to stand up for Jesus but allowing the devil to stifle your message. All is sin!  And it is hard to hear. I'm a sinner. You are a sinner. My child who I love with all my heart is a sinner. My parents who are the greatest example of Christ to me are still sinners. It's hard to hear, hard to accept, and hard to tell.
But love dictates I say it. Because I love you so much that I want you to know the transforming power of Christ. I love you so much that I want your eternity to be spent in heaven. I want you to know that Jesus died to save you from a sin nature that is born in us. And I love you enough to tell you that you are a sinner, but Christ can wash that sin away!
Today I've seen the hash tag love wins all over the Internet. But love did not win today. Love won 2000 years ago on a Sunday morning when 3 women when to a tomb to dress the body of Christ and found it empty. Love won the day Christ conquered the grave. Love won on the cross at Calvary when the blood of Christ covered an eternity of sins! My sins, your sins, past sins, and future sins were all forgiven that day. That was the day that love won.
Today, lies won. Today our nation has bought into the lie than man dictates what sin is. That men can determine what is right and what is wrong. Today the lie won that to disagree with lifestyles equals hatred. The lie won that says speaking up for the Bible is equal to bigotry. I know I will be unpopular. I know people will call hate upon me for daring to speak up the truth from the Bible.
Here's the thing, once again we've believed the lie that we answer to man. But I answer to God. Who gave me a message and the courage to write it. Do you have the courage to believe it?  To share it? To speak it?  Because the only way the world will begin to understand the lies is to saturate it with truth. It's time to stop being afraid of people and start having a fear of the Lord. It's time to stand for the Bible and the truth inside it. It's time to love people so much that we care more about their eternity than their opinion of us. The time is now because if we don't start now, it will be too late for the truth to be understood.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Wonderful Cross

I don't know about you,  but I am not a huge fan of the Good Friday message. Sure the cross paid the wages of my sins (Romans 3:23) and the only way for Christ to conquer death, was to die. Had there never been Good Friday, how would we celebrate Easter? The thing that separates Christianity from every other religion? But I think about what that day was like, and it just breaks my heart.

Mary was probably the only person who truly understood all of Christ's for shadowing of the cross. From the beginning she knew her son would be the Sacrificial Lamb. She knew she was raising her son to die. She had to endure those fears for years, only to watch it first hand, wanting to take the hurt from Him, the same way he was taking eternal death from us.

His disciples had been with Him throughout His whole ministry. They had heard Him preach, saw his miracles, and even had one on one time learning personal lessons. They heard Him allude to the cross over and over. However they never really understood. Even in the garden, the night before, they did not understand what He was walking into to.

The people in Jerusalem welcomed Him as a King, a Teacher, a Prophet, and as the Son of God. They laid down palms, waiting in the streets just to lay eyes on Him shouting Hosanna, Hosanna!

Five days later, those same voices were raised once again shouting Crucify Him! They once again lined the streets but this time to mock and scorn and laugh as the Savior of the World drug His cross to Galgatha. They watched as He was tortured and beaten. They heard as He used some of His last energy to ask for forgiveness for their sins. They were there when the sky turned black because God could not look down at Christ because He was covered in our sins, and still they mocked.

I always wondered how could they do that to my Jesus? How could they call for His crucifixion. How did they not know He was who they had been waiting for?

But here's the ugly truth. I mine as well have been there shouting Crucify Him! My sins drove the nails into His hands. Not following God gave Him lashes. My disobedience was the crown of thorns. My selfishness was the blood pouring down. My overt refusal to do what I know is right was a mockery to the King of the Jews. It was me who put Him on the cross. It was you too. There is not one of us perfect enough to say we didn't need Him to die for us.

I am ashamed that my sin killed my Savior. But like the Psalm says, "joy comes in the morning". Sunday morning the stone will roll to the side. The sun will shine on an empty tomb. The angels will say, "why are you looking for Him here? He is not here but he was risen just as He said He would!" And just like Mary, when Jesus says my name, I will know it was Him.

His love took something terrible, ugly, dirty, and full of hate, and turned it into the wonderful cross. The symbol of our new lives. He can do to your life what He did to the cross. Turn it into something new. This Good Friday remember that in the midst of the sad reminder of His suffering, He did get down from the cross. He conquered death for you. Know eternal life is an option because He was willing to do what we couldn't!  Amen!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Looking for the Window

Have you ever heard, "When God closes a door, He opens a window"? Well I'm living proof that is true. It means that when you have a plan for your life, sometimes God shuts out opportunities to guide your steps in His heavenly direction.

Sounds so simple,  right? Our all knowing God wants the best for us. He knows where we need to be and He is not only willing to show us how to get there, but to make our options limited so we can be well aware of the path we need to take. Even in Psalms, we see how our steps are guided. Psalm 32:8 says "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eyes upon you".

God will never take His eyes off of us. He will constantly guide our movements, when we ask for it, and when we do not. To me, this is so relaxing to know that even if I'm not actively seeking God's will, He is still moving our feet in His directions. However, how much greater could the rewards be if we were seeking God's will and asking Him to lead us where He wants us to go. To move throughout this life deliberately, wanting to keep our movements in line with God's plan for us.

In a perfect world where we were not battling the devil, this would be the simplest thing in the world. It also would be easy and rewarding. God would not have to drag us kicking and screaming in the direction He wants us to go. The truth is, praying earnestly for God to direct our steps is hard!

Real hard...

Impossible actually.  We have to have Christ in our lives and the Spirit in our hearts for it to even be a possibility. I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. Phillipians tells us right there, to be able to follow God's plans, we have have Christ and rely on Him completely.

In our minds when we hear, God opens a window, we expect the window to be door shaped and right beside the closed door. We expect simplicity. "God I see you shut that door but thank you for opening the door right beside the closed one immediately after it closed." Oh if it really was that simple.

Lately, though,  I'm learning those windows God opens are sometimes hard to find. Sometimes they're so high up you have to find a ladder and a boost, and a screwdriver to loosen the window. Sometimes you can't even find the window you just hold on to the faith that it's there.

And that's okay! Everyone has set backs. Everyone has moments where we follow selfish ambitions and God has to start shutting doors to get us back in the right direction. Sometimes God has plans for us so far past our earthly perspective that we need Him to shut out all of our options to show us exactly where to go.

For those of you in a dark hallway with every door shut around you, stay strong! God has plans for you otherwise He would not take the time to direct your steps. Surround yourself with like minded Christians who can lift you up. To encourage you while you are looking for the Window to climb through into God's will.

As you find these windows that God is leading you too, do not be scared to tell others how God has led your steps! You never know, there may be a person with a door slammed in their face, reaching for the courage to move away from their dreams into God's plan.

Remember always Jeremiah 29:11 "I know the plans I have for you,  declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

In the midst of turmoil and questions, we can cling to this promise. When we are unsure of our situations and where to go from here, remember to follow God. He has given us a hope and a future and it's okay to cling to that! To expect God to follow His promise. Because you have a friend right here doing the same!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Upside Down World

Growing up, I could have been classified with what most people call sheltered. I went to a Christian school, attended a church where my dad was on staff, and spent every waking moment with family. Meals were had together, prayers were prayed together, and for a small time, we all watched tv together in the living room. With a family of seven, compromise was learned early on. We were even so close in age that many camps, disciple nows, and other youth retreats were spent with siblings.

When I was 14, I remember one trip that our youth took to go canoeing. I was so enthralled with the example set by my older brother. Back then, my world was a Christian world. I didn't feel separated. Jesus was at my school, in my classes, in all the homes of friends, and constantly in the conversations at our home. So many things happened, good or bad, and I was surrounded by people who could and would put out God's hand in all of it.

Junior year of high school I moved to a public school. I was so scared, but soon, I found a group of Christians. Girls, who like me, wore Christian shirts and carried around their Bibles for quiet times in class.

I never once had to think how God would fit into my world. There was always room in my bag for my Bible, space on my wall for a verse, and a word of wisdom from my mama. Jesus lived all around me and I never questioned it. Because it was all I knew.

However, I fear, times are changing. There are more and more cases of Christianity being removed from places. More stories of Christians getting the short end of the stick because of religious freedom. In a world of political correctness, Jesus has all but become a bad word.

AND WE LET IT HAPPEN. This once Christian nation is slowly becoming a nation full of people scared to speak up. So often we find ourselves bending over backwards to keep the peace instead of standing up for what we know is right. Or blindly giving into things, only to realize afterwards it wasn't what we expected.

We've bought into so many lies that we believe we have to have two separate worlds. We have Christian music, Christian schools, and Christian movies. There are Christian books and Christian stores. However, it really wasn't that long ago, that society demanded a different standard. Mainstream media was family friendly, moral, tasteful, and borderline in line with the Bible. There were scandalous things, but as a whole, Christian media and mainstream media were basically one in the same.

These days we as Christians need to band together. Support Christians who are in the mainstream media. Send a unified message that we demand more of that in this world. Spend our money at the box office supporting truly Christian films. Follow people on facebook who are Christians and speak up for us. I love sending them messages of support, whether they read them or not. Fight for the right to have Bibles in school. Encourage your children to do the same. Talk openly with your family about why this is important.

The time for passiveness is over. Jesus made people uncomfortable,  the disciples made people uncomfortable,  and the Bible makes us uncomfortable. If we are trying to make everyone around us comfortable,  are we following in His footsteps? Are we truly doing the will of the Lord? Or are we just trying to make it from this life to heaven without making people upset? Because if that is the case...maybe we're doing it all wrong!

I'd rather make people uncomfortable now, that for my grandchildren to be raised in a world where Jesus is a bad word. In a place where churches are there to make you feel good. To have them raised in a world that doesn't step on toes. If we get to that point, we have failed. It's time to stand up now before it gets too far gone. It's time to band together as Christians and demand to be heard!

Unless we stop standing up for our beliefs,  we will soon be living in a world turned completely upside down. We will lose the few Christian families on tv we watch, movies like Fireproof and Courageous won't be made, and the few Christian artists who have music in the mainstream will lose their footings.

I want my family to be raised in a world like I was. Where there was always room for Christ. Is there room for Christ in your world? Do you want Him in every aspect of your world? Or do you want Him in your home, but not in your movies? In certain tv shows, but not in your music? It's time to evaluate where we have space for Him. We set the example for the world. For our upside society to accept Him into it, we have to accept Him into every aspect of our world as well.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Right Kind of Role Model

I have a very unhealthy habit. I love following People Magazine and US Weekly on facebook. Honestly, almost everything I read or see has something that sends me over the edge. I'm constantly making mental notes of things to never do, people to not let my kids look up too, and the importance of keeping track of the kids in a world growing further and further from things I know to be important.

One of the most read and liked stories I saw was of a celebrity saying she was sad she didn't have any children, because she'd love to have a girl to look up to Beyonce. She is after all the greatest role model for young girls today.

If that doesn't turn your stomach, just read some of her lyrics. Look up a video or two. Watch a performance from an award show. She is the opposite of what I want empowered to look like.

Just when I thought the world was off its rocker and it was impossible to find someone worth looking up to, something amazing happened. Dancing with the Stars announced Sadie Robertson would be on their new season! I had been a fan of Duck Dynasty back when all the Duck Commanders had were hunting videos. Then their show just took me by surprise. Oh how this family touched me every episode by praying in the name of Jesus. They were real, funny, and most importantly shone with the light of Christ.

When I came across the I Am Second video with the Robertsons I cried like a baby. I believe whole heartedly to talk about past mistakes in a way that doesn't glorifying it. Of crediting Christ with the transformation and building from the ashes. What an example they set! It was heart breaking and wonderful to be able to see how the Almighty changed their lives and are changing others too.

From the first time Sadie stepped on the dance floor I just knew God was completely in control. Yes, I selfishly wanted her to win because, Louisiana Y'all. But after a few weeks, I could see the devil trying to get this amazing testimony off of tv. Every time she was in the bottom two and pulled through, I thought, God has something to show through her. And the final show that was it. To hear the judges talk about her light and her personality really just made my heart sing like I was watching a loved one be praised.

Growing up as a Christian I constantly heard to live life so others would know there was something different. That they would ask what this light was they could see. To be so transparent that the only thing that comes through is the love of Christ. Well on this season of Dancing with the Stars I saw that happen. I saw what can happen when you allow the Lord to work in everything you do.

Every time I see the Robertsons on tv, or read an interview by Kirk Cameron, or see how precious the Duggar's speak to each other, I see there is still good. There are people worth looking up to. I believe as Christians we should rally around these people. Lift them up daily in prayer, since they show the whole world what we stand for. Keep in mind they are human like us and will err but the great thing is, when they do, we can see how the Lord moves in it.

I am so overwhelmingly proud of Sadie. If I taught youth, I would make sure every young girl I spoke to knew how rare and amazing it is to be a girl like her. That modestly and a soft word is better than anything. It's not old fashioned or out of date to want to be a Proverbs 31 woman. As a young mom and wife, I want everyone to see the importance of this. If every Christian lived so transparently and taught their children to follow God, how powerful would we be? We would be a Christian nation once again, unstoppable!

The Robertson women are just one example of role models we need. But they are a great one!  Hopefully, together, we can support these Christian families and change the way things are going in a world turned upside down! On a side note, the only bad thing I can say about the Robertson women, is that I'm not one, but I won't hold that against them!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holiday State of Mind

This Christmas is shaping up to be really tight. We are more than likely only going to be able to do a portion of what I would like to do for people. It makes me a little upset because it's Kolton's first Christmas to really be aware and excited about things! However, this mindset has given me an opportunity to think through the motives behind gift giving at the holidays.

Seems like everyone has a recipe for how they buy Christmas. Starting in July so that they're done by November and the financial struggle is already over. Limiting the gifts you give to your children. Having kids donate and buy for others in exchange for a gift. All you have to do is look up Santa List on Pinterest and your computer can be flooded with ideas to take the hassle out of Christmas.

As great as all those helps are, I think it's important to examine why we give gifts. According to the world, Christmas is about good cheer and family time. So sometimes it's easy to get swept up in that more is more mentality. We don't want our kids to get to school in January and feel like they got the short end of the stick. Or compare presents with cousins and it make their Christmas seem lacking. How do we protect against that mentality? In the hustle and bustle of Christmas,  how do you instill the heart of Christ in those around you?

I think most importantly is why we give gifts. Are we keeping up with the Joneses? Are we over compensating for our perceived failures in the past year? Do we give out of guilt because someone got you a present last year? Even though I try to avoid these ideas, I'd be lying if I said these motives have never popped up in my mind.

However that's not the real reason we give gifts. We give gifts because Christ gave the ultimate gift by giving up the splendors of heaven to come to earth to be born as our Savior. Always, but especially this time of year, we must examine the heart. If your kids know constantly why you do what you do, it takes the pressure off of presents.

I know a lot of times we are tempted to break away from gift giving completely. Who hasn't thought at one time or another "my child has so many (insert beloved toys here) we just need to stop buying things. Don't want them to be spoiled". Believe me, I get it! We have so many basketballs and footballs I've often thought the same thing. But I'm constantly reminding myself that I don't live by the world's standard. The world says "don't give so much your children are spoiled, but give enough they can compete with those around them".

But, I'm here to tell you that is not God's answer. God says "I'm your model. Look at all the blessings I've given to you. Instead of withholding for fear of your selfishness, I've showered you with blessings. I have modeled how to be a steward of your blessings and know you can handle your gifts properly. If not, I'm here to help you".

How amazing is that? This Christmas instead of worrying if I'm getting too much or too little, I'm going to think, am I showing my child how to use gifts properly. We give because Christ gave us everything. The Joy of the Lord is why we have a joyful season. Let's keep Christ in Christmas the whole season and in our hearts. That way we can be living examples for our children about the real reason for the season!