The Struggle is Real

I’ve always experienced a tinge of guilt anytime I have a bad day. Guilt that I don’t feel like my normal, happy self. Guilt that I feel fussy, when in reality I know how incredibly blessed I am. This week though… this week has been a doozy. I’m writing this in the same clothes I had on two days ago. I feel unmotivated and a little bit sad, although it’s been really difficult to pinpoint exactly why. It’s rainy here this week, but I love the rain, so that can’t be it. I’m missing my love who is 6 hours away, but he’s always 6 hours away, so that can’t really be it. My kids have been great this week- getting along- so it’s not your regular “mom” stress. 

Then, this morning it hit me like a mack truck.  Our Bible study this week was about Jesus instructing us to be fishers of men. Mark 1:17 says, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  I challenged each of our ladies, myself included, to do some fishing this week. I think God wants us to talk to people in our daily lives about Him, although for some this can mean stepping a bit outside of our comfort zones. I gave them some examples of my past experiences witnessing for Christ, and told them that I’ve even asked God to bring the people directly to me. Like, just open that door a smidge, so I can get a toe in, and then I’ll kick it on open. We’ve been sharing victories and experiences, and plan to revisit this on Monday.

That has to be it. This is the hardest week I’ve had in a very long time, and it just HAPPENS to coincide with the week I’ve committed to sharing the good news of God with others. Coincidence? I don’t think so, not one little bit. Let me tell you a secret… I don’t picture the devil (Satan) as this little, red creature with pointy ears and a pointy tail holding a pitchfork. My spiritual mind envisions the devil as attitudes and words spoken. He comes to us in secret thoughts and quiet deceptions. He typically doesn’t show himself in all of his full-force evilness, because this would scare most discerning people away. He starts gently and softly speaking words of doubt and negativity to us. He hopes to get his claws into us this way. What he can fill your mind with will become what seeps over into your soul, and eventually what comes out of your mouth. The devil gave me a crappy attitude this week. It wasn’t my actual days that were bad, it was how I felt overall. If he can keep me wallowing in self pity- “Oh, poor me, life is so hard sometimes… it’s so unfair…” then I’m not going to be in any state to even want to talk to others about the awesomeness of my God. If he can keep my eyes focused on ME instead of my heavenly duties, then he’s won. Sad to say, I let him have most of the last few days. I’m not proud of it. Today though, things are changing!

Today becomes less Amanda, more JESUS! This is how I want my everyday to be experienced. Let’s not give the devil the upper hand, and sink into his plan for our destruction. You hear everyday that life is too short, and we should make each day count. I completely agree with this in theory. I’m going to be training myself to actually put it into action. 

In closing, a Chris Tomlinson song keeps rolling in the background of my mind as I’m typing today. Let me share it with you. “Our God is Greater” is a wonderful song about the magnitude of the power of our God. I hope you listen and are blessed by it. The struggle is real, friends. We all have struggle most days. Who are we going to listen to?… the devil who wants to pull us down as far as he can, and convince us that there is no promise in our future? Or, do we listen to our God, the Creator of the universe, Who already resides in the future and is waiting for us there with His hand extended out to us? Be blessed, my friends. 

https://youtu.be/O5d_gm9zrnY

Grounding Amanda

For the first time in as far back as I can remember- perhaps ever- I am having an experience that is difficult to even put into words.  It seems that for the majority of my life, when it comes to personal relationships with the opposite sex, my heart was always in the right place; but my decision-making skills were lingering somewhere around Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland.  Never heard of it?  Exactly.

Something amazing has recently happened.  Here.  Now.  Just weeks shy of turning 47 years old, God has allowed the sweetest and most unexpected blessing to quietly drift back into my life.  My heart is so full of joy and thanksgiving that I scarcely know how to contain it.  I’m not even sure where to begin.  Let’s just start here…

About six years ago, I wrote a blog entitled, “The Boy in the Book.”  https://mandaclair.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/the-boy-in-the-book/

This story describes an encounter I had with a young man back in 1991 when my sister and I were just starting our college experience at East Tennessee State University.  I won’t retell the story, as I know you are capable of clicking the link and reading it for yourself.  The boy, Jeff, was an important part of my college time.  He and I shared a few years of love, and eventually parted ways.  Without even realizing at the time, he would leave a lasting impression that even the grandest attempts of others to match would fall painfully short in comparison.

My memories of Jeff were always good ones.  He was the guy my girlfriends loved.  When our crew of 5-7 girls would go out in the evenings for dinner and dancing, he was the one who went along as our bodyguard.  He was the friend and the protector of our group.  Jeff was the guy who brought Georgia peaches to my mother when he would visit- a fact that now, to this day, she still mentions every time his name comes up.  He was the guy who was thoughtful, and caring, and paid attention to the little details. He was the guy who loves his mother and sisters with a love so big that it makes your heart smile.  Jeff was smart, funny, witty, kind, sincere, and had a beautiful face and smile that would send your heart swooning.

I thought about him after graduation. We spoke on the phone a few times, but eventually that faded away into no contact, and life just moved on. I thought about him every now and then, and hoped life was being kind to him. I tried searching for him online a few years later, but it was as if he had fallen off the planet. The years following lead to marriage and children. Things became very busy. Life happens.

Fast forward about 24 years. Over Christmas break of this year (2017) my sister and I had a wonderful visit from our college girlfriends. We fell into fits of laughter with storytelling of “remember the time when…” stories. It was such fun!  Throughout our stories, Jeff’s name kept popping up. He was a part of many of our fun adventures. One of the girls says to me, “You really need to try to find him.” I sort of blew it off. He was most likely married with children of his own, and even more likely would be impossible to find still. I brushed the idea aside for a few days, but it stayed hidden quietly in the back of my mind.

One day, a few weeks later, it occurred to me to look for him. I pull up Facebook, which I had recently taken a 4-year hiatus from, typed in his name, and BAM! He was right there. 😊 I went into private investigator mode, and searched through pictures, and comments, and everything I could get my “non-friended” eyes on! I decided to bite the bullet, and just send him a message. I did. It was light and easy. Something like, “The girls came for a visit, and your name kept coming up. Just wanted to say hello. Nice to see you’re still out there somewhere…” Anyway, a few days pass, and I hear nothing. I start wondering if I should have reached out at all. Then, I see it. I see by reading his latest Fb post that his father had just died. That very day. My heart broke for him. I know firsthand what a devastating time that is. It occurred to me that it was interesting that of any day, out of any week, out of the past 24 years that I could have reached out to him, it just “happened” to fall on the moment in time that his father passed. Maybe God needed me to be here for him. Could it be that? Although I’d not heard back from the first message yet, I knew I needed to send him another. I told him that I had no idea his father had been ill, and was so sorry for what he and his family were going through. I told him I’d definitely be praying for them all. I said that we’d gone through this with my own dad in 2011, and it’s horrible and surreal; but that he would get through this, and I’d be here to talk if he needed. I ended by telling him that I wouldn’t message again, as I knew he had much he needed to be taking care of during this time.” So, after that,  I just prayed for him for days. Anytime his name crossed my mind, I prayed.

It was five days from that last message that I heard from him. I was so excited to talk to him, and incredibly nervous, although I really couldn’t pinpoint why. He was sweet and I could hear in his voice that he was happy to be talking to me. I could also pick up on the sadness from the week’s events. I wanted to make him smile. His voice sounded exactly the same. It was the neatest experience. On the other end of this phone line was the exact same voice I’d loved 24 years ago. Just sweetness. He asked me if I was on FaceTime. I said, “Right now?” He replied, “No, I mean do you have it, and do you use it?” I told him I wasn’t really a fan of FaceTime. Something about the video phone (like from the old school Jetson’s cartoons) made me nervous. Anyway, that voice that I instantly recognized said he needed to see my face, and in that moment I became the biggest fan of FaceTime on the planet! We Facetimed one another. Often. This began an instant connection that neither of us could really explain.

We basically started at, “So, what have you done from the moment you left school until now?…” The conversations were easy. Some were happy stories, and some were sad. Both of us had been married for 10 years. Both of us had experienced the sadness of divorce. Both of us had two children- a girl first and then a boy. Both of us have children whose ages are close. Both of us lost our fathers to a brain disease. The more we spoke, it was uncanny how many overlaps and similarities our life experiences had.

To condense what has taken place in the following weeks is almost impossible, but something sat up in me and took notice one night when Jeff and I were texting and he sent me a picture of a bible. It had his name engraved on the front, and handwritten inscriptions inside. It was a bible I had given to him as a gift in 1992. He told me he had kept it close for all these years.  In what felt like an instant both of us knew that God had completely ordained this, and we just loved each other again. We didn’t say it out loud at the time, but we knew. Both of us agree that it’s like we left our heart with the other 25 years ago and it has only been lent out to other people for all these years.  We agree this all makes so much sense now- why nothing else worked. We believe we’ve just sort of come full circle, and Jeff says he’s back to reclaim this love with me.  I can hardly believe this amazing answer to my years of prayer has finally arrived. I’m not going to share every detail of US, because I want to leave some of the beauty of our story just for us. I can tell you, I had completely given up on ever getting to experience this pure, spiritual connection and love with any man. I’ve just not been “lucky” in most of my relationships. My mother says I like to do what she calls “missionary dating.” I find someone who needs help or fixing, and it becomes my personal challenge to try to help fix them. I can assure you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this “fixing” never occurs, and you find yourself in an empty relationship, where you are spending the majority of your time trying to meet the other person’s needs. Eventually, your needs are completely forgotten, and the focus is on the other person 24-7. It’s exhausting and can cause you to completely lose sight of who YOU are. This is the beauty of Jeff. I don’t want to fix him. I just want to love him. He’s a Christian. He’s an amazing man. He’s breathtakingly handsome. He loves his family- mother, father, stepdad, sisters. He’s become a father since I knew him and he worships his kids. He’s a hard worker with goals and ambition. He’s everything I’ve ever needed in a partner, but have never found.

The whole thing has happened so fast, but with such amazing PEACE that we both instantly recognized this is Jesus, not us. God has allowed me to have a very full life. I have a wonderful family. I adore my children. I’m blessed with a career I love. This has just been the icing on top. I feel complete, solid. I feel grounded. We’ve already talked to both families. All are praying and excited. Now we just wait for what God tells us is the next move. We are thankful, we are prayerful, and we are hopeful for the future. ❤

When We Give Pornography to Our Children

Do I have your attention? Good, I want to. I’m coming to you with a serious topic, but one which is important and is on my mind often. Let me begin with a disclaimer- this could get a little rough. I hope you’ll read this in its entirety, though. I really want your feedback. Please feel free to comment directly to this blog, or to this post through Facebook. 

Let’s  jump right in… Parenting is the most challenging role I’ve ever had. I’d say any of us who are parents could agree with this statement. I’m sure this same sentiment has been reverberated from parent to parent throughout history. I believe, however, that parenting in the 21st century comes with its own set of unique challenges and obstacles. 

Today our children have access to more information at their fingertips (literally) than any other generation before them. Through the use of modern technology, our children have a virtual Pandora’s box of information accessible to them. The moment we place that iPhone, iPad, other smartphone, or computer into their hands, we allow them passageway into any chat room, social media site, group text, private text, or search engine. It is staggering the information- both good and bad- which we so willingly hand over to our very eager children. As a parent, this has been a concern of mine for a while now, and I’d like to ask what your family does to safeguard against all of the harmful things they can and do very easily stumble across. 

Let me explain just a bit further. It is human nature to be curious about things. This is a good time to point out that this “human nature” of which I speak is also our “sin nature.” Scripture tells us that we are all sinners by nature (think Adam and Eve), and we are creatures who can easily be led astray by temptations of this world. I want to speak to you frankly here, but I’ll keep it delicate. I think this level of brutal honesty is necessary for the point to be fully realized. I can remember as a child the very first time my eyes saw something that they shouldn’t have. I can tell you my age, the place, and what I was doing. I knew that someone my family knew kept a certain type of magazine in their house (hidden, no less); but regardless, it was stumbled across one day and the temptation began. As a child, I flipped through those pages, knowing full well that my eyes had NO BUSINESS being there, but my human nature took over. I was curious. I didn’t realize it at the time in my childish mind, but in that moment an invisible threshold was crossed. A boundary of innocence which, through the years and through life experiences, gets whittled away a tiny sliver at a time until that innocence is so far in our background that we have to strain to remember it. Think back to your personal situations. I’ll bet most of you can remember these life-altering and life-affecting moments without even having to try very much. 

I can tell you that it was in the fifth grade that I cheated on a test for the first time, and was so overcome with guilt that I was sick to my stomach for weeks afterwards. Another life-changing moment. A threshold moment. 

I can tell you the first time I snuck and watched a Rated “R” movie. I can tell you my age, where I was, the name of the movie, and the scene which had the most impact. A life-changing moment. A threshold moment.

I can remember being a teenager, and my mother speaking to my sister and I about the importance of our sexual purity. I remember her explanation that not only was it God’s plan that we reserve these sacred, sexual acts to take place within the sanctity of marriage, but that there was an emotional and environmental consequence as well if we fell outside the boundaries of God’s guidelines. She said that once a girl (or boy) loses their virginity, then it’s most likely that they will continue to be intimate from that point on with anyone and everyone else they date up until finding their future spouse. Once your virginity has been “lost” (What a deceiving way to say that really. I’m pretty sure we know EXACTLY where it went), there’s nothing left to save for our future spouse, right? So, this being the thinking, why should I wait with anyone else? I remember understanding some of her words, but not fully grasping their truth, until I watched a close friend live out this experience. She gave herself over and over, moving from one failed relationship to the next. Leaving invisible, but very real remnants of herself behind in each relationship as she moved through them. Small pieces of her soul, her essence, being chiseled off and left behind with the boyfriend of that month. Eventually, there isn’t much of “you” left. You couldn’t see it at the time, but again, life-changing moments. Threshold moments. 

Our children today don’t have to accidentally stumble across the sin in this world, they don’t have to wait until they are at a friend’s home or even until they are out of their parent’s eyesight, it’s handed to them for birthdays and Christmases. It’s wrapped up with a pretty red bow in packages of 8, 16, and 32 gigabytes. We hand it to our children, children who have been taught right from wrong, and we just TRUST them to make the right decisions. Reality check- they are CHILDREN. These threshold moments actually play into the fabric of who we become as adults. Once these thresholds are crossed, there is no going back. You can’t regain innocence once it’s gone.

How many of you have ever seen the experiment that was on tv a few years ago, where a group of children who had been taught about gun safety, were placed in a room with an unloaded gun, and were secretly recorded to show their reactions? Here’s a link in case you haven’t:

https://youtu.be/7fdnyvwIzg0 Children and Guns

I see this as exactly what we are doing to our kids and teens when we arm them with these life-alterers, these creators of threshold moments, disguised as pieces of technology. I’ll bet if you took your child’s phone at this very moment, and simply did a Google search of any number of violent or sexually-driven words, and then clicked on “images” you’d be astounded to see what they can so easily pull up. Our children can see pornography (FREE) at their fingertips in the comfort of their own home, car, or school. There are pictures and videos that NO ONE would want their child having access to, and yet we not only give this access to our kids, but we also pay the bill for this each month. What is going on???! If Snapchat doesn’t make you a little bit nervous, I think maybe you’ve not thoroughly thought things through. 

So, I’m not trying to get completely overboard with this, and saying no one should ever have a phone. I am saying, however, that parents need to be cognizant of what their children have access to, what they are viewing, who they are talking with, and what those conversations consist of daily. Children are children. They are curious. Just like I was. Just like you were. It would be foolish of us to assume our child is always going to make the “right” decision. We want them to, of course, and we pray to that end, but just like us, they are human. 

I’d like to hear from you if you don’t mind to share your thoughts on the matter.  What parental controls have you placed on your devices, on your children, and on your environment to ensure that your child is being protected? After all, isn’t that our job as the parent? We can’t keep them innocent forever, but aren’t we supposed to protect them for as long as we can? 

The Holding Pattern

plane

If you’re anything like me, when it comes to the problems and challenges that life hurls at you, you immediately find yourself going into “fix it” mode.  Let me get honest and say that there are those occasional moments of difficulty when I’d rather bury my face in a blanket, and just stay there until whatever it is passes; but for the most part I’m a problem solver.  I try my best not to be a human who sits on the sidelines of life, and laments about all of my miseries.  Those people just suck the energy out of life, and the older I get, the less patience I have with them.  Don’t get me wrong, there are days I’d like to complain and whine, and have people say, “Poor you”, but that’s just not really what I want to put out there into the universe.  I’d much rather be someone who can look a challenge square in the face, point my finger straight at it, and say, “I’m coming after you!”  While this sounds like a good idea on the surface, I’ve realized that this is a condition which can have both positive and negative results.  How?… you may be asking.  I’ll explain.

It may sound noble to want to dig in and start solving the problems of the world right away, but in doing so, it can be easy to make hasty decisions in our desire to tunnel through.  There have been situations in life that are set before me, in which I just know instinctively (God) what I’m supposed to do.  Other situations take a bit longer- more weighing out, more talking to God before the right decision reveals itself.  But what about those other times?  The times when you are in the middle of something confusing or complex, and you simply have no idea what you are supposed to do.  I feel it’s safe to say that most of us have found ourselves in this predicament more than a few times in our lives.  It’s like you wake up in the middle of a dense forest, and there are a number of paths you can take.  Which do you choose?  How do you know which is the right one?

As a Christian, our default in all things should be that we turn to God first.  There are over sixty Bible verses that speak specifically to us waiting on the Lord.  One of my favorites is:

Psalm 130:5-6

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.”

I recall very clearly one of my biggest lessons in learning to handle complicated life decisions came in the midst of my divorce.  There are SO MANY decisions you are having to make, and needing to make them in a relatively short amount of time.  The pressure I felt was often overwhelming, as every decision that I made had a direct effect, not only on my own life, but also on the lives of these two little beings I love.  I remember that somewhere around life decision #458 at that time, I called my mom, broken, and just said, “I have no idea what I’m supposed to do.”  In that moment she gave me what I consider to be some of the best advice for living that I’d ever received.  She very gently, and matter-of-factly stated these words, “When you don’t know what you are supposed to do, you do nothing.  You wait.”

Okaaaay?…. I wait?  Has she met me?  Is she aware that my entire life is a ticking time bomb of deadlines these days, and I don’t really have time to sit around and just wait?  The idea of waiting goes against what my natural instincts tell me to do.  The bulldoze through part of me didn’t like the advice she was sharing, and immediately started with the all the “but what if…” that I could think of.  She knew me well enough to know that I’d need some further convincing, and so she told me that God has a perfect plan for my life.  He is guiding me everyday, even on the hard days when life gets so loud that it’s difficult to hear His voice.  She explained that when we make decisions which are in line with God’s will for our lives, we are given a peace about those decisions.  So, if our soul is at unrest over something, that means the decision hasn’t clearly been revealed yet, and to just sit back, relax, hold on, and pray.  Okay.  I get it now.  I’m going to maintain a holding pattern until God speaks to me so clearly that there’s no denying what He’s telling me.  A bit of a scary prospect, if I’m being honest, but one which I think will challenge me to grow myself in faith… in having faith in Him.

I know several people at this very moment who are facing an obstacle (or obstacles) which seem insurmountable.  I know how scary it can be, and how lost you can feel.  Your body and mind get weak from all of the thinking and worry.  I’m writing this today to offer encouragement.  You, my friend, are far from lost, and far from alone.  This mighty God we serve is your strong tower.  He is your resting place.  He has all of the answers that you need to all of the problems that you have.  Today, I’m giving you the permission that you need to give yourself- permission to set it all on autopilot, and maintain a holding pattern.  This is the time that you should dig deep into His word, and be having daily dialogue with Him about what the plan is going to be for you.  Quiet your world.  Listen to what He’s saying to you.  Don’t feel forced or pressured into making decisions which you may one day regret.  Our deadlines and time tables are not obstacles for God.  He works things through in His perfect time.  Your responsibility is to stay up, keep circling, and be patient until He gives you your landing instructions.

Happy flying! Be blessed!

 

 

 

Feels Like Home

Today, I have a sick child.  Ava isn’t feeling well, and we left church early, so my mom could take her to her house.  She put her in a bed, so I could run out in the car and get the things she needed.

When I returned to my mother’s, there is my child, snug as a bug in her grandmother’s bed.  She’s buried up to her eyeballs in a comfy blanket, and is lying still as can be on my mother’s heated mattress pad.  All in all, not a bad situation if you’re sick.  My mom is catering to her.  I am catering to her.  All is right with the world.  After all, isn’t all any of us really need in this world is to know that there’s someone out there who is going to take care of us?  This is a perfect segue for me to bring in the fact that our Heavenly Father, ultimately, is the One Who will always take care of us.  It is always He Who will meet our needs.  But for today, I’m talking about humans.  Those angels right here on Earth who are placed in our lives to cater to us when we have our own needs.

Once I knew that Ava was safe and secure in bed, had been given the fluids and meds that she needed, my entire body- mind and all- just wanted to shut down for a bit.  I made myself a place on a couch in my mother’s room (within eyeshot of Ava), found my own comfy blanket, and allowed myself to just turn everything off for a moment.  For this rare, fleeting instance I wasn’t going to be mom, or teacher, or friend, or sister, or any other hat that I wear.  I was simply going to be “Amanda”, and I was going to let myself get the rest I’ve needed.

It struck me, as I was attempting to tune my mind off of the everyday static, just how blessed I am to have a mother’s home to go to where I can let the stressors of the everyday world just wash off of me the moment I enter the threshold of her home.  Home.  That’s the key.  It is in this feeling (this sense) of “home” that I am most at peace.  An important aspect that I’ve learned over the years is that HOME doesn’t have anything to do with a location.  Home is not an address.  It doesn’t matter if my family is residing in Fort Smith, AR, or in Rogersville, TN, my home is truly where they are.

It is at this home that I would return from weekends at college- armloads of laundry to do, and parents who were eager to see us.  I could rest here like nothing I would ever experience at school.  Too many friends, dances, nights, and classes to really be able to let oneself completely relax.

It is at this home that I would bring newborn babies.  Tired, frazzled, and feeling exhaustion like I’ve never known, and I could hand over these little loves of my life to people who loved them (almost!) equally as much.  I could lie down, and close my eyes, and recharge my completely drained battery.

It is at this home that I would return during the darkest days of my divorce, and be able to just rest, cry, and know that someone in the other room had my best interest at heart.  Regardless of what was happening in my personal life, I never had to worry about being alone.  As long as my family is here, I’ll always have someone.  That’s a good thing to know.

It is at this home that I would spend the last few months/weeks/days/moments of my father’s life.  What should, on the surface, be a difficult space to enter into because of the insurmountable levels of loss experienced on that January day, is a complete place of peace for me.  Ironically, it is because of the insurmountable levels of loss experienced on that day, paired with the peace and love that burst into every corner of the home… filling the walls, and the air, and all spaces in between with the sweetest of memories any human could ever be fortunate enough to have.  Immeasurable love abides here.

It is at this home that even now, as I type this, my mother (without a word) sets down a cup of hot tea beside me and walks away.  I realize how blessed I am.  I am so thankful for this home which has been provided for me, my children, and all who enter into our world.

Giving Thanks

I realized just tonight that I began blogging on this site on practically this exact day in 2009. Let me just say that WOW, the landscape of my life looks so different now than it did back then! I’m astounded at the changes and challenges that have occurred, but also at the overwhelming peace and perfection of the place I’ve found myself settled into today.

Who can predict from day to day where life is going to take them? How many of us can look back to even this time last year and see the absences and additions in our lives? Jobs, people, life… it ripples up and down like a slow-moving wave deep out in the middle of a vast ocean. We are all trying to navigate our ships out there, the ups and the downs, and to not allow a rough time to bring so much water into our ship that we drown. 

I’m thankful that I have a personal relationship with the Captain of my vessel. He is the One ultimately responsible for getting us to shore safely. Our job is to listen and follow His instruction. How comforting it is to know that I, in my limited wisdom of handing the ship, am not the one in charge. I have definite responsibilities during the voyage, but He is the guiding force. 

My thankfulness this season begins here… right here.  It is from this point that all other blessings and lessons are determined. 

My wish for each of you reading this is that you have a wonderful day of celebration with people you love. Take a quiet moment to hug everyone a little tighter knowing that this landscape may not look exactly the same next year. We are given these precious moments. They must not be minimized, or taken for granted.  I wish each of you a personal relationship with your Captain. It is through Him that you will have more to give thanks for than you ever imagined possible.

Abundant blessings to you all! Happy voyage!

The Trouble with the Politically Correct Church

May I be honest with you? I’ve sat on this one for a few days because our nation is such a hotbed of violent political banter and demonstrations in this time leading up to the election, that I don’t want to appear as the online equivalent of lighter fluid. I do think, however, a comment made by an Arkansas friend sheds so much light on the issue that it deserves to be shared. 

Barbara Conrady is the mother of a school mate from our time in Arkansas. My sister, Jessica, and her son Elton were in the same grade. In an online discussion the other night, Mrs. Conrady said, “It is time for followers of Jesus to stand up and speak. The Church has been deceived by political correctness.” Wow. There was so much truth packed into those two sentences that I knew immediately I’d have to blog this. It was too good to keep to myself. Let me share with you what I appreciate about her insightful comment.

First, notice the capitalization of the word, “Church.” This was done intentionally, I’m most certain, as a reference to the “Church” as the body of Christ. It doesn’t mean a building with a steeple, filled with pews. The Church is the living, breathing body of Christian believers, who are called by God to be set apart from the rest of the world. 

Romans 12:2 ESV~ “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

John 17:15-18 ESV~ “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”

Let me repeat this… we are called by God to be set apart from the rest of the world. Why then are we so afraid to do this? Why are we so scared of hurting feeling or ruffling feathers that we would rather sit in silent acceptance of the world as it is? 

I think her comment explains it perfectly.  Not only society, but also our churches (brick and mortar buildings) encourage us to be politically correct. We can’t possibly say THAT to THIS group of people, because it just wouldn’t be right. It might upset someone. I’m thinking back to all of the lessons we are taught in the Bible. Times when Jesus, or even the disciples, spoke to people about turning from their sins. I don’t remember one time that they failed to deliver a message of truth to a group of people out of fear that someone might get their feelings hurt. These men were willing to risk their very lives to speak the truth about God’s commandments. Today, are we to be more concerned about people’s FEELINGS or about their ETERNITY? 

I know there are certain “hot topics” that many churches steer clear of mentioning. Mind you, I didn’t say all churches, but many. Race, religion, money, sexuality (homosexuality, adultery), abortion, divorce, politics… I’m sure there are more. These are the issues that will literally split a church. I’ve seen it happen. 

In my lifetime, I’ve attended several amazing churches, and I can attest that the ones in which my spirit has been fed the most are the churches where the pastor is strong in his faith, and speaks words of truth from the Scripture. I admire a pastor who is brave in his beliefs, and doesn’t water down the message he’s called to bring to the Church body. If your pastor has rooted his belief system in the Word of God, and can back it up with such, how can we as the Body of Christ disagree? If the Bible is our guidebook, and our church structures itself on Biblical principles, how can we object? Seems logical, but free will (our opportunity to chose right or wrong, righteousness or sin) comes into play, and this is where the disconnect begins.

You may have met those Believers who tell you they agree with “parts” of the Bible. I’ve never really understood how that works. Do they think that God put these commands and instructions in there as a multiple choice, and we are somehow granted the power to chose “none of the above” as an acceptable answer? I don’t believe that’s how my God works. I think His Word is His Word. I think if He didn’t mean it, He wouldn’t have said it. Surely, as imperfect as we are on a daily basis, we don’t somehow think we know better than God Almighty, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. 

I had a friend last week who decided we could no longer be friends because he didn’t agree with the way I was voting in this election. Aside from being incredibly shocked, I did have one moment of thinking that just maybe I was doing something right. I’m standing firm in my beliefs- beliefs that I can back up with Scripture- and I’m doing what I know in my heart is the right thing. It’s not my place to condemn you for disagreeing with me, but if I’m being called to be set apart, and the rest of the world seems fine with glossing over what is nothing more than pure sin, then it’s okay for me to speak what I know is truth. Not just in a political arena, either. Sin is sin is sin. Period. We all know when we do it. It’s not our job to placate the world, and tell them that their sin is fine, because HEAVEN FORBID we upset someone! What we are told is not to judge. I can disagree with you without judging and condemning you. The manner in which the message is delivered is 99.9% of the task. 

I’ll give you an example. I have a friend I simply adore. We truly have a Spirit bond with one from the moment we met. We’ve prayed together, cried together, and had some really tough discussions. One of the reasons I love her so dearly is that she is a straight shooter with me. There’s no sugar-coating of anything. Life is very black and white. In one sinful period of my life I was about to enter into something that my friend saw as dangerous to me. She came to me, not in judgement, hatred, or anger; but in sincerity, discernment, and love. The human side of me didn’t like the message she brought in that moment, because it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. My Spirit, on the other hand, knew it was exactly what I needed to hear. She’s loved me through mistakes, and she’s loved me through my successes. I think that is the example Christ wants us to follow as the Church body. 

If we see a brother or sister falter in sin, sin as defined by Biblical principles, we are called to love them. This does not mean we are called to encourage them in their sin. There is a difference. The Bible doesn’t call us to political correctness. That’s an instruction from the world. Did you catch that? The world. The sinful, ego-driven, self-absorbed, destructive world that we live in is giving us this instruction, not Jesus. 

I pray for our country, and my prayer is primarily this- that each member of the Church body would demonstrate the love and kindness to all humans that we are called to by our Heavenly Father. He created us all. There are no perfect people on this planet. We are all imperfect sinners, and can only find redemption through His unfailing grace and mercy. He’s been so generous to us. It’s a shame we don’t do that for one another.

Our churches need to have the courage to preach the truth. Our pastors should pray to God for the perfect words to speak to His Body. I know many of them do. We, as a collective whole, should be praying and lifting up our pastors and churches now more than ever. Christians have to embrace what we are called to do. It isn’t always an easy thing, but for the brief time we are in this planet, don’t you want to experience the fulfillment that can only be achieved when we are living FULLY in the will of God? I know I do. If it causes me to lose a few friends in the process, I’m so sorry they would chose that route. I can only speak for myself. That’s who I’m accountable for, after all. I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying right here, and I’m loving everyone- every single person, regardless.

Our job is not to encourage the world to do whatever makes them happy. Many sinful things can make people “happy.” As Christians, we aren’t called to happiness, we are called to righteousness. 

We have to have the courage to make that stand. It’s time for His people to speak. Speak.

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