Sunday, September 5, 2021

The "Christian Left"




I first heard the term “Christian Left” on the John Cooper podcast. I had never heard that coined phrase before, but as soon as I heard it… it resonated.


Loudly.


So much is going on in the world right now. I think we’d all agree with that. But so much is also going on in our own circles. In our own faith and churches.


We, as Christians, have compromised who we are and what we believe.


We pick and choose God’s Word as if it’s a menu. We like this, don’t like that, want to alter this verse, etc. etc.


In Mark 3:25 God says, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

I always took this verse literally. Especially as it applies to marriage and divorce.


But God brought this verse to my mind as soon as I heard John term the words “Christian Left”. 


It all made sense.


We, as believers, are God’s Church. Together, we can do so much - as a house of believers. But divided? Divided, we cannot stand.


Divided, we cannot win the war on culture.


Divided, we will be persecuted heavier, than if we’d stood up together, as strong warriors.


Divided, we will battle each other.


Divided, we will look like hypocrites (and be called so, as well).


Divided, we will fall.


All because we have compromised who we are and what we believe.


And as believers, we have become divided. Divided into the “left” and the “right”.


Listen, I get it. I GET IT. It’s hard to be the only one in the room who stands for something. It’s hard to be made fun of. It’s hard to live in fear as you stand counter-cultural.


But God never promised us easy. He only promised us victory in eternal life.


And as blatant as that truth is, I understand that hard AND easy will come into my life as a result of walking faithfully in His Word. Not all the time. Not every day.


I will have hard. But at times, I will also have easy. Just because He loves me. Just because He wants to bless me. Just because I was faithful in prayer and obedient in actions.


And I can praise, rejoice, and be so thankful when those moments come. But I have to be prepared that hard, WILL come. 


We are a family. We are God’s family. His beloved sons and daughters.


He loves us. Dearly.


We are damaging each other, hindering each other, and causing division…. Simply because of our concern with our image, our selfishness (if we’re honest), and our immersing ourselves in culture, instead of Godly things. 


Instead of GOD, Himself.


“Christian Left.”


We say we believe, but we straddle the line. Never truly committing to one OR the other. Going where the wind blows to be acceptable.

Accepting what we shouldn’t, and compromising our moral compass.

We are weakened, because we do not stand strong TOGETHER. We are weakened, because we falter. 


The Christian “left.”


It’s time to dig deep inside and find out just where we stand, and just what it is we stand for.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

This Is For Keeps




This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Ephesians 6:12 (MSG)



The good and the bad in life. Sometimes I think we forget where it all comes from. Maybe we think it’s coincidence. Fate. Our own doing. I guess sometimes it is. But it’s also a battle. A very real battle that is going on all around us…for our very souls.


When that bad man shows up at our house at night to rob us and maybe do worse, was our house really picked at random? Or did Satan target us? When everything seems to fall apart when we already are dealing with a health crisis, got laid off, and are feeling lonely…..is it just bad timing? Or is Satan doing everything he can to steal, kill, and destroy us?

When we are tempted at our very weakest moment? What is THAT about?


Life is for keeps. There are no re-runs. No repeats. We can’t just wave away things in the hopes that they don’t matter. In the desire that they’ll go away. For we are in a fight whether we like it or not.


I know a lot of people get freaked out and really scared when they think the “devil” will aim for them. And rightly so. He is clever. Deceiving. Yes – powerful. He knows just where our buttons are, and how to push them. The thing is; no matter how much we might be afraid of him, it doesn’t protect us, or make us safe. We can pretend he’s not out to get us, but pretending isn’t reality. It doesn’t arm us or give us strength to battle him. No, it only makes us easier targets.


We need to take the blinders off and realize that the battle… the fight, the war has come to us. Like it or not. It will engage us on many levels and in so many ways.  Will we be ready for it? 


Everything we need to protect ourselves and get battle ready, is in God’s Word. We need to read it. Ponder it. Embrace it. USE it. 


God put it there for a reason. 


He loves us. Oh, how He loves us! And He doesn’t want us to have to struggle so much (although some struggles are necessary, and even productive.) But as our Father, He cares about us and the wars we will fight. He wants us to call on Him. So let’s LET Him guide us. Let’s let Him ARM us.


And the next time Satan comes calling, he’ll find us ready for him. 


Make him flee.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

It's Time To Look Outside of Ourselves For a Change




We have gotten really good about knowing what we like. And what we don’t like.


We’ve gotten to be excellent at knowing what we prefer, and what we don’t.


The world has done so well at getting the message across that we need to, “Be true to you.”


For so long, I think a lot of us denied our personal preferences. We failed to speak up about what was good for us, and we simply felt pulled along by the tide of life.


So it’s good, that we now feel strong in our boundaries and what comes into and out of our lives.


Or is it? Is it really “good?”


I’m not so sure. I think it WOULD be good, if we had balance. If we knew when not to speak up about our food preferences in the company of someone else’s home. Or if we knew when not to deny a gift extended to us because we don’t really like it, or won’t use it.


No. I don’t think those times or instances are GOOD.


We have gotten so GOOD at knowing what our comfort zones are, that we have, instead, made others uncomfortable.


It’s ok that you’d rather eat sugar-free or vegetarian. But do you have to tell your host who just worked a couple of hours to create a great meal for you in their home? Wouldn’t it be more of a blessing, to simply partake of the foods you CAN eat, in quiet manner without drawing attention to the fact that your host… gasp.. failed at filling your stomach?


And maybe you won’t use that gift that someone gave you. Maybe you don’t like it. But isn’t refusing it, or giving it back to the giver… kind of… rude?  Isn’t it denying them the blessing of loving on you and thinking about you? Isn’t that more important than sharing with them that they too… didn’t meet your personal requirements?


You see - it’s okay to have guidelines in our lives. In fact, normally, it’s healthy. To know our limitations, to see where our temptation areas are, or the things we need to abstain from - that’s a really solid thing to implement. BUT…. We often go too far.  We forget the feelings of those we are with and we inflict our own personal standards onto them.


And it usually hurts someone else.


We have no right to put our self-imposed boundaries on someone else OR to insist that they abide by them.  


So, if we aren’t comfortable not knowing what food will be served - we need to figure out a game plan to deal with the situation ahead of time. Then, we can still enjoy the love that is seeking to be lavished on us.


And if we aren’t comfortable receiving a gift that we feel will clutter up our home, or one that is just not “us,” then we can come up with a plan to pass it along to someone else who will truly enjoy it in a quiet, gentle manner at a later date… without refusing the blessing that someone who cares about us tried to gift us with.


These are only two scenarios - but they are examples of how we have used what is comfortable to us - and ended up EXPECTING it in all situations and circumstances. And you know what? Life just isn’t like that. And we end up getting a little self-rightous, and arrogant about it all.


What matters the most in our relationships is love, grace, mercy, humility, and kindness. It doesn’t matter that someone failed to understand what you prefer or how you have to live.


OF COURSE, there are always exceptions to the rule. Sometimes it’s a matter of life and death - when it comes to food, drink, etc. But even in these times, I’m sure there are creative ways to lovingly express and make up for the gap that needs to occur from sharing time with someone else.


PEOPLE matter. Their FEELINGS matter. Their investment of time into us, (and thank heavens they WANT to spend time with us! - those all matter.)


So let’s re-look at what we’ve implemented or demand in our life and see if it’s really “good.”  See if others feel “good” about it or if it causes them extra efforts, pains, and time to just simply share our presence.


If we can help it, let’s never cause those in our lives to feel uncomfortable by making them abide by OUR standards or being extra difficult to have around.


It’s time to look outside of ourselves for a change.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

We All Hide




We all hide.


We hide the depression and anxiety we are feeling. We hide the insecurities, the burdens we carry for those we love. We hide our flaws. Our feelings of inadequacy. We may even hide behind our feelings of not knowing how to be a man, or a woman.


It’s different for each of us. But we still hide something.


What if we didn’t? What if we openly carried those things that we hide? What if we walked around letting everyone know that we cut ourselves? What if we openly shared that we struggle with drugs or pornography?


The feeling of being judged is so great. But if we all shared our weaknesses, our failures, our struggles - what then? Wouldn’t we have a common bond? Wouldn’t we have more empathy and love for each other?


EVERYONE struggles. 


Just because you haven’t talked to someone in awhile, doesn’t mean they are “fine”. Just because someone doesn’t share their heartaches, burdens, or prayer requests with you, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. 


It simply means they are kept private.


It grieves me. Oh, how it grieves me.

Oh, how so much pain, hurt, loss, heartache, and loneliness is felt in the dark moments of our lives! Oh how many tears are shed, because we didn’t invite someone into them with us!


I have found that once you bring something out into the light, it loses some of its hold over you. It loses some of that power that holds you in its grip.


But those steps are scary. I get it. I do. For ALL of us struggle.


If I could beg of you one thing - I’d beg of you to not walk your road alone. To not “hide”.

I’d beg of you to invite someone who truly cares, into that struggle with you. (And someone DOES care. Sometimes you have to look harder for them. But they are there). 


Let someone bring you into the light. Let someone love you. Let someone show you, you are everything you want to be and fear you are not.


You are valued. You have value to give.


You matter.


Please don’t stay in the darkness alone any longer. Reach out for help. And reach into someone’s open arms.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

When I Feel I Should Be Stronger




I am weak.  I know it.


I hate going through heartache, pain, confrontation, dealing with difficult people, or anything that is just plain HARD.


I realize these times draw me closer to God. They pull me to Him on my knees, asking Him to spare me.  


Asking Him to remove the difficult challenge, the pain… the battle.


And often, He does.  Sometimes, He does not. I writhe in deep misery for a bit.  I cry.  I cling to Him wondering when that ‘thing’ I’m dealing with, will be over.


And I learn. Always, I learn.


He grows me. He teaches me. He gently reaches down carrying me through. 


Every time.


He is such a faithful God.


And yet, I somehow feel like I should be stronger. That the goal should not be to have God spare me - as much as I welcome it. As much as I cling to that hope.


The goal should be not for me to ask Him to REMOVE the hurts, challenges, and pain. It should be that I am strong enough to ask Him to simply give me strength as I walk THROUGH them.


Oh, that one day I won’t ask Him to remove them. But that I will simply be strong enough to have inner peace knowing that I will be more like Him, because of them.


That is a gift I could give to those I love who follow me. To show them that I can be faithful and obedient DESPITE what comes my way, knowing that my God is good - EVEN through the powerful storms that sweep through my life.


I am not there yet. I don’t feel anywhere close. But I admire those who are. And my heart hopes that someday I can find my feet standing where those before me have walked.


In hope. In peace. And in strength. Not with the storm subsiding, but with it raging all about me - knowing I am safe, I am loved, and I am sealed with His blood.


Nothing this life can ever touch.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

When We Need To Work Things Out On Our Own


I had a really tough week awhile back.

The kind of week where my spirit was truly crushed and broken.

I felt discouraged. Frustrated. Depressed.

I was near tears a lot.

I battled with my inner thoughts and push-pull on my heart. 

What happened you ask? Well, it was just one of those times in a journey where you wonder, “Is this worth the stress”? 

I felt like I had finally achieved the confidence I’d been seeking for most of my life. Only to be toppled over. No. Only to be PUSHED down.

And it hurt.

It hurt A LOT.

No one knew. Not really. Not the extent.  Some had gotten glimpses, or pieces. But no one really understood where I was coming from.

Except my precious man.

Oh, what a gift. God truly gives us our spouse’s in times like these. 

I didn’t need anything to be fixed. All I wanted was someone to say, “I get it. This is unfair. You are right.”

He did that.

I was still a little shattered.

Still struggling with what direction to take next. What words to say.

But I wasn’t alone.

He was patient. He let me work things through on my own.

That’s what our great God does you know. He is so patient with us. So many times, He sits back, with His ever-watchful eye on us - and watches us sift, sort, trip, climb, leap, walk around, and pause as we work things through in our hearts, souls, and minds.

He waits.

He guides.

He loves.

And He understands that we need that.

Then, when we get to that point He needs us at - He directs us where to go next.

So do what you need to do. Figure out your heart. Sift through your feelings. Take your time as you look inside of those many layers you’ve built. Learn. Grow. 

And then raise your head. 

Raise your head, lift your chin, and move forward with new insight.

Take a step. And know God is right there walking with you. FOR you, with great love in His heart - waiting to see the tears fade and the smile come out again.

Friday, January 29, 2021

10 Tips From a Social Media Director




I manage Social Media as my job. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more.  So I see A LOT of stuff. 


I would love to share with you just a few things that I think will help your time online be more fruitful for you.


1. I realize not all people are literate on social media platforms. Tech can be a bit confusing at times. But my first suggestion would be - IF you’re on one… GET literate.  You won’t feel so confused about what’s going on, how it’s going on, and why you’re getting alerts, notifications, and seeing comments, and posts. Most social media platforms are fairly straightforward and easy to learn. MOST.  So if you have just a little bit of time, go to youtube and watch a tutorial, listen to a podcast on the platform you want to be on, or enlist the help of a young adult in your life - you can get the basics down fairly quickly. I promise. 



2. Proofread your posts. Misspelling is just not fun to read. We’re all human. I misspell at times, too. But misspellings should be the exception and not the norm.  If you wonder why people won’t respond to you? It might start with the fact that your post was confusing, misinterpreted, or didn’t come across well because of a lack of punctuation, incorrect grammar, or misspelling of words.



3. In light of number 1 - BE NICE! Ok, so not all people are gifted at spelling. And a lot of older people are getting online and maybe they weren’t wearing their glasses. But be nice if someone misspells or has incorrect punctuation. It’s the decent and civil thing to do.



4. People know more than you think they know.  People are aware if you block them (most of the time). They are aware if you set up multiple instagram accounts hoping they won’t follow the other ones. They are aware you used a filter on your face to look younger.  People are just digitally smart in this day and age. Especially those young adults who grew up on devices. Be authentic. Be YOU. And if you don’t want that certain auntie to follow you - don’t be on that platform with her, or don’t say those things, or post those pictures. You can look at it as a great way to be kept accountable. You’ll probably regret anything you don’t want someone seeing anyways - so you are better off not posting it.



5. Fact check. Re-posting and re-sharing is easy. But things are so easily altered now. Make sure that photo hasn’t been altered. Make sure that article isn’t “slanted” with their own bias’. If you spread content that people learn is not true or factual, it will affect your word and your reputation in the future.



6. If you want brands to follow you - put your city or state. If you are an influencer and speak at events, are a church, or any type of organization or business - PUT YOUR CITY AND STATE. No one can find you (and no one will take the time to find you), no one will visit or sign up for your event, if you don’t put where you are located. Up front. In your bio or profile.



7.  Be unique.  If you sell essential oils - you may look at other “oil” accounts and post the exact type of pictures they are posting. But if you want to stand out? Do something different. You can be creative. If you want to be remembered - having unique content will make you more memorable. And never bombarde your friends with messages or group invites to buy your product. If you haven’t spoken to someone regularly and then only message them to join or buy what you are selling - it leaves a sour taste. Trust me.



8. Do what you love. If you have a personal account, a blog account, a website, and several social media accounts - that’s great. Only if you can be consistent and keep up with all of them. Otherwise, shut one down and focus on the other. It’s okay to not be on everything. Just be where you enjoy being. Social media is an online gathering place, and sometimes we just don’t feel like gathering. And that’s OKAY. I do highly recommend being online somewhere if you have a brand or organization - but if you are an individual, it’s okay to opt out. But don’t rely on other people to fill you in on what you are missing all of the time. Okey-doke?



9. Remember that social media is SOCIAL. Talk back to people. Engage. Comment. Encourage. Check in. Don’t just broadcast what you are doing all of the time. I mean, you CAN - but it won’t help you in the long run. People want to know they matter to you. That means growing relationships. That means posting AND talking with others.



10.  Social Media gets a bad rap. Yes, there are negative things that happen. Censorship is becoming an issue. People can be inappropriate. But social media is only a reflection of what is going on in people’s hearts. Social media is a GIFT and a ministry. It is a great way to stay connected with people from different seasons of your life, and for some people, it’s the only “connection” they get to others who may understand and care. It’s a great way to stay informed, and although not a replacement for real-life connections, it’s a terrific addition to it. Please don’t discount it just because of some bad apples.




Social media is not going away any time soon. There ARE ways to have private profiles and just connect with close friends. There are ways to filter content you see and hear, etc. And it can be very beneficial as far as knowing what is going on with your local business, or family and friends who don’t live nearby.


If you have any social media questions - please feel free to ask. I’ll do my best to answer them!

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Are You Weary?




A lot of weariness has been going ‘round.  


Emotional weariness.


Physical weariness.


Yes. It’s important to take care of our mental health and to “know when we’re low”.  But, as Christians, there is often a bigger fight and battle going on.


We can’t just quit because we’re tired.


Oftentimes…. We forget that we are warriors.


God says in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can stand against the devil’s schemes.”


Put on the ARMOR.  Armor is for battles. And it is used by warriors.


We grow weary and wonder “how long”, Lord? How long will certain battles go on? How long will certain prayer requests go unanswered?


Mark 14:37 tells us, “Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping.  “Simon”, he said to Peter, “are you asleep?  Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour”?


Yes.  We need to take care of ourselves.  But sometimes - when the world says, “take a break” (or in this case, go to sleep), God is saying, KEEP WATCH. For we are in a battle, and instead of “how long”, our question may need to be - “Can we pray for just one more hour of being awake”?


Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be WEARY in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”


The answer to our weariness is not MORE REST. Why? Because we have things going on internally that affect our lives externally.


The answer is MORE GOD. More of God IN our rest. More of God IN our choices.


Experiencing HIS presence is the only way to restore our joy and strengths.


Isaiah 40:29 “He giveth power to the faint and to them that have no might, He INCREASETH strength.”


So if you are weary and low - as many of us have been - as we gaze and focus upon a new year, let us challenge ourselves to wear our armor. Keep on keeping on.


And seek MORE GOD. So that we have the strength - to - stand.