Friday, March 29, 2013

Don't Shut Up


A few weeks ago, some good friends of ours came to us about a difficult situation that they were facing in the church.  They are new Christians and two of our favorite people, and we were hurt that they were hurt, but after praying and looking into the Word of God – the truth was pretty plain.  We both knew it in our hearts, but we were afraid to tell our friends…we didn’t know how to respond.

Well, thankfully, God gave us the courage to just be totally frank about what God’s Word says and what we know to be true – instead of being offended, they were touched and moved to change to be in line with God.  And not only that, their choice has dramatically changed their demeanor – there is a fire and passion in them that we’ve never seen.  We were floored, and so thankful that we got to be a tiny part of this.

This got our wheels turning, and God has been speaking to our hearts since then.  Here’s the verses that keep coming up to me from all different types of mediums:
 

“For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”           -Eph. 5:8-11
 

Expose them.  Yikes.  We realized that our culture has so engrained in us that it is rude to push your beliefs on someone else and it is offensive to call something wrong or immoral.  And yes, we all know the people who go out with a religious spirit and cast judgment on everyone when they clearly have their own issues they need to confront.  Somewhere along the way, the enemy shut me up.  I didn’t want to offend anyone, I didn’t want to seem closed-minded or inconsiderate, and I definitely didn’t want to be pushy. 

The fact is, that some people will be offended by the Word of God, but the people with whom I have a relationship and who care about my thoughts – those are the people with whom I have a responsibility to tell the Truth to…even if they might be offended that my stance is firm.  I can stand firm in the Truth and still love.  But I cannot love well and watch others waste themselves in ignorance when I know the Truth…it’s like withholding the cure for cancer from a dying friend because I’m afraid they won’t like the way it tastes...they may hate the way it tastes and spit it out at me, but at least I tried to save them, or they may choke it down and live to thank me for giving them their life back.

The truth is painful at times, but Hebrews 12:11 says that no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  However it produces a harvest of righteousness for those who are trained by it.  God keeps reminding me that even though the truth may seem painful or hurtful to others, that if I walk in love and not condemnation, grace and not judgment, and tell the truth, that some may heed it, and be changed, healed…it takes guts my friends to be so brave, but that’s part of loving well.  Expose the deeds of darkness my friends.

 

A few verses earlier it says, “Be imitators of Christ…walk in love…but fornication and all uncleanliness and covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for the saints (just another word for Christ follower). 

For this you know that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Therefore, do not be partakers with them.” (vs.1-7)

 

Seriously y’all, who wants to be the person that says that fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of heaven???!!!  We live in a culture that does not value marriage, and if you do get married it may be to a person of same gender or a person you’ve lived with for several years.  The Bible is clear – this is not the way of the Lord. 

Does it mean that God hates these people? NO!  It means that Christ died to pay for our sins and give us eternal life and the Holy Spirit so that we can know true intimacy with Him, but you must you must you must, accept His gift, seek His spirit, and follow His ways, not the ways that you want or just make sense to you.  Because when we do things His way, our lives will be full, we will know true joy and peace. 

And I know these things, I’ve reaped the benefit, but sometimes I’ve allowed the enemy to scare me into closing my mouth because I didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or make them feel judged.  But I’m not judging anyone – That verse said no foolish talking or course joking – believe me those were my toes being stepped on, but I know that the bible is true and right and that God’s word always brings about the fullest life, so I must ask God to help me change and I must choose to obey, and I must share the truth with anyone willing to listen so that they have the opportunity to receive the wholeness God has given me.

Don’t let the enemy shut you up.  There are precious hearts that need to hear the truth from a tender and compassionate heart.  People need the Truth – the Truth is what sets us free!

 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty


Last night, Scott and I watched Argo for the first time, and it was a great movie.  It was so highly awarded, we knew it would be, but it feels ironic in light of the movie we watched tonight…rarely has a film gripped me as tonight.

Zero Dark Thirty recounts some of the most significant events, still raw, in my yet short lifetime.  Our country was forever changed by 9/11, and the events spanning from this act of terrorism to the ending of Osama bin Laden, are perhaps some of the most significant in our nation’s, dare I say, world’s history. 
 

We were hesitant to watch Dark Thirty because of the outcry from many of the nation’s military that it is too soon – as in Argo, CIA agent Tony Mendez, was awarded the Intelligence Medal of Merit, but as the mission was classified, had to return it and never tell anyone.  Mendez heroism was secret for 17 years (1980-1997) before it was declassified and then President Clinton returned his medal.  These 17 years, plus the additional 15 (1997-2012) before the release of the movie gave time to redirect the offended parties’ attention and keep private both the way of operations in our nation’s intelligence as well as participating parties.  Thirty years’ time seems ample space.

But Zero Dark Thirty is not even two years away from the pinnacle incident;

the parties are still offended;

the participants are still alive (many of them) – and we have already been released enough information about their identities to put a target on every one of their backs.  We were hesitant to watch this movie for fear that it propagated the idea that we should know every detail of military and intelligence activity at the same rate we become informed of who won American Idol.  We value the lives of our military and intelligence and we desire to protect their identities – those who have fought to protect our lives and freedom – and we want to protect their methods from those who would use that information to harm them or our homeland. 

But still, we watched the movie.  And while the idea of sharing such information (names, locations, methodology) post-haste and then putting in on the big-screen for the world to view the offended party’s demise is, we believe, counterproductive to protecting our military and unfortunately, fuel for the fire of hatred of those who already hate us – this movie, this movie was………….perhaps….what our generation needs…what we need to see…what must be understood…

Zero Dark Thirty carefully retells the story, and they are gentle to both sides.  I find no propaganda or agenda – just reality of war, reality of the fruit of hatred, and relevant reality that must be understood by a generation who is largely detached from such realities, who rarely feels its effects, who can hardly understand the complex and grim interworking of terrorism and war.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Leader, Leader, Leader


There is a lot of chatter about “leadership” these days – I hadn’t really thought about it until recently, but growing up, in school and in church, I was encouraged to be a “leader” a lot.  And everyone always seemed to be reminding me that even if I didn’t feel like it I could be a leader.


Maybe I just misunderstood the intention, but honestly, I felt like that placed a lot of pressure and responsibility on me – responsibility to lead every single person with which I might come into contact.  Agh!  And I tried, and sometimes I did well, but all that leading left very little time for friendship, and created this almost one up, one down dynamic in nearly all my relationships – either I was leading or being led - no time to just be and enjoy each other's company.

At some point, I let that go.  And it was freeing.  And God brought me to a place where I found me, and who I am in Him. 

Then I thought more about this emphasis on being a leader – our pastor talks about it frequently – it is not a bad idea…what was it that wasn’t sitting right with me?
 
I realized that when I thought about a leader I thought about the burden of responsibility for the behavior and life of every single person around me – and y’all, I take responsibility seriously.  I couldn’t hold that! 
 
But what if instead, by just seeking God’s face, remembering to be in line with Him and His Word, you naturally radiate a light and hope that is enticing, influential.  It requires no effort other than pursuing Him, and letting Him woo you.
 
What
 a
relief.

Don’t get me wrong – leadership training is important, especially when you are in a set leadership position – learning to manage the dynamics of all relationships and roles is very important.  Just don’t get so caught up in trying to be something you think you are supposed to be that you miss the peace that comes from staying in line with the only one who can transform you into all you were meant to be.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Anthem of my heart


Anthem of my heart here lately, “Need You Now”, by Plumb.


Well everybody’s got a story to tell,

And everybody’s got a wound to be healed.

I want to believe there’s beauty here;

Cause, oh, I get so tired of holding on;

I can’t let go, I can’t move on;

I want to believe there’s meaning here.

 

How many times have you heard me cry out

“God please take this!”

And how many times have you given me strength

To just keep breathing?

Oh I need You,

God I need You now.

 

Standing on a road I didn’t plan

Wondering how I got to where I am;

I’m trying to hear that still, small voice;

I’m trying to hear above the noise.

 

How many times have you heard me cry out

“God please take this!”

And how many times have you given me strength

To just keep breathing?

Oh I need You,

God I need You now.

 

Though I walk,

Though I walk through the shadows,

And I, I am so afraid,

Please stay, please stay right here beside me

With every single step I take.

 

How many times have you heard me cry out

“God please take this!”

And how many times have you given me strength

To just keep breathing?

Oh I need You,

God I need You now.

 

I need You

Oh I need You,

God I need You now.

I need You now.

I need You now.