Millennial Identity at the Intersection of Faith

Born smack dab into the middle of the millennial generation, I caught the coattails of motivational campaigns to defy stereotypes just in time to ride the tide of embracing uniqueness. Today, myself and my peers boast about what used to be stereotypes in our social media bios. We outline the categories we fit into to make connecting more convenient.

Online and in person, we tend to believe identities are created not given and we mold ourselves into brands in an attempt to eke out a place in this world. Millennial believers like myself are often drawing and erasing lines and traditions trying to figure out how faith fits in with identity.

Focus on the Family and Stand Strong Ministries’ Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez recently wrote Abandoned Faith to help believing parents (and spiritual mentors) understand the faith trials, confusions, and interests of my generation.

Blending together sociological research, Biblical principles, and personal experience in ministry reaching millennials and their parents, Abandoned Faith is a sobering but enlightening read. The book opens with frank news: many millennials are leaving their childhood faith behind, or at least ditching traditional church models. My generation has its reasons- and some are based on grievous misunderstandings or hurts regarding true faith and godliness.

From my stance as a millennial who loves the local church and Jesus, Abandoned Faith effectively explains the trends, thought patterns, and driving factors of my generation. I admire the authors’ ability to portray millennials as capable individuals with potential and identity, not as statistics that need to be mourned over or maligned.

The authors’ respectful explanations, practical advice, and gentle exhortations hold as dear the parents God gave my generation and my millennial self and peers. I recommend this book to those who want to love and minister to millennials- even those who haven’t abandoned the faith.

What I loved most about Abandoned Faith was the emphasis on relationship. As the authors point out, my generation was raised with a lot of activity, programming, and gold stars for showing up. Many of us have lacked relationships with people invested in us as individuals, willing to just chat instead of point us to a helpful course. Many in my generation lack strong families.

Whether we recognize what we lack or not, millennials do know that we lack. The church has a huge opportunity, as Abandoned Faith highlights, to be the body, be family, be parents to a generation largely craving something more than just another good place to be and with good stuff to do.

Abandoned Faith’s practical organization and demonstrative style makes for easy reading, though it is lengthy and packed with information. Some may find it a bit repetitive and dull at times because of its research bent, though. The authors also strive to be encouraging to those who have raised and love millenials who have abandoned the Christian faith or church, but the authors’ frank honesty in addressing the role of older generations in the process may be hard to hear for many.

For those looking to better understand “Suzie: Nerd. Loves God, not religion. Happy to talk if you’re tolerant” on Twitter, this book will help. Those who want to see the struggling college guy who hasn’t been to church since his high school baccalaureate service, this book will give a new perspective and helpful insight.

Behind the branding, categorizing, and stereotyping of my generation (self-imposed and ascribed) there are a lot of people who, just like everyone else, need Christ aloneAbandoned Faith can help readers get a Christ-alone perspective and gain practical insight into pointing millennials to the truth, to hope, and to an unshakable identity (in Christ!) That’s an answer to prayer for many in my identity-driven generation.

Do you know any millennials who wrestle with identity and faith in Christ?


This review is offered in exchange for a free copy of the book Abandoned Faith through Tyndale House Publishers.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Knowledge Isn’t All Powerful (4/6)

 

This post is the 4th in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here. Guest directory info is available here.

Sitting down to play a board game is relaxing. Until it isn’t.

One game in particular gets my wheels spinning with a frustration that is probably healthy for me.

It’s called 7 Wonders. Each turn, every player selects a card from their hand and then passes the rest to their neighbor. Around and around the hands go, whittling down with each turn. Inevitably, I realize I’ve got two cards in a hand that will allow my neighbor to win. I can only take one card though.

Come the passing of the hands, my neighbor wins. And I knew they would. But I couldn’t do a thing about it.


We can know all about something and have no power to change it or act on it.

The anthem “knowledge is power” gets us on our feet until we’re on our knees, fully informed about something we can’t change. Whether we learn all about a loved ones’ diagnosis or gain insight into someone else’s success, knowledge does not always equate to power.

Forgetting this fact is one of the most frustrating things for wanna-know-it-alls like me.

I think of the prophets.

Even with visions of what was to come and warnings given by God, they had no power to change the course of the people.

God even told Ezekiel that as a watchman Ezekiel was not responsible for the people’s responses to the prophecies. He was merely responsible for speaking the truth. There was no sugarcoating. Ezekiel was to speak knowing the people would not listen and destruction would surely still come.

Ezekiel remarked:

“They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word.” –Ezekiel 13:6

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We’re like that. We treat the knowledge we have like it’s the God-given truth and as if we’ve divined how to apply it properly. Using our knowledge, we proclaim how things are going to be. Then, we get mad when God doesn’t backup our plans with the power to see them through.

The gap between our knowledge and our power is where surrender lives. <Tweet this>

God is all-knowing and all-powerful. There’s nothing He doesn’t know about and nothing He can’t do something about.

That’s why we end up on our knees, fully informed and full incapable. We know the One who is capable, and we pray He exerts His power in a way that fits our knowledge.

However, God’s all-knowingness exceeds the information we have. We know the type of cancer, the odds, the way it affects the body. He knows all that too- and He knows how it fits into His perfect plan. God knows how to make good out of what’s not good. He can do it and He will.

Since His knowledge exceeds ours and He is good, we have reason to trust that whatever power He exerts, what He knows and what He does will align for our good and His glory.

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Surrendering to the One who is in control should be relieving.

If we’re honest about the limits of human knowledge, we realize it is good we aren’t in control. We don’t have the know-how to wield sovereignty well. And when we think we do, we can end up:

  • Growing egotistical and distant from God
  • Having “our own understanding” define our path
  • Leading others astray because our knowledge is limited
  • Unprepared to face the truth
  • Getting way ahead of ourselves and the Lord’s plans

Laying down what we know before the One who knows what to do protects us. Especially from messes like these. My husband points out, “What we don’t know we can’t control.” Whew.

Surrender in the space between knowledge and power relieves the tension that wears us and tears us as we live out the limits of being human.


Do you need to take knowledge off the pedestal of power to lay what you know at His feet?

Join me for the next 5 weeks to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second. Submissions for a guest directory on Idolizing Knowledge are due March 15th! More info on guest posting here.

Knowledge Isn’t Complete (3/6)

 

This post is the 3rd in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here. Guest directory info is available here.

Serving with a mission which crossed over daily into Mexico, I didn’t head to the border with any intention of interpreting. My Spanish was mas-o-menos just okay. But as I was regularly immersed in groups of friends only speaking Spanish, I thought I was really starting to get good.

Fast forward 4 months to my last week in the community.

Happily chatting away in Español, I casually said “estupido.” Directly translated “stupid,” it was just an adjective to me. According to my shocked and then hysterical friends, I was swearing. Red in the face and mortified, I’d been unknowingly swearing in front of children, the elderly, and everyone in between for months.

For all I knew about Spanish and the regional dialect, I was certainly lacking in some understanding.


Being fully immersed doesn’t mean we are fully informed. <Tweet This>

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! –1 Corinthians 13:9

No person except for Christ has ever walked this earth with a complete understanding of anything. Even people with special knowledge of God- people whose prophecies were realized in Christ- had to live by faith.

We don’t even know our own hearts fully. –Jeremiah 17:9

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Even the disciples, seeing Jesus face to face and following Him diligently, had to have their eyes opened and the truth explained several different ways. They were divinely inspired to write the New Testament but still spoke with humility because they knew they couldn’t know it all while still on earth. And that was okay.

Beth Moore has said she wouldn’t tell her younger self a thing if she could go back in time. She explains there are many things she’s glad she didn’t know ahead of time because she would have said “no way.” Discovery, even through the terrible and painful, is what grows us up and into closeness with the One we’re following and putting our faith in.*

Andrew Wilson explains: “If God’s glory is infinite, and my concept of Him is not, then I never stop needing an increased understanding of His greatness.”**

While attempting to comprehend how incomplete our comprehension is drives us knowledge idolaterers to our knees, we ought to stoop all the lower in awe and praise.

All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. –1 Corinthians 13:12

Someday we will not be wanting for knowledge out of reach.

Someday knowledge will be complete.

Wholeness will satisfy us for eternity as we know fully the One who has always known us fully.

Since God says there will be no more pain in that day, soaking all of the fullness of Him and of knowledge won’t even give us a headache. We will enter into God’s understanding- and there will be no more sorrow or sin. There will be nothing left to make us foolish.

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As for now, God keeps us on a need-to-know-basis to focus us on what’s more important: who we know. Him.

The “by faiths” of the OT heroes are extraordinary and emboldening because of what they didn’t know. They didn’t know the whole plan. Abraham went by faith when God said “go” even though he didn’t know the destination. Noah built the ark by faith, not knowing how it could possibly turn out alright when the earth was flooded. Moses led a nation out of slavery by faith, not knowing what was to come, where they would settle, or even how to feed them all.

Hebrews 11:27 sums up why, despite not knowing, these faithful people followed God when they were blind to the whens, wheres, hows, and whys.

Moses “persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.”

Because knowledge isn’t complete, idolizing understanding keeps us distracted with something meant for life after death.

Idolizing knowledge distracts us from Who we need to know if we are to persevere, live by faith, and walk securely along the narrow way.

Whether our current knowledge-worship has us bloated with self-assurance or hopped up on the thrill of the chase, we must fix our attention on the One we follow- by faith.


How do faith and knowledge interact in your mind?

*Beth Moore, Entrusted Bible Study, Audio Session 6
**Andrew Wilson, GodStories, pg19

Join me for the next 5 weeks to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second. Now accepting submissions for a guest directory on Idolizing Knowledge! More info on guest posting here.

Untangled in Love

I never thought I’d be one for mushy stuff. Anyone who’s heard my commentary during chick flicks knows I’m not a romantic.

But there’s this guy.

The one I moved seats to be near the first day of class. The one whose shenanigans had my head and finger wagging from the start. The one who asked me to date him after I spent hours telling him every reason not to love me. The one who led me to my Savior.

His eyes were fixed on Christ even as he took my hand in his. I thank the Lord he has little regard for any other sight.

During more than 6 years of knowing each other now, I’ve witnessed a faith-skill of his I pray the Lord helps me hone as my own.

He’s an expert disentangler.

Ironically, this only applies spiritually. When it comes to being entangled physically, he’s got a knack for being wound up in cords, having limbs stuck in furniture, nearly strangling himself with ties, and being unable to remove himself from places he climbs into (AKA…dryers.) Some evidence:

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Spiritually, though, my husband is quick and nimble to:

“throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” –Hebrews 12:1

What I’ve noticed most in his way of staying free and ready to obey the Lord is an attention to who He is serving. 2 Timothy 2:26 warns of being enticed into entanglement in the enemy’s snare. The verse says our enemy captures us for the purpose of having us do his will.

We are never entangled in sin for the purpose of serving God.

So, when we are entangled, we’re serving the will of the enemy.  It might be through self-serving or through people-pleasing. We may be money-driven or fear-abiding. Whatever the case, when we’re entangled, we’re not fixed on the purposes of Christ.

This is one of the ways my husband’s “black and white” thinking helps.

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He isn’t easily entangled because His eyes are fixed on Christ intently. He notices when he is looking at someone else. He notices when what he’s doing isn’t serving the Lord.

And when he notices, he turns from the dark to the light. He shifts his eyes to Christ. He throws off whatever is bidding him to pay attention to or serve anything else. Whatever it is, it’s not worth missing out on beholding the Lord.

I’m blessed when he helps with my writing because I know he won’t fail to point out words that hinder instead of help the gospel. As I analyze, assess, and plan in life I am grateful to have by my side someone with foresight and discretion regarding the Lord’s will.

Among the most precious aspects of our marriage is my husband’s habit of getting my attention to direct me to Our Lord -who has his attention.

He hates to be entangled, and he hates to see me tied in knots too.

Praying this Valentine’s Day you and your loved ones can help each other disentangle to fix your eyes on the One who matters most.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

Frustration, Faithfulness, and God’s Timing + CD Giveaway

One of the unique differences between Christian artists and the majority of other musicians is openness about the muse for music. Christian art is about testifying to the God who is, glorifying Him through song.

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The story behind Kari Jobe’s new album The Garden is a real life example of the reason for the hope she has in Jesus. In the title track, Jobe describes the desperation she felt when her sisters’ infant James Ivy arrived stillborn. Jobe was pregnant at the same time. The loss bore all the tragedy of shared dreams shattered and hope falling limp before the Lord.

But God.

In His perfect timing, He brought healing and revived hope for Jobe when months later a garden at her new home began to bloom. It had looked a mess, and she wasn’t sure what it would produce. She discovered, climbing up with fresh life, ivy.

Her reflection resounds in the title track lyrics: “For this moment you planned ahead that I would see your faithfulness…”

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My friend Lois recently wrote about her own experience with God planning ahead for her when she received a birthday lost in the mail months late- but God timed it right when she needed it.

Another friend, Christine, wrote of reaching just the right person in customer service. God’s timing of the call resulted in conversation leading to a personal connection through which she can share the reason for her hope.

Still another friend told me how she was frustrated with the difficulty of locating and entering a food pantry to drop off bags of rolls. She arrived just in time to witness a man sadly turned away because the available bread racks were empty. Handing him the bread, she was able to tell him God loved him with the full conviction of knowing God had timed their visits so they would meet.

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Our Lord goes before us (Deut 31:8.)

Into the garden in the spring. Into the mail system’s mess to delay cards. Into the customer service queue to connect people. Into the food pantry where a man in need of bread and the bread of life could be handed both at once.

The hope and awe bound up in recognizing God’s profound faithfulness are themes throughout Jobe’s CD. Direct praise is cultivated through “I Will Sing.” Stories of His inexplicable faithfulness ring out through “Miracles.” Awe resulting in drawing nearer to the Lord is represented through “Closer to Your Heart.”

Whether we’re waiting for the Lord to reawaken our hearts or reflecting on the majesty of God, we can be certain He is faithful. He who began the good work will complete it. He’s planned ahead. He’s gone before us and made a way.

The narrow road leads us to the abundant expanse of God’s glory. Praise be to our faithful God!


Interested in winning a copy of the CD? Comment on this post before 5pm EST of Friday, Feburary 10th!

You can also purchase a copy by clicking here.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Only residents of continental U.S and Canada

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

 

Motivation for Long Days at Work

When I’m exhausted by the thought of putting one more second of time into producing something for someone else, to someone else’s standards, according to someone else’s timeline, I find encouragement in these verses.

I hope you do too.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

“Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”

The boring parts of work don’t always leave us feeling fulfilled. The Lord calls us to un-glamorous, unexciting work.  Whether the bland parts of jobs, like shuffling through paperwork, or the blah parts of working through life like doing the dishes, quietly tending to our affairs is part of our testimony.

Work is an expression of creating and stewarding what the Lord has given us. It is part of sustaining and supporting the affairs that the Lord has made us responsible for. When we quietly mind our lives and care for what He’s given through work and ordinary tasks, we evidence how we value all the Lord has provided.

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Colossians 3:23

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”

In your heart, your work can be unto the Lord. It needn’t be for your boss that you do your work honestly and to the best of your ability. Rather, reflect the character of the Lord. God made man, and He is sovereign over the systems we live in. That includes the workplace.

1 Corinthians 15:58

“Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Even work that seems in no way related to the Gospel can be used by the Lord for His good purpose. Sticking stamps on a stack of envelopes might just be a part of the work of the Lord today –and His work is never in vain.

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Psalm 90:17

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.”

You don’t have to figure out how refilling the copier’s ink can be made into a spiritual act. Your life’s work, surrendered to God and completed to glorify Him, is up to God to use as He will. Keep in mind that the work of your hands is part of God’s plans. He will establish it, He will cause it to bear fruit. He is faithful to us even in the little things, just as He calls us to be.

1 Corinthians 3:12-13

“…their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.”

Doing work lazily or half-heartedly without concern for doing it well catches up to you. God knows your heart, your ambitions, your motivations, and your true efforts. Do quality work. It will be tested, it will be shown for what it is. Let it be through and through “our utmost for His glory.”

{Originally posted on My Faith Radio}

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

When Your Manna Tastes Bland

Last year, I had my wisdom teeth removed *gag.* The surgery went well, but there were complications during my recovery. I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say, I ate the same bland soft foods for about a month. Let me tell you: diversity of diet is a spiritual need.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration.

But I’m not the only one who finds my heart getting heavy when God’s provision is the same old ordinary stuff day after day.

Recently set free from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites were roaming the wilderness when they cried out to God for food. He graciously provided, dropping down manna from heaven.  Just bits of bread tasting like coriander and honey, the manna was spread across the transient camp daily for 40 years (Exodus 16.)

Though the idea of bread raining down from heaven is extraordinary, the Israelites quickly grew bored with God’s unfailing but monotonous meal choice.

They always had enough.

But the people had enough of just enough.

Bored, they complained against the Lord. The people got sick of manna. It was bland, it was wearisome, and really- how long can anyone live with the same old same old?

Like the Israelites, we are often grateful the Lord always provides. But sometimes we wish God’s provision was just a little more exciting.

Take note of God’s response to the Israelites when they felt much the same. He was faithful. That’s who He is.

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is” (2 Timothy 2:13 NLT.)

Throughout the wilderness routine, God surprised the Israelites with quail and likely livestock from their battle victories.

At the end of those forty years, those manna-fed people crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land. They had homes of their own, freedom to live for His glory, and even gardens and pastures for raising all sorts of foods.

When entering the Promised Land, the Israelites also had forty years’ worth of reminders of His faithfulness. The ordinary, too-familiar taste of His extraordinary provision lingered on their lips.

What a sweet treat -one we’re blessed by too.

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The excitement we yearn for has less to do with our present life and more to do with daily taking in what He provides. When we’re willing to believe it, our joy is found because:

His promises are true every day.

His provision, even when it seems monotonous, sustains us.

God is who He is- and that’s exciting, even day by (regular old) day.

Remaining fresh and delighted in faith often blossoms through ordinary ways of witnessing His extraordinary faithfulness.

As you and I take our next big bites of ordinary, let’s chew on the bland in delighted faith. Our provision is from the perfect One. He’s providing us with tastes of His constant presence day by day, nourishing us to grow in Him along the way.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second! More info on an upcoming series with guest posting here.

Lie 8: Sin Should Be Left In The Dark

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Read the whole series here.)

We don’t like to look sin in the face and see it for what it is.

We’re tempted by it, yes. We have a propensity for it, yes. But we really hate to face it.

I remember one of the first times I did.

Case Study: The Christian Who Didn’t Need Saving

Early in our relationship, my husband and I kicked back in campus center arm chairs and slipped into conversation about God. I wasn’t saved, but as best I knew, I was a Christian.

My understanding of sin was wrapped in false humility and security. It was boxed in liturgical or experiential confession. My sin content was stuffed, I believed, with mere mistakes and results of others’ crimes against me. I kept it hidden behind my good deeds and spiritual talk.

But my then-boyfriend went digging. He showed me his sin stuff. With a big smile on his face, I remember him pointing to the floor like his sin was laid bare there. Then he pointed up and told me to understand the heights of Christ’s love and forgiveness meant understanding the depths of sin.

He didn’t ask me to expose my secret stash to him, but he demonstrated a reason compelling me to expose it to God.

Bringing sin into the light of Christ shows us what we are saved from, and by whom. It’s a glorious, relieving, revitalizing exposition. 

To keep sin in the dark, once a believer, is a bit like sitting in a hospital after surgery pretending you have no wound, no treatment to complete, no therapy to continue to work through.

Though the problem is taken care of, the effects are still to be dealt with. The wound needs to be seen, addressed, and cared for. It’s in the hard work of tending to exposed weakness that we heal.

That’s what bringing sin out of the dark into Christ’s light is all about: healing.

Believers still have mess and hurt and sin to face. But in all our still present darkness and pain, we also know the light, the healer. We know Him, and we know the warmth of His illumination- even in the cold of sin.

Saved sin is safely in the care of Christ.

But Saved sinners still need the care of Christ.

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In Charles Spurgeon’s words:

“We often forget that the Author of our faith must be the Preserver of it also…We have a strong argument to plead, for it is His own work of grace that we ask Him to strengthen—‘the power . . . by which you have worked for us.’ Do you think He will fail to protect and provide that?

There’s a reason He sent the Holy Spirit to help believers. Saved sinners still need God. In them, with them, every day.

Now forevermore reconciled to God, believers can be unhindered by shame and the bounds of saved sin. Believers can enjoy fellowship with God, stewarding their lives as those abiding in Him.

Through abiding, even addressing and confessing to God our saved sin, we “walk in the light” of Christ.

In the light, we can “have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7.)

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Sin thrives in the dark.

Come into the light where Christ is, where sin is forgiven, shame is disintegrated, and facing the truth means looking full in the face of our loving Savior.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

I Wish American Christians Made A Bigger Deal Out of This Election

 

With all the chaos breaking loose over this election, I wish we were making a bigger deal of it as Christians.

So many of us believers are only making a big fuss about the candidates. This isn’t just about candidates.

Some of us are proclaiming that this is all just about party lines. This isn’t just about political affiliation.

There are some bold people extending their case to encompass the courts and court justices. This isn’t just about the justice system.

I’ve heard an increasing number of Christians crying out for the sake of the future of America. That is valid. But this is bigger than America.

This is about you, me, and our testimony before unbelievers, fellow believers, and God Himself.

The Common Enemy We’re Missing

When we make so little of something so important, we are not armed nor prepared for the battle at hand, even as we rush into it. We aren’t paying attention to what war this battle is part of. It seems we are clueless as to what cause we’re even fighting for.

We’re not even recognizing who the enemy is.

The enemy causing such perversion of sexuality, freedom, identity, morality, and goodness in a nation founded on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” wasn’t born in the 1940s.

This enemy inciting Christians to turn on and attack the very core of one another’s beliefs and character wasn’t founded as a political party in the 1800s.

An enemy threatening the future of world peace and life as we know it is not waiting for an opening in the Supreme Court to obtain power.

The enemy responsible for the outcome of the election and your great-great-grandchildren’s fate is not replying to your comment on Facebook.

Rather, the enemy we fight has been in action since before he first slithered up to the original couple and offered distraction from God. Our enemy is Satan. His deceit is sin- when we choose to dishonor God.

The Big Deal We’re Not Making

If only we were making a big deal about the very thing election hype is distracting us from: we know the God who remains good when so much around us seems terrible.

We know who wins the war when the enemy’s battle strategy is fierce and tempting.

That same God affords us an opportunity to obey and glorify Him, living lives worthy of Him, in the face of tribulation. He invites us to stand on the winning side of the ultimate war- the war against God’s way.

We have the joy of freely consulting with God Himself about the task of voting for His glory. We have the joy of freely trusting that as we participate, God is all the more involved. We have the joy of remaining calm and steady knowing that elections, though important, aren’t everything.

We know our freedom is guaranteed by God, not the United States. And through integrity we have the privilege of honoring God with the freedom He gives, using our vote.

Best of all, we have the peace of knowing that it is God alone who we are accountable to- for how we vote, how we speak, how we campaign, and how we represent Christ.

That’s a big deal. It’s also how we defeat the enemy.

Defeat or Victory: A Choice We Still Get to Make

It isn’t just a moral decline in America we’re witnessing. Rather, we’re watching the enemy persuade millions of souls that honoring our agendas is more important than honoring God.

When we live as if strategizing according to the law of “the ends justify the means” is representative of the Gospel, we are defeated before the battle begins. When we argue on the basis of choosing whichever we believe is “the lesser of two evils,” we walk defeated believing there is no good, only evil as an option, which means no victory.

In Beth Moore’s words: “Poor, poor God. He’s down to His last two options. And poor, poor us for having such a poor, poor God.”

Appealing to God’s historical use of godless rulers who were already appointed to leadership undermines the integrity of those who did and do suffer as respectful, godly citizens under such rulers. They didn’t have poor, poor options.

But in the United States, we have a choice. We are not yet defeated.

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This bigger battle against the common enemy can be won- indeed it has been.

These lesser battles are also won through the big deal we’re not talking about right now: honoring Christ.

When it comes to honoring Christ, we always have a choice- and a good choice.

Our choice for victory this election season, this lifetime, this century, is to “present (ourselves) to God as (those) approved, worker(s) who have no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth?” –2 Timothy 2:15

Decide to proclaim this testimony before unbelievers. Select this testimony to speak before brothers and sisters in Christ.

Choose this testimony before God:

Finding our hope in You and our freedom in You and our faith in You, we unashamedly, confidently participate in this election process with integrity.

This is how you and I defeat the greater enemy.

Act with integrity and confidence that God’s way is the only good option. By maintaining our faithfulness and obedience to our God, we, as individual people, can win in the election and in so much more.

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

#1 Way You’re Doing It Wrong

How does a Christian grow in their faith?

We like to start by building ourselves up in the Lord when we work our praying and ministering muscles.

Another strategy is to stretch ourselves by extending our hands out to others with the love of God. We often lift our Bibles higher and higher, making them heavier and heavier as we scribble in the margins and stuff them with notes.

But the first step in the growth of Spiritual muscle takes place when the inner stuff breaks down.

The first position of the believer being strengthened is bent low on humbled knees.

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Growth in the Lord doesn’t begin by doing more or carrying weightier virtues and ministries.

Rather, spiritual growth originates in becoming less.

Becoming strong in the Lord requires the laying down of our bulky burdens at the cross to be free to train as our trainer leads.

“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” never calls us to be more or greater. In fact, “be strong” can be misleading. The words translate more directly to “be strengthened” or “be empowered.” The rest of verse makes this clear.

We have to be strengthened by the the source of our strength.

To be strengthened by the Lord, kneel before Him. Heave off the weights you aren’t meant to carry. Let your Spiritual muscles be broken down by the Lord, examined, and made stronger as true muscle, earned by submission to the trainer.

Sweet relief for the weak (all of us!):

We are strong in the Lord when we grow in His mighty power, not when we’re mustering up our own.

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.