Question of the Week

The election season is upon us and tonight is the first of the Republican debates.  Regardless of which party you identify with, if by this time next year, you have heard from all of the candidates and you remain undecided, would you cast a vote in November for our next president or would you choose to abstain?  Why or why not?

Rainbows, Confederacy and the Cross Part 2

In this two part series on some of the hottest topics dressing the front pages, I addressed the fall of the confederate flag following the slaying of nine African American church members at the hand of a young white male.  You can find that post by clicking here.

Today I seek to address another polarizing topic of discussion – rainbows and the cross, the Christian response to the legalization of gay marriage.

I recall the day that the Supreme Court ruling came down.  It was the same day as the funeral for the slain Senator Clemente Pickney.  Before proceeding to deliver a powerful eulogy, the President sent out a tweet, I imagine to summarize the sentiment behind this ruling: #LOVEWINS.

Rainbows highlighted avatars and profile pics for days across social media from Huffington post, to the White House, to your average citizen in support of the ruling.  It was a colorful week to say the least, as the multicolor symbol of “love” was not exactly embraced by everyone.  Many that stood in opposition spoke loudly on social media, declaring their disagreement with the ruling, citing scripture as their defense.  And what may have previously become a blurry divide, became distinctly clearer that day as the large majority of the voices challenging the ruling were laced in anger and again identified with being Christian.  As previously posted by a fellow blogger, I strongly agree that this message is not the message of love that Christ followers have been instructed to live out:

“12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14.

I have been known to boldly speak the truth in love…in love is the key phrase.  Love does win when it is clearly communicated.  I think the words expressed out of anger from those identifying with being Christian were spoken out of fear.

Fear of what?

Fear of change?

Fear of losing the value of traditional marriages?

Fear of decreasing the number of traditional families?

Newsflash!  That is happening anyway and gay marriage and gay rights are not the cause.  We are.  We are the ones that are representing the traditional marriage, we are the ones that are representing the nuclear family, and we are the ones who are not holding this institution sacred.   And to further our relational demise, we do not make these relationships seem appealing and worth fighting for because we are so quick to dismantle them.  In writing this I hate that there exists statistical validity to this thought that comes to mind: Divorce is a disease that holds no prejudice, not even in the Christian home.

As Christians I would say that there is something to learn from watching the reactions of those who fought and won the legal right to marry.   One does not have to agree with the ruling to note the sad reality that they fought for a blessing we so clearly take for granted.  Even if our marriages do not end up in divorce, they are not representative of the image that was given to us to represent.

“25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…33…each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”  Ephesians 5:25,33, NIV.

Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church —sacrificially; He died for His people and wives respect your husbands.   Does this directive match the image of marriages of today?  Ashamedly not, and that is no fault but our own.  So fellow believers, please save the energy used to speak against gay marriage and turn it inwards towards enhancing our own.   We need to fight to do exactly what Christ called us to do and demonstrate love…first in our homes and to each other and I believe from this overflow, the message of true love will win.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16, NIV

Update! Do you believe in Modern Day Miracles? I do!

A little over a month ago I asked this question here on this blog, because I knew I had been blessed to be in the presence of a miracle unfolding.   Although we knew it would take time for the culmination of this miracle to unfold, the reality of the miracle was sealed in my mind that day, because ONLY God could have orchestrated the details to occur in such supernatural succession, that it would have been foolish to doubt that His plan would succeed.  As the details surrounding this monumental event continued to unfold, more began to believe in the reality of this miracle.  God’s hand was in this, around this, before this and in front of this.  He had prepared the minds and the hearts of those He needed to move as quickly and decisively as He needed them too.

Being privy to details that only a few knew, my mind was blown at how God chose to bless the faithfulness of a couple, while rocking the worlds of those that surrounded them. I do not think that it was a coincidence that He chose to center this miracle in the presence of a core group that had the capacity to influence a multitude…He wanted us to see first hand, to be ‘eye-witnesses’ and share His story — GO, TELL — just like others did thousands of years ago when He walked on this earth, and even before and after. The God of the Bible is and has always been the God of today.  He can do in your life, what He has done in countless others…we just need to believe that He can.  He shows up, in the midst of our everyday Christianity to remind us that He can to exceedingly more than we could ever ask or imagine.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV

This is not just a story of a baby, just like the miracle of Jesus is not just the story of a virgin birth.  God is preparing us for greater things, your experience and perhaps your participation in the things of God are limited only by the depth of your belief in what God is capable of – “according to his power that is at work within us…

He is able, are you able to believe?

Update! What is the difference between Guilt & Conviction?

Thank you all for your responses on social media and on this blog.  I enjoyed reading your thoughts!  When I considered posing this question it was a result of a thought I shared with a friend the week prior.

Here’s what was impressed upon me:

Guilt turns you inward, conviction turns you upward towards God.

When I think about guilt I think about our internal thoughts about ourselves in relation to our behavior, past actions and even sometimes the perpetual consequences of our actions.  We live in seasons of guilt when we are convinced that there is no recourse for our failures.

When I think about conviction, I consider it as the point in which I know my thoughts or actions have been sinful and I consider it a good thing.  It’s the point in which I become aware of a clear fork in the road where I have the blessing to choose to make a shift in the right direction, before I settle into a season of guilt where I have lost sight of this opportunity and am instead trapped inside my feelings.  Guilt keeps you buried, conviction sets you free.

Responding to conviction is courageous though.  It requires the convicted to acknowledge a failure —to oneself, to God and maybe to another.  This step of courage is followed by a HUGE win, because we are immediately set free from the bondage the secret sin would have otherwise held over us.  This is not to say that we escape the consequences of our actions, but the guilt that prevents us from moving forward is no longer in our way.

One final thought: choosing to follow where conviction leads, paves the way towards breaking the chains of patterns of destructive behavior.   I would rather bear the sting of conviction, than live in a cycle of ignorance that prevents me from living the life that God intended.

Well folks, these are my thoughts!  I look forward to hearing more from you during next week’s Question of the Week!

BREAKING THE “CHAINS”

Worship leader Justin Thomas, delivers a powerful cover of Nick Jonas’ hit “Chains” as part of the opener to Church by the Glades‘ “Fearless Family” sermon series.  This weekend challenged listeners to break patterns of behavior that prevent them from living the life God intends for each of us.

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” – Jesus (John 10:10, NKJV)

Can Faith & Fear Coexist? Update!

Please join me in welcoming today’s response to this week’s question of the week from a fellow blogger Jennifer Salazar.Q&A


Not too long ago I found myself at the crossroads of a life changing decision that without a doubt was guided by God.  While gathering the courage to make this decision I realized that this was going to be a season where I needed to trust God like never before.  I needed to surrender to God and have the faith to let go and let God.

The same day I made the decision to walk on faith, fear became my intolerable companion.

During this process of spiritual growth I found myself asking if it was possible for faith and fear to coexist.  After thinking about it for a while I considered that the right answer was NO.

So at this point, not only did I have my intolerable companion fear, but shame (fear’s BFF) decided to join the party.

Why, when I was guided by God and decided to walk by faith, could fear still affect me so much?

I had to go deeper to understand what was going on and this is my conclusion:

Faith is the shield that God gave us to protect ourselves and to put an end to the enemy’s attacks.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Ephesians 6:16 NIV

…and God didn’t give us a spirit of fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT

Yet it was clear to me that fear was a way to test my faith and when our faith is tested our perseverance is made stronger.

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  James 1:3 NLT

So there is no room for shame.  All this is a process where God is teaching me to be more like Jesus.  Now I know that the minute faith kicks in fear leaves the room.  I have become certain that faith is a real power —that faith in God is the cure for all my fears.

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  1 Peter 1:7

So the next time you are facing fear, remember that you are human and it is normal, lean on God’s power and understand that you too are working out your faith.
∼Jenny

Wow!! Thank you so much Jenny for the question this week and your response!!  One thing I learned through the process of contemplating this question is that faith is not hope.  Although hope is great, it comes with hesitation.  Faith is belief and I cannot believe and have fear (doubt) at the same time.  Thank you all who shared your thoughts and experiences – I look forward to connecting with you all later this week! 😉 Joycy

File a Restraining Order

Today’s post is connected to this week’s Question of the week: If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow this person to be your friend?

My son is one of the most creative, funniest, left of center, out-of-the-box thinkers that I know.  And I seriously do not say that because he is mine, anyone who knows him would say that same.

  Which brings me to this little gem I found in his backpack: letter2c

Yes, you read that correctly, he wrote (and served) a restraining order!  He’s in middle school and the son of a therapist, so maybe that gives a little explanation as to how he came up with this? lol! (Though I absolutely take zero credit :))  Raising Isaiah has been a wonderful adventure and I am grateful for the opportunity to lead himI will say that when I slow down and press in close enough, he has often taught me.

Now, I have blurred the names to protect the ‘innocent’- 🙂  But I wanted you to have a real visual as to what he did.  When I asked him why he “filed” a restraining order, he said he and a friend had continually asked the classmate to stop bothering them in class and he wouldn’t stop, so they took the next logical step 🙂 and drafted a restraining order, with witnesses and all!  He had a problem, he addressed it directly, that didn’t work and he took it to another level.  (He is friends with the ‘defendant’ in this case, but he just wasn’t going to tolerate the persistent irritation.)  He wasn’t content with the constant negativity that met him each day and he wasn’t going to allow it to become the norm.  We should all do the same – why do we allow our negative thoughts to drive our behavior and dictate our mood?

2 Corinthians 10:5, reads, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  NIV

That is some pretty strong language there – demolish, take captive…God knew how difficult it was going to be to wrestle our thoughts to make them fall in line with His truth about His creationHis masterpieces.   He gave us directives, not suggestions.  He gives us His word to cling onto to remind us that we do not have to live captive to the lies we tell ourselves.  So today, on Isaiah’s birthday, I present to you the “Isaiah Challenge” and implore you to file a restraining order against the lies that bind.   The lies that tell you you are not good enough, that keep you wrestling with jealousy, that keep you pinned down by the memories of the mistakes of the past…that stifle your voice that prevent you from fully experiencing the freedom that you have been given through a relationship with Christ.  Tell those thoughts where they need to go and what they are and are not permitted to do.  Take back the control over your temperament and your feelings.  If you feel heavily weighed down by these thoughts I highly suggest that you seek out a Christian counselor in your area to help walk you through this process.  YOU DO NOT NEED TO LIVE THIS WAY.  Get your truth in order and serve the devil his papers today!